A relatively quiet week for national polling, with two new results available for the BludgerTrack update:

• The weekly Morgan multi-mode poll, this time enlisting 3418 respondents from its combination of face-to-face, online and SMS polling, recorded a sharp uptick for the Coalition, up four on last week’s primary vote result to 48% with Labor down two to 30.5% and the Greens up half a point to 11%. That came out particularly bruisingly on Morgan’s headline respondent-allocated two-party preferred calculation, which showed the Coalition lead blowing out from 54.5-45.5 to 58-42. The result on 2010 election preferences was a milder 56.5-43.5, compared with 54-46 last time.

Essential Research is perfectly unchanged for the second week in a row, with Labor on 34%, the Coalition on 48% and the Greens on 9%, with the Coalition lead at 55-45. It finds a seven point drop since last June in respondents who think the economy is heading in the right direction, to 36%, and has 38% expecting the budget to be bad for them personally against 12% good and 38% neutral. Respondents were also asked about preferred revenue-raising measures, with “higher taxes for corporations” towering above the pack on 64%. Reducing tax breaks for higher income earners was net positive (45% approve, 38% disapprove), but reductions in the baby bonus and family tax and any spending cuts were rated negatively. It was also found that 45% believed population growth too fast, 37% about right and only 5% too slow.

The impact of the new Morgan multi-mode series on the current BludgerTrack modelling is still very slight, although this will begin to change as more data becomes available for assessing its performance. For now the result on national voting intention is little changed on last week, bringing an end to three weeks of movement to Labor. The availability of new state-level data from Essential Research has sent Labor back two on the seat projection by weakening their position in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Two doses of preselection news:

• The Australian reports on four contenders to fill Barnaby Joyce’s Queensland Senate vacancy, which he will formally create at the start of the election campaign period to facilitate his run in New England. The candidates are Barry O’Sullivan, who has stood aside as the treasurer of the LNP while he considers whether to run; David Farley, Australian Agricultural Company managing director, who caused a brief stir last August when he suggested the Prime Minister was a “non-productive old cow” who might be put to use at an abattoir he was spruiking; Larry Anthony, famously well pedigreed former member the north coast New South Wales seat of Richmond; and Ray Brown, mayor of Western Downs. Mentioned elsewhere were Theresa Craig, a down-list candidate on the LNP Senate ticket; Susan McDonald, “daughter of former National Party president Don McDonald and a member of a family cattle dynasty”; Kerry Latter, chief executive of Mackay Canegrowers; and Julie Boyd, former mayor of Mackay. The preselection will be held on May 25, despite the view of some that the matter be left until after the election to give unsuccessful lower house candidates an opportunity to run. Steven Scott of the Courier-Mail reported “senior members of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s team” were of a similar mind, although his public position is in line with that of the LNP state executive.

• Anna Patty of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Labor in New South Wales is “under growing pressure to intervene in the preselection of a candidate for the federal seat of Throsby”. Head office has apparently held off so far to give incumbent Stephen Jones a chance to shore up his local numbers, but the upper hand has remained with local Right forces associated with state Wollongong MP Noreen Hay. This grouping now wants the seat for one of its own, something it has long been denied by a centrally enforced factional arrangement reserving Throsby for Anthony Albanese’s “hard Left” faction. This time however, state secretary Sam Dastyari has been insistent in promising a local ballot. Andrew Crook of Crikey hears the local rebellion is opposed by more senior figures in the Right, who have been “hitting the phones to demand Hay forces back down or face brutal retaliation in the form of damaging media leaks that could cut short the Wollongong MP’s controversial career”. The putative challenger is John Rumble, a local nurse and son of former state MP Terry Rumble. Stephen Fitzpatrick of The Australian reported a fortnight ago that Rumble had not definitively secured the crucial support of Hay, who suggested a third candidate might emerge. Former state Kiama MP Matt Brown, who was sacked as a state government minister in 2008 over an affair that involved him dancing in his underwear in his parliamentary office, told The Australian he had been asked to stand by “branch members”.

Finally, the final results are in from the Western Australian election, with indicative Liberal-versus-Labor two-party preferred counts completed for seats where other parties or candidates made the final count in the formal preference distribution. This reveals that the final two-party preferred vote for the Liberals was 57.2%, a swing in their favour of 5.4%. It should be emphasised that the two-party preferred concept is complicated in Western Australia by the large number of highly competitive contests involving the Liberals and the Nationals, which raises the question of whether Labor-versus-Liberal or Labor-versus-Nationals counts should be used for the electorates in questions. The AEC’s practice has been to use the Nationals count where the party wins the seat, but the WAEC favours Labor-versus-Liberal counts which tend to be somewhat more favourable for Labor. Antony Green has used the Labor-versus-Nationals count for Pilbara to preserve continuity with the calculation for the 2008 election, at which no Labor-versus-Liberal count for Pilbara was conducted. The two-party preferred numbers cited below are entirely from Labor-versus-Liberal counts.

WESTERN AUSTRALIAN ELECTION
March 9, 2013

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
			#	 %	Change	Seats	Change	
Liberal			559,917	 47.1%	+8.7%	31 	+7	
Nationals		71,694	 6.1%	+1.2%	7 	+3	
Labor			392,470	 33.1%	-2.7%	21 	-7	
Greens			99,437	 8.4%	-3.5%		
Independent		34,467	 2.9%	-1.5%		-3	
Australian Christians	21,451	 1.8%	-0.8%		
Family First		7,039	 0.6%	-1.4%		

			#	 		%	Change
Formal			1,184,475		94.0%	-0.7%
Informal		75,577			6.0%	+0.7%
Enrolment/Turnout	1,412,533   		89.2%	+2.7%

Two-party preferred
Liberal			677,231			57.2%	+5.4%
Labor			506,623			42.8%	-5.4%

LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
			#	 %	Change	Seats	Change	
Liberal			583,500	 47.6%	+8.0%	17	+1  	
Nationals		59,804	 4.9%	-0.4%	5	-   	
Labor			398,260	 32.5%	-3.6%	11	-   	
Greens			100,624	 8.2%	-2.9%	2	-2  	
Australian Christians	23,877	 2.0%	-0.3%
Shooters & Fishers	21,765	 1.8%		1	+1  	
Independent		20,633	 1.7%	+0.2%
Family First		16,760	 1.4%	-1.1%

			#	 		%	Change	
Formal			1,225,223	 	97.2%	0.0%
Informal		35,706		 	2.8%	0.0%
Enrolment/Turnout	1,412,533	 	89.3%	+2.7%
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