Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition

James J reports Newspoll has come in at 51-49 to the Coalition (compared with 57-43 last week) from primary votes of 35% for Labor (up six), 43% for the Coalition (down five) and 11% for the Greens (up two). Kevin Rudd holds a handy 49-35 lead over Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, but achieves a neutral result with his debut personal ratings with both approval and disapproval at 36%. Tony Abbott is down one on approval to 35% and up three on disapproval to 56%.

We also have supplementary results from yesterday’s Galaxy poll courtesy of GhostWhoVotes showing Joe Hockey favoured over Chris Bowen as preferred Treasurer 38% to 20%, and 33% saying Rudd’s leadership style has improved against 43% who say it hasn’t (although that may include people who think it didn’t need to). (UPDATE: I gather from Simon Benson’s Daily Telegraph report that it was put to respondents that that some thought his style “chaotic and dysfunctional”).

UPDATE (Essential Research): GhostWhoVotes relates that Essential Research, which normally provides only a fortnightly rolling average, has published results from the most recent polling period (Thursday to Sunday) showing the primary votes at 38% for Labor (up four), 46% for the Coalition (down one) and 9% for the Greens (up one), panning out to 52-48 to the Coalition on two-party preferred. The normal rolling average, which in the circumstances tells us very little, moves from 55-45 to 53-47.

UPDATE 2: Bernard Keane in Crikey:

The decision to dump Gillard was approved by 55% of voters, including 24% who strongly approved, and opposed by 31%. Some 77% of Labor voters approved, 40% of Liberal voters and 49% of Greens voters. But men were much more likely to approve: 63% of male voters supported Gillard’s removal, compared to only 46% of women; women disapproved 36% compared to 29% of men. A third of voters said it made them more likely to vote Labor and only 19% said it made them less likely. More than 60% of Labor voters said it made them more likely to vote Labor, and 14% of Liberal voters, but a third of Liberal voters said it made them less likely to vote Labor …

The extent to which Labor collapsed after improving in the second half of 2012 is illustrated by a series of responses on which groups would be better off under Labor or the Coalition. In September last year, voters gave Labor a big lead for groups like pensioner, the unemployed, people on low incomes, people with disabilities, people who send their children to public schools and recently arrived immigrants.

Last week, Labor’s lead had shrunk virtually across the board: its preference as the best party for the unemployed fell from 27 points to 14 points; for low-income earners from 27 points to 21 points; for single parents from 23 to 15 points. Only for people with disabilities had it increased, from 20 to 21 points. The damage done to Labor’s “branding” as a party to be trusted to look after lower income earners is significant.

There’s also been a significant drop in support for keeping our troops in Afghanistan, with the level of voters wanting us to withdraw our troops increasing seven points to 69%, with virtually no difference across voting intention.

UPDATE 3 (Morgan): The Morgan multi-mode poll is the first pollster to actually have Labor in front, their primary vote at 39.5% (up 11% on last week) to 40.5% for the Coalition (down 10%) and 8.5% for the Greens (up half a point). This gives Labor a respondent-allocated preferences lead of 51.5-48.5, which emerges as 51-49 when using preference flows from the previous election.

Galaxy: 51-49 to Coalition

David Penberthy on Twitter conveys tomorrow’s Sunday Mail front page, showing a Galaxy poll conducted on Thursday and Friday evenings has the Coalition leading 51-49 (compared with 55-45 in the poll a fortnight ago), with Kevin Rudd holding a 51-34 lead over Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister. More to follow.

UPDATE: I can reveal the poll has Labor’s primary vote up six to 38%, 57% supporting the leadership change, and 52% thinking Bill Shorten personally did the right thing in switching to Rudd against 30% for the wrong thing. Still a few gaps to be filled there of course.

UPDATE 2: GhostWhoVotes has full tables: Coalition down three to 44%, Greens down one to 10%.

Seat of the week: Griffith (plus ReachTEL polling)

First the ReachTEL polling. Yesterday morning the Seven Network brought us a big sample automated phone poll of 3018 respondents which broadly corroborated the Morgan SMS poll in returning the Coalition lead to margin-of-error territory. The poll had Labor at 38.3% on the primary vote, the Coalition on 45.1% and the Greens on 8.7%, panning out to 52-48 in favour of the Coalition after preferences. Now Fairfax brings electorate-level ReachTEL polls of Maribyrnong (located in western Melbourne and held by Bill Shorten), Chisholm (eastern Melbourne, Anna Burke), Blaxland (western Sydney, Jason Clare) and McMahon (western Sydney, Chris Bowen), which have Labor’s two-party vote at 58.6%, 55.2% and 58.9% for the first three, with McMahon annoyingly not provided but Labor evidently in front. Earlier ReachTEL polling showed Labor losing all bar Maribyrnong. Now on to a Seat of the Week I’ve been holding back for a special occasion …

Kevin Rudd’s electorate of Griffith covers inner city Brisbane immediately south of the Brisbane River, from South Brisbane east to Bulimba and Queensport, south to Annerley and south-west to Carina Heights. The seat was called Oxley until 1934, the name later being revived for an unrelated new Ipswich-based seat in 1949. Highly marginal historically, Griffith changed hands between Liberal and Labor in 1949, 1954, 1958, 1961, 1966, 1977, 1996 and 1998. Don Cameron won the seat for the Liberals at the 1966 landslide and then had his position strengthened by redistribution, enabling to hold on to the seat through the Whitlam years. A redistribution at the 1977 election moved the seat heavily in Labor’s favour, resulting in Cameron switching to the new Gold Coast seat of Fadden and Griffith being won for Labor by Ben Humphreys.

When Humphreys retired at the 1996 election the Labor preselection was won by Kevin Rudd, the former diplomat who wielded great influence as chief-of-staff to Wayne Goss during his tenure as Queensland Premier from 1989 to 1996. In doing so he established a factional association with the locally dominant AWU sub-faction of the Right, which secured his preselection despite grumblings that the state branch was failing to meet affirmative action standards. However, the statewide rout that Labor suffered at the 1996 election saw Rudd fall it his first electoral hurdle, with Graeme McDougall gaining Griffith for the Liberals off a 6.2% swing. Rudd returned for a second attempt amid the far more favourable circumstances of 1998, picking up a 3.9% swing to unseat McDougall by a margin of 2.4%.

Rudd established a formidable electoral record in Griffith, picking up a 3.3% and 2.4% swings against the trend of the 2001 and 2004 elections. The electorate was substantially reshaped by redistribution at the 2004 election, absorbing inner city areas at East Brisbane, South Brisbane and Dutton Park while its eastern parts were hived off to the new seat of Bonner. In what may have been an early portent of Rudd’s electoral impact, the booths which were transferred out of the electorate contributed to a surprise defeat for Labor in Bonner by swinging heavily to the Liberals in his absence. As his party’s candidate for the prime ministership in 2007 Rudd enjoyed a further 3.8% swing in 2007, and as its recently spurned ex-leader in 2010 he suffered what by Queensland standards was a relatively mild swing of 3.9%.

The Liberal National Party candidate for the coming election is Bill Glasson, former president of the Australian Medical Association. Glasson’s father, Bill Glasson Sr, was a state National Party MP and minister in the Bjelke-Petersen, Cooper and Ahern governments.

Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

UPDATE (ReachTEL): ReachTEL, which had the Coalition ahead 58-42 in its last federal poll on May 3, has published an automated phone poll of 3018 respondents which has it down to 52-48, from primary votes of 38.3% for Labor, 44.1% for the Coalition and 8.7% for the Greens. As noted by Possum, extrapolation of state breakdowns produces a slight Labor majority on seats, thanks to the yield to be gained from a swing to Labor in Queensland. Kevin Rudd leads Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister 51.6-48.4, with Abbott leading Julia Gillard 59.4-40.6. Views on the leadership change are finely split, with 44.1% agreeing and 42.4% disagreeing. A clear majority (56.9% to 30.2%) still believe Labor cannot win the election.

Roy Morgan offers state breakdowns on the no doubt over-analysed SMS poll it conducted immediately after Wednesday evening’s leadership vote, showing Labor’s two-party vote at 47.5% in New South Wales, 49.5% in Victoria, 51.5% in Queensland, 41% in Western Australia, 50% in South Australia and 63% in Tasmania (off progressively less convincing samples). It also provides rare state breakdowns from the multi-mode poll published on Monday, which you can observe by following the link.

In addition to the turmoil evident at the macro level, the week’s upheaval has transformed a number of contests at the electorate level:

Lalor (Labor 22.2%): Julia Gillard’s exit from politics creates yet another Labor vacancy in a plum Melbourne seat, in this case the electorate covering Werribee and Melton in western Melbourne. The Australian reports that factional and affirmative action considerations mean the seat is very likely to go to a woman from the Right. According to a Fairfax report, a “highly likely” nominee is Kimberley Kitching, a former Melbourne City councillor currently tasked with restoring order to the Health Services Union No. 1 branch as its acting general manager. Kitching is also “wife of notorious blogger Andrew Landeryou and a close ally of Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten”, and an unsuccessful candidate for the preselection to replace Nicola Roxon in Gellibrand in April. Fairfax reports that while Shorten “may” back Kitching, Conroy “could back another candidate”, as he did in Gellibrand. That could be Peter Khalil, “a former policy adviser during Kevin Rudd’s first period as Prime Minister and now director of corporate affairs at SBS”. Others mentioned are Hobsons Bay deputy mayor Luba Grigorovitch, a possible starter from the Left, and Katie Hall, the unsuccessful Roxon-backed candidate in Gellibrand.

Perth (Labor 5.8%): Yesterday’s retirement announcement by Stephen Smith created a vacancy in the least unsafe of Labor’s three WA seats. Early talk of possible nominees has included Tim Hammond, a Slater & Gordon lawyer who ran unsuccessfully for Swan in 2010, and Matt Keogh, vice-president of the Law Society of WA. Perhaps more speculatively, there are suggestions the opening might be of interest to state Shadow Treasurer Ben Wyatt, whose uncle Ken Wyatt is the Liberal member for the neighbouring seat of Hasluck, and Alannah MacTiernan, the former senior state government minister and unsuccessful federal candidate for Canning in 2010. MacTiernan called on Julia Gillard to resign on the night of Labor’s heavy defeat at the state election in March.

Rankin (Labor 5.4%): Craig Emerson’s exit creates a rare opening for aspiring Labor hopefuls in Queensland, in this case for a southern Brisbane seat which the party will be a lot more optimistic about now the local favourite is back in The Lodge. Tony Moore of Fairfax reports the contenders are likely to include Jim Chalmers, executive director of the Chifley Research Centre and a former adviser to Wayne Swan, and Barbara Stone, who held the state seat of Springwood from 2001 until her defeat at the March 2012 state election. The Australian also mentions Linus Power, a former adviser to Kevin Rudd who ran unsuccessfully in what had appeared to be the safe seat of Logan at the state election.

Kingsford Smith (Labor 5.2%): Peter Garrett is bringing down the curtain on a three-term parliamentary career as member for the electorate centred around Maroubra in southern coastal Sydney. Ean Higgins of The Australian reports Senator Matt Thistlethwaite might see the vacancy as an opportunity to switch houses. Bob Carr and Kristina Keneally, whose old state electorates wholly or largely corresponded with the seat, quickly scotched any suggestions that they might be interested. Carr’s successor as member for Maroubra, Michael Daley, is being “touted” for a possible move to the federal seat, while Keneally’s husband, Botany mayor Ben Keneally, has ruled himself out.

New England (Independent 16.8%) and Lyne (Independent 12.4%): The morning of the leadership change began with the unrelated dramas of Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott announcing they would not seek re-election after a term spent contentiously propping up a minority government unpopular with their own constituents. That presumably clears the way for the respective Nationals candidates, Barnaby Joyce and David Gillespie, to straightforward victories at the coming election.

Victorian draft state redistribution

The attention of most politics watchers will be firmly elsewhere, but Victoria’s Electoral Boundaries Commission has unveiled draft boundaries for its very long awaited state redistribution. I’m a bit too distracted to give them any consideration just at the moment, but you can view them here.

UPDATE: Antony Green has more.

Rudd 57, Gillard 45

We have a new/old Labor leader and, presumably, a new/old prime minister. Soon, I fear, we will have a new election date. Developing …

UPDATE: Prominent Gillard-ites Wayne Swan, Craig Emerson, Stephen Conroy, Greg Combet and Joe Ludwig have resigned from cabinet. Penny Wong has unanimously been chosen to replace Conroy as Senate leader, with Jacinta Collins replacing Wong as deputy. Anthony Albanese defeated Simon Crean 61-38 in a ballot for deputy in the House.

UPDATE 2: Greg Combet also resigns from cabinet, and Craig Emerson to go from parliament. Preselections loom for Lalor and Rankin.

UPDATE 3 (Morgan SMS poll): Morgan has sprung into action with a “snap” SMS poll of 2530 respondents, showing a Coalition lead of just 50.5-49.5 from primary votes of 38% for Labor, 43% for the Coalition and 8.5% for the Greens. For what it’s worth, a Morgan poll conducted by the same method on the day of the 2010 election turned in a highly accurate result.

BludgerTrack: 56.8-43.2 to Coalition

A fourth successive move against Labor on the weekly BludgerTrack poll aggregate brings the Coalition’s two-party lead near to its previous peaks after the carbon tax slide of early 2011 and Kevin Rudd leadership challenge of February 2012. The latest update includes new figures from Newspoll, Morgan and Essential, while the state results have been updated with the Newspoll quarterly aggregates. This gave Labor a particularly bad result in Western Australia, reducing them to one seat on the seat projection for the first time since BludgerTrack commenced last November. The projection also has Labor dropping two seats in New South Wales and one in Victoria compared with last week’s result, while gaining one in Queensland.

Very technical note: Sharp-eyed observers will note that the two-party preferred change recorded in the sidebar table for this week is slightly lower than the primary votes suggest it should be. This is due to a methodological tweak that has brought my national and state projections into line, correcting slight anomalies caused by differences between the two data sets. The biggest of these was an inflated “others” vote in the state estimates, the removal of which has added about 0.2% to the final national calculation of Labor’s two-party preferred vote.

Newspoll quarterly and JWS Research Labor seats polling

Two new poll findings to start the day with:

• The Australian today publishes the quarterly Newspoll breakdowns for April-June, but absent tables we will have to wait until the morning for a detailed idea of the results (UPDATE: They’re here). From Dennis Shanahan’s report we can glean that the Coalition leads 62-38 in either New South Wales or Western Australia (presumably the latter), and by at least 55-45 in the other; by at least 55-45 in Queensland; and by 54-46 in South Australia. Labor however holds a “slim lead”, probably meaning 51-49, in Victoria. The headline “gender war misfires for Julia Gillard” summarises The Australian’s take on the gender breakdowns, though five of the six individual polls the results were compiled from were in fact conducted before the event this presumably refers to.

• The Australian Financial Review today publishes a JWS Research automated phone poll of 3903 respondents from Labor-held seats on margins of up to 12%, pointing to an overall swing against Labor of 7.6%. By state, this pans out to swings of 7.6% across 16 seats in New South Wales, 4.2% across 11 seats in Victoria, 6.2% across eight seats in Queensland, 10.6% across three seats in Tasmania, 9.2% across three seats in Western Australia, and 14.4% across four seats in South Australia. Kevin Rudd was found to have a net approval rating of minus 4% compared with minus 12% for Julia Gillard and minus 14% for Tony Abbott (a “no particular view” option no doubt explaining the relatively mildness of these results compared with other pollsters’ net ratings). A question on whether Kevin Rudd should challenge Julia Gillard found 33% supportive and 54% opposed, which is very close to the 34% and 52% Galaxy elicited in response to a question on whether Julia Gillard should resign to make way for him. However, whereas the Galaxy poll found Coalition voters slightly less resistant to Galaxy’s change option than Labor voters, JWS Research found significantly fewer Coalition voters supporting a challenge (29% supportive against 59% opposed) than Labor voters (40% against 53%). Thirty-five per cent of all respondents said they would be more likely to vote Labor if Rudd replaced Gillard against 16% for less likely, with net results of 32% among Labor voters, 6% among Coalition voters and 20% among “others”.

Newspoll: 57-43 to Coalition

The Australian’s Troy Bramston tweets that Newspoll has the Coalition leading 57-43, down from 58-42 last time. However, the poll has Labor’s primary vote below 30% for the first time this year, down one to 29%, with the Coalition also down a point to 48% and the Greens steady on 9%. Tony Abbott’s lead as preferred prime minister has reached a new peak of 45-33, up from 43-35 at the last poll three weeks ago, but personal ratings are little changed: Julia Gillard is steady at 28% approval and 62% disapproval, while Abbott is down one to 36% and steady at 53%.

UPDATE (Essential Research): Essential Research has Labor down on a point on the primary vote for the second week in a row, now down to 34% with the Coalition and the Greens steady at 47% and 8%. The Coalition’s lead on two-party preferred is up from 54-46 to 55-45. Also covered were intention to vote for a different party in the Senate (9% yes, 67% no); leaders attributes (Julia Gillard for some reason doing better than when the question was last asked in April, and Tony Abbott slightly worse); support for a long list of decisions made by the Rudd-Gillard government, the only net negative result being for the carbon tax; Tony Abbott’s intention to scrap the Gonski education reforms (32% approve, 44% disapprove); and sexism and discrimination against women.

UPDATE 2 (Morgan): The weekly Morgan multi-mode poll reverses an unusually good result for Labor last week, with the Coalition up 2.5% to 47% and Labor down the same amount to 30.5%, with the Greens unchanged at 9%. The Coalition’s two-party preferred lead is up from 54.5-45.5 to 56.5-43.5 on preferences from the previous election, and from 53.5-46.5 to 55.5-44.5 on respondent allocation.

Seat of the week: Canberra

The electorate of Canberra covers the southern half of the national capital together with the bulk of the Australian Capital Territory’s thinly populated remainder, with northern Canberra accommodated by the seat of Fraser. Both seats were created when the territory was first divided into two electorates in 1974. The Australian Capital Territory had been a single electorate since the expansion of parliament in 1949, but its member only obtained full voting rights in 1968. A third electorate of Namadgi was created for the 1996 election, accommodating Tuggeranong and its surrounds in Canberra’s far south and pushing the Canberra electorate north of the lake to include the city’s centre and inner north. However, the previous order was reinstated when the seat entitlement to slipped back to two at the 1998 election, in large part due to Howard government cutbacks to the federal public service. The two ACT electorates presently have enrolment of around 130,000 voters each, compared with a national average of around 96,000.

The Australian Capital Territory electorate was won by an independent at its first election in 1949, but was held by Labor after 1951. Kep Enderby came to the seat at a 1970 by-election and carried over to Canberra in 1974, serving as Lionel Murphy’s successor as Attorney-General in 1975. He was then dumped by a 10.4% swing to the Liberals at the December 1975 election, and for the next two terms the seat was held for the Liberals by John Haslem. The seat’s natural Labor inclination finally reasserted itself in 1980 with the election of Ros Kelly, who served in the Hawke-Keating ministries from 1987 until she fell victim to the still notorious “sports rorts” affair in 1994. Kelly’s indulgent departure from parliament a year later was followed by a disastrous by-election result for Labor, with Liberal candidate Brendan Smyth gaining the seat off a 16.2% swing.

Smyth unsuccessfully contested the new seat of Namadgi at the 1996 election, and Canberra was won easily for Labor by Bob McMullan, who had served the ACT as a Senator since 1988. The reassertion of the old boundaries in 1998 caused McMullan to move to Fraser, the Labor margin in the redrawn Canberra being 5.1% lower than the one he secured in 1996. Canberra went to Annette Ellis, who had entered parliament as the member for Namadgi in 1996, while Fraser MP Steve Darvagel agreed to go quietly after a brief parliamentary career which began when he succeeded John Langmore at a by-election in February 1997. Ellis added 7.2% to an existing 2.3% margin at the 1998 election, and held the seat safely thereafter.

In February 2010, both Ellis and McMullan announced they would not contest the election due later that year. Large fields of preselection contestants emerged for both seats, with the front-runner in Canberra initially thought to be Michael Cooney, chief-of-staff to ACT Education Minister Andrew Barr and a former adviser to opposition leaders Mark Latham and Kim Beazley. However, Cooney shortly withdrew amid suggestions Kevin Rudd was ready to use national executive intervention to block him. The eventual winner was Gai Brodtmann, a former DFAT public servant who had established a local communications consultancy with her husband, senior ABC reporter Chris Uhlmann. Together with Andrew Leigh’s win in Fraser, Brodtmann’s win was seen as a rebuff to local factional powerbrokers who had pursued a deal in which the Left would support Mary Wood, adviser to Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek and member of the Centre Coalition (Right), and the Right would back the Nick Martin, the party’s assistant national secretary and a member of the Left, in Fraser. However, Brodtmann was able to build a cross-factional support base of sufficient breadth to prevail over Wood by 123 votes to 109.

The Liberal candidate for the coming election is Tom Sefton, a Commonwealth public servant who has served in Afghanistan as a commando officer. Sefton polled a respectable 4.2% as a candidate for Molonglo at the October 2012 Australian Capital Territory election.