The Advertiser has sprung into action after Nick Xenophon’s announcement he would contest the eastern Adelaide seat of Hartley for his SA Best party at the March state election, by commissioning a Galaxy automated phone poll of 516 respondents in the electorate (UPDATE: And now a ReachTEL poll for Seven – see the bottom of the post). This has Liberal incumbent Vincent Tarzia on 38%, Xenophon on 35%, Labor on 17%, Greens on 6% and Australian Conservatives on 3%. On respondent-allocated preferences, this translates into a 53-47 lead to Xenophon. As I noted in Crikey on Monday, Hartley was only the Nick Xenophon Team’s thirteenth strongest of the 47 state seats at last year’s federal election, based on Senate voting patterns.

Also from The Advertiser’s report:

Major party sources have told that polling shows the Liberals vulnerable throughout the Adelaide Hills and country, with seats including Mount Gambier well in play. There are fears that the Hills seat of Heysen, held by retiring former Liberal leader Isobel Redmond, could fall to SA Best. It is also believed that Opposition education spokesman John Gardner is at serious risk in Morialta and Chaffey, a Liberal Riverland seat, is vulnerable.

Also related is a snippet I missed from last week concerning another poll, also from Galaxy but conducted privately by the Australian Bankers Association, which made the perhaps not surprising finding that Martin Hamilton-Smith, the former Liberal leader who quit the party to take up a position in Jay Weatherill’s cabinet, has no chance of retaining his seat of Waite. Liberal candidate Sam Duluk, who is moving from his existing seat of Davenport due to the redistribution, was on 41%, Labor and SA Best on 21% apiece, the Greens on 10%, and Hamilton-Smith on just 5%.

UPDATE: A somewhat different result from a ReachTEL poll for Channel Seven has it dead level on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Liberal 36.7%, Xenophon (SA Best) 21.7% and Labor 19.7% – although this presumably fails to exclude an undecided component that typically rates a little below 10%. Xenophon also comes out tops on a three-way forced preference preferred premier question, with 43.2% to 32.0% for Liberal leader Steven Marshall and 24.8% for Jay Weatherill. The poll also finds a 55.8-44.2 split in favour of Xenophon backing the Liberals should he hold the balance of power. To the extent that this can be read as a proxy for the Liberal-versus-Labor two-party preferred, it suggests a swing to the Liberals of 3.4%.

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