Monday, September 1, 2014

EMRS: Closest Gap For Four Years

EMRS: Liberal 46 ALP 33 Green 16 PUP 1 Ind/Other 4
Interpretation: Liberal 46.5 ALP 35.5 Green 14 Others including PUP 4
Likely outcome based on this poll "if election held now": Liberal majority win (approx 13-10-2)
Note: If swing distributed unevenly, these figures could produce hung parliament (12-10-3).
New aggregate of all Tas polling: 13-9-3

A new EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intention has been released today.  On the headline rate the Liberals are down three to 46 (a 5% swing since the election), Labor are up eight to 33 (up six points on the election), the Greens are down five to 16 from a highly suspicious reading of 21 in the last poll (but still up two on the election) and it doesn't look like Jacqui Lambie's recent antics have produced any joy for Palmer United, with the party polling only 1%.

EMRS has a long history of producing results that overpredict the Green vote and underpredict Labor's, so it is possible that the improvement in Labor's position is even greater than shown and the Greens have not made any real gains since the election.  However, while my "interpretation" score sees the Liberals down five points since the election and the ALP up eight, if such a swing was anything like evenly distributed then the Government would cede only two seats to Labor (one in Braddon and one in Franklin) and retain government with a one seat majority (about 13-10-2 with Labor also taking a seat in Bass from the Greens).  However if such a swing was disproportionately focused in Lyons, and went more to the Greens than Labor, then a 12-10-3 hung parliament would also be quite possible on these figures (as would a range of other figures in these sorts of ballparks).

The poll was taken in the immediate leadup to a Budget that was generally considered (and expected) to be solid and fairly harmless, though some economic commentators have lambasted it for exactly that reason (especially given the usual pre-election rhetoric about how the Government had supposedly wrecked the economy.)  In this poll the two major parties are closer together (see trend graph) than at any time since David Bartlett's victory honeymoon washed out of the system in late 2010.  The Liberal vote is the lowest since February 2011 and the Labor vote the highest since August 2010.  We will need to wait til the next poll to see if this big surge for Labor is sustained or if this one result was bouncy.  For now, as startling as the surge may seem, I'm not ruling out that it is real. 


As repeatedly noted here, Preferred Leader scores greatly favour incumbent leaders, and this is especially so when the Opposition Leader is new.  Thus Will Hodgman's 26 point lead (51-25, down from 54-22 last time) as Preferred Premier does not mean a great amount.  Curiously (if it isn't a misprint) the breakdowns among Labor and Liberal supporters are exactly the same as they were in May, and so the main cause of the lead changing is simply change in the primary vote support for both parties.

EMRS were only just getting started when we last had a Liberal government in Tasmania.  It's hard to be sure that their established lean against Labor isn't actually a lean against the incumbent government of the day (although I doubt that is the case.)  Those believing the latter is the case would take some support from the preferences of Undecided voters persistently strongly favouring Hodgman over Bryan Green.  I wouldn't read too much into it though - chances are these are very low-information voters picking the name they've heard of.

PUP In The Doghouse

There was nothing wrong with EMRS's pre-election reading of Palmer United support.  They had the party on 5% twice in a row and that's where it finished up on polling day.  So post-election readings of 3% and then a laughable 1% should be taken rather seriously as signs that PUP support in the state has crashed - perhaps not to quite as low as 1%, but at least to a very low level.  It doesn't seem like Senator Jacqui Lambie's notoriety as a source of endless embarrassments and strident statements is doing the party the slightest good and it's already getting hard to see it being a serious force in Tasmanian state politics into the future.  Even many of those who voted for PUP may well now be feeling that the Senator is a national embarrassment. It is also likely that Labor's rebuilding process, and distancing of itself from future Green coalitions, have caused ex-Labor PUP voters to start returning to the fold.  Which leaves only this question (from a well-known ALP candidate):

Indeed.  If PUP continue to poll this badly there will not be much point continuing to canvass their level of support.  However many opponents will feel that it would be cruel to remove them right now and deprive them of a chance to reach absolute zero.

New Aggregate

As foreshadowed in last quarter's instalment, I will be running an aggregated "nowcast" of Tasmanian polling through this term.  To start with we have only EMRS polls and the election result.  I've weighted the August poll at 70% and the May poll at 30%.

The aggregated results based on both polls show Labor recovering a seat in each of Lyons and Braddon.  They do not, however, show the loss of Bass from the Greens to Labor suggested by the August sample when considered alone.  Again the only real threat to the Liberals' majority comes in Lyons where the Greens might challenge their third seat, but the Liberals' chances of holding are actually better than the raw quota figures show (because, as seen at the election, their three now incumbent MHAs get very similar vote shares.)

I may update this piece with comments on reactions and so on.

Coming soon: Hobart City Council voting patterns 2011-14. 


  1. I believe that the improvement in Labor's fortunes in Tassie is in no small part due to the electorate's favourable opinion of the new Labor leader. What do you think, Kevin?

    1. I'd really want to see some leader satisfaction ratings rather than just Preferred Premier ratings to comment on how Bryan Green is going personally. Trailing Hodgman 25-51 as preferred Premier is OK under the circumstances and to be expected; it doesn't really tell us a lot.

  2. Well PUP didn't last long... How were they tracking in Tasmanian polling before this one? How much support have they lost in this poll?

    1. EMRS had them at 5 twice before the election and that was what they got (ReachTEL had them up towards 7 at one stage). The two polls since the election were 3% then the current 1%.

  3. The Greens won Bass last time, and 14% would be a positive swing from the last election. So to lose Bass, the seat of their new leader, Green votes would have to have shifted to Braddon (Which seems unlikely) or concentrated further in Denison and Franklin.

    Interested in hearing your reasoning for the 2 seat outcome.

    1. I suppose the increased Labor surplus would overtake the Green vote and steal the seat. I guess weird stuff like that happens when you rely on preferences to get over the line.

      Cheers for elaborating in the post.

  4. The Greens won Bass last time but polled only .76 of quota, which normally would not have been enough to win, but for a friendly distribution of the remaining votes between the other parties. If Labor picks up the suggested swing on primary votes then Labor goes to much closer to two quotas in Bass than the Greens are to one, even if there is a trivial swing to the Greens overall. The Greens would probably not catch Labor for the final seat in that case.

    Of course it can be argued that Booth might get a boost from being leader throwing the above into more serious doubt. A flip side of that assumption though is that McKim loses votes by not being leader, and becomes at minor risk of losing Franklin if the swing away from the Liberals there is below the state average.


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