Thursday, April 28, 2016

Queensland: Compulsory Preferencing And Recent Polling

Because of other distractions (see articles below) I've been a bit slow dealing with Queensland's sudden return to compulsory preferencing, but fortunately in this time a new state poll has arrived that is highly relevant to the issue.

For those who spent a couple of hours asleep last Thursday, that was about all it took for Labor to amend an LNP motion to expand the parliament from 89 to 93 seats and make it conditional on a return to compulsory preferencing.  The LNP voted against the amendment but the KAP and ex-Labor crossbenchers supported it and in the end the LNP didn't even vote against the amended bill.  It was vintage roughshod Queensland politics in its execution - moving it as an amendment meant it could be passed without prolonged discussion or a committee process, and Queensland of course has no upper house to get in the way.  It all gave the appearance of a tactical disaster for the Lawrence Springborg-led LNP (allowing such a major concession while fishing for crumbs) and again raised concerns of friends and foes alike as to whether the Queensland Opposition has all that much upstairs strategically.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Many Lower House Seats Can The Xenophon Team Win?

Note: For links to updated analysis re NXT written since this article, scroll to the bottom.

I have had a fair few questions about the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) and their seat prospects for the Lower House in South Australia, because my seat projection nationwide still shows only four seats for Others.  This rather dry and mathsy piece (about Wonk Factor 3/5) explains my initial attempts to model what sort of vote NXT needs in South Australia, all else being equal, to win one or more of the 11 Lower House seats in the state.  These are very broad-brush attempts that don't take account of candidate factors, because until there is specific seat-polling we don't know anything objectively about how well (or badly) specific NXT candidates are going to campaign or be regarded.  Comments based on detailed local knowledge are welcome.

In summary, I estimate that NXT probably need a statewide vote in the very high teens to win seats.  Once they get well over 20 they start to win multiple seats, and something in the mid-20s could result in spectacular seat gains that would make a national hung parliament quite likely.  However there's no reason yet to believe those higher votes will actually happen, based on what little current public polling of the NXT vote exists.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Some Recent Senate Polling And Related Claims

This article assumes, for the sake of analysis, that the Senate election will be a double-dissolution under the new Senate system.  Neither of these things are yet confirmed, but both appear highly likely.  

I thought that there had been no polling at all of the Senate races yet, and innocently told a journalist so this week, but to my surprise reports of not one but two Senate polls have surfaced (one since I made that comment).  There are also many reports of an (apparently unpublished) Australia Institute analysis that claims that from five to nine non-Green crossbenchers could get up at a double dissolution, apparently based on commissioned Senate polling from ReachTEL and Research Now.  The Research Now (an online panel poll a la Essential) polling has been published but the main thing I can find on the ReachTEL is an AFR report from a month ago (!) that had somehow escaped my notice.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: Labor Contesting The Lead

2PP Aggregate 50.1 to ALP (+0.7 in a week)
Coalition would still probably win election "held now" (seat estimate 77 Coalition 69 Labor 4 Others)
First ALP lead on my aggregate since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister

In this issue:
A DD Is The Right Thing To Do
This week's polls
Issue Polls
Fishy Polls Of The Week
Seat Betting


In another stirring triumph of tipping skills, a plurality of voters on my sidebar Not-A-Poll have correctly predicted that the Labor Opposition would recapture the 2PP lead on this site in March or April.  35.5% picked this, compared to 34.1% for May or June, 18.2% for not at all, and a dribble for various options that depended on a later election date. It's a trivially small lead, it's not an election winning lead, it's not being replicated by other aggregators yet, and it may not even last long enough to survive on the smoothed tracking, but it's still a big improvement on losing 54:46 just three months ago.

There is some rejoicing and a fair bit of schadenfreude on the left about the direction polling has moved in.  Many lefties seem amused that Malcolm Turnbull pulled a constitutional swifty to beef up his argument for a double-dissolution only to find himself in a position where it might not seem like such a great idea anymore.  With the rejection of the ABCC bill at the second reading the government has no obvious plan B; to welsh on the threatened double dissolution on account of indifferent or even bad polling would just make the PM a laughingstock.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: Newspoll Uber Alles

(Note for Tasmanian readers and anyone else interested: my piece on the Colbeck demotion appears below this one, or click here.)

2PP: 50.6 to Coalition (-0.7 since two weeks ago) - updated from 50.5 following Essential
Closest margin since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister
Seat projection off this 2PP: 80 Coalition, 66 Labor, 4 Others 

After five weeks of reasonably static polling with the Coalition's 2PP at just above 51%, the past week saw another dip that was widely attributed to the government's unsuccessful and apparently half-hearted attempt to convince State Premiers to support state-based income taxes.

Newspoll especially got a lot of attention by finding Labor to be ahead of the Coalition (51:49) for the first time since Malcolm Turnbull took over as PM.  Much reporting - with the ABC alas the worst culprit that I noticed here - treated Newspoll as if it was the only poll in town.  In fact Morgan was the first poll to have the Coalition ahead on 2PP (two weeks earlier but not in the current week), and reputable aggregates all still show the Coalition with a slim 2PP lead.

The attention on Newspoll in the political classes to the exclusion of most others has long been disproportionate but may be becoming even more so.  As evidence that the Turnbull government was in trouble, a single 49:51 result was very flimsy. given especially that:

Colbeck Demoted To Fifth On Double-Dissolution Liberal Ticket

I am working on a belated roundup of federal polling but a quick post on today's Tasmanian Liberal Senate preselection decision is appropriate.  The state executive has confirmed a Senate preselection decision to order the Tasmanian Liberal Senate ticket in the event of a double dissolution as follows: 1. Senator Eric Abetz 2. Senator Stephen Parry 3. staffer Jonathan Duniam 4. Senator David Bushby 5. Senator Richard Colbeck 6. Break O'Day Councillor John Tucker.  There might yet be federal intervention, but in the absence of such, this article discusses what it may mean.  The Liberal preselection process does not include any member balloting or proportional representation and my understanding is it progresses by a series of votes on each position down the list.

This follows a previous preselection decision for a half-Senate election, which I did not cover here, in which Senator Abetz retained his position on top of the ticket very comfortably while Senator Parry apparently defeated Duniam for position two by one vote.  (Senators Colbeck and Bushby are mid-term so were not involved).

Aside from the state branch not preselecting even one woman to any of the six remotely winnable Tasmanian senate positions, the aspect attracting attention here is the effective demotion of Senator Richard Colbeck, who is currently Minister for Tourism and International Education, from top of the ticket in 2010 to below newcomer Duniam and Senator Bushby.  This has been widely and in my view probably rightly seen through the prism of conflict between hardliners and moderates, with the Tasmanian party being dominated by the former.  With Eric Abetz demoted from Senate leadership and all of the "three Amigos" in the Lower House being first-term backbenchers, Colbeck is now the most senior (though not the most longserving) Liberal in Canberra and topped the Coalition ticket for the 2013 election.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Legislative Council 2016: Apsley and Elwick

Added May 7: For live results and postcount comments go here.

This is my candidate guide and preview for the two Tasmanian Legislative Council seats that are up for elections this year.  Nominations closed on April 15, and the elections are on Saturday May 7th; I expect to post live comments on the counts as per normal.  However I will be busy in the week leading up to the election so updates may be briefer or less frequent than usual.

These elections are important for the future legislative program of the Hodgman Liberal Government. At present it usually but not always has the numbers upstairs (see voting patterns).  If both seats fall to Labor, then the left will have a blocking majority on major contentious issues.  Even one Labor win would be quite significant for the balance of the chamber.

Despite the implications of Legislative Council elections for state politics, many LegCo elections are decided in a similar way to local council voting, based on personal profile, community connections and "parish pump" type campaigning.  Attempts to attack incumbents both right (Wilkinson, Dean) and left (Finch, Gaffney) over their voting records have failed spectacularly in recent years - but at least state political issues are now being discussed at all in these campaigns.