Thursday, August 10, 2017

EMRS: White Lead Is A Big Problem For Liberals

EMRS August Lib 37 ALP 34 Green 16 Ind 6 JLN 5 Other 1
Interpretation Lib 39 ALP 38 Green 13 Others 10
Modelled seat result based on this poll if election held now: Liberal 11-12 seats Labor 10 Green 3-4 
Warning: Polls are snapshots, not forecasts
Preferred Premier Rebecca White leads Will Hodgman 48-37

A new EMRS poll of state voting intentions is out.  Also see the trend tracker. The party breakdown shows scarcely any change from the May result but the startling outcome is that Rebecca White leads Will Hodgman as preferred premier by the thumping margin of 48% to 37%.

Let's put that in the historic context drawn from other states.  It's very simple: preferred premier is an indicator that usually strongly favours incumbents.  When established state premiers trail as preferred leader in Newspoll (never mind by eleven points), they either lose the next election or are removed by their own party.  EMRS is not Newspoll, and it's possible its continued devotion to landline polling (which I strongly believe to be not fully randomised) has meant its results have become total rubbish.  But if that's not the case, the government should be rather worried.  The suggestion is that so far negative attacks on the new Opposition Leader have either not worked at all or even backfired.  

Opposition Leaders don't lead by eleven points just because people like them.  Historically this sort of imbalance happens when governments are in deep trouble or their leaders are unpopular, or both. Federal governments sometimes recover from it; state governments historically don't. The large lead for Rebecca White is probably also a sign that among the voters who EMRS flags as undecided, or as intending to vote for a minor candidate, there are probably a lot who are leaning towards Labor or likely to direct preferences Labor's way.  It should be noted, for contrast and a bit of sobrietry, that the recent ReachTEL had only a small White lead from a format that doesn't skew to incumbents, so perhaps this EMRS is an outlier.  I am also aware of an unpublished commissioned poll showing Hodgman with a small lead using similar question design to EMRS.

It could be this is the exception that proves the rule and that we have an opposition leader who polls through the roof as preferred leader without it translating into that many actual votes, but I would not advise the government to place much faith in that.  We should also remember that Alexander Downer had the largest preferred Prime Minister lead for an Opposition Leader in federal Newspoll history, and we all know what happened to him.  (If you don't, because you weren't old enough, I do suggest reading up on it.  The things that batter, and other stories.)

Seat breakdowns 

As usual I have tried to reallocate some votes in this poll based on EMRS' history of skewing to the Greens and indies and against the ALP, although it is not entirely clear whether past skew against Labor was against the ALP as such or rather against incumbent governments.  On that basis I am taking three points from the Greens, two from Others and one from rounding and giving two to the Liberals and four to Labor.

After doing that the Liberals lose a seat to Labor in Braddon and in Franklin.  Labor gains a seat in Bass but it would be close between the Liberals and Greens as to whose expense it would be at.  The preferencing pattern from the last election for minor parties would see the Liberals holding on, but I am doubtful that will be repeated.  In Lyons, the Liberal vote is modelled as probably too low to pull off the trick I have discussed several times of beating the Greens by spreading the vote between three candidates.  The Greens probably win that seat, but in the event they pull up short it might even go to Labor rather than the government.  There are a lot of uncertainties because of the poorly bedded-down Others vote, with the Lambie Network possibly running but not showing serious signs of having its act together at this stage, and not yet polling quite enough to win a seat.

A perpetual wildcard (on which we have no polling evidence to discuss) is the massively rumoured Kristie Johnston independent run in Denison.  Glenorchy council has just been suspended for another six months. There is no actual evidence from the candidate that Johnston is running and it is unclear what her platform might be if so.  But my model of this poll has the Liberals well below two seats in Denison, meaning that if Johnston does run there is another Liberal seat at risk.  (Johnston could also pose a risk to the Greens' Denison seat, strangely enough.)

The perpetual disclaimer applies: a poll is a snapshot not a forecast.  In 2006 the Lennon government's chances of winning a majority were completely written off (except by psephologists) but it did.  It is always possible the Liberals will succeed in convincing the electorate that only they can win a majority and votes will snowball back to them.  But if the underestimation of Labor in EMRS polling in 2006 was because EMRS underestimates Labor as such, then that won't be any comfort.

I have updated my statewide polling aggregate with the EMRS weighted at 25% as it is a fairly small sample coming straight after a much larger ReachTEL.  Surprisingly this wasn't enough to shift my sidebar aggregate which still has the Liberals hanging on if they can spread their vote effectively between their three MPs in Lyons.


The government has stated that legislation to adopt the boundaries of the federal redistribution will be tabled next year (although in theory it might be possible to do it at the end of this year).  If this is the case then the state election, even if held on time, will be held on the old boundaries (*and, sorry Inglis Clark fans, the old electorate names.)

1 comment:

  1. The more polls that show the 2PP vote is close the less likely majority becomes. Those that will vote in a herd mentality towards the party with highest opinion poll percentage start to get confused and actually have to focus on policy. Some of the soft Liberal vote returns to Labor. I think Okehampton Bay and Barnett's divisive attempt to fire up the forest wars haven't helped the Liberal cause.


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