Saturday, December 22, 2018

EMRS: Small Swing To Labor In Tasmanian Federal Poll

EMRS Tasmania (federal) ALP 40 (+2.1 since election) Lib 33 (-2.4) Green 11 (+0.8) Others 15 (-1.4)
Overall poll suggests a no-change seat result in Tasmania would be likely if election held now
Individual seat results must be treated with caution because of small sample size.

The Liberal Party suffered a major blow early on federal election night 2016, losing the three northern Tasmanian seats that it had captured from Labor in 2013.  In the leadup to the 2019 election, the Tasmanian federal seats have so far not attracted much attention.  This is consistent with a national feeling that with a substantial swing to Labor likely, only a few Labor seats are likely to be in play, and typically where so for unusual local reasons (Lindsay, Macnamara for examples).  The Coalition's strategy is likely to be focused on trying to save as many of its own seats as possible, and going hunting for gains in Tasmania (where PM Morrison has never been high-profile) doesn't seem like a high-payoff-chance strategy.  The northern Tasmanian seats are also protected by personal vote effects for new sitting members, making them harder to shift (not that this stopped them from flipping last time.)

All the same the Labor Party's vote did appear a bit wonky at the Braddon by-election, caused by incumbent Justine Keay's Section 44 problems.  Unlike in Longman, Labor obtained no 2PP swing to speak of there.  There's a case the seat would have been very close, or even have actually fallen, had the Liberals not spent the campaign fighting with the charismatic independent fisherman Craig Garland.  Another seat where incumbents always need to be tokenly nervous is Bass.  While Ross Hart holds it by a comfortable 5.3%, the seat has changed parties seven times at the last nine elections.

The first sample of Tasmanian federal voting intention of any size is a sample of 923 decided voters, presumably piggy-backed off the recent EMRS state poll (which has a standard sample size of 1000, including undecided).  The poll report describes it as conducted for Font PR though I was also told it was commissioned by the Mercury (I will revise if I have more clarity on the commissioning arrangements.)

EMRS federal polling is a rare beast these days though it was more common prior to the rise of ReachTEL.  EMRS polled in the leadup to the 2007 federal election and in that case did not overestimate the Green vote, which has been a hallmark of their state polling (in fact, they underestimated it, though their final poll was taken some time out.)  The current poll includes seat-by-seat samples, but with an average of 185 electors per seat, not much reliance can be placed on these.  At the best of times a 185-vote sample has a maximum margin of error of 7 points, but the problems that have beset seat polling in Australia are such that one should really divide the sample size by six, which means a margin of error more like 17 points!

Based on 2016 preferences, Labor would have a 59.8-40.2 two-party preferred statewide, a 2PP swing to Labor of 2.4%, and that's the main takeaway here.   It's worth doing a run-through of the electorate results (unreliable as they are) just for the benefit of those interested.  The primary votes at the top are from the poll, and the 2PP, 2CPs and swings are my estimates from last-election preferences but using the new boundaries.

The most eye-catching figure in the electorate samples is a supposedly massive swing from independent Andrew Wilkie to Labor in the seat of Clark.  After very narrowly winning Clark (then Denison) from third on primaries in 2010, Wilkie retained commandingly in 2013 and picked up a further 6% primary vote swing in 2016.  While Labor has been rebuilding strongly in the area (for instance picking up a large swing at the state election) I don't trust this very small sample at this stage, and I suspect there's more going on with the poll's 16% swing than random error.  As far as I can tell, Wilkie wasn't named in the readout, and failing to name prominent independents in the readout often leads to a depressed reading of their vote.

On the other hand, naming "Independent" as a separate category (which this poll did - I amalgamated Independent 13% and Others 2% above) tends to get an inflated reading in electorates where none of any note are running.  Thus the poll has 9% for Ind/Others combined in Franklin and 15% in Lyons, whereas in 2016 the actual votes were 4.4 and 10.2.

In general, also, there is more variation in the 2PP swings than would be expected for an actual election, and this is again because of the small sample size.  We haven't seen these EMRS electorate breakdowns with small sample sizes published for a while and I want to again reinforce the message that these are small samples and are not reliable on a seat by seat basis.

The poll also included age and gender breakdowns, notable only in that Indepedent/Others voters were 58% male (not statistically significant, but probably suggests some Lambie voters in the mix as they tend to be male).  Young and female voters tending to vote Green and older voters voting Liberal; none of this is news.

At present I am not aware of any other questions being asked in this poll.

1 comment:

  1. Why has The Mercury newspaper become so Liberal leaning since the new editor took over... yet polling consistently shows the Southern electorates ( The Mercury's prime readership base I would have thought ) strongly favor - and overwhelmingly favor in the electorate of Clark - the views and philosophies of the other side of politics?