Thursday, March 4, 2021

EMRS: Liberals Still Have Hefty Lead, But Data Lacking On Clark Indie Runs

EMRS Feb 2021: Liberal 52 Labor 27 (+2) Greens 14 Others 7 

If these results were recorded in an election "held now" Liberals would win a majority (15-8-2, 14-8-3 or 14-9-2 most likely breakdowns.)

Poll was taken before announcement of Kristy Johnston independent candidacy for Clark

The first EMRS poll for 2021 has been released.  It confirms some degree of easing in the massive Liberal leads seen in the August poll last year, which may have been an outlier.  However it still has Peter Gutwein's Liberal Government on a primary vote above 50% and with a primary vote lead over Labor of 25 points, both of which imply another majority Liberal government if an election was "held now", and probably an increase in seat numbers.  That is, assuming the poll is reasonably accurate.

Clark Indie Runs

The EMRS poll was taken from February 15-23 and as such missed the February 27 announcement that Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston will contest Clark as an independent.  No independent has won since the House was reduced to 25 seats in 1998, but this is probably largely because so few independents capable of securing a decent vote have tried.  Andrew Wilkie came the closest, nearly winning in Clark with 8.4% in 2010, before winning the seat at federal level later that year.  Wilkie was advantaged by a strong flow of Greens preferences, but this time around the Greens are not likely to have much left over one quota (if anything).  Based on the current likely breakup of votes for the other parties, Johnston may need a significantly higher vote to win (perhaps 12-14%).  It is not that clear who she would beat if she wins, but at the moment Labor's second seat looks most at risk, especially given Johnston's Glenorchy base where the Labor primary is typically high.  

Johnston was elected with an enormous vote in the 2018 Glenorchy election, and in an electorate that gave Andrew Wilkie a 50% primary vote in 2019, she is an obvious contender.  In theory if all Wilkie voters voted independent at state level, indies could even win three Clark seats, but given the different dynamics of state voting (especially the personal votes for multiple major party candidates) I think that even two is very unlikely.  Johnston's candidacy appears to make it much more difficult for Sue Hickey to win as an indie if she were disposed to try to do so, and also makes it even harder for Madeleine Ogilvie (who may not have had any chance anyway.)  

Gutwein Factor In Bass

Something I thought I should do some historic analysis on was the impact on swings by seat when a government changes Premier mid-term, so that the Premiership is held by a member from a different electorate.  Amazingly, there are actually only two previous cases of a major party leader being from Bass: Albert Solomon (Liberal - not the current Liberal Party) in 1913, and Harry Holgate (Labor) in 1982.  

I found nine useable cases where the Premiership had changed within the same party but between electorates in this manner, and in these cases on average the Premier's party in his own division outperformed the state swing by 2.45%, while in the previous Premier's division the party underperformed by 1.38%.  There have been some spectacular cases of this (1959, 1976 and 1982 - but in 1982 the axed Premier Doug Lowe ran as an independent against his own party) but also some cases in the reverse direction, such as 1998 (after a term of governing with Greens support, the Liberals had a swing against them in Premier Rundle's division of Braddon, but a swing to them with a strong team in ex-Premier Ray Groom's division of Denison).  

I have now factored this average into my seat breakdown estimates, so I am assuming there will be a boost to the Gutwein-led Liberals in Bass and a loss of votes in Franklin where they no longer have Will Hodgman.  If anything, the model may underestimate either of these.  Gutwein has very high personal popularity at present while Hodgman was a long-term incumbent who polled very large primary votes and who is now gone from the seat.

Possible Seat Breakdown Of This Poll

I stress again that this is a model of what the election could look like if votes were cast as in this poll and with similar lineups to the last state election.  It does not take account of indie runs in Clark, nor of a likely decline in fourth-party voting elsewhere in the state.  In particular, I would not expect a serious Jacqui Lambie Network campaign at the next election, given that the previous one failed and that Lambie is not up for re-election anytime soon.  Hopefully at some stage there will be some polling of specific electorates based on which I can adjust the Clark others figure (too low with Johnston in the mix) and Braddon (too high).  But aside from Johnston I'd expect the remaining findings to hold up.

The personal vote bonus I have given the Liberals in Bass puts them on the cusp of four seats and on these numbers they would probably get four.  This would be rather extraordinary (the Braddon case of four in 2014 was based on vote-splitting between candidates rather than raw vote shares) and should still be treated with caution, even assuming the current Liberal lead lasts all the way to the ballot box.  The potential problem for Labor is that if this poll is accurate then their statewide primary vote is still unacceptably low, and if it stays that way it will be hard for them to win two in Bass with any candidates.  The FontPR podcast has claimed that former Launceston Mayor and longtime Councillor Janie Finlay, recently very nearly elected as an independent in Rosevears, will seek Labor preselection for this seat, which would give Labor's ticket some of the firepower it was lacking in Bass last time round.  However a general lift in the party's standing is still likely to be needed compared to this poll to win two.  

The Greens have the problem that they now have no incumbent in the seat, and one would think a Finlay run for Labor would take votes away from them if confirmed.  Preferences in Bass also tend to be adverse for them, though probably leakage from Gutwein's surplus would be high.  In Lyons the Greens have the same issue - their primary vote needs more building because of the impact of unfriendly preferences in this seat.  It is possible the Greens could win only two seats off 14%, and also possible that the 14% is overestimated because of EMRS's continual reliance on live phone polling.  (That said, methods changes they recently introduced did appear to have fixed that problem, and there are obvious reasons why the Greens vote could go up, such as a ramping up of forestry conflict and Labor's pokies policy reversal.)

As noted above I treat the third Liberal seat in Franklin with much caution because of the loss of Will Hodgman's personal vote, which I have factored in based on the average only.

New Aggregate - Different Treatment Of Others Vote

For my cross-polling aggregate (and for future state single-poll projections) I've decided tonight to distribute the Others vote evenly across the state until seat-specific polling implies otherwise.  The reason for this is that the extreme values in Braddon and Clark in the last-election versions are bothering me.  To test this, I asked the question: is the share of the statewide Others vote in a division predictive of what it will be at the next election?  For elections from 1998 onwards I found that the answer is no when the Wilkie 2010 case is included in the dataset, and not much even if it is excluded as an outlier.

Here's my new cross-polling aggregate on this basis, noting that it has no basis for attributing any vote level to the Clark indies yet:

It's important to stress here that this aggregate assumes that the polls are between them more or less right, and we don't know if that's actually the case - and also it's a "nowcast", not a forecast of what will actually happen.  The aggregate again has the Liberals sitting on the cusp of a 15th seat, but on the other hand their third in Franklin isn't very safe.  So 15-8-2 on the sum of the individual seats but 14-9-2 is also a contender, and 14-8-3 is possible.  

If the polls (mostly EMRS) are right then Labor has a serious issue with its primary vote and needs to increase it to avoid losing one or two of its 2018 seats.  


  1. Hi Kevin

    Question from an alternate reality. Could Jacquie Lambie for a state seat in Braddon while being a sitting Senator, or is she prevented from bwing in both state and federal parliament at the same time?

    Certainly Gutwein would be advantaged if he called an early election. If indeed he can. The COVID halo (and while I don't support him, he has handled it very well) will fade eventually.

    I do think Clark will end up being a crap shoot. Assuming Hickey is disendorsed and runs as an independent (and I wouldn't underestimate her support her support in the Sandra Bay) - the votes cpuld spray everywhere. I can see a real possibility of the Liberals ans Labor only ending up with one seat each.

    1. It's not allowed. MPs at either state or federal level need to resign their seats (at least temporarily) if they wish to contest the other level, making it impossible to serve at both levels at the same time.

  2. Labor in this state as well as federally are in a real funk and I can't for the life of me see a way for them to turn it around with the current leadership teams they have. A worse problem is I can't see any viable replacements either.