Wednesday, February 28, 2024

EMRS: Liberals Have Big Lead But Still Well Short Of 50

This article is part of my 2024 Tasmanian state election coverage - link to main article page

EMRS Liberal 39 Labor 26 (-3) Greens 12 JLN 9 IND 14 others 1 
Liberals would clearly be largest party
Seat estimate if poll is correct Lib 15-16 ALP 10 Grn 2-3  JLN 2-3 IND 3-5
Just one poll - there will be others!

Advance Comments

A quarterly poll by Tasmania's most experienced state pollster EMRS, which has a rather good track record, has just dropped.  It shows a complex scenario that is also, if correct, a sorry one for Labor.  This poll will have the Liberals happy in that it has them as the only party within reach of a majority while Labor are bleeding votes to independents and JLN.  It follows a YouGov poll that differed mainly in having the Liberals in the low 30s and a much higher Lambie vote.   The poll suggests that if there is a hung parliament, it will be one where Labor will only be able to govern deeply in minority with multiple partners, while the Liberals may have simpler paths to government if anyone will help them.  

Often I can eyeball a statewide EMRS poll and have an immediately good idea of the rough seat breakdown, but this one is particularly complex because the "Independent" vote needs to be assigned subjectively pending more detailed data (which may be coming in a few days).  The poll was taken from 15-21 Feb so the last week of campaigning is not included.  

This is only one poll and others' mileage may vary but it continues the term-long trend of Labor being unable to break through the 30% mark, and suggests state Labor could be suffering from "federal drag" (the impact of being in government federally on a state election).  This is Labor's worst primary vote since polling the same in December 2021 while Peter Gutwein was still Premier and prior to the reopening of the state's borders.  Prior to the 2020-2021 COVID moat phase, they were last polling this badly in November 2015.  

The point of the title of this piece isn't that the Government needs 50% to win outright (they didn't get that last time) but that they probably need to be close to that mark.  Jim Bacon won outright in 1998 with 44.8% but would not have done so in the 35-seat system.  This year 45% might be enough if the Government can get there, but 39 most likely isn't.

Subjective seat model

I have done a model that attempts to translate what this poll would mean if these numbers, or the nearest reasonable numbers, happened at an election.  This is based on a uniform swing model initially to which I have made various tweaks:

* setting the Others vote at about 3% because Shooters, Animal Justice and the Local Network political party must be good for more than 1% between them (difference deducted from Independent)

* using the Senate as a basis for JLN (edit: model has been adjusted slightly as JLN were not on the readout in Clark)

* adjusting Bass and Braddon for the Liberals by 2% each way for the change of Premier.  

* adjusting Labor up in Clark for a less chaotic campaign and the addition of Josh Willie, and Liberals down for loss of Elise Archer and perhaps some vote bleed to Louise Elliot

* minor campaign based adjustments of the Greens based on candidate factors or disputes (Bass down, Clark down, Lyons up)

* a bunch of guesstimates of Independent votes based on who is running and my best guess of what they might get, and the YouGov poll (although its samples were tiny)

* put all the pieces in the box and bash them with a hammer til the lid shuts (crude manual equivalent of reweighting)

This is what came out as a possible estimate.  I have the most doubts about Franklin (size of O'Byrne vote), Braddon (one IND needs to get the bulk of the IND vote to win, which means Garland does well and Freshney gets not much or vice versa) but really everything is very rubbery here.  The overall point is that what goes up must come down; if my estimates have a party too low somewhere it will probably be too high somewhere else and the number of seats won will be about the same. For instance will JLN and independents really eat into the Liberal vote enough in Braddon that they have a lower primary there than Bass?  It seems unlikely but that's what I got.

Overall it's really more about the indicative totals than the specific breakdowns.  I will refine this very rough model if EMRS releases sufficiently fine scale electorate detail.  

My indicative breakdowns if this poll is accurate then are:

Liberal 15-16

Labor 10

Green 2-3

JLN 2-3

IND 3-5

others 0

If my breakdown is a little bit off Labor could get an 11th seat in Lyons, but not realistically more.  Likewise the breakdown would not have to be that far out for the Greens to get four.  

So this poll as suspected would leave Labor only able to govern via a rainbow alliance that would have to include the Greens and that would need to throw the Liberals out on the floor of the parliament because the Liberals would surely request to meet the Parliament in such a case.  It's more likely on these numbers that even if Labor entertained this prospect, there would be some crossbenchers willing to support a Liberal minority government because it involved fewer moving pieces and they could get more bang for their support.  That said, if the past few years have shown us anything about the likely crossbench, it is that we should not underestimate the Liberals' ability to drive away those they'll need to work with.  

Again, this is just one poll, albeit from a pollster with a good track record that has frequently shown it can get within a few points even when its poll is not the freshest come election day.   Voting intention can change fast here (this especially applies to JLN who crashed as time went on in the 2018 campaign, but also to the major party balance.)


It is again surprising that Rebecca White continues to poll so well on Better Premier (now trailing only 38-41) when that indicator normally favours incumbents.  A lot of her support as Better Premier, however, will be coming from Greens voters, many of whose votes will not flow back to Labor even if the Greens are excluded in certain seats, because of semi-optional preferencing.  

EMRS Breakdowns

EMRS have also issued electorate by electorate breakdowns (bear in mind these are based on very small samples of around 200 per division).  The most surprising aspect of this sample is the Green vote is higher in Bass than anyone else; no sane person should believe this (small samples are very volatile).  This is what I get as the seat breakdown off EMRS's samples:

 Later I may attempt an aggregate using the previous EMRS samples as well (this gets a bit tricky with assigning JLN).  For now I get 15-16 Liberal, 9-10 ALP, 4 Green, 2-3 JLN, 2-4 IND. 

And another one ...

This is a model based off the last three EMRS poll breakdowns scaled to the current poll, but I have set Others uniformly at 3 (possibly too high in the case of Franklin which has no Shooters candidates).  This creates some rough edges in the case of JLN but it comes out something like this:

 14-16 Liberal, 10 ALP, 3-4 Green, 2-3 JLN and 2-6 independents.  


  1. Although not that meaningful I calculation 2pp on those figures as
    52 lib 48 alp I wait with interest projected seats calc

    1. Under compulsory preferences it might be about 50-50 but Hare-Clark has semi-optional preferences and about a third of Greens votes exhaust; the Liberals would most likely be ahead in a Hare-Clark 2PP.

  2. Do you expect to see the same trend as in the past in Tasmania - with people making a late surge to line up behind the party most likely to govern in a majority?

    1. It's possible we'll see it. The Liberals are certainly trying very hard to hose down all their problems and seem to be campaigning better at the moment. Really the late bandwagon swing was most strongly seen in two elections (2006 and 2018) and most others have not shown it, often because the result was obvious a long way out. In 1996 when it could have saved the Groom government from falling into minority, it failed to appear.

  3. Is it possible an independent like Craig Garland in Braddon could get up with a healthy amount of Green and Lambie preferences?

  4. Garland has to be over the Greens to get their preferences, which he has been in the past but the competition from JLN may make it more difficult. On the numbers in the polls JLN don't look like having preferences to give since they are either winning narrowly in Braddon or just missing out. When the Greens are excluded about a third of their preferences exhaust and the rest scatter pretty widely; last time Garland got 28% of them. But these are things to watch if Garland does well, and also an independent can catch a party from somewhat behind because an independent cannot lose votes to leakage.

  5. It appears that the mercury reported poll is
    With in the realm of reasonable possibility. It
    Suggests the liberals get
    14 to 15 and the jln 3 the combined total of the 2 parties could be less than the libs may need to deal with more than 1 group to govern.. just like the alp

  6. What is really significant to me in this poll is the significant fall in the vote for major parties, something we've seen across the country for some time. Whereas in the elections from 1998 to 2021, the combined Labor plus Liberal vote was around 80% (ranged from 83 down to 77), the combined Labor plus Liberal in this poll is just 64%. And whereas the combined Labor plus Liberal plus Greens has hovered over 90% for that same period (97.7% in 2006), that is 76% in this poll.

  7. Looked at Betting market sportsbet..liberal approx 15 alp 10-11 lambie 2-3 green 3 to 4....that leaves approx 7 I suspect 2 pro Labor independents 1each Clark and Franklin


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