This week’s Fairfax Ipsos poll, conducted November 14-17 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor just a 52-48 lead, a three-point gain for the Coalition since October. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (up two), 34% Labor (down one), 13% Greens (down two) and 5% One Nation (steady). As usual, the Greens are too high in Ipsos and Labor too low.
This poll is the Coalition’s best result from any pollster since Malcolm Turnbull was ousted. Last week, Newspoll gave Labor a 55-45 lead, and it is unlikely Labor lost three points in a week. Ipsos is the most volatile Australian pollster. However, Essential (see below) confirms Ipsos by also shifting to a 52-48 lead for Labor.
Respondent allocated preferences in Ipsos were 53-47 to Labor, one point better for Labor than the previous election method. Under Turnbull, Labor usually performed worse on respondent preferences, but the three Ipsos polls under Scott Morrison have Labor tied or ahead of the previous election method using respondent preferences. A stronger flow to Labor from the Greens and non-One Nation Others could be compensating for weaker flows from One Nation.
48% approved of Morrison (down two), and 36% disapproved (up three), for a net approval of +12. Last week’s Newspoll gave Morrison a -8 net approval; although Ipsos gives incumbent PMs much better ratings than Newspoll, the difference is very large this time. Bill Shorten’s net approval was up one point to -7. Morrison led Shorten by 47-35 as better PM (48-35 in October).
46% thought Muslim immigration should be reduced, 35% remain the same and 14% increased. In October, a question about all immigration found 45% wanted it reduced, 29% wanted it to stay the same, and 23% increased.
47% thought the government’s main priority on energy policy should be reducing household bills, 39% reducing carbon emissions and 13% reducing the risk of power blackouts. Labor will attempt to convince people that clean energy can be consistent with cheap energy.
I think the shift to the Coalition is more likely due to last week’s economic data than the Bourke Street attack. On November 14, the ABS reported September quarter wage growth data; according to The Guardian’s Greg Jericho, wages are growing more than inflation for the first time since 2013. On November 15, the ABS reported that 33,000 jobs were added in October, with the unemployment rate stable at 5.0%.
On November 14, Westpac reported that consumer sentiment increased 2.8% from October to 104.3 in November. If people feel good about their personal economic situation, it is more likely they will feel good about the government.
Essential: 52-48 to Labor
This week’s Essential poll, conducted November 15-18 from a sample of 1,027, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (up one), 35% Labor (down four), 11% Greens (up one) and 7% One Nation (up one).
44% said their vote was very firm and unlikely to change, including 50% of Labor voters and 46% of Coalition voters.
By 35-28, voters thought the Liberal government and its ministers were poor, but they also thought the Labor opposition and its shadow ministers poor by 33-28. By 36-35, voters thought the Labor team would do a better job of governing than the Liberal team.
On a range of issues, more people thought the government was not doing enough than doing enough, particularly on the ageing population (67-17), transitioning to renewable energy (64-14) and affordable housing (64-16).
In additional questions from last week’s Newspoll, voters thought Shorten and Labor had the best approach to improve housing affordability by 45-35 over Morrison and the Coalition. By 47-33, voters were in favour of reducing negative gearing tax concessions (54-28 in April 2017).
Micro parties likely to win several seats in Victorian upper house
The Victorian election will be held on November 24. There have been no statewide media-commissioned polls since a late October Newspoll (54-46 to Labor). A ReachTEL poll for a left-wing organisation, conducted November 13 from a sample of 1,530, gave Labor a 56-44 lead, which would be a four-point gain for Labor since an early October ReachTEL poll for The Age.
I would like to see a media poll before concluding that the Victorian election will be a blowout win for Labor, but Labor is likely to win.
The Victorian upper house has eight five-member electorates. A quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. During the last term, Labor never proposed any reforms to the upper house group voting system. As a result, there are many micro parties who are swapping preferences with each other so that one of them has a good chance of election.
According to analyst Kevin Bonham’s simulations of upper house results, seven micro party representatives could be elected. While the particular micro party that wins could change, the overall numbers probably won’t unless the major parties and Greens do much better than expected, or there is a much higher rate of below-the-line voting.
The Greens in particular appear likely to lose seats that they would win with a sensible system. Labor may well have shot themselves in the foot by sticking with group ticket voting; with a sensible system, Labor and the Greens would probably win an overall upper house majority. Conservative micro party members are likely to stall progressive legislation.
It is easy to vote below-the-line in Victoria, as only five numbers are required for a formal vote, though voters can continue numbering beyond “5”. I recommend that voters number at least five boxes below-the-line, rather than voting above-the-line, where parties control their voters’ preferences. If enough people vote below-the-line, the micro parties’ preference harvesting could be thwarted.
UK’s Brexit debacle could lead to Labour landslide; Greens surge in Germany
Last week, UK PM Theresa May did a deal with the European Union regarding Brexit, but Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and other ministers resigned in protest. It is likely that the UK House of Commons will reject the deal, owing to opposition from both the hard right and the left. A “no deal” Brexit is likely to greatly damage the UK economy, and could lead to a Labour landslide.
In March 2018, the German Social Democrats re-entered a grand coalition with the conservative Union parties – the same right/left coalition that governed Germany in three of the last four terms. Both the Union parties and Social Democrats have lost support, but it has gone much more to the Greens than the far-right AfD.
You can read more about Brexit and the German Greens’ surge on my personal website.
Authors: Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne