Seat of the day #42: Macarthur

Macarthur1-2PPMacarthur is a marginal Liberal seat in south-western Sydney, covering Campbelltown, Minto, Leumeah, Ingleburn, St Andrews, Raby, Bradbury, Ambarvale and Rosemeadow.

Liberal MP Russell Matheson has held the seat since 2010. The recent redistribution pulled the seat out of the Liberal-leaning Camden and Wollondilly areas and further into the Labor-leaning Campbelltown area. The redistribution cut the Liberal margin from 11.4% to 3.3%.

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Seat polls – how do they compare?

We’ve seen a surge in seat polls at this election.

By my count I’ve found at least 50 polls which have been publicly released since the beginning of April. This is suggests we are on track for a big increase since 2013. You can download my list of these polls here. William Bowe lists 58 polls in the whole 2013 campaign.

This includes at least twelve seat polls from Newspoll released this morning, although the majority of polls have come from Reachtel.

Others know more about the problems inherent in individual seat polling than I do, but it appears to my eyes that part of the problem is that most seats only get polled once – so we don’t have a sense of a trend, or whether the poll is an outlier. This time around, at least ten seats have been polled at least twice, and in Lindsay we have four publicly-released polls.

The conventional wisdom is that, while Labor is neck-and-neck in the national polls, local swings will stop them, as the Coalition is doing better in their marginal seats as their first-term MPs benefit from new personal votes. This is undoubtedly true to some extent, but I thought it would be worth comparing local polls in each seat to what the state and national swings suggest.

I have taken William Bowe’s latest BludgerTrack estimate, which gives the Coalition 50.5% after preferences, as well as the state 2PP breakdowns, and plugged them into Antony Green’s House of Representatives calculator.

If you take the national swing, you get a result of 82 Coalition, 64 Labor and four others. If you take the state swings, you get a result of 78 Coalition, 68 Labor and four others.

In the following table, I have compared the most recent seat poll for the twenty-nine seats which have produced polls with Labor-Coalition 2PP figures. I have excluded seats where the Nick Xenophon Team, the Greens or an independent are in contention (so no SA seats are included).

Seat Margin Nat’l swing State swing Latest poll LNP +/-
Banks (NSW) LIB 2.8% LIB 0.5% LIB 1.2% 50/50 (Galaxy, 11 May) -1.2%
Bass (TAS) LIB 4.0% LIB 1.8% LIB 6.5% 52% to LNP (Newspoll, 13 June) -4.5%
Bonner (QLD) LNP 3.7% LNP 0.7% ALP 1.4% 56% to LNP (Reachtel, 9 June) 7.4%
Braddon (TAS) LIB 2.6% LIB 0.3% LIB 5.0% 53% to LNP (Reachtel, 14 May) -2.0%
Brisbane (QLD) LNP 4.3% ALP 0.2% ALP 2.3% 51% to LNP (Newspoll, 13 June) 3.3%
Burt (WA) LIB 6.1% LIB 3.1% ALP 1.7% 52% to ALP (Newspoll, 13 June) -0.3%
Capricornia (QLD) LNP 0.8% ALP 1.5% ALP 3.6% 50/50 (Newspoll, 13 June) 3.6%
Corangamite (VIC) LIB 3.9% LIB 1.7% LIB 1.8% 51% to LNP (Newspoll, 13 June) -0.8%
Cowan (WA) LIB 4.5% LIB 1.5% ALP 3.3% 50/50 (Reachtel, 9 June) 3.3%
Dawson (QLD) LNP 7.6% LNP 4.6% LNP 2.5% 50/50 (Reachtel, 7 June) -2.5%
Deakin (VIC) LIB 3.2% LIB 0.9% LIB 1.0% 52% to LNP (Reachtel, 9 June) 1.0%
Dobell (NSW) ALP 0.2% ALP 2.4% ALP 1.7% 51% to ALP (Reachtel, 9 June) 0.7%
Dunkley (VIC) LIB 5.6% LIB 1.1% LIB 1.2% 52% to LNP (Newspoll, 13 June) 0.8%
Eden-Monaro (NSW) LIB 2.9% LIB 0.7% LIB 1.4% 51% to LNP (Reachtel, 19 April) -0.4%
Franklin (TAS) ALP 5.1% ALP 8.1% ALP 3.4% 54% to ALP (Reachtel, 14 May) -0.6%
Gilmore (NSW) LIB 3.8% LIB 1.5% LIB 2.2% 51% to LNP (Galaxy, 11 May) -1.2%
Hasluck (WA) LIB 6.0% LIB 3.0% ALP 1.8% 53% to LNP (Reachtel, 16 June) 4.8%
Herbert (QLD) LNP 6.2% LNP 3.2% LNP 1.1% 54% to LNP (Newspoll, 13 June) 2.9%
Leichhardt (QLD) LNP 5.7% LNP 2.7% LNP 0.6% 52% to LNP (Galaxy, 13 May) 1.4%
Lindsay (NSW) LIB 3.0% LIB 0.7% LIB 1.4% 52% to LNP (Newspoll, 13 June) 0.6%
Longman (QLD) LNP 6.9% LNP 3.9% LNP 1.8% 50/50 (Reachtel, 2 June) -1.8%
Lyons (TAS) LIB 1.2% ALP 1.0% LIB 3.7% 51% to LNP (Reachtel, 14 May) -2.7%
Macarthur (NSW) LIB 3.3% ALP 1.1% ALP 0.4% 50/50 (Newspoll, 13 June) 0.4%
Macquarie (NSW) LIB 4.5% LIB 1.5% LIB 2.2% 50/50 (Reachtel, 19 April) -2.2%
Page (NSW) NAT 3.1% NAT 0.8% NAT 1.5% 56% to ALP (Reachtel, 19 April) -7.5%
Reid (NSW) LIB 3.4% LIB 1.1% LIB 1.8% 51% to LNP (Galaxy, 11 May) -0.8%
Robertson (NSW) LIB 3.1% LIB 0.8% LIB 1.5% 51% to LNP (Newspoll, 13 June) -0.5%
Wentworth (NSW) LIB 18.9% LIB 15.9% LIB 16.6% 58% to LNP (Reachtel, 31 May) -8.6%

Most of the seats on this list have polls in the 50-52% range – only seven seats had marginals above 52%. Things bounce around in that range, but the margin of error suggests that all of these seats could still be in play.

The interesting diversions include:

  • Bonner – the national and state polls suggest a very close race, but the LNP is winning comfortably.
  • Page – the national and state polls suggest a narrow win for the Nationals, but Labor is on 56%.
  • Tasmania – seat polls in the three Liberal seats in Tasmania all project a closer race than the statewide average, which suggests comfortable re-election for the three first-term MPs.
  • Hasluck – the most recent poll in the sample suggests a small swing against Liberal MP Ken Wyatt, despite state polling in WA suggesting a huge swing to Labor.

I also wanted to run through the trends in seats which have had at least three polls conducted:

  • Bass – Reachtel polled Bass twice in May – the first poll gave the Liberal Party 51%, the second favoured Labor with 51%. Newspoll polled there last week, and the Liberal Party had a lead of 52%.
  • Corangamite – this seat has been polled three times in the last three weeks. The first poll on May 26 had the Liberal Party on 54%, but this dropped to 51% in the two polls conducted in June.
  • Dobell has been polled once a month since April. Labor won 51% in April and 51% again in June, but in between in July the poll was 50/50.
  • Lindsay has been polled four times since April. Labor led with 51% in a Reachtel poll in April. The Liberal Party won easily with 54% in a Galaxy poll in May and a Reachtel poll on June 9, and this dropped to 52% in a Newspoll last week.
  • Macarthur – Labor won 51% after preferences in Galaxy and Reachtel polls in May. A Newspoll last week had the seat as 50/50.

I don’t think this answers the question about whether Labor or Coalition is on track to win. I still think the Coalition is more likely to win than Labor, and Labor needs a higher two-party-preferred vote, but the local seat polls in general confirm the national trend – Labor is just behind, but could win if enough seats break their way.

PS: I’ve started adding seat polls to the seat guides – they’re underneath the assessment section, and above the 2013 election results. So check them out next time you’re reading one of the seat guides.


Seat of the day #41: Reid

Reid1-2PPReid is a marginal Liberal seat in the inner west of Sydney, covering Drummoyne, Concord, Burwood and Strathfield.

Craig Laundy won Reid in 2013, and holds the seat by a 3.4% margin.

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Seat of the day #40: Bonner

Bonner is an LNP seat in south-eastern Brisbane, covering Wynnum, Manly, Mount Gravatt and Carindale.

Bonner has been held by Liberal National MP Ross Vasta since 2010, after he previously held the seat for one term from 2004 to 2007. Vasta holds the seat by a 3.7% margin.

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Seat of the day #39: Gilmore

Gilmore1-2PPGilmore is a Liberal seat on the south coast of New South Wales, including Nowra, Kiama, Ulladulla, Jervis Bay and Moruya.

Ann Sudmalis won Gilmore in 2013 on the retirement of former Liberal MP Joanna Gash, and now holds the seat by a 3.8% margin.

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Seat of the day #38: Corangamite

Corangamite4-2PP-GeelongsurroundsCorangamite is a marginal Liberal seat in south-western Victoria, covering areas to the south-west of Geelong, including southern Geelong, Ocean Grove, Torquay, Colac and Winchelsea.

Liberal MP Sarah Henderson won Corangamite in 2013, and holds the seat by a 3.9% margin.

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Seat of the day #37: Bass

Bass1-2PPBass is a Liberal seat in north-eastern Tasmania, covering Launceston, George Town and the north-eastern corner of the state.

Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic won the seat in 2013, and holds Bass by a 4% margin.

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Seat of the day #36: La Trobe

Latrobe1-2PPLa Trobe is a Liberal seat on the south-eastern fringe of Melbourne, covering Belgrave, Berwick, Narre Warren and Ferntree Gully.

Liberal MP Jason Wood won La Trobe back in 2013, after previously holding the seat from 2004 to 2010. He holds La Trobe by a 4% margin.

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Seat of the day #35: Brisbane

Brisbane1-2PPBrisbane is a Liberal seat covering the inner suburbs of Brisbane on the north side of the River, including the Brisbane CBD, Fortitude Valley, Paddington, Ashgrove, Kelvin Grove, Newmarket, Clayfield and Hendra.

Retiring LNP MP Teresa Gambaro has held Brisbane since 2010, after previously holding Petrie from 1996 to 2007. The LNP holds Brisbane by a 4.3% margin.

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Nominations announced – final update

Nominations were declared at midday yesterday, and I’ve just finished updating the candidate lists for each seat and the eight Senate races.

I wrote speculatively about the number of candidate nominations on Thursday in the Guardian. At the time of writing, 772 House of Representatives candidates had been identified, and I suggested that the final number would likely be one of the smallest in recent years.

The number jumped to 994, but this is still relatively low. Over 1000 candidates nominated for the lower house in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007, before dropping to under 900 in 2010 before a record number of candidates nominated in 2013.

The median number of candidates per seat dropped from eight to six, with twelve seats having three or four candidates on the ballot.

In the Senate, most states will have slightly smaller ballot papers than in 2013. Ballots in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the territories have each shrunk slightly, while they have grown slightly in Western Australia and Queensland.

The size of the ballot paper has some relationship to the population of the state, with bigger states having more parties running. South Australia was an outlier in 2013, and we’ve seen a drop in groups running in South Australia.

Despite the steady number of groups running, a record 631 candidates are running, thanks to parties running more candidates for the double dissolution.

While some may argue that the large ballot papers indicates that Senate voting reform failed to limit the increase in ballot sizes, I would argue that Senate ballots would have likely grown even further in 2016 without the reforms, and we should see smaller ballots at the first half-Senate election in 2019.

One interesting element in the Senate nominations was the large number of ungrouped candidates.

Ungrouped candidates have been largely a relic of an earlier era – candidates relegated to the end of the ballot paper, and not able to receive above-the-line votes. Generally ungrouped candidates have received extremely small votes, and are largely irrelevant to the contest.

While most commentary on the recent Senate reforms focused on changes to above-the-line voting, the laws also made it significantly easier to vote below the line. It was previously necessary to number at least 90% of boxes. Any below-the-line vote numbered 1-6 will now be formal (although voters will be instructed to number twelve boxes).

Now that below-the-line voting has become significantly easier, we’ve seen a response as a large number of candidates have nominated as sole ungrouped candidates. Before this year, the record for the most ungrouped candidates was 37 in 1990, and this number declined until only eleven nominated in 2013. This year that number is 79 – more than twice the previous record, and seven times the 2013 figure.

Of course, all serious parties are running in groups, and will benefit from above the line voting. It’s still substantially easier to make sure your preference count by numbering boxes above the line, and I expect these ungrouped candidates will still poll poorly, but it’s an interesting trend.