Death by a thousand polls


Well, three polls, at least.

In a moment of synchronicity, three of Australia’s four pollsters have released federal voting intention polls, all clearly showing a collapse in support for the Coalition and possibly spelling the end of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.

As for the details of each poll, I’ll simply quote William Bowe’s summary over at Poll Bludger:

• Arriving a day earlier than usual, Newspoll shows that the Coalition recovery detected a fortnight has come to end, with Labor’s lead back out from 53-47 to 56-44. The parties have also exchanged three points on the primary vote, Labor up to 44 per cent and the Coalition down to 37 per cent. However, the real shock is that Turnbull’s personal ratings have suffered what Shanahan calls “the single biggest fall in the survey’s 25-year history”, his approval rating plunging from 44 per cent to 25 per cent while his disapproval is up from 37 per cent to 58 per cent. Fifty-two per cent do not believe that John Grant received prefential treatment from the Prime Minister against only 24 per cent who do. Kevin Rudd’s lead as preferred prime minister is up from 57-25 to 65-18.

ACNielsen, which is hopefully back to monthly polling as we enter the second half of the term, has Labor’s two-party lead up from 53-47 to 58-42. Labor’s primary vote is up two points to 46 per cent and the Coalition’s is down six to 37 per cent. Fifty-three per cent say the OzCar affair has left them with a less favourable impression of Malcolm Turnbull, whose approval is down 11 points to 32 per cent with his disapproval up 13 points to 60 per cent. Turnbull comes third on the question of preferred Liberal leader with 18 per cent, behind Peter Costello on 37 per cent and Joe Hockey on 21 per cent. Rudd’s lead as preferred prime minister is up from 64-28 to 66-25, and his approval rating is up three points to 67 per cent.

Galaxy has Labor’s primary vote up a point to 44 per cent and the Coalition’s down two to 30 per cent. Sixty-one per cent believe Kevin Rudd has been open and honest about the OzCar affair, while 51 per cent “believed Mr Turnbull had been dishonest or somewhat deceitful”.

Any trend towards the Opposition has been completely decimated, with support for the ALP back towards the region of 56% two-party-preferred, which would give the party 100 seats on a uniform swing.

The Galaxy poll was also positive for the Greens, with the party gaining one point to 12%. This follows the Morgan poll of Friday giving the Greens 8.5% (up 1.5%) and state Newspolls in NSW and South Australia performing strongly for the party. In the case of Nielsen, the poll shows a 6-point decline in the Coalition’s primary vote while only giving 2% extra to the ALP, suggesting that the vote for Greens and Others has increased.

These polls have for the first time raised the possibility of Malcolm Turnbull being replaced as Liberal leader, with the Nielsen poll asking voters about potential Liberal leaders, producing the result of:

  • 37% Peter Costello
  • 21% Joe Hockey
  • 18% Malcolm Turnbull
  • 10% Tony Abbott

Short of the Coalition following the example of the Western Australian Liberal Party and coaxing Peter Costello out of retirement to lead the party, this puts Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey in poll position to become the party’s third Leader of the Opposition, barely halfway through the parliamentary term.

There have only ever been four federal Leaders of the Opposition to never lead their party into an election, being John Latham (1929-31), Alexander Downer (1994-5), Simon Crean (2001-3) and Brendan Nelson (2007-8). If Turnbull was to join their ranks, it would be the first time that a party would dispose of two leaders without going to an election.

In other news:

  • Former left-wing independent federal MP and footballer Phil Cleary has announced he will be running as an independent candidate in the seat of Brunswick at the next Victorian state election. Cleary was formerly federal MP for Wills, which overlaps with Brunswick.  Brunswick’s sitting MP Carlo Carli will be retiring at the election, and the seat is only held by the ALP by a margin of 3.63% over the Greens. If Cleary runs and wins a solid 10-20% of the primary vote, largely from a different constituency to the Greens, and preferences the Greens, the seat would quickly overtake Melbourne, Balmain and Marrickville to become the party’s next best hope to take a single-member electorate after winning the Fremantle by-election earlier this year. Update: I’ve slightly jumped the gun here. Cleary has only announced that he is considering running. Apparently he has done this before.
  • Embattled South Australian Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith is facing a leadership challenge in a scandal remarkably similar to the scandal engulfing Malcolm Turnbull. Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Correctional Services Mitch Williams has resigned from the Liberal frontbench and announced he will stand in any future leadership contest, although he does not seem to be pushing for an immediate challenge. It is now nine months before South Australia goes to the polls in March 2010, while a poll yesterday puts the ALP on 64% in Adelaide, a 1.4% swing from the 2006 result.
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  1. Remarkable really.

    Minor point: ACNielsen’s 58/42 has Labor gaining 71% of minor party preferences, which I think is implausible.

  2. It depends on how much of those minor party preferences come from the Greens. A 75% preference flow from Greens to Labor at the 2010 federal election is reasonably plausible.

    Nielsen has 17% for Others. If, say, 10-12% of that is for the Greens, then a 71% preference flow isn’t outrageous, although it does seem a bit high, and the 2PP should probably be closer to the 56-44 measured by the other polls.

  3. In the past, Labor’s TPP has blown out into the low 60’s, so given the week they’ve had the Libs would probably take 56-44. Odd that Turnball’s plummeting ratings haven’t dragged the Lib vote down even further.

  4. Cleary should run in Wills because many of the people who would voted for him back when Keating was PM have become Greens voters, been pushed out by gentrification or died in the intervening 13 (or 16 if you count from last time he won) years. He demographic is still around in the Northern half of Wills.

  5. No mention of Bronwyn…. shame!

    Nor Julie B for that matter… What is it with the conservative side of politics?

  6. The Liberals are really running out of leadership candidates now. I think any shift to Hockey or Abott would be disastorous and I really don´t think there is anyone else (nothing that Bishop probably would have been a while ago if it weren´t for her missteps as deputy tresaurer). Proquar, which Bronwyn are you talking about? Not Bronwyn Bishop??

  7. “If Turnbull was to join their ranks, it would be the first time that a party would dispose of two leaders without going to an election.”

    Weren’t Nelson and Downer in the same party?

    Anyways, I find it interesting that it seems a more recent phenomenon, perhaps correlated to the rise and dominance of polling? What did poor John Latham do anyways?

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