10 days to go: Senate poll strong for Greens


Roy Morgan has released their first polling of the Senate race, showing a very strong vote for the Greens.

The poll shows the ALP on 40%, the Coalition on 36%, and the Greens on 15.5%. On a state level, the Greens are polling strongly in all states, the best results being 18% in Western Australia and 17% in New South Wales, followed by 16.5% in South Australia, 14% in Victoria and 13% in Queensland, all enough to elect a Senator with a small amount of preferences in Victoria and Queensland.

In Tasmania, the Greens are on 21.5%, easily enough to elect one Senator but not enough to give them a chance of a second. In the ACT, Morgan’s poll has the Greens even with the Liberals on 27%, which would give them the seat on Labor preferences.

Overall, the result would produce a Senate with ten Greens, 33-34 Labor senators, and 31-32 Coalition senators, with Family First’s Steve Fielding losing his seat.

It has been widely argued that it is impossible to do Senate-specific polling. Many make decisions on how they vote based on the House of Representatives, and designs of ballot papers make the decision-making process very different. Having said that, there is still value in examining the effectiveness of this poll.

Despite criticisms in the past, Morgan’s Senate polls in 2007 saw the Greens bounce around between 8.5% and 9.5%, before settling on 9% in October 2007: almost exactly what the Greens polled in the Senate in 2007.

When examining the state breakdowns, they follow a different pattern to recent state breakdowns produced by Nielsen, although the major party votes follow similar patterns.

In terms of the major party vote, the ALP is up in Tasmania, about even in Victoria and South Australia, and down in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

In terms of the Greens vote, recent Nielsen polls have had the Greens polling highest in Victoria and Western Australia. I haven’t noticed a massive difference in the Victorian and New South Wales campaigns from the Greens, although the  Victorian campaign has focused more on the race in Melbourne than the Greens NSW have on Sydney. Even still, the consensus has been that, for a number of reasons, the Victorians are expected to achieve a higher vote. We’ll have to wait and see if the Morgan poll is right, and Lee Rhiannon is going to easily win election.

This poll also predicts the Greens winning the seat currently held by the Liberals in the ACT. The Greens vote level is similar to a poll commissioned by the ACT Greens that put Lin Hatfield-Dodds on 26%.

While overall the figures are extremely positive for the Greens and should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s worth noting that the 15% for the Greens is not that far above the 13% received in this week’s House of Representatives polls. If you assume the Greens will poll slightly higher in the Senate, 15% is not that far off.

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  1. On a state level, the Greens are polling strongly in all states, the best results being 18% in Western Australia…

    In Tasmania, the Greens are on 21.5%, …

    Tassie is not gonna like their demotion to a territory. 😉

    I don’t for a moment believe the Greens will do that well in WA (or the ACT), but shave a few % off that 18% figure and it’s still plenty enough for Rachel Siewert to hold on quite comfortably – the main figure that matters for her is the combined ALP+Grn vote, so if that’s anywhere above the 2004 figure it’ll be fine – no CDP for us.

    If the Coalition only win two seats in Vic and Tas, that’ll make life very painful for them even if they win the 2013 election – they’d have the same problems as Labor’s had for the last three years.

    Also, William Bowe ain’t such a fan of the Morgan senate polls – he’s got a new post on Poll Bludger which mentions them. Quote:

    Roy Morgan has produced one of its quite useless Senate polls. This draws on 5000 face-to-face interviews conducted over the last two months, but for all its massive sample is of far less use in predicting the Senate result that an ordinary lower house poll would be.

  2. I can understand the criticism of Senate polls to predict ALP & Liberal primaries but I would’ve thought the sample size and distribution of the Greens vote in most lower house polls makes that more unreliable than the Greens Senate poll.

  3. My reason for skepticism about these Morgan Senate polls is that in 2004 they massively overestimated the Greens and Democrats votes.

  4. The ACT is interesting and difficult to poll for the Senate – for the following reasons
    1. the margin of error is large enough to prevent you being confident about whether the Liberal vote has dropped below the quota level
    2. The Liberal Senate vote has recently been higher than the Liberal vote in the Reps seats – contrary to behaviour everywhere else reflecting a strong name recognition for Gary Humphries and the minmal campaign usually run by the Liberals in the two lower house seats.
    3. There is a strong willingness by ALP voters to cross over in the Senate and vote Green – for a variety of reasons.

  5. how would you rate the odds, given strong polling for both the Greens & ALP in Vic, that the Vic Senate result would result in only 2 coalition seats? (i.e. with both Fielding & McGauran losing their seats)

    This could be in the form of either:

    a) 3 ALP, 1GRN, 2 coalition

    OR (less likely)

    b) an historic first 2/2/2 split – whereby the Greens Vic Senate primary vote is close to 20% and after preferences, the 3rd ALP candidate falls just behind the 2nd Green & Janet Rice is elected on ALP preferences/surplus. (How significant would the Sex party vote be? If the sex party could gain votes at the ALP’s expense rather than at the Greens’ expense, would this help?)

  6. The issue with the ACT is, if the Liberals still hung on during their low point of 2007, why wouldn’t they hold on now when they’re doing better?

    Also I think the Greens have reached a point where they are simply taking votes off Labor instead of eating into the Liberal vote. What goes on between Labor’s excess and the Greens vote is irrelevant if there are no further inroads into the Liberals primary vote to push them under a quota.

    IMHO anyway….

  7. Liberals could go lower given persistent stories about cuts to the APS and their parties stance on climate change – not the sort of thing that will encourage an increase in the Liberals vote.

    I am anticipating a small decline in the Liberal vote in the Reps – and possibly in the Senate. Now that we have a strong Green representation in the ACT House of Assembly the scare factor doesn’t work as well.

  8. It’s worth noting that the samples for the Senate polling are from different time periods for different states. NSW for example is 1,195 voters in July only, whereas the ACT result is 446 voters from February to July.

    This makes the NSW result the most accurate of all the states, and in all honesty quite surprising considering the figures that exist for the lower house.

    Somebody might want to check my results, but the sample of 1,195 in NSW has a margin of error of about 2.83% based on 4,591,748 voters.

    This yields a 93.74% probability of a result of over 14.285% (or one full quota).

  9. I’m not sure Sam. Senate polls used to always overestimate the Dem vote. I would be incredibly surprised if the Greens got close to those polls in WA, NSW and especially SA.

    The old agrument is that by asking who people will vote for in the Senate, they think about it more and are more inclined to vote for a Balance of Power Party, but in reality, many are more likely to just put a 1 next to the same party in both houses.

    It’s an encouraging poll to be sure, but I would caution giving it too much weight. I don’t want everyone to be dissapointed when the Greens don’t get full quotas in all states come election night.

  10. Doug: Actually, with Morgan’s sample size for the ACT (446) and a polled support of 27%, the probability that the true Liberals vote is under a quota is 99.87%.

  11. Hamish, I’m the last person to catch poll fever. There are several reasons why this could be an overestimate for the Greens. I was just highlighting the fact that the NSW figures are potentially more accurate and in that context do provide at least an indication of a swing to the Greens in NSW.

  12. Off topic question here but considering there are a lot of Green supporters here its still interesting.

    Basically I’m wondering within say 10 years or 3-4 elections how many lower house seats do you think the greens have the ability to poll second place in? Or at least make into three corner marginals?

    Secondly do you think the greens will become like the lib dems in the UK and become a strong third force in both houses?

  13. It’s too hard to say. There are a lot of external factors: technology opening up new electioneering avenues, major issues like peak resources and climate change reaching tipping points, the inflexibility of the majors to take new avenues which would be unpopular at first.

    There will need to be a much more level playing field before the Greens make more than a handful of lower house seats. Truth in political advertising, donations reform, proportional representation, that sort of thing.

    While the major parties see the Greens as a strategic foil to the other, the Greens will benefit. If they turn on the Greens and preference each other, the Greens representation would be reduced to a very few.

    One can see what paths the Greens may take by looking at Ireland and Germany. There, compromising on core values rocked the party to the core and almost caused wholesale collapse in their vote. How the Greens act and how the rest respond over the next 6 years will mean either a transformation of political discourse (success!) or a long fade with Bob Brown’s passing from public life (failure).

  14. Headline in the Canberra times – PS cuts could cost 30,000 jobs is not the sort of news Gary Humphries needs in his quest to keep the Liberal senate seat. Not a major panic factor yet – but if the Liberals look like winning the election as next week proceeds this story could get legs in Canberra.

  15. Ben, I believe that you might have made a typo in your post.

    ‘In terms of the major party vote, the ALP is up in Tasmania, about even in Victoria and South Australia, and down in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.’

    I suspect that the last Victoria was in error that you might wish to edit the post.

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