Our first poll of this election has been completed and can be downloaded from here.
This is another sullen election, even though both sides exhibit high support for their respective candidates. 60% disagree (versus 30% who agree) that the federal government has done enough to be elected, while 40% disagree (versus 41% who agree) that Labor has done enough to be elected.
There are really only two major issues – cost of living; and health and aged care – with the other key issues generally defining the tribes. So those worried about climate change and corruption are Labor and Greens voters, and those worried about the economy and Chinese aggression, Liberal, National and Nationalist voters.
As a result, climate change is not really part of the election debate (although it obviously is in some inner-city seats), and neither is China. Surprisingly, because of its dominance of the last few years, COVID is not much of an issue, except with Coalition voters who either think Morrison did quite well in managing it or forgive him for perceived shortcomings because of it. It is also an issue under the surface with the nationalist parties, which for this election could be labelled the “freedom” parties, as the other thing they have in common apart from believing in the nation state is opposition to vaccine mandates and strict lockdowns.
Labor isn’t winning this election, so much as the Liberals are losing it. Only Liberal voters are happy with the direction of the country. Those unhappy include not just Labor and Greens, but the nationalist minor parties that the LNP need to win preferences from.
The Nationalists have picked-up a lot of voters who voted Liberal last election with 53% of their voters in that position. In the lower house that will probably mostly come back to the coalition. However a number of voters have moved directly from Liberal to Labor with 6% of the Labor vote made up of those, and only 2% of the Liberal vote was Labor last election. This net movement is essentially enough to explain the current two-party preferred vote of around 54% to 44% given last election was virtually 50/50.
Voter unease is likely to manifest itself strongly in the senate with 21% of Labor voters voting for a different party in the senate, and 14% of Liberal voters intending to do the same.
With a policy-lite election a lot of voter decision-making is based on personalities. Here Albanese is ahead of Morrison, but the result is much closer on preferred prime minister. Morrison was particularly weak with the Nationalists, whose preferences he needs, with 32% of them unsure whether he or Albanese would be the better PM.
Liberal voters are quite pessimistic with only 19% thinking they could win, while 76% of Labor voters thought Labor would win.
Major points are:
- Only group that thinks the country is heading in the right direction are Liberal and National Party voters. Their 68% headed in the right direction is more than over-ridden by the other voting blocs, including, dangerously for them, 74% of the nationalist minor party voters whose preferences they will need.
- Confidence in the robustness of the virtual focus group because the two-party preferred vote is 56% to 44% Labor versus Coalition, which is similar to the quantitative polling publicly available.
- 21% of Labor voters will vote for a different party first in the Senate, as will 14% of Coalition voters, suggesting neither side will have a majority in the senate, and a low level of confidence that their party of first choice can be trusted to honour its promises. This is a worse problem for the ALP, with their upper house defectors being more numerous than the Coalition’s.
- 78% of those voting Labor this time report voting Labor last time, with another 13% of Labor voters reporting voting Green last election and 6% voting Liberal. 91% of those voting Liberal this time report voting Liberal last time with 2% picked-up from Labor and 4% from Nationalist Parties. Nationalists are taking a lot of their improved vote this time from the Liberals, with 53% having voted Liberal last time.
- Our committed voters are very negative on both leaders. Scott Morrison has a 64% disapproval figure to a 28% approval. He gets reasonable support from Liberals at 75%, but the Nationalists, whose preferences he will rely on disapprove of him 70% to 14%. His government is judged less harshly with 33% believing it deserves re-election versus 33% who disagree.
- Anthony Albanese had much better approval figures with 42% approving to 41% disapproving. However, he received negative net ratings from Nationalists as well as Liberals. Respondents were only mildly negative on the proposition the opposition had done enough to deserve to be elected – 41% agree, 46% disagree. One weakness was the support for the opposition deserving to be elected by Labor voters. This was soft on a net 66% (79% in favour but 14% against). The support for the proposition the Liberals deserved to win from Liberals was a net 84% – 86% in favour and only 3% against.
- Albanese is preferred PM 54% to 40%. With the election heading towards a battle of preferences, and with leadership being promoted by both sides as a plus, it is significant that 32% of Nationalists were unsure which one would be the better PM, and only 62% picked Morrison. Some of their preferences could be up for grabs. In contrast the Greens voters solidly backed Albanese as preferred PM – 98% to nil.
- There is a moderate expectation that Labor will win this election, but also a strong expectation it will be hung. This could make speculation as to what independents and minor parties would be required by either side to form a government. The predilection for a hung parliament might reflect wishful thinking amongst Liberal voters who cannot bring themselves to see Labor winning but are hard-headed enough to think their side cannot win outright.