Andrews ahead, but opponents are legion – our polling on Victorian election

Our first poll of the Victorian election has been analysed and you can read the report by clicking here.

It shows Premier Daniel Andrews in a winning position, but with potential for votes to escape to the Greens, Teals, and perhaps even some Liberals (although the Liberal Party in general is held in low regard).

We  will be conducting an exit poll on the election to see what has changed during the course of the campaign, although it should be noted that with an increasing tendency towards early voting, campaigns are becoming less and less important.

Significant findings

  1. Dead heat on whether the state is heading in the right direction. ALP very certain it is (93%) while Liberals (93%) and Nationalists (89%) disagree. However only 50% of Greens and 33% of Independents and 45% of Others agree.
  2. Greens disagreement is mostly frustration that the government isn’t doing enough about health and the environment. Independents reservations appear to be around, if not corruption, lack of accountability or democracy in government. Others is more broadly-based mentioning health, housing, education and COVID lockdowns.
  3. The issues in general for the state are along an axis from climate change on the left to economic management (including debt) on the right. The economic issues are hotter than the environmental ones, and they are followed by health (including ambulances) and infrastructure, which are also hotter than the environment. The health issues are shared by all voters as a concern, making them possible vote changers.
  4. When asked for issues that are important this election there are more widespread mentions of climate change, but health is still a more strongly felt issue. Management is a theme which links health to infrastructure. A less urgent theme is the need for a strong opposition. There is a recognition from a significant number of voters that climate change issues are more a federal issue.
  5. The reasons given for first preference votes are frequently strategic. That doesn’t mean voters are not thinking of issues, but it might be that recent election results have alerted them to the potential for splits in historical voting blocs giving rise to patterns that they may or may not want.
  6. When asked about their final preference (effectively who would they like to control the parliament) issues return, but climate change is not a significant one. It is health, followed by a need to establish a check in the Legislative Council, and concern that the Liberal Party has been taken over by religious conservatives.
  7. The ALP’s first preference vote has declined with most of the decline transferring to the Greens, although a substantial proportion of Greens has also moved to Labor. The Liberals have increased with the biggest contributions being from Independents and the Nationalists. There was some cross-movement between Liberals and Nationalists, but none between Liberals and Independents, or Greens.
  8. Daniel Andrews has a neutral net approval rating with 47% approval and 46% disapproval, which allowing for rounding nets out to zero. His highest approval is amongst ALP voters (94% net), and lowest with Liberal voters (-93% net). Greens are net 50% approving, and Others net 26%. Independents are net -27% and Nationalists -86%.
  9. COVID makes its first strong appearance in judgments of the premier. It divides voters, but on balance favours his re-election and is much more likely to be used in comments about whether voters approve of his performance, rather than what makes them hesitate. Corruption is also a significant issue for Andrews, but much less frequently mentioned than COVID. The other factor is style of government and a perception that he is “power mad” and a “bully”.
  10. Despite the Premier’s modest approval 52% thinks the government deserves to be re-elected, while 41% disagree. This can be misleading as it incorporates very strong support from both Labor and Greens, but Independents and Nationalists are moderately disapproving. If support is bottled-up in very strong seats, weaker seats can deliver a loss against the overall level of support.
  11. When asked to nominate specific hesitations when thinking of voting for Andrews, the Labor brand appears to be a problem and associated with high levels of debt and low levels of confidence. Then there is the perception that he is a bully.
  12. Matthew Guy is deeply into disapproval territory with a Net -45% approval rating with only 19% approving and 64% disapproving. Most telling, his total approval amongst Coalition voters is below 50% at 48% resulting in a net 22%. He has a negative net rating of -91% with Labor voters, -100% with Greens, -82% Others, -73% Independents and -32% Nationalists.
  13. In line with Guy’s personal approval ratings a net -49% think the Opposition has done enough to deserve to be elected the government. They receive a net positive of only 19% from Coalition voters, with only 42% agreeing and 23% disagreeing. They are net negative with all of the groups they need to secure preferences from.
  14. Approval of Guy most strongly focusses on the state of the Liberal Party and whether he can lead it effectively. There is mention of health and climate change in this context. There are some integrity issues, but they are muted compared to the premier’s issues in this area. The other theme is his poor media performance which is either blamed on media bias, or his lack of charisma.
  15. Hesitation in voting for Guy again centres around party brand, and presumed policy positions based on that. There are not a lot of concrete objections, just references to style of policies, concern about the religious right, or straight-out denigration of the Liberal Party. There are some integrity issues, with “Mobster with a Lobster” making an appearance in the comments, but these are small compared to perceptions of Andrew’s integrity issues.
  16. Andrews is preferred Premier 56% to 42%. ALP, Coalition and Greens are strong for either Andrews or Guy, depending on their orientation. Independents and Other also favour Andrews, with Nationalists being the only other grouping beside the Coalition who favour Guy.
  17. Comments on preferred premier overwhelmingly centre on Andrews. It is either an endorsement of his ability to perform, or concern about his honesty and integrity. Guy is mostly absent from the comments with them being directed generically at the Liberal Party.
  18. Andrews is very strongly expected to win (73%) while a hung parliament is the next most popular expectation on 17%. Only 6% expect a Coalition win (which includes only 15% of Coalition voters).
  19. Only 46% wants Labor to win, while 40% wants the Coalition to win. 14% wants a hung parliament, and this is concentrated amongst Greens, Independents and Nationalists.