• Hannah Phillips

What the Polls Are Saying


There have been some interesting polls released in the last few days. They all point to a very slim victory to Labor, which can be largely put down to structural changes in the electorates. The pundits are predicting that Labor will have between 77 and 79 seats, the Liberals will have between 68 and 70 seats and the independents will have between 4 and 6 seats. An incoming Labor Government will likely have a majority of between 1 and 5 seats. If it only has a majority of 1 then it will have to ask an independent to be the speaker. Adrian Beaumont of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne has explained in Tuesday’s ‘The Conversation’ why it is so difficult for the Coalition to win: “Owing to a favourable redistributions for Labor in Victoria, the creation of a third seat in the ACT and Kerryn Phelps’ win at the October 2018 Wentworth by-election, the Coalition notionally holds 73 of the 151 seats based on 2016 results, Labor 71 and there are six crossbenchers. The final seat, Corangamite, is on zero margin after a redistribution. To win a majority, either the Coalition or Labor must win 76 or more seats.” What this means in effect is that Labor could lose the two party preferred vote 49.7% to the Coalition’s 50.3% and still win the election. However there are some caveats to this scenario. Newspoll on Monday showed that Labor was behind the Coalition on the primary vote 37% to 39%. As former Prime Minister, John Howard, told Sky News David Speers on Tuesday, that when there has been a change of Government in recent years, 1996, 2007 and 2013 the winning party has been ahead by 5 points or more on the primary vote, in the polls preceding the election. Mr Howard says that when this fact is combined with the large quota of undecided voters, the Coalition is still in with a chance. Certainly the punter who took a $1 million wager with Sportsbet last week, that Labor would win, must be feeling pretty nervous. There has also been some polling in key marginal seats: Herbert, Lindsay, Corangamite, Bass, Boothby, Kooyong and Higgins. Newspoll polled the first four seats over the weekend. In Herbert, the LNP led Labor by 52-48 (Labor barely won it in 2016). In Lindsay, the Liberals led Labor by 52-48 (51.1-48.9 to Labor in 2016). In Corangamite, Labor led by 51-49 (no margin after redistribution). In Bass, Labor led by 52-48 (55.4-44.6 in 2016). On this result the parties come out even, one win and one save each. On May 9 YouGov/Galaxy ran a poll for the Adelaide Advertiser in the seat of Boothby. It found that LNP’s Nicole Flint was ahead of Labor’s Nadia Clancy by a margin of 53% to 47%. This seat has changed its complexion because the Nick Xenophon party, now Centre Alliance, is not running a candidate. In Kooyong and Higgins, the Greens have commissioned polls that showed that Liberals were ahead 52% to 48% in Kooyong whereas in Higgins the poll shows that whoever comes second out of Labor or the Greens will win the seat. Certainly the Liberal candidate Katie Allen is up against it if she does not win a clear majority on the primary vote. The take out from this is that the most likely result is a slim majority for Labor followed by a hung parliament and last a Coalition win. But as Donald Trump’s victory and Brexit show, the polls often get it wrong.


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