The dominant media narrative has been that the voters continue to desert the main parties, especially the LNP, in droves, mainly to One Nation. Reality is a bit more complex, and recent polls have thrown up other interesting results, like 64% of people overall, and 56% of LNP voters, support a royal commission into banking.
Let’s look at Newspoll first, where Labor has opened up a yawning two-party preferred gap of 55-45, up from 54-46:
One conclusion is that Turnbull’s war on renewables and kill Bill strategies haven’t worked out too well. Mungo MacCallum thinks the strategy might backfire:
- the real flaw in Turnbull’s strategy is its sheer negativity. The great dominators of parliament – Menzies, Whitlam and Keating most notably – all had something to say: they were policy powerhouses, intent on changing the nation in their own images. There was plenty of attack, plenty of invective, but it was all aimed at providing a genuine agenda.
Turnbull , so far at least, seems to be ranting simply for he sake of ranting.
Laura Tingle says Turnbull was mainly trying to impress those sitting behind him.
Essential Report polls every week, and took a shorter break over the holidays. They have Labor TPP at 53-47. This is their trajectory:
It looks like a steady slide for the LNP, but the gap opened to 53-47 back at the end of October, and may just be consolidating around those levels.
Both polls distribute preferences on the basis of the last election, which I think is problematic.
This is Newspoll’s primary vote:
Since February 6, Labor has gained one to be 37, while the LNP has lost one to rest at 34. The Greens are cruising at 10. One Nation has gained two while Others have lost two. Not much change, really.
However, look at the change from September 2015, when Turnbull took over. Labor has picked up two, while the LNP has lost 10.
The Greens are cruising, pretty much unchanged. ‘Other’ rose from 10 to 15 last October, when they started counting ON separately. Since October ON has gone from 5 to 10. Remember it was 1.3 at the election.
The media says that voters are leaving the major parties in droves, but in fact they are only leaving one party. And, over Christmas, look what happened:
The LNP lost 4 while ON gained 3. At the same time Labor and the Greens stayed the same.
We can look to Essential to compare:
Long term, the pattern is similar. Labor and the Greens are tracking more or less the same, while the LNP has clearly lost skin, and some flesh, to ON. There is no clear blip over Christmas, which I suspect is in part an artifact of the particular polls and their margin of error. However ON has gone from 6 to 10 and then to 9 from December.
The LNP and Labor are 37 each, which is where they were when the first converged back in early October. ON and the Greens are currently 9 a piece.
Turnbull has broken the normal practice of pollies not commenting on the polls by blaming Tony Abbott. Paul Syvret in the Courier Mail (Google ‘Paul Syvret IF THE answer is Tony Abbott, then it was a pretty dumb question to begin with’ if it’s paywalled) makes the case that Abbott was a major problem, ever since he became leader of the LNP. His dumb policies were a wrecking ball that exposed many vulnerable people. Syvret’s piece is a brilliant tour de force, unexpected in a Murdoch paper.
Abbott sowed this field, and now Pauline Hanson is harvesting it.
In that regard the claim that he and right-wing commentators make that the Liberal Party is bleeding support to conservative fringe parties is correct.
Following them there however is not a solution, as it will leave a vacuum in the sensible centre – those people who don’t believe climate change is a NASA hoax, or perhaps are uneasy about banning immigrants on the basis of religion.
The only winner will be the redhead who wants to take us back to the 1950s.
This comment from Craig Emerson seems relevant:
- Conventional wisdom holds that the electorate has suddenly lurched hard right. Dissidents of the hard right within the Coalition – who coincidentally happen to have unfulfilled ambitions – are demanding that the Turnbull government mimic One Nation policies. True to its name, the Coalition fondled a lump of coal in the parliament, pledging to commit taxpayer funds to subsidise coal-fired power stations. Yet published opinion polls indicate that less than 20 per cent of voters have bought the government’s story that recent blackouts have been caused by over-reliance on renewable energy.
If the electorate had truly shifted to the right, why has Labor established such a commanding lead in the polls? It’s not as if Labor has shifted to the right in pursuit of One Nation voters, what with its policies on renewable energy, same-sex marriage, Palestine, penalty rates and putting One Nation last on all how-to-vote cards. As hard-right colleagues and commentators drag Prime Minister Turnbull to the right he is conceding the ‘sensible centre’ to Labor.
- Banking Royal Commission – 56%
- Believe climate change caused by human activity – 49%
- Support Labors 50% renewables target – 55%
- Believe blackouts were caused by too much renewables – 26%
- Believe renewables are the solution to future energy needs – 58%
When you have a government that is so out of step with its supporters you wonder who the hell they think they are representing?
There is also a section on the personal attributes of the leaders. Turnbull leads Shorten hands down on intelligence, arrogance, and being out of touch with ordinary people.
Abbott loses out to Turnbull in intelligence, beats him in arrogance and ties in being out of touch.
Turnbull’s personal approval tanked by 7 points to reach -30, a far cry from the stellar positive ratings he had when he took over.
The penalty rates issue fed into the latest poll period and could have had an effect.
There is talk of the LNP demerging in Qld to more adequately compete with ON on it’s own terms, without the drag of any ‘liberal’ branding.
As always, time will tell. I believe both Paul Keating and John Howard recovered from a primary vote poll of 34 to win an election.