Wentworth ReachTEL poll, and left vs far right contest in Brazil

The Wentworth byelection will be held on October 20.  A ReachTEL poll for GetUp!, conducted September 17 from a sample of 860, gave the Liberals’ Dave Sharma 35.8% of the primary vote, independent Kerryn Phelps 20.9%, Labor’s Tim Murray 15.3%, the Greens 12.6%, all Others 5.7% and 9.7% undecided.

After assigning undecided using a forced choice, primary votes were 39.3% Sharma, 22.5% Phelps, 17.4% Murray and 12.6% Greens.  Since a late August ReachTEL poll for The Australia Institute that also included Alex Greenwich, who is not running, Sharma is up 4.7%, Phelps up 10.7%, Murray down 2.9% and the Greens up 3.7%,

Sharma led Murray by 52-48 in the latest ReachTEL, a two-point gain for Sharma since August.  But if the primary votes are accurate, it is likely the final two would be Sharma and Phelps.

A major caveat is that, while this poll was released September 30, it was taken on September 17.  That is four days before Phelps announced that she was recommending preferences to the Liberals ahead of Labor, backflipping on her previous policy to put the Liberals last.  We do not yet know the impact of this decision.

Brazil presidential election: a contest between left and far right

The Brazil presidential election will be held in two rounds, on Sunday October 7 and 28.  If no candidate wins over 50% in the October 7 first round, the top two proceed to a runoff.  Polls will close on Monday morning Melbourne time.

The left-wing Workers’ Party has won the last four presidential elections from 2002 to 2014, but incumbent President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in August 2016, and replaced by conservative Vice President Michel Temer.

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known as Lula), who had been president from 2003 to 2011, attempted to run as the Workers’ Party candidate, but was jailed for corruption.  Many assumed that the corruption charges and Rousseff’s impeachment were politically motivated.

With Lula’s endorsement, the new Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad has surged from the mid single digits to the 20’s in the polls in the last month, and is very likely to make the runoff.

Haddad’s opponent in the runoff is almost certain to be far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.  Bolsonaro has made sympathetic comments about Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship.  He has led first round polls that did not include Lula for a long time, and is currently in the 30’s.  Bolsonaro has replaced the conventional right-wing PSDB party.

Polling for the Haddad-Bolsonaro runoff is currently close to tied.  The key question is whether Bolsonaro’s far-right views create a ceiling for him, in which case Haddad could win over undecided voters in the final three-week runoff campaign.

Conservatives win in Quebec, Canada for first time since 1966

At the October 1 Quebec provincial election, the conservative CAQ won 74  of the 125 seats (up 52 since the 2014 election), the centre-left Liberals 32 (down 38), the separatist and left-wing Quebec Solidaire won ten seats (up seven) and the separatist Parti Quebecois won nine seats (down 21).  This is the first time since 1966 that a party other than the Liberals or the Parti Quebecois has won a Quebec election.

Popular votes were 37.4% CAQ (up 14.4%), 24.8% Liberals (down 16.7%), 16.1% Quebec Solidaire (up 8.5%) and 17.1% Parti Quebecois (down 8.3%).  Although first past the post helped the CAQ, they led the Liberals by 12.6%, and would probably have won under any single member electoral system.

Polls in Quebec greatly underestimated the CAQ’s support and overstated Liberal support.

ReachTEL 50-50 tie in Wentworth, and where Morrison could have problems

A byelection is likely to be held in Wentworth in October after Malcolm Turnbull resigns.  A ReachTEL Wentworth poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, conducted August 27 from a sample of 886, had a 50-50 tie between the Liberals and Labor, an 18% swing to Labor since the 2016 election.

There were two primary vote scenarios.  In the first, the Liberals had 41.9%, Labor 31.5%, the Greens 15.6% and One Nation 2.3%.  The second scenario included two prominent independents, who each had 11-12%, with the Liberals on 34.6%, Labor 20.3% and the Greens 8.9%.

While seat polls are inaccurate, the loss of Turnbull’s personal vote, and the anger of well educated voters at his ousting, could make Wentworth close.

By 67-24, Wentworth voters thought the national energy guarantee should include an emissions reduction target.  By 69-10, they thought Scott Morrison would do less to tackle climate change than Turnbull, rather than more.

 

The Poll Bludger conducted a regression analysis of the two party swings at the 2016 federal election.  Education was the most significant explanatory variable, with a higher proportion of high school graduates associated with better swing results for the Coalition.  Well-educated people liked Turnbull, but are unlikely to warm to Morrison.

At the next election, Labor is likely to have better swing results in seats with high levels of educational attainment.

On August 28, The Australian released aggregate data from Turnbull’s final three Newspolls (all 51-49 to Labor).  In these three polls, Turnbull overall had a net -10 approval rating, but his best ratings were among those aged 18-34 (a net zero approval).  In Victoria, Turnbull had a net -5 approval.

Labor led by 54-46 in Victoria, and Labor and the Greens had a combined 55% of the primary vote among those aged 18-34.  But Turnbull’s relatively high ratings were probably holding up the Coalition vote in Victoria and among young people.  With Morrison replacing Turnbull, the Coalition’s vote in Victoria and with young people is most at risk.

In November 2017, the result of the postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage was announced, with Yes to SSM winning by 61.6-38.4.  This result shows that social conservatism has little electoral appeal.  It is likely that there will be far fewer potential Labor voters who would switch to voting for the Coalition under Morrison than the reverse.

Liberals win Darling Range (WA) byelection

The byelection for the Western Australian state seat of Darling Range was held on June 23.  The Liberals’ Alyssa Hayden defeated Labor’s Tania Lawrence by a 53.3-46.7 margin, a 9.1% swing to the Liberals since the 2017 state election.

Primary votes were 34.4% Liberal (up 4.0%), 32.1% Labor (down 9.4%), 7.8% One Nation (down 0.9%), 5.8% Greens (down 1.8%), 5.8% for the new WA Party, 4.7% Christians (up 0.3%), 4.5% Shooters (up 0.3%) and 3.3% Animal Justice.  Labor performed badly on preferences due to the larger right-wing minor party vote.

The byelection had been held after the former Labor MP, Barry Urban, had been forced to resign over allegations of fraudulent behaviour.  At the 2017 election, Labor won Darling Range with a massive 18.9% swing.  Given the circumstances of the byelection and some tendency for a correction after a large swing, the Liberals were expected to re-take Darling Range.

A ReachTEL poll for The West Australian, published just one week before the byelection, gave Labor a 54-46 lead in Darling Range.  Polls for individual seats have had large errors in Australia.  The seven-point error in this ReachTEL implies that polls of the July 28 federal byelection seats may not be accurate.

There have been many occasions where governments have suffered large swings against them at byelections, but won the next general election comfortably.  It is likely that most of the swing against Labor was caused by the circumstances of Barry Urban’s resignation.