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The Times


Coalition improves but Morrison's slide continues in Newspoll; Liberals in danger in Kooyong

  • Written by Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne
Coalition improves but Morrison's slide continues in Newspoll; Liberals in danger in Kooyong

This week’s Newspoll, conducted November 10-13 from a sample of 1,524, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, a one point gain for the Coalition since the last Newspoll, three weeks ago. Primary votes were 38% Labor (steady), 37% Coalition (up two), 11% Greens (steady), 2% One Nation (down one) and 12% for all Others (down one).

52% (up two) were dissatisfied with Scott Morrison’s performance, and 44% (down two) were satisfied, for a net approval of -8, down four points. This continues Morrison’s slump from his pandemic highs. Six months ago[1], Morrison’s net approval in Newspoll was +20, and last November[2] his net approval was +36.

Anthony Albanese’s net approval also fell, by two points to -11. Morrison’s lead over Albanese as better PM was cut to 46-38 from 48-34 three weeks ago. Newspoll figures are from The Poll Bludger[3].

While Morrison’s ratings are sliding, that does not mean the Coalition is doomed. Analyst Kevin Bonham says five PMs with worse ratings in the six months prior to an election have won, two with pro-government swings.

However, Morrison has failed to gain following the reopening of Sydney and Melbourne. His recent international performance appears to have hurt him, with the Liberals suffering marked declines in maintaining international relations and national security in an Essential poll (see below).

Inflation could cause problems for Morrison and the Coalition in the lead-up to the next election that is due by May 2022. It has damaged the US Democrats.

The Guardian’s datablog[4] has 69.4% of the population (not 16+) with two vaccine doses, up from 60.3%three weeks ago[5]. We rank 14 of 38 OECD countries in share of population double dosed, up 12 places from three weeks ago; we were ranked last a few months ago. In the past three weeks, Australia has overtaken the UK, France and Germany, and retaken the lead from New Zealand.

Official government data[6] show 83.0% of 16+ are double dosed and 90.4% have received at least one dose. Around 90% of 16+ are double dosed in Victoria, NSW and the ACT, compared with 80% of 12+ in the UK[7]; this shows the success of Australia’s vaccine mandates.

Liberals in danger in Kooyong seat poll

A Redbridge poll[8] of the federal seat of Kooyong (currently held by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg) for the activist group Climate 200, conducted October 16-18 from a sample of 1,017, gave the Liberals 38%, Labor 31%, the Greens 15% and UAP 7%. The Liberals had 58.2% of the Kooyong primary vote at the 2016 election, and this dropped to 49.4% in 2019. These results imply another 11% primary vote swing against the Liberals.

There are skewed poll questions that were designed to promote a climate-focused independent. The results that have the independent ahead of the Liberals on primary votes after these questions should be ignored.

While the Coalition won the 2019 election owing to gains in regional Queensland and Tasmania, there were solid swings to Labor in inner city seats with high levels of educational attainment. A continuation of this trend would make Kooyong and other former safe Liberal seats in Sydney and Melbourne attainable for Labor.

Read more: Final 2019 election results: education divide explains the Coalition's upset victory[9]

Essential poll: Morrison’s ratings slump

In last week’s Essential[10] poll, 48% approved of Morrison’s performance (down six since October), and 42% disapproved (up five), for a net approval of +6, down 11 points. This is Morrison’s worst approval in Essential since before the pandemic began. He had gained eight points on net approval in October.

Albanese’s net approval was down two points to +5, and Morrison led as better PM by 44-28 (45-29 in October).

The Liberals led Labor on just two of nine issues canvassed: the economy (by eight points) and national security (by six). The Liberals’ position deteriorated since September on most issues, with marked falls on national security and maintaining international relations.

94% thought it important for Australia to have a good international reputation. By 47-27, voters thought Morrison had undermined, rather than enhanced, our international reputation.

Despite Morrison’s slump, the federal government’s COVID rating improved to 48-29 good from 46-31 in late October, owing to an 11-point jump in Victoria (to 45% good). The Victorian state government also benefited, with its good rating up 13 to 56%.

43% thought the net zero by 2050 commitment was not enough action on climate change, and we need to do more, while 37% thought it was enough. There was pessimism about COP26 achieving meaningful changes to address climate change both globally (52-35 not confident) and in Australia (52-37).

Morgan poll: 53.5-46.5 to Labor

A Morgan poll[11], conducted in late October and early November from a sample of over 2,700, gave Labor a 53.5-46.5 lead, a 0.5% gain for the Coalition since mid-October. Primary votes were 36.5% Coalition (steady), 35% Labor (steady), 11.5% Greens (down 2%), 3% One Nation (down 0.5%) and 14% for all Others (up 2.5%).

Unemployment rate jumped to 5.2% in October

The ABS reported[12] last Thursday that the unemployment rate jumped 0.6% from September to 5.2% in October. The participation rate was up 0.1% to 64.7% and the employment population ratio – the percentage of eligible Australians employed – was down 0.3% to 61.3%; it has fallen 1.7% from its July peak of 63.0%.

This ABC report[13] says fieldwork for the labour force survey was taken between September 26 and October 9, before lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne were eased. Economists expect a strong rebound in November’s report.

Proposed changes to require voter ID

The government is proposing voters[14] be required to show ID at the polls to vote. This has been compared to the US, where some Republican state governments make it harder for Democratic supporting minorities to vote.

While such tactics in the US receive much media attention and condemnation, gerrymandering – the manipulation of electoral district boundaries – has a far bigger impact on electoral outcomes.

Both Democrats and Republicans will gerrymander when given the opportunity. To gerrymander, a party usually needs control of both chambers of a state’s legislature and the governor. I had more on US gerrymandering in a Poll Bludger[15] article on October 29.

Canada has similar requirements[16] on voter ID to what is being proposed in Australia. But the left in Australia obsesses over the US comparison.

If these voter ID proposals become law, they will have very little impact on the next federal election.

Swings against US Democrats in off-year elections point to a drubbing next November

I live blogged the Virginia and New Jersey state elections for The Poll Bludger[17] on November 3. Virginia voted for Joe Biden in 2020 by ten points and Democrats lost the governor election. New Jersey voted for Biden by 16, and Democrats barely won.

If these swings are repeated at the November 2022 midterm elections, when all federal House seats and one-third of the Senate are up for election, Democrats would be thumped.

President Biden is unpopular owing to inflation. Headline US inflation[18] increased 0.9% in October to be up 6.2% for the 12 months to October, the highest inflation rate since 1990. The high inflation has resulted in real earnings[19] falling 1.2% (hourly) and 1.6% (weekly) in the 12 months to October.


  1. ^ Six months ago (
  2. ^ last November (
  3. ^ The Poll Bludger (
  4. ^ Guardian’s datablog (
  5. ^ three weeks ago (
  6. ^ government data (
  7. ^ 80% of 12+ in the UK (
  8. ^ Redbridge poll (
  9. ^ Final 2019 election results: education divide explains the Coalition's upset victory (
  10. ^ Essential (
  11. ^ Morgan poll (
  12. ^ ABS reported (
  13. ^ ABC report (
  14. ^ proposing voters (
  15. ^ Poll Bludger (
  16. ^ similar requirements (
  17. ^ The Poll Bludger (
  18. ^ Headline US inflation (
  19. ^ real earnings (

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