Given the recent movement in the Poliquant Australia Poll Average it is clear that the movement back to the Government which commenced after the May Budget has ended for now. Since the 7 November low point for the Coalition with a national TPP of 52.5% the poll average has moved back to the Opposition’s favour by 1.7%, inclusive of a 1.2% jump yesterday. This is a significant move back to the Coalition and the turnaround rebuts any presumption of a continuing trend back to Labor for now.
It is also possible we have a turning point in the trend back to the Coalition, however we will need future data to confirm this position. With very few polls to come for the remainder of this year, we are entering into the poll summer hibernation. For our poll average this means that individual polls will not be removed from the poll average for being over 14 days old during December and January. However only the latest poll for each pollster is included in the average.
The Mainland States
At the state level the most notable feature of the poll average is that the Coalition has now hit the TPP lead in South Australia. The swing to the Liberals in South Australia is 4.3%, enough to start to put the heat in Labor marginal seats of Hindmarsh and Adelaide, but not enough for any seat gains according to our seat projection.
In terms of other mainland states, NSW is still the biggest problem for Labor with 8 seats falling from Labor to the Coalition. This is due to NSW being the largest state in terms of seats and Labor holding 8 marginal seats with a margin of under 5%. Victoria shows only three gains for the Coalition at the expense of Labor, as it only holds 3 seats with margins of under 5% in that state. Queensland with its attenuated swing to the Coalition only shows two such gains. WA is still no change, but only barely, the seat projection is currently showing only a 60% chance that Labor will retain Brand.
Is Labor competitive?
Federal politics watchers will now turn their attention to the resumption of hostilities in the new election year. If the polls return to the same position as they currently stand, many will see the Labor Government’s fortunes as behind the eight ball. But if we have learnt one thing from 2012 is that polls can move far over the course of several months. In the heat of an election campaign polls can also move significantly. Below is a table of an average of polls of the first polls of the campaign from both Newspoll and Nielsen and the corresponding election result in terms of Government TPP.
In four of the last five campaigns the shift between the first polling of the campaign after the election announcement and the election result in TPP terms has been 2% or more. The largest gaps came from the 2001 and 2010 campaigns where there were significant events before the campaign, (2001: 9-11 and Tampa, 2010; Rudd Removal). The shifts for 2001-2010 inclusive all moved in the direction of the party that was behind at the start of the campaign. So even from 46-54 behind at the start of the election campaign the Government can still make it close. However a shift of 4% is at the outer bounds of possibilities for an eventual close election and the two past occurrences of a shift of 4% or more required significant events to affect public support.
Therefore a good rule of thumb from the above data is that a 53-47 TPP split at the commencement of the campaign is the point where the election will definitely be competitive. Between 53-47 & 55-45 makes a competitive election unlikely but not impossible. A TPP split wider than 55-45 bakes in victory for the leading party.Therefore the current position of 46-54 for the Government means it still has some ground to make up before we can say for sure that the election will be competitive.
That being said no party would prefer to be behind in the polls, a TPP lead at the start of the campaign will be much prized. In the last 5 elections no Government with a TPP of 48.9% or less has won.