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Federal Essential poll the worst for Labor this term; SA Labor gains Dunstan at byelection

  • Written by Adrian Beaumont, Election Analyst (Psephologist) at The Conversation; and Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne

A national Essential poll[1], conducted March 20–24 from a sample of 1,150, gave the Coalition a 50–44 lead including undecided, a reversal of a 48–47 Labor lead last fortnight. Primary votes were 36% Coalition (up one), 29% Labor (down three), 13% Greens (steady), 7% One Nation (down one), 3% UAP (up one), 7% for all Others (down one) and 6% undecided (up one).

Excluding undecided, this poll would be 53–47 to the Coalition. It is easily the worst poll of this term for Labor. Weak flows to Labor on respondent allocated preferences partly explain this result, with analyst Kevin Bonham’s estimate[2] using 2022 election preference flows at about a 50.5–49.5 Coalition lead.

Essential’s poll was probably too favourable for the Coalition this week, but Newspoll gave Labor[3] its second worst result this term: a 51–49 lead. In this week’s four federal polls, only Resolve had an improvement for Labor since the last time they did a poll.

Respondents were asked to give a rating[4] of 0 to 10 for Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton, then ratings of 0–3 were counted as negative, 4–6 as neutral and 7–10 as positive. Albanese was at 35–32 negative (35–33 in February), while Dutton was at 34–31 negative (33–32 previously).

On addressing climate change, 38% (up two since October) thought Australia was doing enough, 35% (down three) said we are not doing enough and 18% (up one) that we are doing too much. During Coalition governments, not doing enough had a large lead.

Among those who have social media, 29% thought it had a negative impact on their lives and 20% a positive impact. By 45–23, respondents supported a ban on TikTok in Australia. On regulation of social media companies, 57% thought they should be regulated more, 34% the current regulation is about right and 9% wanted them regulated less.

Resolve poll: Labor gains after preferences, but Albanese slides

In a federal Resolve poll[5] for Nine newspapers, conducted March 21–24 from a sample of 1,610, the Coalition had 35% of the primary vote (down two since February), Labor 32% (down two), the Greens 13% (up two), One Nation 5% (down one), the UAP 2% (up one), independents 11% (up two) and others 2% (down two).

Resolve does not give a two party estimate until near elections, but an estimate based on 2022 preference flows would give Labor about a 53.5–46.5 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since February. Resolve has been easily the pollster most favourable to Labor.

Albanese’s net approval was down five points to -11, with 49% giving him a poor rating and 38% a good one. Dutton’s net approval improved two points to -9. Albanese led as preferred PM by 40–30 (39–32 in February).

The Liberals led Labor on economic management[6] by 37–25 (38–27 in February). On keeping the cost of living low, the Liberals led by 28–22 (30–26 in February).

In a question on efficiency standards for vehicles[7], we are not told how the new vehicle efficiency standard is defined for poll respondents. This means we don’t know what the 41–22 opposed to this standard were asked.

Morgan poll and additional Newspoll question

A national Morgan poll[8], conducted March 18–24 from a sample of 1,633, had a 50–50 tie, a 1.5-point gain for the Coalition since the previous week. Primary votes were 38% Coalition (up one), 31.5% Labor (steady), 14% Greens (up 1.5), 4.5% One Nation (down one), 7.5% independents (down 1.5) and 4.5% others (steady).

As with Essential, respondent allocated preferences were weak for Labor in Morgan. An estimate based on 2022 election preference flows would give Labor about a 52–48 lead.

I covered the previous Newspoll on Monday[9]. In an additional question[10], 51% were in favour of changing the term of the federal house of representatives from the current three-year term to a four-year fixed term, while 37% were against.

Changing the terms of the house would require a referendum, and support usually slumps as a referendum approaches. A bare majority in favour currently is not a good position for referendum success.

Labor gains Dunstan at SA byelection and Tasmania

A byelection occurred last Saturday in former South Australian Liberal premier’s seat of Dunstan[11], which he won by a narrow 50.5–49.5 margin at the 2022 election. Labor gained it by 50.8–49.2, a 1.4% swing to Labor. This is a government gain from an opposition at a byelection.

Primary votes were 43.5% Liberals (down 3.2%), 32.1% Labor (down 3.0%), 19.1% Greens (up 5.5%) and 3.2% Animal Justice (new). Counting of election day polling booths[12] on Saturday night had given Labor a 54.0–46.0 lead, but declaration votes counted after election day gave the Liberals a 54.0–46.0 lead. Labor won because there were more votes cast on election day.

In Tasmania, the Hare-Clark distribution of preferences won’t start until after the deadline for receipt of postals next Tuesday. I expect this to be completed by the end of next week. Then we will know the identity of the 35 Tasmanian lower house members. I covered how the Hare-Clark system works in the article on last Saturday’s election.

Read more: Liberals will win most seats in Tasmanian election, but be short of a majority[13]

Victorian Resolve poll: Labor well down but still leads

A Victorian state Resolve poll[14] for The Age, conducted with the federal February and March Resolve polls from a sample of 1,107, gave the Coalition 35% of the primary vote (up four since December), Labor 33% (down four), the Greens 13% (up two), independents 12% (down two) and others 7% (up one).

No two party estimate was provided by Resolve, but analyst Kevin Bonham estimated[15] 53–47 to Labor using 2022 election preference flows, a 3.5-point gain for the Coalition since December[16]. No mention is made of preferences in The Age’s article.

In June 2023, the Coalition’s primary vote was 26% with Labor on 41% in this poll, so the Coalition has recovered much ground. This Resolve poll is similar to a mid-March Redbridge poll[17] that gave Labor a 54–46 lead.

Labor premier Jacinta Allan led the Liberals’ John Pesutto by 34–25 as preferred premier (34–22 in December). By 44–14, respondents thought Victoria’s outlook would get worse in the next 12 months, rather than improve. By 34–19, the said their personal situation would get worse rather than better.

“Voters overwhelmingly blamed the state government over their federal counterparts and private electricity providers” for the February electricity blackouts, and more than 75% favoured spending money to bury power lines.


  1. ^ Essential poll (
  2. ^ Kevin Bonham’s estimate (
  3. ^ Newspoll gave Labor (
  4. ^ asked to give a rating (
  5. ^ Resolve poll (
  6. ^ economic management (
  7. ^ efficiency standards for vehicles (
  8. ^ Morgan poll (
  9. ^ previous Newspoll on Monday (
  10. ^ additional question (
  11. ^ seat of Dunstan (
  12. ^ election day polling booths (
  13. ^ Liberals will win most seats in Tasmanian election, but be short of a majority (
  14. ^ Victorian state Resolve poll (
  15. ^ analyst Kevin Bonham estimated (
  16. ^ since December (
  17. ^ Redbridge poll (

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