Polling and Senate Voting Analysis

by Ben Oquist

Between 23 May and 3 June 2016The Australia Institute conducted a national opinion poll of 1437 people through Research Now, with nationally representative samples by gender, age and state or territory. The poll asked questions about voting intentions in the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as questions about the Senate voting system. Results in attachment below.


  • Large number of people don’t understand new Senate voting system
  • 33 per cent of people saying they will just vote 1
  • This could lead to big exhaustion of votes in Senate
  • This could mean last seats will be won with low primary vote
  • Hanson likely to be elected in Queensland
  • Xenophon a chance of picking up seats outside South Australia
  • Andrew Bartlett (Greens) a chance of returning to the parliament
  • Coalition may require either Hanson or Greens votes in Senate to pass legislation.

“Senate polling is unreliable, but reading these results in conjunction with published House of Representatives polls suggest the Coalition will struggle to hold some its Senate seats,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute said.

“The low level of understanding of the new voting system means last seats could be won with a fraction of a quota.

“Hanson looks set to win in Queensland. Xenophon could pick up seats outside South Australia and Lambie is likely to be returned. There are other wildcards like Lazarus and even the chance of a second Greens (Andrew Bartlett) wining in Queensland.

“All up, this could mean a Senate where a returned Coalition government couldn’t pass legislation without either Hanson’s vote or the Greens – when Labor oppose bills.

“Too many voters currently say they might just vote 1 in the Senate. While such a vote will be counted, it may well be effectively a ‘wasted’ voted.

“It would be good to hear more from the political parties and leaders – not just the AEC – about how to vote in the new Senate system so voters know how to maximise the power of their vote,” Oquist said.

Full report