It’s going to be a bloodbath: 20 MPs facing the chop
THE news just keeps getting worse for Scott Morrison as new analysis shows the Coalition is failing to win back voters.
Ever since Mr Morrison took over as Prime Minister after Malcolm Turnbull was dumped, poll after poll shows voters turning away from the Liberal and National parties.
The latest Newspoll analysis prepared for The Australian and published today shows the government is on track to lose 24 seats across Australia.
The quarterly analysis examines polls conducted between October 25 and December 9 and shows Mr Morrison is failing to make up ground in regional Australia, where his dissatisfaction rate has hit 47 per cent. Only 39 per cent said they were satisfied with how he is performing.
The Coalition trails Labor on a two-party-preferred vote by 45-55 per cent.
The result is in line with the latest Ipsos poll published in the Nine newspapers earlier this month that showed Labor was ahead of the Coalition by 54 to 46 per cent.
Some 20 Coalition MPs could lose their seats if there was a swing of 4.4 per cent, according to ABC election analyst Antony Green's electoral pendulum.
Peter van Onselen, professor of politics at the University of Western Australia and Griffith University, told news.com.au he wouldn't be surprised if the losses weren't even higher as there could be bigger swings in seats that aren't on the radar.
"You could see them losing seats with a 8-10 per cent margin but also holding on to a seat with 3-4 per cent margin - it's never a uniform swing," he said.
A Newspoll released last month also showed Labor ahead by 55 to 45 per cent and all other polls since the Coalition ousted former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have returned similar results.
Prof van Onselen said there was a chance the Coalition could pull off a "miracle" and previous governments had come from further behind with less time before an election but didn't think this would happen for Mr Morrison.
He said Paul Keating managed to win in 1993 and John Howard in 1998 despite bad polls but neither of those leaders faced the same levels of dysfunction and division as Mr Morrison.
Unfortunately, he also believes Mr Morrison doesn't have the skillset of either of those leaders.
"He's an ex-marketing guy and he wasn't good at that either," Prof van Onselen said.
Keating and Howard governments also had the advantage of holding a majority in parliament.
The Coalition lost its majority in the House of Representatives after independent Dr Kerryn Phelps took over Mr Turnbull's seat of Wentworth and the member for Chisholm, Julia Banks resigned from the Liberal Party to sit on the crossbench.
"This Government has to go looking for seats to win. When you are already behind and looking for seats, that's just a diabolical double," Prof van Onselen said.
"There's always a chance (to win) and history tells us that happens - but it would need to be the biggest political comeback in Australian history to turn this around."
Prof van Onselen said the Government now had two options - either batten down the hatches in the hopes of either losing with dignity or getting lucky, or allow panic to set in and make a bad situation even worse.
"If it was Labor, I'd bank on the former but the Coalition are like herding cats so the latter is a distinct possibility."
Barring a miracle, Prof van Onselen said the best case scenario now was for the Coalition to lose by the smallest margin possible to avoid sacrificing seats held by potential future leaders.
"Then they can come back quickly and return to government," he said. "The risk is a big loss that would see them back in the 1980s wilderness years."
ABC analysis of the seat redistribution shows if there was a 4.4 per cent swing, up to 18 Coalition MPs could lose their seats and this includes Home Affairs Minister and would-be PM Peter Dutton as well as Attorney-General Christian Porter.
Another two MPs whose seats are now notionally Labor would also be at risk.
Those in the firing line include MPs who hold senior positions such as Government Whip Bert van Manen, Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister David Coleman, Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, Deputy Speaker Kevin Hogan, Assistant Minister to the PM Steve Irons as well as Assistant Minister for Children and Families Michelle Landry.
In Victoria's election last month, there was a swing away from the Liberal Party of 6 per cent and commentators warned that federal politics, including the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull, was partly responsible for the terrible result.
Prof van Onselen said the Coalition was already in trouble before Mr Turnbull's ousting, but the leadership spill probably made the situation worse.
"They already probably had a problem with the right (of the party) but after knifing Malcolm, now they have a problem with the centre and the moderates. And the right isn't even happy because they didn't get Dutton, they got Morrison."
He said the Coalition needed to maintain its dignity.
"The only hope left is for them to batten the hatches and turn the focus to the economy, which includes a scare campaign on Labor," he said.
"Interestingly, if you could parachute Peter Costello or John Howard in their prime into the top two roles of government, I reckon in five months from now they could probably win the election."