Labor's run of bad polling has been relieved by a relatively encouraging Nielsen result, in which a modest Coalition two-party lead is offset by an alarming disapproval rating for Tony Abbott and a thumbs-down over his handling of the AWU affair.
GhostWhoVotes reports that the final Nielsen poll for the year has come in above Labor’s recent form, with the Coalition leading 52-48, down from 53-47 last month. Labor is up a point on the primary vote to 35%, with the Coalition down two to 43% and the Greens down two to 10%. Tony Abbott has reached a new low on net approval from Nielsen with approval down two to 34% and disapproval up three to an alarming 63%, which is apparently the second highest disapproval rating for an Opposition Leader in Nielsen’s 40-year history. Julia Gillard’s personal ratings are little changed at 46% approval (down one) and 50% disapproval (up two), while her lead as preferred prime minister is at 50-40, compared with 51-42 last time. There is also heartening news for Labor with questions on the AWU affair, with 47% approving of Julia Gillard’s handling of the matter against 40% disapproval, while the respective figures for Tony Abbott are 24% and 64%. Full tables here.
There has also been a ReachTel automated phone poll of 661 respondents published today, commissioned by Sydney Morning Herald, which suggests Mal Brough would win a clear victory as LNP candidate for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax despite his recent bruising in the Ashby affair. The poll shows Brough with 48.4% on the primary vote against a derisory for 2.7% for Peter Slipper, who is publicly still committed to seeking re-election as an independent, 21.2% for Labor, 11.7% for the Greens and 7.4% for Katter’s Australian Party. Brough was viewed favourably by 41.8% of respondents against 34.0% unfavourable, while the respective figures for Slipper were 6.9% and 75.5%. Brough’s involvement in the Ashby matter made 37.3% of respondents less likely to vote for him, against 39.8% for no difference. A substantial cohort of very curious people, apparently amounting to 22.6% of the Fisher electorate, say it has made them more likely to vote for him.
UPDATE (17/12/2012): The final Essential Research for the year has the Coalition gaining a point on two-party preferred for the second successive week to extend its lead to 55-45, the highest in nearly three months. However, the primary votes have emerged from rounding unchanged on last week, with Labor on 36%, the Coalition on 48% and the Greens on 8%. Further questions find that 2012 was perceived as being a good year for banks and miners, an uninspiring one for the Australian economy and you and your family, a poor one for the media, farming, unions, the environment and the average Australian, and a shocker for small business and Australian politics in general. Labor, Liberal, Greens and independents were all rated as having had a bad year, Labor emerging the worst. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott rated equally poorly, with opinion evenly divided as to whether either will make it to the election.
Respondents were asked which of seven deignated political events was the year’s most significant, with the implementation of the carbon tax well ahead on 41%. The other results were 14% for the Kevin Rudd leadership challenge, 9% for the reopening of offshore detention centres, 7% for AWU slush fund allegations, 6% for Julia Gillard’s sexism speech, 5% for bipartisan support for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and 5% for Australia winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Essential Research will next report on January 14.
UPDATE 2: GhostWhoVotes reports Nielsen further finds 36% of respondents think themselves better off than two years against 45% worse off, with supporters of Labor (50% better, 29% worse) and the Greens (52% better, 26% worse) typically taking a rosier view than those of the Coalition (23% better, 61% worse).
UPDATE 3 (19/12/12): The final Morgan face-to-face poll for the year, covering the last two weekends’ surveying, is a good one for Labor, who are up four points to 40% on the primary vote (their best result since February last year), while the Coalition is down three to 37.5% (their worst this term) with the Greens up 1.5% to 12.5%. Two-party preferred is 52.5-47.5 in Labor’s favour on respondent-allocated preferences, which precisely reverses the position in the previous poll, while previous election preferences have Labor turning a 50.5-49.5 deficit into a 53.5-46.5 lead. These are respectively Labor’s best results since December 2010 and February 2011.
William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.