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Federal Politics 2013-

May 22, 2014

BludgerTrack: 54.2-45.8 to Labor

As you may have guessed in advance, this week's poll aggregate finds the pace of Labor's recent breakthrough quickening after a disastrous reception to the government's first budget, as Bill Shorten surges to a handy lead as preferred prime minister.

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Post-budget polling has emphatically confirmed a second major shift in public opinion since the election, the first being a strikingly early dip in the new government’s fortunes in November, leaving the opposition with a narrow lead when the dust had settled. With every pollster but ReachTEL having produced results in the wake of last Tuesday’s budget, the latest landslip looks even bigger than the first, and it sends the Coalition into territory that was all too familiar to Labor during its tumultuous second term in office. The damage was done by Newspoll, Nielsen and Morgan, with a small amount of the edge taken off by more moderate results from Galaxy and Essential Research. Even so, Labor now has a lead on the primary vote for the first time since BludgerTrack opened for business in late 2012, even taking into account that the Greens have retained a healthy share of the vote, perhaps finding a new equilibrium with their head just above double figures. Also continuing to make hay out of the exodus from the Coalition is the Palmer United Party, which this week reaches a new high of 7.0%.

No less spectacular is the latest update on leadership ratings, for which near-identical sets of data have emerged this week courtesy of Newspoll and Nielsen. The slump in Tony Abbott’s standing which had become evident over the previous fortnight has continued apace, to the extent that I have had to increase the range of the y-axis on the net satisfaction chart to accommodate it. This puts Abbott at a level Julia Gillard would only have known in a particularly bad week. Even more encouragingly for Labor, Bill Shorten’s ratings are on an upward swing, putting him back into net positive territory after three months below par. What had previously been a steady narrowing trend in Tony Abbott’s lead on preferred prime minister has sharply accelerated, to the extent of putting Shorten substantially ahead – an uncommon achievement for an Opposition Leader.

The state projections this week see the distinction in state swings even out, most notably in the case of Queensland where the swing to Labor got out of hand for a few weeks there. A considerable influence here was the latest Nielsen breakdown, which provided the first presentable set of figures I had seen for the Coalition in Queensland for some time. This may suggest that the budget backlash in that state was muted by the fact that Labor had less slack to take up, although there is no doubt also a large element of the statistical noise to which state breakdowns are inevitably prone. The upshot is that the Coalition’s position on the Queensland seat projection actually improves by four seats this week, testament in part to the state’s super-abundance of marginal seats. Offsetting this are bumper gains for Labor in other states – four seats in New South Wales, putting Bennelong, Gilmore and Macquarie on the table in addition to all the seats lost in September; three in marginals-starved Victoria, adding Casey and Dunkley to the more familiar targets of Corangamite, Deakin and La Trobe; and one each in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.

In other BludgerTrack news, you now have the chance to put Labor’s poll surge in somewhat broader perspective thanks to the retrospective poll tracking displayed on the sidebar, which at present encompasses the previous three terms, with plans to go back to the start of the Howard era in due course. For this you can think the sleuth work of Kevin Bonham, who has provided me with Nielsen data going back to 1996. Taking into account the more readily accessible archives of Newspoll and Morgan, this should eventually give me three pollsters to play with over the totality of the intended period. For the time being, the display encompasses the familiar poll aggregate from the previous term; the first term of the Rudd-Gillard government, which also includes Essential Research and a smattering of Galaxy to supplement the three aforementioned pollsters; and the Howard government’s final term in office.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

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.

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1,618 thoughts on “BludgerTrack: 54.2-45.8 to Labor

  1. ___cog___

    Back from dinner in Italy.

    I see that ABC online has updated to reflect a story about some freeway in Melbourne but is staying silent on Whitehousegate Scholarshipgate

  2. ___cog___

    and a margin of 29 seats will do very nicely

  3. Boerwar

    Thank you William. Interesting analysis as always.

    Based on these stats, are there are now Coalition marginal seat holders who are pretty well gone for all money and who therefore have nothing to lose by going into virtual opposition to Abbott?

  4. Boerwar

    Abbott does need a fire brigade – his pants are on fire.

  5. Boerwar

    The Silence of the Nationals.

    They got all the cream and the Liberals are getting all the sour.

  6. Psephos

    Back from dinner in Copenhagen.

    Most Coalition backbenchers know that their only hope of salvation is to grit their teeth, maintain party discipline and hope that things improve. This parliament has more than two years to run. As we’ve seen very clearly in recent time, a lot can happen in two years. If Liberal party discipline breaks down, they really will be fucked. Even your average Liberal backbencher knows this. Conversely, Labor members know that premature triumphalism is not helpful to our prospects of winning in 2016.

  7. Boerwar


    True and true.

    Greetings from upside down. Wouldn’t mind your comments on China’s assertiveness/aggressiveness, should you have time and the inclination.

    Am off to count birds.

  8. Psephos

    The Chinese rulers are riding the tiger of Han Chinese nationalism, which they have unleashed to bolster their domestic regime against their critics and thus retain their own power and increasingly corrupt privileges. But the tiger must be fed, so the regime has to show that it is asserting China’s power against its former tributary states such as Vietnam. This is driving most the states of the region, notably Burma and Vietnam, into the arms of the west. (Cambodia seems to be the exception, since Hun Sen has become China’s agent in ASEAN – this is presumably so that China will support Cambodia against its traditional enemies Thailand and Vietnam.) The Chinese regime’s aggressive posturing is thus actually harming China’s interests by uniting most of Asia against it and strengthening the hand of the US in the region.

  9. sprocket_

    The Daily ToiletPaper has descended below the S-bend in comparing Disabled with war heroes.


    I think this is some warped idea that by demonising a class of welfare recipients that Abbott’s savage cuts will be cheered on by the shrinking audience – dole bludgers, Uni students, the disabled are all fair game.

  10. sceptic

    The Morons!
    Charge a $7 copayment to visit the doctor to fund Medical Reserch & at the same time change Uni funding …… in science courses that provide the medical researchers …. ONLY the Fibs could think of that!


    “The government also had reduced its funding for a number of academic disciplines, with modelling showing the university would face cuts of more than $5000 per student in engineering, environmental sciences, communications, and science courses.”

  11. frednk

    Wyn ‏@WynRichards 8h

    So ~approx 100,000 young unemployed Australians will now have ZERO income? That’ll end well. #auspol

  12. Socrates

    Morning all. Pleasing to see ABC Factcheck remaining impartial, pointing out that the planned $20 billion (by 2020) medical research fund will still not be as big as the Wellcome Trust in the UK is now. Hockey can’t even tell the truth about the good news bits of the budget. Maybe it is genuine ignorance.

  13. Socrates


    As I posted last night the budget papers (2) own economic forecasts say that unemployment will rise under this budget, making a mockery of the “earn or learn” rationale being used to justify cuts for the young unemployed. There are no new jobs coming for them to earn from, nor extra TAFE or Uni places for them to study. They will simply be poor. Should be great for crime statistics.

  14. Socrates

    Senator Cori Bernardi, leader of the nutbars, critises the budget. No, it isn’t nutbar enough for Cory.
    [“Personally, I would prefer to see the co-payment directed to debt reduction, but the Government decided otherwise,” he said.

    In relation to the 2 per cent hike in income taxes for top earners, he says taxes should instead be reduced “across the board”.]

  15. sprocket_

    It’s only 7.48 and Twitterati have discovered the source of the Daily ToiletPaper’s queue of disabled.

    Early commentary focused on why are the all standing, no wheelchairs etc? And now this

    [@AshGhebranious: Oh dear @dailytelegraph, You pic of disabled people in your article seems to be from something else #auspol http://t.co/aEXEV9r8hE

  16. sprocket_

    The Lying Friar explains ‘that wink’

    [@TheTodayShow: “I shouldn’t have done it Karl. I should have been more focused on the caller and less focused on the interview” – @TonyAbbottMHR #Today9]

  17. Socrates

    Several Uni VCs point out the obvious likelihood of good but poor students being denied a place in university.

    The situation under Abbott is actually worse than in the pre-Whitlam era. Back then most places were full fee, but there were Commonwealth scholarships for roughly one third of uni places. So at least the top ten percent or so of high school leavers got in on merit. Now it will be far less.

  18. BK

    Good morning Dawn Patrollers – sorry I’m a bit late. Computer update issues. From the window I can see the most magnificent sunrise unfolding.

    Of course this is what will happen! Pyne is a prat.
    Pull the other one folks! The Senate committee will have some fun with this one.
    The Guardian won’t let go of it either.
    Waleed Aly reckons Abbott has shot his political bolt.
    Lenore Taylor hits back.
    Here’s the missing budget tables that Hockey said weren’t missing. The tables themselves tell us why.
    If ever there was an ignorant brain fart this is it. Most of those offended by this are in the natural LNP constituency.
    Peter FitzSimons praises Essendon and slaps the Parrot.