The Fairfax broadsheets have published an ACNielsen survey of 1400 voters showing federal Labor’s two-party lead at 58-42, up from 55-45 at the previous poll in November. Labor leads on the primary vote 47 per cent to 37 per cent. Also in the poll:

• Kevin Rudd’s approval rating is up four points to a stratospheric 74 per cent, the highest ever recorded by ACNielsen, while Malcolm Turnbull’s is down eight to 43 per cent. Their respective disapproval ratings are 22 per cent (steady) and 47 per cent (up 12 per cent).

• Rudd leads Turnbull as preferred prime minister 69 per cent to 24 per cent, his lead increasing seven points.

• Remarkably, 57 per cent say Kevin Rudd would be “justified in calling an early election to try and break the Senate impasse that has frustrated the passing of some legislation” (although they might think differently if they realised no double dissolution trigger existed, and that any election for the House of Representatives before the middle of next year would throw the two houses’ cycles out of sync).

• Peter Costello is favoured as Liberal leader by 47 per cent against 39 per cent for Turnbull, although Turnbull has closed the gap six points.

• 66 per cent say they oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan, a near identical result to last week’s Newspoll.

In other news:

• Newspoll has published its quarterly geographic and demographic breakdowns. Charts aplenty from Possum, here and here.

• The Victorian Liberals have advertised for federal election candidates in Kooyong, Corangamite and Deakin. Andrew Landeryou at VexNews says “long-time Liberal fundraiser and multi-millionaire Andrew Abercrombie is believed to be the Baillieu faction’s secret weapon candidate” to run in Kooyong against the Josh Frydenberg, who is backed by the Kroger camp and “Malcolm Turnbull’s numbers man”, Senator Michael Ronaldson.

The Australian reports the Left faction Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association have joined in a “Moscow-Berlin pact” to seek a “Senate-style system for Victorian upper house preselections”. This would deny rank-and-file members a vote, and circumvent the recent deal between the two unions’ intra-factional rivals. For their part, the latter group are threatening to back separate ballots for each position rather than proportional representation, which would allow them to secure a clean sweep. More from Andrew Landeryou.

• Steve Grant of the Fremantle Herald reports that former Premier Alan Carpenter has backed Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri to replace Jim McGinty as Labor’s candidate in Fremantle. His presumed rival, LHMWU state secretary Dave Kelly, now says he is no longer interested. While still denying it publicly, it is almost universally anticipated that McGinty will shortly quit parliament so a by-election can be held in conjunction with the May 16 referendum on daylight saving. Last week the Herald reported that Keith McCorriston, Maritime Union of Australia official and local party branch president, had “also emerged as a contender”. It was also reported that WA Opinion Polls had been canvassing the electorate asking respondents about Tagliaferri and Greens candidate Adele Carles.

• Speaking of which, The West Australian reports daylight saving advocates have been peddling an “online poll of 610 voters conducted last week by independent research company Synovate”, showing 50.5 per cent planning to vote yes against 46.8 per cent for no. Despite the smaller sample of 400, a Westpoll survey published earlier in the month showing 57 per cent for no and 42 per cent for yes might be thought more credible.

• The Tasmanian Liberals have been keeping busy with preselections for the state election due next March. Mark Worley of the Sunday Tasmanian reports three new candidates have been chosen for Franklin: Vanessa Goodwin, a criminologist who narrowly failed to win a seat in 2006; Clarence City Council building inspector David Compton; and Huon Valley small business owner Jillian Law. Party leader Will Hodgman will be a fourth, while the fifth will be “left open until later in the year”.

• In Bass, sitting members Peter Gutwein and Sue Napier will be joined by Michael Ferguson, who gained the federal seat for the Liberals in 2004 and lost it in 2007, and David Fry, who filled a vacancy in 2000 but failed to win election in his own right in 2002 or 2006. As in Franklin, a fifth position has been left vacant for the time being.

Sue Neales of the Mercury reports plans to preselect candidates in Denison have been deferred as the Liberals are “concerned by a lack of high-profile talent”. Michael Hodgman, whose parliamentary career goes back to 1966, is apparently set on another term despite being 70 years old and “suffering ill health”. From Michelle Paine of the Mercury (thanks to Peter Tucker of Tasmanian Politics for scanning this) comes a report that Marti Zucco, Hobart alderman and twice-unsuccessful independent upper house candidate, is also gearing up to nominate despite troubled relations with the party.

Over the fence, Rebecca White, a 26-year-old electorate officer to federal Denison MP Duncan Kerr, has been confirmed as a starter for Labor in Lyons.

• Anna Bligh says she will discuss fixed terms, possibly of four years, with whoever ends up leading the Liberal National Party. Queensland is the only state which still has terms of three years.

• Graeme Orr writes on the impact of optional preferential voting at the Queensland election, and related matters, at Australian Policy Online.

Gary Morgan takes aim at Newspoll and Galaxy over their under-estimation of Labor’s vote in Brisbane. To which they might justifiably reply: either shit or get off the pot. When Morgan starts publishing his own state polls, and when these prove more accurate than his rivals, then he can reasonably presume to start giving them advice.

UPDATE: Essential Research has Labor’s lead blowing out to 63-37 from 60-40 last week, and also shows Kevin Rudd’s approval rating at record levels: 21 per cent for “strongly approve”, his best result since this question was first asked last September. Malcolm Turnbull’s overall approval rating is down four points to 28 per cent and his disapproval up five to 48 per cent. In answer to George Megalogenis’s question on Insiders yesterday, 50 per cent say our troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, and 75 per cent say there should be more armed security at airports.

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