Big shock from Newspoll: Labor’s two-party lead has slumped from 59-41 to 52-48, their smallest lead since the last poll prior to the 2007 election. The shift on preferred prime minister is much more modest, Kevin Rudd’s lead slipping from 65-19 to 63-19. It’s apparently also been reported both sides have shifted seven points on the primary vote, which would mean they are level on 41 per cent. More to follow. UPDATE: Graphic here. Rudd has had four points transfer from approve (59 per cent) to disapprove (32 per cent); Turnbull’s approval is steady on 32 per cent and his disapproval is down three to 51 percent.

It’s a very different story from Essential Research, which has Labor’s lead steady at 59-41. Supplementary questions show mixed messages on asylum seekers: one shows support for a tough line and an apparent belief that the Rudd government is delivering, but 55 per cent rate its handling of the issue “not so good/poor” against 36 per cent “excellent/good”. Significantly, a further question shows people do not think the Liberals would do any better.

UPDATE: Newspoll history records six reversals of comparable size. The poll of 6-8 November 1992 saw a 46-54 Labor deficit turn into a 54-46 lead, for what looked to be no readily obvious reason at the time. On 20-22 August 1993, immediately after John Dawkins’ horror post-election budget, the Coalition’s lead went from 51-49 to 60-40. On 23-25 September 1994, Labor went from 57-43 ahead to 51-49 behind in what looked like a correction following two consecutive horror surveys for Alexander Downer. When John Howard took over from him at the end of January 1995, the next survey of 10-12 February saw Labor’s 54-46 lead turn into a 53-47 deficit. The poll immediately after the 1998 election saw the Coalition turn a 53-47 deficit at the last (evidently inaccurate) pre-election poll into a 54-46 lead. Finally, on 28-30 May 2004, Labor under Mark Latham suffered a short-lived slump from 53-47 ahead to 54-46 behind.

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