GhostWhoVotes reports Fairfax’s monthly Nielsen poll has the Coalition leading 54-46. One way to look at this is that there has been no change since a month ago, and this is the line newspapers who commission these polls are generally required to run. However, it was clear enough at the time that the previous result was an outlier, so this poll adds to a general impression of the Coalition lead having blown out from about 51-49 to 54-46. Notably, Nielsen’s two-party result is the same as last week’s Newspoll. Other results since the carbon tax announcement have been a 56-44 Morgan phone poll result, which came from a small sample, and the progress of Essential Research’s fortnightly rolling average from 49-51 to 52-48 to 53-47, from which the hair-splitters among us ascertained weekly results of 55-45 in week one and 51-49 in week two (UPDATE: Actually, Dendrite in comments nicely demonstrates why this need not be so). The latter result always looked like an anomaly, and since it will make up half of tomorrow’s published Essential result there will be cause to regard whatever it is as slightly flattering to Labor. We also had 50-50 from Morgan’s face-to-face, but this was also in keeping with the overall trend when you factor in its consistent bias to Labor.

UPDATE: GhostWhoVotes reports in comments that Nielsen more or less replicates Newspoll in having Kevin Rudd favoured over Julia Gillard by 39 per cent to 34 per cent. One point of agreement to emerge from this morning’s critically acclaimed episode of Insiders was that head-to-head polls of this kind are not to be trusted, as they invite non-supporters of the party to make mischief – which could equally apply to Tony Abbott’s shaky ratings against Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey. Even so, Morgan records Gillard’s lead over Rudd among Labor voters as shrinking from 37 per cent to 10 per cent over the past three months.

UPDATE 2: Full results courtesy of GhostWhoVotes here. The two-party vote being what it is, the primaries are a little better for Labor than anticipated: the Coalition is on 45 per cent, as in Newspoll, but Labor is on 33 per cent rather than 30 per cent. This looks as much like a 53-47 result as a 54-46. Julia Gillard’s approval ratings are substantially better than in Newspoll: approval down five to 47 per cent, disapproval up four 47 per cent. This might be seen as evidence of the bounce leaders traditionally get when before the world stage, which may also have buttressed them a little on voting intention. Whereas the previous Nielsen poll uncovered no evidence of Tony Abbott taking a hit from the Mark Riley death stare and its attendant week of party disunity, this time he is down three on approval to 43 per cent and up three on disapproval to 52 per cent. The preferred prime minister has little changed, with Gillard steady on 51 per cent and Abbott up one to 42 per cent.

UPDATE 3: The latest Essential Research survey joins the 54-46 club, up from 53-47 last week. Labor’s primary vote is down a point to 35 per cent, with the Coalition and the Greens steady on 47 per cent and 10 per cent. The monthly question on personal approval to has Julia Gillard in net negative territory for the first time, her approval down seven points to 41 per cent and disapproval up five to 46 per cent. Tony Abbott is respectively steady on 38 per cent and up a point to 47 per cent. Both have similar ratings for “strongly approve” (7 per cent each) and “strongly disapprove” (24 per cent for Gillard and 27 per cent for Abbott), with the latter notably higher than the former. Gillard’s lead as preferred prime minister has narrowed from 48-31 to 44-33.

Questions on carbon price serve to remind us that wording goes a long way: when asked whether they would support the scheme “if the money paid by big polluting industries was used to compensate low and middle income earners and small businesses for increased prices”, which is pretty much the idea (albeit that there is no shortage of devil in the detail), 54 per cent said they would against only 30 per cent who said they wouldn’t. However, to further emphasise how complicated the politics of this gets, 45 per cent agreed action should be delayed “until the US has established an equal or stronger carbon pricing system” against 33 per cent who did not agree. Respondents were again asked if they merely supported the government’s announcement, with 38 per cent saying yes (up three on last week) and 49 per cent said no (up one).

Questions on same-sex marriage and territory rights underscore the surprisingly candid misgivings The Australian expressed last week about democracy. Forty-nine per cent support same-sex marriage against 40 per cent opposed, while 74 per cent failed to recognise that federal ministers should remain capable of overriding territory legislation at their whim (which The Australian regarded as so self-evident it did not trouble itself to explain why). Only 9 per cent were dopey enough to take the contrary view.

OH, AND BY THE WAY: Don’t forget to take advantage of the fabulous Crikey group subscriptions offer detailed in the post below this one.

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