This week’s Essential Research survey has Labor down a point on the primary vote to 36%, but is otherwise unchanged on last week: the Coalition on 47%, the Greens on 9% and the Coalition leading 53-47 on two-party preferred. With very good timing, it also offers us Essential’s monthly personal ratings, which unlike the voting intention figures are derived entirely from the most recent period of surveying from Wednesday to Sunday. These figures are also of particular interest in the current environment in that they involve a four (strong approval, approval, disapproval, strong disapproval) rather than two point scale. This finds Julia Gillard gaining two points on strong approval since last month to 9%, her best result since February 2011, while also gaining four points on the milder approval measure to 32%. Her combined approval rating of 41% is her highest since May 2011. Her combined disapproval rating is down three points to 51%, also her best since last May, with strong disapproval steady at 27% and the milder disapproval rating down three to 24%. Opinion of Tony Abbott would appear to have polarised even further: he is up three on strong approval to 9% – his best result since December 2010 – but also up two on strong disapproval to a new high of 31%. His overall approval is up five to 37%, and disapproval down one to 54%. Gillard has opened up a seven-point lead as preferred prime minister of 43-36, its highest since February.

The survey also gauges attitudes to the presidential election, finding Barack Obama favoured by 63% to just 9% for Mitt Romney, with Obama leading 53-18 even among Coalition voters. Respondents were found to have an overwhelmingly more favourable view of their own country than the United States with respect to access to health care and jobs, standard of living for ordinary people, and other such. The US obviously rated higher on “international influence”, but even here 17% felt able to conclude Australia’s was “better”. Respondents were also asked about climate change, with much the same result as when the question was last asked a year ago: 48% believe climate change is occurring as a result of human activity, with 39% plumping for “we are witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate”.

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