GhostWhoVotes reports the first Nielsen for the year has the Coalition leading 56-44 on two-party preferred, compared with 52-48 in the final poll last year. The primary votes are 30% for Labor (down five) and 47% for the Coalition (up four) – we’ll have to wait on the Greens. Even worse news for Julia Gillard on personal ratings, with Tony Abbott seizing a 49-45 lead as preferred prime minister compared with 50-40 to Gillard last time, and she trails Kevin Rudd 61% to 35%. However, the latter result is very similar to Abbott’s 58-35 deficit against Malcolm Turnbull. Opinion is divided on whether the parties should actually do anything about it: 52% support Labor changing leaders and 45% don’t (up four and down three), with eerily similar numbers for the Liberals (51% to 46%).

We also had overnight a Galaxy poll of 800 women voters concerning voting intention and attitudes to the leaders. The voting intention figures were 36% for Labor, 46% for the Coalition and 10% for the Greens, for a two-party preferred lead to the Coalition of 53-47 – about where you would expect it be when allowing for a 55-45 poll trend, the size of the gender gap in recent years and perhaps a smidgin of house bias in favour of the Coalition on Galaxy’s part. When respondents were asked if they were concerned about Abbott saying “‘no’ to everything”, his views on abortion and “the way he treats women”, abortion recorded the lowest response rate among Labor voters and the highest among Coalition voters (albeit by slight margins in each case). The divide was still wider for the question of whether was Abbott was a misogynist, breaking 44-24 for among Labor voters and 9-69 against among Coalition voters for a total of 25-44. Thirteen per cent of respondents said they were less likely to vote for Gillard because she was unmarried and has no children, and the same number said they were more likely to vote for Abbott for the opposite reasons.

UPDATE (18/2/2013): Essential Research breaks the freefall with the Coalition two-party lead back down to 54-46 after a week at 55-45, with Labor up a point on the primary vote to 35%, the Coalition down one to 47% and the Greens steady on 9%. The poll also finds 56% approval and 22% disapproval for recent thought bubbles about development of northern Australia. Other questions relate drugs in sport, including the eye-opening finding that 52% would approve of a ban on sports betting.

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