Three new polls this week, from Newspoll, Ipsos and Essential Research, all of them featuring leadership ratings as well as voting intention. As was widely noted, there was a big gap between the results from Newspoll and Ipsos, which has contributed to something of a two-track trend in polling, with one clump of results around 54-46 (Ipsos and ReachTEL) and another around 51-49 (two Newspolls and a bias-adjusted Roy Morgan). The middle ground plotted by BludgerTrack now has Labor’s two-party vote down to 51.9% – only a small change on last week, but enough to shift two seats on the seat projection, including one in New South Wales (which has done a lot of the heavy lifting in the recent Coalition poll recovery) and one in Victoria.

Leadership ratings are starting to look increasingly alarming for Bill Shorten, whose net approval has dropped a full 10% from the stasis it was in through most of 2014. Tony Abbott has now recovered to where he was before Australia Day, and while that’s still a bad position in absolute terms, the gap between himself and Shorten is rapidly narrowing. The same goes for preferred prime minister, on which Shorten’s double-digit lead after Australia Day has narrowed to about 3%.

Two polls warranting comment:

• I neglected to cover this on Tuesday, so let the record note that this week’s Essential Research result ticked a point in the Coalition’s favour on two-party preferred, putting Labor’s lead at 52-48. Primary votes were 41% for the Coalition (up one), 39% for Labor (steady), 10% for the Greens (steady) and 2% for Palmer United (steady). Also featured were monthly personal ratings, which found Tony Abbott up two on approval to 31% and down five on disapproval to 56%, Bill Shorten up one on both to 34% and 39%, and Shorten’s lead as preferred prime minister down from 39-31 to 37-33. Other questions related to asylum seekers, with 43% nominating that most were not genuine refugees versus 32% who said otherwise. However, a separate question found 49% allowing that asylum seekers arriving by boat should be allowed to stay if found to be genuine refugees. The government’s approach was deemed too tough by 22%, too soft by 27% and just right by 34%. In response to Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus leaving the Palmer United Party, 41% said those in their position should leave parliament and allow a new election to be held for their seat, with 19% favouring a new member nominated by the party and 24% saying they should be allowed to remain in parliament.

• Roy Morgan has published one of its semi-regular rounds of SMS state polling, finding the newly elected Coalition ahead by 54.5-45.5 in New South Wales, and Annastacia Palaszczuk’s newly elected Queensland government up by 52.5-47.5, after last month’s result and the weekend’s Galaxy poll both had it lineball. Labor governments are credited with leads of 54-46 in Victoria and 51-49 in South Australia, while it’s 50-50 in Western Australia. A 56-44 lead to Labor is recorded in Tasmania, which is more than a little hard to credit.

Preselection news:

• Murray Watt is set to win preselection for Labor’s Queensland Senate ticket after securing the endorsement of the Left faction at the expense of incumbent Jan McLucas, who entered parliament in 1999. Susan McDonald of the ABC reports that Watt’s position will likely be at the top of the ticket, reflecting the Left’s new-found ascendancy within the Queensland Labor organisation.

• It’s a similar story in the lower house Brisbane seat of Oxley, where Labor’s Bernie Ripoll has announced his retirement following reports he stood to lose preselection in any case to Milton Dick, Brisbane City Council opposition leader.

• Crikey’s Tips and Rumours section recently offered details on the Labor preselection in the marginal eastern Melbourne seat of Deakin, which has been won by Tony Clarke, manager of Vision Australia and unsuccessful state election candidate for Ringwood. His main opponent was Mike Symon, who won the seat for Labor in 2007 and 2010 before being unseated by current Liberal member Michael Sukkar in 2013. Symon narrowly defeated Clarke in the local party ballot, but this was overwhelmed by support for Clarke in the 50% of the vote determined by the state party‚Äôs Public Office Selection Committee. It was reported in Crikey that the Left abstained from the POSC vote, as it wished to let “the Right factions fight out between themselves”. For more on Deakin, see today’s Seat of the Week post.

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