James J in comments relates that the latest Newspoll result for The Australian, which I believe will be the third last poll we get from Newspoll-as-we-know-it, has Labor’s two-party lead at 52-48, down from 53-47 a fortnight ago. The Coalition is up a point on the primary vote to 41%, with Labor steady on 37% and the Greens up one to 13%. Tony Abbott’s approval rating is down a point to 38% and his disapproval up one to 53%, while Bill Shorten continues to haemorrhage at 32% approval (down three) and 50% disapproval (up four). Abbott’s lead as preferred prime minister is now at 41-37, up from 41-40. The poll was conducted from Friday to Sunday from a sample of 1169.

Also:

• The latest fortnightly Morgan result records a slight increase in Labor’s lead after an unusually weak result a fortnight ago, with the Coalition’s primary vote down half a point to 41%, Labor’s up a point and a half to 37%, the Greens up half to 13% and Palmer United down among Katter’s Australian Party in statistically insignficant territory. This results in a slight shift in the two-party lead from 51.5-48.5 to 52-48, although a stronger flow of respondent-allocated preferences this time causes a bigger move on that measure, from 51-49 to 53-47.

• Media outlets have reported on two privately conducted ReachTEL polls over the past week, both providing encouraging news for the Coalition. The Guardian reported on an ACTU-commissioned poll of marginal seats which found “a primary vote swing of between 2% and 4% against the sitting Coalition MP, but in most cases voters had switched to the Greens or the undecided column rather than to Labor”. I take that to suggest an overall two-party swing to Labor of around 2%. The poll was conducted a fortnight ago, and targeted one seat in each state: Page, Corangamite, Leichhardt, Swan, Hindmarsh and Braddon. Further results in the article relate an expectation that the government will make further cuts to health and education. The Australian reported that polling of four of Tasmania’s five seats, the exception being Denison, found Labor losing support to the Greens while the Coalition held firm, and also found about 40% agreeing they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported reinstatement of wood waste in the Renewable Energy Target, compared with around 14% for less likely. The polls were conducted on May 21 for the Australian Forest Products Association.

Jared Owens of The Australian reports Sophie Mirabella will face two rivals for Liberal preselection in her bid to recover her old seat of Indi, which she lost to independent Cathy McGowan in 2013. One is Kevin Ekendahl, owner of an auditing and compliance business in Wodonga and candidate for Melbourne Ports in 2010 and 2013, who has “campaigned for same-sex marriage”, which Mirabella opposes. The other is Andrew Walpole, who owns property in the electorate but works as an anaesthetist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne. Speaking of Melbourne-based, an Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner told Senate estimates this week that it had referred to the public prosecutor four alleged cases of fraudulent involvement from the electorate, out of 28 cases referred to it. This follows claims last year that a substantial number of Cathy McGowan had enrolled in the electorate despite living in Melbourne, most of them being university students who grew up in the electorate.

• Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson has ordered a Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into “claims of intimidation outside election polling booths and the handing out of misleading leaflets”.

• The AEC published public submissions last week as part of its process for the federal redistribution of New South Wales, which will reduce the state’s seat share from 48 to 47. I put the submissions for the two major parties through the wringer in this post, where you can find interactive maps of the proposals along with my determinations of notional seat margins. I’ve also belatedly attached such a map to my similar post for the Western Australian redistribution from mid-April. Draft boundaries for both redistributions are scheduled for the third quarter of this year, with final determinations to be made early next year. There is also a redistribution of the two Australian Capital Territory seats in train, which no one seems terribly excited about.

• I had paywalled pieces in Crikey last week concerning the electoral dimensions of same-sex marriage and contradictory Queensland state poll results.

UPDATE (Essential Research): The only change in the weekly reading from Essential Research is a one point increase in the Labor primary vote to 40%, leaving the Coalition 41%, the Greens on 10% and Palmer United on 1%, with Labor’s two-party lead at 52-48. A semi-regular question on same-sex marriage finds 59% saying it should be allowed and 30% saying it shouldn’t, respectively steady and up two since February. However, the difference is narrower on likelihood of same-sex marriage influencing vote choice, with 34% saying more likely and 22% less likely. Also feaatured are questions on leadership attributes, which as usual record collective movements in line with recent polling on personal approval. That means better ratings for Tony Abbott than in February, with the biggest movements on “out of touch with ordinary people” (down seven to 65%), “erratic” (down six to 54%) and “a capable leader” (up six to 40%). Bill Shorten’s movements might be thought surprisingly modest given his recent polling form – he’s down four points on “a capable leader” to 43%, but also on “narrow-minded”, to 34%.

As it does from time to time, Essential has also sought to gauge the accuracy of respondents’ understanding a public policy issue, in this case the proportion of the federal budget devoted to foreign aid, and found only 13% offering the correct answer of less than 1%. This gives a bit of edge to its finding that 44% think the government spends too much on foreign aid, compared with 16% for too little and 21% for just right. Respondents were also asked to rate the importance of giving foreign aid to various countries, with impoverished neighbours rating highest (66% for Pacific Island countries, 65% for Papua New Guinea) and, I cannot help but notice, Islamic countries rating lowest (Indonesia 39%, Middle East countries 26%).

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