Essential Report comes in this week with the primaries running 47 (down 3) / 35 (up 1) to Labor, washing out into a two party preferred of 58/42 the same way – a two point drop from the highs of last week. This comes from a rolling two week sample of 1918, giving us an MoE that maxes out at around the 2.2% mark. The Greens come in with 9 (up 1), while the broader “Others” are running at 9 (steady)

Additional questions were also asked this week on Laura Norder and the Muslim community, the CPRS, the obligatory Liberal leadership question and a cracker on how the public rate Rudd compared to Howard on a series of public policy issues – which we’ll go through first. These additional questions ran from a sample of 1093 for an MoE that maxes out around the 2.9% mark.

Thinking about the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the previous Prime Minister John Howard, who do you think has been better at the following

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howardvrudd

On the cross-tabs, Essential reports that:

The results followed party lines, with Labor voters rating Rudd as better and Coalition voters rating Howard as better at handling the above national issues.

However, Coalition voters were more likely to rate that there is no difference between Rudd and Howard when it comes to handling the issues of protecting the environment (48%), honesty in Government (40%) and indigenous issues (30%).

One of the great pieces of political mythology over the last decade was the towering strength of Howard on the Economy and Defence and Security as issues. There was absolutely no doubt he rated relatively highly at the time, but as is always the case with these things, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of incumbency in boosting such ratings.

Rudd and Howard come in roughly equal on which leader better manages the economy. To throw it into even starker perspective, 53% of the public believe that Rudd was as good or better than Howard at handling the economy, while 55% of the population thought Howard was as good or better than Rudd at handling the economy.

The economy is often considered to be some eternal core Coalition issue in the minds of the public, but that is simply not the case. Both Hawke and Keating pulled better ratings on  issues of economic management than the Coalition did when they were Prime Minister. Economic management is an incumbency issue first and foremost. It just takes a while for the patterns to work themselves out during the transition from one government to the next. But we should expect to see Rudd close the gap, pull even (which he has done) and eventually overtake the Coalition on the economy.

Having already pulled even with the Myth of Howard suggests he’s already there – but we’ll know for sure when the next Newspoll issue management poll is released.

Defence and Security however is a core Coalition issue and the polling seems to suggest it always has been.

How would you rate the job that law enforcement in Australia has done in recent years in protecting the country from terrorism?

lawenforcement

Short cross-tabs said:

Labor and Coalition voters were more likely to rate it as excellent/good (93% of Labor, 81% of Coalition), while Green voters were more likely to rate it as not so good/poor (16%).

Do you think the Australian Federal Police and the various police forces of the state governments have unduly concentrated on the Muslim community or do you think that what they have done has been reasonable based on the threat of terrorism and good law enforcement procedure?

muscommunity

Essential says on the cross-tabs:

18 – 24 were more likely to think that the response has been unduly concentrated on the Muslim community (22%) while respondents aged 55 years and over were more likely to think the response of the AFP and state police forces to the threat of terrorism has been reasonable (85%).
Green voters were more likely to think that the response has been unduly concentrated on the Muslim community (28%) while Coalition and Labor voters were more likely to think the response to terrorism by the AFP has been reasonable (82% Coalition, 78% Labor).

Which of the following do you think would make the best leader of the Liberal Party?

libleadership

The cross-tabs have us:

Malcolm Turnbull has the most support amongst Coalition voters – 26% of these voters think Turnbull is the best leader of the Liberal Party. 22% of these same voters prefer Hockey and 11% prefer Abbott.

This week the Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull released an alternative emissions trading scheme which he claims will cost less than the Government’s proposal. Do you think Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition are serious about having a scheme to address climate change or are they just opposing any proposal the Government puts up?

oppocprs

Essential says on the cross-tabs:

Labor and Green voters were more likely to think the Coalition is just opposing any Government proposal (80% Labor, 74% Green), while Coalition voters were more likely to think the Coalition is serious about addressing climate change (53%).

Finally, yesterday Ross Gittins wrote in the SMH:

I can’t wait to see the day when Kevin Rudd finds himself with no alternative but to take a decision that really annoys the electorate and sends his popularity crashing to the depths experienced from time to time by all his predecessors.

Why? Because I can’t wait for him to lose his political virginity, grow up and realise that successful, worthwhile, memorable leadership of the nation inevitably involves being willing to make unpopular decisions – decisions the wisdom of which the electorate comes to accept only in retrospect.

And here I was thinking that “successful, worthwhile, memorable leadership of the nation” involves the Prime Minister  making decisions and taking a majority of the population with him.

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