Essential Report

Jan 26, 2010

ALP’s poorest polling in 3 years.

This week’s Essential Report has the primaries running

Possum Comitatus — Editor of Pollytics

Possum Comitatus

Editor of Pollytics

This week’s Essential Report has the primaries running 46 (up 1) /37 (down 1) to Labor, washing out into a two party preferred of 56/44 the same way – steady since last week. The Greens are on 8 (steady), while the broad “Others” are on 9 (up 1). This comes from a rolling two week sample of 1928, giving us an MoE that maxes out around the 2.2% mark.

Additional questions asked this week were on the importance of various political issues, which party is better to handle them, Abbott’s Green Army and views on a carbon price. These additional questions ran from a sample of 1128, giving us an MoE that maxes out around the 2.9% mark.

Now that the usual business is out of the way, this is a very bad poll for the Labor Party. Their metrics on issue management have all gone backwards since October, they’ve lost their lead on a number of important areas and as we’ll see, the Coalition is winning the tactical battle over the ETS, the environment and a few other issues that should be slam dunks for Rudd.


Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election? (Number from 1 to 3 where 1 is the most important, 2 the second most important, etc)


That’s a pretty orthodox set of results – economy, health and jobs leading the way as the most important issues.


Which party do you think is best at handling each of the following issues?


On the cross-tabs, Essential says:

Results followed party lines with Labor voters tending to favour the Labor Party and Liberal voters favouring the Liberal Party.

As we can see, on areas of the economy, national security and interest rates – the government now trails the Coalition. In October 09 – the last time this complete set of questions were asked –  economic management and interest rates were tied, while Labor lead on Security by 2 points.

In fact, it wasn’t just on those three issues where Rudd has gone backwards – Rudd has weakened on every one of these issues since October, while the Coalition numbers have improved. If we take the change since October for each party on who is better to handle each issue, we get:


Labor has taken a battering on health, leadership, education and interest rates over the last 3 months – not that the rest of changes have been particularly pleasant for them.


The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott recently announced a plan to employ 15,000 people at an annual cost of up to $750 million to work on large scale environmental projects. Do you support or oppose this plan?


On the cross-tabs, Essential tells us:

Coalition voters were more likely to support the plan (80%), while Labor voters were more likely to oppose the plan (25%).

52% of Labor voters and 70% of Green voters support the plan.

People aged 55 years and over were more likely to support the plan (62%), as were males (61%).

Tony must be smiling at these results.


The Federal Government says placing a price on carbon is crucial to addressing climate change as there must be a strong incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors to achieve the cuts necessary. The Opposition says the Government’s plan to include a price on carbon as part of its proposed emissions trading scheme is nothing more than a new tax. Do you agree more with the Government or more with the Opposition?


On the cross-tabs we have:

Labor voters were more likely to agree with the Government’s view (58%) while Coalition voters were more likely to agree with the Opposition (78%).

22% of Labor voters agree with the Opposition’s view that placing a price on carbon is nothing more than a new tax.

44% of Green voters agree with the Government and 37% of these same voters agree with the Opposition.

Males were more likely to agree with the Government (34%) while females were more likely to indicate they don’t know (28%).

People aged 55 years and over were more likely to agree with the Opposition’s view on the issue (60%) while those aged 18 – 24 were more likely to agree with the Government (38%).

Check those Green cross-tabs out!

The Coalition is clearly winning here as well, which is becoming a bit of a theme of late in all of the polling – with Rudd experiencing an across the board approval rating drop from all of the pollsters over the last few months. Just with this question alone, if you put aside whatever your personal belief is over climate change, the fact that the government can only get less than a third of the population believing in the laws of supply and demand over carbon when their primary opposition is Barnaby Joyce is, well, it’s pretty hopeless.

Even if we look at what should be an absolute slam dunk for Rudd – better party to keep unemployment low – they’re failing to sell their message. The stimulus package was, at its core, a trade off between government debt and unemployment – trading off higher levels of debt to keep more people in jobs. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence of its success on this, including much higher rates of unemployment in the US and the UK, here’s what the metrics look like according to Essential Report.


Sure the Coalition has dropped – but Labor has been static when they should be polling in the 40’s, not the 20’s.

The vote estimates have been holding up for Labor so far, but if they continue to lose these issue by issue battles and the metrics continue to run against them here – those vote estimates will take a hit.

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81 thoughts on “ALP’s poorest polling in 3 years.

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  3. Shug

    Just to add a comment that’s, oh I don’t know, *relevant* to the actual post….

    Poss I suspect the ‘surprising’ result from Greens supporters on the CPRS question is easily explained. The question itself was pretty dodgy as it removed all possibilities except the rhetoric of the two old parties. Caught in this bind, a large number of Green voters have clearly decided that the CPRS *as proposed* is, indeed just a Great Big Tax because it’s so weak in terms of greenhouse gas abatement. That doesn’t mean they support the COALition’s…. um…well they don’t have a policy but let’s say their *position*… All it means is that a significant proportion of Greens voters think the CPRS is so shit that when forced to choose a description for the CPRS they’ve chosen Great Big Tax.

    The danger for the Coalition is that a proportion of those that ‘support’ their position are simply disappointed that the best the ALP could come up with was a 5% CO2 cut and a money-go-round. If they think 45% of the population are now climate skeptics they’re kidding themselves.

  4. JamesK

    Did he fool Mr. Henry as well?

  5. JamesK

    Within the Trojan $30 billion equine in the black evil Mr. Costello surreptitiously sowed the seeds of financial doom which Mr. Rudd not only fell for but compounded?

  6. Ben Breeg

    The precarious position our previous government left us in

    ….because despite 17 years of uninterrupted economic growth, we find ourselves at the start of the Great Recession in an awkward fiscal position best described as ‘skint’. It’s not entirely the fault of Wayne Swan dancing through the thoroughfares and shopping malls of suburban Australia tossing $900 cheques high into the air. His predecessors had something to do with it, writing plenty of their own that they knew future governments could not possibly honour.

    Under Howard, during the boom, company tax as a percentage of GDP grew from 4% to 5%. That doesn’t sound like much, but it inflated the government’s tax-take by $20 billion a year. Capital-gains tax, meanwhile, grew from 0.5% of GDP to 1.5%, or from $4 billion to $20 billion a year. Over the life of the boom this accounted for a windfall of tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars in extra revenue.

    The growth in revenue was like a balloon, however, because it was entirely dependent on the boom to keep blowing in the hot air. There were only two ways for it to end. When the boom was at its height, the balloon might pop as the economy overheated catastrophically, a fear that drove the Reserve Bank to begin jacking up interest rates way back in 2002. Or, when the boom was over, the balloon might deflate in a slightly less dangerous fashion, but still rapidly, with an offensive farting noise.

    Either way, the river of money gushing into Treasury was always going to dry up one day. Costello knew it. Howard knew it. Rudd and Swan, too. But the commitments Howard made to lower personal tax rates, to family tax benefits and to increased services were permanent. Under his direction, the budget was structured so that it did enjoy a healthy cash surplus while the boom rolled on; but as soon as that extra income disappeared, the underlying shortfall was exposed. Howard created what is known as a ‘structural deficit’. Kevin Rudd decided to chance his luck with it, and lost.

    The Coming Storm

    It is yet to be seen if the present government are any better or worse. That will depend on how they can handle our budget now.

  7. Defamed Raw Prawn

    It seems that the end of the year, around the time Parliament goes into Xmas recess, is a good time to change Opposition leaders. The new leader gets a couple of months to settle in without much scrutiny or criticism. It worked for Rudd, and Latham (to a large extent), and it seems to have worked for Abbott and his new front bench.

    Parliament resumes next week, and a lot will ride on how the new Opposition front bench performs in the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debate.


    Wasn’t the line about Cossie something like: “The economy did more for Costello than Costello did for the economy”?

    And as for his gormless efforts to stop Howard p!ssing it all up against the wall in the most flagrant buying of votes with ‘middle class welfare’, well, it was gutless stuff.

    That’s Jimbo’s man of principle? World’s best treasurer?

    What fatuous claptrap.

  9. imacca

    Jamesk would be funny if he didnt represent such a nasty mob of deluded tools.

    Its fascinating this reverence that the rusted on Fibs have for Cossie. I mean, the man did bugger all except whinge about not being allowed to have his turn, and then guttoed out right when his party needed him most.

    Its interesting to contemplate what would have happened had Howie won in 07, and then been hit with the GFC. I strongly suspect that he would have done nothing until it was too late, cut spending massivley, and simply used it as an excuse for more SerfChoices type legislation. we would now be facing much higher levels of unemployment which would have extended the effects of the recession. As he would have cut welfare as well, that wouldnt have mattered so much to what really concerned him. Having a surplus just for the sake of having one.

    I think the ALP have a job ahead of them, but if they get it right and have a big enough win this year, they could cripple the Fibs for years.

    Anyone know what the size of the swing needed in 2010 is, that would leave the Fibs with only thier idiot, ancient, right wing from safe seats in parliament??

  10. Gusface


    pls delete the above post as it was an insult to Village Idiots everywhere.

    My humblest apologies.


  11. JamesK

    No sh1t…..”ritually” Mr. Denmore?

    I doubt Mr. Costello would agree but Mr. Swan doesn’t.

    At least he certainly didn’t when he and nice Mr. Rudd talked up interest rates in the months preceding the Lehmann Bros. collapse…….remember?

    I pretty sure Mr. Costello talked of dark clouds on the horizon for 2009.

    But apparently Mr. Swan and nice Mr. Rudd didn’t believe him……..


  12. Keith is not my real name

    “For months now, I’ve had this ‘give em enough rope’ thing feeling about the way the PM and co have been dealing with the media.

    My guess is that Mr Rudd and co will soon begin to =make themselves the issue on their own terms, for their own reasons and win during the 8 month campaign.”

    (KINMRN’s son… 20/1/2010)….

    BTW He’s a Liberal supporter 🙁

  13. Gusface

    Mr denmore

    i understand it is the standard terms and conditions:

    lots of blather and bluster, generously layered with bullshit.


    that the MSM agreement

    james is on a straight pence per post

  14. Mr Denmore

    Err, James K, that was sort of my original point. You’ll find that Costello ritually followed Treasury advice. Indeed, it started going wrong for the Libs when Howard started over-ruling Costello (who was following the Treasury line).

    You see what I’m saying? The politicians, for the most part, are involved in a ritual dance of trying to pretend there is so much ideological baggage between them on economic policy, when there is really very little.

    But you go on pretending that your Liberal paymasters are somehow made out of better cloth than the other lot.

    By the way, are you paid by the word?

  15. JamesK

    Thanks imacca…..

    It kinda rolls of the tongue..don’t it?

  16. JamesK

    So we the people voted that nice Mr. Henry as Treasurer, Mr. Denmore?

    Why the hell was Mr. Swan debating Mr. Costello during the election campaign?

    It seems you, along with many conservative critics, agree that the Treasureer is Mr. Henry and Mr. Swan is merely his talking puppet.

    Gee…you might even be right.

  17. imacca

    I’m sure that this line of “$30 billion black vs. $300 billion red ” will get pushed hard by the Libs this year. Its the kind of simplistic, good ole boy, down home wisdom that will sit well with nutjobs like Barnaby and be well suited to his style of delivery. Its also garbage, but that probably put the peddling of it well within the Liberal comfort zone.

    Unfortunatley for the ALP they will have a more complex message to sell since they will have to remind voters of just how scarey things were when the GFC broke and that will seem like ancient history to some by the time the election rolls around. I think that what this polling means is that the ALP have a job ahead to get their message out and cant take their “extended honeymoon” for granted. I reckon they are up to it though. It will be interesting to see how the polls move once parliament starts sitting again?

  18. Mr Denmore

    James K,

    Perhaps you’re relying on a different version of economic history than me (the one written by your Liberal Party paymasters perhaps?), but in the annals of Australia’s major economic reforms, I don’t think the transfer of prudential supervision from the RBA to APRA is up there.

    On the flexibility given to the RBA, all Costello did was formalise through an exchange of letters a system that was already in operation and that began under Bernie Fraser – the targeting of an inflation rate of 2-3 per cent on average over the economic cycle. A great reform and credit to Costello for recognising it.

    You see, I’m not like you. I don’t think in terms of Labor Party All that is Evil/Liberal Party All that is Good. I recognise there is good policy and bad policy and that no party has a monopoly on either.

    My original point was to say the notion implicit in opinion polls that the punters should have an opinion on whether the Libs or Labor are either inherently better than the other at “managing” the economy is a silly anachronism and bears no resemblance to reality.

    But the inarguable fact is that the Hawke/Keating governments did the major lifting on economic reform. Howard introduced a GST and Costello exchanged letters with the RBA. The rest of their economic good fortune was due to having a floating currency (thanks to Keating) and a huge influx of tax revenues thanks to the commodities boom – most of which they pissed away.

    I hardly think Rudd and Swan are economic genuises. They’re both tradesmen. But they’re sensible enough to follow Treasury advice. And I don’t know any non-partisan economist in the financial markets – where I work – that thinks they have done anything particularly wrong.

  19. JamesK

    @ Possum

    I’m not sure honourable men of numbers should be readin’ ne’er do well men of letters’ blogs ……….especially those by the name of Bern-‘independent news can only really be provided by noncommercial media’-Keane.

    Besides the $30 billion black vs. $300 billion red has a certain….. symmetry.

  20. JamesK

    Just got to love the Denmore typical progressive concescension…..

    So PJK was responsible for prudential supervision of the banking system changing from from the RBA to APRA……

    I guess the Monetary policy flexibility avilable to Glenn Stevens (and not available to King in the UK and Bernanke in the USA) had nothing to do with Mr. Costello nor our ability to avoid recession either Mr. Denmore?

    Ooh Mr. Denmore you’re such a wag……

    A dishonest looney progressive but a wag nonetheless

  21. James McDonald

    You know, Rudd’s role as economic saviour is by no means agreed by all respected economists. Henry Ergas, for example.

    I suggested above that Howard would be challenged to run a sausage sizzle.

    Rudd, in contrast, would be quite comfortable as a schoolmaster in charge of a sausage sizzle. First he would write an essay in a pseudo-intellectual rag blaming neoliberal sausage sizzles for making people fat. Next, he would attempt (and fail) to launch a national website publishing the prices of sausages (neoliberal worship of market price information, anyone?). Finally, he would announce that the world was facing a sausage crisis, and borrow ten tonnes of barbeque sauce to compensate, because it’s the timing and size of the stimulus that matters, not what it’s actually spent on.

  22. Mr Denmore

    James K, actually the US response was not as decisive as ours. They were already IN recession by the time they relaxed fiscal policy. And most of the deterioration in their fiscal position has been due to the bank bailouts (both a Bush and Obama legacy).

    We had the luxury of not having to bail out the banks, thanks mainly to the four pillars policy instituted by Keating, you may recall.

    Underlying inflation is high, yes, but it is moderating. And the market is already priced for modest increases in the cash rate here to around 5% by the end of this year, which is in line with long-run averages. The RBA, then, has the problem well under control.

    Saying our debt is “50 per cent higher than it has ever been before in our history” may make your heart beat faster as you anticipate that collosus Barnaby Joyce taking over
    the finance portfolio, but it is essentially meaningless. What matters is not the dollar amount, but the relation to GDP and that, as I said, is comparatively modest – insignificant even when compared to the debt of our major trading partners.

    As to “breathing sand”, if anyone is sinking fast here, mate, it’s you. Better run off and do an economics 101 night class before you humiliate yourself even further.

  23. JamesK

    “It is also clear that the reason Australia is alone among developed economies in avoiding a recession is because of the size and decisive nature of our stimulus” says Mr. Denmore.

    Was the UK’s and USA’s response not even bigger and even more decisive?

    It was the brilliance of Mr. Rudd and not China still buying according to Mr. Denmore.


    Increase the money supply, increase inflation, increase central bank interest rates…….

    strange … you seem well versed on the economics of windmills Evan.

    I see today’s headline inflation rate is well above the RBA’s 3% ceiling.

    Looks like we’ll be returning to ‘normal’ faster and sooner than previously expected …. eh Mr. Denmore?

    The Federal Government debt is already 50% higher than its ever been before in our history on the way to being more than 300% than its ever been in history before but according to Mr. Denmore there’s nothing to see…move along..nothing to see. All’s well.

    What’s it like breathing sand Mr. Denmore?

  24. Barking

    The Poll q’s (arounds the ETS) also create the impression that any action around Global Warming is costly, rather than being seen as the seed capital for future economic growth and development. The Cons and the vested interests have really done their work well there,. Where is the discussion around the ‘peak oil’ energy price spikes etc, Bastards.

  25. Barking

    this is the question, where are the next lot of Green voters coming from,
    1)The lefties of the ALP, (Some)
    2)The Lefties of the coalition, (Some)
    3)Natural demographic shift, (Some)
    However there are some certainties, the ‘Howard battlers, who like the ‘Fuck Off We Are Full’ signage won’t vote Green, the Wet Liberals won’t vote ALP but increasingly see a very smart vote around a Green one with a Lib second.
    One of the threads holding this together is the acceptance by many of some of the ‘Global’ issues and the need to just do something.
    There have been many polls that show that most committed voters don’t mind tax for good causes and reasons but the idiot swinging selfish voter likes the handouts etc.

  26. mfs

    MD: Don’t forget China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for our raw materials. Without this we might have seen a different result. We only avoided a recession by the skin of our teeth.
    I particularly like Bri’s post (45) about Greens voters being happy to put up with a new tax, and thus the meaninglessness of this question, though I think since most Greens ideology (especially in terms of health, education and welfare) is more closely aligned to the ALP than the Coalition, I know few Greens voters who would give first preference to the Coalition.

  27. Gusface

    I think they are imprinted on the inside of the clown mask


  28. Possum Comitatus

    JamesK went:

    [Labor inherited a bank balance of $30 billion in the black.

    Its now well on the way to $300 billion in the red.

    The interest repayments to that alone are more than the annual Defence budget.]

    Have you got those talking point memo’s laminated or something 😛

  29. Mr Denmore

    JamesK, do you know anything about economics that you didn’t get out of a Liberal Party policy statement?

    Government budgets around the world have gone into deficit as a result of the biggest financial shock to the global economy since the Great Depression. You can argue about the efficacy of the spending, but having a deficit at this time is quite appropriate given the state of the economic cycle.

    What’s more, Australia’s stimulus is a drop in the ocean compared with those of other governments. At the very extreme Treasury projections, our federal net debt will extend to about 15% of GDP within a few years, which compares with CURRENT rates of about 170% in Japan, 60% in the US and 40% in Switzerland.

    It is also clear that the reason Australia is alone among developed economies in avoiding a recession is because of the size and decisive nature of our stimulus, a point recognised by the RBA in its recent parliamentary testimony.

    The increase in bond market yields are overwhelmingly driven by global factors. That is common sense because the bond market is a global market. Australia’s funding needs within that market are miniscule. The RBA’s cash rate adjustments to date (from 3% to 3.75%) have mainly been about returning rates to more normal levels.

  30. James McDonald

    @deconst – I would argue that it’s a left or a right question depending on (a) who is in power now and (b) whether rates are high or low now. If rates go high, or if Coalition takes power, it would become an anti-Labor question.

    For example Keating’s election loss in 1996 was largely a result of skyrocketing interest rates, the reasons for which Bernie Fraser, then governor of the RBA, has still not explained to this day. Inflation was low. Bernie later told Keating that “to lower rates during an election campaign would have been political.”

    Political? Bernie then lowered rates after Howard won the election, giving people the impression that Howard was a superior economic manager. Keating became best remembered in the popular mind as the architect of the “recession we had to have”.

    It would be fairer to say that Howard would be hard pressed to manage a sausage sizzle, let alone a national economy. Keating had architected of one of the most financially secure countries in the world, with the superannuation system as its centrepiece. According to David Love, an economist as well as a journalist, if the super guarantee had completed its program of increasing to 15 per cent of pay, Australia would not even be dependent on foreign borrowings or subject to foreign interest rates. We would probably have been net creditors to the world in 2007-8, and our biggest worry would have been collecting on bad loans, rather than how to repay our own debt.

  31. Evan Beaver

    JamesK @49
    “I think that is likely to have a very significant effect on interest rates whether you talk your partisan nonsense as much as you like to or not.”

    Through what mechanism will Australia’s international loan repayments of Government debt affect home loan rates?

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