This week’s Essential Report comes in with the primaries running  40 (down 1)/ 39 (steady) to Labor, washing out into a two party preferred of 54/46 the same way – a 1 point gain to the Coalition since last week. The Greens are steady on 13 while the broad “Others” are up a point to 8. This comes from a rolling two week sample of 2418, giving us an MoE that maxes out around the 2% mark. The Better PM question had Gillard leading Abbott 48/30 – a 3 point decline for Gillard and a 4 point increase for Tony since last week, with men preferring Gillard 46/34 and women 50/26.

Additional questions asked this week were approval ratings, better PM, main reason for voting for a party, preferred Senate results and two questions on immigration policy.

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Julia Gillard is doing as Prime Minister?

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On the crosstabs, Essential tells us:

87% of Labor voters approve and only 5% disapprove. Among Liberal/National voters, 11% approve and 77% disapprove.

By gender ‐ men 44% approve/44% disapprove and women 48% approve/33% disapprove.

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Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tony Abbott is doing as Opposition Leader?

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On the crosstabs, we have:

82% of Liberal/National voters approve and 11% disapprove. Among Labor voters, 14% approve and 78% disapprove.

By gender ‐ men 41% approve/48% disapprove and women 35% approve/48% disapprove.

So we’re still getting a big gender gap on the approvals, even if the voting intentions aren’t reflecting that – which is an interesting little bit of public behaviour.

Meanwhile, the net approvals look like this:

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What is the main reason you intend to vote for the Labor Party/Liberal or National Party/Greens?

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Sad indictment on our major parties that they only derive between 15 and 25% of their support on the basis of having better perceived policies!

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Regardless of which party is elected to Government (i.e. has a majority in the House of Representatives), which of the following Senate options do you think would be best for Australia?

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Tony Abbott has proposed to cut immigration from around 300,000 a year to 170,000? Do you approve or disapprove of this cut to immigration?

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The results among Greens voters raises the interesting paradox in the party between the small immigration environment wing and the big immigration progressive wing again. Finally, on our last question we have:

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Which leader and party do you trust most to handle immigration issues?

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