Nielsen has bucked the recent trend by delivering the Rudd government its worst opinion poll yet, showing a two-party Labor lead of just 51-49. However, this seems on the low side for Labor given the primary vote figures, which have Labor down three to 39 per cent, the Coalition steady on 42 per cent and the Greens up three to 12 per cent (for which the tempting explanation is that Labor has shed votes to the Greens because of its recent tough stand on asylum seekers), which has somehow resulted in the two-party result coming down from 53-47. The poll was conducted between Thursday and Saturday from a sample of 1400, with a margin of error of about 2.6 per cent. Despite the Labor reversal, Kevin Rudd’s personal ratings have improved (approval up two to 59 per cent) and Tony Abbott’s have declined (approval down four to 46 per cent, disapproval up four to 45 per cent).
The poll also finds 58 per cent backing the government’s decision to suspend processing of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers, which was favoured by 60 per cent of Labor and 65 per cent of Coalition voters, but opposed by two-thirds of Greens voters. The number of respondents who say immigration is too high has risen 11 per cent since November to 54 per cent, and 51 per cent say the projected population of 36 million by 2050 is too many. Sixty-two per cent of respondents supported federal takeover of control of health funding.