Crikey reports today’s Essential Research poll has Labor’s two-party lead down to 52-48 from 54-46 last week. Essential polls are a rolling two-week average, so it makes sense that they should have trailed the pack in recording Labor’s mid-campaign slump. The Coalition is up three on the primary vote to 42 per cent and Labor up one to 41 per cent, both taking up slack from a three-point decline for the Greens, down to 10 per cent. More to follow.
UPDATE: Full report here. Julia Gillard is down a point on approval to 45 per cent and up two on disapproval to 40 per cent, while Tony Abbott is up two on approval to 40 per cent and down three on disapproval to 45 per cent. On preferred prime minister, the gap has narrowed from 48-30 to 45-33. Thirty-eight per cent say their opinion of Gillard has gone down since the election was called against 18 per cent who say it has gone up; more surprisingly, the respective figures for Tony Abbott are 9 per cent and 42 per cent. There are also questions on which party is best to handle various issues.
Michael Kroger has written an article for The Australian on prospects for the election which becomes doubly interesting if you read between some lines. Throughout the article he operates off post-redistribution seat status, giving Labor 88 rather than 83 seats, before concluding that Labor would do well to keep its net losses to under 10 seats. While this may have been framed negatively for Labor, the suggestion seems to be that he expects them to narrowly win. Kroger sounds especially confident about Sturt and Solomon, though by omission the former suggests he may expect trouble in Boothby. The Coalition is also rated likely to win a swag of seats in Queensland and up to five in New South Wales, along with Hasluck and Swan in Western Australia.
On the Channel Ten news last night, Paul Bongiorno said a Liberal insider had offered him the implausible claim that their polling showed Labor would be lucky to hold on to one seat in Queensland. More believably, Geoff Kitney of the Financial Review offered that both sides’ polling showed the Coalition is in front in every marginal seat in the state, with Labor battling to prevent the loss of all its Queensland seats with a margin of up to 4.2 per cent, namely Herbert, Dickson, Longman, Flynn, Dawson, Forde, Brisbane, Leichhardt and Petrie. Mark Ludlow of the Financial Review says seats likely to be targeted by Kevin Rudd are in fact slightly beyond this range: Bonner (4.5 per cent) and Moreton (6.2 per cent).
Tom Dusevic of The Australian comments on the Coalition’s latent fear of Labor’s marginal seat sandbagging abilities, which succeeded beyond the bounds of what appeared possible in the South Australian election in March. Significantly, Tony Abbott felt compelled to declare during his campaign launch that to change this government you have to throw out your Labor MP.
Former Labor Senator Stephen Loosley writes in The Australian that Labor is seeking to hold government without necessarily achieving the accepted prerequisite for winning, namely that every federal Labor government from Chris Watson to Paul Keating has been based on carrying NSW.
The Canberra Times reports a survey conducted for the Greens credited to YourSource (the panel used by Essential Research) has the Senate vote in the Australian Capital Territory at 36 per cent for Labor (down 5 per cent on the election), 30 per cent for the Coalition (down 4 per cent) and 26 per cent for the Greens (up 4.5 per cent). If accurate, the Greens would probably just fall short of taking the second seat from Liberal Senator Gary Humphries.
Leichhardt (Labor 4.1%): Tony Abbott was in northern Queensland last Monday, where he promised $62 million would be spent on the tourism industry. The choice of Cairns as the scene for the announcement was highly significant, as unemployment has rise to near double-digit levels there due to a downturn in tourism.
Herbert (notional Labor 0.4%): Abbott’s northern Queensland sojourn also included a stop at Townsville, where he promised $21 million flood-proof Blakeys Crossing. Tony Raggatt of the Townsville Bulletin found this strange, as apparently any local can tell you that flooding on the lower Bohle Bridge of Bruce Highway is a greater concern. On Thursday, Julia Gillard was in town promising up to $160 million for a section of a ring road linking the Douglas Arterial to the Bruce Highway at Mt Low.
La Trobe (Liberal 0.5%): Labor has promised $55 million to widen a dangerous stretch of Clyde Road, which the Liberals have trumped with an $85 million promise of a railway underpass. Sushi Das of The Age surveys the electoral terrain:
Labor’s strength around the mountain area has been countered by increasing Liberal dominance in the south of the electorate, where new housing estates have emerged. Narre Warren North and Pakenham form the heart of these newly developed areas attracting trades people, small business owners and young families who have been forced further out in their hunt for affordable housing. More housing developments are planned for nearby Officer over the next few years, making the south of the electorate one of the fastest growing corridors in Victoria. Indeed, an average of five families a day are moving into the area, according to the Cardinia Shire Council. The developments have provided local employment alongside jobs provided by more established light industries and firms producing car accessories.