Nielsen: 51-49 to Coalition

GhostWhoVotes tweets that an imminent Nielsen poll has the Coalition with a 51-49 lead, their first in any poll since the election. Labor’s primary vote is 34 per cent (compared with 38.0 at the election), while the Coalition is on 43 per cent (43.6 per cent) and the Greens are on 14 per cent (11.8 per cent). More to follow.

UPDATE: In spite of everything, the poll has Julia Gillard’s approval up four points on Nielsen’s pre-election poll to 54 per cent, with her disapproval down two to 39 per cent and her lead as preferred prime minister opening from 51-40 to 53-39. Tony Abbott’s approval rating is down a point to 45 per cent and his disapproval is up one to 50 per cent. This is substantially better than his recent showings in Essential Research (39 per cent approval and 45 per cent disapproval last week) and Newspoll (39 per cent approval and 47 per cent disapproval the week before), perhaps suggesting Nielsen’s sample was skewed somewhat to the Coalition.

Other findings of the poll show it’s far from just voting intention on which the public is almost evenly split:

• Forty-nine per cent were opposed to Australian involvement in Afghanistan with 45 per cent in favour, marking little change on a year ago.

• Fify per cent were opposed to asylum seeker families and their children living in the community while their claims were processed, with 47 per cent in favour.

• Fifty-one per cent felt Murray Darling Basin policy should prioritise communities and farmers while 43 per cent would prefer it prioritise the environment – whatever that might mean. Seventy-nine per cent apparently profess themselves in favour of “a balanced outcome between community and farmer needs on the one hand and the environment on the other”, which I guess means as many as 21 per cent would prefer an unbalanced one.

• Forty-six per cent support a price on carbon, with 44 per cent opposed. As Michelle Grattan notes, “backing for an ETS before the election was between 56 and 60 per cent”.

The poll was conducted between Thursday and Saturday from Nielsen’s usual sample of 1400 and margin of error of a bit over 2.5 per cent.

A couple of other things:

• A Tasmanian trouble-maker will withdraw his High Court challenge against the validity of Liberal Senator Eric Abetz’s election on the basis of section 44 of the Constitution, which forbids dual citizens from running for parliament – Abetz having shown the poor taste to have been born in Germany, and renunciation of citizenship being something of a grey area. The complainant, described by the Hobart Mercury as “wealthy northern Tasmanian antiques dealer John Hawkins”, has agreed to drop the case after being provided with a document in which Abetz renounces his German citizenship. This was dated March 9, 2010, which according to Hawkins implies Abetz had indeed held dual citizenship when he filled a casual vacancy in 1994 and won re-election in 1998 and 2004. He could thus have faced problems if his position had been challenged in the 40-day post-election period in which challenges can be lodged – although he could always have resumed his position after getting his house in order if a compliant seat-warmer had held his vacancy in the interim.

• Labor turned in a poor show at Saturday’s by-election for the Brisbane City Council ward of Walter Taylor, which covers a strongly conservative area south-west of the city around Indooroopilly. At the close of counting Liberal National Party candidate Julian Simmonds had scored an easy victory with 57.1 per cent of the primary vote (down 6.5 per cent on the 2008 election), with Greens candidate Tim Dangerfield on 23.5 per cent (up 8.4 per cent) well ahead of Labor’s Louise Foley on 16.8 per cent (down 4.4 per cent). The by-election was necessitated by Jane Prentice’s election to the corresponding federal seat of Ryan in place of disendorsed LNP incumbent Michael Johnson.

• There was another minor electoral event a fortnight ago with a by-election in the Northern Territory electorate of Araluen, where Country Liberal Party member Jodeen Carney had called it a day due for health reasons. CLP candidate Robyn Lambley had no trouble winning a two-horse race with 1935 votes (68.0 per cent) against Labor candidate Adam Findlay’s 909 (32.0 per cent). This marked a swing to Labor of 6.7 per cent on the 2008 election, bearing in mind that candidate factors have an enormous impact in electoral districts of this size.

UPDATE 2: The latest Essential Research survey shows the two parties still locked together on 50-50, with Labor up a point on the primary vote to 41 per cent and the Coalition unchanged on 44 per cent, and the Greens down one to 8 per cent (an unusually low Greens vote having become an established feature of Essential Research polling). On Afghanistan, the poll concurs with Nielsen in having 47 per cent favouring a full withdrawal, against 10 per cent who want more troops and 30 per cent who believe the number should remain unchanged. Party best to handle Afghanistan produces yet another split decision, with Labor on 33 per cent and Liberal on 32 per cent. A question on the Murray-Darling Basin is framed in somewhat more sensible terms than Nielsen’s, with 49 per cent supporting the proposition that the amount of water taken from the system should be reduced against only 20 per cent who disagree. However, a question on detention centres elicits a harsher view, with 53 per cent disapproving of the government’s decision to move children and families into the community against only 33 per cent approving. Fully 63 per cent believe the government’s approach on asylum seekers is “too soft”, with only 18 per cent saying they are “taking the right approach” and 7 per cent believing their stance “too tough”. Only 25 per cent believe Labor the batter party to handle the issue against 37 per cent for the Liberals.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

889 comments on “Nielsen: 51-49 to Coalition”

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  1. [So how’s that Parramatta-Epping rail line coming along?]

    itsthevibe, it will be built by the Chinese after they finish the Shanghai-Istanbul Line.

  2. So, ALP bleeding directly to the greens, but 2010 election distributions plays with the numbers.

    Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

  3. Finns
    That is a very, very interesting article. Some hypotheses:

    (1) The military is in the habit of spending squillions, regardless of what is likely to happen.
    (2)If they are building FOBs, why are they also abandoning them?
    (3) If your mates are negotiating with the Taliban, wouldn’t it be a good idea to convince the Taliban that you are digging in for the long haul?
    (4) The military and washington are of two minds and the military is out of control.

  4. Scarpat@1963 on Morgan: 54-46 to Labor – The Poll Bludger

    I agree totally. Let voters find out what abbott and the sewer rats are really
    all about.

    Nostalgic for the Howard era already?


    The penny has to drop at some stage for the electorate. They think
    they are hard done by. Utter crap – If they honestly want wankers like
    Pyne, abbott, mesma, hockey, murdoch etc running their lives so be it.

    If they want the wealthy to get obscene PPL payments while stay at
    home mums get bugger all – so be it.

    If they want mass unemployment whenever the shit hits the fan – so be it.

    etc etc you get the picture…..

  5. privi

    The Coalition has been uniformly crap since the election. There should have been a swing away from them. Perhaps the poll was taken in Woodside…

  6. dave, as I said in the previous thread, as long as there are non-whites, foreigners, intellectuals and the helpless to scapegoat for their problems, they’ll always love the “tough” government, no matter how much it screws them over.

    Howard made a career out of finding scapegoats, Tone would be exactly the same.

  7. [DiogenesPosted Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalinkprivi
    The Coalition has been uniformly crap since the election. There should have been a swing away from them. Perhaps the poll was taken in Woodside

    And Northam and the entire listenership of 2GB 🙂

  8. Diogs,

    Nothing has happened in the past two months to change voter intentions from what happened in the election.

    Basically, the nation is split down the middle and until some event or individual captures the collective imagination, I’m sure that’s where it will stay.

    The two big State elections are coming up which might change perspectives since Labor is expected to win both.

  9. F

    From time to time I suggest to people that the most dangerous thing in the world at the moment is the mounting inability of the US to keep the military in the style to which it is accustomed. I collect odd looks.

    Something’s gotta give.

  10. Votes not going to the coalition. Only two months after election. 17 days of uncertainity.

    I think the only real statistics of interest out of this poll will be PPM and satisfaction.

    It will take a while for voters to be convinced.

  11. Shineybum@12

    Dave, we’ve already been through that, for over a decade. I don’t want to go through that again …

    I can see that viewpoint and agree, but FFS we used to be a nation that
    were not wingers and moaners. It just beats me how people can be convinced
    to vote against their economic and community interests.

    I enjoy your posts BTW.

  12. I don’t want an Abbott government, even if it is just to show voters its full horror. In any case, Tone would simply do what Howard did: chuck billions of dollars at them to secure their vote.

  13. GG

    I would have thought that the anger over Rudd/illegitimacy of Gillard would be on the decline, and the increasingly obviously crapness of Abbott and Hockey would be becoming more obvious. Perhaps everyone has switched off though.

  14. I should add that speculation here about Abbott going is way off base according to someone I spoke to yesterday who would know. They said he almost won the election and wasn’t going anywhere.

  15. [I should add that speculation here about Abbott going is way off base according to someone I spoke to yesterday who would know. They said he almost won the election and wasn’t going anywhere.]

    The polls would suggest that also.

  16. Its very doubtful abbott will be leader if the next election is in 3 years.

    But that doesn’t mean he’s about to be dumped – far from it imo.

    About this time next year is his time frame. He might roll Gillard in parliament without an election but thats unknowable. If in about a years time Gillard is still PM the libs will
    pull out the knives.

    Labor have be be disciplined ever day to stay in government.

  17. I agree with Dio that Abbott probably isn’t going anywhere for a while and wishing it wern’t so won’t change anything.

    Really who would you replace him with ?

    It’s going to be 3 years until the next federal election so there in no hurry.

  18. I assume the way the immigration debate has gone over the last couple of weeks would have played into the result this poll … Just a theory.

  19. [I should add that speculation here about Abbott going is way off base according to someone I spoke to yesterday who would know. They said he almost won the election and wasn’t going anywhere.]

    You don’t get a prize for almost doing something. If he becomes a liability, they will dump him.

    I’m pretty sure in late 2009, until the challenges happened, nobody in the Lib cult was considering questioning their dear leader’s leadership.

  20. So what do bludgers think of their brave predictions of Abbott’s demise? Get real. You see, you can have a massive black hole, offer bucketloads of money to the indies (when your the prudent spender), behave like a whacko in Afghanistan, and STILL be in the lead in the polls.

    Wake up Labor! Seriously, if you think the “just quietly go about running the country” will win the election, then you deserve to lose. If you cant beat the Abbott rabble next time, you dont deserve government.

    I know, some will say the election is 3 years away blah blah blah. Labor needs a PR/media tactics change, and I aint seen it yet. Have they even mentioned the black hole, or the money Abbott was prepared to splurge on the indies? Too afraid to attack. Get off your backsides.

    Having been a big Gillard fan pre-PM, I am starting to wonder if she really does have what it takes. I want her to be a brilliant PM, but I aint seeing it yet

  21. Diogenes@8


    The Coalition has been uniformly crap since the election. There should have been a swing away from them. Perhaps the poll was taken in Woodside…

    The government hasn’t actually gotten anything done in the time they’ve been back in power, and I wouldn’t have expected them to. But until they do, you won’t be able to point out why they’re the ones that should be in power.

  22. Greensborough,
    I’ve never voted Liberal since 1983 and the likely hood of me doing so is limited however if I was in NSW and a trained gibbon was being put up as an alternative to NSW labor I’d probably vote for it. Having said that if the NSW liberals are any thing like the NLP up here then it wouldn’t really matter, as a trained gibbon has a lot more talent and potential.

  23. I’m in the Abbott’s Gorn camp. He lacks the skills for minority government, plus he already has major failings against his name for a Liberal leader:

    1. failure to win government
    2. failure to win over the indies in order to form government
    3. dealing the Libs out of developing a market-based mechanism for climate change (ie, major economic reform)
    4. significantly mishandling Defence issues

  24. confessions, look at the scoreboard. He’s lacked the skills for just about everything since he became leader, and he almost won the election. He has the MSM firmly in his camp. And this is what counts I’m afraid

  25. The Finnigans@3
    Don’t get me started. Intercity trains from Shanghai now operate at up to three to four times the speed of equivalent CityRail services, and the fare is actually cheaper if one takes exchange rate into account. You know what people there complain of? They think it is a rip-off that the fare increased by 50% without a corresponding increase in speed when the current “superfast” services replaced the previous ‘fast” service, which were already running at about 160-170kmh.

    One factor that was often cited as one of the major reasons China “outdeveloped” India is that despite their similarities, in China if there is political will, things get done while in India things tend to get bogged down. Of course I recognise the sometimes difficult circumstances regading the conflict between personal properties vs public interest etc, and I do think sometimes the conflict can be resolved far more satisfactorily. However, what worries me is that in this country when it comes to infrastructure, nation-building and so on, hardly anyone has the guts to take the plunge and just get something done. If there was ever such an attempt 8 out of 10 times it fizzed out because of incompetence and protest by NIMBYs. How is the country supposed to prepare itself for the future when everyone only cares about the present, if not the past?

  26. Andrew:
    The media can be blamed on one level: an obsession with things like earlobes and handbags while big stories like the coalition’s costings go begging. But as I’ve said before, Tone remaining leader is no longer in the hands of the MSM. It’s his colleagues who will make that decision, and they will do it when they perceive he no longer serves his purpose.

    Tone constantly butting up against the indies won’t win the coalition government. Nor will these hysterical tantrums designed to appeal to voters who won’t be at the ballot box for another 3 years. In as much as these kinds of predictions are futile, I’m of the view that his colleagues will realise this sooner rather than later and start casting about for replacements.

  27. [spur212
    Posted Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I assume the way the immigration debate has gone over the last couple of weeks would have played into the result this poll … Just a theory.]

    Exactly as well as the looming GBNT, add to that the NBN waste and you have the basis for a pretty good campaign by the libs for next time around.

    No one will forgive Labor for introducing a carbon tax so Julia is going to be damned if she does or doesn’t ! Forget about 80% of people figures wanting us to invest in clean energy, what they mean is the Government can invest but they don’t want to have to pay an extra tax for that to happen.

    Labor arn’t going to be able to do anything to increase it’s supporter base unless they start giving out free beer tokens whenever you fill you V8 up.

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