GhostWhoVotes tweets that the first Newspoll of the year offers more grim news for the government, with Labor’s primary vote down a further two points from the final poll of last year to 32 per cent and the Coalition up three to 44 per cent. No two-party result has yet been provided, but past experience suggests it will land at either 52-48 or 53-47 depending on rounding. This compares with 50-50 in the final Newspoll of last year. More to follow.
UPDATE: Full tables here. The two-party result is 52-48, which probably flatters Labor a little due to rounding, while the Greens’ primary vote is steady on 14 per cent. Contrary to the findings of an Essential Research poll which gave Labor much better figures on voting intention, the poll also shows a fairly solid majority supporting the government’s proposed flood levy: 55 per cent are supportive (26 per cent strongly, 29 per cent somewhat), with 41 per cent opposed (25 per cent strongly, 16 per cent somewhat). Despite this, Tony Abbott has managed to claw back seven points on preferred prime minister, on which he now trails Julia Gillard 48 per cent (down four points) to 35 per cent (up three). Gillard’s approval rating is steady on 45 per cent but her disapproval is up four to 42 per cent, while Abbott’s numbers are little changed: approval steady on 42 per cent, disapproval up one to 44 per cent.
All told, a most curious set of numbers.
UPDATE 2: Essential Research has the Coalition maintaining a 51-49 lead, with both major parties up a point on the primary vote: the Coalition to 46 per cent and Labor to 38 per cent. The Greens are down one to 10 per cent, further widening the gap in their ratings between Newspoll and Essential (others are also consistently higher in Newspoll than Essential in both cases, the latter has been much closer to the last election result).
My favourite of the supplementary questions is on the party with the best approach to funding flood reconstruction, on which Labor leads 36 per cent to 28 per cent. However, the Coalition performs significantly better on who would you trust most to manage the program of rebuilding infrastructure, on which Labor’s lead is 36 per cent to 35 per cent. Respondents were also asked for their opinion on each aspect of the government’s efforts to pay for flood reconstruction. Significantly, this shows strong support for the scrapping of cash for clunkers, a program that evidently contributed to perceptions of ongoing government wastefulness. This time the flood levy had 44 per cent support and 50 per cent opposition: better than last week’s Essential, but worse than Newspoll. Cuts in solar energy programs and the scrapping of the higher education capital development pool were strongly opposed.
Questions on leaders’ attributes show a deterioration in perceptions of both leaders since October, in similar ways: both are down sharply on intelligent, hard-working, capable and visionary, but Julia Gillard has also suffered on arrogant, out of touch and narrow-minded. The only question on which Tony Abbott performs better than Gillard is superficial, though in many cases there’s not much in it.
UPDATE 3: Essential Research has again set aside a further question for release later in the day by Channel Ten, this time relating to whether the independents should continue supporting Labor or switch to the Coalition. It finds 43 per cent favouring the former option, against 30 per cent for the latter. Breakdowns by age and party support go much as you would expect.