This week’s Essential Research poll has Labor recovering the point they lost last week, with the Coalition lead on two-party preferred down from 55-45 to 54-46. However, the primary vote figures suggest there is little in the change: the major parties are steady on 34 per cent for Labor and 48 per cent for the Coalition (although a one-point drop for the Liberals disappears from the Coalition total after rounding), with the Greens up a point to 11 per cent. Other questions find mounting opposition to the contention that the budget should return to surplus at all costs. Seventy-one per cent declared themselves opposed if doing so meant cutting services and raising taxes, with only 13 per cent supportive. Fifty-eight per cent said there was no need for the budget to return to surplus so quickly compared with 38 per cent in April, but if the government remains determined, the number who believe it should be paid for by removing tax breaks for high income earners (59 per cent) and increasing taxes for corporations (72 per cent) is up eight and nine points respectively. Only 35 per cent nominated cuts to middle-class welfare.
Further evidence of voters’ curiously social democratic bent was furnished by a question in which respondents were asked to indicated whether various parties had benefited from the mining boom: 68 per cent said yes for mining company executives, 48 per cent for shareholders and 42 per cent for foreign companies, against 12 per cent for regional communities and 11 per cent for all Australians. There was also an interesting question on the leaders’ performances during Barack Obama’s visit, in light of suggestions that Julia Gillard had been too effusive and Tony Abbott had politicised the occasion. The results suggest much more support for the latter contention than the former: Gillard’s performance was rated good by 38 per cent and poor by 23 per cent, compared with 18 per cent and 30 per cent for Abbott.