Nielsen: 52-48 to Coalition

Labor’s run of bad polling has been relieved by a relatively encouraging Nielsen result, in which a modest Coalition two-party lead is offset by an alarming disapproval rating for Tony Abbott and a thumbs-down over his handling of the AWU affair.

GhostWhoVotes reports that the final Nielsen poll for the year has come in above Labor’s recent form, with the Coalition leading 52-48, down from 53-47 last month. Labor is up a point on the primary vote to 35%, with the Coalition down two to 43% and the Greens down two to 10%. Tony Abbott has reached a new low on net approval from Nielsen with approval down two to 34% and disapproval up three to an alarming 63%, which is apparently the second highest disapproval rating for an Opposition Leader in Nielsen’s 40-year history. Julia Gillard’s personal ratings are little changed at 46% approval (down one) and 50% disapproval (up two), while her lead as preferred prime minister is at 50-40, compared with 51-42 last time. There is also heartening news for Labor with questions on the AWU affair, with 47% approving of Julia Gillard’s handling of the matter against 40% disapproval, while the respective figures for Tony Abbott are 24% and 64%. Full tables here.

There has also been a ReachTel automated phone poll of 661 respondents published today, commissioned by Sydney Morning Herald, which suggests Mal Brough would win a clear victory as LNP candidate for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax despite his recent bruising in the Ashby affair. The poll shows Brough with 48.4% on the primary vote against a derisory for 2.7% for Peter Slipper, who is publicly still committed to seeking re-election as an independent, 21.2% for Labor, 11.7% for the Greens and 7.4% for Katter’s Australian Party. Brough was viewed favourably by 41.8% of respondents against 34.0% unfavourable, while the respective figures for Slipper were 6.9% and 75.5%. Brough’s involvement in the Ashby matter made 37.3% of respondents less likely to vote for him, against 39.8% for no difference. A substantial cohort of very curious people, apparently amounting to 22.6% of the Fisher electorate, say it has made them more likely to vote for him.

UPDATE (17/12/2012): The final Essential Research for the year has the Coalition gaining a point on two-party preferred for the second successive week to extend its lead to 55-45, the highest in nearly three months. However, the primary votes have emerged from rounding unchanged on last week, with Labor on 36%, the Coalition on 48% and the Greens on 8%. Further questions find that 2012 was perceived as being a good year for banks and miners, an uninspiring one for the Australian economy and “you and your family”, a poor one for the media, farming, unions, the environment and “the average Australian”, and a shocker for small business and “Australian politics in general”. Labor, Liberal, Greens and independents were all rated as having had a bad year, Labor emerging the worst. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott rated equally poorly, with opinion evenly divided as to whether either will make it to the election.

Respondents were asked which of seven deignated political events was the year’s most significant, with the implementation of the carbon tax well ahead on 41%. The other results were 14% for the Kevin Rudd leadership challenge, 9% for the reopening of offshore detention centres, 7% for AWU slush fund allegations, 6% for Julia Gillard’s sexism speech, 5% for “bipartisan support for the National Disability Insurance Scheme” and 5% for Australia winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Essential Research will next report on January 14.

UPDATE 2: GhostWhoVotes reports Nielsen further finds 36% of respondents think themselves better off than two years against 45% worse off, with supporters of Labor (50% better, 29% worse) and the Greens (52% better, 26% worse) typically taking a rosier view than those of the Coalition (23% better, 61% worse).

UPDATE 3 (19/12/12): The final Morgan face-to-face poll for the year, covering the last two weekends’ surveying, is a good one for Labor, who are up four points to 40% on the primary vote (their best result since February last year), while the Coalition is down three to 37.5% (their worst this term) with the Greens up 1.5% to 12.5%. Two-party preferred is 52.5-47.5 in Labor’s favour on respondent-allocated preferences, which precisely reverses the position in the previous poll, while previous election preferences have Labor turning a 50.5-49.5 deficit into a 53.5-46.5 lead. These are respectively Labor’s best results since December 2010 and February 2011.

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.

5,440 comments on “Nielsen: 52-48 to Coalition”

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  1. [Not even Alexander, so it seems. Peacock in ’84.]

    Nosferatu had a first name? “Alexander Nosferatu”… has a ring to it.

  2. Oh dear Tony. That did not go so well now, did it? 👿
    [GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes

    #Nielsen Poll Abbott’s handling of AWU affair:
    Approve 24
    Disapprove 64
    #auspol ]

  3. Evening and Morning.

    More encouraging is this, in Neilsen.Of the 75 per cent aware of the AWU affair – in which Ms Gillard, as a lawyer, advised on setting up an entity from which her then-boyfriend and another official siphoned money – 47 per cent approved of her recent handling of the issue, while 40 per cent disapproved.

    In sharp contrast, only 24 per cent approved of Mr Abbott’s handling of it, with 64 per cent disapproving. More Coalition voters disapproved than approved.

    More than seven in 10 said the AWU matter had not influenced their view of the Prime Minister’.

    If the LOTO has any sort of sense, he will not be taking his bare knuckles to Julia again on this.

    Let alone Jbishop’s futile flailing.

    Read more:

  4. Nielsen results on AWU with questions asked properly are very similar to Essential’s. Except note that Essential asked question about Coalition and Nielsen about Abbott.

  5. deblonay, in the last thread:


    Regardless of whether or not Hagel is a likely candidate, has Panetta (or Obama on his behalf) suggested there will be the need for a new DoD?

  6. Cool stuff. It’d be nice if these numbers would be backed up by tomorrow’s Essential (if they release one).

    While I know not to get excited about a poll, it’s a bit of a relief not to see a nasty 55-45 to the Coalition or something as feared.

  7. Carey Moore@6

    It’s a rogue but a good end of year note for the ALP…

    It is not a rogue. A rogue is a poll that is outside the MOE of the actual state of affairs. Even if the real state of affairs is 54 (which I do not believe it is or even was, I’ll accept 53.5) then 52 is not a rogue. It might be generous to Labor or it might be there has been a small shift back. We do not know until we see more polling.

    The term “rogue” is so much misused there should be a licence system for use of it!

  8. [Cool stuff. It’d be nice if these numbers would be backed up by tomorrow’s Essential (if they release one).]

    The Essential will likely be in line with the others i.e. 54-46 or thereabouts.

  9. Does anyone know when this poll was taken, relative to the announcement of the Ashbygate decision? Obviously, compared to previous Neilsen polls, it’s a good result for Labor.

    Sorry, I just saw December 13 to 15 for this poll. So the Ashbygate decision would have had some effect.

  10. Based on Nielsen’s tendency to understate the Labor pv I predicted 45-55 (in view of other recent polls showing labor at about 32%) so this is a major and pleasant surprise to me. Now we can go to the Christmas break with a little more optimism.

  11. I would love to see a poll of how many people believe Abbott’s account of when he first knew of the Ashby conspiracy. The media do not seem to be chasing this much. why? for someone who has built most of his campaign over the PMs ‘lie’ over carbon pricing, he has a long list of porkies labor can now trot out. He recently lied about:
    – when he first knew about the Ashby conspiracy
    – having evidence against the PM on AWU
    – the impact of carbon pricing on the pensioners power bill
    – the impact of carbon pricing generally
    – his position of the science of climate change (labor has missed an opportunity to grill him on this) and how Direct Action will work
    – when he first read the BHP media release
    – what else?

  12. Mod Lib, I have to say with 12 surpluses, most of which I assume were during the Howard government years, how can anyone hold that against Labor. The 2000-2007 were the best years any government could wish for in terms of global economic conditions. 2008-2012 on the other hand were so bad that the global economy has not experienced something like that since the 1920s-1930s great depression. It is like comparing apples and oranges.

  13. By the way, with Peacock and that terrible rating, he actually turned it around and had positive Morgan netsats within a couple of months after.

  14. Okay.
    AWU done and dusted.
    Ashby done and dusted. Apart from the fall out. A handy weapon. Inquiry or none.
    Still the HSU etc. to be battled with.

    In my view, of far more importance is perception of economic handling.

    The media are urging a deficit. As PVO said today on Agenda. Their economic credentials are as sound as mine. I don’t have a clue. A billion or so on either side of the ledger matters not to me, nor probably to the economy.

    What I do have a clue about, and trust me I will rant about this if necessary, is that the media and the Opposition are ready to go in big time if there is a deficit.

    The whole Juliar meme is ready to go on this. As Abbott said, Labor have stated 150 times that they are committed to a surplus.

    Even though a surplus will be depicted as fake and ruinous, it is not a vehicle for the vicious campaign which would be unleashed.

  15. BB @ 9:
    “Denise Grattanahan: Golden Slipper turns to dross. Election losing position for Gillard as Killing Zone leaves her limping.”

    Meanwhile, back in the Killing Zone, Brave Sir Rabbott calls out: “It’s just a flesh wound! Come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!”

  16. Also for those interested in past state election results, I’ve finally finished those for 1986 in Queensland on Wikipedia.

    It was hard work because of the nasty redistribution beforehand that had very little information about it that made estimating the swings difficult, but I’ve done the best I could.

    Next up, I’ll do the Qld 1983 and 1980 elections.

    I’ve said before that it’s terrible how difficult it is to find detailed info on state elections before 1990. I’ve always been curious to see the numbers behind people like Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Henry Bolte managing to stay in power for so long.

  17. And as for those tables, the main state behind Labor’s slight recovery appears to be NSW, which is only 51-49 to the Coalition.

    If Labor is indeed doomed in Western Sydney it must be going very well elsewhere.

    But then again, the small state samples aren’t that reliable.

  18. Not much gender gap on Abbott here – men don’t like him either in this Nielsen.

    Von Kirsdarke – good on you for doing that work; I’m one of those who really appreciates being able to readily find details of old state election results. Thankyou.

  19. Kevin Boneham, the Carles Buswell love saga is on the West Australian website, replete with a copy of one of (apparantly) numerous love letters passing between them.

    Adele wants to end the soap opera and is threatening to reveal the rest of the correspondence unless Troy pull his defamation suit.

  20. Thanks, Kevin. It’s a pleasure.

    Also another interesting bit of numbers on this table is the difference between Capitals and Other, where Labor seems to be polling better regionally. Could this be significant?

    And the state with the highest Primary Vote for Labor is apparently Queensland. Who would’ve thought it?

  21. crikey whitey,
    Never a truer word has been said. If the gov’t doesn’t deliver a surplus, the RW forces, including the msm, will crucify them.

  22. To me this is a good result because it puts a positive end of year story out there for the government.

    I think it was the editorial in the Age on Sunday that made the point that wtte this poll would be important as a final snapshot for the year.

    I may be wrong but I think a Nielsen this late in the year is pretty rare so perhaps this is not the result Fairfax would have wished for.

    Fairfax would have had the analysis ready to go of ‘government in crisis “, ” long summer ahead as leadership festers ” etc etc etc and others would have followed.

    Positive end of the year and the headlines in the OM must now be re written and Tony will be the issue not labor.

    Disclaimer, that is if anyone apart from Fairfax decides to report it !

  23. In Lenore T article ,she had based on last election preferences 52/48 based on what voters said now 51/49 which I found interesting! Anyway feel tired and happy so night all.One extra bonus see Newtoit has disappeared 😉

  24. Carey Moore @ 793 and 800 (Fremantle thread) and 6 and 13 (this thread).

    Why are you talking down the Nielsen result, despite Poliquant’s and KBonham’s attempts to sort you out?

  25. BTW, I am not trying to piss on anybody’s parade but 50/50 in Victoria and 55-45 LNP in SA in just one month, especially when the poll suggests a shift to the ALP overall (the movement is in NSW) does not make sense.

  26. [Why are you talking down the Nielsen result, despite Poliquant’s and KBonham’s attempts to sort you out?]

    Well, beside it presenting a 52-48 LNP result when everyone else is giving 54-46? Their tables are really odd; see post #39

    BTW, regardless of what the political reality is right now, it may not be the political reality Autumn next year, so don’t stress too much…

  27. Fulvio Sammut@27

    Kevin Bonham, the Carles Buswell love saga is on the West Australian website, replete with a copy of one of (apparantly) numerous love letters passing between them.

    Thankyou, that was mushy! Bit short though.

    Adele wants to end the soap opera and is threatening to reveal the rest of the correspondence unless Troy pull his defamation suit.

    Excellent, more power to his lawyers then!

    I’ve whacked a small update on to my Do Voters Care About AWU piece at

  28. Carey,

    I understand what you are saying but I think the main result out of this poll is the lack of traction it gives to the OM to push the “long hot summer of discontent within labor ranks ” angle.

    Whether other polls are 54-46 is, at this time of year, not important.

    This poll gives the OM little to grab onto as a negative for labor.

    The big issue is Abbott, the AWU failure and his satisfaction ratings.

    So, all in all good for labor.

    Far better holiday period than if the result was 54-46.


  29. @Carey Moore: “Their tables are really odd; see post #39”

    How so? There is only very slight variance with their November numbers.

    “everyone else is giving 54-46?”

    Who’s ‘everyone else’? Newspoll had 54-46 last week and Galaxy had the same 3 weeks ago.

    IMHO Abbott’s figures and the polling about the AWU matter show that the electorate is tending to a negative view of the Coalition’s activities during and since the last sitting week.

    Abbott’s “take no prisoners” approach has gone stale (as many PBers have commented in the last few weeks) and the elctorate is telling him this.

  30. psyclaw@44

    IMHO Abbott’s figures and the polling about the AWU matter show that the electorate is tending to a negative view of the Coalition’s activities during and since the last sitting week.

    It’s not really going on to voting intention as much as Labor supporters would like.

    Just imagine if Turnbull supporters en masse decided that to get rid of Tony they were going to tell pollsters they intended to vote Labor.

    I would of course never condone such conduct! 🙂

  31. KB 46
    [Just imagine if Turnbull supporters en masse decided that to get rid of Tony they were going to tell pollsters they intended to vote Labor.]
    That they could. Maybe it is that just about everybody has had a gutfull of Tony. He s like the least-liked rellie who just won’t go home after Xmas dinner.

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