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. ALP primary – 35%

    LNP primary – 43%

    Greens – 10%

    Net approval:


    PPM Gillard by 50% – 40%

    NOTE: All recorded at height of silly season.

    This is a shocking poll for Abbott and when more people become aware of LNP conspiracy in Slippergate the monkey’s position as opposition leader will be absolutely untenable.

  2. Will there be an inquiry of some kind into the Ashby/Brough matter? About a 50/50 chance. Will this disclose the identity of Ashby’s banker? Maybe. What form will the inquiry take? Ask Albo. Will the Commonwealth will initiate proceedings against Ashby, Brough and others for contempt of court? There is a higher chance of this than of a Parliamentary inquiry.

  3. A great Nielsen result….as the expert said: the magnitudes may not always be right, but they usually pick the trends. So the trends are:

    LNP PV and Abbott’s net-sat deteriorating
    ALP PV and 2PP firming and JG’s leading numbers steady

    The outlook: woe for the LNP.

    In the very heart of the Government, Labor believe they can win the coming struggle.

  4. A poll figure outside MOE is not necessarily “rogue”. It may be an outlier at the moment but could be the start of a trend.

  5. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Lenore Taylor says Abbott gets an “F” for the AWU onslaught.
    Lucky this motel didn’t have a chandelier!
    Lenore Taylor says there are “questions to be answered”.
    Alan Moir with the patently obvious.

    An interesting contribution from Cathy Wilcox.
    David Pope with a rather cute stab at the surplus.

    Ron Tandberg continues to ridicule CC deniers.

    Lead par in Laura Tingle’s article today.
    [And so the year closes almost as it begun. All that grief, angst and unpleasantness and the only change it has produced, in net terms over 2012, is the most reviled opposition leader in almost 30 years, and some improvement in the standing of the prime minister.]
    David Rowe with a poignant reminder of the US gun law situation.

  6. William,
    I understand that automatic enrollment is on for the next election. It is supposed to favourALP very slightly. Have the pollsters indicated any refining of their methodology to accommodate this? Or is it too insignificant.

  7. Morning all, missed the Nielsen results last night, better than I expected. I take note of Kevin’s comments on the AWU thing. Here is a free AFR article & infographic worth a look…
    [Support for surplus slips among voters

    Phillip Coorey Chief political correspondent

    Support for the federal government to abandon its surplus promise has grown, with the latest poll showing a sharp drop-off in those concerned about the need to return the budget to the black this financial year.

    The latest Australian Financial Review/Nielsen poll also finds the Labor government is ending 2012 within striking distance of the Coalition ahead of next year’s federal election, but with its momentum stalled.

    And while the Coalition remains in a strong election-winning position, Tony Abbott’s personal standing has worsened, making him the second most unpopular opposition leader in the poll’s 40-year history.

    He is eclipsed only by Andrew Peacock in October 1984, when Bob Hawke was at his zenith.]

  8. There is nothing legally wrong with publishing love letters because we do not have real privacy laws.

    We are obliged to respect commercial confidences but not so much
    personal ones

  9. I thought michelle grattan said labor hasnt imoproved

    it is the coalition who has gone backwards since 2010

    Coalition has 43 per cent of the primary vote – slightly lower than it polled in the 2010 election

  10. I thought michelle grattan said labor hasnt improved

    it is the coalition who has gone backwards since 2010

    Coalition has 43 per cent of the primary vote – slightly lower than it polled in the 2010 election

    and that is all the media help for the coalition and abbott

    [Three lessons from the near-final popular vote
    By David Lauter
    December 15, 2012, 5:02 a.m.

    More than five weeks after election day, almost all the presidential votes have been counted. Here’s what the near-final tally reveals:


    As of Friday, Obama had 50.97% of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 47.3% with 47 states having certified their final count, according to the statistics compiled assiduously by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.]
    Worth a read for all you U.S. politics enthusiasts.

  12. It must be a good 12 hours since the topic of ABC incompetence and/or bias got an airing here, so here it goes 👿

    How can you tell the Neilsen Poll was good for the government and bad for the opposition without knowing the numbers?

    The poll did not get a single mention on the 6am ABC News Radio “news” bulletin. It couldn’t even out-muscle the sugar-gliders-eating-parrot-eggs-in-Tasmania story. Fair enough. If there were consistency.

  13. 47% believes PM on #AWUgate Vs 40%. And only 24% believes Abbott while 64% dont. Bwahahahahahahahahaha

    If #TheirABC and #MSMhacks had reported #Ashbygate properly Nielsen would 50-50 or 51-49 Labor

  14. Good morning, Bludgers. Good morning, Dawn Patrol.

    Ah, Nielsen! A fine cap on Justice Rares judgement to end a Parliamentary year of L-NP conspiracies, lies, abuse, victimisation to the brink of suicide; but, thankfully, not to suicide attempts or suicide itself (Liberals already have “form” in causing both reactions to their intimidation).

    Oz’s disgraceful Federal Opposition has not done this alone, but in cahoots with Murdoch Media, a fair swag of Fairfax Media and ABC journos (esp on ABC24) – all now with seriously egged faces – in vain attempts to roll the Gillard Government: a year drawing to a close in public humiliation – extending well beyond Australia’s shores on Youtube, in the world’s top newspapers (inc 2nd most read global newspaper, The Guardian) – of the LNP in general and Abbott, Brandis, Pyne, Bishop, Brough and other Federal & QLD LNP heavyweights in particular.

    Another highlight of the 2012 political year has been the Murdochs’ international humiliation: in the UK, where they’ve been taken apart by Lord Justice Leveson & his brilliant, quietly-spoken Inquisitor; the USA, where – in part because of Fox News & inaccurate OpPolling results – Republicans lost the Presidential election by 3< million votes – and in Oz, with Mr Justice Rares' decision.

    I look forward to further humiliation of the same crooked LNP-MSM gang when the HSU/ Thomson affair also comes unstuck in 2013 – in the main, due to the unstinting efforts of Peter Wicks, Independent Australia, Vex News, other bloggers & activists and their huge number (scarily so for the LNP & MSM) of enthusiastic supporters …

    Oh, and the disgraceful actions of Lib/ LNP Premiers and ministers in the Eastern states, esp Vic's bumbling fools & Q's disgraceful newman and his party.

    If anything, though, Abbott's Fall might come a tad too early for the ALP, whose dream it now is to see Abbott & his Oppo mob have to contest Election2013.

  15. Another interesting article for Hartcher

    TONY ABBOTT’S attacking style of politics has reached a point of diminishing returns.

    More and more voters have recoiled from the Opposition Leader as the year has progressed. His two strongest attacks on the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, backfired spectacularly.

    The ultimate effect is Abbott seems to have accomplished something that Gillard unassisted could not – he has helped the Prime Minister recover a good deal of public approval.

    His scare campaign against the carbon tax was terribly damaging to Gillard and to Labor until the day the tax took effect.

    Since then, the Prime Minister and her government have recovered as voters, braced for an economic hurricane, experienced nothing worse than a brief rain shower.

    And Monday’s poll illuminates the effect of Abbott’s final big assault against Gillard for the year, over the scandal of her former boyfriend defrauding the Australian Workers Union.

    Once again, the attack rebounded on Abbott. Asked whether they approved of each leader’s handling of the matter, voters gave Gillard a net positive rating of seven and Abbott a net negative rating of 40.

    Even Abbott’s voter base seemed to have found the attack unedifying. A plurality of Coalition voters disapproved of Abbott’s handling of the affair, with a net finding against him of minus five.

    ”Tony Abbott has gone backwards this year,” said the Herald’s pollster, John Stirton of Nielsen. ”The lesson of the year seems to be that on two of the big issues – the carbon tax and the AWU affair – Tony Abbott overstretched.

    ”He said the carbon tax would be much worse than the experience voters have had with it and he implied or said that Julia Gillard’s behaviour 20 years ago was much worse than he’s been able to make a case for.”

    The net effect is that Abbott ends the year with the second-highest disapproval rating of any of the 19 opposition leaders who have held the post in the 40-year history of the poll. His disapproval figure of minus 63 is second only to Andrew Peacock’s 72 per cent in October 1984.

    But, in the last couple of months, Gillard has gained the highest levels of approval since announcing the carbon tax. She is not a popular leader but she’s much less unpopular than she has been in 1½ years.

    Of course, the leader’s personal standing is a secondary concern. The chief priority of a political party is to win power by winning votes. On this central measure, the Coalition remains in the lead.

    But Abbott has built a problem for himself if there should come a day that it is not.


  16. [It must be a good 12 hours since the topic of ABC incompetence and/or bias got an airing here, so here it goes 👿

    How can you tell the Neilsen Poll was good for the government and bad for the opposition without knowing the numbers?

    The poll did not get a single mention on the 6am ABC News Radio “news” bulletin. It couldn’t even out-muscle the sugar-gliders-eating-parrot-eggs-in-Tasmania story. Fair enough. If there were consistency.]

    The poll was mentioned in the 6.30 Radio National news. A proper news story with mention of the MOE in conclusion. Even better was the sound of John Doyle straight after the news; he’s replaced FK for today at least.

  17. spare me please. Poor children died of malnutrition, child labor, lack of sanity/healthcare in poor countries everyday, where’s the outrage?

  18. [The poll was mentioned in the 6.30 Radio National news. ]

    BTW the news piece mentioned that Abbott has achieved the worst ever result for an Opp Leader. This is apparently incorrect as I note that

    [Abbott ends the year with the second-highest disapproval rating of any of the 19 opposition leaders who have held the post in the 40-year history of the poll.]

    For once at least Abbott is on the receiving end of an ABC reporting error.

  19. the msm of of course should of read the tea cups
    here of BB ozpoll and others
    who said most of what some hard tree copy people are saying now
    it would of saved them a lot of time.

  20. just had an email from a friend in the us

    says how they their family hate guns
    said she had never seen one , and wishes the gun laws where changed says its hauntng what has happpened

  21. i totally give up on any labor posters
    saying rogue outlier and other such

    do u know i often wonder if there is some just a few who really dont want labor to win in the next election

    does make you wonder some time

    so i scroll by list is now even longer

    this poll i think if it had been front page news
    where it should of been would of had the gov, well and truly
    in front, so if people are putting noting it in their minds the snippets the little dribbles that have been writen even on page 5/17 they must be taking notice

    add to that add the gov, policies that will come and have been there all the time ,

  22. We should talk about the kids that are dying in poor countries. whereas USA is quite happy to let guns killed their own & wont do anything

  23. Morning All

    Not a bad poll – interesting NSW has closed to 51-49, isn’t that meant to be the disaster state???

    Best things about it are that it doesn’t feed the 54-46 machine and reinforces Abbott’s unpopularity. With an August election the odds on favourite – it’s going to be a fascinating 9 months.

    My concern is how Labor can combat it if the polls stay close and the line becomes “do we really want another hung parliament???” – I do btw – Labor with free reign is almost as scary as the Liberals having it 🙁

  24. Morning bludgers

    When is Mr 63% disapproval due back in the country? Want him to explain what “unspecific knowledge” he had

  25. womble

    Yes it is meant to be a disaster state that only kevvie can save according to some bludgers. I might add, they are Strangely absent at present

  26. Is there no end to the Republican crazy’s in the US?

    From BK.

    A teacher says:

    [great. we had to go on strike in chicago last fall to get a raise. they deride us as “union thugs.” i have to buy all the pencils, erasers, writing paper, copy paper, printer cartridges, chalk, tape, glue, art supplies, etc., etc., etc. for my classroom, but loonie louie’s gonna give me a gun. as charlie pierce might say, “the irony, she smacks my gob!”]

    she smacks mine as well…

  27. luckily it’s very unlikely that the Greens will lose the BOP in the Senate and will save the day 🙂

    last week at work for the year – WAHOO – have a great day all

  28. I’m going to punch that Guru Meditation in the head. Just lost a longish post to it.

    Short summary: the 54-46 results were an artificial bounce due to Gillard-AWU smearmongering. 52-48 is more or less the trend. Usual caveats – MOE, numbers bouncing around – but I think Neilsen is about right. Coalition have scraped the barrel and are now out of ammunition, and receiving some flak the other way.

  29. good point Victoria – in my opinion he has pulled back and is helping more than hindering now but if I wanted to feed the other side, I’d say he only comes out when Newspoll is in the field 😉

    gotta go

  30. Leroy

    Southerners worship firearms as the ultimate anti-government symbol

    The Feds just don’t get it. They should make gun ownership mandatory.

    Problem fixed.

  31. Close enough to my prediction last night and a great result, considering the barrage of unrelenting negativity from the MSM all year.

    Nothing on the ABC radio news this morning, but they’re rapidly losing the credibility they once had, so who cares.

  32. Well, the figures on the AWU stuff show that the media have misread the public mood – again.

    Just as they’re doing with Ashby.

    Newspapers are businesses. I’m sure they print copious numbers of words in their business columns about the need for businesses to listen to their customers and give them what they want. They certainly spend a lot of time telling political parties – particularly Labor – what voters want.

    But I suppose now they’ve accepted that their various outlets are going down the toilet, and Murdoch is the only possible source of employment for them in the future.

    A bit short sighted, surely. He’s not going to live forever, after all.

  33. Five years ago someone get hurt having a root in a motel on a work trip.

    Legal proceedings for this one are reported to be nearly finlised. Just how much should taxpayers pay for someone’s ele’s buggered up root?

    Ten years ago we had a bushfire in Canberra.

    Legal proceedings for this one are reported to be nearly finalised.

    What percentage of the GDP should the law industry take? What proportion of the total cost of the bushfire was taken up by the law industry? How much money was transferred from taxpayers to the law industry for this bushfire. What practical bushfire prevention, management and mitigation operations cannot take place because we can’t afford to pay for them because the money went to the legal industry instead?

    And there is more to come. The science is in. A recent study for the US shows that bushfires are bigger, hotter and more destructive. And the windows for fuel mitigation burns are disappearing.

    Let’s have an economist doing a cost/benefit study of the law industry and the Canberra bushfire.

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