Nielsen: 52-48 to Labor

Nielsen’s first poll since the election delivers a rude shock for the Abbott government, showing Labor with an election-winning lead and Bill Shorten travelling 20 points better on net approval than Tony Abbott.

The Abbott government’s mediocre post-election polling record takes a considerable turn for the worse today with the publication of the first Fairfax/Nielsen poll since the election, which is the Coalition’s worst result from Nielsen since the 2010 election campaign, or from any poll at all since the months immediately following. The poll has Labor with a two-party lead of 52-48, from primary votes of 41% for the Coalition, 37% for Labor, 11% for the Greens, 5% for “independents” (an unorthodox inclusion) and 6% for others. Bill Shorten scores remarkably strongly on his debut personal ratings, with approval at 51% and disapproval at 30%, while Tony Abbott manages a tepid 47% approval and 46% disapproval. However, Abbott holds a 49-41 lead as preferred prime minister.

Full tables including state breakdowns are available courtesy of GhostWhoVotes, and they offer at least some ammunition for those of a mind to be skeptical about the result. With due consideration to the fact that an element of wonkiness can be expected from small state-level samples, there are approximate two-party preferred swings to Labor of 2% in New South Wales, 4% in Victoria and 1.5% in South Australia, all of which are easy enough to believe. However, in both Queensland and Western Australia the swings are 11%, the former result coming less than two weeks after an 800-sample poll by Galaxy showed no swing at all. It’s tempting to infer that Nielsen struck Labor-heavy samples in these states, and that had it been otherwise the result would have been more like 50-50.

A more technical observation to be made about the result is that the two-party preferred figures are based on respondent-allocated preferences, whereas Nielsen’s topline numbers are usually based on preference flows from the previous election. This no doubt is because the Australian Electoral Commission still hasn’t published Coalition-versus-Labor two-party results from the 11 seats where other candidates made the final count (I’m told they are likely to do so later this week). However, I have one model for allocating preferences based on the information available from the election, which gets Labor’s two-party vote to 51.7%, and Kevin Bonham has two, which get it to 51.2% and 51.4%.

The Nielsen poll also probed into the hot topics of asylum seekers and abolition of the carbon and mining taxes. Only 42% expressed approval for the government’s handling of asylum seekers versus 50% disapproval – though as Psephos notes in comments, this fails to disentangle those who support their objectives from those who don’t (a ReachTEL poll conducted on Thursday night asked whether the policies were working, and found only 28% thought they were compared with 49% who thought they weren’t). The results on the mining tax were evenly balanced, with 46% saying Labor should support its repeal in parliament versus 47% opposed. The carbon tax at least remains a winner for the government, with 57% saying Labor should vote for its abolition and 38% saying it should oppose it.

In other news, Christian Kerr of The Australian reports on Newspoll analysis of the effect on polling of households without landlines. This was determined through online polling between March and August of nearly 10,000 respondents who were also asked about the state of their household telecommunications. In households without landlines, Coalition support was found to be 1.4% lower, Labor 0.2% lower, the Greens 1.3% higher and “others” 0.2% higher. However, Newspoll’s online polling itself seemed to be skewed to Labor, who came in 4.7% higher than in Newspoll’s landline polling over the same period. This was mostly at the expense of others, which was 4.7% lower, while the Coalition was 0.6% higher and the Greens 1.0% lower. By way of comparison, the online polling of Essential Research over the same period compared with Newspoll’s phone polling as follows: Labor 2.1% higher, the Coalition 3.2% higher, Greens 2.8% lower and others 2.5% lower.

UPDATE: Channel Seven reports that long-awaited ReachTEL result has the Coalition leading 51-49, but unfortunately no further detail is provided. Results earlier released by Seven from the poll include the aforementioned finding that only 28% believe the government’s new policies to stop boat arrivals were working versus 49% who don’t; that 56% say the government should announce boat arrivals when they happenl that 53% think the Prime Minister should deliver the explanation for spying activities demanded by Indonesia, while 34% say he shouldn’t; and that 38% support Australia’s bugging activities with 39% opposed. The poll is an automated phone poll conducted on Thursday evening, presumably from a sample of about 3000.

UPDATE 2: And now Generic Leftist relates on Twitter that Peter Lewis of Essential Research relates on The Drum that tomorrow’s Essential poll will have Labor up a point on the primary vote to 36%, but with two-party preferred steady at 53-47 to the Coalition.

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.

1,048 comments on “Nielsen: 52-48 to Labor”

Comments Page 1 of 21
1 2 21
  1. [“to turn this around” you mean alot of tax bribes?]

    I recommend that the Libs don’t knife a first term PM for starters 🙂

  2. Am I correct in saying this is the first poll by any of the “big four” pollsters (News, Nielsen, Essential, Galaxy) in which Labor has had a 2-party lead since March 2011? I think I am.

  3. It seems that the situation with Indonesia has effected this poll, though it still seems like a bit outlier to me.

    I’m surprised that when push comes to shove it seems Australians do actually care about our bilateral relationship with Indonesia.

  4. Diogenes@4

    Labor just needs to drag this Indonesian thing out for 3 years.

    That DD thingy not looking like a great idea atm.

    Fate has been working in the background, quietly packing lead into the boxing gloves….

  5. It is not unusual for a new government to take some time to find its feet. Usually this period is cushioned somewhat by the honeymoon effect, but Abbott is such an unnatural creature that I think he is going to struggle for his whole Prime Ministership.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t think he will ever be ahead in the polls, just that I don’t think he will ever be ahead by enough, and polls like this one where he is behind will pop up often enough for him to be constantly under pressure.

    I do not have great hope for him at all in the long run.

  6. [I’m surprised that when push comes to shove it seems Australians do actually care about our bilateral relationship with Indonesia.]

    I don’t think it’s specific to that. It reflects the public’s (absolutely correct) perception that Abbott is performing poorly overall. The voters never had a very high opinion of him. He only won the election because R*dd and G*ll*rd fucked up so badly. Now that they’re gone, the voters are returning to the default position, which is that they don’t much like Abbott.

  7. zoidlord@20


    Can anyone tell me a DD can be called from the Opposition if they have no confidence in the Goverment?

    Far more important is will the tories discipline breakdown should this polling get worse.

    Very very early days, but abbott hasn’t even started on all the really nasty stuff he and big money plans.

  8. Plenty of time to go until the next election (other than WA and Griffith), but this will still be worrying for the Coalition if other major polls confirm it. In essence it suggests that there’s been no real honeymoon for the government. (My definition of that, incidentally, is not so much a long period of high support as a long period of apparently unshakeable support, of the type that Mr Rudd enjoyed.) The concern for Mr Abbott must be that a fair number of the swinging voters never really warmed to him, and won’t feel much compunction about turning away from him. And it’s particularly dangerous for him that the Indonesia crisis has come along when plenty of people will still remember their previous doubts about him, and the warnings from Mr Rudd that he is basically a flake, especially in foreign affairs. It will be interesting to see what the polled evaluations of job performance look like.

  9. Oh my god…I feel so out of touch with Australia sometimes that I cannot believe this is true. Many years to go to vote them out and its getting sooner. They cant hide their ineptitude for too long.

  10. So much gone bad so quickly.

    I guess that really puts paid to the ‘honeymoon’.

    One swallow does not a summer make and there will be ups and downs but so much ground lost without any really tough decisions, other than continue to bag Labor, made.

  11. ShowsOn@13

    It seems that the situation with Indonesia has effected this poll, though it still seems like a bit outlier to me.

    I’m surprised that when push comes to shove it seems Australians do actually care about our bilateral relationship with Indonesia.

    I suspect that the aspect that concerns them most is the atmosphere of chaos and ineptitude that now surrounds the government in general and Abbott in particular.

  12. [I’m surprised that when push comes to shove it seems Australians do actually care about our bilateral relationship with Indonesia.]

    Like Dio says, it’s more that the deteriorating relationship with Indonesia reflects badly on the government, making the coalition govt look like they’re not in control and have no authority.

    I was pleased to see an upping of the ante in Labor’s rhetoric today, emphasising the urgency in mending the relationship.

  13. does anyone think indonesia orchestrating this — they want to punish abbott even have him gone … they hate him as much as half of oz, they know a chuck of oz on their side, they even want to see him gone — what have they gone dealing with the dupe for three years.

  14. [
    William Bowe
    Posted Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink


    GhostWhoVotes @GhostWhoVotes
    #Nielsen Poll 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 48 ALP 52 #auspol
    This will take the wind out of their sails.

  15. Incidentally, if this poll result is accurate and really is a result of the Indonesian imbroglio, it makes Mr Textor look like even more of a goose.

  16. From a position of weakness, Abbott will get nothing done in government. He won’t get his legislative agenda through, such as repealing the carbon tax, and he won’t be able to build support for raising the GST, applying it to food etc.

    Abbott is too clumsy to get anything done unless he holds all the aces. He’s down about 1 remaining ace now, with nothing up his sleeve.

    Also, ELECTION NOW!!!!

  17. The only circumstances in which there could be a DD in this Parliament is if the new Senate (the one that comes in next July) blocks a major piece of government legislation twice, and if the government then feels confident enough to hold a DD to get it through.

  18. Bushfire Bill
    Posted Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm | PERMALINK
    SBY used the spying thing as an excuse to cast Abbott adrift, maybe the punters are too?

    Buyer’s Remorse at last.

    –maybe it wont end too quickly … let him dry out on a drifting on hot ocean … keep it up SBY

  19. Abbott is yet to figure out that governing the country requires a wider repertoire than “it’s all Labor’s fault”.

    And I don’t think he’ll be there long enough to figure it out.

  20. [ rummel
    Posted Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    “to turn this around” you mean alot of tax bribes?

    I recommend that the Libs don’t knife a first term PM for starters 🙂
    Who would they replace him with?

  21. mexicanbeemer

    Posted Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink


    Interesting, true many here do have their own styles but as someone that on occasions has fallen for mass typoities (yes that is a made up word)

    Its possible that he/she has areas of knowledge which enable them to write in ore detail although what i have noticed with Sean is there have been occasions when he/she will be challenged then disappear or will post comments completely unrelated to the issues being discussed.

    the posts that contain some sort of rationale are those that are a cut/paste

Comments Page 1 of 21
1 2 21

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *