Nielsen: 56-44 to Labor; Newspoll: 55-45

The hostile reaction to the government’s first budget comes into sharper focus with two bruising new opinion poll results, both of which show Bill Shorten opening up a big lead as preferred prime minister.

UPDATE (Morgan): The fortnightly Morgan face-to-face plus SMS result sings from the same song sheet, with Labor up 1.5% to 38.5%, the Coalition down 2.5% to 35%, the Greens steady on 12%, and Palmer up a point to 6.5%. Whereas Morgan polls usually combine two weekends of polling, this one is entirely from Saturday and Saturday, so all the responses are post-budget and the sample is somewhat smaller than usual. On two-party preferred, Labor’s lead is up from 53.5-46.5 to 56.5-43.5 on 2013 election preferences, and 55-45 to 57.5-42.5 on respondent-allocated preferences.

After a relatively mild result from yesterday’s Galaxy poll, in which the government may have benefited slightly from an earlier polling period (Wednesday to Friday, the budget having been brought down on Tuesday night), two big name pollsters deliver horror results for the Coalition:

• Newspoll, conducted from Friday to Sunday, has Labor’s two-party lead out from 53-47 to 55-45, from primary votes of 38% for Labor (up four), 36% for the Coalition (down two), 11% for the Greens (down three) and 15% for others (up one). Worse still for the Coalition are the leadership ratings, which have Tony Abbott down five on approval to 30% and up four on disapproval to 60%, while Bill Shorten leaps seven points on approval to 42% and drops two on disapproval to 39%. Shorten has opened up a big lead of 44-34 as preferred prime minister, after Abbott led 40-38 a fortnight ago. The Australian’s report here.

• Even worse for the Coalition is the monthly Nielsen result in the Fairfax papers. Conducted from Thursday to Saturday, it shows Labor’s lead out to 56-44 from 52-48 a month ago. The primary votes are 40% for Labor (up six), 35% for the Coalition (down five), 14% for the Greens (down three from am implausible result last time, but still very strong) and 6% for Palmer United (up two). Tony Abbott sinks nine points on approval to 34% and adds twelve on disapproval to 62%, whereas Bill Shorten is up four to 47% and down two to 39%, and shoots to a 51-40 lead as preferred prime minister after trailing 45-44 last time.

The leadership ratings in particular invite comparison with Julia Gillard’s low points. While Abbott still has a way to go before matching the worst of Gillard’s ratings in Newspoll, his present net approval rating of 28% in Nielsen was exceeded by Gillard on only two occasions, in September and October of 2011, and equalled in July 2011. Gillard’s final result before she lost the leadership in June 2013 was 36% approval and 61% disapproval. Abbott himself scored fractionally worse figures as Opposition Leader in December 2012, of 34% approval and 63% disapproval.

Both pollsters also have results gauging reaction to the budget, with Nielsen finding 63% considering it unfair against 33% for fair. The deficit levy finds support, with 50% in favour and 37% against, but there’s a surprisingly narrow majority of 49% to 46% in favour of abolishing the carbon tax. The poll finds predictably strong opposition to the notion of increasing the GST, with 30% for and 66% against.

Newspoll’s results on budget reaction are particularly illuminating, as it has been asking the same three questions after every budget since 1988. Forty-eight per cent rate this budget as bad for the economy versus 39% for good, with 4% opting for neither; 69% say it will leave them worse off, compared with just 5% for better off and 20% for neither; and 39% believed that Labor would have done a better job, with 46% saying they wouldn’t have.

The latter result can be put into context with the following chart, showing the positive result minus the negative result for the equivalent question going back to 1988, with Labor budgets in red and Coalition budgets in blue. This shows that the only budget to record a net result in favour of yes was in 1993, when the Keating government followed its surprise election win by breaking its L-A-W tax cuts promise. As such, the slight net negative result for this budget is an historically weak one for the government – particularly when taking into account an apparent tendency for governments to perform strongly on this measure when newly elected, and decline thereafter. This takes a good deal of gloss off the consolation the Coalition might have taken in the result being better than the last three for the previous government.

The next chart plots the result for each budget on “impact on own financial position” along the x-axis and impact on the economy along the y, with the current result indicated in red. This shows a clear association between the two results, demonstrating that people generally decide whether a budget is good or bad, and deem it equally so for both themselves and the economy. To the limited extent that variability exists, there does appear to be at least some constituency for the view that the pain inflicted in the current budget will be good for the economy – whereas the trendline indicates that the minus 64% rating on own financial position could be expected to associate with 24.5% on the economy, the latter figure in fact comes in at a relatively presentable minus 9%. Nonetheless, the outstanding fact to emerge from the chart is that the budget inhabits a zone of extreme unpopularity with only 1993 to keep it company. The budget the government might have been hoping to emulate, Peter Costello’s cost-cutting debut of 1996, had a plus 37% rating on the economy despite a minus 21% rating on personal financial situation.

Finally, a table showing the net result for all three measures at each budget, with averages by party at the bottom. This shows that despite the current results, Coalition budgets tend to be better received than Labor ones, with the gap being wider on impact on the economy. Partly this is down to historical circumstance – Labor was marked down for the recession-era budgets of the early 1990s, while the Howard government made political hay out of the revenue boom in its later years in office (though obviously not to the extent of saving them from the electoral cycle in 2007). However, it also reflects the tendency for the Coalition to outperform Labor in “best party to manage the economy” polling, a point illustrated by the averages for “would the opposition have delivered a better budget”. For more context on the individual budgets, here’s a very helpful resource from the Sydney Morning Herald.

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.

1,941 comments on “Nielsen: 56-44 to Labor; Newspoll: 55-45”

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  1. Wow. No wonder the coalition forced Abbott out to ‘serious media’ today to sell the budget. Hockey’s efforts have been woeful.

  2. Well I think it did take a few days before the real effect of the budget sunk into the electorate, indeed it may take another week or two before the full impact in seen on the polls.

    It’s still 30 months until the next election, it remains to be seen whether the Abbott Government can recover. I do believe that all trust from middle Australia has been lost.

  3. eye watering…

    [GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 29s
    #Nielsen Poll Abbott: Approve 34 (-9) Disapprove 62 (+12) #auspol]

  4. Don’t panic. If your a right wing nutter that is so happy that you have control of the Liberal party what else is there to do. To put a moderate in is to give up control.

  5. Does anyone know how Howard was doing at the corresponding time (7 months post his first election in 1996)?

  6. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 1m

    #Nielsen Poll Abbott: Approve 34 (-9) Disapprove 62 (+12) #auspol

    Is Abbott worse than Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd/Julia Gillard?

  7. Kezza2

    We marched from the state library to fed square and, the square was overflowing when I got there.
    I was actually standing on the roadway as there was no room.
    Your son probably knows how to estimate crowds better than me, but it sure seemed like even more than 15,000

  8. I think I was right to start the last thread by saying Gakaxy was conservative and I’d wait for more polls.

    This is just the start.

  9. Reposted from l’autre blog

    In case you missed it,


    We’re apparently expecting a very strong cold front to hit us towards the end of the week. Winds to 65km/hr.

    Just realised you’re Janet Henfrey (Mrs Bale, As Time Goes By)

    And vic

    Just spoke to youngest son, as he was getting off train at Tottenham from rally.

    He reckoned the consensus was 15,000 attended. What say you?

    All I could tell him was The Age reported “thousands”.

    And he and his cohorts are going to back on Wednesday for the students/pensioners rally – hopefully better organised, says he.

  10. soyaking@14

    Does anyone know how Howard was doing at the corresponding time (7 months post his first election in 1996)?

    +20s netsats and mid to high 50s 2PPs.

  11. That puts him in Gillard territory, but to put it better, Abbott at the height of the ‘misogyny’ period.

  12. [GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 29s
    #Nielsen Poll Abbott: Approve 34 (-9) Disapprove 62 (+12) #auspol]

    Excellent. Long may the decline continue.

  13. [ shellbell
    Posted Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Bludgertrack becomes a rollercoaster ride
    Funny comment; been heading in the same direction since April.

  14. [ Hockey’s efforts have been woeful. ]

    I watched Abbott’s efforts and they were not convincing. He does get points for being relentlessly on message. Just that the message was obvious bollocks.

    What my OH noticed was the big blue tie with the pointy end poking out the bottom of his jacket and down his inside leg. Not a good look says she. 🙁

  15. I might add it gave me hope speaking to complete strangers today. They know what Abbott and co are trying to do and they see it as an assault of what makes Australia where the fairgo is still a part of our culture.

  16. Why is the Kouk using betting markets? betting markets are like the share markets, it takes time for the cuts to come through.

  17. [That puts him in Gillard territory, but to put it better, Abbott at the height of the ‘misogyny’ period.]

    Maybe now we might see him ditch those cliched blue ties. They clearly ain’t working!

  18. Factoid just added to post: The net approval rating of minus 28% was exceeded by Julia Gillard in Nielsen on only two occasions, in September and October of 2011, and equalled in July 2011. The figures resemble Gillard’s final rating from June 2013 of 36% approval and 61% disapproval.

  19. imacca:

    The relentless message has worked, so no surprises he returns to it.

    Agree with your OH about the blue ties. He’s obviously trying to make some point about them because he hasn’t appeared in public wearing a tie coloured other than blue since Gillard’s speech that day.

    Takes a special kind of hate to hang onto something like that.

  20. guytaur

    I have never seen anything like the reaction of this budget out in my community and of course today at the rally.
    I am not surprised by the nielsen poll. Not one bit

  21. Nielsen has been highly erratic since the last election but there is suggestive evidence that Galaxy could have a slight Coalition lean. Far from conclusive with so few Galaxys out though.

  22. Marquis BK ‏@WEDeming 43s
    Nielsen 56/44 polling so bad Peta will send Abbott into #7:30 to front Sarah Ferguson.And Abbott’s approval/disapproval has TANKED!

  23. Its good to see from these poll results Australians are not buying the BS.

    Extreme policies from the left and right get swift rejection.

  24. [Agree with your OH about the blue ties. He’s obviously trying to make some point about them because he hasn’t appeared in public wearing a tie coloured other than blue since Gillard’s speech that day.

    Takes a special kind of hate to hang onto something like that.]
    Abbott’s talisman?

  25. Would like to see primaries off this. What primaries would LNP be looking at to produce this kind of outcome? 36%?

  26. vic

    Thanks for the info. I think my son was just saying it was less than the march in March, but given it was at such short notice and he was near the front of the pack, he couldn’t tell. But was told 15,000.

    Although the phone line was crap. Maybe he was saying 50. Not sure. Still, like you, he was happy to speak to a lot of different groups all espousing the same feeling: Where’s our Fair Go gone.

  27. kezza2

    The melbourne rally was organised at very short notice. The rally spokespeople said fhat it was arranged three days ago via social media. They were amazed by the turnout

  28. @41 didn’t the last Nielsen have the really weirdly high Greens vote?

    But I think the the LNP primary would be 36-35% … what I’m interested in is what happened to the GRN v ALP primaries.

  29. [Tony Abbott is down nine on approval to 34% and up twelve on disapproval to 62%.]
    So only 4% are uncommitted…people have a view

    Obviously a different series, but a quick stroll down my Newspoll database shows only 2 instances of such a low number: Howard on last Newspoll before he lost and Hawke way back in 1987

  30. Don’t worry Palmer has gone a fair way in the polls with his statements that there is no budget emergency.

    Abbott will LOSE the next election if he so much puts a finger print on Medicare.

    You read it here first 😀

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