Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor; Fairfax-Ipsos: 50-50

Shortly after its second budget, and for the first time since its first budget, the Coalition gets a poll showing it level with Labor – although Newspoll still has Labor comfortably in front.

The third and fourth cabs off the rank in the post-budget polling avalanche are Newspoll and Ipsos, and they reverse the situation of four weeks ago in that Newspoll’s numbers are considerably rosier for the government than Ipsos’s. To start with the former:

• Newspoll has Labor’s lead at 53-47, up from 52-48 last time. However, Phillip Hudson’s report in The Australian (paywalled) suggests Newspoll has junked a strict previous-election two-party preferred result in favour of something a little more speculative, with Labor allocated 80% of Greens’ preferences and 60% of everybody else’s. This compares with respective results of 83% and 47% at the 2013 election. The primary votes are 40% for the Coalition (up one), 37% for Labor (up two) and 12% for the Greens (steady). If preference flows from 2013 are crudely applied to these unrounded numbers, it comes out as 52.3-47.7. On personal ratings, Tony Abbott is up two on approval to 39% and down four on disapproval to 52%, while Bill Shorten is up one to 35% and down four to 46%. Abbott leads 41-40 as preferred prime minister, following a 38-38 tie last time. The poll had a sample of 1206 and was conducted from Thursday to today, which is slightly different from Newspoll’s usual practice of polling from Friday to Sunday. The Australian has full tables here.

• Ipsos has the two parties at level pegging on two-party preferred, a sharp turnaround on Labor’s 54-46 lead a month ago. It’s perhaps no surprise that the Coalition’s best poll in a year should come from Ipsos, which has consistently given it its strongest results during its six months of polling for Fairfax. Even so, it’s the best result for the Coalition out of six Ipsos polls thus far, eclipsing a 51-49 reading in late February. I’m presuming this is based on 2013 election preferences, though I should be able to provide a respondent-allocated result shortly (UPDATE: 50-50 by that measure as well). The primary votes are 43% for the Coalition (up four), 35% for Labor (down three), 13% for the Greens (steady) and 1% for Palmer United (steady). The strong Coalition result is reflected in the personal ratings, with Tony Abbott leading 44-39 on preferred prime minister after trailing 46-38 last time. Abbott is up eight on approval to 42% and down ten on disapproval to 50%, while Bill Shorten is down one to 41% and up one to 45%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1403.

Now to budget response. Newspoll has helpfully been providing more-or-less the same suite of questions since the late 1980s, and a comparative view of the current numbers suggests voters have a somewhat above-average view of the budget’s impact on their personal prospects, but an entirely average one with respect to the economy and Labor’s ability to have done a better job. Ipsos likewise asks similar questions to those that were being posed by Fairfax’s former pollster, Nielsen, although it would perhaps pay to read the current figures in light of the voting intention numbers produced by the same poll, which appear to suggest a Coalition-leaning sample.

• According to Newspoll, 20% say the budget will make them better off compared with 30% for worse off. The net rating of minus 10% is the eighth best result out of 29 budgets going back to 1988, although it’s lucky to have its nose in front of successive results of minus 11% in 2009 and 2010. Of the seven that surpass it, five were from the budgetary salad days of 2004 to 2008, the others being 1994 (an even more remarkable turnaround from the horror post-election budget of 1993) and 1998. Ipsos has somewhat better numbers for the government, in this and everything else, with 28% saying the budget will make them better off compared with 33% for worse off. When much the same question was posed by ReachTEL on Wednesday evening, it found 16.4% saying they expected to be better off, compared with 30.3% for worse off.

• Respondents invariably take the view that budgets will be better for the economy overall than for them personally, and this Newspoll result finds 46% rating the latest budget good for the economy versus 28% for bad. The net result of plus 18% is exactly in the middle of the historical range, ranking 15 out of 31 results going back to 1986. Ipsos has a roughly comparable question on whether the budget will be “good or bad for Australia”, which comes in at 54% good and 29% bad, and gets similar responses on fairness (52% fair, 33% unfair) and overall satisfaction (52% satisfied, 35% dissatisfied).

• On the question of whether the opposition could have done a better job, Newspoll’s results are 36% yes and 51% no, ranking it thirteenth out of 30 results going back to 1987.

UPDATE (Roy Morgan): Roy Morgan comes in on the budget-boost side of the equation, with a headline that the Coalition is in its best position since February last year. The Coalition primary vote of 41.5% is up 1.5% on a fortnight ago, with Labor down two to 35.5%, the Greens up one to 12.5%, and Palmer United steady on 1.5%. Labor’s lead narrows from 53.5-46.5 to 51-49 on respondent-allocated preferences, although the position is slightly less dramatic on previous election preferences, on which the lead shifts from 53-47 to 51.5-48.5, which was matched in a poll conducted in late September and early October. The poll was conducted by face-to-face and SMS over the past two weekends from a sample of 2439 (UPDATE: No, turns out it was just the most recent weekend on this occasion – thanks to Aristotle in comments for pointing this out).

UPDATE 2 (Essential Research): Next to no change on voting intention from Essential Research this week, with Labor up a point on the primary vote to 40%, the Coalition steady on 41%, the Greens down one to 10%, Palmer United steady on 1%, and two-party preferred unchanged at 52-48 in favour of Labor. The budget has 34% approval and 33% disapproval, which isn’t bad as these things go, and respondents were also equally divided as whether the budget made them more or less confident in the government’s ability to manage the economy, at 31% apiece. One point of clarity involved comparison of this year’s budget with last year’s, 45% rating it better and 15% worse. The government particularly seems to have hit the target with small business, as 66% say the budget will be good for them compared with only 6% for bad. In terms of personal impact, 15% say good and 28% say bad, while for the economy overall the figures are 30% and 22%.

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.

1,955 comments on “Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor; Fairfax-Ipsos: 50-50”

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  1. dave

    god is not omnipotent or outside of creation = process theology
    that is a peculiarly greek problem
    perhaps not very biblical

  2. [the polls will not bring if shorten leaves, noone will miss him, noone knows who he is]
    Most people don’t know who the leader of the opposition is a year out from an election for most opposition leaders. Perhaps John Howard in 1995 is an exception. This is nothing new.

  3. [confessions
    Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 9:21 pm | PERMALINK
    How about asking (in polite language) why the fuack anyone should believe there is any such thing as hell.

    As a Carlton supporter let me be the first to admit I believe in hell.]

    So why is the AFL exposing us to this evil by having Carlton play every Friday night in the marquee game?

  4. hi showson

    aren’t you scared what they will find out?

    everyone knew who abbott was.

    what if there is an early election

    sorry by now shorten should have proved himself esp with own constituency and MANY who should support are unhappy

  5. [aren’t you scared what they will find out?]
    [everyone knew who abbott was.]
    Not really, most people didn’t realise he would be so incompetent.
    [what if there is an early election]
    I think that would increase the chance of the government being returned.
    [sorry by now shorten should have proved himself esp with own constituency and MANY who should support are unhappy]
    And yet he is still leading in the polls against a first term government…

    Seems you are getting worked up over not much.

  6. More pain for the sick & elderly thanks to Abbott:

    [Currently, after general patients spend $1453.90 in a year on PBS medicines, they get further scripts for the rest of that year for $6.10 each. Under the budget proposal, this threshold will be increased by 10 per cent each year for four years, in addition to indexation in line with the consumer price index, eventually adding several hundred dollars to the amount patients must spend before qualifying for relief.]

  7. Sprocket

    Heard a good line on ABC radio the other day when the same question was asked.

    I think it was for St Kilda great Nathan Burke who said that it seems someone at AFL house thought Richmond and Carlton woild be better this year and scheduled them for the showpiece Friday games.

    He added: If you are looking for a tipping comp to join get in the AFL house one because the people there have no idea.

  8. PeeBee
    Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 9:52 pm | PERMALINK
    I think Shorten is a shoe in. Once the liberal cheer squad on this blog say he has to go, you know he is doing well.

    —-ha ha ha
    this happens all the time and is a cheap trick
    anyone who’s been here more than five minutes knows i am no liberal far from it
    i quote concerns of many very reputable left voters about shorten and if PB was representstive of this side this opinion would be heard (look at SMH today) instead of hiding as ostrich

    you heard it here first of all then – shorten cannot win an election, once the abbott and murdoch guns are at play

  9. [PeeBee
    …I think Shorten is a shoe in. Once the liberal cheer squad on this blog say he has to go, you know he is doing well.]

    Like we said Gillard had to go before the 2013 election?

    The funny thing is that there is almost no “liberal cheer squad” wanting Abbott.

    Its pretty much just TBA!

  10. hi showson

    dont you yhink the polls should always have been wider, esp than they are now? isn’t it reasonable to think shorten has narrowed polls all time. why carry dead wood who won only because of factional deals (o dear)

  11. That Abbott isn’t part of the Indonesian/Malaysian discussions & handling of assylum seekers at sea speeks volumes for this governments attitude towards those less fortunate & their ability to handle regional issues. They couldn’t care less.

  12. briefly@1806

    The LNP do not actually want to balance the budget. They want to use the existence of the deficit as an excuse to cut social incomes, cut wages…

    This is their game….to smash public finance once and for all.

    Yep. Castrate government via bankruptcy (in effect), so it is not strong enough to stand up to the imposition of corporate serfdom.


  13. What a total b*rstard

    [While addressing business leaders in Brisbane this morning Prime Minister Tony Abbott outlined the government’s new strategy under which unemployed folks can be farmed out to businesses for free for four weeks apiece without said businesses having to pay a cent – flagged as a “try before you buy” scheme. You’ll note that the things the PM is suggesting should be tried before being bought are, in fact, people.]

  14. Does it really matter if Shorten is the leader?

    Governments and oppositions are not just one person, and they aren’t premeditated on the ideas of whoever is the leader. That responsibility, is shared between the leader, the deputy leader, the treasurer, the ministers, the backbenches, the parliamentary secretaries, the lobbyists, the loyal members, etc…

    To paraphrase Robert Shaw in the movie Jaws: For what you get, it’s the head, the tail, it’s the whole damn thing.

  15. The LNP are failing to create jobs at the same rate that the workforce is expanding. In the year til April 2015 the employed workforce increased from 11,572.9 million to 11 724.6 million, an increase of 181,700.

    The number of unemployed persons increased from 713,400 to
    769,500, an increase of 56,100.

    The total change in the workforce was 237,800. Of these, 23.6% were unemployed.

    When will the LNP offer a policy to reduce unemployment?

  16. ModLib #1867

    TBA and you make 2 Abbotteers here.

    You deny it but we all know that’s crap because you are the first to defend him, promote him, and ditto his policies.

  17. TPOF
    Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 10:07 pm | PERMALINK
    i quote concerns of many very reputable left voters

    It’s not their votes that Labor needs to win government.

    ————–true true true

    does front page SMH illuminate anything about wider electorate?
    what evidence do you have shorten is vote catcher with swinging voters?
    I mean you might be right ………. but if SMH is onto story then the perceived problem is widespread as I said
    finally you need to hold the fort among labor supporters ….

  18. psyclaw:

    You appear to lack the wit to differentiate the following:
    1. The ability to ridicule pointless and superficial attacks on Abbott
    2. Agreeing with or supporting Abbott

    For example, the incessant calls of “peak Abbott” all those years ago when I said that the comments were ridiculous and you better watch out and not just assume he is “unelectable”. That doesn’t mean I am campaigning for him.

    Is that so hard for you to fathom?

  19. sprocket

    [So why is the AFL exposing us to this evil by having Carlton play every Friday night in the marquee game?]

    I’m reliably informed that Carlton are well aware the AFL won’t be giving them the free ride of seven Friday nights next year.

  20. ‘Labor dysfunction’ fears: Bill Shorten fails to cut through with middle-Australia
    May 20, 2015 – 5:45PM
    sydney morning herald
    Mark Kenny
    Mark Kenny
    Chief political correspondent
    View more articles from Mark Kenny
    Follow Mark on Twitter


    Dissecting Australia’s next PM
    A focus group of swinging voters pick apart the nation’s leaders as part of ‘qualitiative polling’, a type of research often employed by the major parties. Research conducted by Visibility.
    Autoplay ONOFFVideo feedbackVideo settings
    Soft budget and rate cuts bring swinging voters back to the Abbott government
    Tony Abbott may be personally unpopular among middle-ground voters but the group that broke from the ALP at the 2013 election is not coming back to Bill Shorten, with many regarding him as a ranting puppet obsessed with political point scoring, and lacking in charisma.

    Exclusive focus group testing of the two leaders’ standing among former Labor voters who switched to Tony Abbott in 2013 has found Mr Shorten is regarded with disdain among the very electors he must win back but who currently see him as unknown, wishy-washy, and unable to cut through.

    Bill Shorten has failed to win over swinging voters.
    Bill Shorten has failed to win over swinging voters. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
    The confronting findings are among those gleaned from focus groups convened for Fairfax Media by the experienced political market researcher, Tony Mitchelmore.

    Using identical methodologies to those approved by the main parties, the groups met for two post-budget sessions in Melbourne and another two in Sydney, to gauge the mood of the section of the electorate regarded as central to the election hopes of both sides.

    It found Mr Abbott continues to be regarded very poorly by swinging voters – even though all of them involved in the focus groups had backed him in 2013. They prefer either the former Liberal leader and now Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull or Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

    But Mr Abbott, who has the distinction of having been elected while unpopular, enjoys a critical advantage over all of the alternatives, including Mr Shorten: incumbency.

    According to Mr Mitchelmore, the main attribute voters want out of Canberra after the global financial crisis and the disastrous internal manoeuvrings that dogged the Labor years, is stability.

    “If the question is, ‘Who is your preferred leader out of Bishop, Turnbull, or Abbott?’, then Abbott is a long way last,” Mr Mitchelmore reported.

    “[However] if the question is ‘who do you want, Turnbull, Bishop, or stability?’ stability wins.”

    That finding is a double-blow for Mr Shorten because it shows voters favour keeping Mr Abbott in place – even though he is not well liked – and because it stems from still-powerful voter associations between the Labor leader and the toxic rivalry of the Kevin Rudd/Julia Gillard years.

    Describing the desire for stability as “running deep” in the electorate, he said it was clear from the discussions that voters remembered the “Labor dysfunction” and the tumultuous political times associated with its period in office.

    Indeed, so traumatised were voters by what they saw that the attempted spill motion against Tony Abbott in February had the perverse effect among swing voters of reminding them of Labor’s travails. Some greeted the Coalition government’s internal ructions as a case of “here we go again,” said the pollster.

    “There is no greater emotional commodity that can be offered at the moment than stability, security, certainty,” he said.

    So strong are the memories of Labor, that they feed into the ongoing debt focus with voters recalling the $900 cash hand-outs in 2008-09.

    But it is Mr Shorten’s reputation specifically that must concern Labor strategists.

    Mr Mitchelmore said the feedback on the Labor leader was “poor” and was characterised by a common theme of “never hear any solutions or policies”.

    Some described him as lurking in the shadows and as “playing the typical opposition game”.

    “It’s just sort of an empty void,” said one man whereas a woman in another session said “there’s no charisma with Bill”. Others described him using the terms “ranting”, “wishy-washy” and “a puppet”.

    The findings also point to immediate and future strategic problems for the opposition, which has led in the opinion polls for more than 12 months and which according to most, remains ahead – albeit by a narrowing margin.

    As Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday, the much softer 2015 budget has been well received by voters especially in comparison to the hard-cutting 2014 effort.

    Mr Mitchelmore said that has exacerbated the problem for Labor because it can no longer rely on being a “small target” when there are fewer Liberal negatives to work with.

    He said the challenge for Mr Shorten was to somehow “shore up” his profile to improve his personal standing, while also creating a reputation with voters that is “distinct and different from Rudd/Gilllard/Rudd”.

  21. Happiness #1878
    But if you don’t agree with or support Abbott, then why do you keep defending him against quote, ‘pointless and superficial attacks on Abbott’?

  22. Millennial:

    Superficial attacks are stupid ….. so I say so.

    I realise that the majority here (with exceptions though I have to admit) will pile on with any stupid criticism as long as it is against “the enemy”.

    Thats actually stupid.

  23. mikehilliard @1863:

    What a bunch of cowardly w*nkers the LNP are. Rather than inconvenience their rich owners, they’ll slug pensioners, the disabled and the chronically ill for medicines instead.

    I’d say it’s unbelievable, but with the Abbott Government, you can’t rule anything out!

  24. some of us of left have a deep fear growing daily that labor leadership because of internal dynamics are about to give big free kick to “the enemy”

  25. i know this issue will be buried under stuff about stability mentioned in the article also – but a lot of that is abbott propaganda … i think rudd would have won regardless in 2013 if he has moved to election quickly but that was his choice (a bad one) to delay. basically people was clear good policy that point to a better more equitable australia enunciated by an attractive articulate and persuasive leader which all know abbott is not

  26. millennial … thanks that could be true i wondered about it before posting, and if so will restrict to smaller portion next time. no prob

  27. [isn’t it up to william to run blog?]

    Not entirely. The blog is a 24-hour concern, and I’m not here all the time. That means I rely on commenters to some extent to not do things they’re fairly obviously not allowed to do, like repasting entire articles from rival media organisations.

  28. smh Poll:

    What do you think of Bill Shorten?
    He would be a good PM, but just needs more time for people to get to know him
    He needs to tighten up his act quick smart
    He’s simply not up to the task of being PM
    Total votes: 4041. CAST YOUR VOTEPoll closes in 21 hours.
    Disclaimer: These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.

    these are usually interesting poll results

  29. william

    ok but i have never seen such guidelines – are they clearly visitble?

    i wondered if such advice/guidelines existed but without it being stated went ahead

    just take down the problem contribution and i will post a much smaller extract

    no prob thanks geoffrey

  30. What absolute rubbish….there is no way that many people could possibly think Shorten would be a good PM.

    That poll is clearly flawed.

    Good night all!


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