First up, the latest dispatches from the front:
• The preference deal with the Greens being pursued by the Victorian Liberals at the behest of the party’s state president, Michael Kroger, is meeting resistance from other branches of the party. Rick Wallace of The Australian today cites unidentified Liberal sources expressing displeasure at the idea, and gets Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz to reiterate that the “very strong view” of his own state division was that the Greens should be put last. The party’s federal director, Tony Nutt, issued a statement yesterday stressing that no decision had been made.
• Labor hit a spot of bother today in the Townsville electorate of Herbert, which it has never quite been able to pick off since it fell to the Liberals in the 1996 landslide. Bill Shorten’s Queensland road trip brought him to the electorate today, but a doorstop he conducted together with the Labor candidate, Cathy O’Toole, was dominated by O’Toole’s involving in a protest at Liberal member Ewen Jones’s electorate office in February pleading for “a more humane policy for refugees”.
• Apropos Dennis Jensen’s announcement he will run as an independent in Tangney, the Australian Parliamentary Library reviews “the electoral fortunes of MPs who left major parties and contested the next election as Independents”, going back to 1949. Out of 17 identified examples, 12 failed to win their seats (several of whom left office under a cloud); three won re-election but were then defeated at the next election subsequently; and another won re-election and then retired at the election subsequently. Only Bob Katter went on to lasting electoral success.
Now to polling. BludgerTrack has been updated with the latest Essential Research, along with state data from Ipsos, Essential and ReachTEL. The Coalition is now credited with a lead of 50.5-49.5, which is full point better than the pre-budget reading from last week. That translates into a net gain of three since last week on the seat projection, with two gains in New South Wales and one each in Victoria and the Northern Territory balanced by a loss in Queensland. At some point in the not distant future, I’ll start including state-level primary vote breakdowns and two-party results from respondent-allocated trends as well as previous election preferences, but for the time being the display looks like so:
Two new polls were released yesterday, and I have a bit left to say about one from the day before:
• Essential Research’s fortnightly rolling average has the Labor lead down from 52-48 to 51-49, with the Coalition up a point on the primary vote to 42%, Labor steady on 38% and the Greens steady on 10%. The poll also records 20% approval and 29% disapproval of the budget, with 35% opting for neither and 15% for don’t know. Twenty-one per cent felt the budget had made them more confident in the government, compared with 32% for less confident and 35% for makes no difference. However, most of the specific measures were well supported; 69% for internships for the young unemployed versus 14% opposed; 72% for the higher tax on cigarettes, versus 21% against; 62% for capping super tax concessions, versus 21% against; and 50% in favour of company tax cuts, versus 34% against. Opinion was evenly divided on the tax cut for those on more than $80,000, at 43% for and 44% against, and there was a predictable result for “cuts of $1.2 billion to aged care providers”. A bonus survey question provided exclusively to SBS recorded a view that the budget would make it harder for young people looking to buy their first home and gain a higher education, migrant families seeking education jobs, and people saving for their retirement – but there was a relatively good result for “young people trying to find a job”, presumably reflecting the internships scheme. The poll also recorded 48% opposition to bringing asylum seekers from Manus Island to Australia with 30% in support, and 39% holding the view that conditions in detention centres were poor, versus 32% for good.
• The Guardian Australia yesterday published a poll by Lonergan Research showing 50-50 on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Coalition 42%, Labor 35% and Greens 12%. It also found only 12% felt they would be better off because of the budget compared with 38% for worse off, and that 29% said it made them more likely to vote for the Coalition compared with 47% for less likely. The poll was automated phone survey of 1841 respondents conducted Friday to Sunday.
• I hadn’t mentioned the budget response results from Newspoll, which are worth a closer look. Among other things, there are breakdowns by income cohort, which you don’t often see in published polling. Those on higher incomes ($100,000 and lower) were more disposed to have an overall favourable view than those on lower incomes ($50,000 or less), but not by a great order of magnitude: 39% good and 22% in the former case, 31% good and 22% bad in the latter. However, bigger disparities were recorded on personal impact, with 11% of low-income earners expecting to be better off and 45% expecting to be worse off, compared with 29% and 27% for higher income earners. There are also interesting differences by age, with the most favourable responses coming from the young and the least favourable from the middle-aged, with the older cohort landing in between. Charts below put all this into the context of the regular post-budget Newspoll questions going back to 1988 (although there’s a slight change this year and that there are no longer neutral as distinct from uncommitted response options), and show the historic relationship between the “own financial position” and “economic impact” questions, with this year’s question identified in red. On pretty much every measure, this was an average response to a budget, although the plus 5% net rating for economic impact compares slightly unfavourably with an average of plus 10.9%. Its also a weaker than usual result for a Coalition budget, which have had historically better results (part of which is to do with the Howard government holding the reins in the pre-GFC boom years).