The Guardian reports Essential Research’s latest weekly round of coronavirus polling includes the pollster’s monthly leadership ratings, which have Scott Morrison’s approval at 64%, gaining a further five points after his 18-point hike a month ago. Anthony Albanese is down two to 42% — we must await the full report later today to see their disapproval ratings. Morrison holds a 50-25 lead as preferred prime minister, out from 46-27 last time (UPDATE: Full report here; both are at 27% disapproval, which is a four point drop in Morrison’s case and a two point drop in Albanese’s).
The most interesting of the latest tranche of coronavirus questions relate to other countries’ handling of the crisis, with 79% rating New Zealand’s response very good or good, whereas (if I’m reading this correctly) the United States’ response is rated very poor or poor by 71%, and the United Kingdom is similarly rated by 48%. Another question finds 57% support for maintaining Newstart either at its current level “after the current crisis passes” or aligning it with the rate for single pensioners, with only 28% in favour of returning it to its earlier level.
The poll also finds growing appetite for easing restrictions, with 37% now saying it is too soon to do so, down from 49% a fortnight ago, and 36% wanting restrictions eased over the next month or two, but still only 10% wanting them gone as soon as possible. Respondents were also presented with a series of propositions about school closures, which found 45% sayig schools should reopen, “half” saying schools should teach students remotely until the outbreak passes, and 41% saying they would keep their children at home even if schools reopened.
The latest news on the by-election front is that NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro has announced he will not run in Eden-Monaro, and Senator Jim Molan has likewise withdrawn his intention to pursue Liberal preselection, with both allowing a clear run for Andrew Constance, NSW Transport Minister and member for the seat of Bega, most of which is within Eden-Monaro. The by-election now looms as a straightforward contest between Labor and Liberal, with the Nationals sure to be only a minor presence in Barilaro’s absence, if indeed they run at all.
Constance was the subject of sympathetic media attention after nearly losing his Malua Bay house in the summer bushfires, a particularly helpful asset given the federal goverment’s handling of the fires loomed as its main liability in the campaign. He revealed in March that he would be quitting politics when the bushfire recovery was complete, albeit without making clear when that might be. The by-election that will now be required in Bega will thus be less disruptive than one in Barilaro’s seat of Monaro would have been, and the seat is also at less risk of being lost by the government. No indication so far as I can see as to who might be in the running in Bega.