Two fairly meaty items of attitudinal polling on COVID-19 today, starting with the fortnightly Essential Research poll, which also included its monthly leadership ratings. Scott Morrison’s ratings were hardly changed, with approval steady at 50% and disapproval up one to 41%, while Anthony Albanese’s were slightly improved, with approval up three to 37% and disapproval down two to 36%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister nonetheless widened slightly, from 45-26 to 47-26. Offered a choice between the proposition that the government deserved to be re-elected and that it was “time to give someone else a go”, respondents favoured the latter over the former by 41% over 36%, which sits well with the tenor of recent voting intention polling.
On COVID-19 management, the federal government’s good rating was down two to 39% and its bad rating was up one to 36%. Of the state governments with almost meaningful sample sizes, the good rating of the New South Wales government was down two to 40%, that of the Victorian government tumbled 12 points to 44%, and the Queensland government was up a point to 67%. Of those with entirely inadequate sample sizes, the Western Australian government’s good rating was down nine to 78% and South Australia’s was up eight to 76%.
A series of questions on COVID-19 strategy produced the rather striking finding that 61% favoured the low-ball option of “less than 100 deaths per year” when asked how many would be “acceptable to ‘live with’ in Australia as lockdown restrictions are removed”. Furthermore, current lockdown restrictions remain strongly supported, with 56% in New South Wales and 57% in Victoria considering their states’ settings to be “about right”. However, the balance is tipping towards them being thought too strong, at 28% and 35% respectively, compared with too weak, at 16% and 8% respectively.
Another question found only 12% favoured Australia living with COVID-19 “even if there are hospitalisations and deaths”, compared with 44% apeice who favoured a near-zero policy and living with a few cases “even if there are hospitalisations and deaths”. There were notable differences between the lockdown states and the others: 38% in New South Wales and 37% in Victoria favoured a near-zero strategy, compared with 50% in Queensland, 51% in South Australia and 59% in Western Australia. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1100.
Also out today through the News Corp papers is a large-sample survey on COVID-19 conducted by YouGov, results from which can be viewed in The Australian here. This featured a number of questions on how things should be “when everyone has the opportunity to be fully vaccinated”, which 41% thought should mean an end to lockdowns, although a not inconsiderable 37% felt otherwise. Respondents from Western Australia were most pro-lockdown, those from New South Wales and Victoria least so. Younger respondents and parents of children in school were more likely to be pro-lockdown; those who did not wish to be vaccinated, accounting for 13% of the total sample, were most opposed.
The poll similarly found that 66% would eventually favour French-style vaccine passports for a range of public activities; 63% state borders being kept open only for the vaccinated; and 68% likewise with respect to overseas travel. Only 23% were opposed to the notion that employers should be able to demand their staff be vaccinated, compared with 69% who supported it for “frontline or public-facing jobs”, inclusive of 45% who thought it should be allowed across the board. Clear majorities were in favour of compulsory vaccinations for aged-care workers, nurses, school staff, public transport workers, take-away restaurant and food delivery workers, public servants and hospitality workers, and opinion was about evenly divided for construction workers and tradies.
Respondents were also given a choice between uncompromising anti-lockdown (“lockdowns should be ended immediately”) and pro-lockdown (“lockdowns must be part of Australia’s future until COVID-19 is completely eliminated”) positions and the much looser middle-ground option that “vaccination is the pathway to ending lockdowns”, which when you put it like that gets respective results of 14%, 22% and 64%. The survey was conducted by YouGov from August 20 to 25 from a sample of 3114.