Poll anger or a shift in the tectonic plates?

The polls are disastrous for the LNP. Nielsen is 56-44 to Labor, Newspoll is 55-45 and Morgan is a staggering 56.5 to 43.5. Historically Morgan tends to favour Labor, Nielsen was the most accurate at the last election.

The question is now whether these results represent short term anger at the budget or whether the tectonic plates have shifted. Laura Tingle comes out in favour of the latter:

Just every so often in politics there is a moment when you can almost hear the tectonic plates shift, and they don’t necessarily come with elections.

We saw one of these in 2010 when it emerged that Kevin Rudd was dumping his commitment to an emissions trading scheme.

The Fairfax-Nielsen poll suggests the 2014 budget is proving another such moment when politics can be turned on its head.

It is not just the dramatic slump in the government’s primary and two-party preferred vote, or the fact that Labor is, for the first time, the major beneficiary of this slump. It is not just that voters – in spectacular, angry numbers – think the budget is both unfair and not good for the country.

It is not even that Tony Abbott’s barefaced refusal to confront the fact he is breaking promises has enraged voters in a way that makes his position with them unrecoverable.

It is the fact that this poll suggests Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey will have little choice but to go back and rethink the entire political and economic strategy on which this budget is built.

Unfairness, not good for the country, broken promises, lies.

We are often told that Labor needs a 4 in front of its first preference vote in order to win. Suddenly it has one, for the first time since 2010, and the LNP doesn’t. There has been a cross-over:

Labor LNP vote_cropped

Perhaps notably, the Greens have lost three points and the indies have picked up three.

This graph shows the Nielsen two-party preferred vote, ending with May 19:

2PP vote_cropped

Labor lost its way when Gillard announced the carbon ‘tax’ early in 2011. It looks as though there has been a shake-out since Rudd’s second coming, with the latest poll marking a decisive shift. Time will tell, but Tingle thinks the LNP will need to rethink it’s entire economic and political strategy.

In other aspects of the poll:

    The only demographic where the LNP tops Labor is in the 55+, were it is now 43-39 to the LNP compared to 49-33 in April.
    Shorten is now ahead of Abbott as preferred PM 51-40.

    Abbott’s approval rating has gone from a net -7 to -28. Only 34% approve whereas 62% disapprove.

    Shorten’s approval rating has gone from +2 to +12.

    A staggering 63% say the budget is unfair, the first time ever there was a majority, compared with 33% who say it was fair. Gillard/Swan in 2013 scored 43-46.

    53% thought the budget was good for Australia, again the first majority ever, compared with 42% who say it was good. Gillard/Swan scored 42-44.

Abbott said that the LNP was in a similar position after Howard’s first budget in 1996. He lied.

Abbott said there would be no cuts to health and education for several years. Again he lied. There will be $1.8 billion in hospital cuts from July.

Finally I want to emphasise again that Abbott, Hockey, Cormann and company are lying about Labor leaving a budget mess. This ABC FactCheck shows that Bowen and Rudd left the budget in good shape:


Elsewhere Mark’s excellent post stresses the unfairness of the 2014 budget and its attack on a foundational Australian value. It’s not too much to say, I think, that it has breached the social compact on which the Australian polity is based.