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.

36 thoughts on “Poll anger or a shift in the tectonic plates?”

  1. I should have mentioned that the polling results are quite strongly gendered. Labor’s lead is only 39-38 for men with 12% for the Greens. Women favour Labor 40-33 with 16% for the Greens.

  2. Claim;

    “”Abbott said there would be no cuts to health and education for several years.””
    The Evidence;
    Federal health funding to states increases year on year.
    Federal education funding to states increases year on year.

    The Verdict;

    Checks Out.

  3. jumpy, I’m still scratching my head as to why 2 links put you in mod. According to the settings it shouldn’t.

    On health, while there was an increase in funding I understand that what the states got was $1.8 billion short of what the states were expecting. I’m not sure whether there was an actual agreement or not, but the states felt blind-sided by an unexpected and unilateral reduction.

    On education, I think the main argument is about the out years, years 5-10, but I’m not sure.

  4. Two things are going to work against Abbott in the longer term. Firstly, the volume of lies told this time around are going to make it hard to believe anything he says going into the next election. Secondly, the attacks on the under 30 yr olds are going to be remembered for their viciousness.
    The big risk for Labor is that Abbott will be overthrown well before the election. The second risk is that they will fall into the trap of blocking things because they are lies, not lousy poicy.

  5. Definitely shifts in the tectonic plates – in all three dimensions this time.
    Think of 1788 – of 1851 – of 1901 – of 1915~1918 – of 1930~1933 – of 1942 – of 1949 – of 1983~1985.
    That there will be civil disorder, property destruction, ruined business, financial chaos and casualties (likely a few deaths) is inevitable. What the present government and its masters have done is break just about every rule in the textbook for Counter Revolutionary Warfare 1,01. It’s obvious that all the policy wonks and superclever advisors have been so busy committing smuggery among themselves that they haven’t bothered to read it. Sadly, it will be the citizenry that will be punished for their arrogant ignorance.
    I’m lucky because, having lived in poverty for years, the thunderous shifts in the tectonic plates will be merely a change in the degree of poverty and, thankfully, not a the crash-and-burn of their whole lifestyle others will suffer. Being stuck way out in The Bush has a lot of disadvantages but at least I’ll be able to keep up my protein intake by knocking over a possum or a cockatoo from time to time. Grim days ahead – but I’m alright Jack. 🙂

  6. Suddenly this big macho man is scared of a few uni students. Or maybe it was The Poodle who was terrified, so Tony had to cancel the visit to Deakin for his sake.

    Or is itt they’ve both realised they’ve done something morally wrong, and are too lily-livered to face their critics?

    Whatever, Poodle is giving a good imitation over the past few days of having diarrhea.

  7. A survey published in the Armidale Express, and conducted by a swathe of other regional newspapers as well, says 60% of rural voters will change the way they vote at the next Federal election because of this budget. Doesn’t say if the change will be to Labor, the Greens or PUP.
    Read elsewhere that Abbott’s usual cannon-fodder on talkback radio are mostly going to change their vote to the PUPpies.
    Interesting times ahead.

  8. Just saw it, Val. Its like he’s back in the schoolyard his third or fourth year in secondary school. This juvenile attitude toward sex is common among a certain kind of Catholics – big, molly-coddled boys who went to single sex education courses where the priest joked about sex as a way of communicating with his younger charges. They’d tell you about sex then tell you never to do it unless you were married.
    PS. I am a devout Catholic but Tony Abbott’s kind of Catholicism sickens me in the stomach.

  9. My take on the wink was that it was a silent acknowledgment to Jon Faine that ” yes, this is another ALP plant masquerading as a random questioner ” just like Vilma to him earlier in the week or the 2 questioners on Q&A that were invited on by the ABC to pose as ” just members of a balanced audience representative of community ” to attack Hockey.
    Just my take.
    I hope someone asks Faine, just to clarify, but I doubt they will.

  10. PB @ 9, this article back in April has the LNP losing 10 points in the regions on a two party basis, though not shown in the table. Then the primary vote outside the capitals was ALP 32, LNP 42, Greens 16, Independents 5 and Other 5.

    In May there is a dramatic shift, with the ALP on 40, the LNP on 37, the Greens on 8, the Independents on 8 and Other on 6.

    The margin of error is 4.3% in the regional figures.

    For some reason the Greens have also suffered. The PUP does not look threatening outside the senate, although there may be a possibility of a seat or two in WA and Qld.

    The big story seems to be the shift to Labor, presumably in the provincial cites where there are quite a few seats, quite markedly in Vic, NSW and SA. In Qld the LNP still leads with 40 to Labor’s 35, with the Greens on 7, Indies on 10 and Other on 8.

  11. jumpy @ 12, it’s just that Abbott’s minders are spinning it as Abbott indicating to Faine that he would take the question, which sounds a cock and bull story if there ever was one. He would do that with his hand or a nod of the head. The smirk lingers too long for me to feel comfortable about it.

  12. jumpy, Brian,
    On ABC TV this morning John Faine said he was too busy looking at screens to take much notice of Abbott. He thought Abbott was very nervy. And so he shouldn’t have been.

  13. Well, now we know ” Gloria ” that was winked about is Judith Powers and she’s been doing the sex call thing for around 9 years. ( through 5 PMships if you count Rudd twice )
    She’s a regular caller on Faines show and he knew who she was.
    I think my take @ 12 was close enough.

  14. Jumpy @ 19
    The point is it doesn’t matter who Gloria is, it was Abbott’s response that was the problem.

  15. Val
    I would have responded the same way under the circumstances so forgive me for my lack of substance-less outrage.

  16. jumpy.
    What was wrong was Abbott was being spoken to by someone who was clearly affected badly by his policies and all he could do was mock her. It doesn’t matter if she/he was a woman, a man, a sex worker, a lesbian, a feminist, a nun, a homophobe, or the local newsagent. What Abbott did was heartless and wrong.

  17. Abbott is apparently going round saying his leadership’s secure. That means we’ll have a new Liberal PM in about 6 months.
    When you think about it its their only way out of the mess they’ve got themselves into; if they dump Abbott, and Hockey as Treasurer, and Andrews, and … well, you get my my meaning – they can start again. My guess is Turnbull and a friendlier, cuddlier Liberal Party that will do something about global warming.
    Won’t work though.

  18. * sigh*
    I dunno Paul.
    Maybe if his response to their chat was a wank rather than a wink you’d be happier.

    Anyway, I’m dropping this nothingness of a subject.

  19. Tim Dunlop says Abbott is a PM without power.

    Norman Abjorensen looks at Joe Hockey and the ghost of Bob Menzies. basically government is accountable to the rich and the Liberal Party forsook social liberalism for a notion that society serves the economy when they were in the wilderness under Hawke and Keating.

    NATSEM modelling shows that the budget favours the rich and that the safety net has been shredded.

    If not Abbott, then who? Hockey has trashed his brand. Party members hate Turnbull, but are impressed with Morrison.

    Things could get worse!

  20. Brian @ 13: The Greens are offending their own supporters by being seen as nothing but shills for the people traffickers and also being seen as too shy to do anything to deal with important environmental and social equity issues inside Australia. No doubt this new image of The Greens is crafted by the gnomes inside the Ministry Of Truth but it is working spectacularly well. The Greens themselves are not trying to bypass and overcome this propaganda and so restore trust among their former supporters – somehow, I think now that would be like trying to put Humpty-.Dumpty together.
    @ 25: Disagree about Morrison, he is too much a logical choice for a coalition that is well and truly away with the birdies – I’ll stick to my bet of Christopher Pyne or Julie Bishop.
    @ 26: Not just doctors – wonder if anyone has the guts to do a survey of pharmacists to find the extent of them being on the receiving end of public anger

    Zoot @ 18: Brilliant comment 🙂

  21. Jumpy @ 21
    If you would have responded the same way, then I guess that means you engage in sleazy behaviour too. To add to what Paul said, it wasn’t just that he mocked her, it was also the particular sleazy way he did so – which women are more likely to recognise (though I think Paul definitely recognises this behaviour)

    By the way there is an article about Gloria in the Age http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/meet-gloria-the-sex-worker-grandma-who-made-tony-abbott-wink-20140522-38rf7.html

    She sounds like an interesting and independent minded woman.

    Your attitude towards people whose views are different from yours – that they must all be “plants” and “stooges” etc – seems to reflects a particular kind of conservative mindset: normal people think like you, everyone else is faking it.

  22. Christopher Pyne! GB, I’ve just picked myself off the floor onto which I fell after laughing so much. The electorate hates Abbott, Pynie they just hold in utter contempt.

    Julie Bishop? Sadly, no political party except the Greens will be game to have a woman leader for at least 20 years after what happened to Julia Gillard.

  23. The Conversation has a couple of academic articles about the wink and winks in general.

    Lisa A Williams says the science tells us that the wink is inherently ambiguous.

    Howard Manns tells us that if there is a negative interpretation we are likely to go for it.

    I don’t think it’s scientifically valid to infer anything about jumpy from his attitude to the wink.

  24. Paul Burns @ 29: I did suggest that in all seriousness – not because it would be rational or prudent (heaven forbid!) – but because stranger things have happened in Australian politics.

  25. What’s this “would be” business, Paul? They have demonstrated that they “are” in spades.

    I think the Liberals’ problem goes right back to Bob Menzies – and continued so spectacularly through the Howard Hiatus – and that is that the Alpha Mule surrounds himself with sycophants and sees off anyone with real talent lest she or he becomes a rival; great for puffing up the vanity of the Darling Leader but fatal to the long-term survival of the organization; it is amazing that the Liberal Party lasted for 70 years; still, the trilobites and ammonites lasted quite a while too. What they are running on now are the dregs plus whatever bright adherents are yet to be disillusioned. Perhaps an analogy would be of a slave-market town, where all those “sound of wind and limb” have departed and what’s left are the ones the buyers didn’t want but still have to be fed and kept busy.

    What is needed is a new and durable and workable Tory party in Australia. Forget the Nationals, they put themselves right out of contention when they surrendered without a whimper to the Liberals. Katter’s mob don’t have the numbers yet. Everyone is out to nail Palmer so although his mob is gathering strength, they will suffer the same fate as did Hanson and One Nation. The logical new Tory group is the Australian Labor Party – they certainly do have the expertise in running Tory policies – but for that to happen we would have to see the rise of a counter-balancing Progressive party and, these days, that certainly does not mean The Greens.

  26. Graham,

    Under the Corn Laws (1815-1846) a majority of Tories supported protectionist agrarianism with tariffs being imposed abroad at the time for sustainability, self-sufficiency and enhanced wages in rural employment.

    Sounds like the Nats to me.

  27. Yeah Jumpey. Was wondering when someone would bring up the Corn Laws – and the Poor Laws, in another context, too. The Nationals ceased to be a serious contender for anything when they willingly turned themselves into mere servants of the Liberals. Like him or loath him, Joh Bjelke-Petersen had the right idea when he wanted to annihilate the Liberals by running his own candidates against them in Brisbane electorates; he would have won hands down too. But he didn’t – and the rest is history.

Comments are closed.