Abbott not rewarded for behaving badly

I heard the headline on the ABC news on Tuesday morning. The latest Newspoll showed that Australians overwhelmingly approved of Abbott’s statement about shirt-fronting Vladimir Putin. So I bought the Australian while I was out, and indeed they did – 63% in favour and only 27% against. They approved in all demographics – women 60%, the young 57% and Labor voters 51%. The headline was:

Abbott wins backing for Putin face-off

Actually, the story was almost relegated from the front page. It occupied one column on the far right. There was nothing positive about Labor on the front page, nothing at all. Nor in the headings and subheadings on page 2.

It’s something of a surprise to find, therefore, that this was the two-party preferred result:

Newspoll 17-19 Oct 14_cropped

In TPP terms Labor had increased two points to be 53-47 ahead. That’s landslide territory, and a stunning result.

Curiously Labor’s primary vote had stayed the same at 34% while the LNP had lost 3 points to reside at 38%. Ostensibly their loss had gone to the Greens who were now at 14%.

Everyone understood that Abbott was playing to a domestic audience, most of all the Russians, where Julie Bishop and Putin have since had what seemed a sensible and calm chat about things that concern Australians. So far, at least, Abboitt has not been rewarded politically at home.

It’s true that the Morgan Poll had the TPP gap narrowing by a point to 52-48 in favour of Labor. Curiously the LNP primary vote was down half a point, while Labor was up by the same amount and the Greens and others remained the same. The difference was in the flow of preferences.

But the bottom line is that Morgan too saw no great move to the LNP and Labor is still in a comfortable winning position.

As an aside, Abbott would be well advised to keep his shirt-fronting to the metaphorical level. Putin is said to be a black belt in judo. As such he would have umpteen ways of ensuring that Abbott’s body momentum towards him would result in Abbott literally biting the dust.