The honeymoon is over, the shine has come off, the political capital accruing to a new leader has been dissipated. Now it’s not just a matter of how many seats Turnbull will lose, Labor has a real chance.
That’s been the reaction to the latest Newspoll result (paywalled), which has Labor ahead 51-49 for the first time since Turnbull became PM. Labor winning 30 Newspolls in a row was one of the reasons Turnbull said that Abbott had to go.
Michelle Grattan summarises the results:
- A fortnight ago the Coalition had a narrow 51-49% two-party lead in Newspoll.
The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen two points to 41%; it is down five points since the start of the year. Labor’s primary vote is up two points to a six-month high of 36%. The Greens have dropped one point to 11%.
Turnbull’s satisfaction rating was one point down to 38%; his dissatisfaction level was up four points to 48%. His net satisfaction has dropped to minus ten points. Last November it was plus 38 points.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s satisfaction rating rose four points to 32% – just six points behind Turnbull’s – while his dissatisfaction level was up one point to 53%. His net satisfaction rating is minus 21.
While Turnbull still has a substantial lead over Shorten as better prime minister, the gap has narrowed markedly, from 31 to 21 points. Turnbull is preferred by 48%, a fall of four points in a fortnight and 16 points below his November rating. Shorten is up six points in a fortnight to 27% on the measure of better prime minister.
A cautionary note
Antony Green makes three points about the poll.
Firstly, Newspoll in its present incarnation is a new poll, with Galaxy now doing the research. It seems to favour Labor, but we don’t know. Until it has been tested in elections we can’t be sure it deserves the respect accorded to the old Newspoll.
Secondly, it does not identify and differentiate the 12% “others”. In 2013 “others” included 5.5% for the Palmer United Party and 1.0% for Katter’s Australian Party.
PUP has pretty much disappeared, so in Newspoll we don’t know who these voters are and who they would preference.
Thirdly, this raises the question of how the preference flow is calculated. Newspoll divides them according to the 2013 election. The Greens vote is now 11% compared to 8.7% in 2013. Greens may now preference Turnbull more than they did Abbott.
Essential Poll has had the major parties at 50-50 for four weeks in a row.
Roy Morgan has the LNP ahead 52.5-47.5, with the LNP up 3% on the last poll.
Roy Morgan asks voters how they would allocate their preferences. They say that if they used the Newspoll methodology the result would be 51.5-48.5.
Roy Morgan has Nick Xenephon Team at 4.5% (22% in South Australia), PUP at 0% and Katter at 0.5%. They still have 9% for “independents/others”.
The poll was taken over two weekends, so half the sample came before Turnbull’s state income tax stunt.
No matter how accurately they are derived ( the margin of error is said to be 2.3% for Newspoll and 1.8% for Morgan), numbers have power and in the main to politicians and commentators they matter.
Peter Brent says that attributing shifts in polls to particular events is a mugs game, but Turnbull’s tax stunt may have made a difference. He says:
- Abbott did dumb things, but they usually involved drawing succour from the party base, with collateral damage in the mainstream. Turnbull’s misjudgement, by contrast, was truly Gillardesque in its provocation of the economic anxieties of the electorate.
The biggest take-out from last week’s fiasco is not its repercussions, but what the event itself says about Turnbull’s political judgement. We now know he is capable of gratuitous, spectacular error.
Personally, I think that’s a bit unfair to Gillard. Also she was clearly a better negotiator then Turnbull.
Sean Kelly in Shorten could actually win this thing says the turning point was further back, when Turnbull gave up on the GST and Shorten released his negative gearing plan. Kelly was on the Gillard campaign in 2010, and thinks Labor’s policy work will make a difference.
Dennis Shanahan in the Oz says it’s “about a Prime Minister and a government ceding the advantage through over-confidence, confusion and a lack of action.”
With credible policies on climate change, health and education Labor just might be a show. Chris Bowen, the only person with an economics degree to hold the job, is making detailed calculations on where the money comes from and goes to. Also I think he’s basically honest, with a minimum of political spin, whereas the LNP deals in blatant lies. If Labor can build some credibility in this area they may finally persuade some people that they can be trusted with the keys to treasury.