According to Newspoll if an election were held on 6 February this year, Labor would have 85 seats, the LNP 60 and there would be five others:
As Michelle Grattan said, the seventh loss in a row, and the worst since Turnbull became PM. Something happened last September, and it’s been looking uglier for Turnbull ever since.
From December to February, the main change was a net fall of 4% in the LNP primary vote to 35%, now one point below Labor, the first time that has happened since August 2015, just before Abbott was dumped. There was a net rise on 4% to Other to hit 19%. One Nation, we are told, is now at 8%:
Turnbull still comfortably heads Shorten on the ‘better PM’ stakes. I’m not sure it matters much. However, something clearly happened to the net satisfaction rates of the two between February and April last year:
If they continue to bad mouth each other, probably not much will change.
Turnbull has blown the stellar lead of up to 68 points he had in late 2015, to be one point better than Shorten on -21 to Shorten’s -22.
Andrew Beaumont has this caution about the One Nation figure:
We are told that One Nation had 8%, but this is not reported in the tables. Newspoll is still asking for voter choice between Coalition, Labor, Greens and Others, and then questioning Other voters further. In the past, this method has underestimated the support of significant minor parties, and One Nation is probably in at least the double digits.
Beaumont summarises this week’s Essential Poll thus:
- In this week’s Essential, primary votes were 37% Labor, 36% Coalition, 10% One Nation, 8% Greens and 3% Nick Xenophon Team. Voting intentions used a two-week sample of 1785, with other questions using one week’s sample.
Generally this validates Newspoll’s message of Turnbull and the LNP in the doldrums and the surge by One Nation.
There is more on Newspoll at The Guardian.
So what to make of it all.
Over the holiday break and before the poll, we had changes to pensions and the Centrelink fiasco, concerns about parliamentary travel and the resignation of Sussan Ley, the revelation of Turnbull’s donation to the Liberal Party, the phone call to Trump, and the prospect of Cory Bernadi leaving. Fairfax/IPSOS does an analysis of voting by age, so I’ll be interested in whether the oldies are deserting ship, because they are the LNP’s true base.
I think Turnbull damaged his standing with his thought bubbles on policy, like raising the GST and returning tax powers to the states. Possibly even more than that, as I have said before, he adopted an Abbott-lite approach when he started banging on about Labor’s negative gearing plans as “smashing” house prices. That was the first of a number of scare campaigns, the most recent being on renewable energy and on Bill Shorten himself.
But Turnbull’s blistering attack on Shorten came after the polls were taken. If history is any guide it won’t help him with public opinion (ask Julia Gillard), but will help him with the cheer squad behind him. I regret Shorten referring to “Mr Harbourside Mansions”, no doubt a strategy trialled in focus groups. Returning serve in an unseemly rant, however, will do nothing for the quality of public debate or improving politicians in public esteem.
Beaumont points out that Turnbull is being urged to take the party to the right, but the further right he goes, the worse he does in the polls. If you look at the primary votes graph, Labor and the Greens are tracking steadily across the page. The much-vaunted move away from the traditional parties is almost exclusively about the LNP.