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Essential: how determined are voters to throw Labor out? Very.

Voters on average expect a Coalition government to be worse for them, but still want to throw Labor out.

As Labor’s polling position worsens and voters indicate they don’t believe the government deserves re-election, there’s little in the way of hope at the prospect of a Coalition victory, today’s Essential Report finds.

On voting intention, Labor’s position has worsened, with its primary vote falling a point to 34% and the Coalition’s vote returning to the heights of 2011 and the first part of 2012, picking up two points to 49%. The Greens remain on 9%, yielding a 2PP result of 56-44% in the Coalition’s favour, up from 54-46% a week ago.

Asked whether they believe the government deserves to be re-elected, voters seemed to respond along party lines, but even 17% of Labor voters said they did not believe the government deserved to be re-elected, and more Greens voters thought it didn’t deserve to than did, 38% to 31%.

But there’s little apparent belief among voters that the Coalition will be any better than Labor across a range of important issues. Indeed, it seems voters are resigned to a new government despite believing it will actually act against their own interests. Asked which issues would be better under a Coalition government led by Tony Abbott, on only 3 issues did more voters think the Coalition would perform better than worse — the number who believed the economy would be better off was 10 points higher than the number who believed the economy would be worse off, the net number of voters who believed there’d be better “political leadership” was a single point and the net number of voters who believed company profits would be better under the Coalition was a remarkable 25 points.

Otherwise, voters appear in net terms to believe many things would be worse: given the poor esteem in which Julia Gillard is supposedly held in trust issues, more voters believe trust in government will be poorer under the Coalition (net -2) than better. More think unemployment will be worse than better (net -7), more think the cost of living will be worse (net -10); more think interest rates will be higher (net -12), job security will be worse (net -12), workers’ conditions will be worse (net -22), the environment (net -14) and benefits for welfare recipients (-21), health services (-12).

And more people think they’ll be financially worse off under a Coalition government than better, by 9 points.

This is coupled with the response to the question about whether voters feel the Coalition is ready to govern. Forty-five per cent believe not, compared to 36% who feel they are. Twelve per cent of Liberal voters believe the party isn’t ready to govern; another 16% say they don’t know.

And yet, despite voters’ belief that they will be worse off across a number of important issues unless they’re a company executive — including their own financial and employment situation — they still appear determined to elect a Coalition government: in short, voters are so primed to ditch Labor out they will vote against their own interests to do so.

It’s not just the numbers that are dire for Labor now. It’s the strength of sentiment behind them.

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  • 1
    Michael Hilliard
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    There was some graffiti I saw once which said “Australians are bloody minded sheep.” I am beginning to understand what the author meant.

  • 2
    Mike Jones
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The interesting question, IMHO is not “what is it?” but “Why is it so ?”

    Given that a bloodbath for Labor seems inevitable, and people seem to be willing to vote against their own self-interests to get one, I’m guessing that people prefer to hate Liberal Prime Ministers more than they can put up with feeling ashamed of Labor ones. Or… we feel more comfortable being led by a pack of miserable counts* than a mob of well-meaning but essentially useless clowns.

    Some choice, eh ?

    * remove your own vowel.

  • 3
    Hunt Ian
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    The essential survey does not ask how strongly voters want to throw out the government, Bernard, it shows rather disturbingly that people indicate they will vote for the Liberals even though they have no confidence that a Liberal government will improve things for them. The alternative to the view that they just want to throw Labor out is that many voters tag along with the dominant line, which is that the government is chaos (even though ti seems quite steady) that it cannot keep two ministers (even though both indicated a long time ago that they wanted to go) and that in general the government is in a mess. But this is what MSM says. Under this media pressure, it is perhaps surprising that the ALp’s position is not worse.

    Another thought is that a government campaign, media permitting, to emphasise the reservations that voters have about the Liberals is overdue. I doubt that given the MSM tilt against Labor and given the inability of the ALP to even bell the cat (with some honourable exceptions, such as Stephen Conroy) and to adopt a social media strategy that would enable them to communicate around MSM. The difficulty is that social media seems to work very effectively only when the public is aware that official media outlets are government controlled or otherwise in the grip of interests contrary to their own and that sharp differences can be found between those contending for power. It is sobering that Berlusconi, at 78 years but with loads of film star nips and tucks, is still capable of being a serious contender in Italy’s election. This is partly a reflection of the “austerity” madness that Merkel has imposed on Europe and that Abbott & Co will impose on us, but it also says something about the inflence he has through his media ownership. Perhaps the government could sell my own position of very much not wanting austerity Abbot & Co elected, given the reservations people have.

  • 4
    Kevin
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    If this is the result from Abbott keeping a low profile for just one month…. We will get the government that the MSM is insisting we deserve.
    Being from Queensland, I know that many commentators and readers think that my view might be naive but….. Only 2 people I know will admit to voting for the travesty of a government we now have, and everyone I know is disgusted with the behaviour of the LNP…. so vote for Abbott if you feel like losing services and jobs, wait for the next GFC and watch as they happily crush us into a recession…. But I will not be voting for them.

  • 5
    David Allen
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    It makes one wonder, will they actually do it come election day?

    Loathe as I am to contemplate it, it may also be that KRudd could save the day for us ABA (Anyone But Abbott)fans.

  • 6
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    MJ, welcome back!

    My theory: the electorate has only one possible way of silencing Rabbott from “stop the boats” and that’s by voting him into the position where he won’t actually be able to. Silence assured.

  • 7
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    From almost the first day that Ms Gillard was PM, the media have been happy to broadcast Mr Abbott’s message: burn the witch.

    So, dutifully, the punters will.

  • 8
    CML
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    What an incredible situation. The bogans (and others)are going to vote against their own best interests.
    One time when all us grown-ups will be able to say: I told you so!
    Agree with David Allen - KRudd may not be able to win the election, but he must surely be the best bet to limit the damage.

  • 9
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Ever wonder what it would be like, to actually “cut your nose off to spite your face”?
    But isn’t that Abbott all over - “All spite and No-No’s”?

  • 10
    Jesse mandragoria
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    i don’t really care any more. i just want to see australians suffer.
    and it looks like i’m going to get my wish.

  • 11
    Robbob
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    John O’Grady got it right many years ago……we’re ” a weird mob ” .

  • 12
    Patriot
    Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    You can’t draw the conclusion that people think they’ll be worse off under the Coalition. They may weigh each indicator differently, placing more importance on a strong economy and leadership than other indicators.

    The list of issues is also far from complete. No mention of taxation, the overall effectiveness of government spending and nothing about individual liberties either. I’d place those considerations above all others - how much money will the government take from me, how effectively will they spend it and what restrictions will they place on my freedoms?

  • 13
    Patriot
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Also no mention of border control. I know lefties don’t get this, but normal Australians are absolutely outraged by the perversion of our humanitarian program by organised criminals and illegal immigrants.

  • 14
    oldskool
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Yes ‘Patriot’ those filthy people smugglers, they give are evil like, Levi Coffin, William Still, and Harriet Tubman that helped with the theft of property, or Oskar Schinder and Captn Gustav Shroder, who stood in the way of Government implementing policy, those people smugglers….

    Idiot.

  • 15
    oldskool
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    The list of issues is also far from complete. No mention of taxation, the overall effectiveness of government spending and nothing about individual liberties either.

    What, like the fact that the current Government taxes less relatively than the previous Government, or, effective Government spending saved Australia from the worst effects of the GFC?

    You keep rolling out all the hits don’t you. A word of advice- don’t get all your news from Bolt, Jones, et al.

  • 16
    Amanda Watson
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    There’s a cluster bomb that could turn the election on its head. Labor know it. The Coalition know it.

    Not strictly true: strictly true is that a handful in each party know it. Strictly true is that they fear the unpredictability of the runaway train that it could unleash. They also fear a reaction against themselves should their party ranks close even more tightly and exclude them.

    The cluster bomb is The Expendable Project (Google it), or more specifically, the collective clusters within it, which are the government cables published online.

    These touch a very sensitive nerve in Canberra: the nerve of integrity, or rather, the lack of it for certain players. Taboo.

    Taboo too for Crikey, whose staff also edge around it, regurgitating the mainstream media attitude of closed mind, sealed shut by smear and a brand of unspoken class snobbery. It festers inside though doesn’t it, because you know that if you dared to look properly you would see that those cables are the real deal. You would understand their implications for the political stratum.

    Back to Canberra, the handful understand that too. They know what they should do, but they remain on the edge. If one of them falls off, and speaks, nothing will be the same again.

    But for now at least, the bomb remains, shamefully, ticking. The question is whether one of the handful will find the courage to light the touch fuse, and if they do, who it will be.

  • 17
    am de
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    It’s always amusing to see that when someone agrees with you, they are a thinking person, but if they disagree somehow they automatically become media led sheep. Perhaps others are just as capable of understanding what is going on and have reached a different conclusion nevertheless.

    I won’t be voting for either of our current choices, despite being a life long Labor voter. Are you really trying to forget or sweep under the carpet the great Carbon Tax Lie? Is this the new edict? Shades of Faulty Towers - Don’t Mention The Carbon Tax…

    Yes, it was a lie. Yes, she looked us straight in the face and lied to get elected. No, Howard (despite being one of my least favourite persons on the planet) did not do the same thing, he admitted what he was up to prior to the election. Yes, the GST should never have happened either, irrelevant.

    Abbott is a sexist and an anachronism. If you doubt that look at these quotes direct from the horse’s mouth: http://whatistherundude.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/16-quotes-from-tony-abbott-to-remind-you-why-he-shouldnt-be-prime-minister.

    But the problem is that people feel personally betrayed by Ms Gillard, as of course they should. Irrelevant whether you agree with the Carbon Tax or not, Ms Gillard got herself voted in by promising those now immortal words There will be no Carbon Tax under a government I lead. What a way to start your term as PM. It has dogged her ever since.

    No, it is not acceptable to say “All politicians lie.” Time they stopped, perhaps. Voters, once they distrust and dislike you, are not easily swayed.

    Labor deeply miscalculated the level of outrage and long lasting distrust the bald faced lie would bring. They thought they would have enough time to spin the damage and sweep it under the carpet.

    Say what you like, voters vote for the leader. And Ms Gillard is not trusted and has not been since the CT scandal. Since these are the facts, the Labor party would have done well to recognise this and deal with it, long ago. Deal with what you have, rather than what you think you “should” have.

    I certainly won’t vote for Abbott, but nor can I reward Ms Gillard for being so blatant in her disregard for the voters’ wishes. So I will be a none of the above voter. Many will go that one step further to punish her.

    Of course it is personal. Of course if people feel betrayed by someone they will not reward that person with their vote. Labor are about to be reminded of that.

  • 18
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Hey Amanda,
    I googled “The expendable project” and found out that Shapelle Corby is innocent!! Good one.

    This Essential report is Labor spin. If anyone doubted that Essential is an arm of Labor this clears it up.

    For example, they say that “More think unemployment will be worse than better (net -7)”, when exactly the same data could lead to the statement “64% believe unemployment will stay much the same or improve”.

  • 19
    Patriot
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    oldskool, your analogy fails to answer the prevailing criticism of boat people. The current abuse of our humanitarian efforts would be better compared to wealthy, free people abusing the efforts and resources of the Underground Railroad to engage in anything from economic migration to adventure tourism - many of our “refugees” go straight back where they came from as soon as their claims are accepted.

    Your opinions on tax and spending are noted but I do not value them.

  • 20
    Andrew ( )
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    The majority of Australians are not interested in politics and that is the problem. If people would only look at a couple of episodes of ‘Question in the House’ they would see just how unlikeable these opposition cretins are. Makes me sick to watch them lie and spin every positive thing the government does into a failure.
    Tony Abbott and Co are driven by revenge. They are John Howards foot soldiers and will stoop to no level low enough to see his legacy reborn.
    On character traits alone Tony Abbott is a very dangerous leader for Australia as he has shown on numerous occations that his interests come before the interests of the country. His character must be exposed.
    Labor MUST change their approach to handling the opposition NOW. Time is running out. Indeed it may already be too late.
    I have long been a supporter of Julia Gillard and her team but I now believe Kevin Rudd may need to be brought back into the picture, even though I was outraged when he and his office attempted to sacrifice the Australia Network to Limited News. They need to give him a higher profile. Not necessarily leader though.
    Also, and this is VERY important, the government needs to start trashing the oppositions’ ideas and policies at every opportunity.
    Yes, it’s negative campaigning but it works, as the opposition has shown, and it’s too late for logical discussions with the electorate.
    I hope someone in government will read this and consider what I have wrote.

  • 21
    Salamander
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    We boomers are mostly wimps. Don’t believe the press. They want us to fold and change horses in midstream. I don’t think so.

  • 22
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    These polls are meaningless, can we please stop this incessant drivel?

    Last night with Philip I heard Laura Tingle claim they had to all write reams about polls because the polls were there but if they didn’t write reams about the bloody useless things then they would not be taken to bore us all with journos writing reams about them.

  • 23
    Achmed
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    A vote for Abbott/Liberals is a vote for increased taxes.

  • 24
    Amanda Watson
    Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps, David Hand, you ought to scratch the surface when you visit a website. You know, open the actual reports and look at the government cables?

    If you can’t be bothered, you won’t learn a lot.

    Read them. See, by their own hands, how they wilfully withheld the life critical evidence from a court of law. See how they lied. See how they chased down people like Allan Kessing. See how people like you bought what you were fed.

    So before you sneer and display your callous ignorance, maybe you should engage what there is of a brain in your head and face up to what your politicians and media are. But you won’t, because your attitude betrays you. All too common. :-(

  • 25
    Mike Jones
    Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Zut, it was a fleeting drop in. I’m busy organising to reform the DLP (Disappointed Labor Proles). Want to join up ?

  • 26
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Andrew, you’ll get no argument from me.
    I reckon that on one side we have the politically obsessed professional “political correspondent” commentariat (“managed” as it is) - who can spend hours and columns on polls, Rudd’s leadership ambitions and be amused at the general, voting public’s “hatred of Gillard”, but never seem able to contemplate their role in the evolution of that image, seeding/nurturing a cloud of negativity?
    Meanwhile the bulk of voters are little more interested in politics beyond the “fact - politicians are all self-serving, obfuscating, prevaricating animal molesters”. Who see voting as little more than a compulsory, viewers Logie competition. And with that little interest in politics, when they see one side tarred and feathered, like horse thieves, in the media (over which they have no control when it comes to how their news is presented - trussed and stuffed, under their editing of the view they deign to dispense us of events), guess which way they’re going to look come election time?

    One blatant example - the devotion of media space to concentrating our attention on this Labored “Gillard lie” - but how much did the same media remind us of “Honest John” Howard’s myriad non-core promises. It’s as if the more influential of them are using every trick at their disposal, from their privileged positions of public influence, trying to get even for the spreading of those negative “rumours” then? That they couldn’t seem to stem, near enough, under their auspices then, no matter how they tried.
    Or scrutinises Abbott’s veracity?

  • 27
    Maria Ann Kolovrat
    Posted Monday, 4 March 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Well honestly I would’nt be voting the coalition again this year 2013, it was only for a good seat I attained, the coal’s are not worth it, they’re ruining every seat and person to get winning numbers, and not promising anything at all, except misery for us all, and I don’t like that, they’re not worth it, I’ll be voting something new and fresh hoping he loses. Thankyou very much. “”“M”“”

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