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Feb 25, 2013

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.

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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.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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27 thoughts on “Essential: how determined are voters to throw Labor out? Very.

  1. Hunt Ian

    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.

  2. am de

    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.

  3. Andrew ( )

    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.

  4. klewso

    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?]

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