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Essential: Coalition back into the lead despite underwhelming voters

While voters aren’t impressed by the government, the Coalition has regained its lead — and there remains a substantial core of voters who want to get even tougher on asylum seekers.

The Coalition has regained its lead over Labor, according to polling from Essential Research, but the number of voters who are unimpressed with the government has lifted significantly.

The Coalition’s primary vote has lifted two points to 44%, while Labor (38%) and the Greens (8%) have each lost a point, which puts the government back in the lead in two-party preferred terms, 51%-49%.

Some 40% of voters said the government had performed worse than they expected since coming to office, compared to 20% who thought it had performed better. These results are something of a proxy for voting intention, with Liberal voters much more inclined to think the government has performed above expectations, but the results show a marked change since November, when 27% of voters thought the government had performed below expectations.

The mixed feelings extend to the issue of asylum seekers: 39% of voters rate the government’s handling of the issue as good compared to 38% who rate it as poor. However, 28% of voters still believe the government is not tough enough on asylum seekers, compared with 34% think the government has about the right approach; 25% believe the government is too tough, up from 22% in January, 12% in 2012 and 7% in 2010.

Whereas over 60% of voters thought the previous government was too soft on asylum seekers, that’s now fallen to around a quarter of voters under the current government. Approval of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of his job is evenly split at 39%/39% (predictably split on partisan lines).

Voters also identified foreign aid, the arts, private schools funding and business welfare as the areas they’d prefer to see spending cuts, while health, education and pensions are the areas they’d least like to see cuts.

While partisan differences emerge in those figures — Labor voters don’t want to see manufacturing assistance cut; Coalition voters don’t want border security funding cut; Greens voters don’t want the arts cut — what’s more interesting is the consistency in some areas: plainly there’s a widespread perception that private schools get too much funding and it should be cut, whereas public school funding is a no-go area, along with health and pensions.

And who would have thought that, in a sizeable majority of support for cutting subsidies for business, it would be Labor voters who scored lowest?

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    40% reckon this government performed worse than they expected?
    They don’t study the form guide?

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    They haven’t disappointed me. They’re Right at home “in the mud”.

  • 3
    wayne robinson
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    What’s the margin of error in the survey? The difference between 59% and 62% isn’t much. If its a 3% error, it could be that more than 62% of Labor voters want business subsidies cut. And less than 59% of coalition votes want it cut too.

  • 4
    Philip Argy
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    This private school vs public school nonsense has got to stop - surely Crikey of all sources can be objective.

    On average the taxpayer contributes about $12,000 for each public school student and about $2,000 for each non-government school student. If public funding to non-government schools was reduced, with a consequential increase in school fees, a percentage of parents would be forced to move their kids to public schools, with a consequential INCREASE in net cost to the taxpayer.

    Is it really so hard for the media to present that simple factual truism?

  • 5
    Leigh Chapman
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Essential Research has the LNP in front? that’s a big swing from Rupert’s Newspoll that had Labor leading 52% to 48% earlier in the week and ReachTel Labor 53% to 47%, I think Essential’s poll is just an aberration.

  • 6
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Leigh. Still don’t know anyone who would vote for the ‘Cons’ again!
    What is really weird about this poll is the number of people who say that the government is performing worse than they had expected (increased), yet the number who would vote for them, at this point of time, has decreased????
    Go figure!!

  • 7
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Sorry - has NOT decreased?

  • 8
    Itsarort
    Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I thought the most interesting stat was the disparity between the Greens and Labor on Welfare Support. Perhaps Greens voters are more likely to be found wearing suits and sipping lattes than hugging trees and sporting dreadlocks…

  • 9
    Dez Paul
    Posted Thursday, 6 March 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    That the polls are all over the shop is not surprising, given the govt and opposition are as well.

    I suspect both major parties strategy is to keep it that way and hope that wavering voters lean their way in the absence of any certainty at the next election.

    Smoke and mirrors mean no clarity or vision, but sadly it seems to work.

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