It’s been a good week for Labor in the eastern states.
Three Labor governments are up for election in the next seven months: Queensland on 9 September, Victoria on 25 November and New South Wales on 24 March. And according to Newspoll, they’re all coasting. The NSW poll shows, as The Australian reports, that “Support for the Coalition … is in freefall”: Labor now leads by 55% to 45% two-party-preferred, down only just over 1% from its landslide victory in 2003 and up 7% in the last two polls.
On the new state electoral boundaries in NSW, the Coalition needs a swing of 4% to win even one seat, and something around 9% to win government (see Antony Green’s analysis here). So a 1% swing will be no consolation at all.
It looks as if NSW Labor has recovered from the rocky patch it went through mid-term. Premier Morris Iemma has extended his lead over the opposition’s Peter Debnam in the preferred-premier stakes, now 48% to 20%. He also has higher approval ratings, although both leaders show the same pattern there: over the last year or so, their “satisfied” numbers have stayed constant, while there’s been a steady shift from “uncommitted” to “dissatisfied”.
Commenting on the poll results, Imre Salusinszky says that “Debnam’s message is not cutting through” and suggests that he just doesn’t have the resources to counter a government “in full election mode”. No doubt that’s true, but like the other state opposition leaders his basic problem is a failure to provide any good reason why people should venture a change of government.
Kim Beazley has got the same problem in Canberra; his poll numbers are better, but he’s also further out from an election, and the evidence of this week is that people swing back towards the government as an election approaches.
CORRECTION: Yesterday, reporting on the Victorian Newspoll, I said that the swing to the opposition was “up by 1% in the last two months.” My mistake; it’s actually up 2%.