Primary support for the Howard Government during early October was down 2.5% to 39% – down 7.4 points since the 2004 election – while support for the ALP was up 0.5% to 42% – up 4.4 points since 2004, a new Morgan Poll has found.

With preferences distributed as they were at the 2004 election, the two party preferred vote splits 54.4 – 45.5% in Labor’s favour. Morgan says that if an election had been held during the last fortnight, the ALP would have won easily.

The electorate, however, still believes the Coalition will win the next election, with 58.5% backing the Government with only 28% expecting a Labor victory. Still, the Coalition’s numbers have dropped one percentage point, while Labor’s have lifted by 0.5.

“The ongoing Telstra debate, the media ownership reforms and the Iraq War controversy has hurt the Howard Government over the past fortnight,” pollster Gary Morgan says.

And he warns about a dark cloud that’s still hanging over the Coalition: “Special Roy Morgan Qualitative Research shows that the Government’s contentious IR reforms are still resonating through the electorate.”