The keenly awaited monthly Nielsen poll of 1400 respondents has Labor’s two-party lead down just slightly to 56-44 from 57-43 a month ago. Likewise, Labor’s primary vote is down a point to 45 per cent and the Coalition’s is up one to 38 per cent. Kevin Rudd’s approval rating is down three points to 68 per cent and his disapproval is up five to 28 per cent. Malcolm Turnbull’s approval is up two points to 37 per cent, and his disapproval is steady on 53 per cent. Rudd’s lead as preferred prime minister has narrowed marginally from 69-23 to 68-22. Michelle Grattan provides further details on responses to asylum seeker policies:

As the effort to persuade the 78 Sri Lankans on the Oceanic Viking to disembark in Indonesia continues, 47 per cent of Australians disapprove of how the Prime Minister is handling the asylum-seeker issue; 45 per cent approve … Nearly two-thirds of Coalition voters disapproved, compared with one-third of Labor voters and just over half the Greens supporters … just 13 per cent thought the Government’s asylum-seeker policy was too harsh; 37 per cent said it was about right. Only 6 per cent of Coalition voters and 14 per cent of ALP voters said the policies were too hard. Labor voters were more than twice as likely to rate the policies too soft as too harsh. Nearly four in 10 Greens voters said they were too harsh.

UPDATE: The Australian offers results from that follow-up Newspoll we’ve been hearing about, but at this stage at least there are no figures on voting intention. It instead focuses on attitudes to asylum seeker policy, with results that largely echo those of last week’s Essential Research survey: 53 per cent disapprove of the government’s handling of the issue against 31 per cent approve, but only 22 per cent believe the Coalition would do a better job against 21 per cent for Labor. Forty-six per cent believe the government’s response has been too soft against 16 per cent too hard.

UPDATE 2: Essential Research: 59-41, i.e. unchanged on the last few weeks. However, Rudd’s approval ratings have taken a hit. Further questions on interest rates and yet another one on whether the government’s asylum seeker policies are tough, weak or just right.