This week’s Essential Report has the primaries running 46 (up 1) /37 (down 1) to Labor, washing out into a two party preferred of 56/44 the same way – steady since last week. The Greens are on 8 (steady), while the broad “Others” are on 9 (up 1). This comes from a rolling two week sample of 1928, giving us an MoE that maxes out around the 2.2% mark.

Additional questions asked this week were on the importance of various political issues, which party is better to handle them, Abbott’s Green Army and views on a carbon price. These additional questions ran from a sample of 1128, giving us an MoE that maxes out around the 2.9% mark.

Now that the usual business is out of the way, this is a very bad poll for the Labor Party. Their metrics on issue management have all gone backwards since October, they’ve lost their lead on a number of important areas and as we’ll see, the Coalition is winning the tactical battle over the ETS, the environment and a few other issues that should be slam dunks for Rudd.


Which are the three most important issues in deciding how you would vote at a Federal election? (Number from 1 to 3 where 1 is the most important, 2 the second most important, etc)


That’s a pretty orthodox set of results – economy, health and jobs leading the way as the most important issues.


Which party do you think is best at handling each of the following issues?


On the cross-tabs, Essential says:

Results followed party lines with Labor voters tending to favour the Labor Party and Liberal voters favouring the Liberal Party.

As we can see, on areas of the economy, national security and interest rates – the government now trails the Coalition. In October 09 – the last time this complete set of questions were asked –  economic management and interest rates were tied, while Labor lead on Security by 2 points.

In fact, it wasn’t just on those three issues where Rudd has gone backwards – Rudd has weakened on every one of these issues since October, while the Coalition numbers have improved. If we take the change since October for each party on who is better to handle each issue, we get:


Labor has taken a battering on health, leadership, education and interest rates over the last 3 months – not that the rest of changes have been particularly pleasant for them.


The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott recently announced a plan to employ 15,000 people at an annual cost of up to $750 million to work on large scale environmental projects. Do you support or oppose this plan?


On the cross-tabs, Essential tells us:

Coalition voters were more likely to support the plan (80%), while Labor voters were more likely to oppose the plan (25%).

52% of Labor voters and 70% of Green voters support the plan.

People aged 55 years and over were more likely to support the plan (62%), as were males (61%).

Tony must be smiling at these results.


The Federal Government says placing a price on carbon is crucial to addressing climate change as there must be a strong incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors to achieve the cuts necessary. The Opposition says the Government’s plan to include a price on carbon as part of its proposed emissions trading scheme is nothing more than a new tax. Do you agree more with the Government or more with the Opposition?


On the cross-tabs we have:

Labor voters were more likely to agree with the Government’s view (58%) while Coalition voters were more likely to agree with the Opposition (78%).

22% of Labor voters agree with the Opposition’s view that placing a price on carbon is nothing more than a new tax.

44% of Green voters agree with the Government and 37% of these same voters agree with the Opposition.

Males were more likely to agree with the Government (34%) while females were more likely to indicate they don’t know (28%).

People aged 55 years and over were more likely to agree with the Opposition’s view on the issue (60%) while those aged 18 – 24 were more likely to agree with the Government (38%).

Check those Green cross-tabs out!

The Coalition is clearly winning here as well, which is becoming a bit of a theme of late in all of the polling – with Rudd experiencing an across the board approval rating drop from all of the pollsters over the last few months. Just with this question alone, if you put aside whatever your personal belief is over climate change, the fact that the government can only get less than a third of the population believing in the laws of supply and demand over carbon when their primary opposition is Barnaby Joyce is, well, it’s pretty hopeless.

Even if we look at what should be an absolute slam dunk for Rudd – better party to keep unemployment low – they’re failing to sell their message. The stimulus package was, at its core, a trade off between government debt and unemployment – trading off higher levels of debt to keep more people in jobs. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence of its success on this, including much higher rates of unemployment in the US and the UK, here’s what the metrics look like according to Essential Report.


Sure the Coalition has dropped – but Labor has been static when they should be polling in the 40’s, not the 20’s.

The vote estimates have been holding up for Labor so far, but if they continue to lose these issue by issue battles and the metrics continue to run against them here – those vote estimates will take a hit.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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