The latest Essential Report confirms Labor is leaking votes to the Greens, with its lowest primary vote in four weeks and the Greens recording their highest ever level of support. With the Coalition vote stubbornly failing to shift much above 40%, it means a tiny shift in the 2PP Labor's way from last week, back to 52-48 on a rolling two-week average.
Labor's primary vote is down 2% from last week, back to its nadir of a month ago of 37%, and the Coalition is down 1%. The Greens have topped their previous highest level of support to reach 12%, confirming that the low esteem voters now feel for both parties, and Kevin Rudd's shift to the right on asylum seekers and emissions trading, is driving real interest in a third-party alternative.
Essential also asked who out of the Government or the mining industry voters found more believable. While the results tended to reflect party affiliation, 36% said the miners, over 33% who believed the Government. However, it is the very high proportion of Don't Knows, nearly a third, that suggests the Government's advertising may struggle to sway public opinion about the RSPT.
The only small consolation for the Government is that Labor's leadership team is rated much higher than Tony Abbott's team, 47-31%, and is ahead in nearly all demographics except the elderly and Liberal voters -- although 25% of the latter didn't believe Tony Abbott and his team were better than Labor's line-up.
Essential last week also asked about voters' understanding of the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat. In response to concerns in Labor Caucus last week, the Prime Minister committed to trying to puncture some of what he called "myths" about asylum seekers.
When asked what proportion asylum seekers arriving by boat made up of Australia's annual migration intake -- an issue singled out as a key misperception by the Prime Minister last week -- 10% of people believed it was 50% or more, 15% believed it was a quarter, and 13% believed it was 10%.
Even at current levels, the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat makes up about 2.5% of total annual permanent migration, and about 1% when temporary migrants are included. Only 18% of respondents knew that; 30% couldn't give an answer. Younger voters and Liberal voters were most likely to wildly overestimate asylum seeker figures, and Green voters most likely to get it right.
If Kevin Rudd wants to start puncturing some myths, he could start right there.