GhostWhoVotes in comments is again first with the poll news: the latest monthly Nielsen poll, published in today’s Fairfax broadsheets, is a shocker for the government. The Coalition has opened a 53-47 lead on two-party preferred, from primary votes of 43 per cent for the Coalition, 33 per cent for Labor and 15 per cent for the Greens. The Herald reports this is Labor’s worst result since just after the September 11 attacks. The sample for the poll is 1400.

UPDATE: Sydney Morning Herald report here. The article notes that if preferences were distributed as per the last election rather othan on the basis of and not as indicated by respondents – usually a more reliable method – the two-party result would be 52-48. Kevin Rudd’s approval rating is down four points from a month ago to 41 per cent and his disapproval is up three to 52 per cent – actually better for him than other polls of late – and Tony Abbott approval is down five, also to 41 per cent. Rudd’s lead as preferred prime minister has narrowed from 54-38 to 49-39. Only 55 per cent of voters now expect Labor to win the election, down 16 per cent in two months. The government appears to have lost ground in the resource super profits tax, with 41 per cent supporting and 49 per cent opposed comparing with 44 per cent and 47 per cent last month.

Sixty-two per cent, including “more than four in 10” Labor voters, support the Liberals’ promised return of offshore processing of asylum seekers offshore. Interestingly, a “party favoured on asylum seekers” question gets 35 per cent for the Liberals, 19 per cent for Labor and 18 per cent for the Greens. We are also told the Coalition has a remarkable 63-37 lead in Western Australia – which could easily be written off on grounds of a small sample (about 140), if we hadn’t been told something very similar last month.

UPDATE 2: The Australian has published results of a Newspoll survey commissioned by the mining industry targeting nine key seats in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. Respondents were only asked, so far as we know, about the resources super profits tax, its likely impact on their vote choice and who they voted for in 2007. I have taken the opportunity to compile all the available data on this subject, of which there is a very great deal, into the table below. Some pollsters only asked respondents if they supported or opposed the tax, while others asked them to specify whether their support or opposition was strong or weak. Variation in wording of the question no doubt explains some of the distinction between pollsters. For example, Morgan asked about “the new 40% tax on profits of mining projects”, whereas Essential merely spoke of “Higher taxes on the profits of large mining companies”. The numbers shown in brackets are the polls’ sample sizes.

That the Newspoll figures for Queensland are less favourable than Galaxy’s might have something to do with the seats targeted in the former – mining-affected Flynn and Dawson, together with urban Flynn – although the higher undecided result from Newspoll is harder to explain. The 41 per cent strong opposition among Western Australian respondents – from Perth, Brand and Hasluck is a striking figure by any standards. The seats targeted in South Australia were Wakefield, Hindmarsh and Kingston, all located in Adelaide and its outskirts. Among other questions asked of respondents was the effect of the tax on voting intention. Overall 8 per cent said it made them more likely to vote Labor against 31 per cent less likely; from Western Australian respondents, the figures were 6 per cent and 39 per cent.

strong weak/all weak/all strong
Nielsen (1400) National Jun 3-6 41 49
Galaxy (800) Queensland Jun 2-3 16 21 22 32
Newspoll (600) Qld marginals May 31-Jun 3 17 13 19 30
Newspoll (600) WA marginals May 31-Jun 3 11 10 16 41
Newspoll (600) SA marginals May 31-Jun 3 18 14 18 21
Morgan (655) National May 26-27 44 48
Westpoll (400) Brand May 25-26 25 56
Essential (2000) National May 19-23 12 31 22 14
Morgan (571) National May 12-13 41 52
Essential (2000) National May 4-9 52 34
Nielsen (1400) National May 6-8 44 47
Morgan (669) National May 4-5 47 45

UPDATE 3: No such calamity for Labor as far as Essential Research is concerned: they have Labor in front 52-48 on two-party preferred, up from 51-49 last week. However, the poll reflects the general trend in having both parties down on the primary vote – Labor two to 37 per cent and the Coalition one to 40 per cent – with the Greens up three to 12 per cent. Also featured are “best leadership team”, with Labor in the clear 47-31, “awareness of asylum seeker intake” (a very even spread across all the available categories), whose mining tax campaign is least unconvincing (the miners’, just), and whether John Howard should be head of the International Cricket Council (50 per cent no opinion, otherwise in Howard’s favour).