The Courier-Mail has published a Galaxy poll of 1009 respondents “conducted over the weekend” which shows Labor with a 52-48 lead on two-party preferred, the same as recorded in the snap poll of 800 respondents conducted on the day Julia Gillard assumed the leadership. However, Labor has lost ground on the primary vote to the Greens, down two points to 39 per cent with the Greens up three to 14 per cent. The Coalition is steady on 42 per cent. In spite of everything, two-thirds of respondents are said to support the plan on asylum seekers announced last week by Gillard, although “about six in 10” believe the measures “were not well thought out and were rushed”. The Fairfax broadsheets should come good with a Nielsen poll later this evening.

UPDATE: The Nielsen poll, conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1400, concurs on every particular except the Greens vote, which is at 13 per cent rather than 14 per cent. The sting in the tail for the government here is that it comes off the back of a quirkily favourable 55-45 result from Nielsen immediately after the leadership change. The poll has Julia Gillard leading Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister 56-35, little different from her 55-34 lead previously. Approval ratings for Gillard have been gauged for the first time, and they have her at 54 per cent approve and 32 per cent disapprove. Reversing the last result, Tony Abbott is up on both approval (three points to 43 per cent) and disapproval (five points to 51 per cent), the latter shift probably reflecting an unfriendly sample last time.

A series of “best party to handle” questions turns up a surprise in giving the Coalition only a very slight 44-42 lead on asylum seekers, and when the Greens are included in the mix Labor’s score shows a six point improvement since the question was last asked in March. However, Labor would be alarmed to have slipped a further three points on the economy, with the Coalition opening up a dangerous 53-39 lead. Labor has taken four points off the Coalition as best party to handle health since March, now holding a commanding 57-33 lead that goes a fair way to explaining their latest television ad. Labor retains commanding leads on education (53-36), the environment (51-35) and industrial relations (58-34).

UPDATE 3: Essential Research has Labor up slightly from 54-46 to 55-45, although the primary votes suggest rounding has a fair bit to do with the improvement: both parties are down one on the primary vote, Labor to 41 per cent and Coalition to 38 per cent, with the Greens up two to 13 per cent. The supplementary questions are interesting: Julia Gillard’s mining tax changes have gone down well, supported by 50 per cent and opposed by 28 per cent, with 58 per cent rating Gillard’s handling of the issue “good” against 25 per cent “poor”. However, 41 per cent believed mining companies wielded “too much influence” in the process. The asylum seeker announcement slightly improved Labor’s position on the issue, which 56 per cent continue to think “too soft” (down 11 points) against 21 per cent for “taking the right approach” (up three), and the Coalition lead as best-party-to-handle has narrowed from 34-23 to 31-24. In spite of everything Gillard’s handling of the issue has 42 per cent approval and 33 per cent disapproval. Questions on the likelihood of WorkChoices being reintroduced under a Coalition government are little changed since the question was asked six weeks ago, with most believing they would and few happy about the prospect.

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