The Coalition has slightly strengthened its primary vote to pull the parties back to level pegging on two-party preferred support, compared to 51:49 last week, according to today’s Essential Research poll.

Labor has received no bounce from its success in negotiating a deal to retain government, with parties at the same levels of support as they have been since the last weeks of the election.

Essential also asked a series of questions about how voters viewed last week’s outcome. On how the parties had performed since the election, voters gave the edge to the Coalition (despite, apparently, the costings debacle): 41% saying good, compared to 38% saying Labor had performed well, and 28% saying the Greens had performed well. About 27% said the independents had performed well, with 42% declaring they had performed poorly.

But Julia Gillard had a large margin over Tony Abbott on which had shown more leadership ability since the election, leading her opponent 47% to 35%. Only 75% of Liberal voters thought Abbott had shown greater leadership ability, compared to 92% of Labor voters who said the same about Gillard, while 73% of Greens voters also favoured Gillard.

There was no gender split about Gillard — 48% of women and 47% of men rated her more highly — but there remains one about Abbott, who had a stronger rating among men than women, 38-31%.

The rise of the Greens was generally viewed favourably by voters: 45% of online survey respondents thought it was good for Australia that they had increased their strength, compared to 38% who thought it was bad. Even 68% of Labor voters thought it was good, compared to 19% of Liberal voters — and 40% of the latter thought the rise of the Greens “very bad” for Australia.

Meanwhile, 44% of those polled believe the independents have “too much power” in the new government, compared to 36% who think they don’t. The view is far stronger amongst Liberal voters — 63% believe the independents have too much power, a sentiment, presumably, that would not exist if independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott had leant the other way last week, compared to 36% of Labor voters and 21% of Greens voters.

Indeed, Liberal voters are profoundly unhappy with the decision of the independents (and presumably Oakeshott and Windsor, specifically). Almost 90% of Liberal voters disapprove of their decision — perhaps not surprisingly — but the sheer strength of that view is interesting: 54% of Liberal voters strongly disapprove of the independents’ call, while 90% of Liberal voters also disapprove of the Greens deal with Labor, including 58% who strongly disapprove (the overall figure is 41-46% approval/disapproval).

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey