Voters have praised Queensland Premier Anna Bligh for her stoic and at times emotional handling of the state’s flood disaster. But they’re lukewarm on Julia Gillard’s contribution to the crisis in a new opinion poll.

The weekly online poll of voters from Essential Research probed leaders’ favourability after flood emergencies up and down the east coast. Bligh and Victorian premier Ted Baillieu won praise, but the intervention of federal pollies was not well received. And NSW Premier Kristina Keneally goes from bad to worse.

Almost 80% of those surveyed were impressed by Bligh, compared to just 6% who rated her performance poor. In Queensland, where the premier is languishing in the polls, the favourability rating was similar: 71% said she did a good job, 9% thought she could have done better.

Gillard was criticised for her role standing behind Bligh, but more voters thought she did a good job (42%) than those who didn’t (23%). Opposition leader Tony Abbott visited some flood-hit areas but didn’t win many fans — more criticised his performance (32%) than praised it (19%).

The nation was split on Keneally’s tour of NSW flood-ravaged regions, but NSW voters gave her another slap: just 13% thought she did a good job; 40% rated her poorly.

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There’s little change in support on the national political scene, with a one-point turnaround in the two-party preferred vote — 51% to the Liberal/National Coalition (up one point) and 49% to Labor. That’s reflected in the primary vote, where the Coalition gained a point from the ALP.

Data from Essential Research suggests the recovering economy is still foremost in the minds of voters (65% rated it their most important issue ahead of health and jobs), who believe the Liberals are better at handling it — just 33% said Labor was better with the purse strings, compared to 43% who favoured the Coalition. Labor is still favoured on industrial relations, education and standing up for “working families”.