Labor has edged up to its first 2PP lead of the year in today’s Essential Report poll, despite its primary vote declining one point. The Liberals also lost one point on their primary vote and the Greens picked up one, yielding a two-week rolling average of 51-49 to Labor. This fractional lead is courtesy of a drop in the Coalition primary vote over the past fortnight from a high of 46%. It is now back at 43%, well below its level so far in 2011. The Liberals spent last week fighting among themselves over asylum seekers and attacks on Muslims, with leaks against Scott Morrison; Tony Abbott had a shocker of a week before that with more leaks and the “shit happens” story.

Julia Gillard’s health agreement with the states also received strong endorsement from voters right across party lines, 81% of Labor voters, 62% of Liberal voters and 74% of Greens voters backing the deal. Liberal voters were much more likely to believe the deal would make no difference, however. In total, 49% of voters think the deal will improve healthcare, compared to 28% who think it will make no difference and 6% who think it will worsen healthcare outcomes. A majority of voters across the three parties thought the Liberals should back the deal — 51% to 11% who think they should oppose it. That includes 36% of Liberal voters who don’t want their party to oppose, compared to 20% who do and 16% who think they should remain neutral.

Voters were also asked to compare Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd as leaders. 28% think Julia Gillard has been a better leader than Rudd; 33% think she’s been worse, including 18% who feel she’s been “a lot worse” and 33% think there’s no difference. The PM does well with Labor voters — 47-18% — but worse with Greens voters — 30-35% — and, predictably, poorly with Liberal voters, 13-48%.

Essential also asked about support for higher taxes on mining companies, finding strong support — 56-27%. Unsurprisingly, Labor and Greens voters were strongly in favour and Liberal voters opposed — although 36% of Liberal voters supported higher mining taxes, compared to 49% against.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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