UPDATE (21/2/11): Today’s Courier-Mail brings the voting intention part of the poll, and it shows that in spite of everything the LNP still leads 55-45 on two party preferred, narrowing from 60-40 in Galaxy’s November poll. The LNP leads 46 per cent (down two) to 35 per cent (up seven) on the primary vote, with most of Labor’s gain apparently coming at the expense of the Greens – although I can’t see precise figures for them. Anna Bligh however has shot to the lead as preferred premier, turning a 49-35 deficit at the November poll into a 58-33 advantage.

UPDATE 2: GhostWhoVotes in comments: “The Greens are on 12 percent (-4) and Langbroek’s approval ratings are approve 40 (-1) disapprove 44 (+5).”

Brisbane’s Sunday Mail has brought us a second instalment from the Galaxy poll of 800 Queensland respondents which yesterday showed the Coalition maintaining its 55-45 lead on federal voting intention. Today we are informed that the poll also covered approval of Premier Anna Bligh and assessment of various leaders’ responses to the flood and cyclone crises – but not it seems of state voting intention (UPDATE: GhostWhoVotes reports this will follow in tomorrow’s Courier-Mail). As anticipated, the results show an entirely unprecedented improvement in the fortunes of Anna Bligh, whose approval rating was at 25 per cent in a Galaxy poll in November and 24 per cent in the quarterly Newspoll conducted between October and December. Now it’s at 60 per cent, which is almost certainly a record-shattering turnaround.

Investigation of the Newspoll archives shows the best improvement recorded by a Premier or Prime Minister from one poll to the next was achieved in April-July 1988 by Western Australian Premier Peter Dowding, who in his second poll as Premier enjoyed an 18 per cent increase to 55 per cent. This came off a 20 per cent fall in the “uncommitted” response, which was at 49 per cent on his debut. The next best result was when John Howard’s approval rating lifted from 50 per cent to 67 per cent in his fourth poll as Prime Minister in May 1996, which was conducted in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre (and proved to be the highest approval rating he would ever record). This was accompanied by a 7 per cent drop in disapproval to 14 per cent and a 10 per cent drop in uncommitted to 19 per cent. By contrast, Bligh’s uncommitted rating was just 9 per cent in the most recent Newspoll, so the hike in her approval rating would have come entirely off her disapproval rating.

By all accounts, the electoral opportunity presented by a perishable reversal in Bligh’s fortunes will prove too tempting for an ageing government to pass up. The resignation of three cabinet ministers on Friday, together with a decision to delay the introduction of the budget a week to May 14, had the Courier-Mail reporting “speculation the Government could seek to take advantage of Ms Bligh’s positively-received performance during the disasters for an election as early as late April”. The more widely cited scenario has involved an August election triggered by the release that month of the initial findings of the flood inquiry.

The other published findings of the Galaxy poll are that 93 per cent rated Bligh’s handling of the natural disasters as good, compared with 82 per cent for lord mayor Campbell Newman and 61 per cent for Julia Gillard. Eight-four per cent rated the state government’s handling of clean-up of the floods and cyclone as good.