Roy Morgan has published two sets of poll results, one a face-to-face poll combining a fortnight’s worth of its regular weekend polling, the other a small sample phone poll targeting 519 respondents. Neither are good for Labor: the face-to-face poll has their two-party lead on 51-49, using the more reliable method of distributing minor party preferences as per the previous election, while the phone poll has the Coalition leading 53-47. Given the face-to-face series’ normal lean to Labor, that’s a below par result for them, although it’s essentially unchanged on a fortnight ago. Labor is up half a point to 39.5 per cent, the Coalition is steady on 43 per cent and the Greens are down a point to 11.5 per cent, with Labor down half a point on two-party to 51 per cent. The phone poll has Labor on 36 per cent and the Coalition on 45.5 per cent: very unusually for a phone poll, it has the Greens vote on single figures at 9.5 per cent, comparing with 13 per cent in Newspoll and 12 per cent in the previous week’s Nielsen. The phone poll is more obviously unhappy for Labor, but with a margin of error approaching 4.5 per cent a grain of salt is required. Taken together though, they constitute evidence Labor is still bumping along below 50-50, rather than popping above it as Essential Research and Newspoll suggested.

The phone poll also inquired into leadership approval, and it turns up an anomaly in showing a disastrous plunge for Tony Abbott which isn’t reflected in voting intention. Abbott’s disapproval is up ten points on three weeks ago to 56 per cent, seven points higher than it was in Newspoll. Most of this came at the expense of “can’t say”, with approval down a relatively modest three points from 39 per cent to 36 per cent. Since early December, Morgan has had Abbott’s net approval go from plus 11 to minus 20. Allowing for the very small samples, the gender gap has blown wide open: where three weeks ago Abbott’s net approval was minus seven among men and minus six among women, the respective figures are now minus 13 and minus 28. However, Julia Gillard’s personal ratings are less good than in Newspoll. Her approval rating is 46 per cent (four points lower than Newspoll and level with Morgan’s previous figure), her disapproval 40 per cent (a point higher than Newspoll and two points lower than the last Morgan), and her lead as preferred prime minister is 51-35 (compared with 53-31 in Newspoll and 49-36 in the last Morgan).

The phone poll also asked about preferred leaders for the two major parties, and it backs up Essential Research in finding Julia Gillard performing unconvincingly relative to Kevin Rudd, whom she now leads as preferred Labor leader by just 29 per cent to 27 per cent. This compares with 31-26 last time, and 52-21 a month after she took the job. Given that Gillard’s current net approval ratings compare with minus 19 for Kevin Rudd in his last Newspoll as prime minister, it would seem his absence has made hearts grow fonder. For Tony Abbott the situation is even worse: only 20 per cent favour him as Liberal leader (down four from last time), with Malcolm Turnbull up six points to 34 per cent and Joe Hockey up one to 26 per cent. Abbott enthusiasts would point to the fact that Turnbull is particularly favoured, and Abbott particularly disfavoured, among Labor and Greens voters.