GhostWhoVotes reports the first carbon tax Newspoll has Labor receiving roughly the expected hit on voting intention, with a double dose for Julia Gillard personally. Labor’s vote has dived six points to 30 per cent, with the Coalition up four to 45 per cent and – intriguingly – the Greens up two to 15 per cent. The Coalition two-party lead of 54-46 compares with 50-50 a fortnight ago. An even bigger sting for Julia Gillard comes with a finding that Kevin Rudd leads her as best person to lead the ALP 44 per cent to 37 per cent, and a 23-point reversal in her net approval rating: approval down 11 points to 39 per cent, disapproval up 12 to 51 per cent. Funnily enough, these are exactly the same as the figures for Tony Abbott, who is respectively up one and up two. After a strong showing a fortnight ago, Gillard has lost eight points on preferred prime minister to 45 per cent and Abbott is up five to 36 per cent. For all that, a substantial 42 per cent profess themselves in favour of a price on carbon, with 53 per cent opposed – although the figures are respectively down five and up four on November. Full tables here.

UPDATE: James J points out in comments that this is Labor’s worst primary vote in Newspoll history. The previous record of 31 per cent came in August 1993, shortly after a Labor government broke a pre-election promise on tax. However, this was in an age when there was no Greens scooping up 15 per cent of the vote and feeding three-quarters of it back as preferences.

UPDATE 2: While I’m here, I’ll repost what I said about today’s Essential Research poll, which got buried a few posts back. The first Essential result taken almost entirely after the carbon tax announcement has the Coalition opening up a 53-47 lead. Considering Labor went from 51-49 ahead to 52-48 behind on the basis of last week’s polling, half of which constituted the current result, that’s slightly better than they might have feared. The Coalition is up two points on the primary vote to 47 per cent, Labor is down one to 36 per cent and the Greens are steady on 10 per cent.

Further questions on the carbon tax aren’t great for Labor, but they’re perhaps at the higher end of market expectations with 35 per cent supporting the government’s announcement and 48 per cent opposed. Fifty-nine per cent agreed the Prime Minister had broken an election promise and should have waited until after the election, while 27 per cent chose the alternative response praising her for showing strong leadership on the issue. Nonetheless, 47 per cent support action on climate change as soon as possible, against only 24 per cent who believe it can wait a few years and 19 per cent who believe action is unnecessary (a figure you should keep in mind the next time someone tries to sell you talk radio as a barometer of public opinion). There is a question on who should and shouldn’t receive compensation, but I’d doubt most respondents were able to make much of it.

Tellingly, a question on Tony Abbott’s performance shows the electorate very evenly divided: 41 per cent are ready to praise him for keeping the government accountable but 43 per cent believe he is merely obstructionist, with Labor-voting and Coalition-voting respondents representing a mirror image of each other. Twenty-seven per cent believe independents and Greens holding the balance of power has been good for Australia against 41 per cent bad, but I have my doubts about the utility of this: partisans of both side would prefer that their own party be in majority government, so it would have been good to have seen how respondents felt about minority government in comparison with majority government by the party they oppose.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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