The Australian has managed to keep its Newspoll result under wraps until publication, possibly because the highly unexpected result was being quintuple-checked to ensure nothing had gone amiss. The surprise is a big rebound for Labor after a string of poor shows, their primary vote up from an all-time low of 30 per cent to an almost respectable 36 per cent, and the 54-46 deficit recorded in the wake of the carbon tax announcement reversed to a 51-49 surplus (one wonders what metaphor Laurie Oakes might be able to employ this week). Labor has taken a chunk out of both the Coalition, down five points to 40 per cent, and the Greens, down three to 12 per cent (it seems the two-point post-carbon tax rise they recorded a fortnight ago was peculiar to that poll).

Newspoll seems to have hit upon a particularly bad sample for Tony Abbott, whose approval is down six to 33 per cent and disapproval up three to 54 per cent. However, this has not transferred into a huge improvement for Julia Gillard, who after a shocking result last week is up a point on approval to 40 per cent and down four on disapproval to 47 per cent. On preferred prime minister however she is almost back to where she was a month ago: over the past three polls it has progressed from 53-31 to 45-36 to 50-31.

While the figures are hard to believe at face value, this isn’t the first evidence to suggest that Labor has actually recovered slightly since the polls fell in behind 54-46 after the carbon tax announcement. The Morgan phone poll published on Friday, albeit that it came from a small sample, had the Coalition lead at just 51-49, and we have since seen the rolling fortnightly Essential Research track a point in Labor’s direction.

This post began life with a headline announcing the 53-47 to Coalition result in Essential Research, which I ran with as it appeared we wouldn’t be getting a Newspoll. It read thus:

Essential has the Coalition lead down from 54-46 to 53-47, with Labor’s primary vote up a point to 36 per cent and the Coalition down one to 46 per cent. Tony Abbott has been thrown a curve ball with a question on where the Coalition stood on climate change: 33 per cent believed it opposed any action, 36 per cent believed it supported action and 29 per cent didn’t know. Opinion on the effectiveness of the carbon tax is evenly divided: 43 per cent believe it will make big polluters reduce emissions, 42 per cent believe it will not; 41 per cent believe it will increase investment in renewable energy, 38 per cent believe it will not. While 79 per cent believe a carbon tax will increase the price of electricity, 78 per cent expect it will increase anyway (though presumably not by as much).

The poll also records a slump in support for nuclear power, to 35 per cent from 43 per cent late last year, with opposition up from 37 per cent to 53 per cent – and strong opposition up from 16 per cent to 32 per cent. The level of support for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan is now up to 56 per cent from 47 per cent in October, a steady 30 per cent support the commitment at the current level, and only 5 per cent (down from 10 per cent) believe it should be increased.