Most voters believe Julia Gillard will lose the prime ministership within 12 months, with new polling recording more disapproval and predictions of doom for the Labor government.

The Essential Research weekly online poll of 1896 voters also found little praise for Labor over its handling of the economy, with few voters giving the Gillard government credit for Australia’s relative economic health.

Labor did manage to claw back a point in the two-party preferred stakes, closing the gap to the Liberal/National opposition to eight points — 46-54%. Labor’s primary vote jumped a point to 35%, with the Coalition down to 47% — still a 12-point lead over the government.

But most voters predict another bad year for Labor — and for Gillard to be gone by the end of 2011. Asked if the Prime Minister would still be leading the government in 12 months, 55% said she would be sacked while just 26% believed she would hold on. Labor voters are more hopeful: among those, more (49%) believed she would survive over getting knifed (31%).

A majority of voters — 41% — believe Abbott will remain the opposition leader for another year. Still, proving the volatility of the political climate, a large number of voters — 34% — still doubt whether he can survive as Liberal leader.

And the opposition benches will ride high in the polls for another year, according to Essential, with 35% of voters believing 2012 will bring good tidings to Abbott’s team over the 22% who believe the Greens will have the best year and just 19% who say Labor will succeed.

Still, the personal standings of the leaders are more evenly split: 29% say Abbott will have a good year; 28% say Gillard. The prime minister does score highest in the “poor year” category.

Asked whether they expected a federal election in 2012, a narrow majority (42%) believe the government will survive another year rather than face a new poll (32%).

Most Australians accept the local economy is strong — the vast majority (73%) believe local money markets are doing better than other developed countries. But Labor gets little credit, with most voters saying the booming resources sector and even the previous economic management of John Howard’s government is more responsible than Labor policy.

Voters are generally positive about the year ahead, believing the domestic economy (48% good; 16% poor), their personal finances (39%; 20%), their family overall (51%; 14%) and their workplace (47%; 16%) will improve in 2012.

Peter Fray

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