The latest weekly Essential Research survey shows no change on last week, bar a one point drop in the Greens vote to 10 per cent: the Coalition is on 49 per cent of the primary vote and Labor on 32 per cent, with the Coalition’s two-party lead at 56-44. Essential also found plenty of interesting questions to ask about the Labor leadership. Respondents were asked to evaluate the performance of various actors during the challenge, with Kevin Rudd coming out least badly (33 per cent good, 35 per cent poor), “Labor Party ministers” the worst (10 per cent and 52 per cent), the media also very poorly (14 per cent and 43 per cent), Julia Gillard not well at all (23 per cent and 49 per cent) and Tony Abbott hardly better even if it might be hard to recall what he did exactly (25 per cent and 40 per cent).

Sixty-two per cent of respondents said the leadership challenge was bad for the government and 47 per cent that it has made them less likely to vote Labor (64 per cent among Coalition supporters, obviously including many who wouldn’t vote Labor in a pink fit), against 13 per cent who said it was a good thing and another 13 per cent (or perhaps the same 13 per cent) who they were more likely to vote Labor. A question on Kevin Rudd’s future produces a miraculously even three-way split with 29 per cent saying he should stay in parliament and again challenge for the leadership, 28 per cent saying he should stay in parliament and not challenge for the leadership and 30 per cent saying he should resign from parliament.

Respondents were asked to indicate whether they supported the Australian system of leaders being elected by MPs (36 per cent), American-style presidential primaries (31 per cent) and British-style election by both MPs and party members (11 per cent). Fifty-six per cent believed MPs should be guided by public opinion in leadership contests against 30 per cent by who they believed was the best person. The poll also points to a slight increase in support for an early election since the end of January, up three to 44 per cent with support for a completed term down two to 46 per cent.

We have also had Newspoll publish results from last week’s polling on the most important political issues and the best party to handle them. Such figures are invariably very closely associated with voting intention, and since this was a 53-47 poll result, it finds Labor improving considerably since the question was last asked as part of the poll of October 7-9, which was a 57-43 result. Labor has recovered big leads on its traditional strong suits of health, education, industrial relations and climate change, and closed the gap on the economy, interest rates and national security. Full tables from GhostWhoVotes.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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