There’s been no post-spill bounce for Julia Gillard or Labor, according to today’s Essential Research poll; instead, the PM and the party have returned to the nadir of their fortunes in September last year.

Gillard’s net disapproval rating has gone from -17 points to -29 points, with only 32% approving of her performance and 61% disapproving. It’s her second-worst outcome as Prime Minister; in September she hit rock bottom with an approval rating of 28% and 64% disapproval.

This includes 20% of Labor voters who disapprove of her performance.

Tony Abbott’s approval figures are steady — approval up one point to 36%, disapproval down a point to 52%, meaning he is no longer more poorly regarded than the PM. He has also narrowed Gillard’s lead as preferred prime minister from seven to three points, 40% to 37%.

Labor’s vote has also continued its recent slide, losing another point to 31%, down from 34% four weeks ago, and Labor’s worst result since September. The Coalition is steady on 49% and the Greens steady on 10%, for a two-party preferred outcome of 57-43%. The leadership contest appears to have undone all the modest recovery the party has made since its carbon tax-induced woes in 2011.

The Prime Minister’s coup of unexpectedly luring Bob Carr to Canberra to take over as foreign minister divided voters, with 37% approving and 36% disapproving. The results were strongly along party lines, with Greens voters having a very high level of “don’t know” at 45%, compared to 27% overall. NSW voters were more inclined to approve of their former premier moving to federal politics, 43-37%.

There was also strong support for Wayne Swan’s argument that wealthy individuals were trying to influence public opinion in the weekly online poll of 1038 voters. But it emerges via an intriguing example of the way partisanship can shift stated views.

When the statement “some of Australia’s wealthiest individuals are using their wealth to try to influence public opinion and government policy to further their own commercial interests” was attributed to Swan, agreement was 58% versus 26% disagreement. When Swan was omitted from the statement, the figures were 60%/24%. But agreement along Labor voters fell significantly — from 78% to 67% and disagreement rose from 6% to 18%.

Conversely, disagreement among Liberal voters fell a huge amount, from 51% to 30%, while agreement rose from 36% to 55%. Greens voters strongly agreed with both statements, but a little less when it wasn’t couched as Swan’s view.  In short, voters were significantly more homogeneous in their response to the statement when it was presented without the connection to a politician.

Support for the mining tax has fallen slightly, down from 55% to 52%, with opposition up six points to 34%.

Peter Fray

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