The latest fortnightly Newspoll has the Coalition’s lead at 53-47 on two-party preferred, but this obscures a lot of movement on the primary vote: Labor down four after a curious aberration a fortnight ago to 31 per cent, the Coalition down two to 43 per cent (its lowest result in almost exactly a year), the Greens up one to 12 per cent and “others” on 14 per cent (“last that high in September 2006”, GhostWhoVotes advises). Julia Gillard has recovered a preferred prime minister lead she lost two surveys ago, now leading 39-37 after trailing 38-36 a fortnight ago, but this is very much a case of the lesser of two evils: she has recovered only two points from the slump on her approval rating in the previous poll, to now be at 28 per cent, with her disapproval also down two to 62 per cent. Tony Abbott is respectively up one to 32 per cent and up one to a new high of 58 per cent. The incurably spin-happy Australian is selling this as “Wayne Swan’s attacks on the nation’s billionaire mining magnates (having) failed to lift Labor’s electoral support”, despite the figures offering no basis of any kind for making such a claim.

Meanwhile, Essential Research advises: “Because of public holiday in Melbourne our data processing people weren’t working today so report will go out tomorrow. And it will be worth the wait.”

UPDATE: Essential Research continues to part company with the phone pollsters, with its Coalition lead out from 56-44 to 57-43. Labor is down a point on the primary vote to 31 per cent, and has dropped three points over the past four weeks, with the Coalition steady on 49 per cent (up two on four weeks ago) and the Greens steady on 10 per cent. As in Newspoll, the monthly measure of personal ratings has Julia Gillard taking a hit in the wake of the leadership spill, her approval down four points to 32 per cent and her disapproval up eight to 61 per cent. Tony Abbott’s figures are little changed at 36 per cent (up one) and 52 per cent (down one), and he has narrowed his deficit as preferred prime minister from 41-34 to 40-37. Approval of Bob Carr’s appointment to the Senate and foreign ministry is evenly divided at 37 per cent approval and 36 per cent approval, with strong disapproval (17 per cent) heavily outweighing strong approval (7 per cent) (which to my mind doesn’t reflect too well on the insight of the punters).

Other questions included an amusing experimental effort in which half the respondents were asked if they agreed with Wayne Swan that “Australia’s wealthiest individuals are using their wealth to try to influence public opinion and government policy to further their own commercial interests”, and the other half if they agreed with the statement without it being attributed to Wayne Swan. The results were extremely similar – 58 per cent agreed and 26 per cent disagreed when it was attributed to Wayne Swan, compared with 60 per cent and 24 per cent when it wasn’t – but it became so because strong partisan effects cancelled each other out, with Coalition voters especially far more inclined to reject the assertion (36 per cent agree, 51 per cent disagree) coming from Swan than when it was unattributed (55 per cent agree, 30 per cent agree). The poll also finds a decline in support for the mining tax since the question was last asked in February, with support down three points to 52 per cent and opposition up six to 34 per cent. Respondents were also asked to identify what constituted “middle income” ($60,000-$79,000 getting the highest response for individuals), “well off” and “wealthy” (with responses here very widely spread). Eighty-six per cent believed social class still existed in Australia against only 8 per cent who didn’t.