The latest monthly Nielsen result backs up Newspoll’s 57-43 result from last week, out from 53-47 when Nielsen last polled in the days preceding the leadership challenge. At 27% for Labor (down a dizzying seven points on the previous poll) and 47% for the Coalition (up three), the primary vote results are likewise all but identical to Newspoll’s (28% and 47%). Tony Abbott has widened his preferred prime minister lead from 47-46 to 48-44, while Joe Hockey is found to lead Wayne Swan 45-43 as preferred treasurer. The results of this poll support Newspoll and to a lesser extent Morgan in showing a further blowout in the Coalition lead in the wake of the leadership challenge: the only holdout so far as Essential Research, which shall as usual report tomorrow.

UPDATE: Full tables from GhostWhoVotes. Nielsen also shows Julia Gillard’s approval rating unchanged last time at 36 per cent approval (steady) and 59 per cent disapproval (down one) – a substantially higher approval rating than from Newspoll, though this is partly as a result of the unusual fact that Nielsen produces lower undecided ratings on these questions. Tony Abbott is respectively down two to a new low of 39 per cent and steady on 56 per cent. Also:

• State breakdowns suggest an upheaval of biblical dimensions has driven the northern and southern states apart: compared with last month’s two-party preferred figures, Labor is down ten points in Queensland and eight in New South Wales (and by five points in Western Australia besides), but is up by four in both Victoria (where Labor holds a 51-49 lead) and South Australia. This is a correction – probably an over-correction – from the previous result in which Labor occupied a narrow band from 44 per cent and 49 per cent across the five states, implausibly scoring weaker in Victoria than New South Wales and South Australia than Queensland. It should be remembered that all of these state sub-samples are modest, and that the margin of error approaches double figures in the smaller states.

• There are also some diverting results from the gender and city/rural breakdowns, which being binary offer bigger samples and margins of error of about 3.5 per cent. The gender gap, as measured by the differential in the two major parties’ net primary votes, has blown out from one point to 12. Labor is down nine points on the primary vote among men to 24 per cent, and the Coalition is up six to 50 per cent.

• Labor is also down nine points, and the Coalition up seven, among rural voters.

• The government’s policy (I’m not sure if it was identified to respondents as such) of using the mining tax to fund a 1% cut to company tax is supported by 53% and opposed by 33%.

• Only 5% per cent believe they will be better off with the carbon price and its attendant compensation, against 52% who believe they will be worse off.

• Support for the carbon tax is at 36% against 60% opposed, which is respectively down one and up one since Nielsen last posed the question in October.

• The Coalition is favoured to handle the economy by 57% against 36% for Labor.

UPDATE 2: Essential Research reports that after Labor’s recovery from 56-44 to 54-46 last week, the Coalition has gained a point to lead 55-45. On the primary vote, the Coalition is up a point to 48 per cent and Labor down one to 33 per cent. A semi-regular question on leaders’ attributes finds views of Julia Gillard have soured further since June last year, by double figures in the case of “intelligent” and “hard-working”, with Tony Abbott also going backwards by lesser degree (Gillard is rated slightly more intelligent and Abbott slightly more hard working, and Gillard is 11% higher on “out of touch with ordinary people”). There are also questions on the proposed increase in superannuation payments from 9% to 12% (69% supporting and 13% opposed, perfectly unchanged since May last year), size and role of government (44% believe it presently too large against 28% too small, but 67% maintain government has a role to “protect ordniary Australians from unfair policies and practices on the part of large financial and/or industrial groups” against 20% who sign on for a laissez-faire view of the role of the state) and the appopriate responses for police when faced with various situations. On the latter count, 10% of respondents believe persons under the influence of alcohol should be shot.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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