Julia Gillard’s personal approval ratings have slumped further, according to new polling from Essential Research, but Tony Abbott has accompanied her into the lower depths of unpopularity.

The Prime Minister’s approval ratings have worsened slightly since April, with an approval rating of 31% (down one) and disapproval up two to 60%. Her net disapproval rating, 29%, is her equal worst result since September.

Abbott’s rating fell by more: his approval is down two to 36% and disapproval up three to 53% since April. Gillard still leads Abbott as preferred PM, but only by the barest of margins: 38-37%.

Last week’s budget generally rated poorly with voters. Seventeen per cent thought it would be good for them personally, compared to 26% who thought it would be bad for them — although that was better than the 2011 result of 11-29%. More people thought it would be good for working people — 31-24% — (which was Labor’s primary aim) but only 10% thought it would be good for Australian business, compared to 20% last year.

For the economy overall, 26% thought it would be good, compared to 32% who thought it would be bad, a slightly worse result than 2011.

Curiously, though, most of the salient features of the budget drew strong support. Reduced defence spending only garnered 48-43% approval but dental health spending was a big hit, earning 87% approval; the education refund was supported 60-33%, increasing superannuation taxes on higher income earners 60-31%, and even the controversial tightening of eligibility for assistance for single mothers did well, 65-25%.

And despite previous ambivalence about the return to surplus on the part of voters, that also earned strong approval: 61-26%.

Wayne Swan has the barest of leads over Joe Hockey as economic manager, 34-33%, although given Labor’s generally poor reputation with voters, this might be accounted something of a win for Swan.

On voting intention, little relief for Labor after last week’s catastrophic numbers — it gained a single point on its primary vote to move back to 30%. The Coalition remains on 50% and the Greens on 11%; the 2PP outcome is 57-43, down slightly from last week.

Peter Fray

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