GhostWhoVotes reports Newspoll has strayed from the pack with its latest fornightly federal poll result, with the Coalition holding a relatively moderate lead of 55-45 on two-party preferred compared with 59-41 last time. The primary votes are 30% for Labor (up three), 45% for the Coalition (down six) and 12% for the Greens (up one). In contrast to voting intention, the leaders’ ratings are essentially unchanged: Julia Gillard is on 27% approval (down one) and 63% disapproval (steady), and Tony Abbott is on 34% (up one) and 56% (up one). Results for reaction to the budget presumably to follow shortly.

UPDATE: The regular annual Newspoll budget questions have 18% saying it will make them better off and 41% worse off (compared with 11% and 41% last year); 37% saying the Coalition would have done a better job and 42% saying they wouldn’t have (38% and 41% last year); and 37% rating it good for the economy and 37% bad (37% and 32% last year). Newspoll has been asking these questions after each budget since the 1980s, with mean results over that time of 17.2% better off and 34.9% worse off; 29.8% opposition-better and 47.4% opposition-not-better; 42.3% good for the economy and 27.6% bad. With respect to “will the budget leave you better or worse off”, the five most positive results ever recorded (with some distance between fifth from sixth) occurred consecutively from 2004 to 2008. Outside of this golden age, the mean results have been 13.5% better off and 37.9% worse off.

Today’s Essential Research had the two-party preferred at 57-43, down from 58-42 last week, from primary votes of 50% for the Coalition (steady), 30% for Labor (up one) and 11% for the Greens (steady). Also featured were Essential’s monthly personal ratings, which welittle changed on April (contra Nielsen, Tony Abbott’s net rating has actually deteriorated from minus 12 to minus 17), and responses to the budget. The most interesting of the latter questions is on the impact of the budget on you personally, working people, businesses and the economy overall, for which the respective net ratings are minus 11, plus 7, minus 33 and minus 6. All of the eight specific features of the budget canvassed produced net positive ratings, from plus 5 for reduced defence spending to plus 79 for increased spending on dental health. There was a statistical tie (34% to 33%) on the question of whether Wayne Swan or Joe Hockey was most trusted to handle the economy.

Seat of the week: Banks

A little over a week ago I promised that my Friday posts would henceforth profile a significant federal electorate, but I was diverted on Friday by the onslaught of budget polling. Today I make good the omission with an overview of the southern Sydney electorate of Banks.

Located on the outer edge of Labor’s inner Sydney heartland, Banks has been held by Labor at all times since its creation in 1949, but over the past few decades the margin has fallen below 2% on three occasions: with the defeat of the Keating government in 1996, when Mark Latham led Labor to defeat in 2004, and – most ominously for Labor – in 2010, when a sharp swing against Labor in Sydney left intact only 1.5% of a 10.4% margin (adjusted for redistribution) from the 2007 election.

Labor’s strength in the electorate is in the suburbs nearer the city in the electorate’s north, from Hurstville through Riverwood to Padstow, which is balanced by strong Liberal support in the waterside suburbs along the Georges River which forms the electorate’s southern boundary, from Blakehurst westwards through Oatley to Padstow Heights. As a knock-on effect from the abolition of Lowe, the redistribution before the 2010 election shifted the electorate substantially eastwards, exchanging areas around Bankstown for the Blakehurst and Hurstville Grove area (from Barton) and Hurstville (from Watson), which cut 1.4% from the Labor margin.

Labor’s member since 1990 has been Daryl Melham, a former barrister and member of the Left faction. Melham rose to the shadow ministry in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs portfolio after the 1996 election defeat, but quit in August 2000 in protest against his party’s decision not to oppose Queensland’s contentious native title laws. He returned after the 2001 election, but voluntarily went to the back bench after the 2004 election saying he preferred to focus on committee work. Since the current government came to power he has served as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

The Liberal candidate at the next election will be David Coleman, director of strategy and digital for Nine Entertainment, whom The Australian’s Media Diary describes as a factional moderate and “one of David Gyngell’s closest lieutenants”. Coleman won a local preselection ballot in March with 60 votes against 33 for the candidate from 2010, Ron Delezio, a businessman who came to public attention after his daughter Sophie received horrific injuries in separate accidents in 2003 and 2006.