Voters think no one has handled the Craig Thomson affair well, including the media, new polling from Essential Research finds.

Fifty nine per cent of voters knew some or a lot about the affair, and 66% think it is “very important” or “quite important”, indicating its status as one of those political events to which otherwise disengaged voters “tune in”. Liberal voters were much more likely to regard the affair as “very important” than either Labor or Greens voters. But 43% thought there had been too much coverage of the saga, compared to 35% who thought it was about right, this time with Labor and Greens voters more likely to think there had been too much coverage.

As for handling of the issue, 56% believed Thomson himself had performed poorly, and 49% thought the Prime Minister and the government had performed poorly. Forty per cent thought Tony Abbott and the Liberals had performed poorly (19% thought they had performed well). Thirty seven per cent thought the media had performed poorly compared to 20% who thought it had performed well.

And in a result to give pause to advocates of economic reform everywhere, Essential also asked about who had been the main beneficiaries of economic reform over the past 30 years. The result was surprisingly uniform across party lines. Five per cent of voters thought ordinary Australians had benefited most, but 54% thought corporations had benefited through higher profits and less regulation, with only 20% saying both had benefited equally.

There were, however, differences between demographics: younger voters were less likely to believe corporations had been the main beneficiaries, with 45% of 18-34-year-olds saying corporations, compared to 57% of 35-54-year-olds and 60% of people over 55. Lower-income voters were also more likely to identify corporations as the primary beneficiaries.

On voting intention, there’s been only small shifts in primary vote levels, with the numbers remaining the same: 50% for the Coalition and 33% for Labor, with the Greens remaining at 11%. Due to rounding, the 2PP outcome shifts back to 56-44%. Essential’s sample was 1856.

Peter Fray

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