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Nov 12, 2012

Essential: Gillard pulls clear of a troubled Abbott

Tony Abbott is struggling with voters, and particularly female voters, according to new polling from Essential Research. And voters like Gonski's recommendations on education.

Julia Gillard has pushed further ahead of Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister and the Opposition Leader has plumbed new depths of disapproval with voters, new polling from Essential Research shows.

In Essential’s monthly leadership approval questions, the Prime Minister has further narrowed her net disapproval gap, with her approval rating remaining at 41% and her disapproval rating falling two points to 49%. That Gillard is now into a single-figure net disapproval rating is a remarkable turnaround even from September, when it was nearly 20 points, let alone March, when it was nearly 30 points.

Abbott, however, has gone further backwards. His approval rating is down four points to 33% and his disapproval rating is up four points to 58%, giving him his worst ever net disapproval rating of 25 points. That’s still well shy of Gillard’s worst performance, however — at one stage she reached -36 points — which suggests he can still retrieve the situation with voters.

The Prime Minister’s lead over Abbott as preferred PM has also increased to 13 points, 45-32%, indicating she has decisively broken the long deadlock between the two leaders that saw them swapping small leads on that question for most of the last 18 months. Her lead is the biggest since February 2011, before the government’s carbon price commitment sent them plunging in the polls.

What appears to have happened is that much of the visceral dislike of Ms Gillard has vanished. At times the Prime Minister had well over 30% of all voters saying they “strongly disapproved” of her. That figure is now down to 24%, while simple “disapproval” hasn’t shifted anywhere near as much, and “approval” has steadily crept up.

And while Gillard continues to perform better with women — who are evenly split on her performance — than with men (net disapproval of -16), Tony Abbott has a huge problem with female voters. Both men and women don’t like Abbott’s performance, but this month his net disapproval among women blew out from -19 to -30. Gillard also now leads as preferred PM among both men and women, although among women she leads by a huge 21 points.

Gillard’s improved performance seems to be narrowing the gap between the parties, but only slowly. Labor’s primary vote remained at 37%, but the Coalition’s vote fell a point to 45%, on top of last week’s 2 point fall. With the Greens remaining steady on 9%, the 2PP outcome is now 52-48%.

Voters also indicated they saw the Gonski recommendations about increased schools funding as the most important reform currently before the government, with 31% nominating it as the most important, ahead of aged care resourcing (29%). The NDIS was nominated as most important only by 16%, with the Murray-Darling on 12%.

Asked to nominate preferred spending cuts to pay for reforms, slashing the Baby Bonus was by far the most popular option, with 53% of voters saying they favoured reducing the Baby Bonus to $2000 or eliminate it for people earning over $75,000. I

nterestingly, for all the claims of “class war” from the Opposition and the media, the support was almost exactly the same across Labor, Liberal and Greens voters. There was similar strong support for higher taxes on high income earners as the best method of increasing government revenue, with 46% nominating lifting taxes on high incomes, although Liberal voters (40%) were somewhat less likely to back that than Labor or Greens voters; 27% preferred no additional revenue measures at all.

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60 thoughts on “Essential: Gillard pulls clear of a troubled Abbott

  1. Jimmy

    “Abbott, however, has gone further backwards. His approval rating is down four points to 33% and his disapproval rating is up four points to 58%, giving him his worst ever net disapproval rating of 25 points. That’s still well shy of Gillard’s worst performance, however — at one stage she reached -36 points — which suggests he can still retrieve the situation with voters.”

    While this statement is true, there is still plenty of time, you have to look at what has trigger3ed Gillards turn around and ask does Abbott have the capacity to do it.

    Firstly Abbott’s attacks on the Carbon Tax have been shown to be false, the automatically makes Gillard more trustworthy and makes here appear as though she knows what is going on while making Abbott look a fool who doesn’t know how the economy works.

    Secondly Gillard has been able to shift the focus on to voter friendly policies like the NDIS & Gonski, Abbott’s massive blackhole prevents him from being able to fully back these commitments (or make any other big promises) and his big spending policy to woo women (paid parental Leave) is seen for what it is, an overly generous bribe.

    Third Gillard has the power of incumbency which has allowed her to strut the world stage and take the glory of winning a seat on the UN security council, while Abbott blew his chance with SBY and overplayed his hand with the UN seat.

    Third Gillard is starting to get grudging respect for they way she has persevered through the constant attacks from News Ltd, the shock jocks and Abbott himself, while Abbott has only shown himself to be a negative attack dog, great at tearing things down but no vision other than getting elected.

    In short unless Abbott can quickly and dramatically re-cast himself and start outlined his policies and how he will pay for them he will have les time than it appears.

  2. Jenny Haines

    It is an interesting commentary on Australian politics that once the issue of the outrageous sexism against Gillard has been addressed and Tony Abbott starts to stumble because he has run out of ideas and strategies (that’s all folks, that’s all he has got!) that the polls start to turn around. Meanwhile asylum seekers are baking in the Nauru sun while on hunger strike. One of them at least is about to die.

  3. gerard

    That’s good news and gladdens my heart. It was always beyond belief how Abbott with his total lack of humor and therefore vision could ever be considered an alternative PM.
    A man so clad in staid opinions and Lycra with that whiff of misogyny wherever he managed to stagger to. We don’t really want someone filleting fish or pulling tomatoes around.

  4. Neuromantic

    I wonder what the impact of the St Johns College situation might be on Abbott’s popularity?

    We’ve seen yet another horror smash at the intersection of privilege and education – can Abbott or Hockey drag out the “class warfare” line with any credibility whatsoever now?

    Especially given their own upper-crust bullyboy “traditions” they were forced to address and the sniggering, 100% fake outrage from Abbott in particular, I think they should drop their Everyman act, it’s moved on from ridiculously see-through to just plain offensive now.

  5. Harry Rogers

    Stage one I hope is that the Libs find a new leader. Stage two is I hope ditto for Labor.

  6. Jimmy

    Neuromantic – “I wonder what the impact of the St Johns College situation might be on Abbott’s popularity?” Absolutely nothing, that is a bloody long bow you are trying to draw there.

  7. fredex

    There is a lot of interesting stuff in this ER.

    The COALition continues to go backwards -slowly- whilst its current leader continues downhill – rapidly.
    His disapproval rating is so bad that more than a quarter of COAL voters disapprove of him.

    The question on which of 4 recent govt programmes [disability insurance ,extra school funding,ncreased
    resources for aged care, returning water to the Murray]
    is preferred as #1 is interesting.
    Firstly, it contrasts sharply with the lack of policy offered by the COALition and probably illustrates a major reason for the continuing swing to they govt – when it comes to policy and programme they are seen as positive [thats probably why the MSM prefer to comment on personality issues].
    Even if, or when, the COALition change leaders, the paucity of their rhetoric and lack of policies will bedevil the new leader.
    Secondly I’d have a hard time choosing between them, the 4 policies that is, and would like to see all 4.
    Perhaps a multiple option question from ER may have been more informative in this case.

  8. eric

    Looks like Julia has been right all along.

    The she predicted the LNP lead in the polls would slowly disappear as people woke up to and got sick and tired of Abbott lies and his negative mantras.

    Another year of phoney Tony frothing at the mouth should make for a very interesting election.

  9. Anne Cooper

    And soon to come – Abbott’s close relationship to George Pell (who has his own history) and the Catholic church, the Barbara Ramjan’s defamation case and of course Abbott’s links to St Johns College. Surely fatal.

  10. CliffG

    Goodbye Abbott. Good riddance! Maybe you could take up boxing or street-gang fighting!
    Or work for Cardinal Pell. He’s going to need help once an inquiry is established.

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