It’s clear that the evenly matched polling that followed the return of Kevin Rudd, which was starting to look alarmingly sticky from a Coalition perspective, has unpeeled over the past fortnight.

Close observation suggests this has not entirely been a phenomenon of the election campaign, as the Coalition had already pulled ahead over the weekend of the election date announcement, which came on the Sunday, after much of the polling had already been conducted. Aggregating the polling over the period has the Coalition already a shade over 51% on two-party preferred, to which it added perhaps a little under 1% over the first week of the campaign.

The Greens seem to have made a negligible dividend out of the government’s harder line, their vote being stuck in the 8% to 9% range on BludgerTrack since the beginning of June.

Interactive version of the BludgerTracker at the Crikey election site

Looking at the progress of state breakdowns over that time, the outstanding change is a 4% swing away from Labor in all-important Queensland, consistent with the notion of a “sugar hit” that got added impetus from a home-state feel-good factor, which is now fading across the board. After showing as many as six gains for Labor in Queensland in the weeks after Rudd’s return, Labor’s yield on the BludgerTrack projection is now at zero, and briefly fell into the negative.

So it’s not hard to imagine that Labor strategy meetings last week might have been spent contemplating ways to hold back the Queensland tide and easy to understand why the name of Peter Beattie might have come up. The most recent data points suggest this may indeed have improved Labor’s position by as much as 3%, but it will be a bit longer before this shows up on BludgerTrack, if indeed it doesn’t prove illusory.

A Newspoll result on the best party to handle asylum seekers has been the most interesting item of attitudinal polling to emerge over the past week, since a point of comparison is available from a few weeks ago rather than the pre-history of the Gillard era. Whereas the Coalition fell on this measure from from 47% to 33% after the government announced its Papua New Guinea solution, the latest poll has it back up to 42%.

Labor has nonetheless maintained its gain from the previous poll, having progressed from 20% to 26% to 27%, with the slack coming from “another party” and “don’t know”. Even so, the re-establishment of a solid double-digit lead to the Coalition is interesting, and a challenge to the notion that the recent poll move away from Labor has entirely been down to a “fading sugar hit”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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