Labor’s primary vote has fallen markedly, according to new polling from Essential Research, but to the benefit of the Greens rather than than the opposition. It leaves the two-party preferred on 50:50 less than a fortnight from the election.

Labor’s vote has fallen 2 points — a big shift given Essential’s fortnightly rolling average — to 38%, while the Coalition has fallen 1 point to 43%. The big mover is the Greens, up from 8% to 11%. The end result is the 2PP result hasn’t moved since last week.

The Greens have been underperforming in the polls since Bob Brown left, but a return to double-digits might yet see the Greens retaining their Senate spots and picking up an additional spot in Victoria, which would cement the party’s balance-of-power position in the upper house.

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Kevin Rudd’s approval rating has gone negative; he’s now approved of by 41% of voters compared to 45% who disapprove, a reversal of 45-43% in August. Tony Abbott’s approval has remained broadly the same (37-52%), and Rudd’s lead as preferred Prime Minister has fallen from 12 points to 9 points.

Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave (PPL) scheme is still disliked by voters: 35% of voters prefer the government’s scheme compared to 24% who prefer Abbott’s scheme. There are plenty of people who are unsure or uninterested on the issue; 41% responded with “neither” is better, or “don’t know”.

Support for the Coalition’s PPL scheme was unsurprisingly strongest among Liberal / National voters, but even there, 36% said the Coalition’s scheme was better while 19% plumped for Labor’s scheme and 35% said “neither” policy was better. Green and Labor voters preferred Labor’s scheme by a wide margin, which would present an interesting challenge to the Greens — who support a more generous scheme than Labor’s present one — if they’re called on to pass Tony Abbott’s PPL deal in the Senate, after the election.

There’s some good news for Labor on their scare campaign about the Coalition having to “cut to the bone” to pay for its election promises; 61% of respondents think it’s unlikely that Abbott would be able to pay for his promises without making more cuts after the election, while just 25% think he can do it.

*Essential Research is a part of Essential Media Communications. EM Advertising, a business wholly owned by EMC, is contracted by the ALP to provide advertising for the federal election campaign. Directors, staff and contractors working on the EM Advertising business have no involvement in the production of the Essential Report. Your Source manages Essential’s online research panel. Essential Research and Your Source are ISO accredited market research companies.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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