Jan 14, 2014

Essential: Abbott enjoying a summer holiday in the polls

One of the first polls of 2014 has found Tony Abbott and the Coalition are doing fine with voters -- although the public certainly doesn't like the idea of a $6 fee to visit the GP.

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been keeping quiet, holidaying in France and ensuring information on asylum seekers is kept from the public -- and it has helped him in the polls. An Essential Research poll out today -- one of the first of 2014 -- shows Abbott's approval rating has improved to 47%, the highest since his election in September. Disapproval is at 43%, down three points over the last month. Abbott's approval rating is net positive, which is quite unusual for him (it was net negative in early December). He continues to struggle with female voters. On voting intention, the Coalition's primary vote is up one point to 45% since the last Essential poll a month ago. That gives a steady two-party preferred result of 51%-49% in the Coalition's favour, the same as last time. The poll is not a huge jump for the government by any means and may reflect Australians' lack of interest in politics while on summer holidays. But it shows events of the past month -- controversy over the government's withholding of information on asylum seekers, claims of a looming fee to visit the GP, a contested review of the school curriculum -- have done Abbott no harm in the public's eye. Abbott remains ahead of Labor's Bill Shorten as preferred PM on 42%-31%, which has been the situation for a couple of months now. The Essential result flies in the face of the only other poll of the year, a Roy Morgan poll out yesterday. That put the ALP ahead on the two-party preferred at 52.5%-47.5%. Roy Morgan gauged Coalition support on the primary vote as significantly lower than Essential did. Speaking to the ABC today, acting PM Warren Truss said the government did have to make unpopular decisions and "we naturally expect there will be some repercussions and flagging in public sentiment and popularity as a result of that". The Coalition might be holding up fairly well -- according to Essential, at least -- but the mooted levying of a fee to visit a GP could trip the Abbott government up. Former Abbott adviser Terry Barnes recommended the $6 fee in a submission to the government's Commission of Audit, which has a broad mandate to tell the government what to do about the budget. The government has not ruled out the idea. Essential found the public didn't like it, with 28% approving while 64% disapproved (and of the total, a whopping 41% strongly disapproved). More Coalition voters disliked than liked the plan.

It has been proposed that the federal government introduce a $6 fee for each visit to a general practitioner. Would you approve or disapprove of charging a $6 fee to visit a doctor?

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9 thoughts on “Essential: Abbott enjoying a summer holiday in the polls

  1. AR

    Any regional polls in Sandgroper land?

  2. CML

    The mood in the community would suggest that the Morgan poll is nearer the mark. I don’t know anyone who voted for Abbott who wishes they had not!

  3. klewso

    “Out of sight – out of mind”?
    Meanwhile Shorten’s been making the best of his presence?

  4. AR

    Klewy – well, Shorterm has been making the best (sic!) of his presence – by remaining invisible. Can you imagine if that vat bred apparatchik, right wing union thug (wannabe)askally came out and SPOKE? About anything, nothing, it would just nauseate & horrify anyone who hopes for a better life. Like Bumbler Beezlebomb, do you ever recall him saying anything of value to man or beast? At best he’s a seat warmer, at worst he is the leader of the Alternative Liberal Party at the next (s)election.

  5. Cathy Alexander

    CML the gap is consistent too – both polls found similar results about a month ago. So someone’s out and remains out.

    Roy Morgan’s based on SMS and face to face, Essential is online.

  6. CML

    Hi! Cathy – Guess it is hard to know what is going on at this stage. Probably need a few more months (polls), before the trend becomes obvious.
    I just noticed that at social gatherings etc., the mood is very strongly anti-Abbott, anti-his government. I’m a senior citizen, so find this very strange in the older age group.

  7. MJPC

    Is there an election anytime soon? If not, why are we continually plagued by polls, they are an irrelevance no matter what they pupport to support, such as the question about support for the Queen!

  8. sneak

    The Essential polls are way off the mark. I know Crikey have to talk them up because they’ve commissioned them, but really.. online only? They’re just not credible. Newspoll, Nielsen, and Morgan have all recorded strong swings away from the LNP, but Essential would have us believe they’re still ascendant..? No way.

  9. Cathy Alexander

    Yeah sneak – there’s certainly quite a discrepancy in these results. Pollbludger might be best placed to tell us which to listen to.

    Good point MJPC. Even when elections loom, you could argue polls are unhelpful and limiting. I always find it interesting covering politics at state elections in smaller states, where there are next to no polls. It means the media can’t dumb it down to “X ahead” or “Y falls behind this week.” Arguably a good thing.

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