Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Coalition's vote 10% points ahead of the ALP

Newspoll has Tony Abbott back in lead as Labor splits grow
Tony Abbott
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is once again preferred PM after the latest Newspoll. Source: The Australian

Tony Abbott has again overtaken Julia Gillard as preferred prime minister as the Coalition continues to dominate a federal Labor Party distracted by leadership divisions.

Voter satisfaction with the Opposition Leader has risen in the past two weeks, with Mr Abbott's personal position the best it has been since October. The Prime Minister's standing has sunk to its lowest level since November - before the positive impact for the Gillard government of the visits of the Queen and US President Barack Obama.

The combination of Mr Abbott's rise, Ms Gillard's loss of the lead as preferred prime minister and the Labor Party's continued low primary vote will spur those arguing that Labor needs a change of leadershipAccording to the Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, Labor's primary vote went from 30 per cent to 32 per cent and the Coalition's from 45 per cent to 46 per cent after changes in support for the Coalition.

Based on preference flows at the August 2010 election, the Coalition now holds a 10-point two-party preferred lead over the ALP of 55 per cent to 45 per cent. The Coalition is sitting on its best primary vote and two-party preferred vote since November. Labor's primary vote - its best since November - and two-party support remain at levels that would mean an electoral rout if an election were held now.

Ms Gillard faced fresh questions last night about the extent of her plotting to remove Kevin Rudd as Labor leader in 2010, as her senior ministers continued to accuse the opposition of talking down the economy and not caring about job losses.But during two weeks of sustained government attacks on Mr Abbott's economic management credibility and rifts in the Coalition over industry policy and budget strategies, the Liberal leader has reversed Ms Gillard's lead over him as preferred prime minister.

Ms Gillard had held a clear lead over Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister since mid-November, after she hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the US presidential visit. But last weekend her previous lead of 40 per cent to 37 per cent was reversed, with Mr Abbott's support rising three points to 40 per cent as Ms Gillard's fell the same to 37 per cent.

Labor's poor primary vote and Mr Abbott's lead over Ms Gillard for six months of last year were the fundamental reasons given by disenchanted Labor MPs for returning to Mr Rudd as Labor leader. Ms Gillard's supporters argue that she will prevail over Mr Abbott, who is seen as too negative and obstructionist.

In the past two weeks, Mr Abbott's satisfaction level among voters rose from 32 per cent to 36 per cent. Dissatisfaction with the way Mr Abbott is doing his job as Opposition Leader fell from 55 per cent to 52 per cent. It is Mr Abbott's highest satisfaction rating since the beginning of October ,and his lowest dissatisfaction rating since September.

While more people still disapprove of Mr Abbott than approve, his satisfaction rating, the difference between the two, has dropped to minus 16.During the same period, Ms Gillard's satisfaction levels have remained little changed, with satisfaction going from 33 per cent to 32 per cent and dissatisfaction rising from 55 per cent to 57 per cent.

Ms Gillard's net satisfaction rating is now minus 25 and has been minus 20 or more since September. Mr Abbott's return to preferred prime minister over Ms Gillard comes as a separate Newspoll survey showed he has regained the lead over her as the preferred economic manager.

The Newspoll survey taken last weekend, and reported in The Australian yesterday, showed Mr Abbott in front of Ms Gillard on the economy at 43 per cent to the Prime Minister's 34 per cent.

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