Six weeks before an expected May 18 election, this week’s Newspoll, conducted April 4-7 from a sample of 1,800, gave Labor a 52-48 lead. That’s a two-point gain for the Coalition since the last Newspoll, conducted four weeks ago, owing to the NSW election and the budget. This Newspoll has the narrowest Labor lead since Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull.
An Ipsos poll for Nine newspapers, conducted April 3-6 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, a two-point gain for Labor since mid-February. While Ipsos was better for Labor, the February Ipsos was the infamous 51-49 after the Medevac bill passed.
Primary votes in Newspoll were 38% Coalition (up two), 37% Labor (down two), 9% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (down one). In Ipsos, primary votes were 37% Coalition (down one), 34% Labor (up one), 13% Greens (steady) and 5% One Nation (steady). Rounding probably assisted the Coalition on two party in February, and assisted Labor this time. As usual, the Greens vote in Ipsos is too high, and Labor’s too low.
Respondent allocated preferences in Ipsos were also 53-47 to Labor, and there has been no difference between respondent and previous election methods in Ipsos since Morrison replaced Turnbull. Under Turnbull, respondent preferences were usually better for the Coalition.
In Newspoll, 45% were satisfied with Morrison’s performance (up two), and 43% were dissatisfied (down two), for a net approval of +2, Morrison’s best since October. Bill Shorten’s net approval rose one point to -14, his best since January. Morrison led Shorten by 46-35 as better PM (43-36 four weeks ago).
In Ipsos, Morrison’s approval and disapproval were both down a point, to 48% and 39% respectively. Shorten’s net approval fell three points to -15. Morrison led Shorten by 46-35 as better PM (48-38 in February).
There are three questions Newspoll has asked after every budget since 1988: whether the budget was good or bad for the economy, good or bad for you personally, and whether the opposition would have delivered a better budget.
44% thought the budget good for the economy and just 18% bad; the +26 net score is the best for a budget since 2008. 34% thought they would be better off, and 19% worse off; the net +15 score is the best since 2007. In better news for Labor, by 45-37 voters thought Labor would not have delivered a better budget; this -8 score is the third best for Labor under a Coalition government, just one point less than in 2014 and 2018.
Read more: Infographic: Budget 2019 at a glance
In Ipsos, by 41-29 voters thought the budget was fair, the +12 net is the best since 2015. 38% thought they would be better off and 24% worse off, the +14 net is the same as in 2018. By 42-25, voters thought Labor had better policies on climate change than the Coalition.
The 2018 budget was also well received, and the Coalition had its best polling of the current term during the period surrounding that budget. Six of the eight Newspolls conducted from late April 2018 to August gave Labor just a 51-49 lead, before the Coalition crashed to a 56-44 deficit after Turnbull’s ousting.
While last week appealed to the Coalition’s perceived strength on overall economic management, wage growth and climate change, which are perceived as weaknesses for the Coalition, are likely to be important during the election campaign. Attacks on Labor’s economic policies, such as their plan to abolish franking credit cash refunds, give the Coalition its best chance to win.
After revelations that One Nation solicited donations from the US National Rifle Association, some would have expected their vote to crash, but it has held up well.
In economic news, on March 21 the ABS announced that 4,600 jobs were added in February, well down from the over 39,000 added in January. While the unemployment rate decreased 0.1% to 4.9%, this was a result of lower workforce participation.
Essential: 52-48 to Labor
This week’s Essential poll, conducted April 4-7 from a sample of 1,069, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, unchanged from last fortnight. Primary votes were 38% Coalition (down one), 35% Labor (down one), 11% Greens (up one) and 5% One Nation (down two). Essential has tended to be worse for Labor than Newspoll since Morrison became PM.
By 51-27, voters approved of the budget; the +24 net is higher than the +16 net in 2018 or +8 net in 2017. Over 75% agreed with the infrastructure spending program and tax rebates for workers earning up to $90,000. By 26-20, voters thought the budget was good for them personally, a reversal from last fortnight’s pre-budget poll, when voters thought the budget would be bad for them personally by 34-19.
The Coalition was trusted over Labor to manage the economy overall by 44-29, but Labor was ahead by 45-31 on managing the economy in the interests of working people.
I wrote on my personal website about last fortnight’s Essential poll that gave Labor a 52-48 lead. Questions about views of world leaders had Theresa May’s ratings tanking since these questions were last asked in July 2018.
In pre-budget polling, a YouGov Galaxy poll for the News Ltd tabloids gave Labor a 53-47 lead. State breakdowns of primary votes suggested that the NSW election defeat had an impact on federal Labor’s NSW vote.
NSW election upper house late counting
With 68% of enrolled voters in the NSW upper house check counted, the Coalition has 7.9 quotas, Labor 6.5, the Greens 2.1, One Nation 1.5, the Shooters 1.1, the Christian Democrats 0.5, the Liberal Democrats 0.5, Keep Sydney Open 0.4 and Animal Justice 0.4.
Out of the 21 seats up for election, eight Coalition, six Labor, two Greens, one One Nation and one Shooter are certain to win. By also using the now complete initial count, analyst Kevin Bonham currently thinks two seats will go to Labor and One Nation, and the final seat is in doubt between the Liberal Democrats, Christian Democrats, Keep Sydney Open and Animal Justice.
European leaders’ summit on April 10 to decide on Brexit
On April 12, the UK is currently scheduled to leave the European Union, with or without a deal. With no deal likely by then, an April 10 European leaders’ summit will decide whether to grant the UK a long extension to Brexit.
Authors: Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne