Federal Politics

EXCLUSIVE

Fairfax-Ipsos poll: Coalition support holds up at 53-47 as Malcolm Turnbull slides

Australians are sticking with the Coalition, despite many cooling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's performance, as Labor's plans to lift taxes on superannuation and investment properties cause concerns with voters. 

Turnbull slips but coalition well ahead

Malcolm Turnbull's soaring popularity is coming down but the coalition is well ahead in the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll. Analysis with Mark Kenny.

The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll, conducted over the weekend, has found support for the Coalition is stronger in March than it was in February, when talk of a hike in the GST and ministerial resignations forced a reshuffle, hammering the government's standing.

At 53 per cent after preferences - as allocated by voters at the last election - support for the Turnbull government is now hovering around the same level achieved by Tony Abbott at the September 2013 election, where he secured 53.5 per cent, compared with Labor on 46.5. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's approval rating has taken a hit.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's approval rating has taken a hit. Photo: Andrew Meares

Labor's two-party-preferred vote stands at 47 per cent, dragged lower by a disastrously low primary support at less than a third of voters on 31 per cent - down one point in a month and 4 points lower than its long-term average of 35 since losing office.

The Coalition's primary vote stands at 45 per cent, while the Greens remain the first choice of 14 per cent of respondents.

But the rebounding support for the Turnbull government is not matched by an upward trend in the Prime Minister's personal standing. Mr Turnbull, who is facing widespread criticism for keeping tax reform policies, and the timing of both the budget and the election a secret from voters as the government determines its election strategy, lost more shine since February with a significant 15-point deterioration in his net approval rating.

That was made up of a 7 point drop to 55 per cent in his approval rating and an 8 point rise in his disapproval rating since February to give him a net rating of plus-23. Last month, it was plus-28. In October, Mr Turnbull's net satisfaction rating was plus-51.

Bill Shorten's personal numbers continued to improve - albeit off a very low base - with his approval rating up three points to 33 per cent and his disapproval down 3 points to 52 per cent for a net rating of minus-19.

On the head-to-head question of who would make the better prime minister, Mr Turnbull continues to lead easily at 61-22, but even that represents a 6 point closing of the gap by Mr Shorten.

While Mr Shorten may be encouraged by his progress, his party can take less comfort from the public's less than enthusiastic reaction to his tax reform policies, and to the broader view voters have on the economic competence of the respective parties.

Just one in four voters think Labor is the better economic manager, despite the budget deficit worsening since the Coalition promised to balance the books within its first term of office.

Forty-three per cent of respondents think the Coalition's policies are better suited to the economic needs of the country - a drop of seven points for the ALP on this index since last polled in April last year, and up 2 per centage points for the Coalition in that time.

The statistically weighted nationwide phone survey was taken between March 10-12 from the responses of 1402 voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 per cent.

Its findings, based on the flow of second preferences at the last election, show a swing away from the Coalition of just 0.5 per cent. Asked directly who would get their second preference now, support was even higher than in September 2013, registering a small swing of 0.5 per cent towards the Coalition.

The survey suggests the ALP vote is now being adversely affected by Mr Shorten's plans to reduce generous superannuation tax breaks for the wealthy, and to limit the scope of negative gearing tax breaks on investment properties  by restricting it to new investment housing exclusively, and halving the capital gains tax concession on them.

Unsurprisingly, these policies tend to be the least popular with those likely to be most directly disadvantaged such as those with incomes above $100,000 per annum.

Forty per cent of voters said they opposed Labor's plans on superannuation and 42 per cent said the same about negative gearing changes.

The numbers for support were 35 and 34 per cent respectively.

On cutting high-end superannuation tax breaks, there was almost no difference between Labor and conservative voters with 35 per cent support for each group, although Greens supports backed the change more decisively at the rate of 43 per cent.

But 41 per cent of Coalition voters and 40 per cent of Labor voters did not approve of the change.

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