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PM wobbly but Abbott not much steadier

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Has Labor's comeback run its course?

Since mid-year the opinion polls have told a consistent story, federal Labor's comeback, but new poll numbers today show the Coalition steadying.

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COMMENT

Has Julia Gillard's comeback stalled and is Tony Abbott capable of raising his own standing from the basement?

The dual challenge facing Abbott is to be more positive, on the one hand, and to be far more disciplined, on the other. 

These are the awkward questions for both sides of politics raised by the latest Fairfax/Nielsen poll.

The Prime Minister has consolidated the recovery in her own approval ratings, but Labor's primary vote has not budged for three months and remains stubbornly in losing territory, at 34 per cent.

While the Coalition continues to be in a winning position, the Liberal leader's standing has sunk to a new record low, with an approval rating (where disapproval is subtracted from approval) of minus 24 per cent.

Gillard was in this territory for five consecutive polls before engineering a steady recovery after the carbon tax's introduction in July - a recovery that accelerated after the speech that began with the words: ''I will not be lectured by this man.''

Her position remains fragile and will be determined by how she is seen to manage the multiple policy challenges in the months ahead, the biggest being finding the money to pay for big-spending priorities and still bring the budget back to surplus.

Abbott's predicament is more complicated. His ratings confirm a very serious popularity problem, especially with women, yet the Coalition's primary vote lead is emphatic.

While Gillard now has a 2 percentage-point edge as preferred prime minister with male voters, the gap is 16 percentage points when it comes to women voters.

Moreover, Abbott's approval rating is minus 16 among men and a staggering minus 32 among women.

The question for Coalition strategists to ponder is if Abbott's unpopularity is dragging down the primary vote. One way to find the answer is to look at his preferred prime minister rating (42 per cent) and the Coalition's primary vote (45 per cent). The three-point deficit suggests this should not be a cause for alarm - yet.

The dual challenge facing Abbott is to be more positive, on the one hand, and to be far more disciplined, on the other.

Indigenous affairs is one of his strong suits, yet he let himself down last week with his loose language comparing urban Aborigines with ''authentic'' representatives of indigenous culture.

The imperative for both the government and the opposition is to finish off the year on a high, so their troops go into the election year with confidence.

This should make for an absorbing contest next week when they face off in Parliament for the last time before the Christmas break.

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123 comments

  • Abbott is laughing regardless of all the negative spin the left leaning media try to emphasis. The idea Gillard is ending the year on a high note is laughable. Labor will be annihilated and every thinking person knows it. Just wait until early next year when Labor's economic policies completely kill the economy.

    Commenter
    Brisbane Bear
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    November 19, 2012, 7:33AM
    • The policies in all 3 eastern States are just starting to bite and by the time the electorate has digested them there won't be a cracker for Abbott to chew on come federal election time.

      Gonna be some hungry "Bears" come election time.

      Commenter
      J. Fraser
      Location
      Queensland
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 8:16AM
    • Yes, BB, because after 5 years of labour, with low unemployment, low interest rates, inflation contained, growth at trend, the 'triple triple' (AAA credit rating from the 3 agencies at the same time - never achieved under Howard/Costello), a 'miracle' economy by world standards, 20 years of uninterrupted growth, international acclaim - FINALLY next year will be the time when Labor policies finally kill our economy. Dream On.
      You need to separate FACT from DESIRE or you will go the same way as Fox News in the week after the US election.

      Commenter
      PartialPressure
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 8:18AM
    • Sorry Humphrey, but abbot is unelectible in his own right,
      add to that his net negative approval rating, especially among women, and he is a goner.
      He is also trying to get as much distance between himself and "maybe I saw him" pell lest
      more opprobrium be heaped upon him .

      Commenter
      nkelly
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 8:27AM
    • I would hazard that "thinking people" actually consider the subtleties of the situation, which is quite fluid, and conclude that the race is tighter than you suggest. 'Emphasis' is a noun. 'Emphasise' is a verb.

      Commenter
      Rich
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 8:32AM
    • I'm one of those who've stopped listening to Abbott, and the polling indicates that's why we haven't seen or heard of him lately.

      The faceless men of the Liberal Party have clearly warned him he's becoming our version of Mitt Romney.

      His associations have made me wary of him - Cardinell Pell, St Johns college at the Uni of Sydney, his close friendship and support of Alan Jones, and his warped attempt to show that he's women-friendly. If he came out in support of family planning, and put it in writing, that would be a start. But he has a long way to go before he earns my respect.

      As far as Gillard goes, I'm no great fan.

      Anyone But Abbott ....

      Commenter
      Jim
      Location
      South Yarra
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 8:39AM
    • I remember when little Johnny Howard was seen as unelectable and look where he ended up. Abbott has had his day and the longer out from the election his chances are going to get smaller and smaller.

      Commenter
      Lawrie
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 9:00AM
    • ha ha public trust in polly in the hawke and howard years was 50% or greater but in j frasers new world of gillards labor its down to 29%. those figures to me tell the full tale.

      Commenter
      ian m
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 9:10AM
    • Assuming neither Julia or Tony get rolled by their party rooms are we in for another hung parliament?Not?

      Commenter
      Free Man
      Location
      Brunswick West
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 9:17AM
    • Mr Bear, perhaps in Queensland it looks like the Liberals will win, but Australia is bigger than Queensland (hadn't you, as a thinking person, noticed) and in some parts we are happy with Labor.

      Commenter
      Greg
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 9:23AM

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