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Labor still has clear lead in Newspoll and Resolve, but Albanese’s ratings slump

This week’s Newspoll, conducted April 14-17 from a sample of 1,510, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, unchanged since last week. Primary votes were 36% Labor (down one), 35% Coalition (down one), 12% Greens (up two), 4% One Nation (up one), 4% UAP (steady) and 9% for all Others (down one).

52% were dissatisfied with Scott Morrison’s performance (down two), and 43% were satisfied (up one), for a net approval of -9, up three points. Anthony Albanese’s net approval slumped 11 points to -14. Morrison led as better PM by 44-37 (44-39 last week). Newspoll figures are from The Poll Bludger.

Since an early March Newspoll that gave Labor a 55-45 lead, Labor has lost five points on primary votes and the Greens have gained four. The Poll Bludger said this is the best Newspoll for the Greens since May 2021. So much of Labor’s loss appears to be caused by concern it would not do enough on climate change.

After a dreadful first week of the campaign that was highlighted by forgetting basic economic data, Albanese has taken a large hit to his ratings. But the two polls published this week still give Labor a clear lead after preferences, with analyst Kevin Bonham estimating a Labor lead of 52.5-47.5 from the Resolve primaries.

While Labor is still clearly ahead, they have lost a point or two since the polls taken immediately after the March 29 budget.

Bonham said this Newspoll broke a streak of seven successive Newspolls where Albanese’s net approval was higher than Morrison’s. It is the largest poll to poll drop in net approval for an opposition leader since Bill Shorten lost 16 points in February 2015.

It’s often said governments lose elections, oppositions don’t win them. High inflation is hurting governments in the rest of the world, and is a key reason for Labor’s current lead: 61% in an Essential poll last fortnight said cost of living was the most important economic issue, and Labor led the Coalition by 38-27 on addressing it. Voters hate price rises on food and petrol.

However, oppositions can lose elections that they should win if their policies or leaders are flawed. Outside election campaigns, media focus is on the government, but during campaigns, the opposition is the alternative government and attracts much more media attention.

If Albanese avoids making obvious errors for the rest of the campaign, it’s likely his ratings will recover and Labor will win comfortably. But if he continues to make mistakes, Labor could lose an election it should win.

Many media commentators and the betting markets appear to think that momentum is decisive – that is, whoever is gaining in the polls during the campaign will run away with it. This is a dumb argument – improvements in polls do not in general lead to further improvements in the polls. The logical endpoint of this argument would be that one party would eventually win 100% of the vote!

Labor’s primary vote tanks in Resolve poll

A Resolve poll for Nine newspapers, conducted April 11-16 from a sample of 1,404, gave the Coalition 35% of the primary vote (up one since early April), Labor 34% (down four), the Greens 11% (steady), One Nation 4% (up two), UAP 4% (up one), independents 9% (steady) and others 4% (up one).

Resolve does not provide a two-party estimate, but Bonham’s estimate from the primary votes was 52.5-47.5 to Labor, a three-point gain for the Coalition. Resolve appears worse for Labor than Newspoll because the previous Resolve gave Labor a far bigger lead than the previous Newspoll.

47% gave Scott Morrison a poor rating for his performance in recent weeks (down six) and 44% a good rating (up five), for a net approval of -3, up 11 points. Albanese’s net approval dropped five points to -9. Morrison regained a 38-30 lead as preferred PM (37-36 to Albanese previously).

The Liberals and Morrison led Labor and Albanese by 43-23 on economic management (37-27 last time). This is the Liberals’ biggest lead on this crucial question since last October.

The 27% “uncommitted” refers to the “how firm are you with your vote” question. Resolve does not allow respondents to say they are undecided, likely inflating the independent vote.

Unemployment steady at 4.0%

The ABS released the March jobs report on April 14. The unemployment rate was unchanged from February at 4.0%, while the underemployment rate was down 0.3% to 6.3%. The employment population ratio – the percentage of eligible Australians employed – remained at its highest for at least the last decade at 63.8%.

The unemployment rate remained at its lowest since August 2008 before the global financial crisis began. It has not been lower since 1978.

While the jobs situation remains very good for the government, inflation is poor. We will get an inflation report for the March quarter on April 27. The April jobs report will be released May 19, two days before the election.

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