Australia: Stage set for 2016 as first poll of the year is published


STILL the people’s choice: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

2016: election year. The Australian political scene is setting a very different, albeit not altogether unfamiliar, stage than 2013. Australians will recall the 2013 election campaign as one of the most uninspiring and unfortunate ordeals of its political pastime – brash conservatism locked horns with a tired and bitterly divided Labor movement. A Labor movement which, if personified, would resemble the milky bar kid himself, enduring all kinds of unpleasantries internally, but managing a painfully fake and deeply unsettling smile on the surface.

2013 was an election fought on outlandish battleground issues. Issues that the Liberal National opposition, with a far superiour public relations team, managed to make battleground issues through nothing more than the timeless and snarky political process of erecting a mountain out of a molehill. Issues which will forever scar Australia’s political landscape, and what history could have been. Issues like the ‘boats’ – (and putting a stop to the fecking mischievous things!) and the carbon tax – (which threatened the very existence of the triumphant triple-A credit rating and the survival of quite literally everything!).

2016 is quite different. Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister since September, has brought a starkly different – although certainly not unfamiliar – style. At a time when Australia is craving optimism, hope and vision from its political leaders, the Churchill-style conservative, with its brash rhetoric and brutal honesty is fading away. Tony Abbott, long seen by senior Labor figures as a far-right, ultra-conservative not capable of running a bath (let alone a country), was perhaps the last Australian leader to take Churchillian tactics to an election. But Tony Abbott failed to read what modern Australia truly hopes and craves, and what it truly voted for in 2007 with the refreshing optimism of Kevin “I’m here to help” Rudd, from Queensland.

Malcolm Turnbull, this time around, has mastered the art of optimism and is thus enjoying an unprecedented four-month long honeymoon whilst maintaining the same brutal slash-and-burn style approach to budget repair as Abbott and Hockey. Because Turnbull can sell his government to the people so well, the 2016 battleground is less a battle of diverse ideology, as seen in 2013, but a battle of ideas and ‘vision’.

He has created something quite unique. A convincing, genuine and warm persona which smacks of early John Key. During Key’s honeymoon years, before the majority of the voting public saw him as either ‘creepy uncle John’ or an associate of right-wing bully blogger Cameron Slater, Key emitted the same warmth and the ability to came across a average bloke despite having the resume of anything but. Turnbull, who is among Australia’s richest men, has achieved exactly the same.

And it shows.

The last opinion polls of 2015 showed Malcolm Turnbull was, by no degree of exaggeration, the most popular leader in the western world who, at his peak, scored a 76% preferred Prime Minister rating and a 69% satisfaction rating. This sent the ratings of opposition leader Bill Shorten, the Labor Right stalwart who had long held a lead over Abbott in the preferred PM ratings, plummeting from a high of 58.5% to 14%. And to boot, an embarrassingly low satisfaction rate of 23% for Shorten was scores below even Abbott’s lowest ratings, and, to the shock of many inside the Labor camp, saw polled Labor voters admit a preference to Turnbull over Shorten.

The most recent preferred PM poll results show Turnbull at 60% – lower than he has been, but for appropriate measure, if you consider John Key ‘popular’, his rating sits at 38% in comparison.

The first opinion poll of the year shows only a small dent in the government’s fortunes as Labor languishes. If Labor polls at its current rating of 29% (FPP) on election night it will face humiliating losses in previously presumed heartland seats and the saddening fact of a record-breaking electoral defeat for the second election running.

Bennett Morgan. 

Roy Morgan poll results:

In early January L-NP support fell slightly to 56% (down 1.5%) cf. ALP 44% (up 1.5%) on a two-party preferred basis. However, if a Federal Election were held now the L-NP would win easily.

Primary support for the L-NP was 47% (down 1%) and up 2% for the ALP to 29%. Support for the Greens was down 1.5% to 13%, Katter’s Australian Party is 1.5% (unchanged), Palmer United Party is 1% (unchanged) and Independents/ Others are at 8.5% (up 0.5%).

Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating

Despite less support for the Government the Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating was up slightly (1.5pts) this week to 116.5 with 48.5% (unchanged) of Australians saying Australia is ‘heading in the right direction’ and 32% (down 1.5%) saying Australia is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

This week’s Morgan Poll on Federal voting intention was conducted over the last two weekends, January 2/3 & 9/10, 2016, with an Australia-wide cross-section of 2,839 Australian electors.

Analysis by Gender

Analysis by Gender shows clear majorities of both genders support the L-NP.  Men: L-NP 59% (down 1.5%) cf. ALP 41% (up 1.5%); Women: L-NP 53.5% (down 1.5%) cf. ALP 46.5% (up 1.5%).

Analysis by Age group

Analysis by Age group shows that Turnbull’s biggest problem remains convincing younger voters to support the L-NP. The ALP leads with 18-24yr olds (ALP 62% cf. L-NP 38%) and the ALP now leads amongst 25-34yr olds (ALP 52.5% cf. L-NP 47.5%). However, the L-NP leads comfortably with all older age groups: 35-49yr olds (L-NP 57.5% cf. ALP 42.5%); 50-64yr olds (L-NP 58.5% cf. ALP 41.5%) and easily amongst those aged 65+ (L-NP 66% cf. ALP 34%).

Analysis by States

The L-NP holds its two-party preferred lead in all Australian States. Western Australia: L-NP 62.5% cf. ALP 37.5%, Queensland: LNP 60% cf. ALP 40%, Tasmania: L-NP 56.5% cf. ALP 43.5%, New South Wales: L-NP 55.5% cf. ALP 44.5%, South Australia: L-NP 55% cf. ALP 45% and Victoria: L-NP 52.5% cf. ALP 47.5%.

The Morgan Poll surveys a larger sample (including people who only use a mobile phone) than any other public opinion poll. The Morgan Poll asks Minor Party supporters which way they will vote their preferences. *News Corp’s poll does not measure or reference the PUP vote!

The Morgan Poll allocated preferences based on how people say they will vote – allocating preferences by how electors voted at the last Federal Election, (as used by News Corp’s Newspoll) shows the L-NP (55.5%) cf. ALP (44.5%) – this is largely because Greens voters are now preferring Turnbull’s L-NP at a greater rate than at the last election – for trends see the Morgan Poll historic data table.



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