Voters have given Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a powerful vote of confidence almost four months after the federal election by backing him against Opposition Leader Peter Dutton by 53 to 28 per cent when asked to name their preferred prime minister.
Australians have also confirmed a clear lead for Labor in core support, with a primary vote of 39 per cent compared to 32 per cent for the Coalition, despite a dip in the government’s performance from a “honeymoon” surge last month.
The exclusive survey, conducted by Resolve Strategic for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, reveals a slight fall in support for the Greens, from 12 to 10 per cent over the past month, during a period when the party clashed with Labor over climate change and tax cuts.
Voters have kept their support for independent candidates at 8 per cent nationwide, up from 5 per cent at the election, in a significant shift after “teal” candidates won more power in parliament on issues including a national integrity commission and the treatment of women.
While Labor saw its primary vote slip from 42 to 39 per cent over the past month, it continues to hold a significant lead over the Coalition, which lifted its primary vote from 28 to 32 per cent.
“This isn’t the end of Labor’s honeymoon period, but it’s now past the high-tide mark,” said Resolve director Jim Reed.
“International studies show that polling for new administrations does peak at around 100 days after an election, so there’s nothing unusual in this.
“Labor’s challenge is to keep the public’s goodwill towards them as high as possible for as long as possible. They’ve got to earn that trust, and use it to garner primary vote support because they were many people’s second preference in May.”
Labor won the election with a relatively low primary vote of 32.6 per cent, behind the Coalition on 35.7 per cent, but it gained its majority from second preferences while the Coalition suffered bruising defeats from “teal” candidates in blue-ribbon Liberal seats.
The Resolve Political Monitor surveyed 1607 eligible voters from Wednesday to Sunday, a period when political debate was overshadowed by the mourning for Queen Elizabeth and the departure of Albanese to London last Thursday to attend her funeral.
The margin of error for the national results was 2.4 percentage points.
When voters were asked which of the two sides had the party and leader they considered best, 41 per cent said Labor and Albanese were competent while only 19 per cent backed the Coalition and Dutton. Asked which side was honest and trustworthy, 34 per cent named Labor and Albanese while 16 per cent named the Coalition and Dutton.
Asked who was best for the country, 41 per cent said Labor and Albanese while 23 per cent said the Coalition and Dutton while 27 per cent were undecided and 11 per cent preferred others.
The two sides were closely matched on these questions before the election, with Labor ahead on some and the Coalition ahead on others and the gap between the two parties almost always in the single digits.
Similar questions on policy performance also favoured the government, with 35 per cent naming Labor and Albanese as best to manage climate and environment policy while 14 per cent named the Coalition and Dutton and 24 per cent naming others.
On economic management, however, the government led by only 33 to 30 per cent.
Dutton and the Coalition regained ground on some key policies, with a lead of 34 to 31 per cent against Labor on national security and defence and 34 to 32 per cent on managing the nation’s finances.
Some respondents voiced strong support for Albanese when the Resolve survey offered a chance to record their views, with one saying he was “doing well so far” and another saying he was better than expected.
“He’s making sensible decisions on climate change, the Queen, etc. Nothing too radical,” said one respondent.
Another said: “Albo comes across as genuine and I think he’ll keep his promises.”
Another said: “He’s trying to rule by consensus. He’s not a dictator.”
Asked to name their preferred prime minister, voters chose Albanese over Dutton by 53 to 28 per cent in the latest survey compared to 55 to 17 per cent on the same question one month ago, confirming the dramatic turnaround since the election campaign when Albanese lagged slightly behind the previous prime minister, Scott Morrison.
Asked about Albanese in the latest survey, 60 per cent of voters said he was doing a good job and 24 per cent said he was doing a poor job, resulting in a net performance rating of 35 points, down slightly from a net result of 39 points one month ago.
Asked about Dutton, 28 per cent said he was doing a good job and 40 per cent said he was doing a poor job, producing a net rating of minus 12 points, a significant worsening in his personal rating since the poll last month.
Some respondents criticised Dutton for not attending the government’s jobs and skills summit earlier this month but others were positive.
“He couldn’t be any worse than Scott Morrison,” said one.
“He has communicated his views calmly and clearly,” said another. “He wasn’t aggressive.”
Another said: “He’s toned down the rhetoric and brought a more measured attitude to the opposition.”
Because the Resolve Political Monitor asks voters to nominate their primary votes in the same way they would write “1” on the ballot papers for the lower house at the election, there is no undecided category in the results, a key difference from some other surveys.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation increased its primary vote from 5 to 6 per cent over the past month while mining billionaire Clive Palmer and his United Australia Party held its support at 2 per cent, half the result it gained at the election. While the UAP was deregistered this month, it has returned from deregistration in the past and could do so again before the next election.
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