There are three things which stand out from today’s polling:
- Both Newspoll and the Fairfax/Ipso poll show Labor the same distance ahead of the Coalition with Labor holding a lead of 6 percentage points on a TPP basis (53/47) in each poll;
- Neither leader has a favourable net satisfaction ratio in Newspoll, with Turnbull on 33/53 and Shorten on a 32/54 satisfied to dissatisfied ratios;
- The total who feel worse off after the budget (45%) is less than after the 2014 budget under Abbott (69%) in Newspoll. But more feel worse off than after each of the last three years of Labor’s budgets. Note that only 19% feel better off and 36% are uncommitted after this year’s budget. The age group which feels worst off after this year’s budget is the 35-49ers, with over 50s feeling least worse off ;
The media treatment of the implications of the two polls differs, with Fairfax arguing that the reduction in the Coalition’s TPP from 45/55 since the last Fairfax poll should be treated as a “boost in support and voters have applauded its big tax increases and spending measures” (see Coorey on Fairfax Poll). However, the reduction in the TPP under Newspoll (from 48/52) is interpreted by The Australian’s political editor Shanahan as a failure of the Coalition’s attempt to make “the 2017 budget unashamedly as a political document”. He also points out that “with barely a nod to real economic issues, the Prime Minister and Treasurer ditched decades of Liberal precepts and principles with the aim of lifting Coalition two-party-preferred support in today’s Newspoll”. He adds that Turnbull has now “delivered his 12th consecutive loss to Labor — almost halfway to the death sentence of “30 losing Newspolls” he delivered Tony Abbott” (see Shanahan on Newspoll). Crowe says the poll is “a blow to Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for a political recovery, voters have shifted to Labor and the Greens while voicing concern about budget tax increases, with 45 per cent saying they will be worse off from the budget” (see Crowe on Newspoll).
All in all, there is no way that even the Fairfax poll’s improvement can be regarded as a boost in support for the Coalition. Rather, the opposite. On either poll the Coalition remains well behind Labor following the Budget and The Australian’s editorial identifies some of the problem’s which now emerge viz Treasurer Morrison’s pre-budget remark that he “regarded the budget as make-or-break for his own career and the government” and that ”within the Coalition the Newspoll strengthen the hand of Turnbull critics who resent the government’s leftward shift on to Labor turf and its divergence from conservative principles of smaller government and lower taxation” (see Aus Editorial on Budget).
Both leaders are now trying to “sell the Budget” (or not). In reality, as the polling of net satisfaction ratios indicate, voters dislike both and it is difficult to see how either can turn those ratios around. Of course, Labor will not make any changes while Shorten continues to be in front. And on the Coalition side nobody seems willing to put their hand up. We certainly don’t seem to be set for “exciting times”.