Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Two Australian Leaders: popularity polling and that polygraph worm

Well, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott can't say that he wasn't warned. Talking heads from the medical fraternity, at least one well-known journalist and even ordinary voters told him before he went into today's televised Leaders' Debate that he would be wise to present Coalition policy and not indulge in politicking.

Instead Abbott lead with his jaw and the Channel 7/Morgan Research handpicked audience with their fingers on the polygraph worm obliged by landing a blow on that jaw at almost every opportunity.

I had made myself a coffee which almost stood to attention on the amount of caffeine it contained, in anticipation of a nail bitingly tense debate.

Halfway through I abandoned the coffee and took up my knitting, as the worm spent most of its time on the middle line or in positive territory when Kevin Rudd was speaking and, on the middle line or in negative territory when Tony Abbott had the floor.

Attacks on the Prime Minister, mention of that so-called 'great big new tax' and even talk of the failed national roof insulation scheme did not move Abbott out from under the wrong side of that visual opinion line - in fact he was a distinct medical flatline when he refused to talk about any Coalition health policy he intends to take to the federal election.

All this merely confirms what Essential Media has been saying for some time, Kevin Rudd is still popular with the electorate and currently 'owns' health policy.

Excerpt from the Essential Report survey results (based on an estimated 1,000 respondents) taken between 16-21 March 2010:

Better Prime Minister – Rudd or Abbott

Q. Regardless of your likely party choice for the next election, which of the leaders – Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott – do you think overall would be the best Prime Minister?

21 Dec 09 - 22 March 10

Kevin Rudd 51% - 50%

Tony Abbott 25% - 30%

Don't know 24% - 19%

When it comes to a choice between Rudd and Abbott as better Prime Minister, 50% selected Rudd and 30% selected Abbott. The results for Rudd shifted slightly (-1%) since we last asked this question in December 2009. However, there has been a five percent increase in the number of people that prefer Abbott and a decrease in the number of people that don't know (-5%).

Results followed party lines – 92% of Labor voters chose Rudd and 74% of Coalition voters chose Abbott. 64% of Green voters selected Rudd and 11% of Green voters selected Abbott.

People aged 65 years and over were more likely to think Abbott would make a better Prime Minister (42%) while 18 – 24 year olds were more likely to indicate they don't know who would make a better Prime Minister out of Rudd and Abbott (28%).

Federal takeover of hospitals and health services

Q. Do you support or oppose the Federal Government's plan to take over the responsibility for funding hospitals and health services from the State Governments?


Total support 58%

Total oppose 12%

Strongly support 25%

Support 33%

Neither support nor oppose 21%

Oppose 7%

Strongly oppose 5%

Don't know 9%

Over half (58%) of those surveyed support the Federal Government's plan to take over responsibility for funding hospitals and health services from the State Governments, 12% oppose, 21% neither support nor oppose and 9% don't know.

79% of Labor voters, 46% of Coalition voters and 55% of Green voters support a Federal takeover for funding of hospitals and health services. 27% of Coalition voters neither support nor oppose the plan and 22% oppose it.

People in NSW were more likely than those in other states to support a Federal takeover (64%). 55% of people in Queensland and 52% in Victoria support the plan.

Males were more likely than females to support the plan (61% v 56%). Support for a Federal takeover was highest amongst 55 – 64 year olds (67%).

In February this year we asked the Australian public whether they support or oppose a Federal takeover of hospitals. The results showed that 58% supported a Federal takeover, 10% opposed it, 19% neither supported nor opposed and 13% didn't know.

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