This week The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald launched their new political survey initiative, Resolve Political Monitor.
The RPM, which aims to delve deeper into the issues and move away from the “horse race” approach of the two-party preferred results, will be conducted monthly by Resolve Strategic, a firm run by Jim Reed, who has extensive experience doing research for businesses and political parties.
The first results, reported on by chief political correspondent David Crowe on Tuesday, showed voters have swung against the federal Coalition, with the government’s primary vote dropping from 41 to 38 per cent since the last election.
Minor parties the Greens and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation recorded gains, however Labor’s primary vote remained unchanged at 33 per cent.
While the national trend is enough to give Labor a small lead over the Coalition in two-party terms (although within the poll’s margin of error of 2.2 per cent), Scott Morrison has the advantage on personal leadership.
He is the preferred prime minister for 47 per cent of voters, compared to 25 per cent for Labor leader Anthony Albanese (28 per cent were undecided).
Morrison was marked down for his handling of the treatment of women, however voters nominated other issues as more important in determining their vote, including the economy, health and aged care, the COVID-19 response and employment.
Voters backed the Coalition to manage the economy and the coronavirus pandemic, but more voters named Labor as the better party on health and aged care.
Many readers were taken aback by the results, particularly Morrison’s ranking as preferred prime minister.
Bonox.: “So, despite complete incompetence over: Sports Rorts, the Great Barrier Reef handouts, The Bushfires, Aged Care, Vaccine rollout, the Murray Darling basin water debacle, the treatment of women, refusal to get rid of poor performing MPs, refusal to act on climate change, continuing to use taxpayer money to fund new gas and petroleum development over renewables. Despite all of this.... Scott Morrison is still preferred PM over Albo?What the?_”
offthelongrun: “Must have double counted.”
MelbourneGuy: “The Australian voting public is as inexplicably forgiving of this negative and bumbling government as the PM is of his negative and bumbling ministers. How Scott Morrison could still be a preferred PM is incomprehensible. I put it down to people watching reality (ie. unreality) programs instead of getting themselves informed about what is happening in their country.”
Observer: “The only explanations that come to mind are that ideology trumps reason, hence rusted on LNP voters aren’t going to change, that Albanese, and by implication the ALP, is a ‘vacuum’ or Australians simply don’t care about ethics or integrity and believe in miracles along with our prime minister. The explanations, if they are in any way valid, are disturbing and depressing.”
For others, regardless of whether they were pleased by the results or not, the numbers were “right on the money”.
Marc09: “How frustrating this must be for the woke media hell bent on critiquing everything the Feds do. It seems the nation sees through the whinging and recognise we have been led well and in relative harmony. Our economic management is extraordinary by luck or design. Look at Canada and other debacles.”
Obrien: “Pretty simple really. When a leader sets out goals or targets during a global catastrophe, like bringing Australians home, or getting them vaccinated, and circumstances beyond anyone’s control prevents these goals from being realised, they are not, as the Left try to keep spinning, ‘lies’ or ‘broken promises’. It is the reality of trying to get things done during an unprecedented global crisis. Most reasonably-thinking Australians can see that.”
Bob: “Scomo’s reaping the Pandemic Dividend coming to all leaders who were still presiding when Australia successfully suppressed the virus.”
Some readers remain unconvinced about the value of polls in political discourse. Some argued there is too much focus on “preferred prime minister” as being an indicator of future electoral success.
Verdad: “Remember when the campaign actually starts, the virtual monopoly that the sitting PM has on media coverage falls away and the opposition leader gets some cut through.”_
RickZane: “The only thing the preferred leader stuff does is favour the incumbent in most situations. That’s a poor way to represent outcomes.”
Rossco: “People just don’t know how the opposition leader would perform if he/she got the job. Besides, the voters have no say in who should be PM as that is in the hands of the governing caucus. Spare us the ‘personality ballot’ as the thought of emulating the USA style of electioneering is abhorrent.”
Crowe, who jumped online to reply to reader comments, explained the value in including the preferred prime minister results.
“Like it or not, the preferred prime minister rating is a standard way to check how a sample of voters respond to the two main leaders. It’s not the only thing we ask about here...but leadership is always a factor in politics,” he wrote.
With Labor’s primary vote stagnant, readers took a magnifying glass to the opposition and the focus quickly moved to Albanese.
Martin Penwald: “Albo is just Shorten 2.0 for the average voter. If the Trump Presidency taught us nothing, it’s that a leader needs to be popular to get elected, policy be damned. The electorate is crying out for Tanya [Plibersek] and Penny [Wong]. DO IT NOW of face another term in the wilderness under Morrison & Murdoch.”
philgil: “They have a good, experienced team but need a leader out front, that people will listen to. Plibersek and [Jim] Chalmers appear an obvious leadership duo, but TP has indicated reluctance. Perhaps Kristina Keneally is a viable option.”
Mithris: “When will the ambitious Albo realise he, like Shorten will lead Labor into the abyss for another three years. Step aside for someone with more charisma and cut through or we will have the Lazy Libs doing nothing again, time is short, do the right thing Albo, you are a nice bloke but the preferred PM means a lot with the dumbed down punters.” _
Grant Case: “As an outsider, an American in Sydney, I find it quite interesting to see how little Labor has drafted into WA Premier’s Mark McGowan wake. Any US big state governor who had brought prosperity and crushed the opposing party in his state like McGowan would have all but been dragged into the US Presidential race by his party. Here, all is quiet.”
For some readers it was too premature to call a winner.
Really?: “If an election were held tomorrow, it would probably be too close to call. Both major parties need to up their games.”
Bob: “There are many rivers to cross before either side can feel assured of victory, let alone who’ll still be at the helm of their ships.”
Thiopentone: “I’ll tell you one thing this poll does show. The people who write to these columns in no way represent the broad view of mainstream Australia.”
Crowe agreed with the readers, saying the survey results showed it was too close to call.
“We’ve published the primary votes because this is a better way to see the complexities at work here,” he wrote.
“The Coalition is down, but we’re not presenting this as a prediction. We saw at the last election that the Coalition fought a very careful game, seat by seat, to win even though many polls suggested they could not.”
Online readers of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age made 34,992 comments on 563 stories in the past week.
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