Coalition at six-month high: Newspoll

Confidence in Abbott government surges as support for Bill Shorten softens.

The Abbott government is in its best electoral position in six months and Bill Shorten has his lowest personal support since becoming Labor leader in October.

Despite the Coalition facing a swing of more than five percentage points against it in the West Australian Senate re-run election, its primary support nation­ally has risen to its highest since November.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian at the weekend when the WA Senate election was under way, the ­Coalition’s primary vote rose from 40 two weeks earlier to 43 per cent and Labor’s went from 36 to 34 per cent, its lowest since the first week of ­November.

Although the Greens had a six percentage point swing towards them in the West Australian Senate election on Saturday, the national survey shows primary support dropping from a 12-month high of 13 per cent two weeks ago to 11 per cent at the weekend. Primary vote support for “others’’, including the Palmer United Party, was virtually unchanged on 12 per cent.

The Coalition is now in front of Labor on a two-party-preferred basis, 51 to 49 per cent.

Labor had led the government on a two-party-preferred basis since the beginning of December as the Abbott government lost voter support sooner than any newly elected modern government except Julia Gillard’s.

In the West Australian Senate election the Liberals and Labor had swings against them of 5.49 and 4.83 percentage points, while the Greens were up 6.39 percentage points and PUP was up 7.48 percentage points.

The latest Newspoll shows Tony Abbott’s personal support as prime minister remained negative but improved slightly and he maintained an eight-point lead over the Opposition Leader as preferred prime minister, 41 per cent to Mr Shorten’s 33 per cent.

During the two weeks since the previous Newspoll survey both leaders campaigned heavily for the West Australian election and both faced public criticism: Mr Abbott for introducing a system of “knights and dames’’ for eminent Australians and Mr Shorten for distancing himself and the ALP from the control of unions.

Voter satisfaction with Mr Shorten dropped five percentage points to 31 per cent, a low for him as Opposition Leader, and dissatisfaction was virtually the same on 42 per cent.

Satisfaction with Mr Shorten has dropped 13 percentage points since his peak of 44 per cent in December and dissatisfaction has risen from 27 per cent to 42 per cent during the same period. His net personal satisfaction rating -- the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction -- is now minus 11.

Mr Abbott’s voter satisfaction was unchanged on 40 per cent. Dissatisfaction fell from 50 per cent to a two-month low of 47 per cent. Mr Abbott’s net satisfaction rating is minus 7 per cent.

On the question of who would make the better prime minister, support for Mr Abbott dropped from a six-month high two weeks ago of 43 per cent to 41 per cent and Mr Shorten’s support fell back three points to 33 per cent.

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