Labor retains its lead Sept 30, 2007 13:10:23 GMT -5
Post by Flash on Sept 30, 2007 13:10:23 GMT -5
Labor retains its lead
Dennis Shanahan, Political editor
| October 01, 2007
THE Howard Government still faces "annihilation", with a 12-point Labor lead in the polls almost guaranteeing the election will not be held until at least November 17.
After a two-week parliamentary sitting that went well for the Coalition, and a couple of campaigning gaffes from Labor, the Government will be disappointed that today's Newspoll shows Labor has kept the election-winning lead it has held for months.
John Howard is much more likely to accept the advice from his ministers and advisers to hold off calling the election as long as possible if Newspoll continues to show no closing of the gap in Labor's lead.
There is also a mounting view that Kevin Rudd will suffer the longer the election campaign runs.
A slight fall in satisfaction with the Opposition Leader, from near-record highs, will be seen as some justification from government MPs to delay calling an election.
As of today, the option of a November 3 election is almost ruled out, although technically possible. The likelihood of a poll on November17 becomes a near certainty, with November 10 still possible.
According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian at the weekend, Mr Rudd has kept his clear ascendancy over Mr Howard as preferred prime minister, despite some campaigning glitches last week and a shrill performance in parliament.
After a "correction" in the Newspoll survey two weeks ago, showing the gap between Labor and the Coalition closing, the latest survey has revealed no further narrowing of Labor's lead.
According to the Newspoll survey, there was no real change in the two-party-preferred support for Labor, with a 12-point lead last weekend of 56 to 44 per cent, compared with 55 to 45 per cent mid-September. The two-party-preferred support is essentially consistent with most of the Newspoll surveys since the beginning of June, with Labor in front by between 10 and 12 percentage points.
Primary support for the Coalition slipped back from the 41 per cent of two weeks ago to 39 per cent, while Labor's was virtually unchanged on 48 per cent.
The Prime Minister and his ministers have all indicated publicly that they do not expect the published polls to narrow until the election is called, and possibly then not until the last couple of weeks of the campaign.
Labor's lead is similar to that when Mr Howard warned his parliamentary colleagues in May they faced "annihilation" at the election if the polling did not change.
Mr Rudd has been warning his colleagues against arrogance and hubris and assuming an easy victory because of the published polling.
The Opposition Leader has been saying publicly that gaining the 16 seats necessary to win government is like "climbing Mount Everest" and that the election campaign will be tight.
The previous Newspoll survey showed a narrowing of Labor's 18-point two-party-preferred lead to 10 points on 55 to 45per cent.
Leaked Labor polling has suggested a similar lead in key seats, and an easy victory for theALP based on fundamental shifts of support in Queensland and NSW.
Mr Rudd has been the key to Labor's revival. He has overtaken Mr Howard as preferred prime minister and held his lead, reaching record heights of satisfaction as Opposition Leader, and he has lifted Labor's primary vote well beyond the key 40 per cent mark since he took the leadership in December last year.
But in the last week of parliament - and the first week of the faux election campaign - government ministers thought they had begun to undermine Mr Rudd's popularity after he was forced into a question-time slanging match, could not substantiate claims the Coalition was smearing him and was unable to nominate tax thresholds.