Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd`s personal support among voters slumped into negative for the first time since he resumed the leadership of ruling Labor Party in June, as he opened the election campaign by declaring himself the "underdog".
The latest Newspoll survey shows that Labor starts the campaign with its support virtually unchanged in the past fortnight at 37 per cent to the Coalition`s 44 per cent, down one percentage point, the Australian reported.
On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition has maintained its election-winning lead of 52 per cent to Labor`s 48 per cent, which is unchanged since mid-July.
The Greens` support is down one point to 9 per cent compared to 11.8 per cent at the last election.
Although Rudd remains the voters` preferred prime minister and is more popular than the Opposition Leader, his personal support slumped into negative for the first time since he resumed the leadership in June and his support as preferred prime minister is at its lowest, the survey shows.
Rudd`s net satisfaction rating - the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction - is now minus nine, the first time he has had a negative rating since his return.
The Opposition Leader`s satisfaction rating continued its poor run for all of this year at 34 per cent, down a point from two weeks ago, as dissatisfaction remained an unchanged 56 per cent for a net satisfaction rating of minus 22.
On the query of who would make the better prime minister, Rudd`s support dropped from 50 per cent two weeks ago to 47 per cent for a fall of six percentage points since the start of last month.
Support for Abbott was steady on 33 per cent, down a point in two weeks, leaving Rudd with a lead over the Opposition Leader of 14 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Labor has begun its campaign for September 7 elections by announcing USD 200 million in new funding for the automotive industry.
The policy, announced today by Innovation Minister Kim Carr, also includes a plan to introduce a 100 per cent target for Australian made cars in Commonwealth fleets.
Senator Carr said the 100 per cent mandate would increase sales of Australian-made vehicles by 18,000 units per year or an 8 per cent increase on 2012 production volumes, if it were adopted on Monday by all levels of government.
"The automotive industry is vital to Australia`s economic future and we are determined to increase sales of locally made cars," Senator Carr added.