Melbourne: Kevin Rudd`s dramatic comeback as Australian Prime Minister and Labor leader has not been able to reverse the heavy odds stacked against the ruling party as the opposition Coalition is still favoured to win the upcoming General Election, a new opinion poll said on Friday.
The poll has shown that the opposition Coalition led by Tony Abbott was maintaining its lead over the Labor Party government despite Rudd taking charge.
The coalition leads 52 - 48 percent after preferences and if the results are repeated Abbott would be able to form government with a comfortable majority of about 20 seats, the poll shows.
But it also indicated that 55-year-old Rudd was still preferred as Prime Minister in the 7News Reachtel poll, leading Abbott by 52 - 48 percent.
Voters were evenly split on the merits of the Labor leadership change with 44 percent agreeing with the decision to replace Julia Gillard with Rudd, while 42 percent disagreed.
Over 3,000 respondents took part on the latest poll which was conducted overnight, according to an AAP news agency report today.
Labor Cabinet Minister Jason Clare commented that Rudd`s comeback has spooked the Coalition, which thought it would have an easy win at this year`s election.
"The Liberal party has been very cocky for three years; they weren`t cocky yesterday," the Home Affairs Minister was quoted by the report.
"They know now that the fight is on and there`s a real competition at the next election," he said.
Clare said he switched his vote from Gillard to Rudd as he believed Labor was heading for a massive defeat under her leadership.
"This makes us more competitive. I can tell that just from yesterday in the Parliament," he said.
Rudd also held his first press conference today after being sworn in yesterday.
Soon after taking oath as Prime Minister, Rudd assured his party members that he will not "lurch to the Left" on asylum seekers.
Media reports say, Rudd has been publicly asked to toughen Labor`s policy on asylum seekers or risk seeing his government consigned to the "dustbin of political history".
On election date of September 14 which was set by Gillard, Rudd seems to be weighing up whether to go earlier or delay the poll to maximise his chances of rebuilding public confidence in the Labor government. The earliest date he can call an election for is August 3.
Rudd has indicated a series of dramatic policy changes after ousting bitter party rival Gillard in a leadership battle securing 57 votes in a caucus ballot, compared to 45 for Gillard, 51, Australia`s first woman Prime Minister.