Gillard`s party maintains slim edge in Australia: Poll

Australia`s 1st woman PM maintains a decent lead over her rival for top job.

Melbourne: A latest poll indicates that Julia Gillard`s Labour party in Australia still remains ahead on a two-party preferred basis, even as the country`s first woman Prime Minister maintained a decent lead over her rival for the top job.

The latest Newspoll survey ahead of the August 21 vote showed that Australia`s first woman Prime Minister Gillard is out pacing the conservative opposition leader by 52 percent to 48.

Meanwhile, the Coalition remained well clear of Labour on primary vote support, and more people were coming to think the Coalition will win the August 21 vote.

Opposition Liberal party leader Tony Abbott officially launched the Coalition`s election campaign yesterday while Gillard started setting out her agenda for the future.

There was no change in preferred prime minister, with Gillard maintaining a 15-point lead over Abbott, 49 percent to 34 percent.

The latest Newspoll, taken between Friday and last night indicated that the Labour government again squeezed in front on a two-party-preferred basis, using preference flows from the 2007 election, 52 percent to 48 percent, according to `The Australian`.

Previous weekend, Labour and Coalition were neck to neck at 50 percent each. Primary support for the Coalition fell two percentage points to 42 percent last weekend and Labor`s primary vote went from 37 per ent to 38 percent, it added.

Abbott`s personal approval went back to where it was two weeks ago with a fall of three percentage points to 41 percent with his dissatisfaction rose by three points to 49 percent.

Gillard`s approval ratings were virtually unchanged at 43 percent satisfaction and 41 percent dissatisfaction, although the dissatisfaction level is the highest she has recorded since becoming Prime Minister on June 24, it said.

Party strategists believe there are huge regional differences in support for the government and there are still a large number of voters who have not yet decided how they will vote.

According to the Newspoll survey, 57 percent of respondents said they would vote for the party they nominated in the poll. However, 32 percent said there was still a chance they would change their mind.

The level of voter commitment is lower than it was at the same stage of the 2007 election campaign and about the same as when Mark Latham led Labour in the 2004 campaign.

More voters think Labour will win the election – 50 percent to the Coalition`s 26 percent - but those thinking Labour will win has dropped six points and those thinking the Coalition will win has risen three points in the past week.

At the same stage of the 2007 campaign, there was overriding belief Labour would win the election under Kevin Rudd.

A Nielsen poll for Fairfax newspapers published on Saturday put the Coalition`s vote after preferences at 51 percent, with Labour on 49 percent. Labour`s primary vote was steady at 36 percent with the Coalition on 44 percent, down one point on the previous week`s poll.

"It is possible that Nielsen has introduced potential volatility by changing the days on which it polls," Newspoll chief executive Martin O`Shannessy said.

"While the similarities in the two polls are more remarkable than the differences, the wording of the questions varies slightly, particularly when asking about better prime minister and approval ratings.”

"None of our comparable estimates of voting intention are more than three points different. The conclusion in both cases is that Labour made a very slight comeback in the week and Gillard still out rates Abbott on the key personal measures."

Meanwhile, Abbott today said he was not worried that Labour was ahead on a two-party preferred basis despite the party`s ongoing "soap opera".

"What it shows is that the electorate is I suppose a bit volatile," Abbott said.

"The polls will go up and down, but what won`t change is the fact that we`ve got an absolutely incompetent Government right now and what I want to do is to change the government so we really can get on with the job of ending the waste, repaying the debt, stopping the big new taxes," he said, adding trying to win the election was like trying to climb Mount Everest.

"I think I`ve always been the underdog in this campaign," he said.

"But I think out there in the community people are very worried about a political party which has governed in disarray and now is campaigning in disarray and I think that what I can offer them is stability, certainty and unity."


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