Fairfax-Newspoll Survey: Julia Gillard’s Popularity Surges Ahead

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By Erik Pineda | November 19, 2012 1:06 PM EST

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has maintained her popularity over her Coalition foe, Tony Abbott, by clocking 51 per cent as the nation's preferred prime minister, the latest Fairfax Media-Newspoll survey showed on Monday.

More than half of the 1400 hundred respondents queried by Newspoll researchers last week picked Ms Gillard as the leader of their choice, Fairfax newspapers said, while Mr Abbott only garnered 42 per cent, thus stretching the prime minister's good run that started as effects of the carbon tax scare campaign waned.

The latest opinion polls also indicated that voters are increasingly frustrated with the manner Mr Abbott has been handling is job, giving him this time an approval net rating of minus 24 per cent while affording Ms Gillard a net approval of minus one per cent.

The numbers are stacked against the Liberal leader, analysts said, while the prime minister appears steadying, collecting the gains her government has anchored on "voter handouts ... and its promised budget surplus," according to The Australian Financial Review.

Ms Gillard is likely to sustain her surging popularity as pledged federal programs on education and specific welfare benefits further sink in on public awareness, The AFR added, plus some more fiscal adjustments that provided for an environment of lower borrowing costs for Australian households.

Fairfax noted too that Labor's macro-economic policies has led to interest rate cutbacks of 100 basis points since May this year, enabling Ms Gillard to reverse the prospect of a rousing defeat that has her been dogging for the most parts of 2011 through early 2012.

Yet yielding to a Coalition government remains in the Labor horizon as Newspoll's primary votes comparison between the government and the opposition showed that Mr Abbott's party gained two points to 45 per cent, easily placing his group to the winning column come the federal election set late next year.

The 34 per cent primary votes attributed to Labor painted only one thing for Ms Gillard - the uptick on her personal numbers will be negated by the government's overall lacklustre showing, analysts said.

Even in the two-party preferred contest, the Coalition remains ahead at 53 per cent to Labor's 47 per cent.

Nonetheless, Mr Abbott could ill-afford to be complacent as analysts pointed to the numbers that suggest voters' growing discontent over his actions in the past few months, which actually allowed the incredible Labor comeback when all signs read since last year that the ruling party is on its way out.

"(Mr Abbott's) ratings confirm a very serious popularity problem ... (and) the dual challenge facing (him) is to be more positive, on the one hand, and to be far more disciplined, on the other," wrote Michael Gordon of The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday.

"While Mr Abbott may take comfort from the apparent plateau in Labor's primary vote, he needs to respond to the personal attacks on him not in kind but with policy substance that goes beyond opposition to the carbon tax and the mining tax," added The AFR.

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