A majority of 58% has confidence vaccinations will effectively stop the virus within Australia, the latest Essential poll suggests
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, touring the Scientia Clinical Research laboratory in Sydney in November. A majority of survey respondents say 2021 will be better for the nation and the economy.
Voters think the Morrison government will be able to manage the rollout of Covid vaccines safely and effectively despite the obvious downside risks, and a majority believes an early election would be an act of opportunism, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll.
The data also suggests that Labor has been broadly competitive with the Coalition over the past quarter, despite some in the opposition fearing their leader, Anthony Albanese, can’t get a grip on Scott Morrison – a morale slump that has fuelled open speculation about whether Anthony Albanese will lead the ALP to the next election.
The new poll – based on a sample of 1,092 respondents and published at the opening of the parliamentary year – found Morrison enters 2021 with voters inclined to hope.
The data suggests voters feel the new year will be more favourable than 2020 and they believe the national vaccination program can be delivered competently despite supply issues being not entirely within Australia’s control. A majority of survey respondents say 2021 will be better for the nation (56%) and the economy (55%), while just under half the sample (47%) predict 2021 will be better for themselves personally.Panic replaces complacency as Covid reality hits Western Australia hardRead more
In terms of the looming vaccination rollout, 68% express confidence that it will be done efficiently and 72% are confident it will be done safely. There is more hesitation about whether the program will turn the tide of the crisis, with 58% expressing confidence vaccinations will be effective at stopping Covid-19 within Australia.Advertisement
Perceptions vary slightly among voting cohorts, with Coalition voters more inclined to express either confidence or high confidence that the vaccine rollout will be conducted efficiently. Older people are marginally more confident than younger people that this will be the case.
Coalition voters are the most optimistic, with 66% expressing confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout, followed by 59% of Labor voters, 57% of Greens voters and 44% of minor and independent party voters.
While the Coalition will be pleased to be entering 2021 with the community inclined to believe that it can manage a significant crisis, there are obvious downside risks. Confidence can be a double edged sword if the government finds itself unable to deliver on the expectations that have been created by Australia’s comparatively effective management of the crisis during its first 12 months.
The poll also suggests a proportion of voters (44%) would prefer their state or territory government was conducting the vaccine rollout (with 38% preferring the federal government and 19% unsure). Labor voters are more inclined to express this view.
The new parliamentary year has opened with speculation that Morrison might take the country to an early election in the second half of 2021, assuming conditions remain favourable. While the prime minister is more likely to want to serve a full term than go early, one truism remains constant: governments call elections when they think they have the best prospects of victory.
Asked for their views on an early election, it is clear most voters would prefer Morrison hunkered down and governed. A majority (58% of the sample) thinks the election should be in 2022 while 42% thinks an early poll is justified.
A majority of Coalition voters (61%) and Labor voters (53%) want the election to take place in 2022. Views vary across age groups. Most voters in the sample (69%) over 55 favour an election next year compared to just over half of voters between 35-54 (54%) and half (50%) of voters aged 18-34.
After the 2019 federal election, Guardian Australia suspended reporting primary and two-party-preferred voting results because both the polls, and the way the polls were reported, were not giving people a reliable picture of the likely election result.Advertisement
The practice we have adopted post-election is to report these results on a quarterly basis, expressing the metric as two-party-preferred “plus”, which highlights the proportion of undecided voters, giving people a more accurate read on the limits of any prediction.Anthony Albanese knows he has a fight on his hands – and not just against Scott MorrisonKatharine MurphyRead more
This week, Labor is ahead of the Coalition on that measure, with the opposition on 47%, the Coalition on 44% and 8% of the sample undecided. A fortnight ago, that position was reversed, with the Coalition ahead on 48%, Labor on 45% and 7% undecided.
While the proportion of undecided voters in the sample underscores the unpredictability of any final result, the quarterly data suggests Labor was competitive throughout November and mid-December, despite voters registering consistent approval for the Morrison government’s management of Covid-19.
With the parliamentary year about to resume, the Labor leader, Albanese, reshuffled his frontbench last week in an effort to shore up his position, calm internal brawling over climate change policy, and set sharper structures for election messaging.
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