The national survey conducted from Tuesday May 17-19, reveals the election itself remains finely balanced with the Coalition only fractionally ahead according to preferences as cast at the last election in 2013.
Support for the Coalition is holding at 51-49, although when the 1497 respondents were asked who will receive their second preference at the ballot in July, the difference between the Coalition and Labor evaporated leaving it at 50-50.
There are two reasons why a Labor victory will be difficult.
Reason 1: Unpopular leader
One of the key differences between the two parties is that, despite his declining popularity, Malcolm Turnbull remains massively more popular than Bill Shorten. When the Labor Party dumped Julie Gillard, it chose the wrong person. We will never know how much better Anthony Albanese would have performed in this election but the indications were that he was more popular with the electorate that Shorten.
Shorten is unlikely to become more popular with the electorate and this will remain a problem for Labor whether it is in government or not.
Reasoning 2: The Coalition
We should not lose sight of the fact that the Turnbull government is made up of two parties, whereas the Opposition is made up of one. The Coalition’s massive advantage in terms of primary vote is based on a carefully crafted strategy to combine the votes of both the Liberal and National/Country parties. The strategy involves not fighting each other in specific seats and a very tight sharing of preferences.
If the Labor Party is to of the elected, it will do so on Green preferences. But not in its own right. The combined primary vote of the Greens and Labor is 48%, well ahead of the Coalition’s 43%.
The Labor Party seems to be a war with the party it needs to form a coalition with. The inability to negotiate a deal with the Greens places Labour MPs in inner-city electorates, such as Anthony Albanese in Grayndler, at risk of losing their seats.
So why not do a deal with the Greens? It seems a no-brainer.
The Green vote has been increasing slowly but steadily and remains to be seen whether it has plateaued at around 14%. If the Green vote continues to rise, and it will rise expense of the Labor vote, then it may be impossible for the Labor Party to form government without the support of the Greens.