Gillard puts Abbott to shame

Last updated 11:14 22/10/2012

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Julia Gillard's personal standing among men and women has soared since her attack on Tony Abbott as a sexist but the Coalition would still win an election if it were held now, despite Labor slowly closing the gap.

The latest Herald/Nielsen poll, the first big public opinion survey since the tumultuous events in Parliament a fortnight ago, shows Labor's primary vote stuck at 34 per cent while the Coalition's primary vote fell 2 percentage points to 43 per cent.

Due to a small increase for the Greens to put them on 11 per cent, Labor trails the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis by 48 per cent to 52 per cent.

Latest poll figures show Julia Gillard preferred PM, but the Coalition would win an election if it were held now.

The Coalition's 4-point lead is down from 16 points in June.

When those polled nominated how they would direct their preferences, rather than allocate them in line with how they fell at the last election, the two-party-preferred gap closed to 49 per cent to 51 per cent.

The poll of 1400 voters was taken from last Thursday night to Saturday, a week after Peter Slipper was forced to resign as Speaker and Ms Gillard launched an all-out attack on Mr Abbott, labelling him a sexist and a misogynist.

Since the last poll a month ago, Ms Gillard's approval rating has risen 5 percentage points to 47 per cent and her disapproval has fallen 5 points to 48 per cent.

Mr Abbott's ratings stayed relatively unchanged at 37 per cent approval and 60 per cent disapproval.

The poll found 42 per cent believed the Opposition Leader was sexist while 17 per cent said the same of the Prime Minister.

Ms Gillard increased by 7 points her lead over Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister and is now ahead by 50 per cent to 40 per cent.

Ms Gillard remains more popular among women but her increase in support in this poll crossed gender lines and had more to do with men.

Her approval rating rose 5 points with both men and women but her disapproval rating fell 5 points among men and 3 points with women.

Mr Abbott fell 6 points among men as preferred prime minister and only 2 points among women. Ms Gillard's support as preferred prime minister rose 5 points among men and just 1 point with women.

Despite Mr Abbott being vastly more unpopular than Ms Gillard, the Coalition would win an election today with a two-party swing of 2 points.

The Nielsen poll director, John Stirton, said the government's numbers had returned to levels before February last year, when Ms Gillard announced the carbon tax and Labor's ratings fell off a cliff.

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The poll also shows that the panic that crept into the electorate after that announcement has receded.

After Ms Gillard announced the carbon tax, 50 per cent wanted an election as soon as possible, while 48 per cent believed the government should serve its full term.

Today, 42 per cent want an election now and 57 per cent believe the government should serve the full term - numbers almost identical to those before the carbon tax announcement.

The poll also finds 56 per cent of voters believe the Coalition will win the next election, compared with 32 per cent for Labor.

As Labor tries to recover, a new book by the former Labor MP and Rudd loyalist Maxine McKew is set to reopen wounds caused by Mr Rudd's dumping as prime minister in June 2010.

Last week, the Herald revealed concerns among Gillard supporters that the details of some of the questions Ms McKew asked during her research led them to believe Mr Rudd had ''ghostwritten the book''.

Ms McKew, a journalist for 30 years before entering Parliament, rejected this as ''sexist'' and yesterday Mr Rudd backed her. ''For anyone to accuse a prominent journalist such as Ms McKew of not being able to write her own book I think verges on sexism.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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