News You don’t need Newspoll to tell Scott Morrison is leading – but he knows that may not last

You don’t need Newspoll to tell Scott Morrison is leading – but he knows that may not last

Prime Minister Scott Morrison seems to believe an uninformed public is a happy public. Photo: AAP
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The first published opinion poll since the election confirms what the country already knows.

The coalition won two months ago and wouldn’t lose an election if it was held today – that’s the usual way pollsters ask people’s voting intention.

Newspoll dipped its toe in the water this week and gamely published its findings, while its competitor Essential Research is still punch drunk from its failure to pick the Liberals’ shock result.

Last week Essential published its results showing Morrison was preferred PM and positively approved, but baulked at publishing how people would vote.

There is no such hesitation from Newspoll, which is run by YouGov Galaxy. Its principal David Briggs admitted in a weekend News Corp interview that he may, like other pollsters, have been guilty of following the herd.

Mr Briggs has offered no commentary or change in methodology in the latest Newspoll.

There is now no herd to follow.

Ipsos is no longer polling for the Sydney Morning Herald and Age. This may disappoint political tragics, but for most of the country the disillusionment that leads to disengagement means many won’t notice.

Even in the old days when the pollsters emerged from elections with their credibility intact, this far out from the next scheduled election they could only ever give an indication of how a government was travelling.

The first polls after Kevin Rudd’s 2007 win and Tony Abbott’s 2013 victory had their governments even further ahead than Mr Morrison’s latest 53-47 per cent lead.

Both leaders were toppled before they next faced the voters.

In 2004, John Howard’s first post-election Newspoll was identical to Mr Morrison’s. He lost the 2007 election in a landslide.

Scott Morrison seems well aware of recent political history. He sees his best defence against precipitant decline as keeping faith with the undertakings he has given voters, however scant they may have been.

In Question Time on Monday, in answering the one question put to him by the Opposition we saw this in action.

The Prime Minister avoided answering whether he could live on $40 a day as many unemployed have to on the Newstart payment.

He said the best welfare was a job and his government promised 1.25 million new ones, and “would not rest until we get them (the unemployed) all jobs”.

In what must send shudders through welfare agencies, Mr Morrison said “the government’s priorities were investing in health, in schools on education. We have made those choices about priorities, rather than increasing the size of the welfare budget.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House last Monday. Photo: AAP

Anthony Albanese certainly didn’t need Newspoll to tell him how far behind the election has left Labor.

The Labor leader told Guardian Australia he understood that progressives were hurting and didn’t like to see Labor capitulating on contentious provisions in government’s bills – tax being the prime exhibit.

Mr Albanese says the fact is Labor has less seats now than before the election and the “Coalition has more seats now and the Senate is more conservative so it will be far more difficult to stop legislation”.

But as former finance minister John Fahey said to his colleague Alexander Downer after the swearing in of the first Howard ministry “Enjoy it, it’s all downhill from here”.

It is but as we have seen not always fatally so.

It’s early days yet, but Mr Morrison unlike his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull is not afraid to stare down internal dissent, as he is doing on the Newstart issue, nor is he showing any signs of panicking over one of his cabinet ministers – Angus Taylor – being under siege for a perceived conflict of interest.

What is emerging though, in Mr Albanese, Scott Morrison has an opponent with as much self-belief as himself.

The Labor leader has his heart set on winning the next election.

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