This week’s Newspoll, conducted April 1-3 from a sample of 1,508 people, showed a huge boost in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval rating based on his leadership thus far in the coronavirus crisis.
Nearly two-thirds of people (61%) were satisfied with Morrison’s performance (up a massive 20 points) and 35% were dissatisfied (down 18), for a net approval of +26, up 38 points.
Anthony Albanese also improved his net approval by nine points to +9. Morrison led Albanese as better PM by 53-29%, another large improvement from the last Newspoll, which was a closer 42-38%.
Analyst Kevin Bonham says these are the biggest poll-to-poll jumps for a PM in Newspoll history on both net approval and better PM. His tweet shows the largest net approval rises for PMs, and when they occurred.
The Newspoll also gave the Coalition a 51-49% lead over Labor in the two-party preferred question, a two-point gain for the Coalition since the last Newspoll three weeks ago.
Primary votes were 42% Coalition (up two points), 34% Labor (down two), 13% Greens (up one) and 5% One Nation (up one).
Major crises tend to produce a “rally round the flag” effect for incumbents, though it doesn’t always last.
An example of a major crisis that produced an initial rally-round-the-flag effect, but nothing else, is the Queensland floods in December 2010 to January 2011, which affected over three-quarters of the state.
From October to December 2010, the Labor state government was trailing the opposition LNP by a landslide 59-41% margin. Based on Premier Anna Bligh’s handling of the floods, Labor surged ahead by 52-48% in the January to March 2011 polling, but then fell back immediately to a 60-40% deficit in April to June 2011.
Labor never recovered and was reduced to just seven of 89 seats at the March 2012 state election.
There are currently far fewer coronavirus cases and deaths in Australia than in European countries and the US. If the crisis is resolved relatively painlessly in Australia, I believe Morrison’s ratings will stay high during the crisis, but then drop back after it ends.
In other Newspoll questions, 84% of respondents were worried and 14% confident about the economic impact of coronavirus (76-20% previously). On the preparedness of the health system, 57% were worried, compared to 41% confident.
An overwhelming majority (86%) supported the JobKeeper scheme. While 64% thought the $1,500-per-fortnight payment for qualifying workers was about right, 16% thought it was too much and 14% not enough.
Some 67% were worried about catching the virus, 38% about higher government debt, 36% about losing their jobs and 35% about their superannuation balance.