Labor surges further ahead in state poll despite Omicron wave
Support for the state Labor government has lifted to near its highest level since the last election despite surging coronavirus case numbers and growing pessimism about the outlook for Victoria.
After a torrid two years punctuated by lockdowns, political turmoil and the Omicron surge, Labor has retained a strong election-winning lead over the Coalition as it gears up to fight for a third term at the November 2022 state election.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday. Voters “are flocking back to” the Labor leader, the Resolve poll shows.Credit:Simon Schluter
According to the latest Resolve Political Monitor, conducted exclusively for The Age, 46 per cent of Victorian voters surveyed said Premier Daniel Andrews had managed the pandemic well.
That was well down from the 57 per cent recorded in August last year – before the Omicron wave sent the state into what has been described as a shadow lockdown.
However, in broad terms, it suggests Mr Andrews’ muscular approach to the pandemic has left him in a relatively strong position compared with other state and federal leaders.
Only 35 per cent of voters surveyed nationally said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had managed the pandemic well, while in NSW just 31 per cent backed Premier Dominic Perrottet’s handling of the crisis. In Queensland, which has until recently been relatively virus-free, 45 per cent of voters surveyed said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had handled the pandemic well.
State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.Credit:Luis Ascui
The Victorian poll, based on a survey of 1039 voters taken in November and January, found the state government’s primary vote increased to 41 per cent, up from 38 per cent in October last year.
That places Labor just 2 percentage points shy of the 42.9 per cent primary vote it achieved at the November 2018 election, when it won 55 out of 88 seats.
The Coalition’s primary vote is now languishing at just 31 per cent, down from 34 per cent in October last year and 35.2 per cent at the November 2018 election.
Resolve does not calculate two-party-preferred results and there is a 3 per cent margin of error built into its state results, creating the potential for some volatility.
However, if these primary votes were replicated at the November 2022 poll, the Coalition would once again be relegated to the political wilderness.
Resolve director Jim Reed said the strong result for Labor could partly reflect a “federal brand effect”, with various national events and the performance of the Morrison government being reflected in the state vote. He said the results could also reflect the trend of people getting behind state incumbents during outbreaks, although Mr Andrews remained a divisive figure.
“Daniel Andrews has gone down on his handling of the pandemic, but people are flocking back to him,” Mr Reed said. “So, fewer people are saying he is handling it well, but at the same time he is still seen to be handling it better in his own jurisdiction than other leaders in other jurisdictions – and that is a huge chunk of voters.”
Almost half (47 per cent) of the Victorian voters surveyed in November and January backed Mr Andrews as preferred premier, up from 45 per cent during the previous poll in September and October. That compared with just 30 per cent who backed Opposition Leader Matthew Guy as preferred premier, down from 32 per cent.
While the polling numbers are bad news for the opposition, Mr Guy still rated more favourably than former opposition leader Michael O’Brien, with just 24 per cent nominating the previous leader as preferred premier in July last year, before he was ousted in September.
The strong result for Labor comes despite broad pessimism about the outlook for the coming year. Just 24 per cent of Victorians surveyed believed the state’s outlook would get better, down from 28 per cent in November, while 30 per cent predicted things would get worse.
Only 26 per cent said their personal situation would get better, while 19 per cent said it would get worse, compared with 17 per cent in October.
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