Scott Morrison has taken a significant hit with voters since March with the latest Guardian Essential poll revealing the prime minister has suffered a 15 percentage point drop in public perceptions that he is good in a crisis.
The latest opinion survey of 1,100 respondents was in the field while major Australian cities were locked down in an effort to contain a new winter wave of Covid-19 infections amid escalating public concern about delays in the national vaccination rollout.
This fortnight, voters were asked to share their opinion about the prime minister’s attributes. Since March 2021, when the attributes questions were last put to respondents in the Essential poll, Morrison has suffered an eight point drop on voter trust, a nine point drop in perceptions that he is control of his team and a nine point drop on vision.
As well as the 15 point drop in perceptions that Australia’s prime minister is good in a crisis, voters are also now more inclined to say Morrison is out of touch with ordinary people (an eight point increase since March) and that he avoids responsibility (a six point increase). A significant majority of the sample, 73%, also believes that Morrison plays politics.
The latest Guardian Essential survey also includes backward-looking data on the performance of the major parties.
Compounding Morrison’s current political woes, that data suggests Labor has led the Coalition on Guardian Essential’s two-party preferred plus measure since March – apart from three of the last 12 polls where the major parties were neck-and-neck on 46% or 47%. The quarterly two-party preferred plus data suggests between 6 and 8% of respondents are yet to make up their mind about which party to support.
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The erosion of political support for the Coalition aligns with increasingly negative voter perceptions about the Morrison government’s handling of the pandemic. In the middle of March, voter approval of the government’s management of the public health crisis stood at 70%, and that’s declined in the latest poll to 46%.
The latest snapshot of voter sentiment comes as New South Wales on Monday recorded its fifth death from the current Covid-19 outbreak, and Victoria extended its current lockdown after 13 new cases were recorded.
The poll shows the Berejiklian government in NSW has lost ground with voters since the middle of June, although community support remains north of 50%. In the first week of June, 69% of the sample said they believed the premier’s management of the pandemic was good – that’s now down to 54% of respondents.
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Respondents remain divided about whether or not the state government moved too slowly in locking down greater Sydney. Among the smaller sample of respondents in NSW (354 voters), 44% said the response was about right and 44% said it was too slow, with 12% saying lockdown was imposed too quickly.
But the national picture is different. A majority of the 1,100 respondents say Berejiklian moved too slowly (56%) with 34% saying the restrictions came at the right speed and 10% saying the government moved too quickly.
Clear majorities of voters in the smaller samples of voters in Victoria (62% of 277 respondents), Queensland (60% of 217) and Western Australia (68% of 108) also say Berejiklian moved too slowly.
Just under half of respondents believe it will take between a fortnight and a month for the current outbreak in NSW to be controlled, while 33% of the sample worries it could take up to six months. A majority (62%) thinks the lockdown in Sydney will be over in between a fortnight and a month. Respondents are less hopeful now about those recovery timeframes than they were a fortnight ago.
In terms of vaccinations, 63% of respondents now say they would either get the jab as soon as possible, they’ve already been vaccinated, they have already had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, or they are fully vaccinated. About 27% say they will get the jab, but not straight away, while 11% say they will never get vaccinated.
In the waiting cohort, 41% say they are waiting for the Pfizer vaccine to be available later in 2021, while 29% say they are waiting to see how others react to the vaccine first before signing up, and 13% say they assume it will be too hard to get an appointment.
Only 31% of respondents believe the vaccination rollout will be completed within a year.