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Latest Newspoll carries a warning for Labor

The latest Newspoll, taken over the 26-28 February, shows little change in the party votes since last election. This ought to be a concern to the ALP as the polls have consistently over-estimated their real level of support between elections.

This is because between elections voters don't have to make decisions, so can indulge in a little wish-fulfilment. When elections occur, they tend to revert back to their usual habits. Of course this can work in the other direction, and John Howard's polling between elections was generally not very positive for him.

While the poll shows a similar two-party preferred result to the last election, the real interest is in the standings of the leaders.

Late last year Turnbull had an approval rating of 36% and a disapproval of 50%. Abbott has almost reversed this so that it is 48% approval and 38% disapproval. At the same time Rudd has gone from 56% approve and 34% disapprove to 51% approve and 40% disapprove.

The last election was fashioned as a leadership contest. What this poll suggests is that the ALP will struggle if they frame the election that way this time because Abbott has neutralised leadership as an issue. Or perhaps it is Rudd's recent unsympathetic performance as PM that has.

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