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Labor reaps post-budget political dividends as Coalition left with no easy response

Labor reaps post-budget political dividends as Coalition left with no easy response
13 May
2:00

The widening in the Labor lead over the Coalition, from 52:48 before the budget to 54:46 in two-party terms after the budget, is half the improvement that followed Tony Abbott’s first budget four years ago.

The deep spending cuts in May 2014 helped Shorten widen Labor’s lead from 52:48 before the budget to 56:44 afterwards in Fairfax polls.

The last time something like that happened was in May 2009, when Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan had to confirm deep deficits from the global financial crisis and saw their government go from a lead of 57:43 to just 52:48.

This is further proof that the “budget bounce” is talked about much more than it is seen. The government was not counting on one from this budget but was certainly hoping to keep up the trend in small gains that could narrow the gap with Labor over time.

The budget gives Turnbull and Morrison a solid base to try to win back votes.

More voters approve of Turnbull’s performance and more of them believe the budget is fair (39 per cent) than unfair (33 per cent). The problem for the government is that Shorten is so formidable at winning the fairness argument.

It is especially telling that so many voters prefer the tax cut largesse to be put toward paying down debt. This is a rebuke to both Turnbull and Shorten. It tells them there are plenty of Australians who are thinking about the next generation rather than next week’s pay packet.

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Governments do not always lose from a budget slump. John Howard’s government went in to the May 2004 budget lagging Labor by 57:53 and lost ground afterwards to end up at 44:56 in Fairfax polls. Howard went on to win the October election against Mark Latham.

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