The Coalition’s gain in two-party terms, from 48 to 49 per cent, is within the margin of error of 2.3 per cent for this survey.
The improvement in Morrison’s personal approval rating is also marginal. The gain for Shorten on this measure, however, is significant. Voters may be responding to his heartfelt comments about his mother in the days before this survey was conducted.
What stands out is the improvement in the Coalition’s primary vote, from 36 to 39 per cent in the past two weeks, a result that is outside the margin of error. Labor and its supporters would be foolish to ignore this shift. It is a danger sign for Shorten just when he is within reach of victory.
The high support for the Greens in this survey, 13 per cent, should be treated with caution. The party gained 10 per cent at the last election and other surveys show it is still close to that figure. The Labor primary vote of 33 per cent is also out of line with other polls, although several surveys show a recent weakness in this core support.
One key factor is the way preferences are calculated. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has 4 per cent of the primary vote and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party has 3 per cent. The second preferences from these parties flow 53 per cent to the Coalition and 47 per cent to Labor.
But none of these results can be applied neatly to the 20 electorates that will decide this election. The One Nation vote will reach 15 per cent or more in some seats. Palmer’s party is a wildcard.
At the same time, polls of individual seats are unreliable. Many were wrong in 2016 and are likely to be wrong this year.
The national polls now look similar to the surveys in the final days of the 2016 campaign. Those results showed the race kept tightening as the campaign went on, until Malcolm Turnbull clung to power by just one seat.