Do personal political attacks work #2?

A couple of weeks ago I thought that the polls showed some signs that the personal personal attacks, mainly directed at Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu, weren’t working – and that maybe Australian voters would resist the American trend of mud-slinging campaigns.

While the Victorian ALP was trying to damage Baillieu by talking about his shareholdings and his real estate firm, NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam stuck his hand into Bill Heffernan’s septic tank and chucked what he found at NSW Attorney-General Bob Debus.

Early this week, the two Sydney daily newspapers each released state political polls. We can say fairly confidently that this attack did not help Debnam’s cause. In the SMH/ACNielsen poll the two-party preferred was stable on ALP 51%, Coalition 49% since July, but Debnam’s disapproval rating had increased from 33% to 44%. In the Daily Telegraph/Galaxy poll the Liberal and National parties were down 8 percentage points on the two-party preferred since September, to ALP 52%, Coalition 48%. 57% of NSW voters – including a third of Labor voters – say that the ALP does not deserve to win the state election. But with even lower confidence in the Opposition, Labor will be returned.

In Victoria, satisfaction with Ted Baillieu as recorded by Newspoll was stable over the last two weeks of the campaign, up 1% since my last post to 46%. But his dissatisfaction rating was up 2% to 30%. Both results could be statistical noise. A Herald Sun/Galaxy poll directly asked its respondents about whether Labor attacks on Baillieu’s share portfolio made them more or less likely to vote Liberal. The vast majority, 70%, said it made no difference. 18% said it made them less likely to vote Liberal, and 10% more likely – perhaps to punish the ALP for running a dirt campaign?
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