The resilience of party stereotypes

The Newspoll results reported in this morning’s Australian show the Coalition’s lead over Labor as the party which would best handle the economy has been reduced to a statistically insignificant 1%.

While the paper’s article on the poll rightly sees this as bad news for the Liberals, putting it in the context of other questions asked in the same poll it shows that there is some resilience in party stereotypes when questions are framed broadly.

When Newspoll’s respondents were asked whether the federal government was doing a good job handling the current economic crisis, 63% said yes. Even 31% of Coalition voters agreed. 57% thought that the stimulus would be good for the economy, with again 31% of Coalition voters agreeing. 48% of respondents thought they would be better off over the next 12 months due to the package. When asked whether the Coalition would do a better or worse job handling the crisis, more thought worse (39%) than better (33%). Only 28% of Newspoll’s respondents believed the Coalition would deliver a better stimulus package.

But though the Coalition is clearly well behind on the major economic issue of the day, on the more abstract question of who would better handle the economy they remain fractionally ahead, showing the reserve of credibility on this issue they have built up over many years.

(It would be interesting to know the question order in this survey; this result would be more interesting if this question was asked after rather than before the specific questions.)