CANBERRA, June 10 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could become the first, one-term Australian prime minister since 1932, with voter support falling to its lowest level since his election in 2007, pointing to a cliffhanger poll later this year.
The Reuters Poll Trend shows Rudd’s Labor government holds an insignificant 0.4 point lead on a two-party basis, compared with a commanding 23 point lead in March 2008.
If the opinion polls were reflected on election day, which is expected in October, Rudd could become the first prime minister to lose power after one term since Jim Scullin lost in 1932 in the wake of the Great Depression.
“Kevin Rudd is in more trouble than the early settlers,” Monash University analyst Nick Economou told Reuters.
“He now needs the goodwill of voters in marginal seats, and favourable preference deals with the Greens, to have any chance of winning a second term.” Click for Rudd Newsmaker [nSGE656018]
For a Poll Trend graphic: r.reuters.com/kyc98k
For a full table of results, click on [ID:nSGE658086]
Support for Rudd has nose dived in 2010 after he postponed his key climate policy until 2012, a carbon emissions trading scheme, and as he struggles to sell a new mining tax aimed at bolstering national savings.
Voter support for the government is down five points since late March, hitting a new low of 50.2 percent on a two party basis, compared to 49.8 percent for the conservative opposition Liberal-National coalition.
If the sentiment was uniform across the country and carried through to an election, Australia could have a hung parliament and Rudd could lose up to 18 seats.
Australia last had a hung parliament between 1940 and 1943.
The polls show a strong protest vote shifting from Rudd to the Greens, who are polling an average 13.2 percent, and with only marginal gains for opposition leader Tony Abbott.
Click for Q+A on impact of Rudd election loss [nSGE65602A]
Rudd’s saving grace is that he maintains a 13.6 point lead as preferred prime minister, with 49.7 percent to Abbott’s 36.1.
Rudd and Abbott will offer voters starkly different choices come the election, especially on the 40 percent mining “super profits” tax, with Rudd arguing the tax will ensure Australians share in the resources boom and Abbott promising to kill the tax.
The next election is due in the second half of 2010, but is likely around mid to late October. Rudd won the last election with 52.7 percent of the two-party vote.
For full cover of the mining tax, click on [ID:nAUTAX]
For a Q+A on Rudd’s election hopes, click on [ID:nSGE65602A]
For an analysis on independents, click on [ID:nSGE64R00O]
For political policy differences, click on [ID:nSGE64R07F] (Editing by Michael Perry0