Rudd on Brink of Defeat as Poll Shows Key Seat Struggle

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is on the brink of defeat in next month’s Australian election with a poll indicating the ruling Labor party would lose seven of the nation’s eight most marginal electorates.

An analysis of the seats, four of which are held by Labor while the others by the opposition coalition, show Rudd’s party would only win only one if the election were held now, according to a JWS Research poll in the Australian Financial Review today. Adding three seats is almost enough to make Tony Abbott the Prime Minister, it said.

Labor, with 71 of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament, has relied on support from independent lawmakers and the Greens party since forming a minority government after the 2010 election. Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition, which had 72 lawmakers in the chamber where government is formed, needs to add four at the Sept. 7 election to rule in its own right.

The JWS Research poll sampled the Labor-held seats of Lindsay, Greenway and Banks in Western Sydney and Corangamite in Victoria state. It canvassed the coalition seats of Brisbane and Forde and Queensland, Aston in Victoria and Macquarie in New South Wales.

Of the eight seats, Labor’s best chance of victory was in Greenway although the newspaper said a result was “too close to call.” Coalition candidate Jaymes Diaz is leading incumbent Michelle Rowland by 46 percent to 44 percent on the primary vote, the survey shows.

Beattie’s Struggle

Both leaders have put management of the world’s 12th-largest economy at the center of their campaigns amid slowing growth as a China-led mining-investment boom wanes. While Rudd has narrowed the margin in opinion polls since defeating Julia Gillard in a June 26 Labor party ballot, Abbott remains on track to win government.

Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, who announced he would contest Forde in the state’s south-east last week, is trailing incumbent member Bert van Manen by 33 percent to 54 percent on the primary vote, a 9.9 percent swing since the 2010 election, the poll shows according to the Financial Review.

JWS Research sampled 568 people in Forde, held by a 1.6 percent margin by van Manen. The poll canvassed a total of 4,739 people and has a margin of error of 4.2 percent, according to the newspaper.

A separate poll in the Sydney Morning Herald today shows Labor trailing in the seat of McMahon, held by Treasurer Chris Bowen, and Kingsford Smith, which is being vacated by former minister Peter Garrett. The survey by ReachTel indicates the coalition would retain the seat of Bennelong while Labor may keep Blaxland.

Federal support for Labor trails the opposition at 35 percent on the primary vote, down 2 percent since the start of the election campaign on Aug. 4, according to a Newspoll survey published Aug. 12 in the Australian newspaper. The coalition primary support rose 2 percent to 46 percent, a three-month high.

Newspoll puts coalition support at 52 percent and Labor on 48 percent on a two party preferred basis, under which votes from smaller parties are distributed to the two major parties under the nation’s preferential voting system.

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