Labor heading for heavy loss: Newspoll

Labor is heading for a heavy defeat in September, according to the first poll taken since Prime Minister Julia Gillard made the surprise move to launch a seven-month election campaign.

The latest Newspoll in The Australian on Monday, which was conducted over the weekend, has also given a strong lift to Tony Abbott in the preferred prime minister stakes.

Newspoll shows Labor's primary support has plunged six points to 32 per cent with that of the coalition strengthening four percentage points to 48 per cent in the past three weeks.

This gives the coalition a massive 56 per cent to 44 per cent lead in the two-party preferred figure.

The Australian says Labor's primary vote is back to the level it was at the end of the parliamentary year in December, and the coalition's primary support is the highest since July last year.

There was more good news in the numbers for Mr Abbott with sentiment shifting in the past three weeks over who would be the better prime minister.

Ms Gillard's support as preferred PM fell four percentage points from 45 per cent to 41 per cent, while Mr Abbott gained six points from 33 per cent to 39 per cent.

It's the closest the two have been since September last year.

Voters have also changed their minds about their satisfaction or otherwise with the two leaders' performances.

Those dissatisfied with Ms Gillard rose from 49 per cent to 52 per cent while satisfaction with the job she is doing dropped from 38 to 36 per cent.

For Mr Abbott the satisfaction level rose to a four-month high of 33 per cent, up from 29 per cent in January, with dissatisfaction easing from 58 to 56 per cent.

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