Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP image
Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP image

Two words that will decide election

If you asked the average person who they thought would win the May 18 election, many would say they believed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had it in the bag.

That opinion has been backed up by poll after poll showing Labor in an election-winning lead - but as the big day looms, a shock new poll has revealed that lead is now narrowing.

And ultimately, the next leader of this country will be determined by two crucial words - trust and distrust.

That's according to leading market research company Roy Morgan, which revealed the election outcome had gone from a "predictable" Coalition "bloodbath" to a potential "photo finish" within a few short weeks.

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Just one month ago, Labor was well ahead in polling, enjoying a comfortable lead of 52.5 per cent over the Coalition's 47.5 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

Now, that has tightened to 51-49 - meaning the so-called "unlosable election" could well be lost by the ALP.

Speaking at Roy Morgan's State of the Nation election report event in Sydney this week, CEO Michele Levine said from now until May 18, any "glaring mistake" could cost either man the victory.

The election is Bill Shorten’s to lose. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
The election is Bill Shorten’s to lose. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

She said this election was the most polarised of any since 1949, when Prime Minister Ben Chifley lost to Robert Menzies - and Roy Morgan executive chairman Gary Morgan said he expected the election to result in a hung parliament, with minor parties and their preferences playing a major role.

Ms Levine said in 2019 the public had experienced an "explosion of distrust" in our major institutions such as banks, the church, unions, tech companies and political parties, and that "trust and distrust" would end up deciding the election.

The company's research revealed that while consumer confidence was significantly up at the moment, business confidence had taken a serious hit, with confidence in unemployment and underemployment rate also a clear concern.

Government confidence - the question of whether or not the country was going in the right direction - is also down, which is bad news for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

But while the ALP was "already preparing for government", Ms Levine warned it was "not over yet".

There’s a reasonable chance Prime Minister Scott Morrison will pull a Steven Bradbury and win on May 18. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
There’s a reasonable chance Prime Minister Scott Morrison will pull a Steven Bradbury and win on May 18. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

"There have been so many unwinnable elections won and unlosable elections lost," she said, and cited Mr Morrison's recent "space invader" clanger as the kind of small misstep that could cost either man the leadership.

That was a reference to a bizarre incident that occurred during the second leaders' debate in Brisbane, when Mr Morrison aggressively walked towards the Opposition leader in an apparent attempt to intimidate him, prompting his opponent to label him a "classic space invader".

The incident went viral, and has also been referred to as Mr Morrison's "Mark Latham moment" after many social media users compared it to the former Labor leader's infamously aggressive handshake with John Howard in 2004.

"You see these kids of things pop up … and they can change everything," Ms Levine said.

Ms Levine said the Australian landscape had changed dramatically in recent years, with social media now playing an even bigger role, a new-found focus on wealth and prosperity and changing demographics due to immigration.

Roy Morgan revealed the most pressing issues for Australian voters today were the cost of living, health, having an honest government and addressing global waring and climate change.

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au


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