Australia's election hits gender divide
By James Grubel
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's campaign for the August 21 election has hit a gender divide.
Opinion polls and a nationally televised debate have found women are throwing their support behind Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, who took over from Kevin Rudd on June 24.
Women appear to have problems with conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott, a super fit politician regularly photographed in swimming briefs or cycling lycra.
"I certainly get women, but obviously I've got some marketing to do," said Abbott, who has acknowledged the gender gap and made changes to his campaign to counter the problem.
Abbott, married with three daughters, has brought his family into the campaign, with his wife Margie appearing at a function on Monday and his daughter Louise joining him on the hustings on Tuesday.
Gillard, who is not married and has no children, has no plans to bring her long-time partner Tim Mathieson into the campaign.
A Nielsen poll on July 24 found 58 percent of women supported Gillard's Labor government and 42 percent supported Abbott's coalition Liberal-National Party, compared to an overall vote of 54 percent for Labor and 46 percent for the opposition.
In Sunday's televised debate, audience reaction meters by two networks showed a clear distinction between men and women, with women voters regularly rating Gillard higher and Abbott lower. Continued...