Source The Age
TWO weeks from polling day, the Victorian election is up for grabs.
Labor is ahead and remains the favourite, but the latest Age/Nielsen poll confirms the government's majority is not assured.
The opposition is behind and remains very unlikely to win in its own right.
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But the government's position is perilous because it is under assault not only from its traditional opponent, the Coalition, on its right, but from the comparatively new menace to the ALP, the Greens, on its left.
The Greens are going strong and remain on target to storm Victoria's lower house for the first time - and in the process, give themselves a chance of gaining the balance of power for the first time.
If Ted Baillieu is able to build momentum behind the opposition with his official campaign launch tomorrow, it really will be sweaty palms time for John Brumby.
But that's a big if, because this poll also confirms that Baillieu is a drag on the Coalition's vote.
On the ''preferred premier'' measure, Brumby leads Baillieu by a substantial 53 per cent to 37 per cent - a slightly bigger gap than the previous Age/Nielsen poll, taken two weeks ago at the start of the campaign.
Remarkably, 16 per cent of those surveyed who said they would vote for the Coalition actually prefer Brumby - not Baillieu - as premier. By contrast, a pesky 5 per cent of ALP voters say they prefer the Liberal leader.
Twenty-one per cent of Coalition voters - more than one in five - disapprove of Baillieu's performance as Opposition Leader. Again, the contrast is stark: only 10 per cent of Labor voters disapprove of Brumby's performance.
This suggests any advances the Coalition makes over the frantic final two weeks of the campaign are likely to be despite Baillieu rather than because of him.
Not that that will be much solace to Brumby if the gap between the parties continues to close.
He knows that governments tend to lose elections; opposition leaders rarely win them.