THE first opinion poll has confirmed Kevin Rudd as the underdog of the September 7 election showdown with the Coalition ahead 52 to 48 on a two-party preferred basis.
But Labor's primary vote is steady at 37% while the Coalition is down one at 44%, according to a Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper.
When asked who would make the better prime minister, 47% of voters prefer Kevin Rudd compared to Tony Abbott on 33%.
But there has been a jump of six points in the number of people saying they are dissatisfied with Mr Rudd.
Support for the Greens stands at 9%, compared to 11.8% at the last election.
Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has featured in his first TV advertisement, promising 'new hope' for Australia.
Rudd urges a fair go - and asks for $10 donations to fund ALP fight
Earlier, Kevin Rudd urged voters to send the ALP $10 to fight a massive election campaign being funded by big business backing Tony Abbott.
Mr Rudd says the September 7 federal election will be about who Australians trusts to lead them some of the toughest economic challenges the country has ever faced.
The Prime Minister confirmed the election date in Canberra on Sunday afternoon, hours after reaching an agreement with Western Australia over disability care and securing Victoria's support for the Gonski education reforms.
Mr Rudd said tying up loose ends with state governments, floating the carbon price and the deciding to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea had delayed the announcement until the weekend.
With a $70billion budget shortfall hanging over his head, Mr Rudd insisted Australia was "blessed with a strong economy" and one of only eight developed countries in the world to maintain its AAA credit rating.
Declaring the resources boom over, Mr Rudd said Australia could no longer afford to "keep all its eggs in one basket" and flagged fresh investment for agribusiness to meet the food demands of Asia as a way to fuel the nation's wealth.
Reflecting on a turbulent few years in the back rooms of Parliament House, Mr Rudd admitted mistakes had been made and the key would be to "learn from the experience".
He said the "old politics of the past just won't work for the future" and said it was time to start "charting a course through the choppy economic waters ahead".
He warned "carefully considered" changes, including the alcohol and tobacco taxes announced last week, would need to be made to bring the budget back to surplus but promised health and education would be immune from cuts.
Referring to himself as the "under-dog", Mr Rudd said his own political advisors had told him that if the election was to have taken place over the weekend, Tony Abbott would be the Prime Minister.
He said Australia had seen him at his "highest highs and lowest lows" and hoped he would be given the honour of continuing to lead the country.
Weekend polls showed Labor's primary vote had increased by several points and the two-party preferred vote was narrowing.
A September 7 election means the planned referendum on the constitutional status of local governments will not go ahead as the government has missed the deadline for giving voters enough notice.
Mr Rudd warned Mr Abbott would mount a massive attack campaign against him around Labor's growing debt and deficit, even though Australia ranked well in the international community.
Mr Abbott would adopt a slash and burn approach, as seen in Queensland, where thousands of public servant job losses were announced by Premier Campbell Newman.
He said ordinary Australians would back a 'fair go' - and the collective good of the country - rather than supporting individual businesses or industry.
The Prime Minister even went as far as to ask Australians to send $10 to help the ALP fight the LNP during the election campaign.
Mr Rudd emphasised jobs, education, the economy and the National Broadband Network.
"I have a positive vision about the country we can be," he said in an email announcing the election date.
"In this election I'll be talking with Australians across the county about better schools for our kids, investing so we can create good jobs, and about how the NBN can help keep our economy strong.
"Tony Abbott has a different approach.
"He'll bang on with the same negativity that we're all sick of. He's only got three word slogans because he doesn't have the ticker to debate his real agenda."
In his response, Mr Abbott said Mr Rudd had proven the ALP could not run the economy or the country with growing debt and a failure to deliver one surplus.
He said the LNP offered a positive plan for Australia's future which would involve smaller, more responsible government.
Mr Abbott said he had been 'upfront' in saying the public service had grown too large in Australia.
He said there were about 20,000 more public servants than several years ago but no marked improvement in services.
Mr Abbott said all the Coalition's election promises had been costed and full details would be released during the course of the campaign.
Mr Abbott said he would not be doing any deals with minor parties or independents to form government.
And he said he would agree to a series of debates with Mr Rudd but would not commit to a timetable.