SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd refused to concede defeat on Friday despite a new poll showing he is heading for an election wipe-out as the media swung behind rival Tony Abbott.
The Galaxy survey in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, a day before voters cast their ballots, found Mr Rudd has failed to make any inroads on the conservative opposition leader.
On a two-party basis, Labor is trailing 47 to 53 percent, with the newspaper saying the coalition could pick up an extra 20 to 25 seats in the lower House of Representatives.
An overwhelming 78 percent of the 1,503 people questioned said Mr Abbott had performed better during the election campaign. Just eight percent said Mr Rudd, with the rest undecided.
But the prime minister, who has struggled for traction after toppling Julia Gillard, Australia's first female leader, just weeks before calling the election, said he was not ready to give up.
"I've seen those sorts of gaps made up in the past and I think there are so many people undecided out there about what Mr Abbott's massive cuts mean to them," he said.
"I think as we get closer to the vote tomorrow, people will say 'will these massive cuts hurt my job, hurt my hospital, will they hurt my school?'.... And I think those are the questions that will focus undecided voters as they go to vote."
The economy has been a key election battleground and the opposition on Thursday pledged A$40 billion (S$46.6 billion) of savings if it wins office.
Mr Rudd added: "We continue to fight right through till 6:00 pm tomorrow," referring to when the polls close.
But he appears to have an insurmountable task with all the nation's main newspapers, bar The Age in Melbourne, backing Mr Abbott in their election eve editorials.
"Australia is crying out for a stable government that can be trusted to deliver what it promises. The Herald believes only the coalition can achieve that," Fairfax Media's Sydney Morning Herald said on its front page.
Mr Rupert Murdoch's Daily Telegraph, which has been running an anti-Rudd campaign since the election was announced, said its stance had been justified.
"Following two terms of Labor chaos, in-fighting, confusion and lack of focus, this election campaign has demonstrated Labor's terminal dysfunction in concentrated form," it said.
"Australia genuinely does need a new way. The men and women who are best able to deliver it come from the coalition."
Despite being the clear frontrunner to become Australia's 29th prime minister, Mr Abbott said it was too early to start celebrating.
"It's like being in a grand final, five minutes to go, only a goal or two in it, anything could happen," he said.