The two national opinion polls published yesterday provide leaders of the two major political parties with a message.
While one poll indicates the Opposition would win an election if one was held this week, they also show Tony Abbott has plenty of work to do to improve his popularity within the electorate.
The Herald/Nielsen poll shows there is a 33 per cent difference in the favour-rating between Mr Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, the Opposition leader Mr Abbott deposed with one vote to spare.
Abbott and Turnbull are strikingly different, but Mr Turnbull’s very respectable 63 per cent of support as preferred Liberal leader is an endorsement of his leadership style.
While at this point in time the electorate might favour a change of government, Tony Abbott would be an unpopular prime minister.
That’s territory Julia Gillard is familiar with, but she has improved her standing by achieving her highest ranking in 16 months.
On these numbers Tony Abbott is Labor’s biggest advantage. Ministers successfully paint him as negative, aggressive and uncompromising.
Julia Gillard is seen otherwise, after all, she has held together her government by being able to
compromise with the independents who keep her in the top job.
Still lurking in the background is Kevin Rudd. While he is popular with the electorate he has proven to be an ineffective prime minister in the eyes of his own party.
Is Kevin Rudd popular because people don’t like Julia Gillard and he represents an alternative?
Plenty believe Julia Gillard has done a better job as prime minister than Kevin Rudd, who failed to unite his party and drive home policy.
Julia Gillard has achieved some significant legislative milestones and while some might be unpopular, they are milestones none the less.
Despite poor poll results, she remains well supported within her party’s parliamentary ranks. Her colleagues are satisfied with her leadership style.
Malcolm Turnbull, while popular in the electorate, lacks support within his own party. The right wing of the Liberal Party regard him as being too far to the left and his compromising nature is something the Liberals’ heavy-hitters don’t like.
With leadership battles within both parties not going to happen, the polls will continue to produce interesting results as an election draws nearer.