Support for Malcolm Turnbull has significantly increased among voters, and he has increased his lead over Tony Abbott as the preferred Liberal leader, new polling from Essential Research finds.
And despite losing a leadership ballot to Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd remains easily the most popular figure to lead Labor.
Turnbull's rehabilitation in voters' eyes over the past 12 months has been remarkable. In February 2011, he barely edged out Joe Hockey for second place as best leader 18% to 16%, well behind Abbott on 24%. By May, he had taken the lead as preferred Liberal leader, 25% to Abbott's 22%. Today, 30% of voters prefer him as Liberal leader compared to 23%.
Turnbull's rise has been propelled by Liberal voters -- only 16% preferred him in February 2011, compared to 45% for Abbott; now 26% prefer him compared to 29% for Abbott.
Rudd remains easily the preferred Labor leader: last May 32% of voters preferred him; today 31% do. But Gillard has slipped from 23% to 16%, and "someone else" has gone from 19% to 23%.
Gillard still leads Rudd among Labor voters, however, 40-33%. The ferocious campaign of destruction launched at Rudd by cabinet ministers and the Gillard forces in the lead-up to Labor's leadership ballot on February 27 appears to have done nothing to harm his popularity with voters. Bill Shorten is now the best of the rest, doubling his support from 3% to 6%.