Julia Gillard has pushed further ahead of Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister and the Opposition Leader has plumbed new depths of disapproval with voters, new polling from Essential Research shows.

In Essential's monthly leadership approval questions, the Prime Minister has further narrowed her net disapproval gap, with her approval rating remaining at 41% and her disapproval rating falling two points to 49%. That Gillard is now into a single-figure net disapproval rating is a remarkable turnaround even from September, when it was nearly 20 points, let alone March, when it was nearly 30 points.