As the spat between Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and reactionary blogger Andrew Bolt threatens to set Liberal leadership hares running, Turnbull enjoys a big advantage over Prime Minister Tony Abbott among voters, this week's Essential Report shows.
Turnbull is considered "best leader of the Liberal Party" by 31% of voters, compared to 18% of voters who prefer Abbott. The other popular figure is "someone else", who actually beats Abbott, on 19%.
However, Turnbull’s strong performance is a big come down from 10 months ago: at the end of July 2013, 37% of voters preferred him, compared to 17% who preferred Abbott.
Liberal voters strongly prefer Abbott, by 43% to 27%, while Labor and Greens voters prefer Turnbull by around 36% to 3%; "other" voters rate Turnbull ahead of Abbott 28% to 13%. Women are unenthused by both: 15% of female voters prefer Abbott and 28% prefer Turnbull, compared to 21% and 33% for men.