Tony Abbott’s poll numbers are improving, but he still trails Malcolm Turnbull as the preferred leader of the Liberal Party, today’s Essential Report shows. Turnbull is preferred as leader by 24% of voters, compared to 18% who prefer Abbott. That’s a significant turnaround since February, when just 11% favoured Abbott, even less than “someone else” (13%) and Julie Bishop (21%). Julie Bishop is now preferred as leader by 17% of voters.

Interestingly, Turnbull’s strong lead over Abbott among women has faded — in February, he led Abbott 22% to 8% among women, but now leads by 18% to 15%, while his lead among men has been reduced but is still strong at 30%-21% now, compared to 27% to 13% in February. Among Liberal voters, Abbott strongly leads Turnbull, 41% to 21% — a big turnaround from February, when Julie Bishop (26%) and Turnbull (24%) led the Prime Minister (23%).

Press gallery favourite Scott Morrison, tipped by many Canberra insiders to be the most likely to replace Abbott, scores just 3%, the same as Treasurer Joe Hockey.

On the Labor side, “someone else” is the preferred leader, on 18% — just ahead of Bill Shorten (16%), Tanya Plibersek (13%) and Anthony Albanese (12%). Shorten has a much stronger lead among men than women (who prefer “someone else” or Plibersek) and leads strongly among Labor voters, although Albanese edges Shorten among Liberal voters.

With politics dominated by Bronwyn Bishop’s entitlement scandal and a Prime Minister missing in action for much of last week, the Coalition has slipped another point on its primary vote and is now on 39%. Labor remains on 38%, while the Greens lift another point to 12%, their strongest result in nearly three years. The two-party preferred result remains at 53%-47% in Labor’s favour.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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