Voter Apathy Towards Major Party Leadership Continues; Labor Ahead in Voting Intention

28 November, 2016

The Labor Party is ahead of the Coalition in the latest Fairfax Ipsos Poll released today.

The national poll of 1,403 respondents, interviewed from 24-26 November 2016, shows the Labor party on 51% (up 1.4 points since the Federal Election), with the Coalition on 49% (down 1.4 points since the Federal Election), based on 2016 election preferences.

“The figures indicate a 1.4% swing against the Coalition Government since the July 2016 Federal Election,” Ipsos Director Jessica Elgood said.

“The two-party stated preference vote also shows a lead for the Labor party on 51%, up 1.4 points since the Federal Election, and the Coalition on 49%, down 1.4 points since the election.”

First preference votes put Labor on 30% (down 5 points since the Federal Election) and the Coalition on 36% (down 6 points since the Federal Election). The Greens lead the minor parties with 16% (up 6 points since the Federal Election). Others are on 18% (up 5 points since the Federal Election).

Four per cent of respondents are undecided. These are excluded from the two-party stated preference figures.

Key findings

Leaders’ approval ratings: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s approval rating is 45% (down 4 points since late June), with the same proportion (45%) saying they disapprove of his performance as PM (up 4 points since late June). Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s approval rating is 37% (down 5 points since late June), with 53% disapproving (up 3 points since late June).
Preferred Prime Minister: 51% prefer Malcolm Turnbull as the Prime Minister (up 2 points since late June); 30% prefer Bill Shorten (down 5 points since late June)
Leader characteristics: Malcolm Turnbull has higher ratings on eight of the eleven leader attribute measures. However, his ratings on these attributes has worsened since the election, with a drop of 9 points in those who say he is a ‘strong leader’, a drop of 7 points in being ‘able to make things happen’, and a drop of 6 points in being ‘competent’ and ‘open to ideas’. In contrast, while still lagging behind Turnbull, the ratings of Bill Shorten’s leadership qualities have mostly improved.

Leaders’ approval and preferred Prime Minister

Malcolm Turnbull’s approval rating is sitting at 45% (down 4 points since late June). His disapproval rating is 45% (up 4 points since late June). This gives a net approval of 0 (down 8 points since the late June).

Bill Shorten’s approval rating is 37% (down 5 points since late June). His disapproval rating is 53% (up 3 points since late June). This gives a net approval of -16 (down 8 points since late June).

Malcolm Turnbull remains the preferred Prime Minister, at 51%, a rise of 2 points since late June; 30% favour Bill Shorten as Prime Minister (a fall of 5 points since late June).

Leader characteristics

Of the eleven leader attributes, Malcolm Turnbull has a statistically significant lead on eight (those emboldened in the table below). In contrast, Bill Shorten has a lead on three attributes. While there is some movement in the figures, the overall picture remains broadly the same – with Turnbull and Shorten still both leading on the same attributes as they did when last polled on this question in April 2016.

  Turnbull Shorten
% saying attribute applies
Competent 64 55
Has a firm grasp of economic policy 68 42
Open to ideas 57 59
Has a firm grasp of foreign policy 62 41
Strong leader 46 38
Has a clear vision for Australia’s future 51 40
Trustworthy 48 35
Has the confidence of his party 48 64
Has the ability to make things happen 42 37
Has a firm grasp of social policy 41 57
Is easily influenced by minority groups 36 51

Despite still being more positively perceived on the majority of attributes than Shorten, the ratings for Turnbull have continued to worsen since they were last measured in April 2016. In key areas, such as economic and foreign policy his ratings have increased slightly.

While perceptions of the Labor leader lag behind those of Turnbull, Bill Shorten’s attribute ratings have improved significantly across most of the leader attributes since April 2016.

Poll Profile

Fieldwork dates:                 24-26 November 2016
Sample size:                      1,403 respondents
Sample:                              National, aged 18+, 38% of sample comprised mobile phone numbers.
Method:                              Telephone, using random digit dialing.
Statistical reliability:           ±2.6% is the maximum margin of sampling error that might apply to this sample
Analysis:                            The data has been weighted to reflect the population distribution.