Media Release – 32 point fall in those saying Prime Minister Tony Abbott has the confidence of his party – Fairfax Ipsos poll

The Labor Party remains ahead of the Coalition in the February Fairfax Ipsos Poll, although by a reduced margin.

The national poll of 1,406 respondents, interviewed from 26-28 February 2015, shows Labor with 51% of the two-party preferred vote (down 3 since January), ahead of the Coalition on 49% (up 3 since January), based on 2013 election preferences.

“This indicates a 4.5% swing against the Abbott Government since the September 2013 Federal election,” Ipsos Director Jessica Elgood said.

“The two-party stated preference vote shows Labor on 52%, down 4 since January, leading the Coalition on 48%, up 4 since January.”

First preference votes put the Labor Party on 36% (down 4 since January) and the Coalition on 42% (up 4 since January).   The Greens continue to lead the minor parties with 12% (up 1 since January). The Palmer United Party is on 2% (down 1 since January), and others are on 8% (unchanged since January).

5% of respondents are undecided. These are excluded from the two-party stated preference figures.

Key findings

  • Tony Abbott’s approval at 32% (up 3 since January), disapproval at 62% (down 5 since January), net approval at -30 (up 8 since January)
  • Bill Shorten’s approval at 43% (down 5 since January), disapproval at 43% (up 5 since January), net approval at 0 (down 10 since January)
  • 44% would prefer Bill Shorten as Prime Minister (down 6 since January); 39% would prefer Tony Abbott (up 5 since January).
  • Malcolm Turnbull remains the preferred Liberal Party Leader, with 39% support (up 4 points since November 2014).
  • However, among Coalition voters Tony Abbott remains the preferred Liberal Party Leader (38%, down 3 points since November 2014).
  • Bill Shorten is the preferred Labor Party Leader with 29% support (down 1 point). Tanya Plibersek receives 19%, and Anthony Albanese has 16% support as the preferred party leader.
  • Malcolm Turnbull receives higher ratings for each of the personal attributes than Tony Abbott, except for being ‘easily influenced by minority groups’.
  • Those describing Tony Abbott as having the ‘confidence of his party’ have fallen by 32 points to 21%; those describing him as ‘competent’ has fallen 11 points to 39%.
  • Tony Abbott receives lower ratings for eight of the ten attributes, than any other Prime Minister measured.                                                                                                                                            

Leaders’ approval                                                                                                                    

Tony Abbott’s approval rating is 32% (up 3 since January). His disapproval rating is 62% (down 5 since January). This gives a net approval figure of -30 (up 8 since January). Disapproval among younger voters (aged 18-24) is significantly higher at 74%.

Among Coalition voters, Abbott’s approval rating is 65%, an increase of 6 points since January – but still significantly below his November 2014 figure of 82%. 29% of Coalition voters disapprove of Abbott’s performance.

Bill Shorten’s approval rating is 43% (down 5 since January). His disapproval rating is 43% (up 5 since January). This gives a net approval of 0 (down 10 since January).


Preferred Prime Minister                                                                                                       

Bill Shorten remains the referred Prime Minister, at 44%, a fall of 6 points since January. This rises to 61% among younger voters (aged 18-24).

39% favour Tony Abbott as Prime Minister (a rise of 5 points since January, and a return to the levels of support he had in the second half of 2014).


Preferred Liberal Party Leader                                                                                             

The preferred Liberal Party leader is Malcolm Turnbull with 39% support (a 4 point rise in support since last asked in November 2014). Support has also increased for Julie Bishop as party leader, with 24% support (up 4 points), while support for Tony Abbott as Liberal Party leader is relatively static at 19% (down 1 point). Julie Bishop receives significantly more support as party leader from female voters (30%), than male voters (19%).

Among Coalition voters, Abbott remains the preferred party leader, with 38% (a fall of 3 points since November 2014). Support for Turnbull has increased by 6 points to 30%, and for Bishop by 2 points to 21%.


Preferred Labor Party Leader                                                                                               

Preferences for leader of the Labor Party are relatively stable; 29% support Bill Shorten (down 1), 19% support Tanya Plibersek (up 1) and 16% support Anthony Albanese as leader (down 2). As with Julie Bishop, Tanya Plibersek gathers significantly more support among female voters (22%), than male voters (16%).

Among Labor voters, Bill Shorten is clearly the preferred leader with 43% support (up 2 since November 2014). One in five (21%) Labor voters prefer Tanya Plibersek as party leader, and 17% prefer Anthony Albanese.


Leader attributes                                                                                                                     

Malcolm Turnbull receives higher ratings for each of the personal attributes than Tony Abbott, except for being ‘easily influenced by minority groups’.

Tony Abbott is most likely to be seen as having the ability to make things happen (43%), to have a clear vision for Australia’s future (42%), and to be competent (39%) – however Malcolm Turnbull is rated significantly higher for each of these attributes (56%, 58% and 74%, respectively).

Of the 10 attributes, having ‘the confidence of his party’ is the attribute least likely to be associated with Tony Abbott (21%).




% saying attribute applies    
Has the ability to make things happen



Has a clear vision for Australia’s future






Has a firm grasp of economic policy






Open to ideas



Strong leader



Is easily influenced by minority groups



Has a firm grasp of social policy



Has the confidence of his party




For seven of the 10 attributes covered, this marks a significant fall since Australians were last asked in December 2014. Most notably, those saying Tony Abbott has the confidence of his party now sit at 21% (a fall of 32 points), and those saying he is competent has fallen by 11 points, to 39%.

When compared to the perceptions of previous Prime Ministers, Tony Abbott received the lowest ratings for eight of the 10 attributes: ‘the ability to make things happen’, having ‘a clear vision for Australia’s future’, being ‘competent’, having ‘a firm grasp of economic policy’, being ‘trustworthy’, being ‘a strong leader’, having ‘a firm grasp of social policy’ and having ‘the confidence of his party’.


Poll Profile                                                                                                                                  

Fieldwork dates: 26-28 February 2015

Sample size: 1,406 respondents

Sample: National, aged 18+. 31%% of sample comprised mobile phone numbers.

Method: Telephone, using random digit dialling.

Statistical reliability: ±2.6% is the maximum margin of sampling error that might apply to this sample

Analysis: The data has been weighted by age, gender and location (metro/non-metro) to reflect the population distribution.




For further information contact:

Jessica Elgood   
Ipsos Director
0431 656 217

Mark Davis    
Ipsos Public Affairs Managing Director
0412 508 188


Rochelle Burbury
Third Avenue Consulting
0408 774 577


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