Leadership ratings revisited

Picking apart personal approval and preferred prime minister ratings in the Morrison era.

BludgerTrack’s leadership approval and preferred prime ministership readings have been in limbo since last August’s leadership change, since it was necessary to accumulate a certain amount of data before Morrison-era trends could usefully be generated. I have now finally got around to doing something about this, the results of which can be found through the link below:

This exercise has to contend with the very substantial idiosyncrasies of the various pollsters, of which three produce data that can meaningfully be compared with each other: Newspoll, Essential and Ipsos (there are also a handful of small-sample Morgan results in the mix). This is done by calculating a trend exclusively from Newspoll, determining the other pollsters’ average deviations from that trend, and adjusting their results accordingly. For whatever reason, Newspoll appears to be a particularly tough marker, which means the other pollsters are adjusted very substantially downwards on approval and upwards on disapproval:

Ipsos Essential
PM approval -11.0% -3.1%
PM disapproval +8.9% +8.6%
OL approval -5.5% -1.0%
OL disapproval +2.4% +9.5%
PM preferred -4.8% -0.3%

“PM preferred” refers to the size of the Prime Minister’s lead over the Opposition Leader in preferred prime minister polling – so Ipsos, for example, records relatively large leads for the Prime Minister in comparison with Newspoll, and is adjusted accordingly.

The job of charting trendlines through the spread of results is complicated by some notable outliers at around the time of the leadership transition. Malcolm Turnbull’s critics on the right are very keen on an Ipsos poll conducted over the last week of his prime ministership, as it is the only evidence polling has to offer that the Coalition’s present dismal position is not entirely down to the avoidable disaster of Turnbull’s removal. After a period of fairly consistent 51-49 results from all pollsters, this poll found Labor’s lead blowing out to 55-45 – and Malcolm Turnbull down nine on approval and up ten on disapproval. However, the BludgerTrack trend is not overly responsive to single poll results, so it records no sudden decline at the end of Turnbull’s tenure – only the levelling off an improving trend going back to late 2017.

Immediately after the leadership change, two pollsters posed questions on preferred prime minister, though not leadership approval. These produced very different results – a 39-33 lead for Bill Shorten from Newspoll, and a 39-29 lead for Scott Morrison from Essential. Newspoll is given a heavier weighting than Essential, so the trend follows its lead in finding Shorten with a very short-lived lead immediately after the leadership change. However, none of the fifteen poll results have replicated a lead for Shorten, so it is entirely possible that the Newspoll result was an outlier and the lead never existed in the first place.

The bigger picture is that Scott Morrison started well on net approval, but has now settled in roughly where Malcolm Turnbull was in his final months; that he is under-performing Turnbull on preferred prime minister; and that Bill Shorten’s net rating, while still not great, has been on a steady upward path since the leadership change.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

2,082 comments on “Leadership ratings revisited”

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  1. “Never trust leaked internal polling. It has undoubtedly been leaked with nefarious intent.”

    So where do they apply their limited campaign $?? Qld or Vic?? 🙂

  2. briefly
    Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 10:42 pm
    nath, you pimp out hate and blowjobs for political purposes. You are grubby.
    Are you saying I go down on people for votes? Dude, now I am upset! It’s a handjob at the most. Damn.

  3. Wouldn’t normally say this but good on him…

    Former prime minister John Howard personally intervened to stop a domestic violence incident after stumbling across a couple fighting in the street.

    Mr Howard, 79, was on his daily walk near his home in Wollstonecraft about 7.45am on Wednesday when he saw the clash.

    It is understood a man was attempting to put something in a bin, triggering a row with a woman that allegedly escalated into physical violence.

    A Liberal source said Mr Howard called out “Hey” in a bid to stop the fight, before standing with the woman until police arrived.


  4. Hmmm could be like Wentworth again …

    A senior Liberal source said Mr Howard, who is close to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, is set to play a “key role” in the upcoming March state election campaign to help secure an election win in the face of the expected federal government drubbing.

    Faced with growing unrest over Sydney’s overcrowding, Ms Berejiklian recently called for the overseas migration intake to be pulled back to “Howard-era levels” to help the state government keep up with infrastructure demands.

  5. grimace….

    I’m not so sure about so-called safe seats in the bush these days. There’s no doubt that voters in rural seats have moved a long way on climate change and on social matters- as they have in the cities – and the LNP are really massively out of touch. They are vulnerable. The NSW by-election in Wagga Wagga showed that. I think there could be some seismic changes in bush politics.

  6. Rossmcg says:
    Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Porter’s campaign bus was still parked in the paddock on Great northern highway the other day.

    Like the Tories, probably out of gas and no money to buy more.


    It was bogged there at one point.

    Explanation to non WA Bludgers:
    Porter has a bus with decals similar to ScoMo and Shorten’s bus. The paddock it is currently parked in is at the southern metropolitan end of Pearce, was a vinyard and is mostly clay. 40 yo former Transperth bus + waterlogged clay = bogged with no hope of getting the bus out until the clay dries and sets rock hard again. A good friend of mine owns a vinyard a few hundred meters away and was greatly amused that some fool was stupid enough to drive a bus on wet clay in winter.

  7. The state seat of Mildura, which forms a significant proportion of Mallee, changed hands from a National to an independent in November.

  8. D&M mentioned Uni of Wollongong the other day, where Richard Tognetti’s father lectures. Here, for late Sat night, and looking at you briefly, is one of the best concerts of 2018, Tognetti’s incredibly exciting, vigorous and completely ballsy Beethoven’s 5th with some period instruments, superb musicianship, and a clarity and transparency that can get lost in the weighty textures of a full flying symphony orchestra.

    From uncertainty and the supposed door knocks of fate comes a confident assertion of certain triumph.

    And, if you’re wondering (and you should be) who is the Creature Divine with the long slit black dress and the face of Garbo, that’s Satu Vanska, Tognetti’s partner.


  9. ItzaDream @ #1906 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 2:05 pm


    ” rel=”nofollow”>



    In the top picture the ridge on the right is as high as I climbed, nearly half way at the time, coming up through the vegetation and then from behind as you look at the photo.

    Bloody hard work as it was mainly soft ash and it apparently only got worse as you went higher due to a lack of traffic.

    It looks like that ridge is now about the peak of what remains, so I think I can now say I’ve been to the top of Krakatau.

    Thanks muchly!! 🙂

  10. Confessions says:
    Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    I linked to that earlier. Very amusing that the 500 club could only raise a measly $1,000. What has happened???



    Mining and related wealth has dried up. Over the last few years I’ve periodically had cause to be in the city for work, each time I’ve been shoklcked by hoelw few people were around and how many “for lease” signs there were.

  11. The internal Lib polling from Victoria is re-running the State election. It’s probably intended to claw back some support but it is also authorising past-Lib voters to repeat their defections, foreshadowing further radical upheaval in Melbourne politics.

    It’s pretty clear that until the LNP reform their climate and social policies they will be unelectable.

  12. There is no point donating to a party that is going to be massacred at the election. Every $ given us a $ wasted. The WA Liberals offer exactly nothing to anyone. They have also repudiated their most prominent MP – Bishop- and will be punished by donors for that.

  13. Here comes a January 26th election announcement – Morrison laying the groundwork

    Herald-Sun lead story

    Scomo’s move to ‘protect, respect’ Australia Day

    Every council will be forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, with the Morrison government making good on its threat to strip rogue councils of their citizenship rights, it can be revealed.

  14. Lovey @ #1915 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 2:22 pm


    Yep, there is no visa for a person to apply for asylum in Australia. You think there should be?

    That’s where the bridging visas come into play, while their status is determined, but that is issued after they arrive, so the issue remains for the asylum seeker in how they get into Australia.

  15. I heard a movement by the ACO today of one of Mozart’s piano concertos on Classic fm…. it felt like I was hearing it for the first time …incredibly lucid and fresh, vibrant, adventurous, evocative…Tognetti gets better and better…

    Thanks again

  16. briefly @ #2061 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 8:50 pm


    I’m not so sure about so-called safe seats in the bush these days. There’s no doubt that voters in rural seats have moved a long way on climate change and on social matters- as they have in the cities – and the LNP are really massively out of touch. They are vulnerable. The NSW by-election in Wagga Wagga showed that. I think there could be some seismic changes in bush politics.

    I spent the New Year break with my inlaws in Manjimup (Division of O’Connnor) and was talking sensible politics with a couple of people in her family who are a fair way up in the WA Nationals hierarchy and they were not aware of any potentially viable independent candidate for the seat. Confessions lives in O’Conner, perhaps she would know better.

    The most interesting part of our discussion was that they felt Nola Marino was in trouble in Forrest (regional southwest WA) which I have my doubts about. Any realistic prospect that Labor has in Forrest will depend on the Liberals getting a repeat dose of the swing they suffered in the state seat of Bunbury in the 2017 state election plus some help from the Teal Greens* further south in Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River.

    * Google reliably informs me that the Greens candidate for Forrest is Neralee Boshammer, who I went to school with and knew reasonably well. I’m shocked to learn she’s a Green, I would have said as National as they come, and will also add nastily that the 20 years since we graduated high school together have not been kind to her. They have not been kind to me either, but I was never good looking to begin with. In the absence of further information, I’m going to assume that she’s as Teal Green as they come. Not to be trusted under any circumstances.

  17. I can’t help feeling we are lining in a over-written Forsyth or Clancy novel – maybe even a Dan Brown. This is getting ridiculous.


    Personally, I just suspect Putin knew that a trump presidency would screw the US, NATO and the west, and has blackmail power over trump that he can use whenever he likes to make trump do his bidding and then cause constitutional crisis by bring trump down when it suits him. I don’t think Trump and his team ‘colluded’ so much as were played by Putin so that Putin has the smoking gun evidence of ‘collusion’ (as well as possibly the pee pee tape and dodgy russian loans) ready to threaten to and eventually release when it suits him. The main questions are how much trump gives putin before this is over and what the fallout will be when it all comes out. You’d hope the fallout will be an implosion the the republicans, but I suspect they’ll bounce back, and say ‘trump was never one of us’.

  18. grimace, O’Connor is likely as safe as any Lib-held seat can be at present. But it would not surprise me if they lose Forrest. The Lib essentials are quite out of synch with the demographics in that seat. It should be a Labor seat.

  19. briefly @ #2077 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 10:07 pm

    grimace, O’Connor is likely as safe as any Lib-held seat can be at present. But it would not surprise me if they lose Forrest. The Lib essentials are quite out of synch with the demographics in that seat. It should be a Labor seat.

    I agree with you that if you knew nothing about the seat you’d guess it was solid Labor. In reality, the only Labor positive part of the electorate is Bunbury. Busselton, Dunsborough, Margaret River and Augusta are solidly Liberal/National. The inland areas of the electorate are of course nut job National.

    I’d rate it as the seat in WA most likely to fall to the Greens, in which case, I’d rather the Liberals kept it.

  20. Lovey @ #1882 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 1:41 pm


    You are being obtuse. You have crossed enough borders to know the principle of visitor visas. That is the reality.

    Another reality is that many if not most of the on-shore applications are without merit. Here is a good analysis-


    Did you actually read what your link says.

    I’ve just had time to do so and the issue he highlights is a huge increase in the number of applications from;

    Table 4: Onshore Protection Visa Applications (ie Asylum Seekers)

    Year:- 2014-15:-2015-16:- 2016-17:- 2017-18
    Total:- 8,587:- 9,554:- 18,290:- 27,931
    Malaysia:- 1,401:- 3,549:- 8,579:- 9,319
    China:- 1,299:- 1,099:- 2,269:- 9,315
    India:- 674:- 582:- 1,133:- 1,529

    So, in 2017-18 more than 20,000 of a total 27,931 asylum seeker claims came from 3 Countries that have a very low rate of legitimate claims, he mentions about 2%.

    He talks about this being part of a rort where people are brought over on visitor visas, they then claim asylum and are moved to a bridging visa which allows them to work.

    Such a surge in ‘unmeritorious’ protection visa applications does not occur by accident or by chance. It requires a significant degree of organisation as our visa system is complex as are our workplace laws. For such a large increase in ‘unmeritorious’ protection visa applications to occur, people smugglers need to understand the paralysis the Home Affairs Department has created in the visa system through massive application backlogs. But they must also:

    recruit potential low skill overseas workers by convincing them of the ‘attractive’ jobs they will get in Australia;

    get the workers through the Home Affairs’ visitor visa processes;

    past Australian airport liaison officers stationed at relevant airports (eg at Kuala Lumpur and Singapore);

    past Border Force officers at Australian airports;

    transport them to likely unscrupulous employers and ensure they collect their ongoing ‘commission’ from the workers and/or employers;

    lodge protection visa applications on behalf of the workers so they can work in Australia legally;
    appeal the negative protection visa decisions at the AAT so overall time in Australia is extended to possibly more than 2-3 years.


    This has nothing to do with the two cases we have been discussing and you are conflating the issue by trying to include it.

    So that seems to leave less than 6,000 people who travelled by plane to Australia on a valid visa who subsequently claimed asylum with some merit to that claim.

    I certainly don’t see those numbers as being much of a problem in the scheme of things.

    Certainly the rort outlined above is a concern that needs to be dealt with and he goes through some ways that the Government and Immigration may be able to attack it.

  21. As predictable as the sunrise – ScuMo to pick fights over Australia Day:

    “Councils forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26
    SEPTEMBER 25, 2018
    Every council will be forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day with the Morrison Government making good on its threat to strip rogues councils of their citizenship rights.”

    Billed as an “Exclusive”, which in this case probably means a drop from the PM’s office rather than some crap they made up.

    And note the date – copied from Outline – this story is 4 months old, or the fight was planned 4 months ago.

    Daily Telecrap, so no link.

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