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. Maude Lynne says:
    Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    “You can get it right now, straight from the AFL, enjoy.”

    Yes, you can. But if you want decent quality, without buffering, you’ll need decent speed.
    The old ADSL just doesn’t deliver, and nor does much of the FttN if you have multiple users at home.

    Murdoch was worried about this in 2010.
    Ah it’s clear, Murdoch was not worried about people streaming a game of AFL, it was all a plot against the multiple users! He didn’t want Dad sulking off to the games room and watching the footy there, while the wife watched Outlander on Netflix. The Australian Family Association should be giving him a medal for keeping everyone in the same room! Maude, you are too funny!

  2. Nath
    “ly good commercial explanations no one has ever explained any. I guess it’s just the vibe. I agree that Murdoch has been a malignancy, but he has plenty of real trespasses upon the Australian public that it does not require making any up, or imagining him as some evil mastermind behind every unwanted development.”
    He’s not an evil mastermind. He’s just a very clever, ruthless businessman, who wants control.
    As several people have tried to explain to you, the NBN is a threat to his business model. Labor’s FttP was a very big threat.
    LNP MTM a much smaller threat.
    He knew this in 2010, which is why he did all he could to stop it.

    Thanks for the discussion, Nath and other PBers.
    I haven’t had such a long one re NBN for a while.

  3. It’s fanciful in the extreme to think the Tories don’t get their communication policy ideas from Murdoch.

    Abbott wanted to destroy the NBN. I doubt he came up with that idea himself. Smarter people than me generally agree that the original NBN could have hurt Murdochs businesses.

    He didn’t manage it but Turnbull has served up a much lesser model. Maybe Murdoch ended up happy with that.

    Love him or loathe him, Murdoch has shown the ability throughout his long career in business to move with the times. Often he has been ahead of them.

    Speculation about his methods and motives has been material for more than a few books and he still has people guessing.

  4. C@tmomma says:
    Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 7:42 pm
    briefly @ #1940 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 7:18 pm

    Considering the Liberals are so unpopular in Victoria, will Credlin run in Mallee? Would she win?

    A Conservative Drover’s Dog could win in Mallee. So, right up Credlin’s alley.

    You’d think so. In a normal environment, there’d be no question about it. But she hasn’t nominated yet. Does Credlin have cold feet? She’s never wanted to run in the past. Her views on climate change could be an obstacle….

  5. P.S. to DTT (I’ll stop now)

    Trump has said in (relation to NATO) that Montenegro could easily start WW3. Sounds like something he learned off his Russian mates to me.

    No doubt Russians think NATO = WW3. If that is the leap of logic you are making, then I can’t help you. NATO has existed during a particularly peaceful period of European history. That may well be because of MAD, but we don’t need Trump’s version of MAD thrown in as well.

    I can’t resist some Colbert humour.

  6. I seem to remember an amount of money being given to Murdoch to provide radio coverage in Asia and beyond and the ABC coverage discontinued.
    Kowtowing to an influential party perhaps?
    Arguing that Murdoch acts for the good of mankind in a philanthropistical manner is pissing into the wind.

  7. In fact either of the NBN alternatives would sit comfortably with any Newscorp plans for Foxtel. Foxtel has suffered only due to Netflix, and not any increased speeds the internet can provide. In fact, Foxtel streaming services which carried Sports, could have reached a far greater market than could the HFC. Which is probably why Murdoch tweeted in 2013:

    Rupert Murdoch
    ‏Verified account @rupertmurdoch

    Oz politics! We all like ideal of NBN, especially perfect for Foxtel. But first how can it be financed in present situation?
    9:54 PM – 4 Aug 2013

  8. @nath


    It was properly financed by the Government, which paid for itself over time, This has been shown many times.

    Stop believing everything you hear about the NBN from Murdoch.

    If We can pay billions of dollars for roads, then we can pay for the NBN.


  9. Craig Emerson
    ‏ @DrCraigEmerson
    5h5 hours ago

    Craig Emerson Retweeted Johny Miller

    Treasurer Josh Frydenberg mentions Labor 23 times in just one column. Maybe he should spend more time being Treasurer that as opposition to the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen? @Bowenchris #oppositiontotheopposition

  10. I’m talking about Murdoch and his interests in either of the NBN varieties. Nothing to do with the virtues of either.

    It’s like I’ve stumbled upon a trailer park full of people wearing foil hats.

  11. phoenixRED @ #1826 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 3:25 pm

    New York Times just catching up! Many knew of #TrumpTreason @LouiseMensch @20committee @TrueFactsStated @TheRickWilson @lauferlaw @LincolnsBible @TeaPainUSA Have been saying this for years now #PatriotsUniteToSaveAmerica

    If you say enough things, eventually at least one of them is bound to turn out to be true. 🙂

  12. Interesting origins of our conspiracy minded denizens:

    An early allusion to an “insulative electrical contrivance encircling the head during thought” appears in the unusual 1909 non-fiction publication Atomic Consciousness [2] by self-proclaimed “seer” John Palfrey (aka “James Bathurst”) who believed such headgear was not effective for his “retention of thoughts and ideas” against a supposed “telepathic impactive impingement”.[3]

    The usage of a metal foil hat for protection against interference of the mind was mentioned in a science fiction short story by Julian Huxley, “The Tissue-Culture King”, first published in 1926,[4][5] in which the protagonist discovers that “caps of metal foil” can block the effects of telepathy.[6]

    Some people have a belief that such hats prevent mind control by governments, spies, or paranormal beings that employ ESP or the microwave auditory effect. People in many countries who believe they are “targeted individuals” (TIs), subject to government spying or harassment, have developed websites, conference calls, and support meetings to discuss their concerns, including the idea of protective headgear.[7] Over time the term “tin foil hat” has become associated with paranoia and conspiracy theories.[8]


  13. Perhaps Frydenberg has enough self awareness to realise, based on his complete lack of achievement as a minister, that if he ever tried to actually do the job of Treasurer he would fuck it up so completely that the Libs wouldn’t vote for him as LOTO after the election even if he was the only Liberal to hold his seat in the HOR.

  14. @Nath

    You obviously don’t understand that tweet, and the vested interests since then.

    You said you were not talking about NBN, but that tweet has everything to do with NBN.

  15. I am surprised that anybody seriously thinks Credlin would run in a rural seat in Victoria.

    She may have spent time as a child in the area but all her working life has been as a business and political mover and shaker in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.

    She would most likely prefer her current job, which is probably better paid and has more influence on the debate in Tory circles.

    Her rocking up at a cattle sale in the obligatory akubra and R M Williams outfit would no doubt make a fine photo but it takes more than that to woo rural voters who might be feeling a little disaffected.

    They will want to vote for one of their own.

  16. Zoidlord says:
    Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 8:06 pm


    You obviously don’t understand that tweet, and the vested interests since then.

    You said you were not talking about NBN, but that tweet has everything to do with NBN.
    I was demonstrating that Murdoch was not worried about the impact of the NBN on Foxtel. It has been the ‘content’ from Netflix that has seen Foxtel slide, not the speeds of either of the NBN proposals.

  17. Pay TV came to Australia some decade or so after it was available in comparable countries. Then existing (and in some cases now non-existant) media interests through lobbying held it up until they could control it.

    Murdoch persuaded his political allies to nobble the NBN? Business as usual.

  18. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-media-campaign-against-the-government-revealed,5071
    “He pissed a few of us off by jumping too soon, thinking that people might tie the announcement to the meeting with Murdoch, which luckily they didn’t. The NBN will effect Murdoch’s profits, and let’s be very clear on that, so the reason to back Abbott was clearly motivated by money for the media empire.”

    “News Corp views this as a threat to the business model of its most important Australian asset, Foxtel, jointly owned with Telstra.”

  19. nath

    Rupes dominates the MSM here. Perhaps he was concerned about not having such control in the new media. Rudd’s NBN plan going FTTP could have been a bit of a ‘out of left field’ for him. So he needed/wanted to delay things a bit until he could position himself to take the sort of strong position he no doubt thinks is his by right ?

  20. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/01/rupert-murdoch-vs-internet/47453/


    “War is Rupert Murdoch’s natural state. When he launched the Fox Broadcasting Company, in October 1986, he went to war against the hegemony of CBS, ABC, and NBC. With Fox News he crossed swords with CNN’s Ted Turner. At Sky, his satellite-TV system in the U.K., he went up against the BBC. He’s battled China, the F.C.C., the print unions in Great Britain, and, recently, most of the journalism community in his takeover of The Wall Street Journal. He relishes conflict and doesn’t back down—one reason why he’s won so many of his fights and so profoundly changed the nature of his industry.

    Now he’s going to war with the Internet.”


  21. All you’ve done is demonstrate that the paranoia around Murdoch is not restricted to this site. I still haven’t been able to see how the NBN, under any shape or form, undermines Foxtel or any part of Newscorp whatsoever.

  22. Nine News Melbourne
    ‏Verified account @9NewsMelb

    The Morrison Government has been dealt a significant blow, with internal polling showing the Liberal Party is set to lose almost all of its Victorian seats at this year’s election. @jekearsley #9News

  23. Complete nonsense Nath, you believe a tweet, but you don’t believe evidence.

    Their is evidence also of who controls the NBN Board.

    Former Telstra Executives.

  24. cant see any evidence or motivation myself. Anyway, I’m off to watch Foxtel over the NBN, at a perfectly good speed of 27 mbps. No need for a foxtel box, you just stream it over the NBN! money that Murdoch could not have been making if Foxtel was just restricted to HFC or satellite. I wont have satellites on the roof! no way.

  25. As we recall, the launch of the then Opposition Liberal Nation Coalition’s NBN policy in 2013 was a joint operation with Newcorp at a galah function at Fox Studios, complete with coordinated Daily Telecrap front page coverage praising it and rubbishing the Government’s plans, featuring completely incredible (in the original sense of the word) cost projections and schedules for both plans, spun good for the Opposition and bad fir the Government.

  26. nath

    Perhaps it is just Rupert is crap at ‘the internet’ ? So many of his rivers of gold dried up due to the change , they were his babies, so he hates ‘the internet’. Nothing says a media tycoon can’t be a crank 😉

  27. Who can forget our elected PM on his knees, on his knees FFS, beseeching Rupert for his attention.

    And the event this was snapped at? I reckon nath knows…

  28. nath says:

    Anyway, I’m off to watch Foxtel

    HURRY. You will be able to catch the end of the ” Howard Government Retrospective 2002-2004″ a must see 🙂

  29. Spruiking (rhymes with puking) Credlin.

    On January 7, Aaron Patrick reported in The Australian Financial Review: “Liberal Party officials are eager to recruit Ms Credlin, who they believe could wrestle the rural-based seat from the Nationals’ grip. Sources who know the former top aide to Tony Abbott say she is likely to run if the Nationals choose a weak candidate.”

    This line sets up the narrative that if Credlin nominates she is effectively declaring the Nat a dud. Broad was only 43 and rising in Canberra, so there could not have been ambitious Nats angling for the seat.

    Credlin is apparently waiting to see who the Nats preselect. If she nominates for Liberal preselection, who would run against this Amazonian? Likely no-one because, unlike in NSW, the Liberals in Victoria are democratic and all local members vote for candidates, which disempowers factional creeps


  30. nath @ #1980 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 7:21 pm

    cant see any evidence or motivation myself. Anyway, I’m off to watch Foxtel over the NBN, at a perfectly good speed of 27 mbps.

    Except if you’re paying for 50/20. Then 27 Mbps isn’t “perfectly good” at all.

    Same deal if your line characteristics mean you couldn’t pay for 100/40 (or higher speeds) even if you wanted to.

    The NBN was supposed to remove arbitrary, premises-specific barriers on max attainable speeds and ensure that everyone (or at least, 93% of everyone) who wanted/needed faster speeds could get them.

  31. Those Trump bankruptcies are starting to make sense

    As a businessman, Donald Trump ran casino companies that spiraled into bankruptcy four different times. Yet he persuaded voters in 2016 that he’s a savvy businessman who would run the government with a new kind of efficiency.

    He hasn’t. The carnival barker in Trump is omnipresent: Everything he touches is always going great, while his critics and opponents are indolent and stupid. But in terms of results, Trump is running the government like a misfit CEO who can’t explain why losses keep mounting and the stock keeps tanking. Under his watch, Uncle Sam is starting to look like General Electric.

    Trump is now presiding over a needless government shutdown because Congressional Democrats refuse to appropriate funding for his beloved border wall. You can’t run any kind of business this way—by bringing the whole house down unless you get everything you want—but Trump seems to think voters want stubborn, absolutist leadership. They don’t, and Trump is excruciatingly slow to learn that nobody in Washington wins from a shutdown, except whoever gets the least blame.

    As president, Trump has shown other signs that he’s poorly equipped to run a large organization:


  32. I guess Credlin would be asking herself why she would be attracted to being in Opposition for between 6 and 9 years, in the company of a political rump that thoroughly detest her and hold her at least partly accountable for their defeat. So the chances she might run would be low. That would be a very good thing for the voters of Mallee, who might get a genuine local MP willing to stand up for their interests and for the restoration of sane policies rather than the continued prosecution of ideological warfare.

  33. WeWantPaul @ #1732 Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 12:53 pm

    On the contrary I think Occam’s razor gives you the favour for Murdoch outcome. It is a much stronger and much more obvious motivating factor, the whole ‘obviously good infrastructure is bad’ just wouldn’t have worked without 150% support from Murdoch

    You’d be correct there if it were true that the NBN was perceived as ‘obviously good infrastructure’ by most Australians at the time. Unfortunately Labor badly botched the rollout in the early days, repeatedly missing targets, revising them, and missing them again. Delays mounted, costs blew out, etc., etc..

    Made it easy for an argument to be made against “Labor’s NBN”. No Murdoch/media propaganda required.

    The sad thing is, Labor’s NBN is great. I’ve got it:

    Paying for 100/40, and that’s exactly what I get (less ~5% TCP overhead).

  34. Trump is an idiot who thinks he is a genius, a failed businessman who thinks he is succesful. He has been owned for decades and is still owned as the President, even if he doesn’t realise it. He has no idea what a succesful businessman does. He has no idea what a President does. He fills his days trying to look the part. It is truly astonishing that he has lasted as long as he has.

  35. briefly:

    I view Credlin as more of a Senate candidate than a HoR candidate. I can’t see her deigning to do the hard work of campaigning among ordinary people as she would have to do in a lower house electorate. She reminds me of Concetta Fierrvanti-Wells.

  36. The reason I stopped buying the Australian and would not ever pay for a Murdoch product was the relentless stream of bullshit about the NBN. The Climate change denial was bad enough but the NBN stories were just blatant propaganda.

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