Opposition leader Bill Shorten
Opposition leader Bill Shorten

Unlikeable Bill Shorten for next PM?

OPINION

The man opinion polls spotlight as the victor of the next Federal Election is also one of the most unpopular politicians in the country.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten might be the leader most likely, but he is not the most likeable leader, and this could be critical in a tight contest expected within the coming 18 months.

The Labor Opposition ends the year with the Government battling its own demons as well as those cultivated by Labor, but 2017 also has been the year in which Mr Shorten was highly visible and well-travelled, but not significantly more attractive to electors.

His good news is that both Newspoll in The Australian and Ipsos-Fairfax today gave Labor 53 per cent of the two-party preferred vote to the Coalition's 47 per cent - a persistent gap which would see government change if repeated at an election.

But there also are clear findings that Mr Shorten hasn't roused much warmth from voters. Neither he nor Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is an electoral heart-throb but personal ratings are important.

That's why the major parties spend so much time mocking "Born-to-Rule" Turnbull and "Electricity" Bill.

Newspoll found Mr Shorten had a 54 per cent dissatisfaction rating to Mr Turnbull's whopping 57 per cent. Ipsos reported the Labor leader's disapproval mark was 52 per cent to Mr Turnbull's 49 per cent.

Tucked away among the Newspoll survey questions was one on likability, a subjective matter without much weight except during that walk to the ballot box.

Mr Turnbull had a likability rating of 58 per cent and Mr Shorten just 47 per cent. That's an 11 per cent margin to the Prime Minister of a government just 34 per cent of Australians said would get their primary vote.

The Prime Minister's likability has plummeted since he took office. It was 71 per cent in February 2016. Mr Shorten's has been largely static over all this time.

On other matters they were relatively even, with Mr Turnbull the more arrogant of the two by 61 per cent to 53 per cent, and Mr Shorten more in touch with voters with 51 per cent to 42 per cent.

The Coalition has put a lot of time into the so-called Kill Bill strategy, raising decisions he made as a trade union leader for example, and accusing him of policy retreats.

The figures above could indicate the strategy is paying off.

However, Mr Turnbull has also had his critics, including a substantial lobby of right-wing commentators in the media who have encouraged and disseminated criticism of him, and even abetted rebellion threats.

That the Prime Minister has largely survived that Labor/Right pincer assault is remarkable, and Ipsos today found 80 per cent of Coalition voters are against a leadership change.

Voters don't necessarily want their Prime Minister to be someone they'd want to invite to dinner or just have a quick beer with. But they do want to be able to respect them, which is part of confidence in leadership.

Mr Shorten will have to ensure his low likability doesn't convert into electoral distrust.

Arrogant? Maybe, but opinion polls suggest that’s what the punters want with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appearing to be more likeable than his political opponent.
Arrogant? Maybe, but opinion polls suggest that’s what the punters want with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appearing to be more likeable than his political opponent.


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