An untrustworthy, unimaginative, incompetent dunderhead

That’s how voters see their prime minister Tony Abbott, says Laura Tingle of the most recent Nielsen Poll.

More of that later, but the poll sees the ruling LNP stabilise in landslide loss territory at 54-46:

Nielsen Jy 2014_cropped_600

The only demographics where the LNP has a clear lead in the primary vote are the 55+ group and WA. But in WA the TPP lead is only 52-48, well within the margin of error. Queensland has turned sour for the LNP at 45-55.

Abbott’s approval rating has improved from -25 to -18. Abbott’s overall personal rating may improve further due to his handling of the response to the Ukraine air tragedy but his real problem seems to lie in the voters’ view of his personal attributes. Abbott continually hammered the Gillard government over competency and trust. He fails on both counts.

According to Nielsen, voters now rate his competence as slightly lower than Gillard’s.

They do not rate him as being as strong a leader, believe him to be even less trustworthy, and have an even weaker grasp on economics.

At least the former prime minister had a majority of voters believing she had a firm grasp on foreign and social policy – only 43 per cent of voters rate Abbott on foreign policy and 34 per cent on social policy.

Abbott has strengths (above 50%) in his clear vision for Australia’s future and in his ability to make things happen. However, his weakness on social policy is severe, contrasting with Shorten’s strength. In context Abbott’s strengths may be problematic.

Shorten emerges as a more competent and trustworthy figure, but he is yet to be seen as a strong leader with a vision for the country and an ability to make things happen. Perhaps a problem of opposition.

Shorten still heads Abbott as preferred PM but has slipped slightly from 47-40 to 46-41.

On economic policy they are even, and not very good on 45%.

Prior to the budget Joe Hockey had a clear lead over Chris Bowen as preferred treasurer at 51-34. Now they are virtually even at 43-42.

Reading opinion polls is a bit like reading tea leaves, but the Abbott government’s problems appear fundamental.