What we think of the leaders - December 2013 qual

We don't really think that much of either leader. While Abbott had some moments of relative popularity during the Gillard and Rudd governments, that was because they were even less popular than he is. Perhaps this loathing of political leaders is feeding into an irritation with the political system as a whole.

The Leximancer maps below tell the story in relatively few words. There is implacable resistance to both Abbott and Shorten from Labor/Greens or Coalition supporters on the other side. Minor party voters are split between the two, and tend to favour Abbott on balance.

The first map is of qualitative responses to whether or not Abbott is performing well.

Abbott Why_Thumb_13_12

Abbott's strongest support comes from people who think he is trying and the media isn't giving him a fair go. They are also withholding judgement as there hasn't been enough time. They are also reactive - giving him marks for dealing with "issues" from "Labor", but not nominating any in particular.

His strongest opponents are inclined to accuse him of breaking "promises", suggest he has no "vision" and isn't a "leader". Interestingly opponents are more likely to mention "boats" and "Indonesia" putting a premium on Australia's relationship with Indonesia over and above turning the boats back. They are less vague than his supporters and nominate policy areas where he should do better, being "climate change", "education" (including "Gonski"), "boats" and "Indonesia".

The next map looks at Shorten's approvals. (Apologies, but I've tried rotating it so that all the words are visible, but it was near impossible to achieve.)

Shorten Why_Thumb_13_12

Bill Shorten's strongest suit appears to be that at the moment he's not Tony Abbott - as you can see from the fact that his opponent's name appears close to his on the map. Again there is a sentiment that it is too "early" to "tell" and this is associated most strongly with minor party respondents.

Reasons for disapproving of him include "union" links, that he is "negative", "Labor" and membership of the "previous" government. While the Libs have a personnel problem with Abbott, Labor has a brand or institutional problem with "Labor".

As noted in the quants, support for each is evenly split when we ask who would be the better prime minister. Here is how the arguments line up.

Preferred PM_Why_Thumb_13_12

If I were either of the leaders I would be more comfortable with to be Tony Abbott, looking at this map, even though I am slightly behind on the vote.

Abbott is front and centre as the issue, and as Oscar Wilde knew, there is only one thing worse than people talking about you, and that is people not talking about you. While a lot of the talk is negative, as the focus of talk he also has potential to leverage his arguments.

He is also associated with concepts such as "trust" and "honest", which is what makes his suttering pirhouettes on Gonski look odd - why risk that tremendously valuable political capital with his supporters?

The word most closely associated with Shorten is "anyone" as in "anyone would be better than Abbott". While governments lose elections, you still need to project some sort of a message as an opposition so that you can capitalise on that. Being wholly negative is not a viable option.

The reputational problem for Labor is also there as a negative for Shorten with Abbott supporters, present in the word "union". The government's decision to launch a royal commission into union slush funds says they are getting the same mail. This won't just be aimed at the former PM, but will take in friends and associates in the AWU and other unions.

As our quants show Shorten has made a weak impression with the electorate. That leaves an opening for the government to paint in the detail that they want so as to define him unfavourably with voters.


Grn: Tony Abbott is a disaster for the country and for the globe - Foreign aid slashed Climate change totally denied any business apart from destructive ones (like mining) chopped Transparency of government - non - existent Australian people, especially those most vulnerable - sacrificed in the guise of saving money, yet big business getting massive subsidies. Gina's little pet dog Australia sacrificed in teh name of trade.

LP: Shorten is a union man beholden to the factions, Australia does not need that sort of leader. The ALP should break its ties with the union movement and became an independent political party .

LP: Tony Abbott is proving to be a pragmatic thinking and experienced leader. This was well illustrated at the recent COAG meeting when the many of the premiers expressed that comment that the COAG meeting was a productive meeting of equals discussing subjects instead of them being told what to do all the time.

ALP: In the time he has been opposition leader the guy has learnt to be more considered in his answers and being the opposite of An intemperate Abbott and his bully boys and girls.

ALP:Sorry but Abbott leaves me cold. I voted for liberal last time in teh hope that we might see some maturity in government, but the born-to-rule attitudes of he and his front bench and schoolboy diplomacy is appalling

Minor: Bill Shorten is an ex union thug...and should be behind bars along with at least half the members of the Labor party. He is unfit to be a politician much less Prime Minister

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+4 #1 RE: What we think of the leaders - December 2013 qualPeter Hindrup 2014-01-27 18:49
Abbott's strongest support comes 'from people who think he is trying'

Trying? that he certainly is!
+7 #2 RE: What we think of the leaders - December 2013 qualPaul B 2014-01-28 08:05
His assault on the poor at the behest of the rich has begun ,he is really trying hard to please his masters :-x
+2 #3 RE: What we think of the leaders - December 2013 qualDavid Walker 2014-01-28 09:26
A pox on all their houses! Government - narrowness of vision and the mindset of mediocre accountants with no idea of "Nation". Labor - The millstone of Rudd and Gillard round their necks armed with feather dusters and whimpering voices. The Rest - mere bit players.
+5 #4 RE: What we think of the leaders - December 2013 qualLorikeet 2014-01-28 15:46
I am worried about the effects of these new pluralateral free trade agreements with Asian nations. Methinks we are about to be forced into a Pacific Economic Union which will bring all nations down/up to the lowest common denominator. Financial hits on sole parents, disability pensioners and failure to increase Newstart would be in line with an Asian Style Welfare System....none!
-2 #5 RE: What we think of the leaders - December 2013 qualAnne Miller 2014-01-29 14:59
Kevin Rudd signed a document in which he agreed to giving them money. The solution was amicable to both Indonesia and Australia. There were less boats coming also. Now we find Indonesia not getting any financial assistance and even though the reports say the boats have stopped, we have alienated the Indonesia government so much so that they have army boats patroling their borders, since the australian government said we crossed into their waters. I think this is a concern and I am wondering what we should be thinking and if we had another chance in an election what would happen. We seem to be lacking in diplomacy.
+1 #6 MrColin Niebling 2014-03-28 13:41
I dont think much of either leader but Labor elected the wrong one,the current Parliament is a digraceful mobwith totally Biased Speaker who should be sacked if she keeps going she will do the Country a favour by getting rid of the LemoNade Party in the next election