From the latest Essential Media Report (this updates every week).
It looks like actual Liberal voters are the only people who support Tony Abbott. By contrast much of Malcolm Turnbull’s support comes from ALP and Greens voters. To be sure those people are very unlikely to vote Liberal at a general election. Most of them? Yes.
Right now, however, the Liberals don’t have a majority of voters voting for them anyway. The Essential Media Report has the 2PP at 47 – 53. So they are going to have to pick up votes somewhere. This is where Turnbull can come in.
Here is a very good quote from Milton Friedman (via Greg Mankiw):
I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.
Youtube clip here.
Here is the thing: There is no downside to either the ALP or the Greens totally ignoring the Abbott government’s agenda (what’s that you say?). Abbott simply cannot create an environment where the wrong people would do the right thing (i.e. support good policy in the Senate). But a third of ALP and Greens voters would be open to Turnbull being leader. He could create such an environment.
So here is Abbott’s problem – neatly explained in the Essential Media Report. Not enough people outside of his own rusted on support base reckon Abbott is up to the task of being PM. If the Liberals already held a majority of the vote that wouldn’t matter. But they don’t. The Liberals are in a position of having to pick up votes from here to win the next election. That means broadening their appeal.