Prime Minister Tony Abbott's low personal standing and an ''unfair'' budget would have had the federal government swept from office in an election held last week, despite the Coalition closing the gap with a four-point rally in its primary vote.
A mini-recovery has wiped out some of Labor's lead but the ALP is still six points ahead after preferences - 53 per cent to 47 per cent.
The nationwide Fairfax-Nielsen poll of 1400 voters taken between last Thursday and Saturday also found two-thirds of voters, or 66 per cent, opposed Australian military involvement to restore order in Iraq compared to 31 per cent favouring Australian participation.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten remains the preferred prime minister for 47 per cent of voters with Mr Abbott languishing on 40 per cent. The Labor leader also enjoying a positive net approval rating of +1 per cent compared to Mr Abbott on -25 per cent.
Equally worrying for Mr Abbott is the finding that Malcolm Turnbull, the man he replaced as leader in 2009 by just one party-room vote, is preferred by Australians at the rate of two-to-one in a straight shoot-out between the two men. The situation, however, is almost reversed among Liberal voters.
Mr Turnbull is also far and away the most popular leader in a field of six Liberals, virtually doubling Mr Abbott's 21 per cent support at 40 per cent and almost quadrupling support for others mentioned in dispatches. Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop registered 11 per cent each and Christopher Pyne and Scott Morrison got low support at 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.
The Coalition will take some comfort from its primary support rebounding to 39 per cent from the May 15-17 survey, where it had dropped to 35 per cent - its lowest since 2010. Labor's primary vote dropped three points to 37.
In the past two weeks, Mr Abbott was seen on nightly news bulletins strutting the world stage.
On a two-party-preferred basis, Labor maintained a strong lead of 53/47 but had lost some ground since the May survey, which peaked at 56/44 in Labor's favour.
Some 35 per cent of voters approve of the way Mr Abbott is doing his job compared to 60 per cent who disapprove - making for a net rating of minus 25, which is a 3-point improvement since May 17. Mr Shorten's approval rating stayed narrowly in positive territory. Forty-two per cent approved of the way he was performing - down 5 points - and an almost identical 41 per cent disapproved for net rating of plus 1 per cent.
The budget, much of which is blocked or has not been introduced, appears to be a key factor driving the Coalition vote down, with 61 per cent regarding it as unfair and just a third saying is it fair.
Pollster John Stirton noted that the question of fairness had been asked in the aftermath of eight of the 19 federal budgets since 1996 and that this was the first time in which a majority had marked a federal budget as unfair.
The poll will come as no surprise to Liberal and Nationals MPs who are increasingly aware of voter dissatisfaction with the budget.
While the government secured passage for its temporary 2 per cent deficit levy on top tax bracket earnings last week, several other aspects of the budget face stiff opposition in the existing Senate dominated by Labor and the Greens and in the new upper house from next month.
In a bid to force the pace, the government will push much of the legislation for measures intended to start from July 1 into Parliament this week, having tabled the legislation just days ago.