Australian politicians have broken new ground in the unpopularity stakes, with the nation electing its least favourite Prime Minister in decades.

While Tony Abbott and the LNP enjoyed victory over all opponents, according to the latest Australian Election Study from the Australian National University (ANU) he may only have been the lesser of several evils.

But Mr Abbott is not alone; it appears the nation has begrudgingly accepted leaders across the parties, though they are not very well-liked.

For the first time since the study began, none of Australia’s political leaders have scored above an average of 5 on the scale from zero to 10.

Nationals’ leader Warren Truss was the most popular leader following the 2013 election with a score of 4.34, followed by Mr Abbott with 4.29.

Labor leaders Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd scored 4.04 and 4.07 respectively, while Greens leader Christine Milne was the least popular on 3.81.

“Tony Abbott, on average, is less popular than any Prime Minister in the history of the study, which began in 1987,” said Sarah Cameron, who co-wrote the report with Professor Ian McAllister, both from the ANU School of Politics and International Relations.

“The Australian Election Study shows that Australian politicians are less popular than ever.

“However, Abbott compared favourably to former Labor leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard after the 2013 election.”

The Australian Election Study surveys a representative sample of around 4,000 people following federal elections.

The latest study, Trends in Australian Political Opinion, found voters saw little difference between the likeability of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, and that Tony Abbott’s popularity did not change significantly from 2010 to 2013, although he became relatively more popular compared to the decline in popularity for Gillard and Rudd.

It appears a majority of Australians like parts of the policies of the LNP and Labor parties, but not all.

More people support the Coalition’s policies on taxation, immigration and asylum seekers, while preferring the Labor Party’s policies on education, health, the environment, and climate change.

Satisfaction with democracy dropped to 72 per cent in 2010 and 2013, compared to scores above 80 per cent in 2004 and 2007. Potential explanations include the minority government of 2010, Labor party leadership turmoil, and lower levels of leader popularity.

In 1998, just 30 per cent of Australians thought the Queen and Royal family were important to Australia; this has now risen to 44 per cent. This is correlated with a gradual decline in support for Australia becoming a republic, down to 53 per cent from a high point of 66 per cent before the Republic Referendum of 1999.

The full report ‘Trends in Australian Political Opinion: Results from the Australian Election Study, 1987-2013’, is available here.