Abbott has switched his strategy from attack to consolidate, making the ALP's challenge all but insurmountable. In doing so, he is following the lead of Howard in 1996 and Rudd in 2007.
In 2007, Rudd eventually won with just about the same 2PP vote as his predecessor, Kim Beazley, was getting in the polls when he was overthrown by the new exciting Rudd / Gillard team in 2006.
For all the frantic activity and commentary in the intervening 10 months or so, the electorate seemed largely unmoved.
The same thing happened in NSW in 2011. Kenneally replaced Rees, campaigned furiously to much acclaim but little movement in the electorate.
A small but significant portion of the electorate decided sometime in the first year or two of Howard's fourth term that they had had enough of him. It might have had something to do with WorkChoices, it might have had something to do with general hubris resulting from control of the Senate; whatever factors or factors contributed to the electoral shift (and we're only talking a few per cent) it proved decisive. The best you could say for the Rudd / Gillard team was that they locked in the shift and did enough to stop the libs getting back. But Beazley might have done that anyway.
NSW is just a more drammatic example. The ALP Government was on a hiding to nothing; it changed leaders (again) and the result was pretty much the same. I suspect that a shift to Rudd at this late stage would be similarly unfruitful.
Since Gillard announced the carbon tax in February 2011, she has been unable to get back the portion of the electorate that had their unfavourable views of her leadership confirmed by this 'treachery'.
Abbott has been successful in exploiting the opportunity to destroy the Government's credibility that Gillard's announcement handed to him. The Opposition has also won the contest on asylum seekers. Meanwhile, Swan has pretty much trashed the Government's economic credentials with his bizarre mishandling of the mining tax and surplus issues.
There have been fluctuations but Abbott's LNP are probably on track to get between 52 - 54 percent of the vote in September.
Unless something really dramatic happens.
The odds are heavily against that because the key electors already have views about Gillard, Swan and one or two other senior government figures. They will remember the news that confirms those perceptions and ignore anything that seems contrary to their views.
Nevertheless, Abbott is now in the process of locking in his considerable political advantages.
He just needs to be safe and look positive.
Howard locked in his advantage in 1996 by promising not to do anything radical, Rudd went even further in 2007 annoying the Libs by saying 'me-too' on most of Howard's conservative economic and social agenda.
Howard, Rudd and, now, Abbott are playing like a cricketer who knows he only has to play a straight bat until stumps and he will win the game.
Abbott has the runs on the board and he only has to defend his wicket against a pretty lame bowling attack for a few more overs.