Liberal leadership tension over the past year has been blamed for dragging down the party's vote.
Scott Morrison took over the Liberal leadership in August last year after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton sought to bring down Malcolm Turnbull, but failed to gain the numbers to take the top job himself.
Labor has consistently led in the polls and made much of the ongoing tension between moderates and conservatives in the Liberals.
Former Victorian Liberal president Michael Kroger said it had been a difficult period for the party, especially in his state were there had been "tension in the air".
"The leadership change didn't go down well here as everybody knows," he told Sky News.
He also pointed to damaging events such as Liberal MP Julia Banks quitting the party to stand as an independent.
Liberal senator and veteran strategist Arthur Sinodinos said having found himself in the leadership not so long ago, Mr Morrison had to take a tough approach to the campaign.
"You have had a prime minister who has operated more as an opposition leader, in effect, trying to drag down the front runner," he told the ABC.
A Nine exit poll asked voters to rate who would have been best to take the Liberals to the election.
It showed 30 per cent supported retiring deputy leader Julie Bishop, with 27 per cent for Scott Morrison, 17 per cent for Malcolm Turnbull and four per cent for Mr Dutton.
Ms Bishop said Mr Morrison could not be criticised for the quality of his campaign and the party would never know what the result would have been under her leadership.
"This reminds me of day 33 of the campaign when the late great Doris Day was quoted as saying 'Que sera sera' (whatever will be, will be)," Ms Bishop told Nine.