Mr. Dutton supporters say the former police drug squad detective could have amassed enough support to successfully challenge for the leadership on Thursday before Parliament takes a two-week break and lawmakers won't gather again until September 10.
John Hewson, a former leader of the Liberal party who is now with the Australian National University's school of public policy, said Turnbull was wounded and another challenge was likely within weeks.
Dutton, the minister in charge of the country's intelligence agencies and its notoriously harsh immigration and refugee programs, stood as candidate against him.
However the ABC understands that despite Mr Dutton challenging him for the leadership, Mr Turnbull later offered his rival the chance to stay on.
Even if Malcolm Turnbull survives a second challenge against Peter Dutton, he looks set to lose the election in a landslide to Labor's Bill Shorten, following 38 consecutive Newspoll losses with this challenge denting his already-crumbling authority.
Speaking outside of Parliament House in Canberra, following the vote, Turnbull urged his colleagues to show "unity". "They hate it when we are talking about each other", he said.
Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson acknowledged the numbers were being counted in the party room. Disunity undermines the ability of a government to get its job done and we can not allow internal issues to undermine our work, or to create a real risk that Bill Shorten will be the prime minister.
In a later press conference, Duttonaccepted the party's verdict but wouldn't rule out another challenge.
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IndyCar Race Control said there will be four laps around the track before the green flag falls again for the third time today. He also closed to within just 29 points of New Zealand's Scott Dixon, who leads the championship points race with 530 points.
"He vowed that he wouldn't be a wrecker", Drum told reporters of Abbott. I believed I had the best prospects to leading Liberal Party to success at next election.
The former police officer is a polarising figure for his hard line against asylum seekers, that includes sending refugee boats back and incarcerating asylum seekers, including children, in offshore detention camps. He has reportedly since said he regretted his decision. "Malcolm Turnbull has no right to demand loyalty from anyone". Climate groups anxious that the National Energy Guarantee would not do enough to combat climate change.
He pinpointed former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who Turnbull ousted in a 2015 party room coup, as a key player behind the move.
The unrest was met with fury by Coalition MPs.
The anger over the challenge was given voice by Liberal MP Warren Entsch and Nationals MP Damian Drum attacked those who fuelled the division.
The best New Zealand could hope for was "stability on the Australian political scene", he said. However, Mr Turnbull has consistently rated higher than Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister.
He had reaped his revenge, three years after becoming the first Australian prime minister since Federation to have been brought down in his first term.