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Canberra Today 16°/20° | Thursday, January 20, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Election 2020 / Libs ahead and Barr’s on the nose everywhere

THE Canberra Liberals remain ahead of ACT Labor as the major parties enter the crucial closing weeks of the campaign, a new survey reveals.

It also tracks the faltering popularity of the Labor leader across all five ACT electorates. 

An online poll of voting intentions by 1320 respondents, conducted by ClubsACT, puts the Liberals ahead at 38.6 per cent and on track for a higher primary vote than Labor across every electorate. 

The Labor vote is languishing on 36.1 per cent, down from 38.4 per cent at the 2016 election, with the party’s only gain in the electorate of Murrumbidgee. The Greens’ vote dropped slightly at 9.6 per cent, falling from 10.3 per cent at the last election. The Greens’ only gain was in Ginninderra. 

The survey also revealed a high level of dislike for Labor leader Andrew Barr, despite the fact that four per cent of people don’t know who Liberal leader Alistair Coe is.

ClubsACT CEO Gwyn Rees.

Despite a well documented relationship antipathy between Barr, the government and the club movement, ClubsACT chief executive Gwyn Rees says the survey was an exercise in gauging voter sentiment not “payback” for the slow lifting of trading restrictions imposed on clubs during COVID-19. 

“We wanted to understand what the key issues were ahead of the election, to gauge what voters are thinking and report back to our member base,” Rees said.

Eighty-two per cent of respondents who voted Liberal at the 2016 election will vote for them again this election, the survey shows. Seventy two per cent are rusted on Labor voters and 54 per cent will stick with the Greens. 

But the increase in support for the Liberals may not be enough to vanquish the Labor and Greens’ vote.

“The election will come down to one or two key seats with a likely scenario being the ACT Greens holding the balance of power, forming a minority government. But based on the responses we received it is possible that the Liberals could form a majority government of their own,” Rees said.

I think it’s very close, it could be tilted either way.”

 About 15.7 per cent of respondents indicated they would vote for a minor party or independent, with the Belco Party gaining traction from Liberal and Labor voters in Ginninderra. 

“The really interesting takeout was that the Belco Party brand was being recognised everywhere,” Rees said.

The new survey largely mirrors the only other public election poll to date, conducted by the Australia Institute, which some weeks ago indicated Labor’s primary vote was down to 37.6 per cent (from 38.4 per cent in 2016), while the Liberals had increased 1.5 per cent to 38.2 per cent.

The ClubsACT survey revealed a high level of dislike for Labor leader Andrew Barr, with his favourability going backwards in every electorate, including his home electorate of Kurrajong. 

Barr was least liked in Brindabella (-23 per cent), then Ginninderra (-14 per cent), Murrumbidgee (-14 per cent) Kurrajong (-10 per cent) and Yerrabi (-5 per cent). Coe is the more unpopular of the two leaders in Kurrajong (-11 per cent) followed by Ginninderra (-8 per cent). He is the most favourable in his own electorate of Yerrabi (13 per cent). 

The Labor leader’s disapproval rating is almost twice as high as the Liberal leader’s with more than 30 per cent of respondents rating Barr as “strongly unfavourable” compared to Coe’s “strongly unfavourable” rating at 16 per cent. 

Clearly, Barr is a polarising figure in ACT politics with 34 mentions when respondents were asked what single issue will have the biggest influence over how they will vote. 

All views expressed in relation to Barr were negative, with one respondent indicating “Barr was too arrogant” while another made mention of his “refusal to listen”. 

Coe was mentioned only once, also in an unfavourable light, with the respondent indicating: “If Coe leads the Libs, I cannot vote for them.”

The high level of negative data surrounding the Labor leader raises questions about his brand, says Rees. 

“Is his brand problematic? Is it toxic?” he said.

“From what I can see it is going to be a reason people don’t vote for the Labor Party.

“Voters are looking for a leader that listens, is transparent and has integrity.”

Survey respondents rated the cost of living as the most important issue to them, followed by health and the economy. 

Reducing the cost of living was the most popular issue for 18-to-44-year-olds, while a strong economy was an important issue for those aged over 45. 

Reducing crime was the least popular issue for voters from all age groups. Voters seem more worried about reducing the cost of living and health care than the creation of jobs and climate change. 

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Belinda Strahorn

Belinda Strahorn

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One Response to Election 2020 / Libs ahead and Barr’s on the nose everywhere

Palmerston's Lament says: September 30, 2020 at 5:55 am

As predicted, this election has turned into a referendum on Barr’s future and whether he is the right person to lead the Territory into the next four years.

It would appear the Barr Brand has eroded, with the chief architect being Barr himself.

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