Labor holds advantage heading into Eden-Monaro byelection: poll

A new poll suggests Kristy McBain will win the Eden-Monaro byelection. Picture: Karleen Minney
A new poll suggests Kristy McBain will win the Eden-Monaro byelection. Picture: Karleen Minney

Recent polling suggests Labor's Kristy McBain is heading into Saturday's Eden-Monaro byelection with a slight advantage over Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs.

Polling commissioned by The Australia Institute, released on Friday, showed Ms McBain, the former Bega mayor, receiving first preference votes from 38.1 per cent of respondents.

Ms Kotvojs trailed only slightly behind at 37.5 per cent of first preference votes.

However, the poll showed a lead for Labor in the two party preferred stakes of 52 per cent versus 48 percent for the Liberals.

The poll was completed by uComms on the night of June 30 and surveyed 643 Eden-Monaro residents.

This is a small sample size across a very large and diverse electorate.

Ms McBain polled better among women, where she received 45.5 per cent of first preference votes, compared with Ms Kotvojs' 32 per cent.

However, 43.1 per cent of men said Ms Kotvojs would receive their first preference votes.

Of those who responded they were undecided about who to vote for, 33.3 per cent said they had a leaning towards Labor. Twenty per cent of those undecided said they were leaning towards the Liberals.

Emeritus Professor of political science at the ANU John Warhurst said due to the numbers polled and the diversity of the electorate, polling numbers warranted some skepticism.

He said he expected the result to be very tight, although based on other polling data and anecdotal evidence it did appear as though Labor may have a slight advantage.

"I just think no one would be putting their money on the result at this stage," Professor Warhurst said.

"Once you get a close result, the margin of error is likely to be a couple of per cent either way so you have to be very careful interpreting these polls."

For the government to win an opposition held seat at a byelection would be "an historically amazing result", but the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic could be an opportunity for such a result to occur, he said.

"The bushfires went against the government, because there were suggestions it had been mishandled. Scott Morrison had his ups and downs out in Cobargo," Professor Warhurst said.

"But as far as handling the pandemic, I think there's general agreement the national cabinet and the government have done reasonably well.

"It's that big picture that will ultimately decide it."

He added that polls were unable to take into account the last few days of campaigning which could ultimately decide a few votes.

This story Labor holds advantage heading into byelection: poll first appeared on The Canberra Times.