In-depth political research conducted just days before the failed attempt to spill the Liberal leadership exposes the depth of damage to the Coalition’s standing among swinging voters in the strategically vital area of western Sydney.
The research shows the episode has, in voters’ eyes, cost the Coalition its ability to position itself convincingly as a party of stability that can be trusted on the economy.
Focus groups where the participants were voters who had switched their vote from Labor to Liberal in the 2013 election were held in western Sydney on February 4th and 5th, just before the meeting of the Liberal partyroom on February 9th.
The voters were aghast at the theatrics in Canberra, describing the Coalition as “just like Labor” and saying it was “embarrassing”.
The research was conducted by Visibility, a company run by veteran campaign strategist and researcher Tony Mitchelmore. Some of the key findings are set out below from the final report, which concludes that consistency and loyalty are “fast becoming the Holy Grail” of Australian politics.
The overwhelming sentiment, Mitchelmore told Business Insider, was “disillusionment and amazement that this was even occurring. They just wish it wasn’t happening,”
Rather than following the twists and turns, voters were “seeing the current 24/7 coverage of the whole thing, seeing the media lapping it up and just shaking their heads,” Mitchelmore said.
Below are some excerpts from the Visibility report, which also concluded Julie Bishop was seen as a “rising star” and that Malcolm Turnbull was a potential strong future leader.
Falls in support for the Coalition and Tony Abbott’s approval ratings have shown the quantitative effect in recent weeks, although this gives a deeper insight into the perceptions among these strategically critical swinging voters.
1. Voters are craving stability.
2. The bickering has become tedious.
3. There’s a growing risk of entrenched disillusionment.
4. The political instability goes hand-in-hand with pessimism about the country’s medium-term economic future. This is critical because sagging confidence is increasingly widely recognised as a major drag on the Australian economy.
5. Bill Shorten also has work to do.
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