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The gap between Labor and the Coalition in Victoria is at its tightest since last year’s state election, but the Allan government still holds a strong lead over the Opposition.
The findings are contained in a survey by Resolve Political Monitor, conducted exclusively for The Age, which shows Labor's primary vote has dropped five percentage points since April when it recorded a 12-month peak of 42 per cent.
Jacinta Allan is still favoured by voters to lead the sate over Opposition Leader John Pesutto.Credit: The Age
A year after the election and with a new premier in charge, Labor’s primary vote now sits at 37 per cent – the same level of support it recorded on election day last year – and six points clear of the opposition.
The survey results show primary support for the Coalition is at 31 per cent, one point lower than it recorded two months ago – and below its primary vote of 34 per cent at the November election.
Jacinta Allan is sworn in as premier by Governor of Victoria Margaret Gardner at Government House.Credit: Ian Currie
Resolve director Jim Reed said Labor initially received a “re-election honeymoon” early in 2022, but a growing list of scandals and the departure of Daniel Andrews had seen voters peel away.
“Labor maintains a decent vote lead under Allan, but they are now back down to their election result of last year,” Reed said.
While Victorians continued to back Allan over Pesutto as preferred premier, the gap between the two leaders has narrowed significantly in the past eight weeks since Allan won the support of Labor’s caucus to become leader.
The survey of 1093 Victorian voters was taken over November and December, with a margin of error of three per cent.
It showed 34 per cent of voters preferred Allan as premier compared with 22 per cent who believe Pesutto – who has now been in the job for a full 12 months – would do a better job.
But the departure of Andrews has seen a significant jump in the number of Victorians unsure which leader would be better at running the state with more than 40 per cent of voters unable to decide on a better leader.
“The opposition struggled to make a mark in Pesutto’s first six months, or to even present a united front and get clear air, but have made some gains in the last few months. Presenting themselves as a viable alternative is critical because otherwise ex-Labor voters have shown a willingness to flow to minor parties and independents,” Reed said.
The survey was compiled before the release of a damning Ombudsman’s report into the operation of the public sector and the Suburban Rail project. Reed said those findings could further hamper support for the Allan government in 2024.
As part of its research, Resolve Strategic asks voters to explain the reasons for their vote, which found Coalition supporters were more likely to be motivated by disliking Labor than by supporting the opposition. Voters that backed Labor were also impressed by the government's unity and track record for delivering infrastructure projects.
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass handed down a scathing report into the politicisation of the public service on Wednesday.Credit: Luis Ascui
“Dan Andrews did a lot of good things, so I’m willing to give Jacinta Allan a chance too,” one Labor voter said.
By comparison, Liberal voters were critical of Labor’s debt position and economic credentials.
“I feel like they [the Liberals] have a better handle on the economy and inflation,” one Liberal voter said.
“Labor has put us in a pile of debt and has no means to get us back out again,” another said.
With both Labor and the Coalition recording primary votes in the 30s, and 32 per cent of voters willing to support other candidates, Monash University political scientist Zareh Ghazarian told The Age that both sides had “homework for the summer”.
“Voters aren’t as enthusiastically supporting Labor, but they are not willing to move their vote to the Coalition,” Ghazarian said.
“While the gap has narrowed, this is not an optimistic position for the Liberals, who need to do something to boost their primary vote.”
Interviews with respondents also showed voters raised the Middle East, critical of Victorian Labor’s response to the Israel-Hamas war. Allan initially refused to label the October 7 attack by Hamas as terrorism and then received a letter from thousands of Jewish community members calling on her deputy, Ben Carroll, to toughen their stance on the student strike for Palestine.
Thousands rallied in Melbourne’s CBD in support of Palestine last month.Credit: Chris Hopkins/The Age
The survey found 57 per cent of those polled believe students should attend school and protest outside school time instead – including a majority of Labor and Coalition voters. Only 22 per cent of those surveyed felt it was appropriate for school students to miss school for the rallies.
The exception were Greens voters, of whom 57 per cent supported students missing school to protest.
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