THERE’S only hours to go until polls officially open in Eden-Monaro, and for the first time in years, no clear polling data exists to identify a front runner.
Local masthead The Canberra Times has previously commissioned Patterson Research Group to carry out polling of the bellwether seat at the 2007 and 2010 federal elections, but has opted not to in 2013.
A Morgan poll of August 19 showed Labor candidate Mike Kelly ahead 52-48 on a two party preferred basis, but used a small sample of only 100 voters.
And a Newspoll carried out for The Weekend Australian last week showed a 53-47 lead to the Coalition, but included Eden-Monaro in with four other marginal NSW seats, with a total sample of 1106 voters, or roughly 220 voters per seat.
Local political scientist Dr Brendan McCaffrie has formed part of a University of Canberra team focusing on Eden-Monaro this election, and predicted the final result would be “very close” in Eden-Monaro, and said either candidate could still win.
“It’s hard to know because there’s very little polling done (so far), and the polling that has been done is not very helpful in that most of the polls have been group polls, where you get several different seats lumped together and not enough voters in any one seat to make any statistically significant conclusions,” he said.
And the famously diverse communities of Eden-Monaro made it particularly difficult for pollsters, Dr McCaffrie said.
“It’s very hard to get polling for individual seats to be exactly accurate, especially in a seat like Eden-Monaro where there are so many different kinds of constituencies in it.
“If you get a few too many farmers, that skews your sample, if you get a few too many people from Queanbeyan, it might skew your sample in a Labor direction. It’s very hard to get 800 people or however many they tend to go with and get it to accurately represent the entire seat.”
The Patterson poll published in The Canberra Times prior to the 2010 federal election forecast a 61-39 result to Mike Kelly. The final result was much narrower at 54-46 (two-party preferred).
However the 2007 poll was closer, with Patterson predicting a 56-44 win to Mike Kelly, with the end result coming in at 53-47.
Liberal candidate Peter Hendy told The Queanbeyan Age he had carried out his own internal polling this election, but was still claiming the ‘underdog’ status in Eden-Monaro late this week.
“We’re feeling hopeful, but I remain the underdog in this contest and we’ll be fighting until the polls close at 6pm on Saturday,” Mr Hendy said.
Mike Kelly said he hadn’t conducted his own polling this election.
“No, you don’t really have to because there’s so many other people out polling,” Dr Kelly said.
“And I think we’re definitely in with a chance of hanging on.”