Could Tony Abbot Be Next? GetUp! Polling Reveals Liberal Vote In Warringah Has Collapsed

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Saturday’s election result in Wentworth could be replicated in the federal seat of Warringah – home to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the man ultimately responsible for engineering Saturday’s by-election – according to polling released by GetUp! over the weekend.

The survey, conducted in the northern suburbs of Sydney on September 13 – a few weeks after Scott Morrison assumed office, but well before the stench of the weekend’s defeat attached itself to the Liberals – showed a primary vote for Tony Abbott of 39 per cent, just under the magic ‘40 per cent’, which many consider is the minimum number of first preference votes needed to retain a political seat.

Abbott won 52 per cent of the primary vote in 2016, despite a swing against him of 9 per cent.

The GetUp! polling revealed that of those surveyed, 57 per cent rated Abbott’s performance as their local member as ‘poor or very poor’, with just 34 per cent rating it as ‘good or very good’.

It also showed that on a two-party preferred basis, Abbott would attract a vote of 54 per cent if an election were held in September, well down on the 61.5 per cent he won at the 2016 election. Polling in the lead-up to the Wentworth by-election also showed Sharma leading on a two-party preferred basis by a similar number.

And like in Wentworth, the issue of ‘global warming and the environment’ was the issue of concern most highly ranked among voters, with 31 per cent of those surveyed indicating it was their number one issue. By contrast, Abbott has long been a very publicly sceptic of climate change.

Also notable from the GetUp! polling is that 37 per cent of people indicated they would vote Greens or Labor, and 14 per cent indicated they would vote independent.

Reachtel-Getup-Warringah

At the 2016 election, the seat of Warringah saw a flood of interest, as Abbott’s removal from the Prime Ministership and his growing unpopularity nationally and in his own electorate began to take hold.

Prominent television celebrity James Mathieson launched a bid for the seat, attracting almost 10,000 votes, just 800 shy of the Greens candidate, Clara Williams, who finished second in the race.

If another prominent independent nominates for the seat in the 2019 election – and The Guardian is reporting overnight that author and commentator Jane Caro is seriously considering a tilt – Abbott is likely to struggle to retain Warringah.

Only 36 per cent of those surveyed indicated they would be unlikely to consider voting for an independent in 2019.

The GetUp! polling asked voters who indicated they would not vote for either of the major parties who they might preference higher. 62 per cent said their preferences would go towards Labor.

Earlier this year, it emerged that even some members of the Warringah branch of the Liberal Party didn’t want Abbott as their pre-selected candidate, with about one-third of grassroots members voting against Abbott, despite him running for the pre-selection unopposed.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.

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