The Cobram Courier
Polling shows Nicholls is in for a tight race
Independent candidate Rob Priestly says early polling in the federal seat of Nicholls is encouraging but he won’t be taking his foot of the pedal.
The Age published details of polling in the seat which indicates it was shaping as a tight threeway battle between Mr Priestly, Nationals candidate Sam Birrell and Liberal candidate Steve Brooks.
Retiring Nationals MP Damian Drum held the seat at the last election with a 20 per cent margin.
The Age reported that recent polls linked to the Liberals, Nationals and Labor showed Mr Priestly capturing between 16 and almost 20 per cent of first preferences.
As expected, the Nationals vote has slipped markedly from the 2019 election result when there was no Liberal candidate.
Labor aligned research in Nicholls puts the Liberal primary vote at 20.2 per cent, Nationals 17 per cent, independent (Rob Priestly) 16.3 per cent, Labor 15.2 per cent and Greens 5.4 per cent.
One Nation is ahead of the Greens on 5.9 per cent with United Australia Party on 4.1 per cent.
More than 12 per cent of voters polled were undecided.
Mr Priestly said the polling was encouraging and aligned with the reception he was receiving across the electorate.
“It is great that the people are recognising that change is coming in Nicholls,” he said.
“We have good momentum, and we need to build on that, but to have covered so much ground so early on is pleasing.”
Mr Priestly said he’d done his own baseline polling and would do more throughout the campaign.
“We are well ahead of where we thought we would be at this stage,” he said.
“It feels about right.”
Mr Priestly said it did guarantee his first campaign goal, which was to ensure Nicholls was a contest.
“It is going to happen now and we are going to see probably the most intense election campaign, perhaps ever in Nicholls, we want to see those major parties working hard for it.”
Mr Birrell wouldn’t reveal details of internal polling but said it was “very different”, and he had always expected a contest.
“It is going to be a tough fight and I’m not going to take anything
for granted, but at the end of the day we have a party that has good numbers in the parliament and is very focused on regional Australia,” he said.
“A regional Australian party focussed on regions is a very precious thing and I have a vision to achieve great things for Nicholls.
“Damian Drum has done an excellent job and when I am out talking to people I hear that, and I get a good response from people to my candidacy.’
Mr Brooks said the Labor aligned polling was more a distraction.
“It won’t change anything I’m
doing,” he said.
“I’ll keep going around and keep talking to people, if anything it is a distraction, we will keep doing what we’re doing.”
According to the Age report Liberal polling has the combined Liberal and National vote in the 30s. Nationals polling puts the conservative vote in the 40s.
All candidates agreed that there was a long way to go.
While the unofficial campaign has been going since January, the election is yet to be called.
This will trigger the start of the formal campaign.