22 October 2020

Probing the polls: early voting a winner, not so much the Liberals

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Alistair Coe

Liberals leader Alistair Coe fronted the media for the first time since losing the election. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

It’s all over bar the shouting (and those last handful of seats in the balance) and most of you are pretty relieved to be done with the 2020 election.

COVID-19, the burden of incumbency versus the risks of inexperience and the vagaries of the Hare-Clark system all played their part in an election which delivered the same result but with all sorts of different variables.

For most of you, though, voting was a matter of getting it out of the way as soon as possible. The ACT Electoral Commission was keen to get as many of us out to vote as early as possible to manage the health risks as efficiently as possible.

In total, 63.5 per cent of voters cast their ballots before Election Day at a booth. Postal votes accounted for a further 7.4 per cent, leaving just 29.1 per cent of Canberrans to vote on the day.

We asked, Do you prefer early voting? 1015 people got involved. Your options were to vote No, I like to be able to change my mind up to the last minute. This option received 11 per cent of the total or 108 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, I always know who I’m voting for, get it out of the way. This received a virtual-vote tsunami, attracting 89 per cent of the total or 907 votes.

This week, after a disastrous result for the Opposition, we’re asking what becomes of the Canberra Liberals’ leadership? Alistair Coe has accepted responsibility for the result, but deep divisions are apparent inside the party.

That echoes the concerns of many Canberrans: why would conservatives control a Liberal branch in the most progressive demographic in Australia? And will they ever win another election?

Jason said: “Never forget that these are people who clearly would rather be out of power for 19+ years than accept the mainstream views of Canberrans and change on issues like LGBTQI rights, economic policies, women’s rights and environmental concerns.”

And Paul Murray said: “There was nothing wrong with the campaign – how it was run and organised, how tirelessly it was worked at, how thoughtfully-placed the damn corflutes were – the problem was with the platform the campaign was selling.

“When I got the card in the mail that promised they’d both reduce taxes and improve services, that absolutely everything would be better, I burst out laughing. I bet I’m not the only one. Their promises were just not credible. This is Canberra, for God’s sake – we’re cynics.”

But Hidden Dragon observed: “When they’ve worked through the various stages of grief, the best option for the ACT Liberals might be to go on a unicorn hunt, in search of politicians of the right who have found a formula for repeated (not flash in the pan) electoral success in polities dominated by ‘white collar’/knowledge industry workers.”

But Alistair Coe won’t be drawn on whether it’s time for him to step down from the leadership.

Our poll this week asks:

Is it time for Coe to go?

View Results

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I found the choice of questions disappointing. The statement that “Canberra is a hard demographic to crack” is obviously wrong. Labour and the Greens have cracked it 6 consecutive times.

As to whether Coe should go, I believe that this is the wrong question. Coe is only the representation of a local Liberal Party that is way out of touch with the community. Changing the rider on an old, out of form hack, is not a plan for winning the Canberra Cup, or ACT Government.

So long as the Libs are so comprehensively out of touch with the electorate, they will continue to lose.

We can be grateful that a new group of exciting, younger Greens MLA’s will help keep the Government refreshed and renewed. In the absence of a credible Alternative Government, they will play a vital role

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