Dunkley By-Election Polling Too Close to Call

The Dunkley by-election to be held on 2 March matters. As the first test of outer-suburban political sentiment post-referendum, success is crucial for LNP prospects of challenging the federal government at the 2025 federal election.

This week, former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett called Dunkley “a battleground for middle Australia.”

In 2022, Dunkley voted 56.3% for Labor’s Peta Murphy. Recent polling suggests the vote will be much tighter in 2024.

Booth-by-booth results in Dunkley at the 2022 election.

Currently, approximately 52% of the Dunkley electorate prefer the ALP to the LNP. However, the ALP’s lead in the poll is within the polling’s margin of error.

Primary vote polling suggests an ALP lead over the Liberal candidate by 40% to 39%. The wider two-party-preferred figure implies minor party voters still marginally lean progressive over conservative.

In addition, pollsters found the Albanese government’s adjustment to the stage 3 tax cuts to have broad support. “Labor’s changes to Stage 3 are not only economically sensible, they’re also popular with people in Dunkley,” said Greg Jericho, Chief Economist at the Australia Institute. Two-thirds of poll respondents agree with the changes, including 29% of Liberal voters.

Why were the tax cuts so popular? Among the 22,000 residents of Carrum Downs, as one example, financial stress is widespread. 

Over 80% of mortgage holders in Carrum Downs are experiencing negative cash flow. Of renters, 75% report negative cash flow. Among all residents, 68% report financial stress.

Over in Frankston South, 90% of mortgagees report negative cash flow. The same goes for 63% of renters, while 57% of all residents are under financial stress.

By taking action on tax rates for lower to average income earners, Albanese has moved to assuage perceptions of “elite progressivism” that emerged during the Voice campaign. Meanwhile, Peter Dutton has been beating the drum over asylum seekers and accusing Albanese of a lack of respect for the military.

The campaign is likely to be a preview of the tenor and direction of federal politics over the next 18 months.

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