The Voter Choice Project being conducted by James Cook University PhD candidate Raphaella Kathryn Crosby, has revealed National Party supporters feelings were more of grief than anger, which may explain why they will still vote for Barnaby Joyce and why they are not willing to turn their back on the party yet.
Ms Crosby said voters involved with the project were monitored since June last year, 878 voters participated,140 of whom were from New England. generally speaking, they were sticking with the devil they knew.
“It’s really hard to understate just how distraught National Party supporters are,” she said.
“They are really unhappy with what’s been done to their own party and they’re talking about it like it’s been done to their own family,” she said.
“One of the other things we’ve been able to figure out is that the kind of Independent that would be required to knock off Barnaby now would have to be someone very well known and trusted.
More than three quarters of respondents felt that Barnaby Joyce’s affair and sexual harassment allegations were not handled well by the party; however, many didn’t care about the affair, what they didn’t like was the cover up, or issues around misuse of power and entitlements.
“Trust is now the biggest issue. Barnaby lied and hid stuff from people at the byelection, so whoever it is has to be a reallly exceptional person. An ordinary Independent candidate is not going to get it done, it has to be someone exceptional.”
Ms Crosby thought services were also critical. She said if people were unhappy about the levels of services in New England then they were more likely to vote away from the Nationals.
“If they are angry with things like education and health care and other services available in their town then that is one big divider,” she said.
“But if you don’t give people someone else to vote for, then he is going to get re-elected.
“That’s the problem New England has now. Finding that really great Independent to genuinely represent the people, someone who has the weight and prominence to take Barnaby on.”