National Party supporters are heartbroken, feeling betrayed and abandoned by their party, but are not angry enough to vote out Barnaby Joyce.
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 she said “may explain why they will still vote for Mr Joyce and why they are not willing to turn their back on the party yet”.
“People are clearly distraught, describing their feelings towards the party as being appalled and horrified, and referring to parents turning in their graves,” Ms Crosby said.
Voters involved with the project were monitored since June last year, and, 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.
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 really 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.
“But if you don’t give people someone else to vote for, then he is going to get re-elected,” she said.
Ms Crosby said based off the project’s New England participants, Mr Joyce was on track to a win similar to his 2016 victory, with around 50 per cent of the first preferences.