Campaign director Miriam Lyons said the polling backed what activists were hearing from voters in Warringah, especially on climate change – identified as the number-one reason for an intention to vote against Mr Abbott.
«This is just one poll, and we’re still a long way off the election, but I can’t imagine these numbers help Tony Abbott sleep at night,» Ms Lyons said.
«He cannot escape the reality that most people in his electorate want to show him the door.»
In the poll, 60 per cent of voters rated Mr Abbott’s performance as a local member as «poor», and the same number said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate «with a plan to tackle climate change by replacing coal with clean energy».
For those who had previously voted for Mr Abbott but now planned to change their vote, the figure was 78 per cent.
Participants were asked about their voting intentions if the federal election, due in May, was held today and were instructed to chose between Ms Steggall, fellow independent Susan Moylan-Coombs, the Liberal Party, the ALP, the Greens or «other».
«Tony Abbott is out of touch,» Ms Lyons said. «[He] has had 24 years to show he’s willing to listen to his community on issues like climate change and marriage equality, and for 24 years he’s chosen to go off and fight right-wing culture wars instead.»
GetUp has signed up hundreds of volunteers to doorknock across Warringah, man phone banks and hand out how-to-vote cards in support of Ms Steggall.
Ms Lyons said Warringah voters cared deeply about climate change and expected the government to act.
«They know that Tony Abbott, more than anyone else in Parliament, has sabotaged renewable energy and blocked action on climate change and they’re ready to hold him accountable.»
But the campaign director acknowledged that unseating Mr Abbott, who holds his seat on a 12 per cent margin, would be «a monumental task».
«He has the backing of a party machine and the coal lobby, and donors will pour millions of dollars into his campaign,» Ms Lyons said. «It’s going to be a long, tough fight.»
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.