WITH the race for Ballarat well under way ahead of the September 14 federal election, The Courier today invites readers to take part in a new opinion poll.
The poll – open until Saturday, February 23 – allows readers to share their voting intentions for the seat of Ballarat, their preferred prime minister and opinions on the performance of local MP Catherine King.
Participants will also be asked to assess Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Results from the poll will provide a snapshot of voter opinions, not a scientific sample.
It will be conducted again in late May and two weeks before the federal election with results shared in The Courier.
First elected in 2001, Ms King extended her margin in Ballarat to 11.7 per cent at the 2010 election.
If she achieves victory over Liberal party candidate and Radio Ballarat general manager John Fitzgibbon, Ms King will become the longest serving Labor MP in a single stretch in the seat of Ballarat.
She was the only newly elected Labor MP at the 2001 Coalition landslide election.
Endorsed Greens candidate and lawyer Steph Hodgins-May will also contest the seat with the Democratic Labor Party and Katter’s Australia Party also considering candidates for Ballarat.
The February 3 Newspoll showed the Coalition leading Labor 56 to 44 two-party preferred, based on preferences from the 2010 poll.
Online bookmakers sportsbet.com.au give Labor odds of $1.10 to retain the seat, with the Coalition at $7 and other parties $51.