Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has opened up a commanding lead over Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja as preferred Chief Minister in the latest poll ahead of Saturday's territory election.
The Canberra Times exclusive election poll shows Ms Gallagher has established a two-to-one advantage over her rival in the preferred leader stakes.
The phone poll of 1203 eligible voters, conducted by Patterson Research Group between October 11 and 14, showed that 54 per cent of those surveyed thought Ms Gallagher would make a better chief minister, while 26 per cent preferred Mr Seselja for the top job.
Ms Gallagher's edge over Mr Seselja was described as an "enormous" lead by pollster Keith Patterson and if she can translate her personal appeal into success at ballot boxes across the city on Saturday, it will leave the Liberal leader an impossible amount of ground to make up.
The Canberra Times poll asked 400 voters in each of the ACT's three electorates "regardless of what party they lead, which person, Katy Gallagher or Zed Seselja, do you think would make a better chief minister for the ACT Assembly?"
Ms Gallagher's lead over Mr Seselja as preferred chief minister was greatest in her own electorate of Molonglo.
The Opposition Leader was preferred least in Molonglo, his former electorate, where Ms Gallagher had the support of 58 per cent of voters to Mr Seselja's 24 per cent.
The Liberal leader fared best in his new electorate of Brindabella, where he was preferred by 29 per cent of respondents to Ms Gallagher's 47 per cent.
Interestingly, while two-thirds (68 per cent) of Liberal voters across the ACT preferred Mr Seselja as chief minister, there were still 15 per cent who said they would rather have Ms Gallagher in the Legislative Assembly's top job.
By contrast, 89 per cent of all Labor voters preferred Ms Gallagher and only 3 per cent backed Mr Seselja.
The incumbent also enjoyed solid support from Greens voters, with 75 per cent saying Ms Gallagher would make the better chief minister to 6 per cent for Mr Seselja.
Across all voters, 4 per cent said they wanted neither Mr Seselja or Ms Gallagher in the chief job, another 4 per cent said they would be happy with either candidate and 12 per cent said they did not know.
Patterson Research Group managing director Keith Patterson said it was not unusual for incumbents to lead challengers in opinion polls on preferred leaders.
But he described Ms Gallagher's two-to-one vote as enormous.
"Over half the sample preferred Katy Gallagher as chief minister," Mr Patterson said.
"Only about one in four, 26 per cent, favoured Zed Seselja.
"She's definitely got something up her sleeve in terms of appeal, it's very strong and she's quids in as preferred leader, a long way in front."
In Patterson Research Group's polling for The Canberra Times in the lead-up to the 2008 ACT election, Mr Seselja was almost neck-and-neck as preferred leader with then Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.
The Liberals leader was backed by 40 per cent of the voters surveyed while Labor's Mr Stanhope was preferred by 41.6 per cent.
But Mr Seselja is still better placed than his current deputy Brendan Smyth was in the lead-up to the 2004 election, when the same poll had Mr Stanhope leading then Liberal leader Mr Smyth as preferred chief minister by 63 per cent to 19 per cent.
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