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Labor marriage backflip wouldplease voters

The Labor Party can expect a swing in its favour of almost 5% if it supports marriage equality, a new national poll has found.

The national poll of over 1,000 registered voters by Galaxy Research found almost half of Green voters and a third of young voters would be more likely to vote Labor if it adopted a new policy allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The poll asked: “If the Labor Party officially supported same-sex marriage, would you be more likely to vote Labor, less likely to vote Labor, or would your vote not be affected?”

The research also found that almost a quarter of voters who already support Labor will be stronger supporters if the party backs marriage equality.

The key findings were:

47% of Green voters would be more likely to vote Labor (5% would be less likely leaving a net gain of 42%)

23% of Labor voters would be more likely to voter Labor (10% would be less likely leaving a net gain of 13%)

33% of 18-24 year olds would be more likely to vote Labor (12% would be less likely leaving a net gain of 21%)

This would mean a total swing to Labor of 4.6%

This would lift Labor’s support from 28% to 32.6%

Alex Greenwich of Australian Marriage Equality, the lobby group which commissioned the research, said the poll clearly shows Labor will experience a net gain in votes by supporting marriage equality.

“By doing the right thing on marriage equality Labor can expect to be rewarded by voters, largely at the expense of the Greens,” he said.

“For Labor, marriage equality is an electoral winner because it is a reform that will cost nothing, attract votes from other parties, and promote loyalty among existing voters.

“With polls consistently showing support for marriage equality is almost twice that of the Labor Party, the ALP could do worse than to allow the popularity of marriage equality to rub off on it.”

But what about opposition party supporters? “There is a small minority of Coalition voters who will look more dimly on Labor if it supports marriage equality,” Greenwich admits. “But they are hard-core opponents of the issue who Labor can never hope to win over.

“Support for marriage equality will enable the ALP to reach out to large numbers of winnable voters, while not alienating those who are largely indifferent to the issue.”

Greenwich adds that Labor cannot expect to pick up nearly as many Green and young voters if as flagged in recent reports it only allows a conscience vote on the issue instead of changing its policy to fully support reform.

“Like many members of the Labor Party we want the Party to go further than a conscience vote and adopt a binding policy in favour of marriage equality at its national conference in December.”

If the ALP settles for a conscience vote it will limit the ALP’s ability to deliver this historic reform, and will have much more limited appeal to Green and young voters than a binding party policy, he adds.

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