THE Nationals are ahead of independent Rob Oakeshott on the primary vote but it will be a much closer race after preferences, a poll has found.
A random phone survey questioned 539 residents in the Lyne electorate on Tuesday night.
Some 28 per cent of respondents said they would give Mr Oakeshott their first preference with an election today, while 47.2 per cent favoured The Nationals.
Just over nine per cent of respondents were undecided.
The ReachTEL survey found preferences from Labor and The Greens meant a much tighter contest on a two party preferred basis
The two party preferred result, based on 2010 election distribution, has Mr Oakeshott with 44.6 per cent of the vote and The Nationals with 55.4 per cent.
ReachTEL services manager Nick Adams said the automated survey system left no room for interpretation.
He said the survey was a public relations or brand building exercise.
The survey was not commissioned.
The Brisbane-based company conducted surveys in the independent-held federal electorates of Lyne and New England.
Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott said the polling felt about right and demonstrated the challenges ahead at the next election.
“However, the poll changes nothing in terms of the hard decisions I’ve had to make over the past two years to deliver long-term benefits, not only for my community, but for regional Australia,” he said.
“I stand by those decisions, which weren’t motivated by poll results but by jobs, regional education and hospital and health outcomes that had been repeatedly ignored and forgotten by consecutive governments for decades.”
Mr Oakeshott said a poll right now counted for little and what really mattered was how regional communities fared under a record regional investment program from the Commonwealth that delivered economic and social benefits for decades to come.
The Nationals Lyne Electorate Council chairman Theo Hazelgrove said he thought the survey indicated The Nationals would have to work really hard to win the seat.
“Mr Oakeshott has a lot of support in the electorate of Lyne, more support than what people say he has and I believe more support than what this survey says,” Mr Hazelgrove said.
He said a lot of people had lost their trust and faith in Mr Oakeshott but a lot of people supported him.
“We have to work hard to convince that supporter base they should come our way with a party person,” Mr Hazelgrove said.
He said the election was about putting a party member in the party room.
“When a candidate is chosen on July 1, then the candidate will have to really work hard,” Mr Hazelgrove said.
Six people are vying for The Nationals’ pre-selection which will decide the party’s candidate for the seat of Lyne.