One year since NSW election, Mike Baird’s sheen starts to wear off

NSW Premier Mike Baird.One year since his new government was sworn in, the sheen appears to be coming off NSW Premier Mike Baird, with his popularity crashing on social media and in polls after taking tough positions on raising the GST and controversial lockout laws.
Nanjing Night Net

On request from the Herald, media monitoring service iSentia Media analysed mentions of Mr Baird at three points in the first year since his election at four, eight and 12 months since the poll.

Interest in Mr Baird has grown steadily. Last month his name was mentioned 31,000 times on Twitter and Facebook, growth of nearly 10,000 posts in nine months.

The media monitors at iSentia run a system that measures sentiment towards political leaders out of 100.

Perceptions of Mr Baird have run negative in the first year of this term, going from a perfectly neutral rating of 50 to negative territory of 35.

The drop in support was recorded across a range of issues, including tough anti-mining protest laws, the government’s ongoing support of controversial “lockout” laws and recent revelations by Fairfax that the state Liberal party was mired in an investigation into donations.

The drop in support online is unlikely to have gone unnoticed in Mr Baird’s office, which has invested heavily in burnishing the Premier’s social media image. Social media “guru” Tony Story was reportedly paid $30,000 to give the Premier advice on styling his digital presence.

He has since been employed full time as the Premier’s “Head of Digital Media”.

Mr Baird has also taken the unusual step of bypassing the NSW press gallery and making some key policy announcements via Facebook and Twitter.

Talkback radio, which tends to attract an older and more conservative crowd, is a different story.

Mr Baird has remained on a negative rating of about 40 points throughout his premiership, with a high proportion of calls from a sample of 150 mentioning plans to raise the Goods and Services Tax.

Mr Baird came out in favour of a plan to lift the federal consumption tax to 15 per cent, before the plan was ditched. Callers also expressed unfavourable views of the state government’s plans to forcibly merge the state’s councils and previously tied Mr Baird to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The lockout laws, which drew an estimated 10,000 younger protesters last month, barely rated a mention on talkback.

“You might draw from this that older voters have ongoing doubts about Baird, and are mainly focused on hip-pocket issues, but it is younger voters where he has lost quite a bit of ground in the past year due to environmental issues and civil rights,” said Patrick Baume of iSentia. “It seems that a wide range of voters are miffed for a wide range of different reasons”.

Mr Baird lost the support of talkback radio king Alan Jones over the lockout laws. Mr Jones described the Premier as “pig-headed, stubborn and defiant” for brushing off public backlash.

The fall in popularity is matched by the Premier’s declining status in opinion polls.

A new Morgan poll taken late March and released this week found the Premier’s lead as preferred Premier has dropped 15 points in one month.

About 1200 NSW voters were contacted via SMS between March 25 and March 28.

Mr Baird retains a lead of nearly 30 per cent on this measure, against Labor’s Luke Foley, and remains only marginally Australia’s most popular premier.

He also remains comfortably up on the two-party preferred vote that has the coalition up by 55 to 45, notwithstanding a five-point gain by Labor.

The Premier is in Israel this week. But in a recent interview with the Herald he defended taking unpopular policy stances.

“Don’t you want from your political leaders and government [for] them to take the decisions they think are right and in the long-term interests of the state?” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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