THE New England election is fast becoming a two-horse race if the poll conducted by the Tamworth Business Chamber after the recent candidate debate is to be believed.
Incumbent Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce led the survey, with 46.4 per cent of people saying they would vote for him, with independent Adam Blakester trailing right behind him with 43.1 per cent.
Just under 6pc were undecided on where their vote would go. The combined figure for the other six candidates was just 4.4pc of the vote.
Barnaby Joyce told the Leader he was surprised to find himself at the top of the survey, based on the crowd reaction and applause on the night, which seemed to favour Adam Blakester.
However, it's difficult to say if the polls are a true reflection of the electorate. The Nationals faithful were out in force, and Adam Blakester also put out a call to arms to his supporters on social media.
It was also a small sample size, and about one in three audience members left without returning the poll. On top of that, the candidate forum was held in Tamworth, and most of the audience were residents of the city.
While it may not be a true representation of the whole electorate, it certain gives some indication of the way this election is shaping up.
It goes without saying that nationally, it is a battle between Labor and the Coalition. But Labor has always struggled to get a foothold in the New England (and the corresponding electorates at a state level).
Instead, the region has favoured independents. So it should come as no surprise that once again it is a Nationals vs independent race.
The candidate forum also made it clear that there are five broad issues New England voters are concerned about.
In no particular order, they are: short and long term water security, creating and attracting more jobs to the region, rising electricity prices and our renewable energy future, supporting farmers and communities through the ongoing drought and tackling climate change.