A national survey of voters in the swing states of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee has found a surge in support for a more inclusive, fair and balanced federal political system.
The survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Guardian, found that 52 per cent of voters across the states said they were more likely to support a government with fewer political parties than they would vote for a single party, a view held by a majority of both Democrats and Republicans.
But it also found that, for the first time in the country, the majority of respondents in the states favour a more proportional electoral system, with 51 per cent favouring a single-winner electoral system and 41 per cent supporting two-party representation.
The national survey was conducted in Kentucky on Friday.
It was conducted between March 6 and 11 among 4,000 voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
The poll found that the more people who were aware of the two parties, the greater the likelihood they would support a third party.
It also found a strong correlation between party preferences and party preferences across age groups.
People who were younger than 55 years old were more than twice as likely as those in their early 60s to say they would be more likely if there was no party in government, compared with those over 65.
People aged 65 to 74 were the most likely to favour a party that has less power and less influence.
More people than older people are also more likely than younger people to favour an electoral system that is less proportional, with 52 per per cent saying they would prefer a system with less power to a system that has more power.
The biggest differences between parties across age are seen in the distribution of party preferences, with the Liberals and the Greens faring the best in the age group most likely for a proportional system, while the Conservatives and the Democrats are the worst.
In contrast, more people under the age of 45 are more likely (54 per cent) to favour proportional representation.
More than half (55 per cent, in fact) of the people surveyed said they would favour a third-party candidate in the upcoming federal election.
The results of the survey have been released on the same day as the launch of the Australian Electoral Commission’s new voter identification card, designed to combat fraud.
The new card, which will be used in every state and territory, will be made available to all Australians by the end of April.
The release comes as the Coalition and the Coalition-aligned crossbench are working to secure more than half a million new voters to their party’s ranks.