Why what happened happened

Essential Research chances its arm at some post-election analysis. Also featured: musings on the impact of religion and ethnicity on the result.

The first pollster to put its head above the parapet post-election has been Essential Research, though it’s sensibly refraining from treating us to voting intention results for the time being. As reported in The Guardian yesterday, the pollster’s fortnightly survey focused on what respondents did do rather than what they would do, finding 48% saying their decision was made well in advance of the election, 26% saying they made up their mind in the weeks before the election, and 11% saying they made up their mind on polling day. Lest this seemingly high rate of indecision be cited as an alibi for pollster failure, the historical results of the Australian National University’s Australian Election Study – which you can find displayed on page 18 here – suggest these numbers to be in no way out of the ordinary.

The poll also found those who decided in the final weeks came down 40% for the Coalition and 31% for Labor. However, assuming the sample for this poll was as per the Essential norm of between 1000 and 1100 (which I hope to be able to verify later today), the margin of error on this subset of the total sample would have been over 5%, making these numbers statistically indistinguishable from the almost-final national primary vote totals of 41.4% for the Coalition and 33.3% for Labor. This goes double for the finding that those who decided on election day went Coalition 38% and Labor 27%, remembering this counted for only 11% of the sample.

Perhaps notable is a finding that only 22% of respondents said they had played “close attention” to the election campaign, which compares with results of between 30% and 40% for the Australian Election Study’s almost equivalent response for “a good deal of interest in the election” between 1996 and 2016. Forty-four per cent said they had paid little or no attention, and 34% some attention. These findings may be relevant to the notion that the pollsters failed because they had too many politically engaged respondents in their sample. The Guardian reports breakdowns were provided on this question for voters at different levels of education – perhaps the fact that this question was asked signifies that they will seek to redress the problem by weighting for this in future.

Also featured are unsurprising findings on issue salience, with those more concerned with economic management tending to favour the Coalition, and those prioritising education and climate change favouring Labor and the Greens.

In other post-election analysis news, the Grattan Institute offers further data illustrating some now familiar themes: the high-income areas swung against the Coalition, whereas low-to-middle income ones went solidly the other way; areas with low tertiary education swung to the Coalition, although less so in Victoria than New South Wales and Queensland.

Another popular notion is that Labor owes its defeat to a loss of support among religious voters, as a hangover from the same-sex marriage referendum and, in what may have been a sleeper issue at the cultural level, the Israel Folau controversy. Chris Bowen said in the wake of the defeat that he had encountered a view that “people of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them”, and The Australian reported on Saturday that Labor MPs believed Bill Shorten blundered in castigating Scott Morrison for declining to affirm that he did not believe gay people would go to hell.

In reviewing Labor’s apparent under-performance among ethnic communities in Sydney and Melbourne, Andrew Jakubowicz and Christina Ho in The Conversation downplay the impact of religious factors, pointing to a precipitous decline in support for Christian minor parties, and propose that Labor’s promised expansion of parental reunion visas backfired on them. Intended to capture the Chinese vote in Chisholm, Banks and Reid, the actual effect was to encourage notions of an imminent influx of Muslim immigrants, “scaring both non-Muslim ethnic and non-ethnic voters”.

However, I’m not clear what this is based on, beyond the fact that the Liberals did a lot better in Banks than they did in neighbouring Barton, home to “very much higher numbers of South Asian and Muslim residents”. Two things may be said in response to this. One is that the nation’s most Islamic electorate, Watson and Blaxland, recorded swings of 4% to 5% to the Liberals, no different from Banks. The other is that the boundary between Banks and Barton runs right through the Chinese enclave of Hurstville, but voters on either side of the line behaved very differently. The Hurstville pre-poll voting centre, which serviced both electorates, recorded a 4.8% swing to Labor for Barton, and a 5.7% swing to Liberal for Banks. This may suggest that sitting member factors played an important role, and are perhaps of particular significance for Chinese voters.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,732 comments on “Why what happened happened”

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  1. [Urban Wronski
    9h9 hours ago

    Despite Ita Buttrose’s noises, rumour has it that the ABC looks to axe 200 jobs as a result of $84 million it now has to find following last year’s budget cut, which, ahead of the election, managing director David Anderson warned would make redundancies inevitable.]

  2. lizzie

    Let’s see, shall we? 🙂

    Change UK splits as six of 11 MPs become independents

    Change UK has lost six of its 11 MPs following a disappointing performance in last month’s EU elections, when it failed to get a single MEP elected.

    The party announced that a new party leader, Anna Soubry, had been elected.

    She said she was “deeply disappointed” that Heidi Allen, Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker had left.

    The departing MPs said they would be “returning to supporting each other as an independent grouping of MPs”.


  3. Well, it’s prisoner Pell’s appeal hearing today. My guess is that the first and second grounds of appeal won’t succeed, with the Court of Appeal likely to apply the proviso. His best chance is ground three: the verdict is unsafe.

    No matter the result, his reputation has been irrevocably sullied, and it goes without saying that he won’t return to the Vatican.

  4. The New York Times@nytimes
    40m40 minutes ago

    Breaking News: Senate Republicans sent the White House a sharp message on Tuesday, warning that they’re opposed to President Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on Mexican imports

    Has Trump finally hit a roadblock?

  5. lizzie @ #6 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 5:12 am

    The New York Times@nytimes
    40m40 minutes ago

    Breaking News: Senate Republicans sent the White House a sharp message on Tuesday, warning that they’re opposed to President Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on Mexican imports

    Has Trump finally hit a roadblock?

    Unlikely. When push comes to shove they’ll fall in line just like they always do in order to save their own political skins.

    A GOP Senate aide close to trade negotiations told The Fix on Tuesday that there’s no serious movement toward such a vote. It would require important players like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), up for reelection next year in a pro-Trump state, to confront the president in a decisive way. Plus, there’s a case to be made that standing up to Trump on these tariffs is bad politics for the whole party. “Arguing for a free-trade position is very classic Republican … very Bush,” this aide said. “And this isn’t the party of Bush anymore.”


  6. Just checking in from Budapest, and can report that weather is hot, but not as hot as the standard internet speeds you get in a humble Airbnb.

    The debacle of the Liberal Party’s fraudband can not go unchallenged over the next cycle – if we are looking for a few ‘failure messages’ to hammer over and over, this one is obvious. And it’s not a question of ‘fixing it’, and how, where Labor got lost in the last election, just hammer the failure.

  7. Chalmers says (wwtte) that the government’s saber-rattling against the banks that won’t pass on the cut in full is faux – clear, short, sharp message.

  8. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    In London Morrison has cautioned against world leaders becoming “nothing more than the sum of our deals” in what is likely to be read as a jab at Donald Trump’s transactional approach to global affairs. I certainly give him credit for saying that.
    Ross Gittins writes that yesterday’s won’t be the only cut in interest rates we see in coming months – which may be good news for people with mortgages, but it’s a bad sign for the economy in which we live and work. He says Morrison got himself re-elected by claiming to be much better at running the economy than his political opponents. In the next three years we’ll all see just how good he is. Boasting about budget surpluses while unemployment rises is unlikely to impress.
    According to Phil Coorey the RBA has sent an unsubtle message to Frydenberg.
    Shane Wright says the interest rate cut in itself will be insufficient to fix the problems with our economy and it is the government that need to add to the action fiscally. But he say all they have so far is talking points.
    And Stephen Bartholomeusz writes that ehe RBA and the Morrison government are dealing with more challenging threats externally and internally more than decade on from the GFC.
    The AFR is of the view that a sophisticated nation at foot of Asia shouldn’t have to rely on cheap money.
    Philip Lowe has admonished ANZ and Westpac for not passing on the RBA’s full rate cut, and encouraged unhappy customers to ditch and switch.
    Greg Jericho opines that the RBA’s interest rate cut is a pretty sad indictment of how the economy has been handled – and there will likely be further cuts. He says the government should feel great shame at this astonishingly low interest rate
    The Reserve Bank cut interest rates on Tuesday because we aren’t spending or pushing up prices at anything like the rate it would like. And things are even worse than it might have realised, says Peter Martin.
    Amy Remeikis says the police raid on Annika Smethurst shows her surveillance exposé must have hit a nerve.
    A Melbourne law professor explains why Pell has a good chance of success in his appeal that begins today.
    Chris Uhlmann reckons Sydney’s multicultural west offers Morrison a path to a 2022 cakewalk.
    Mungo MacCallum outlines Morrison’s Cabinet containing lightweights and non-performers.
    It looks like the shooter in Darwin was a well known crim. And in a story I can’t link the Adelaide Advertiser says the man has bikie links.
    Adele Ferguson reports that the ATO whitsleblower has pleaded not guilty to 660 charges ab=nd given bail She also tells us that Rex Patrick will be seeking a Senate order when Parliament resumes next month to investigate the Australian Taxation Office’s handling of the matter.
    With a new Minister for Communication in place, it is an appropriate time to start looking at the telecommunications issues that urgently need to be addressed. And the NBN should be first on the list, writes Paul Budde.
    Elizbeth Knight says that share prices of Bellamy’s Organic and A2 Milk have been battered and at this point they look like victims of the Trump trade war.
    Hopes of exposing the Cayman Island beneficiaries behind the Watergate mystery are not entirely dashed in the wake of the Coalition’s election victory, but they have surely receded. There will be no Royal Commission, perhaps no revealing of documents for now. Yet the mystery persists. In this investigation, Jommy Tee and Ronni Salt, the characters celebrated on Twitter for many a Watergate chapter, untangle the web of key identities, wealthy but low-profile financiers mostly, behind Australia’s most lucrative water deal.
    Sarah Danckert reports that ASIC is concerned about the increase in suspected insider trading on the ASX.
    The quality of corporate audits by the big four firms has been questioned by ASIC, a parliamentary committee and the government’s independent adviser on the financial reporting framework and audit quality. Deloitte doesn’t like it.
    It’s been presented as a jobs bonanza for Queensland, but there are fresh questions about Adani’s Carmichael project and the employment it will create in regional Queensland. This comes after the re-emergence of an interview with the Nationals MP, Bridget McKenzie, now the agriculture minister, on Sky News.
    Meanwhile ABC journalists have condemned alleged editorial interference by Adani and called on the news director, Gaven Morris, to explain why a story on the mining giant was never run.
    Victoria has become one of the world’s first jurisdictions with an operational pure-electric police car, adding a Tesla Model X to its Highway Patrol fleet.
    Nigel Farage has been given 24 hours by the European parliament to explain in person his failure to declare lavish expenses funded by Arron Banks, an insurance tycoon under investigation by the UK’s National Crime Agency.
    The US Federal Reserve signalled overnight that it is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the US economy on solid footing, including taking action to alleviate the harm from Trump’s trade war.
    Mehajer’s out again!

    Cartoon Corner

    Great work here from David Pope!

    David Rowe celebrates the rate cut.

    Cathy Wilcox and politically toxic coal.

    From Matt Golding.

    Andrew Dyson on the rate cut.

    I love this one from Mark David.

    Fiona Katauskas readies KK for the fray.

    Zanetti on the climate change bandwagon again.

    Jon Kudelka and Annika Smethurst’s visitors.

    From the US.

  9. Mavis Davis says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 7:07 am

    …”His best chance is ground three: the verdict is unsafe”…

    As the article you linked to clearly states, ground three is:

    …”That the jury’s verdict is unreasonable or cannot be supported having regard to the evidence”….


    …”Is the verdict unsafe?”…

  10. From the other thread:

    “I suspect that as the Pentecostal church has grown, it has become a broader church”

    Well the history of the pentecostal movement was an african american outreaching to white people. Its probably more accurate that the far right ones have cut off from their roots.

    Pentecostal churches are very multicultural in Australia and political opinions range quite a bit although I went to a pretty right wing on at one stage. Even there there were quite a few lefties

    One surprising thing I’ve noticed is even the most right wing pentecostals I know are deeply uneasy about Australia’s treatment of refugees (the only exceptions are people who are directly involved with a political party). One person I know who’s uber right wing was challenged by someone involved in a political party who was defending Australia’s harsh treatment of asylum speakers “how many should we take” and they replied “the whole planet if necessary”.

    Asylum seekers are probably a real opportunity for the left and pentecostals. Whether a real policy difference can happen without alienating racist working class votings, who knows

    I have other ideas. But given we are 1-2% of the country maybe its overkill

  11. Classic stuff from the Far Right and the Greens joined at the hip culture war virtue signalling about the nuclear power ban.

    Everyone knows that no private sector investor will invest in nuclear power. So why the hoo haa?

    Bait for the far right and far left sucker vote is the answer.

    Virtually no-one knows that the real policy issue is that the Greens will close all uranium mines immediately, close Lucas Heights without a replacement, and close down Olympic Dam.

    So what we have is a classic bit of Far Right and Far Left Greens policy virtue posturing with BOTH hiding their massively destructive real policy intentions.

    Still the suckers continue to vote for this bunch of policy frauds, so 10/10 to Di Natale for suckering Greens voters yet again.

  12. I do note that neither Essential nor our host mention that the Greens were at fault.
    Nor do they mention that Greens voters caused the Coalition to win…

    Obviously they are completely stupid as it is clear to at least four anonymous posters on a blog that the Greens are at fault.

    This William Bowe chap is an amateur.

  13. Astrobleme

    That’s right, the Greens never, ever, ever do anything wrong. There is thus no need to analyse anything they do or say. And, of course, Greens are never one eyed partisan hacks. They are intelligent, objective people who deal only in facts.

  14. According to Chris Uhlmann, Morrison embodies the essence of the “multicultural west”. I am sensing that we are tumbling into a ‘religious war’ and I dread it.

    In the election aftermath Chris Bowen warned that “people of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them”. It’s a lot worse than that because many who parade as progressives are deeply anti-Christian.

    The dilemma for these “progressives” is that the multicultural Australia they like to celebrate shares the values of the Old Puritans they despise.

    Having lived and worked in Sydney’s west for a decade in the 1980s I can also report that ethnic communities are often enthusiastic supporters of tough border controls, as it is their families that are vying for immigration places with irregular migrants.

    Given many progressives now also seems to abhor the jobs and lifestyles of the remnant blue collar workers, the election opens a huge opportunity for Morrison. He can reach out to the communities of faith in Labor seats and argue that only his party will defend them. He can make the same argument to the miners in the NSW seat of Hunter who also swung hard against Labor (-14.2 per cent).

    At the last election Morrison passed through a narrow gate to victory but a broad path beckons in 2022.


  15. Zoomster

    “That’s right, the Greens never, ever, ever do anything wrong. ”

    Such incisive commentary Zoomster! Whoa!

    But in all seriousness, the deranged Greens bashing here since the election has been bizarre.

    And if the Greens are so powerful, that they can ruin Labor’s election chances, then Labor will never win. Because Labor are as light as a feather.

  16. This is what happens under right-wing governments, who hate regulations and encourage the exploitation of the environment. Just as in Australia.

    Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon surged last month to the highest May level since the current monitoring method began, prompting concerns that president Jair Bolsonaro is giving a free pass to illegal logging, farming and mining.

    Since the far-right Bolsonaro came to power in January, he has weakened the environment ministry, loosened controls on economic exploitation of the Amazon, halted demarcation of indigenous land and encouraged mining and farming interests to expand in the region.


  17. And here’s a nice comment on Uhlmann.

    Urban Wronski @UrbanWronski
    1h1 hour ago

    Communities of faith is over-egging the pudding. Uhlmann is just recycling News Corp garbage. There may be up to 4000 Pentecostal votes in a few electorates. Overnight they’ve become exalted into a political powerhouse. God help us.

  18. Victoria

    They wanted to radically change the balance, but will be grateful in the end that they lost, I think. Now they must attack, attack, attack.

  19. I find it strange that so many (e.g. Uhlmann and others here) are confidently predicting the result of an election in 2022 when they were unable to predict the result of the 2019 election the day before it took place.

  20. confessions
    Thanks. Great link to US corn plantings and record rainfall.
    How good are the record rainfall figures?
    One way or another the cost of capital for farming will go up. $7 billion in drought subsidies to date in Australia. Another $4 billion or so in other capital subsidies involving low interest state-guaranteed loans. Crop insurance prices in the US will now go up.

    And Australia’s First Great Global Warming Drought is far from finished in many areas.

  21. ‘Jolyon Wagg says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 8:46 am

    I find it strange that so many (e.g. Uhlmann and others here) are confidently predicting the result of an election in 2022 when they were unable to predict the result of the 2019 election the day before it took place.’

    The important thing is to be right the next time.

  22. I’m sure Morrison sees himself as the human counterpart of Winx. Every post a winner!

    Urban Wronski@UrbanWronski
    46m46 minutes ago

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave the Queen a signed copy of the official biography of champion racehorse Winx during his first meeting with the monarch at Buckingham Palace.
    The official? Straight from the horse’s mouth? Signed by Winx? Phew! Priceless. ABC boosters at work.

  23. Mavis Davis @ #5 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 7:07 am

    His best chance is ground three: the verdict is unsafe.

    I’d sure hope not. The law explicitly allows a jury to convict on the basis of a single person’s testimony. It’s their job to hear the evidence and decide who is/isn’t credible.

    No matter the result, his reputation has been irrevocably sullied, and it goes without saying that he won’t return to the Vatican.

    And that he will always be a convicted child rapist.

    Anyhow, I’m calling an anti-climax for today. The proceedings carry over into tomorrow, and it’ll likely be days (or even a could of weeks) before any decision is made.

  24. Morrison assumed Labor would be in power by now …
    1) asylum seeker boat ✅
    2) Chinese warships sneak into Sydney harbour ✅
    3) recession ✅
    Can you imagine how LNP would be playing this in opposition?

  25. lizzie @ #41 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 8:59 am

    Morrison assumed Labor would be in power by now …
    1) asylum seeker boat ✅
    2) Chinese warships sneak into Sydney harbour ✅
    3) recession ✅
    Can you imagine how LNP would be playing this in opposition?

    To which you can add the most emotive issue of all.
    No tax cuts as promised by Labor to Low and Middle Income Earners because Morrison had signed a letter to the GG that writs to be returned on June 28, too late to get parliament back to pass them.

  26. @David Scott
    Your 10-second guide to today’s Australian GDP report (via @BIAUS) businessinsider.com.au/australia-q1

    Our GDP gone to shit.

  27. @Ken Parish

    At least 4 people shot & killed at Frontier Hotel. Darwin CBD, across road from daughter Bec, Max & Luna’s place. Max was there, saw shooter & heard the shots. Ran home to warn family. From their level 10 apartment they saw shooter taken down by TRG cops. My goodness. Too close.

  28. The impact of climate change on the Queensland economy of 2050 has been forecast in a new wide-ranging report that has stark warnings for the tourism and agriculture industries.

    But it was not all bad news for the Sunshine State, with Queensland set to capitalise on the worldwide demand for electric cars, solar panels and high-capacity batteries.

    Ernst and Young’s report, prepared for Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science, shows the risks of warming weather on eight industry sectors across 13 regions and the opportunities if temperature increases can be kept below two degrees.

    The Queensland government is paying $480,000 to hire the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre for three days and to cater for 800 people at the Climate Reality conference.

    The government is not paying Mr Gore, his accommodation, or his airfares.


  29. If the banks were to pass on the full cut to the cash rate, mortgagors will on average have $70 extra a month. That doesn’t appear much of an economic stimulus to me. Fifty bases points, maybe.

  30. It’s tragic and hilarious. Labor must have done something wrong. Pauline and the Greens are closing in on Labor in Queensland. Could be they’ll all add the same number of Senators this time. If Labor are powerless to turn back the tide then perhaps we should all be looking elsewhere for our future progressive governments.

    Personnally, I think they have far more agency than folk like Boerwar, briefly and Zoomie give them credit.

  31. @Mavis

    Yup it’s like liberal tax cuts only give small amount back.

    What you also save in mortgage will be paid by other bills.

    So fuxk all saving really.

    For people who don’t own a home of which there are millions of us, we won’t get the saving.

    Libs just doing the easy bucket shit.

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