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”

  1. Kate

    “Greg Jennet’s got a new job as Morrison’s press secretary evidently.”

    My word that is a surprise to …….. no one!

  2. Coleen MacKinnon
    ‏ @ColeenMacK_AUS
    11h11 hours ago

    Fraudulent how-to-vote cards told Greens voters to preference Peter Dutton. How much more of this unethical election campaign behavior will be revealed, and why is it not unlawful in this country? Time for change. #auspol @zalisteggall

  3. Considering the Greens claim their supporters are more intelligent then I doubt they would fall for HTV cards suggesting Dutton

  4. Ita Buttrose:

    “An untrammeled media is important to the public discourse and to democracy,” Buttrose said.

    “It is the way in which Australian citizens are kept informed about the world and its impact on their daily lives.”

    Note the use of the definite article.

    Time to get out the Cold Chisel:

    How could I not believe, when Ita tells me too


  5. Coleen MacKinnon
    ‏ @ColeenMacK_AUS
    11h11 hours ago

    Fraudulent how-to-vote cards told Greens voters to preference Peter Dutton.

    All very apt, considering the effect of G campaigning generally is to drive voters away from Labor and into the Lib stax.

  6. LOL why does that photo remind me of a uni group assignment final meeting before submission, some clearly know the subject, there is one up the back that either doesn’t care or is clueless and there are a few trying to appear across the subject.

  7. William Bowe says:
    Friday, June 7, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    “Among other things, the topics of negotiation are the order in which Government bills and other items of business are taken, the time allotted for debate, and the timing of Opposition business.” Barbecue stoppers one and all.


    Not to mention the fact that Burke is by far the most outstanding Parliamentarian, on both sides of the House. He is quick on his feet, articulate, funny and was more than a match for Chrissy Pyne.

    Predictions, given recent experience, are foolish. But I would not be surprised to see Tony as a future leader of the Labor Party.

    Now Nath, no more aspersions on the Shoppies and Tony please.

  8. William Bowe:

    Greg Jennett does not have a new job as Scott Morrison’s press secretary.

    I thought not, but couldn’t be bothered looking, because it’s utterly uninteresting. Of course it also means that the average intelligence of both organisations has not increased.

  9. I think this is what Victoria was worried about might come out before the election:

    Disturbing new details have emerged about the behaviour of construction union boss John Setka, prompting Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to demand he apologise over comments he made about anti-violence campaigner Rosie Batty.

    Mr Setka said last month he would plead guilty to charges of harassing a woman. He told a meeting of his union’s national executive this week that the work of Ms Batty had led to men having few rights.

    The Age and Sydney Morning Herald can also reveal that a former deputy president of the Fair Work Commission gave a statement to police alleging that Mr Setka repeatedly intimidated and terrified a woman over several months.

    The former judicial officer, Anne Gooley, said in her police statement that she had seen Mr Setka’s treatment of the woman and that “Seeing John’s anger … I was extremely distressed”.

    Police analysis of Mr Setka’s phone activity reveals on a single evening last October, he called the woman 25 times and sent her 45 text messages, calling her a “weak f—en piece of shit” and a “treacherous Aussie f—en c—” and a “f—en dog”.


  10. I’m not sure what defense is but I’m pretty sure the President just misspelled scions. Most notably NASA should be focusing on his kids but I guess any wealthy scions would be an improvement on all that moon chatter.

  11. John Setka should do the decent thing and resign from his position as head of the CFFMEU in Victoria and from the Labor Party. Today.

  12. “When people see material is authorised by the Australian Electoral Commission they make assumptions it’s true, but the AEC has no responsibility to check whether any authorised claim is true. We need to make this regime consistent with what people expect as consumers.”

    Someone needs to take responsibility, if the AEC won’t. Authorised lies are still lies.


  13. Three weeks since a nation voted against their best interests by installing the chief shyster to the assembly of elected shonks and we have proof that the body, oddly named ‘home affairs’, will be actively pursuing the best interests of the shonks.
    In hindsight, and in a short time, it’s become apparent that some convenient distortions of the truth were used in unison with some even more convenient distortions of non-truth, to promote a compromised leader, together with a compromised ministry to affect their will, across anything that promotes their interests.
    The once proud symbol of the unification of a federated nation will be slated for sale by tender by a decree from a unrepresentative body with no further use of the planned city.
    The chief shyster deeming a world tour, a priority above and beyond other matters, deemed so massively important with a sense of urgency have now been relegated to second place behind a self-promotion exercise of doubtful advantage to the nation.
    Any chance of a corruption body to investigate the reckless profligation of suspicious financial activities, business deals and government tender allocation will be buried very early, very quickly, by a mob with plenty to hide.
    The $250 millionb grant to the Solomon Is. looks pale in comparison to the grants to the private GBR mob, the profits generated by water by-backs or perhaps the amount of dosh repaid to Cayman Is. domiciled corporations as ‘loan repayments’.
    The MSM crescendo of ‘I just don’t trust Shorten’ seems somewhat unfairly maligned when the slightest consideration is given to the flogging we have issued upon ourselves by electing this body of shonks.
    It’s difficult to become excited about governance in the next three years.

  14. Amanda Perram


    It was Scott Morrison in 2013 that issued the directive that asylum seekers who arrived by boat were to be known as ”illegals”, thereby creating the narrative that they had broken the law and deserved to be treated as criminals.
    It is NOT illegal to seek asylum.

    Revd Andrew Klein ( Chaplain)@KleinRevd

    Replying to @AmandaPerram
    And people think Morrison is a harmless , daggy dad type. Language can get other people killed , mistreated and abused. He knows it and uses it , backing off like the weasel he is if needed to ensure survival.

  15. I argue that the misinformation campaign waged by the Coalition, Clive Palmer and One Nation, may have decided the election. Labor was pretty much caught unaware by this sort of campgain.

    Also I do wonder if opinion pollsters account for the political disengaged, which this misinformation campaign had it’s most effect.


  16. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Quite a lot for you today!

    David Wroe and Fergus Hunter combine to explain at considerable length how national security is colliding with freedom of the press.
    Here’s a good editorial on the matter from The Saturday Paper.
    Bevan Shields writes that the AFP is bracing for fresh scrutiny over its decision to raid major media organisations after officers quietly abandoned a separate investigation into who leaked classified national security advice at the height of a major political dispute over border protection. I think is is clear this government has standards!
    Geoffrey Robertson describes Australia as “a second-rate country unwilling to defend press freedom”. He starkly contrasts our laws regarding the application for and granting of search warrants with those of the UK. This article should embolden those senators seeking to put the raids under the spotlight.
    Laura Tingle, clearly upset, writes that we are seeing a casual slide into the abuse of power.
    Phil Coorey heaps praise on Ita Buttrose’s entry into the fray.
    Michael Koziol reports that a leading academic on national security and press freedom has warned police could start raiding newsrooms pre-emptively to stop sensitive stories being published, as ABC chair Ita Buttrose called for an overhaul of secrecy laws in a rallying cry for public interest journalism.
    Paul Bongiorno, in a wide-ranging contribution, examines the political week just past.
    Lenore Taylor says, “It’s not 2007 anymore. We need new tools to fight election lies.”
    Following on from this lead in a Guardian investigation has tracked the course of the death tax scare, revealing alarming implications for Australian democracy.
    Martin McKenzie-Murray looks at the divisions over religious freedom now the election is behind us.
    In another scoop, Karen Middleton has created the clearest picture yet of the events surrounding his dismissal as the CO of Tourism Australia. Hmmm.
    With a the G20 meeting about to occur Matt Wade wonders if an unconventional fix might be required for our troubled economy.
    The SMH editorial says that the government should accept that reality and rethink its economic policies, including the myopic focus on achieving a budget surplus.
    Ross Gittins declares, “After the hype, our economy’s grim reality setting in.” He says Frydenberg’s boast of having achieved budget surpluses in the coming four financial years – and Labor’s boast that its surpluses would be bigger – are little more than wishful thinking, manufactured by a politicised Treasury.
    Peter Hartcher looks at our economic trajectory and concludes that the economy needs a restructuring to strip away the ossifying forces of oligopoly, of inflexibility, of risk aversion. He asks, “Will Morrison raise to the challenge of this time”?
    Economics professor, Gabrielle Gratton, writes that our economic model looks broken, but trying to fix it could be a disaster.
    Richard Holden writes that if we fall into a recession (and we might) we’ll have ourselves to blame.
    The AFR reports that the government is close to stitching up a deal with Senate cross benchers on the full income tax cut legislation.
    Mike Seccombe explores Australia’s China dilemma.
    The ride-hailing company Uber does not directly employ its drivers, the Fair Work Ombudsman has said, because drivers have control over “whether, when, and for how long they perform work”. This decision could have far reaching ramifications for the gig economy.
    Gun lobbying groups are influencing Australia’s political parties with untraceable dark money donations, writes David Paull.
    Tony Wright waxes eloquent over Barrie Cassidy.
    Buy-now-pay-later company Afterpay is expanding its footprint into GP clinics, radiology and pharmacies, raising fears vulnerable patients will be left with bigger out-of-pocket costs. What a disgusting development!
    Five dams used to store mining waste are at “extreme” risk of causing environmental damage if they fail, according to a review by BHP, the world’s biggest mining company. Four of them are in Australia.
    Sydney has become the cocaine capital of Australia as the drug appears to be gaining some form of social acceptability.
    Jonathan Freedland explains how Brexit is causing the strange death of British conservatism.
    AGL Energy has flagged a seven month outage at Victoria’s Loy Yang power plant.
    Sarah Danckert writes that Lendlease is facing fresh questions over why it took much longer than its consortium partner on the $3 billion NorthConnex road to confess to massive cost blowouts and delays on the project.
    Elizabeth Farrelly bemoans the loss of or “right to repair” the goods we buy.
    A man abused by notorious paedophile Christian Brother Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan is suing George Pell, alleging the disgraced cardinal did nothing to protect him. I just hope the man is not represented by Mr Boyce!
    The Saturday Paper’s Russell Marks looks deeply into the Pell appeal.
    Disgraced former Vatican treasurer George Pell could know next week if he will be free from jail, with the longer a decision takes the less likely he is to succeed, legal experts say.
    Tim Costello has used his last day as head of World Vision Australia to call out middle-class Australians and their ‘huge sense of victimhood’. Speaking to The New Daily, Mr Costello said Australians had lost ‘perspective’ of what’s important.
    In this investigation, Jommy Tee and Ronni Salt untangle the web of key identities, wealthy but low-profile financiers mostly, behind Australia’s most lucrative water deal.
    Trump has attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an interview last night as “a nasty, vindictive, horrible person” in his first public comments since reports that she told colleagues she would like to see him in prison rather than impeached.
    Disturbing new details have emerged about the behaviour of construction union boss John Setka, prompting Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to demand he apologise over comments he made about anti-violence campaigner Rosie Batty. This earns Setka a nomination for “Arsehole of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner.

    Alan Moir with an unexploded cabinet and a reminder of Tiananmen Square.

    David Rowe and “Job done!” by Potatohead.

    From Matt Golding.

    Jim Pavlidis in Morrison’s dressing room.

    John Shakespeare on similar lines.

    Andrew Dyson and what might become a police state.

    Matt Davidson with some budget honesty.

    Mark David and a new level of transparency.

    And he takes a good shot at News Ltd.

    A couple from Sean Leahy.

    Jon Kudelka has more on the AFP.

    From the US.

  17. C@

    I’ve been told the bombshell was going to be the rape allegations rehashed.

    Apparently the woman concerned DID go public (via social media) as was originally planned, but the media didn’t run with it because of the Shorten’s mum debacle.

  18. zoomster @ #1479 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 7:40 am


    I’ve been told the bombshell was going to be the rape allegations rehashed.

    Apparently the woman concerned DID go public (via social media) as was originally planned, but the media didn’t run with it because of the Shorten’s mum debacle.

    Oh, okay. If that’s the case it shows the levels the media will sink to in order to get at the Labor Party in an election campaign. If they can. Because that allegation was well and truly dealt with previously. And, yes, #MeToo, but that doesn’t make an ounce of difference if the woman is obviously just seen to be trouble making. Which she obviously was because her bringing up of the matter on social media and via Michael Smith News, fcs, as right wing a disinformation outfit as you can get, instead of going to the police, just proves it.

  19. @MrDenmore

    If I ran the ALP, I would stop the accommodation with the security state & start acting like a real opposition, support democracy and explain to people that the biggest threat to our freedom is coming from reactionaries and closet fascists who claim to protect them

    A combination of Lib govt and RW media has cowed Labor into supporting anything labelled “security”. I’m not sure how much support they will get if they rebel now. Albo will make himself a hero of the left if he tries.

  20. Lenore Taylor’s article lies during the campaign is interesting and a bit puzzling. Maybe I am a bit naive and over optimistic. I thought the media had a role in exposing politicians telling lies. Maybe that is like publishing the truth about the economy and only applies after the election.

  21. Peter Stanton

    When the media supports one side of politics they see no advantage in calling out lies. ABC Factcheck is a farce.

    PB posters have been screaming at the media throughout the campaign, but we have no power.

  22. Whistleblowing, journalism and activism are not a threat to national security. The biggest threats are climate change and a corrupt government.

  23. Flights not included.

    NASA announced on Friday that its side of the International Space Station is open for business.

    It won’t come cheap.

    Daily access to the life support system and toilet will run an amateur astronaut $11,250 per day. Tack on an additional $22,500 a day for food and — air. That all adds up to a nightly tab of about $35,000. And that doesn’t count the flight.


  24. This is chilling, and an indication of what Trumpism has unleashed. Male supremacy has been added as a category in the tracking of hate movements by at least one organisation.

    Beierle was an avowed hater of women, a man who repeatedly grabbed women in real life and fantasized about raping and killing them in the horrific collection of lyrics, poetry and novels he began writing as a teenager. His interactions with the opposite sex had gotten him fired from teaching jobs, booted from the Army and hauled before the principal of his high school. He traced his fury at women — “Just beneath their blushing lashes and their innocent smiles lies the most rancid and putrid, sickening essences” — to the girls who both aroused and frustrated him in eighth grade.

    It is a kind of hatred that experts in extremism warn is becoming more common and more dangerous, providing what amounts to a new feeder network for white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups.

    “More and more, we see misogyny as the gateway drug for extremists,” said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of more than 20 people interviewed to compile this account of Beierle’s history and the phenomenon it represents.


  25. Andrew Wilkie 2015
    ” 10 characteristics of a “pre-police state”.”

    Denying some citizens the right to access the legal system is wrong.

    Incremental loss of freedoms, democracy deteriorating bit by bit.

    1. Metadata retention. Govt knows where you go, what you look at, who you talk to. No warrant required

    2. Media – used, manipulated, bullied

    3. Manipulation of judiciary – Royal Commission

    4. Secrecy – operational matters “on water”

    5. Law – can be arrested on suspicion of terrorism with no evidence.

    6. Some people can be incarcerated indefinitely without trial – asylum seekers

    7. Complete disregard for international law and agreements – Refugee convention, rights of the child.

    8. Parliament forbidden to debate or decide on important matters of state – e.g. bombing of Syria.

    9. Safeguard mechanisms disregarded and people bullied – Human Rights Commissioner. Autocratic regime

    10. Security agencies act beyond lawful powers. Australian Border Force operation on the streets of Melbourne – unlawful, beyond their legal power.

    George Williams
    An extraordinary number of Australian laws now infringe basic democratic standards, but we hardly bat an eyelid.


  26. The moon is a part of Mars. Who knew?

    Donald J. TrumpVerified account@realDonaldTrump
    6h6 hours ago
    For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!

  27. Dennis Atkins@dwabriz
    3h3 hours ago

    @meadea reports I’m leaving The Courier-Mail. She’s right as usual. Last day is June 28. Looking forward to putting my next phase together. Keeping my twitter & will keep doing Two Grumpy Hacks with @farrm51. Will keep showing up on @InsidersABC. Watch this space. Lots to do.

  28. BK

    Much thanks for today’s dawn patrol.

    With respect to John Setka of the CFMMEU. My mail is that he was asked by some of the rank and file to resign weeks ago. So far, he has strongly resisted.
    No doubt, this latest report is to put pressure on him to do just that.

  29. As zoomster said, the woman who initially made the rape allegation, once again came forward to get the story rolling etc.

    Although, my mail is that there was another matter that they were going to go with relating to a “relationship” sometime ago. Not going to say more than that, save to say that they got a right of reply from Shorten, and they held off the story.

  30. I can’t believe that an organisation such as the Labor Party did not see what was being disseminated on Facebook regarding the death tax etc.

    I mentioned at the time, although I am not on Facebook, friends and family were getting these memes and were doing their darn best to counter the bullshit

    What struck them was how readily these lies were believed by usually sensible people.

    Hence why I dont know how damn serious Labor were about winning govt.

    My vibe at the time was so strange about it all.

  31. Victoria – whatever the allegations against Shorten were they pale into insignificance in comparison to the shit that went down for our PM Morrison on that fateful night in Engadine some moons ago.

  32. And the ultimate weirdness I had during the campaign.

    I kept seeing 77 seats.
    I was not at all confident that it belonged in the Labor column, but I tried very hard to convince myself based on the ongoing polls, that it would be the outcome.

    So very weird.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *