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. C@tmomma:

    [‘Does anyone know when the French Open Womens Final is on? ‘]

    To the best of my knowledge, at 2300 (11 pm) on SBS.

    Go Ash!

  2. Mavis Davis @ #1656 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 8:21 pm

    This man’s a first class prick, ruining RU Australia of its diminishing resources, all for the sake of his stuffed up view of the world:

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-sends-explosive-letter-to-ra-over-code-of-conduct-leaks-20190608-p51vu7.html

    I blame the British – it’s surely karma.

    And he’s just going to piss off back to Rugby League at the end of it all with his ill-gotten gains. And I say, ‘ill gotten gains’, because anyone who monetises their religion by folding it into their sport and then demands everyone bow down to it, or he’ll sue them, IS an A Grade prick!

  3. @Mavis Davis

    People I speak on a regular basis are defending Folau, they say he has every right to express his views, unless he is calling for the killing of homosexuals.

  4. “Think iView for example. Each station has a similar service.”

    iView and similar services are what is best described as low definition TV.

    The future of TV lies with bigger sets with necessarily higher definition in order to mimic cinema effects.

    At the moment the basic high definition is 1080p, which requires around 4 times the bandwidth as low definition. In the next few years this will move into what is called 4K, which requires approximately 4 times as much again. In the pipeline is 8K which will… etc, etc.

    It is possible to get a decent 4K picture over a 50Mbit connection, but if you do you will need to get the kids off the network and mum or dad back to the couch, because they won’t be doing anything else on the home internet connection.

    Because of bandwidth limitations, the delivery mechanisms for future high definition signals will of necessity be gigabit ethernet. I think something of the order of 17% of Australian households are capable of such connections thanks to the intervention of the Coalition in the rollout of the NBN. Otherwise it might have been 93%.

    Of course that only involves the consumption of home media, a mere trillion dollar industry world wide, and ignores any other benefits of high bandwidth internet to the economy.

  5. Mavis Davis @ #1656 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 8:21 pm

    This man’s a first class prick, ruining RU Australia of its diminishing resources, all for the sake of his stuffed up view of the world:

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-sends-explosive-letter-to-ra-over-code-of-conduct-leaks-20190608-p51vu7.html

    I blame the British – it’s surely karma.

    Ummm. Does anyone besides me see any contradiction in this … ?

    In a confidential letter sent on Saturday, Folau objects to information from the code of conduct hearing being made public.

  6. Tristo @ #1660 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 8:27 pm

    @Mavis Davis

    People I speak on a regular basis are defending Folau, they say he has every right to express his views, unless he is calling for the killing of homosexuals.

    It’s just a small step from stating that homosexuals will go to hell, to making it a reality. It’s not that long ago, if it has really stopped at all in this country, that homosexuals were being beaten to death, simply because they were homosexual. Israel Folau’s comments just inflame the hatred and provide a convenient cause for all that sort of stuff to happen.

  7. C@tmomma at 7.14pm: Tell that lady to get her phone service with Jeenee. They have packages at about $10 per month for unlimited Australian texts & calls, & about 4 hours worth of internet access.

  8. Tristo:

    [‘People I speak on a regular basis are defending Folau, they say he has every right to express his views, unless he is calling for the killing of homosexuals.’}

    Mate, I have a young nephew who’s gay. I gather he’s on the edge at the moment, having split up with his partner of three years, due mainly to societal pressures, way and above the norm.

    Please wake up to yourself!

  9. By the way, Australia; Jacinda Ardern’s Labour (36.9%) got only a touch more than the ALP (33.4%), and the NZ Greens (6.3%) rather less that the Australian Greens (10.4%). The net left vote in NZ was, therefore, lower. Moreover, the NZ Nationals (44.5%) did a touch better the LNP (41.4%), and ended up in opposition.

    Electoral systems matter. Just sayin’!

  10. https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/folau-shouldn-t-suffer-an-employment-penalty-for-views-shorten-says-20190508-p51lgf.html
    When asked Morrison defended Folau’s right to express his opinion but agreed he should be sacked for breaking contract

    Shorten said:
    It’s a contractual negotiation at one level but I’m uneasy about where that debate’s gone. On one hand, I think Israel Folau is entitled to his views, and he shouldn’t suffer an employment penalty for it. So I’m uneasy about that part of it.”
    But he said he also understands the other side of the argument given the “hurtful impact” of Folau’s public statements.

    I am beginning to understand why the Australian people found Bill shifty

  11. Morrison’s quote
    Freedom of speech is important, but we have to exercise it responsibly,” he said. “In relation to what happens in matters of contract law and employment law, well we’re all subject to those, if we enter into those contracts.”

  12. Folau expressed his views. No one stopped him. But there were consequences.

    Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequence. True ‘warriors’ understand that there’s a price to be paid.

    I’m a little perplexed by the attitude of (some) Christians, that society should be arranged around their conveniences. The whole point of Christianity is that it goes against society. It’s not meant to be easy to be a Christian.

  13. Oakeshott Country says:
    Saturday, June 8, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Morrison’s quote
    Freedom of speech is important, but we have to exercise it responsibly,” he said. “In relation to what happens in matters of contract law and employment law, well we’re all subject to those, if we enter into those contracts.”

    Morrison’s the one going after whistleblowers, so he would need to stress that point.

  14. Oakeshott Country @ #1671 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 9:17 pm

    https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/folau-shouldn-t-suffer-an-employment-penalty-for-views-shorten-says-20190508-p51lgf.html
    When asked Morrison defended Folau’s right to express his opinion but agreed he should be sacked for breaking contract

    Shorten said:
    It’s a contractual negotiation at one level but I’m uneasy about where that debate’s gone. On one hand, I think Israel Folau is entitled to his views, and he shouldn’t suffer an employment penalty for it. So I’m uneasy about that part of it.”
    But he said he also understands the other side of the argument given the “hurtful impact” of Folau’s public statements.

    I am beginning to understand why the Australian people found Bill shifty

    Yes, the Australian public don’t do nuance. You say, ‘shifty’, but what about a nuanced opinion makes it ‘shifty’? Unless, that is, you are looking to find ‘shifty’ in nuance.

  15. Morrison’s quote
    Freedom of speech is important, but we have to exercise it responsibly,” he said.

    I wonder how Scotty reconciles the AFP raids on journalists when it comes to responsible exercising of freedom of speech….

  16. Unfortunately and like Michael Daley, Bill liked to be Pauline Hanson in Katoomba and Sarah Hansen Young in Balmain. On Adani as well as Folau

  17. Speaking of internet, I am on a train between Bonn and Frankfurt. The internet is not super fast, but probably better than my Australian ADSL2 about 6pm, when all our neighbours start streaming.

    It is also an incredibly pretty journey – south bank of the Rhine, an amazing view of vineyards and castles, all for 29 Euros.

  18. Confessions @ #1647 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 5:18 pm

    Dan G:

    We watched the last of Bad Blood S2 last night. The series definitely improved towards the end; the final 2 episodes were very good.

    Hmm I thought the final episode was a bit too Tarantino-ish. The hero gets shot but doesn’t die and takes out the villain. A bit too contrived for my liking. It didn’t spoil the whole series though, and the way it ended could either be a fitting finale, or pave the way for a third series.

  19. Oakeshott Country @ #1680 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 9:33 pm

    Unfortunately and like Michael Daley, Bill liked to be Pauline Hanson in Katoomba and Sarah Hansen Young in Balmain. On Adani as well as Folau

    You truly are a bitter old man, aren’t you? The guy’s not even cold in his political grave and you’re still laying the boot into him! I hope it makes you feel good. It’s not a very edifying sight.

  20. Not sure the situation in Federal law but I guess they are similar to the NSW public service whistle-blowing is regulated under the public interest disclosure legislation. I don’t agree with the government/afp actions but it doesn’t sound like the whistleblowing procedures were followed.

  21. C@tmomma @ #1658 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 6:25 pm

    Mavis Davis @ #1656 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 8:21 pm

    This man’s a first class prick, ruining RU Australia of its diminishing resources, all for the sake of his stuffed up view of the world:

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-sends-explosive-letter-to-ra-over-code-of-conduct-leaks-20190608-p51vu7.html

    I blame the British – it’s surely karma.

    And he’s just going to piss off back to Rugby League at the end of it all with his ill-gotten gains. And I say, ‘ill gotten gains’, because anyone who monetises their religion by folding it into their sport and then demands everyone bow down to it, or he’ll sue them, IS an A Grade prick!

    Given the trouble he’s caused for the ARU, I doubt any sport will touch him with a barge pole. If they do, they deserve whatever grief he causes them.

  22. Dan G:

    That just goes to show, each to their own. I found the first few eps contrived to the max. But I loved the ending. I hope it leads to a S3!!

  23. You haven’t told me where and when the branch meets. I am looking forward to civilized, intelligent political debate in which the participants respect the divergent views that make up our broad church of our party

  24. Also very glad to see the Guardian article by Lenore Taylor and the tweet from Katharine Murphy above.

    Basically, Australia has been Trumped, Brexited, done over by fellow travellers of Cambridge Analytica.

    How to fight it?

    See Adrian Beaumont’s post above : http://adrianbeaumont.net/left-wins-danish-election-new-israeli-election-german-greens-surge-to-tie-for-lead-left-gains-in-tas-upper-house/

    and his guest Pollbludger post
    It takes 376 seats to win a majority in the European parliament. The left parties plus the Liberals, including the Romanian centre left, add to 381 seats. The respectable right parties plus the Liberals add to 337 seats. If the Liberals were to join a right coalition, it would need to include far-right parties that the Liberals vehemently oppose. So I think the left has won the 2019 European parliamentary elections.
    https://www.pollbludger.net/2019/05/27/uk-countries-european-union-election-results/

    Europe dodged a far right bullet.

    How was this achieved: AVAANZ certainly was a key player, as per this email:

    Dear amazing Avaaz,

    We’ve never been more proud of our movement.

    After Trump, Brexit, and Bolsonaro, Europe was supposed to be next in last weekend’s elections. The last reliably democratic global power, drowned in the fake news and hate of the far right.

    To meet this historic threat, Avaaz exposed and forced the takedown of likely the largest disinformation networks EVER. Networks that were racking up 3 BILLION views a year of their poison in just six countries. Enough to reach every voter an average of twenty times!!

    And because hateful extremists also count on low voter turnout, we launched inspirational calls to defend democracy and go vote that were seen over 100 million times across Europe just in the last few days before the election!

    The result: The highest voter turnout in 25 years. The far right “surge” reduced to a ripple. And a real surge of climate-saving Greens and passionately pro-EU liberal democrats, who now hold the balance of power in the new Europe!

    Our unprecedented win on disinformation made front page news across the world. And a Director-General of the EU Parliament, Jaume Duch Guillot, said “Avaaz has been a driving force helping the European Parliament mobilize people to vote in the 2019 election.”

    Read on for the inside story of our efforts in this election season, from Spain to Silicon Valley. This was an effort powered by 80,000 Avaaz donors, another 80,000 volunteers, and nearly 2 million members. And it helped shape history. Thank you!!!

    We’ve never been more proud, of all of us.

  25. If the Coalition are to lose the 2022 Federal election, we will need something like the AVAANZ campaign.

    Labor does not have the money or resources to do this by itself.

    Perhaps GetUp can help, but I think it needs to be a broader coalition of all people who want to protect democracy from these terribly effective targeted Fake News social media campaigns.

    Labor cannot counter with its own scare campaigns, because you need to work with ideas that are already out in the community. Medicare is probably one of the few things that people intrinsically trust Labor on more than the Coalition.

  26. OC,

    No, UNSW – we have just had a big student protest against trimesters.

    However, I have seen the campaign, and it is silly. Just put another plaque up. If the same thing was tried in Europe there hardly be a statue erected before 1948 still standing (alright, exaggeration, lost of statues of composers would be fine).

  27. Stephen Fry’s documentary on his trip to Bayreuth is illuminating.
    As a Jew he sees his love of Wagner as a guilty treat

  28. Oakeshott Country @ #1688 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 9:44 pm

    You haven’t told me where and when the branch meets. I am looking forward to civilized, intelligent politicl debate in which the participants respect the divergent views that make up our road church of a party

    Don’t be wilfully obtuse. Find out who the secretary of the branch is from Head Office and contact her.

    I hope by ‘civilised, intelligent political debate’, you don’t mean your boorish pov.

  29. Dan Gulberry @ #1686 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 9:41 pm

    C@tmomma @ #1658 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 6:25 pm

    Mavis Davis @ #1656 Saturday, June 8th, 2019 – 8:21 pm

    This man’s a first class prick, ruining RU Australia of its diminishing resources, all for the sake of his stuffed up view of the world:

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-sends-explosive-letter-to-ra-over-code-of-conduct-leaks-20190608-p51vu7.html

    I blame the British – it’s surely karma.

    And he’s just going to piss off back to Rugby League at the end of it all with his ill-gotten gains. And I say, ‘ill gotten gains’, because anyone who monetises their religion by folding it into their sport and then demands everyone bow down to it, or he’ll sue them, IS an A Grade prick!

    Given the trouble he’s caused for the ARU, I doubt any sport will touch him with a barge pole. If they do, they deserve whatever grief he causes them.

    I’m just going on the front page of The Daily Telegraph last week that was lauding ‘Izzy’ coming back to the NRL. It made me want to puke.

  30. No not at all. My intention is to agree, without hesitation, to everything you ram through the meeting. I could be a helpful ally

  31. I suspect Folau may find a place with The Catalan Dragons. I have read of some concern that with Brexit they will lose their place in the English Rugby League. Several of the key players would have difficult getting visas ( I think this was meant as satire)

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