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. Michelle Grattan
    @michellegrattan

    If these raids unconnected, as AFP reportedly said, it’s an extraordinary coincidence. AFP needs to explain ASAP the timing so long after the stories. It can’t be that inefficient! Must be some explanation – which makes the ‘unconnected’ claim even more odd.

    Porter says Nothing to see here. These things often take some time.

  2. Today’s futile attempt by Essential “boffins” at conjuring up a plausible foundation to be shriven of their epic psephological failure calls to mind a pre-internet entreaty from self-proclaimed stick in the mud art historian Kenneth Clark in his television documentary series ‘Civilisation, a Personal View’.

    When lauding Auguste Rodin’s sculpture of Honore de Balzac, Clark bursts out of his customary academic tone and exclaims that Rodin’s masterpiece “should inspire us to defy all those forces that threaten to impair our humanity- lies, tanks, tear gas, ideologies, opinion polls, mechanisation, computers, the whole lot.”

    Circumstances obviate my commenting for an indefinite duration, so all the best to you Bludgers who habitually post a plethora of illuminating and salient observations here. Muchas, muchas gracias, BK, for Dawn Patrol.

  3. John Lyons@TheLyonsDen
    42m42 minutes ago

    AFP RAID LIVE: The AFP have just realised I’m live tweeting the raid and raised it with me. I’ve said I think ABC staff and others have a right to know about a raid on our premises. I’ve said I won’t use any names of alleged sources or confidential material. They’ve accepted this

  4. This tweet from the ABC’s John Lyons is very, very concerning.
    “In summary, the AFP want anything that at any point may have been involved in this story. This is, in my view, a chilling development for the Australian public. This is not just about the media, this is about the public’s right to know.”

  5. Rex Douglas says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 1:24 pm
    briefly @ #191 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 1:14 pm

    jc says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Briefly has completely and utterly lost the plot.

    The G’s think of themselves as left-ish. This is false. They campaign to disable Labor at all times. They are riding shot-gun for the LNP.

    Totally correct.
    I wouldn’t describe the Greens party as either left or right.

    Nah. That’s all of a piece with the drivel you post. The G’s are a faux voice. They exist only to serve the interests of their operators. They seek to wedge Labor. They run interference for the LNP.

  6. The ABC raids are the 2nd ‘unconnected’ raid, but the 3rd bit of ‘unconnected’ journalism targeted by home affairs, what with Ben Fordham reporting being pursued over his boats story.

  7. “briefly says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 11:27 am
    The calls for a more combative approach from Labor are all well and good. They overlook the response of voters to political fighting – they hate it. Labor tried to run more polite politics, to no avail.”

    Do they though? They say they hate it, but they (we!) never actually act like we do. We pretty much always support the negative side.

    I think one lesson is to stop listening to what people say, react to what they do.

  8. AFP raids…
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/australian-federal-police-raid-abc-headquarters-at-sydney-s-ultimo-20190605-p51uof.html

    Journalists’ union the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said a second day of raids set a “disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom” and was an attack on the public’s right to know.

    “Police raiding journalists is becoming normalised and it has to stop,” said union official Marcus Strom.

    “These raids are about intimidating journalists and media organisations because of their truth-telling. They are about more than hunting down whistleblowers that reveal what governments are secretly doing in our name, but also preventing the media from shining a light on the actions of government.”

    Strom said the Coalition and Labor had together created a legal environment that was enabling a “politically motivated assault” on public interest journalism.

  9. John Lyons@TheLyonsDen
    1m1 minute ago

    AFP RAID LIVE: I won’t reveal the name of the person but from sitting in this room it’s clear that the AFP is trying to gather evidence to build a case against one particular person.

  10. Blobbit says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 1:37 pm
    “briefly says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 11:27 am
    The calls for a more combative approach from Labor are all well and good. They overlook the response of voters to political fighting – they hate it. Labor tried to run more polite politics, to no avail.”

    Do they though? They say they hate it, but they (we!) never actually act like we do. We pretty much always support the negative side.

    I think one lesson is to stop listening to what people say, react to what they do.

    If you go and meet voters and ask them what they think about politics, the most common statements are:

    – they do not think about politics at all
    – they really dislike the fighting
    – they think politicians are ‘all the same’

  11. Of course, the raids on News Corp & Aunty were carefully staged to take place after the election. Can’t have Rupert or the ABC being critical of the Tories during a campaign. Thank doG that we have an independent judiciary in this country, where these raids can be appraised for their appropriateness.

  12. “If you go and meet voters and ask them what they think about politics, the most common statements are:

    – they do not think about politics at all
    – they really dislike the fighting
    – they think politicians are ‘all the same’”

    Indeed. So I’m suggesting go talk to them, but for the love of God, don’t listen to them (us).

    We say we like eating healthy, but we keep buying packets of chips.

  13. briefly

    – they do not think about politics at all
    – they really dislike the fighting
    – they think politicians are ‘all the same’

    Hurrah ! Something we agree on . A big +1 to all three of your points .

  14. BREAKING NEWS: TWO MINUTES AGO 4800 ITEMS WERE DOWNLOADED FROM THE ABC’S COMPUTERS – THE ABC LAWYERS AND AFP WILL NOW HAGGLE OVER WHAT IS HANDED OVER AND WHAT IS NOT.

  15. The G’s run the same/same meme all the time. So do ON. This is of course a complete lie. But it suits them to repeat the lie as often as possible.

    The Libs know that voters dislike the fighting. This is one of the reasons they do it. The fighting discourages voters from paying too much attention, and it reduces the antagonists to the same level. Discussion is lost in the spectacle of the fight. This suits the LNP. It also suits the Gs, who employ fight-games against Labor all the time.

    It is very, very difficult to run a policy based/issues based/dialogue based discourse. In the end, politics has become trolling. It’s no wonder voters tune out.

  16. Mudrakes trolls, the ABC and most of the other MSM have been running defense for this government for the last six years. Fek the lot of em, you wanted it and you’ve got it so suck it up. Once again fek the lot of them.

  17. briefly @ #209 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 1:35 pm

    Rex Douglas says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 1:24 pm
    briefly @ #191 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 1:14 pm

    jc says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Briefly has completely and utterly lost the plot.

    The G’s think of themselves as left-ish. This is false. They campaign to disable Labor at all times. They are riding shot-gun for the LNP.

    Totally correct.
    I wouldn’t describe the Greens party as either left or right.

    Nah. That’s all of a piece with the drivel you post. The G’s are a faux voice. They exist only to serve the interests of their operators. They seek to wedge Labor. They run interference for the LNP.

    Labor wedge themselves. The Greens just point it out

  18. Hey Rex, gee Bob Brown’s Adani Caravan of Inconsequence was a great political strategy in assisting keeping the Tories in office.

  19. “The raids are just Adolph Kipfler’s was of celebrating retaining his seat after it looked like it would be all over. Just think of what we could look forward to celebration wise if he managed to get his arse on Scrott’s big chair.”….

    He will get that chair if ScuMo doesn’t deliver what the Queenslanders in the caucus demand. They don’t care about the “revolving door” anymore, as they have just demonstrated that the revolving door is no obstacle for the Coalition to win govern.

  20. guytaur says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Labor voted for the powers Dutton as Minister responsible is using against the media today.

    Really!
    You know this, how?

  21. It looks like the war crimes in Afghanistan were much worse and much more pervasive than anyone (except the Afghani victims) has ever been told.

    One test for opacity would be to itemize the number and amount of ‘restitution’ payouts made by the ADF over the course of the Afghanistan War.

    It is just as well the Greens are holding the Liberals and the Nationals to account, eh?

  22. guytaur says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Barney

    John Lyon’s twitter feed

    I haven’t seen anything in them to suggest so and the Lenore Taylor tweet posted earlier says that they are being conducted under the old law that was in effect at the time of publication.

  23. Hmmm

    Kate McClymont
    @Kate_McClymont
    ·
    23m
    Two years between a referral from the Chief of Defence and the execution of a search warrant #AFPraids? Make no mistake, what they are after is the identity of the whistleblower.

    AFP statement on search warrant in Sydney
    The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has executed a search warrant on the Ultimo premises of the ABC today (Wednesday, 5 June 2019) in relation to allegations of publishing classified material,…

  24. ALP:

    Peter Dutton must explain what he knew about these two raids – one on a journalist’s home and one on the ABC.

    Freedom of the press is an essential component of our democracy.

  25. She should know better than that. This would only occur if it was Labor in govt

    Lenore Taylor
    @lenoretaylor
    ·
    14m
    The govt cannot pretend these raids have nothing to do with them. Perhaps the media could ask no other questions at press conferences or interviews until they answer these ones #AFPraids

  26. Peter Murphy
    @PeterWMurphy1
    ·
    46m
    Given today’s events, this excellent Australian Govt parody ad by
    @thejuicemedia
    is worth watching again. #AfghanFiles #AFPraids #ABCraids #journalism #censorship #auspol

    Honest Government Ad | My Police State!
    The Australien Government has made an ad about the Police State it’s creating, and it’s surprisingly honest and informative. Ways you can support us to kee…
    youtube.com

  27. Lenore Taylor
    @lenoretaylor
    ·
    14m
    The govt cannot pretend these raids have nothing to do with them. Perhaps the media could ask no other questions at press conferences or interviews until they answer these ones #AFPraids

    That suggestion seems to pop up every once in awhile. It never gets anywhere.

  28. During the election campaign Di Natale was boasting about how he was going to hold Labor to account having failed dismally at doing same during six years of Coalition government.
    Now let’s see how good Di Natale is at holding his favourite political mates to account for hiding war crimes behind ‘national security’, ‘security’ and ‘classified’ material.
    DO.NOT.HOLD.YOUR.BREATH.

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