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. Rex Douglas

    The warrant refers to this law.

    Paul Barry
    @TheRealPBarry
    ·
    47m
    Sec 79 of the 2014 Crimes Act is what the warrant quotes. That gives no exemptions or public interest defence for journalists as I understand it.

  2. “The Greens undermine the enemies of fascism and so are fascist enablers.
    How good is that!”

    have you taken all your meds today, or was today’s lunch liquid?

  3. AJM

    I blame cowardly politicians for the fact we don’t have a Bill of Rights to protect us from such abuse of power for what seems to be for political suppression of the press.

  4. reading BW and briefly’s rantings its easy to understand why labor keeps losing.

    “nothing to see here folks, just blame the greens and all is well”

    Labor will never get themselves into any election winning position while such denialism reigns within their ranks.

  5. Jack the Insider opines:

    These are not the actions of law enforcement agencies acting in a free and open society but to the extent they are responsible is misleading.

    The agencies are acting on behalf of their political masters who make laws that are waved through our parliaments on bipartisan terms.

    In case you think this is merely a rant about journalism, think again. Look at what happened at Sydney’s Vivid Festival on Friday night where an impromptu dance festival on a street closed to motorists was shut down by police.

    We are going to have rethink the word festival in Australia because police regard peaceful public celebrations as riots waiting to happen.

    Wander around Sydney and see the signs prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in public and warning of fines for miscreants.

    Call it the new advance of the Rechabites, if you like, but there is something else going on here. I could point to the thousands of children who have been strip searched on the basis of a false positive reactions from police sniffer dogs; or adults terrified by being searched behind a screen at railway stations.

    It is not just New South Wales and not just Sydney, the bleak, forbidding locked down city it has become. It is more than the act of the fun police bleakly intervening to stop citizens lawfully having a good time.

    What is of greatest concern is our governments, federal, state and local and their agencies view the citizenry in general with suspicion if not outright contempt. We are judged not at our best nor even our mean but by our worst members.

    An informed public would seem to be a government’s gravest fear. As far as the law enforcement apparatus is concerned, the public interest is an inconvenience and where it conflicts with their perception of national security issues, it falls a long way back second to the point now where it has virtually ceased to exist.

    So, what can we do? Regrettably, not much. We’ve come too far, given away too much.
    We’re cooked. We’re done.

    This is not something the people can overcome. The ballot box is really our only saving grace but regardless of which side of the dispatch box the major parties sit in the House of Representatives, they will cobble together laws that chip away at our right to privacy, our freedoms of movement, assembly and expression while stepping all over our right to be informed rather than drowned in political rhetoric and assorted national security bullshit.

    You might say this is not Australia. Sadly, it is but if you were looking around for a parallel you could say we are living in Singapore with a bit of Russia thrown in for good measure.

  6. Walker SC seems to be going well in that the Court of Appeal is clarifying rather than challenging him.

    Now that is only superficial but the approach taken with the Crown Prosecutor, by comparison, will be instructive.

  7. Holden Hilbilly

    We dont have lock out laws in Melbourne. But only last week, NSW was bragging how much better off Sydney was as a result. And how little old Melbourne was failing its citizenry.

  8. Big A Adrian says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    reading BW and briefly’s rantings its easy to understand why labor keeps losing.

    “nothing to see here folks, just blame the greens and all is well”

    Labor will never get themselves into any election winning position while such denialism reigns within their ranks.

    The little Green pony trying to pull Labor down and it is all Labors fault. Enjoy the Liberal government you worked so hard to get elected.

  9. MB @ 2:31

    Uhlmann summed up the argument:

    New Puritans (Progressives) sneer at the beliefs of the Old and seek to punish the relic faith for failing to endorse its constantly evolving norms. This was evident during the federal election where Scott Morrison’s enthusiastic brand of Christianity drew scorn. Many said he made a grave error in allowing himself to be filmed at prayer and would suffer at the polls because of it.

    Labor, keen to tap the zeitgeist, tried to score political points from the PM’s faith, with Bill Shorten demanding to know if Morrison, like Rugby outcast Israel Folau, believed homosexuals would burn in hell.

    But it was Labor that suffered the election night Judgment Day.

    Across Sydney’s vast western suburbs there were big primary vote swings against Labor in a slew of seats like McMahon (-7.4 per cent), Chifley (-6.7 per cent), Fowler (-6.2 per cent), Blaxland (-5.4 per cent), Werriwa (-4.3 per cent) and Watson (-3.5 per cent).

    Labor and a significant number of its traditional supporters have become estranged as the party has defined itself in terms of the progressive middle class

  10. That would be Section 79 of the 1914 Crimes Act.

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/security-laws-bring-us-closer-to-the-day-when-journalists-will-be-jailed-for-reporting-20150317-1m0zc6.html

    Modelled on Britain’s draconian Official Secrets Act of 1911, the secrecy provisions of Australia’s Crimes Act were drafted by Labor attorney-general Billy Hughes and his solicitor-general Robert Garran shortly after the outbreak of the First World War.

    ….

    “It is especially necessary at the present juncture,” Hughes told parliament on October 21, 1914, “because, right throughout the British dominions, the law in regard to espionage may be designated as shamefully lax.” The then Liberal opposition thought Hughes didn’t go far enough.

    The German spy scare proved quite unfounded, but the resultant official secrecy legislation has remained substantially unchanged ever since, remarkably surviving successive governments and numerous legal reviews.

    ….

    Section 79 makes it an crime for officials to retain, disclose or communicate a government document (or any sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher or note) without authorisation; again with a penalty of two years imprisonment and up to seven years if the offence is carried out with “intention of prejudicing the security or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominion”.

    Even less well known are sub-sections 79 (5) and (6) which make it a crime to receive a leaked document if the recipient knew or was reckless to the fact that the disclosure was made without authorisation. The recipient potentially faces two years imprisonment, and again seven years if they knew the disclosure was intended to be prejudicial to Australia’s security or defence.

    Again there is no public interest defence and no exemption for journalists engaged in their profession.

  11. Astrobleme
    Briefly and Boerwar strut and fret this hour upon the stage: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.
    —————————-
    That’s a bit hard on “nothing” Astrobleme. A blank screen or sweet silence would be considerably more informative and congenial than the unhinged rantings of the nut job Right.


  12. Nicholas says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Another day, another Lib

    The Greens worked hard to keep the Liberals in power. The responsibility for Liberal abuse of power sits with the Greens and the Liberals.

  13. Yes BK, Justice Weinberg.

    Must be hard to have the camera on you the whole time as a judge. Necessarily, no matter how grave a case, there are moments of courtesy and levity, which elicit smile and little laughs which may be seen as insensitive.

  14. “guytaur says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 3:10 pm
    AJM

    I blame cowardly politicians”

    Oh, I don’t know. I blame the people who keep voting for them and buy into the whole security theatre thing.

  15. Labor, keen to tap the zeitgeist, tried to score political points from the PM’s faith, with Bill Shorten demanding to know if Morrison, like Rugby outcast Israel Folau, believed homosexuals would burn in hell.

    And that was a huge mistake.

    With so many legitimate issues available to take the government (and Morrison) to task over, why the hell would you drag a polarizing subject like religion into it?

  16. a r @ #325 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 3:31 pm

    Labor, keen to tap the zeitgeist, tried to score political points from the PM’s faith, with Bill Shorten demanding to know if Morrison, like Rugby outcast Israel Folau, believed homosexuals would burn in hell.

    And that was a huge mistake.

    With so many legitimate issues available to take the government (and Morrison) to task over, why they hell would you drag a polarizing subject like religion into it?

    It’s all so easy to see in hindsight how Labor dug their own grave.

    I was foolish to over-rate their chances of victory.

  17. guytaur

    you should rethink your comments
    The murdochs cronies and other media cronies who used corrupt behaviour in supporting the libs/nats should not be treated more favourably

    it seems you prefer the media rights(including foreign media tycoons to interfere with Australian politics) over citizens

  18. AR
    I suspect that Shorten was in an echo chamber telling him that attacking religion was a vote winner.
    This appeals to the New Puritans whose votes Labor was seeking but does not resonate with the deep conservatism of Australian society

  19. “If I was a bookie I’d have Pells verdict getting set aside at $1.80.”

    I think they are more like $1.20, although they might send it back to trial. How the conservative media will crow.

    I have to say that a beyond reasonable doubt verdict on this charge may be hard to uphold because of the single witness/victim. I’m not 100% convinced he did it, but I trust the jury to hear the evidence and make that call.

    However, the separate history of blokes claiming to have been groped by Pell has me 100% convinced that he did these assults. the Philp Island case is convincing – the victim had told other people about ‘Big George the richmond footballer’ years before seeing Pell on TV and recognising him. Pell was on the PI camp and was training with richmond at the time of the attack. It is a pity these case will never be heard.

  20. What would be great is if people here could apply very simple logic rules to their thoughts.

    “The responsibility for Liberal abuse of power sits with the Greens and the Liberals.”
    I mean, this is idiotic.

    I understand you’re all in grief that Labor completely balls-ed up the election.
    That they lost an election a drover’s dog could have won.
    At least have the courage and dignity to accept that defeat for what it was – a failure on Labor’s part.

  21. Astrobleme says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Frednk

    “The Greens worked hard to keep the Liberals in power. ”

    Ahhh how sweet is that Briefly Kool Aid…

    Labor measure their success on things done, like marine parks and a price on carbon; the Liberals measure there success on Labor actions undone; the Greens measure their success on how difficult they have made it for Labor to get things done.

    If the Greens were serious about he environment they would be forming alliances to get things done, but it is not what they do is it?

    Every day is the same; the Greens support the Liberals by snipping at Labor. When Labor are in power, there are the Greens trying to stop modest action on any issue, trying to create a solution that does not have mainstream support. Pushing it, prodding it so it is easier for the Liberals to win and undo the good done.

    The Greens are the enemy of the environment and progressive politics.

  22. “Maybe this is just the way things go after an unexpected Labor election defeat, but this is a particularly dismal thread.”

    Yes, it’s a pile of rubbish…

  23. “the Greens measure their success on how difficult they have made it for Labor to get things done”

    I mean, seriously?
    This is the level of discourse this blog is reduced to?
    No reasoned thought, just stupid assertions?
    You’re turning into a clone of Briefly and Boerwar – just repeating stupidity.

  24. New drone footage and high-resolution satellite imagery allegedly shows evidence of illegal work being done at Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project, according to environmental group Coast and Country.

    The group has written to Queensland’s Environment Department requesting an urgent investigation.

    The allegations include that Adani conducted significant ground work at 19 locations over a total area of 2.75 hectares.

    This included the clearing of the potential habitat of an endangered bird to create new drill pads and access tracks.

    “The imagery shows drill rigs and other heavy machinery undertaking activities on the sites that Adani have unlawfully cleared,” Coast and Country’s Derec Davies said.

    “They’ve put in place water storage facilities and they’ve adjoined these areas with a series of tracks and roads and all of this is done in potential black-throated finch habitat.”

    Jo-Anne Bragg, a solicitor from the Environmental Defender’s Office, is acting for Coast and Country. She claims the footage and imagery shows Adani is breaching its environmental authority by performing works deemed stage two activities.

    ***Adani says all its work has been conducted legally and the allegations are an attempt to damage the company’s reputation***

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-05/adani-doing-illegal-work-at-mine-group-claims-footage-shows/11180620


  25. Astrobleme says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    What would be great is if people here could apply very simple logic rules to their thoughts.

    “The responsibility for Liberal abuse of power sits with the Greens and the Liberals.”
    I mean, this is idiotic.

    The Greens worked hard to get a Liberal government; be proud of your achievement; own it.

    I note you are already working on the next election. OK, all I ask is that you own it.

  26. BK @ #321 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 3:27 pm

    The ABC is reporting that new drone footage and high-resolution satellite imagery allegedly shows evidence of illegal work being done at Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project, according to environmental group Coast and Country.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-05/adani-doing-illegal-work-at-mine-group-claims-footage-shows/11180620

    Joel Fitzgibbon couldn’t care less about the black-throated finch or the 30yr supply of coal for other countries to pollute and destroy the planet

  27. “The Greens worked hard to get a Liberal government; be proud of your achievement; own it.”

    !
    I don’t think anything I say is going to change your mind, so take time to be kind to yourself. Given time, your grief will end.

  28. The public should be putting pressure and asking questions to those in the Murdoch and pro coalition media camps ,

    1-why were these stories from 2017,2018 where the same media are now claiming public interest stories were not broadcast throughout 2017,2018 and to the lead up the 2019 federal election ?

  29. OK Astrobleme make it more interesting.
    What do you assert is the Greens measure of success.
    Can’t be getting things done; because on that measure the Greens have had zip, zero nadda success. What do you think the Green’s purpose is?
    Opportunity to write something other than another swipe at Labor.

  30. DUhlman is a happy clapper ‘Christian’, so any analysis he does on the significance of faith on votes should be taken with a truck load of salt.

    I maintain that ‘what happened’ was that shorten was not convincing enough – and he was up against Murdoch and then Palmer $$$. Morrison was able to play smal target and somehow have the disaster of the past six years ignored during the campaign. Labor played too nice. In hind ight, they should have gone negative and stoked the anger people feel towards this government – although in Qld, voters obvioulsy didn’t like Turnbull.

    The fact that essential has not posted poll results suggest to me that they are still getting LNP <50% results and are too ashamed to publish.


  31. Astrobleme says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I don’t think anything I say is going to change your mind

    Be sure of that; I am fed up with a damage the Greens have done to the environment and progressive politics. I am curious in the justification.

  32. Voters never liked Turnbull, viz. his dreadful approval ratings as Opposition Leader, and his inability to put Bill Shorten away in voting intention. On the evidence, as baffling as it seems, voters prefer Morrison. So it has gone.

    Going after senior Government members asking them to explain why Turnbull was no longer PM is the sort of thing that must have appeared so clever to Labor, but wasn’t.

  33. Astrobleme
    I hope the response is better than silence. Any Green that spends their time snipping at Labor; i’m interested; what is your measure of success?

    If it is to increase the Green vote, yes you have done that.
    If it is to keep Labor out of power, tick.

    Is that really it?

Leave a Reply

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