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. fred its one thing to assert the greens have no constructive measure of success, but its quite another to assert they, and not labor, are responsible for labor’s loss.

    Your seeming attempt to link the two as one in the same represents a most fallacious leap in logic.

  2. Diogenes

    I am glad you made that point re Kool-Aid. I see the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” thrown around so much, not just here of course but more generally, and often wonder whether the people using it even know about the tragedy it refers to.

  3. BK says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 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

    The site should be renamed Camp Bob Brown.

    The Gs have been winning. Their reward is to be a new coal mine, a railway and a coal fired power station.

    Their victories are so complete this country will likely never take any action with respect to climate change or environmental protection generally.

    The Gs are winners.

    The political bounties include conservative control of the Federal Parliament; and the assembly of a remarkable 2/3 plurality attributable to the anti-Labor voices.

    Such winning. So Trump-like.

  4. The advocates of the Greens who infest this blog seem to be of the view that it’s Mission Accomplished. Yes, they helped keep The COALition in power and have ensured that action against global warming is well and truly off the agenda.

    The leadership of the Greens are a disgrace to the good people who have gone before them. I believe the 10.5% who voted for the Party are in a bit of a time warp thinking that they are supporting progressive policies on the environment. The Greens now are telling lies when they claim to give priority to the environment (Siewert is an exception IMO as she reflects the original core policies when the likes of Vallentine contributed to policy development).

    Di Natali’s Prime policy is to maintain the Party’s status quo – some seats in the Senate sufficient to keep him safe in his cushy position. If this means aiding and abetting the COALition then that’s quite OK by him.

    Wake up you well-meaning (obviously I am not referring to those posting here) Green voters and look a bit further than the published feel-good platform. You are enabling your real enemies.

  5. Sustainable
    Did you just sneer at Uhlmann because he is a Christian (Catholic I think rather than ‘happy clapper’)?

    QED

  6. Margaret Thatcher knew how to profit from attacking coal miners. The Greens have learned how to do the same thing.

    How good are the Greens.

  7. The site should be renamed Camp Bob Brown.

    The Gs have been winning. Their reward is to be a new coal mine, a railway and a coal fired power station.

    Their victories are so complete this country will likely never take any action with respect to climate change or environmental protection generally.

    The Gs are winners.

    The political bounties include conservative control of the Federal Parliament; and the assembly of a remarkable 2/3 plurality attributable to the anti-Labor voices.

    Such winning. So Trump-like.

  8. Border Force: really good at intimidating Australian journalists – really rubbish at protecting us from foreign threats:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-05/bangladeshi-homestay-guest-sentenced-for-engaging-in-terror-act/11180560

    According to the ABC, this person was red-flagged by several other countries. Everyone associated with this from Dutton down should be cashiered for sheer incompetence. this is as basic as it gets.

    Maybe they can raid the journo to prevent this sort of failure being reported in future?

  9. On the ABC raid

    @MJBiercuk
    9m9 minutes ago

    Dear Emma (Alberici)- this is a major issue. I’d love to see all Journalists and Editors in Australia collaborate to provide no additional coverage to the government other than this story. It should be 24/7 all across all platforms. No “PM meets Queen” puff pieces. Pls use your voice!

  10. In fairness, the Labor partisan has quite a list of Labor misdemeanours to defend these days so it’s understandable stress levels are bubbling over…

  11. John Lyons @TheLyonsDen
    30m30 minutes ago

    “Keep going. Keep going. Defence media unit. Nup, keep going. Nick McKenzie? Different story, keep going”. A sample of the discussion going on right now from AFP.

    I understand that PB doesn’t care? Because it’s the ABC?

  12. Mike Carlton

    That is just astounding. It amounts to a naked seizure of editorial control. It is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in a democracy.

  13. A post at 1.29p said WTTE that the Greens are trolls.

    Probably the most hypocritical post ever written on PB.

    Briefly needs a holiday, relaxing on a quiet sunny beach.

  14. Dutton has just said that the two AFP searches were done independent to the government. He said he has had no direct involvement. Then he gets stuck into Albo for speaking out against the AFP’s actions. Dutton agrees with both the freed om the press but also national security.

  15. lizzie @ #365 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 4:22 pm

    John Lyons @TheLyonsDen
    30m30 minutes ago

    “Keep going. Keep going. Defence media unit. Nup, keep going. Nick McKenzie? Different story, keep going”. A sample of the discussion going on right now from AFP.

    I understand that PB doesn’t care? Because it’s the ABC?

    Actually, people should care, irrespective of the media outlet. However, I can understand if such care is tempered by the reality of news organisations such as News Ltd and the ABC actively promoting the election of the government that is behind these raids.


  16. Big A Adrian says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    f…
    Your seeming attempt to link the two as one in the same represents a most fallacious leap in logic.

    Big A
    I’m not asserting the Greens have no measure; I am asserting their measuring is increasing their vote and keeping Labor out of power. They have had a very successful election.

    I’m very interested in what the Greens think their measure of success is; they may agree with my assumption for all I know. I note my question has been greeted with silence.

    I suspect their next post will not inform but will be another dig at Labor; another attempt to build on their success at this election.


  17. Psyclaw says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Frednyk

    I thought Appeals were about errors of law

    Not necessarily.

    Do jury conclusions get overturned, Seldom, not at all?

  18. psyclaw, almost as hypocritical as a labor partisan saying that its the greens who should take ownership of the recent election result.

  19. Greens supporters are in denial about their party’s impact on politics, and I say this as someone who was a Greens member. Take the election campaign just ended. Di Natale, in a deliberate and calculated fashion, made demands of Labor that would need to be met before the Greens would support Labor policy in the Senate. The result of this was to allow the Coalition and other Labor opponents on the right to tie Labor to the Greens demands. Just why do people think the Coalition and others make such an effort to tie Labor to the Greens? They don’t do it for fun, they do it because it works in driving swinging voters away from Labor. It works in critical marginal seats. The facts are that the majority of voters are repelled by the Greens, and in some areas, they are electorally toxic. The Greens know this. Richard Di Natale knows this, he is not stupid. But does that stop him and the Greens wedging Labor? Did it stop him and the Greens wedging Labor during the campaign? It sure didn’t! So yes, by the way the Greens campaign, they do assist the Coalition to defeat Labor. Were they the only reason Labor lost this election? Absolutely not. Did they contribute? I have little doubt they did. One of the many significant challenges Labor faces going forward is to defeat the perception of many swinging voters that Labor and the Greens are too close together. This of course started with the 2010-13 hung parliament. This will be difficult, but must be done for Labor to increase its primary vote and start winning crucial seats.

  20. Reading back over posts during the election campaign, I am struck by the fact that the most favourable assessments of the situation for the Coalition were, in their details, hardly more accurate than the unfavourable ones.

    According to Sharri Markson in the Daily Telegraph, the Liberals are likely to gain Wentworth, Lindsay, Indi and Herbert; Labor-held Dobell, Solomon, Cowan, Bass and Braddon are “in contention”; and Corangamite and Gilmore are, “at this point”, likely to stay with the Liberals. Only Chisholm and Dunkley are conceded, although there is some prospect of Labor winning La Trobe, Swan and Reid, and independents winning Cowper and Warringah.

  21. fred it should be obvious what the greens aim for – to stand up for the environment and hold to account anyone who opposes that – regardless which party it is. Your idiotic conspiracy theories about them actually striving to keep labor out and keep the libs in is just hysterical nonsense.

  22. INterviewees on Karvelas program saying these raids are “pure intimidation”, especially as they went through journo’s kitchen drawers and even cookbooks, but have not visited her office.

  23. Ketan Joshi@KetanJ0
    10m10 minutes ago

    It’s a constant source of horror to think about just how much deeper Australia could sink into Duttonesque authoritarianism and still have 90% of the voting public fully on board with it.

  24. Man this comment section is tedious. Still more childish Greens vs Labor twisted point scoring cringe.
    It seems the raids are Labor’s fault, for capitulating on voting in security laws that aren’t even being applied in this case.
    And the same people rise to the bait and respond in an entirely predictable, useless way.

    Frankly the so-called ‘fractured right’ united more effectively than you lot who claim to be on the side of progressives.

    Talk is cheap, keystrokes cheaper still

  25. I think Nostradamus, around 30 April, predicted all five seats that the liberals won

    I think that might have been a case of throwing out so many different predictions that one of them was bound to be right (or at least, in the ballpark). Wayne did a similar thing, predicting everything from a massive Coalition blowout to a narrow win to a hung Parliament.

    Everyone’s prediction is accurate if they get to predict every possible outcome. 🙂

  26. Matt31
    I agree; including the bit about it not being the only reason. In my view there was also some self inflict pain. Nothing is perfect. It is the summation that gives the result. What angers me is that when doing the summation the Greens are in the Liberal column and the net result of the Greens action will be delay on the things that the Greens claim to care about.

    It is the absolute hypocrisy of the sanctimonious crap they write when attacking Labor that gets to me. They worked hard to get a Liberal Government, they should own it.

  27. Oakeshott Country says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    …”Uhlmann summed up the argument:

    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”…

    Uhlmann is an outright liar.

    During one of the debates, Shorten and Morrison were both asked to express an opinion about Folau’s disgraceful behaviour and his pending sacking.
    Shorten gave an honest one, Morrison gave a shifty, non-answer and Shorten picked him up on it.

    Uhlmann should stick to making crap up about windmills causing power blackouts and keep his fucking religion in his panties where it belongs.

  28. The Guardian has printed two pages of the ABC search warrant.

    Presumably the third page sets out the subject matter of the police investigation or the suggested criminal activity, to make the warrant more comprehensive.

    As it currently is available to read, through the first two pages, the warrant permits the searching of the ABC in relation to anything to do with the ABC which is pretty broad.

  29. Big A Adrian

    Sorry….. I made an error.

    It was not a 1.29pm post I referred to. In fact there is no 2.29pm post.

    I was referring to Briefly’s post at 1.46pm.


  30. Big A Adrian says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    fred it should be obvious what the greens aim for – to stand up for the environment and hold to account anyone who opposes that – regardless which party it is. Your idiotic conspiracy theories about them actually striving to keep labor out and keep the libs in is just hysterical nonsense.

    If the environment is their measure then it would be hard not to argue the party has been a failure and it should be disbanded.

  31. William Bowe @ #381 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 4:37 pm

    Reading back over posts during the election campaign, I am struck by the fact that the most favourable assessments of the situation for the Coalition were, in their details, hardly more accurate than the unfavourable ones.

    According to Sharri Markson in the Daily Telegraph, the Liberals are likely to gain Wentworth, Lindsay, Indi and Herbert; Labor-held Dobell, Solomon, Cowan, Bass and Braddon are “in contention”; and Corangamite and Gilmore are, “at this point”, likely to stay with the Liberals. Only Chisholm and Dunkley are conceded, although there is some prospect of Labor winning La Trobe, Swan and Reid, and independents winning Cowper and Warringah.

    Lol. In other words, her guesstimate was as good as anyone else’s. So we should take as much notice of any other pronouncement she makes with the appropriate grain of salt?

  32. This is why I was fist-pumping the air when ScoMo defeated Dutton, even though I hate Tories and Dutts was our best chance of a win.

    Why? Cos I grew up in QLD – and I would not trust a QLD copper with my civil liberties as far as I could throw him. They’ll just silence critics rather than actually perform on national security. They’ll corrupt it, and they’ll politicise the AFP, sure as night follows day.

  33. Matt31 @ #380 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 4:37 pm

    Greens supporters are in denial about their party’s impact on politics, and I say this as someone who was a Greens member. Take the election campaign just ended. Di Natale, in a deliberate and calculated fashion, made demands of Labor that would need to be met before the Greens would support Labor policy in the Senate. The result of this was to allow the Coalition and other Labor opponents on the right to tie Labor to the Greens demands. Just why do people think the Coalition and others make such an effort to tie Labor to the Greens? They don’t do it for fun, they do it because it works in driving swinging voters away from Labor. It works in critical marginal seats. The facts are that the majority of voters are repelled by the Greens, and in some areas, they are electorally toxic. The Greens know this. Richard Di Natale knows this, he is not stupid. But does that stop him and the Greens wedging Labor? Did it stop him and the Greens wedging Labor during the campaign? It sure didn’t! So yes, by the way the Greens campaign, they do assist the Coalition to defeat Labor. Were they the only reason Labor lost this election? Absolutely not. Did they contribute? I have little doubt they did. One of the many significant challenges Labor faces going forward is to defeat the perception of many swinging voters that Labor and the Greens are too close together. This of course started with the 2010-13 hung parliament. This will be difficult, but must be done for Labor to increase its primary vote and start winning crucial seats.

    Your synopsis falls short due to the failure to acknowledge that Labor wedged itself thus repelling their own voters.

  34. After a burst of cold weather, Sydney is forecast to hit 25 and 26 next week. I’d be surprised if Sydney has ever had maximums like that on successive days in June before

  35. Zeh

    All politicians that voted for the legislation are responsible for the fact the AFP could legally mount this raid. As noted in the US it’s not possible and you can’t blame the Greens for 1914 era legislation

  36. Rex Douglas @ #396 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 4:54 pm

    Matt31 @ #380 Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 – 4:37 pm

    Greens supporters are in denial about their party’s impact on politics, and I say this as someone who was a Greens member. Take the election campaign just ended. Di Natale, in a deliberate and calculated fashion, made demands of Labor that would need to be met before the Greens would support Labor policy in the Senate. The result of this was to allow the Coalition and other Labor opponents on the right to tie Labor to the Greens demands. Just why do people think the Coalition and others make such an effort to tie Labor to the Greens? They don’t do it for fun, they do it because it works in driving swinging voters away from Labor. It works in critical marginal seats. The facts are that the majority of voters are repelled by the Greens, and in some areas, they are electorally toxic. The Greens know this. Richard Di Natale knows this, he is not stupid. But does that stop him and the Greens wedging Labor? Did it stop him and the Greens wedging Labor during the campaign? It sure didn’t! So yes, by the way the Greens campaign, they do assist the Coalition to defeat Labor. Were they the only reason Labor lost this election? Absolutely not. Did they contribute? I have little doubt they did. One of the many significant challenges Labor faces going forward is to defeat the perception of many swinging voters that Labor and the Greens are too close together. This of course started with the 2010-13 hung parliament. This will be difficult, but must be done for Labor to increase its primary vote and start winning crucial seats.

    Your synopsis falls short due to the failure to acknowledge that Labor wedged itself thus repelling their own voters.

    Mr I don’t do nuance, at it again. It’s all so simple and obvious when your ‘analysis’ amounts to simplistic one-liners.

  37. Rex the question is not Labors failure; the question is how did the Greens contributed to the summation that lost Labor the election. The answer is bigly.

    The Greens had a great success; why are they trying to disown it?

    Same, same is the Green’s slogan, should not matter who is on power. Why did they campaign against the opposition instead of the Government.

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