Election plus three weeks

A look at how the religious vote might have helped Scott Morrison to victory, plus some analysis of turnout and the rate of informal voting.

I had a paywalled Crikey article on Friday on the religion factor in the election result, drawing on results of the Australian National University’s Australian Election Study survey. Among other things, it had this to say:

The results from the 2016 survey provide some support for the notion, popular on the right of the Liberal Party, that Malcolm Turnbull brought the government to the brink of defeat by losing religious voters, who appear to have flocked back to the party under Morrison. Notably, the fact that non-religious voters trusted Turnbull a lot more than they did Abbott did not translate into extra votes for the Coalition, whereas a two-party swing to Labor of 7% was recorded among the religiously observant.

The charts below expand upon the survey data featured in the article, showing how Labor’s two-party preferred has compared over the years between those who attend religious services several times a year or more (“often”), those who do so less frequently (“sometimes”), and those who don’t do it at all (“never”).

Some other post-election observations:

Rosie Lewis of The Australian reports the looming Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into the election will examine the three-week pre-polling period and the extent of Clive Palmer’s campaign spending. There is not, it would seem, any appetite to explore the debilitating phenomenon of fake news proliferating on social media, for which Australia arguably experienced a watershed moment during the campaign through claims Labor had a policy to introduce a “death tax”. This is explored in depth today in a report in The Guardian and an accompanying opinion piece by Lenore Taylor. That said, not all of the mendacity about death taxes was subterranean, as demonstrated by this official Liberal Party advertisement.

• As best as I can tell, all votes for the House of Representatives have been counted now. There was a fall in the official turnout rate (UPDATE: No, actually — it’s since risen to 91.9%, up from 91.0% in 2016), which, together with the fact that not all votes had been counted at the time, gave rise to a regrettable article in the Age-Herald last week. However, as Ben Raue at the Tally Room explores in depth, the turnout rate reflects the greater coverage of the electoral roll owing to the Australian Electoral Commission’s direct enrolment procedures. This appears to have succeeded to some extent in increasing the effective participation rate, namely votes cast as a proportion of the eligible population rather than those actually enrolled, which by Raue’s reckoning tracked up from 80.0% in 2010 to 83.2% – an enviable result by international standards. However, it has also means a larger share of the non-voting population is now on the roll rather than off it, and hence required to bluff their way out of a fine for not voting.

• The rate of informal voting increased from 5.0% to 5.5%, but those seeking to tie this to an outbreak of apathy are probably thinking too hard. Antony Green notes the shift was peculiar to New South Wales, and puts this down to the proximity of a state election there, maximising confusion arising from its system of optional preferential voting. The real outlier in informal voting rates of recent times was the low level recorded in 2007, which among other things causes me to wonder if there might be an inverse relationship between the informal voting rate and the level of enthusiasm for Labor.

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.

1,359 comments on “Election plus three weeks”

  1. “Fairness would indicate that the new restrictions should include one that says only 10% of all posts each day can come from Green supporters.”

    Then 33% can Be Labor and the rest shall be blank – no one seriously posts from the Coalition and Minor Parties…

  2. Astrobleme @ #751 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 6:34 pm

    “Fairness would indicate that the new restrictions should include one that says only 10% of all posts each day can come from Green supporters.”

    Then 33% can Be Labor and the rest shall be blank – no one seriously posts from the Coalition and Minor Parties…

    There may be more than you think. They pretend to be Greens for the street cred 🙂

  3. guytaur @ #755 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 6:47 pm

    Another view of the election result that does not fit the majority pundit opinion.


    I’ve been saying this for a while now. Labor should be willing to lie and promote fantasies if it helps them win the next election.

    The other parties do. You just can’t win against such nonsense when your electorate is generally as thick as two short planks.

  4. P1

    MMT sounds attractive but I think like all economic theory will have problems in the real world.

    Still it can’t be worse than the negative interest rates and high unemployment we will get if a recession hits.

    Edit: oh and not forgetting the upwards trend with homelessness

  5. @guytaur

    I don’t believe that ideas such as the Green New Deal and MMT will be debated much in Australia, unless an economic crisis occurs.

  6. @guytaur

    You raise a good point, that would stimulate debate in both the Green and Labor Parties about adopting something like the Green New Deal and the MMT economics that comes with it. Although unless an economic crisis (I am predicting will happen) occurs.

    The Coalition will attacks of MMT as economically reckless would be persuasive to a lot of people. Also not to mention that anti-environmentalist sentiment in Australia is quite strong as well. It is evidenced in the opposition say to electric vehicles among some on the right of politics.

  7. Environmentalism and climate are important to many voters. If labor water down their cliamte targets and back coal they will rightly get flogged at the next election and as a result the Greens will have several lower house seats and possibly BoP in the senate (we’ll have five continuing senators and another five to six after the 2022 senate vote).

    Ya for sure.

    If you care for the environment you vote Labor because they might get something done; if you want to pretend you care for the environment you vote Green, because they make a lot of noise about it.

    Labor measures their success on things done; the greens measure their success on noise and things delayed.

  8. It is folly for progressives to reinforce neoliberal tropes, metaphors, and frames.

    One such false frame is the claim that a federal government deficit is a bad thing, a lack, a scarcity, a sign of mismanagement.

    A federal government deficit is simply a net addition to the money supply.

    Deficit spending accumulates as positive reserve balances in Exchange Settlement Accounts at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

    The federal government spends dollars into existence by writing up numbers in Exchange Settlement Accounts.

    The federal government taxes dollars out of existence by writing down numbers in Exchange Settlement Accounts.

    A federal government deficit is completely normal given that the domestic private sector typically wants to net save and the external sector typically wants to net save as well (which is another way of saying that Australia runs current account deficits).

    By definition – by accounting identity – if there is a domestic private sector surplus and an external sector surplus (which there usually is in Australia’s case), the federal government will automatically be doing an amount of deficit spending that equals the sum of the other two sectors’ surpluses.

    People need to understand that it is normal and healthy for the Australian Government to deficit spend. In fact, if the Australian Government isn’t deficit spending, that would usually indicate that something is wrong. For instance, the federal government surpluses of the late 1990s and early 2000s were a bad thing because they involved the domestic private sector running deficits (i.e. households were getting deeper and deeper into debt). Those surpluses of the Howard Government were actually very damaging. No government should aim to emulate those surpluses.

    Given that the external sector (the rest of the world) runs surpluses and the domestic private sector runs surpluses the macroeconomic role of the federal government is to run a deficit whose size equals the sum of those two surpluses.

  9. Tristo

    Yes. I hope Qld state government gets re-elected. With Labor in Victoria and Western Australia they can have one standard for charging electric vehicle networks

    Of course NSW is slowly setting one up too.

    The right is losing to reality even though it’s been winning politically

  10. Davidwh says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 6:51 pm
    I guess I’m just part of the 0%.

    Homeopathic politics?

  11. Time and time again the Liberals have squandered our good times and left it to Labor to clean up the mess. Looks like the Liberals won the unlosable election and are left with their mess. It will be interesting to see if they can clean it up.

  12. I don’t think my views are right. A little right of center on economic matters but a little progressive on social issues. I’m a really confused person.

  13. Davidwh says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 7:20 pm
    Frednk it is difficult to be a Liberal present. Abbott losing helped a little but much more required.

    Yes I don’t remember cultural wars being a central Liberal value.
    Getup getting Dutton would have helped.

  14. Rex Douglas says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    frednk @ #772 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 7:16 pm

    Davidwh says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Positive 0.

    Your problem is your a Liberal from time past.

    Modern day Labor right …?

    Depends on how you define the Labor right. I think the corruption we saw in NSW Labor in the 2000 is closer to the modern day Liberals than to anything else.
    In NSW the rum core run the Liberals and the convicts the Labor party. In my view no matter which party, the country is in trouble when the NSW branch gains power.

  15. DWH

    You are halfway out of the dark side 🙂

    When you get over the small government part with economics you will have completed the journey.

  16. Given Australia is one of the most conservative countries in the world, we won’t go near MMT or New Green Deal until a good number of other countries have done it successfully.

  17. frednk:

    [‘If you care for the environment you vote Labor because they might get something done; if you want to pretend you care for the environment you vote Green, because they make a lot of noise about it.’]

    I think that’s a pretty hard assessment, exacerbating the internecine warfare often witnessed on this site. Perhaps you, like others, should settle, accepting the fact that The Greens aren’t going anywhere, other than the circa 10% primary vote they attract, their preferences predominantly favouring Labor.

  18. There is every possibility the coalition will completely stuff up both the policy and the politics over the next little while. With the one exception of the election win by virtue of a blitz of misinformation, that’s what they’ve done for the last six years. I don’t think the campaign hysteria can be maintained

    I’m keeping my mind open as to the future in Australian politics until we see what pans out. A major fragmentation of the mainstream right is not out of the question and if that extends into the parliamentary representatives who knows what will happen.

    A bit too early to descend into terminal doom and gloom, I think.

  19. Diogenes
    If the government does go for a very dose of keynesian economics theory (MMT by another name) we are in for a recession.

    There is not way the government will balance the budget. Even Morrison is not that stupid

  20. guytaur says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 6:58 pm


    Agreed with one exception.

    A progressive candidate becomes President of the US.

    People longing for ideas from America are looking at the wrong ideas because America has different problems than Australia does.

  21. Couldn’t Australia find the Matilda’s a coach who was an experienced coach of womens football? Milicic tried to get them to play like an A league side and it was terrible. The idea that an excellent coach of men can transfer to women just before the World Cup is a joke.

  22. Mavis Davis
    Minor parties have risen and minor parties have fallen.
    First the DLP kept Menzies in power. They died because people got bored.
    It was then the Australia party ( bet few remember them); they do have a wikipedia entry for your entertainment.
    Then it was the Democrats. They died because they explicitly supported the Liberals.
    And now it is the Greens. I believe anti Labor overreach will see the end of them

  23. It’s noteworthy to comment that many hitherto interesting, inciteful posters have gone silent of late (save for Andy, who’s going on & off furlough). For whatever reasons, Labor lost the election, we must be accepting of same, getting on with it. With the economy going down the plughole, with Scomotose in such a state of suspended animation that he triumphed, with a slim majority, I’d rather be in Albanes’s court. Cheer up and fight the new battle!

  24. stay as you are davidwh, even if you are rather a milksop liberal. One party state enthusiasts might try to convert you but it would be a boring world if we were all like frednk.

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