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. Mexicanbeemer says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 8:59 pm
    ..
    I think its well known that the government creates the currency, after all it has the Queen’s head on it and the RBA stamp is on the notes for that reason but the minting of currency is separate from the creation of bonds. one is used to buy the other.

    True. A bond is a store of value because you can exchange it for government issued noted. And we have seen this realized with bond interest rates turning negative for the service offered. But does the government have to create a bond to issues notes, or are there other methods?

    Ben Bernanke ( then USA Federal Reserve Board governor,) suggested helicopters.

  2. Thank the living Jesus that we’ve got Nicholas to explain the markets. It’s central to my next investment. Thank goD he recommends term deposits, available now at best 2.6%. We thank you, dear.

  3. frednk:

    [‘I have just thrown a dart at my poll dart board. I missed. I will practice.’]

    I shouldn’t ask it, but whom were you targeting?

  4. Henry:

    Their credibility will be only be redeemed if they get the next election right.

    Even that would only give weak support, because looking back it seems that similar poll herding has likely been a feature of previous election campaigns as well, and they just got lucky up until 2019, when the tide finally went out and we found out everyone was swimming naked.

  5. Mavis Davis @ #852 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 9:24 pm

    Thank the living Jesus that we’ve got Nicholas to explain the markets. It’s central to my next investment. Thank goD he recommends term deposits, available now at best 2.6%. We thank you, dear.

    Nicholas is of course a multi-billionaire, from following his own investment advice …. 🙂

  6. [‘Nicholas is of course a multi-billionaire, from following his own investment advice …. ‘]

    You can be cruel, Player One.

  7. I suppose it’s nice to know newscorpse are wasting a gazillion each year on polling.
    Then again, it gives them something to talk about every fortnight.
    There was some uni bloke who predicted the election result (and Trump’s win as well) based on social media interactions or something.
    Maybe that’s the way of the polling future.

  8. Mavis Davis:

    Thank the living Jesus that we’ve got Nicholas to explain the markets. It’s central to my next investment. Thank goD he recommends term deposits, available now at best 2.6%. We thank you, dear.

    This seems like a wilful mis-characterisation of what Nicholas is saying.

    (Also 2.6% is a lot better than what Australian Government bonds are paying!)

  9. I assume LVT is taking the piss over a poll tonight but a 52-48 LNP would have to be explained as to any change in methodology.

    People like Peter Brent who write extensively on polls should be inquiring as to whether the companies were getting raw figures pre-election which had the LNP more in the mix.

    As to the Lonergan Qld poll which showed ALP at 26.7% in Qld which was trashed, one might think it was the LNP which want it kept secret.

  10. money printing or quantitative easing and there is some debate over whether its been effective or not and while inflation has remained benign

    Quantitative Easing was an asset portfolio swap: investors sold bonds and received reserves in exchange.

    The theory behind it was that having more reserves in the banking system would make the banks more willing to lend. This never made any sense because banks don’t make their lending decisions with regard to their reserves. If they find a creditworthy borrower they issue a loan and they sort out any reserve requirements later.

    QE didn’t make a difference because it didn’t change the net financial assets of the private sector. All that changed was that some investors relinquished some bonds and ended up with reserve balances instead. It was a straightforward asset swap.

    What would really help is active use of fiscal policy. The federal government needs to increase its deficit and focus the extra spending on creating jobs for the unemployed. A Job Guarantee would achieve this by means of an automatic stabilizer. The Job Guarantee would set the deficit at the margin – that is, it would identify the precise amount of deficit spending that was necessary to achieve full employment and stable prices at any given moment.

    Telling the truth about the federal government’s finances is a lot easier that maintaining the bullshit. Nobody really understands the surplus fetishism anyway. It’s a lot easier to just say, “The federal government is nothing like a household. It cannot run out of its own currency.”

  11. Keeping in mind Bob Hawke’s comment about the only honest voter being the one that tells you he/she isn’t voting for you then maybe polling companies need to ask who wont people be voting for. You never know it could be more accurate.

  12. frednk:

    [‘I think you can argue that bond is better than a Reserve bank deposit. A bond is tradeable commodity.’]

    Could you reduce that to simple terms?

  13. Remember the polls got the Victorian and NSW elections wrong, and in both cases they underestimated the vote for the incumbent, so the federal election followed the trend of the most recent two state elections, the polls underestimating support for the incumbent government.

    People who don’t follow politics tend to stick with the devil they know unless they have done something to really piss them off, they are “undersampling” these people.

  14. frednk:

    I think you can argue that bond is better than a Reserve bank deposit. A bond is tradeable commodity.

    Yes, and I don’t think it much matters from the point of view of the Government whether you issue a bond or take an interest-paying fixed-term deposit, it amounts to the same thing.

    If you look at things from the MMT view as the Government either adding to or subtracting from the buying power of the economy, the difference between issuing a bond and raising more in taxation is that a bond represents paying some people to voluntarily and temporarily reduce their buying power whereas taxation is a more general and indefinite reduction.

  15. Thank goD he recommends term deposits, available now at best 2.6%.

    My point is that the federal government doesn’t need to offer tradeable bond instruments. It chooses to make that offer. It could achieve the same objective by offering term deposits at the central bank.

    Deficit spending shows up as positive balances in Exchange Settlement Accounts at the RBA.

    There is no need for deficit spending to be accompanied by debt issuance.

  16. Well I’m fookin’ depressed. I just watched a Mike Leigh film from 1993, ‘Naked’.

    Bleak English movies, who needs them!

  17. Oakeshott Country @ #849 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 9:17 pm

    Hi Lars
    What’s happened to Eric Roosendaal – his google trail goes dead after he left Huawei and was readmitted to the party (over Jodi’s objections – to her credit)?
    Put me down for 52-48

    Why don’t you just call him ESJ and be done with it!?! The latest incarnation of LVT just reminds me of the mind-numbingly tawdry and tedious film I just watched.

  18. Henry at 9.35pm: Are you talking about the person on PB who said you could predict the election result by seeing what parties people were searching for on Google? I played around with Google’s stats after that post for various different search questions/ criteria. This was on about 8th May. ALL my results showed the Coalies well behind the ALP for months, then starting to narrow the gap during April, to the point they had overtaken narrowly by the time I ran my checks. I was very worried, but reassured myself the Google prediction method must be wrong for Australia … ’cause the polls, you know …

  19. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 8:00 pm
    Vale Bob Hawke. I’m so glad to have met you because I got to see what made you such a special Australian.
    ________________________
    Tell us C@tmomma about your meeting with Bob? What did the meeting involve? Was it at the Terrigal ALP National Conference in 1975? Cheers!


  20. Mavis Davis says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    frednk:

    [‘I think you can argue that bond is better than a Reserve bank deposit. A bond is tradeable commodity.’]

    Could you reduce that to simple terms?

    I did my diploma of finance 12 years ago, I barely understood the trading of government bonds then, and you want me to explain it in simple terms.

  21. Lars Von Trier @ #880 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 9:59 pm

    C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 8:00 pm
    Vale Bob Hawke. I’m so glad to have met you because I got to see what made you such a special Australian.
    ________________________
    Tell us C@tmomma about your meeting with Bob? What did the meeting involve? Cheers!

    Still with the obsession, weirdo.

  22. C@tmomma
    says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 9:52 pm
    Well I’m fookin’ depressed. I just watched a Mike Leigh film from 1993, ‘Naked’.
    Bleak English movies, who needs them!
    _______________________________
    A classic. But I think Nil By Mouth is my fav bleak English movie.

  23. Nicholas:

    Thanks for your response. But, you’re talking to an ignoramus. All I want is advice on to how to invest my dwindling dollars. If it doesn’t get better, I’ll be forced to sup from a soup kitchen on the Goldie. Help me – in plain, simple terms!

  24. Could’ve been related Joanne.
    But this guy I read about, a uni professor or some such, had a little more rigour it seems, to his method.
    I remember him being insistent the day before the election the coalition would be returned. Like you, I was nervous reading his method/process because it sort of made sense.

  25. nath @ #886 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 10:06 pm

    C@tmomma
    says:
    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 9:52 pm
    Well I’m fookin’ depressed. I just watched a Mike Leigh film from 1993, ‘Naked’.
    Bleak English movies, who needs them!
    _______________________________
    A classic. But I think Nil By Mouth is my fav bleak English movie.

    I’m an ‘If’ and ‘Brittania Hospital’ person myself. A bit more colour and movement to go with the bleakness.

  26. Mavis Davis @ #868 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 7:43 pm

    frednk:

    [‘I think you can argue that bond is better than a Reserve bank deposit. A bond is tradeable commodity.’]

    Could you reduce that to simple terms?

    You can buy or sell bonds on the secondary market, ie between traders. Think of it in a similar fashion to the stock market. Shares are created when a company sells shares in itself to the investing public (ie super funds, private investors) through an Initial Public Offering (IPO), or primary market. Thereafter the shares are traded between investors on the ASX, or secondary market.

    Similarly bonds are issued by the Reserve Bank to institutions (primary market), then these bonds can be traded between those institutions (secondary market).

    A capital gain or loss can be made on bonds just like it can be with shares.

    To use an extreme example:

    Say you hold bonds paying a yield of 1%. Then the RBA decides to issue new bonds at a yield of 2%. The bonds you hold are now worth less than the new bonds. Investors would only be willing to buy your old bonds at 50 cents in the dollar so that the price they pay will still deliver a yield of 2%.

    Conversely if you hold bonds paying 2% and the RBA issues new bonds at 1%, the bonds you hold with a 2% yield will now (in theory at least) be worth $2 each. That price will pay the purchaser(s) of your bonds a yield of 1%, the same that they can get with the newly issued bonds.

    That of course is an oversimplified way to explain the concept. The actual calculations used to determine bond prices are more complicated because they not only take into account current interest rates, but also the likelihood of future interest rate moves (up or down), as well as the time left to maturity of the bonds.

    If interest rates remain constant, then obviously a bond with multiple years to maturity will be worth more than bonds with 1 year or less to maturity even though they’re paying the same yield (interest rate).

  27. Mavis Davis:

    [‘I think you can argue that bond is better than a Reserve bank deposit. A bond is tradeable commodity.’]

    Could you reduce that to simple terms?

    All he’s saying is that if you have a term deposit at the Reserve Bank, then the Reserve Bank has to pay you specifically back at maturity. Whereas if you have a Treasury bond, then the Treasury has to pay back whoever now owns the bond at maturity, ie you can sell a bond to someone else but you can’t really sell a deposit.

  28. frednk @ #885 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 10:04 pm

    C@tmomma
    Watched “death at a funeral” last night. British comedy; where would we be without it.

    My son recommended it to me because ’63 Up’ was on the TV tonight. I really didn’t want to watch that because it reminds me too much of my own failure of a life, so I thought I’d watch the movie he recommended instead. I guess the positive aspect of it, having watched it, is that my own life could be worse!

  29. C@tmomma @ #872 Monday, June 10th, 2019 – 7:52 pm

    Well I’m fookin’ depressed. I just watched a Mike Leigh film from 1993, ‘Naked’.

    Bleak English movies, who needs them!

    Back when that first came out in the cinemas, I took a potential partner to see that on our first date based on the good reviews it got from David and Margaret.

    I shouldn’t have to tell you that it was also our last date. 🙁

  30. All I want is advice on to how to invest my dwindling dollars. If it doesn’t get better, I’ll be forced to sup from a soup kitchen on the Goldie. Help me – in plain, simple terms!

    I’ve got a hot tip on a nag in the 4th at Rosehill Gardens next weekend.

  31. MMT is the economic equivalent of burning coal to generate electricity, or growing your economy through migration. It simply ignores the fact that there are dire long-term consequences, and its supporters instead rely on the hope that they will be dead by the time the debt falls due.

    This is not at all true. What are you basing this on? What are the dire long-term consequences that you believe are being ignored?

  32. DanG,
    😆

    David and Margaret probably appreciated it for its Beckettsian qualities, or some other piece of choice wankery that only a movie buff would consider more relevant than whether or not it was actually entertaining. 🙂

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