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. The knives are out.

    Opposition Leader Mike Nahan was last night hosing down claims from within his party that he was preparing to step down as WA Liberal leader.

    Sources claimed that Dr Nahan made it known that he was preparing to quit but had to be talked out of it so the party could make an “orderly transition”.

    Yet last night he was firm that he was not going anywhere.

    https://thewest.com.au/politics/state-politics/mike-nahan-denies-plans-to-quit-as-wa-liberal-leader-ng-b881226532z

  2. which polling organisation will be the first to put it’s head up?- I imagine the one that first gets the LNP leading a poll, which may not have happened yet.

    Well, I sure hope they’re not going to be discarding results until they get one that matches the election. That’s just going to create the same herding problems as before. Since May 18, there’s been a shock election result, a new Labor leader, and several pretty big stories involving the government. Who knows what the current state of play is.

  3. William also made the point that Labor’s PV, taken nationally, was the worst recorded since Labor began running as a nation-wide party, being just slightly worse than the result in 2013. He expressed the view that the Green vote is roughly at its likely stable ceiling, taken across the whole electorate.

    This suggests the fundamental Labor-positive plurality is now about 40-41%. Labor will not win another Federal election until this is repaired.

    The election was determined in the end by the split of the “Other” vote – the vote routed through ON, Palmer, the Christians, the various other Lib clones. These voices are Labor-hostile. They are Green-hostile. Their votes split 60/40 in favour of the Liberals. They accounted for most of the final 2PPV swing.

    As I’ve been saying for a couple of years now, all the action in Australian politics – as in many other places – is on the Right. The Lib-kin formulate their strategy on the opposition premise – that action is on the Left. This is a grave mistake. The consequence is the untroubled and continuing ascent of the Right.

    The day the Lib-kin stop running interference against Labor will be a great day in Australian politics. It will give us a chance to defend social democracy, social justice, civil and political rights, the prosperity of working people and to begin to better-protect the environment.

    I hold out no hopes for this. Until they do, things will get worse. Tyranny will continue to germinate in Australia.

  4. Asha Leu: “a shock election result”.
    ————————————-

    Yes, for most of us. But only because we based our expectations upon polls, to the exclusion of other sources of inductive evidence (historical record, economic conditions, etc). It is remarkable so many expected a result which would have been a once-in-a-century event, had it occurred.

  5. @Michael A

    This government was the most incompetent since that of Jim Scullin’s, under normal circumstances it should have been thrown out. It’s reelection I argue is a testament to the Murdocracy we live under, in that News Corporation has so much power they can ensure even a shambolic government like this can be re-elected. Could the government be re-elected in 2022 amidst say the worst economic crisis since at least The Great Depression, that could be a possibility. Anthony Albanese is starting to make serious mistakes in not treating News Corporation as what it is in my opinion, an enemy of the people (which former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has come around to believing).

    Australia as I see is gradually sliding into an authoritarian corrupt ‘liberal democracy’ which America is quickly becoming under Donald Trump’s regime. However Scott Morrison is much more competent than Donald Trump, so to me it is a near certainty that this will occur. The United Kingdom which is another country under a Murdocracy could follow down our path as well, if either Boris Johnson or even Nigel Farage becomes Prime Minister and plunge Britain off a Brexit cliff. Although the Opposition Labour Party does have the strategy, which involves a truly massive army of people who are willing to actively campaign and hustle for Labour, which can effectively engage the Murdocracy.

    So I have been predicting some pretty out there predictions, like the possibility of a political revolution like that of the Ukraine’s Euromaidan in 2014 happening here in Australia. The prevent this from happening, the Labor Party needs to develop an platform which can inspire Millennial and Generation Z voters, who would be totally willing to form an army of volunteers, who will actively campaign and hustle for the party. Also the Labor party needs to fight the Murdocracy by other ways, like calling for a mass boycott of News Corporation media outlets and advocating media reforms to cut it down to size.

  6. A former One Nation media adviser jailed for the rape and assault of a woman has lost an appeal against his conviction.

    Sean David Black, a former staffer for ex-senator Malcolm Roberts, was found guilty of one count of rape and two counts of assault in the Brisbane District Court last year.

    He also failed in appealing his five-year jail sentence, which will be suspended after two-and-a-quarter years.
    After a four-day trial in July 2018, a jury found Black raped the woman in the last of a series of abusive encounters in 2007.
    He’d pulled her down stairs and kicked her, causing bruises on her body and legs. In another incident, he slammed a door on her fingers.

    Black, who was 29 at the time of the offences, raped the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, after an argument.

    https://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/former-one-nation-advisor-to-learn-fate/news-story/4ce8ceb8bb358ebeb18412076b09c0b0

  7. Briefly
    “There was very little attention given to the Lib-kin.”

    Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ohhh Gooooood.

    Guess you were wRONg all the time….

  8. This election is only a foretaste of what lies ahead, imo.

    The net loss by Labor – 1 seat – is mostly an artefact of redistributions and counter-swing results in Gilmore and Griffith. Labor has never been so weak. At the next election, the Liberals will seek to drive home their advantage. They have a commanding position in QLD and WA and will set out to take more seats from Labor in NSW and Victoria.

    We have just seen what happens when all of Labor’s foes use the MSM, social media, mass mail-outs and hi-vis protests to undermine Labor’s messaging. This will likely become more intense. We should anticipate that it will get much worse.

  9. Briefly
    “The election was determined in the end by the split of the “Other” vote – the vote routed through ON, Palmer, the Christians, the various other Lib clones. These voices are Labor-hostile. They are Green-hostile. Their votes split 60/40 in favour of the Liberals. They accounted for most of the final 2PPV swing.

    As I’ve been saying for a couple of years now, all the action in Australian politics – as in many other places – is on the Right. The Lib-kin formulate their strategy on the opposition premise – that action is on the Left. This is a grave mistake. The consequence is the untroubled and continuing ascent of the Right.”

    Wow, how does the first paragraph lead to the second… There is a massive assumption in the second paragraph that is in no way related to the first…

    This is getting desperate now Briefly….

  10. Guytaur

    “Briefly was wrong but he is still going to insist on more of the same.”

    Yes, it’s all Briefly knows… Talk down the closest thing to an ally the ALP has.
    Why no rants about One Nation and Palmer.
    I am expecting Palmer is now a spent force anyway. Unless he likes paying millions for nothing. That’s the opposite of what he normally wants.

  11. Astrobleme says:
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 11:40 am
    Briefly
    “There was very little attention given to the Lib-kin.”

    Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ohhh Gooooood.

    Guess you were wRONg all the time….

    I try to tell it like it is, A.

    There was almost no discussion of Queensland, simply the observation that other than in Inner Brisbane, there were swings to the blues everywhere in that State. There was no examination of why this occurred.

    Until Labor repairs it’s PV in QLD – now in the 20s- there will likely never be another Federal Labor Government. The Greens will rejoice, no doubt.

  12. Albo did well on 24 and included a fairly subdued attack on the media criticising Labor as if it’s the govt.
    However, he strongly supported the CFMEU protection of workers of construction sites.

  13. Astrobleme,
    Why bother with another day of snark at everyone who doesn’t bow at The Greens’ altar? We get it already. You know you are just as obsessive as briefly in your own way.

    Did you not get the message loud and clear yesterday? People here are sick to death of the back and forth.

    Why don’t you just try convincing people on the merits of your argument instead? Or is it so weak that all you have is attack on Labor? Same-same as the Coalition?

  14. Mark Duckett@MarkRDuckett
    2m2 minutes ago

    Albo says Pezzullo is a ‘professional public servent’

    What most people don’t know is Pezzullo was a trusted advisor to Kim Beazley when he was ALP leader. Remember Beazley’s acquiescence to Howard’s asylum seeker policies and his own border force policy? Join the dots..

  15. The results speak for themselves. The Right are stronger now than at any time since the inter-war period. Labor has never been weaker. What use are the Greens without Labor? What is the point of Green hopes without a Government to enact them? None. None at all. But this seems lost on them. They do not care.

  16. Michael A:

    A fair point.

    On my part, I think I made the big mistake of seeing the result as almost inevitable. The Coalition only salvaged a second term from the disaster of the Abbott government thanks to Turnbull’s personable popularity and moderate image, and with Turnbull’s political capital gone, and then Turnbull himself gone, they were on borrowed time.

    For me, it all goes that to that wonderful point early in Abbott’s term (which is now pretty damn depressing to think back on), when Labor had jumped back into the lead and look set give to the government a humiliating defeat after just one term. When Turnbull took over and soared in the polls, well, like many here, I tried not too panic – it was still the same government everyone rejected under Abbott, his popularity would fade once people realize that.

    And that’s exactly what happened. Not quickly enough for Labor to win in 2016, no, but almost immediately after the election, history repeated itself, with the Turnbull government following the same trajectory as Abbott’s. And now they had a precarious, one-seat majority. What the fuck could they do now? Change leaders again? They’d be a laughingstock. And then they did change leaders, and they were laughingstocks. It all seemed remarkably similar to what had gone down during Labor’s six years in power, and so easy to assume it would end the same way too. Even once the campaign had got underway, and the polls tightened, it didn’t feel like it would last – hey, Rudd briefly looked like he’d win in 2013 too, and everything that had happened in the last six years felt like it was destined to be a repeat of 2007-2013.

    Labor seems to have made the same fatal error, and with the polls seemingly backing up that view, grew far too confident and complacent, ignoring many of the warning signs (as I did too) because, hey, they were still on track to win.

  17. Michael A:

    I don’t think you can reduce Labor’s election loss to a Kubler-Ross like paradigm. As others have said (eg, young mundo, ole Clem), Labor needs to fight as dirty as their opponents. Albanese needs to get on the front foot early, starting, when parliament resumes, with why a man of the calibre of Stuart Robert was rewarded with a ministry, a shonky piece of work if ever there was one, and a happy-clapper to boot. Next, he should call Pezzullo out for breaching convention. Cash should also be on his hit list, as well as the repellent Dutton. If Albanese can’t fulfill the role of a rabid dog, I’ll be dead before Labor forms government. And, all this crap about being brought up in a log cabin needs to be ditched, for the flotsam & jetsam, it is.

  18. Astro….the action in our politics is on the Right. This is merely self-evident. Voters are tempted to express their protests by routing their choices through the Pop-Right. They have some more secure parliamentary purchase now, in the same way that the Greens have some purchase. The advantage the Liberals and their various namesakes have over Labor is 44/33. This is a very significant margin in favour of the Right.

    There is no question whatsoever that the various anti-Labor voices now dominate. They absolutely dominate.

  19. Albo was correct on the security laws, just as Keating was correct to point out that the “nutters” needed to be “cleaned out”. Protecting basic human rights is nto a “left wing” position. It is anti-fascist.

  20. Astrobleme says:
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 11:56 am
    Briefly

    “The Greens will rejoice, no doubt.”

    Why do you relate everything back to the Greens?

    Because they are an important factor in the success of the LNP.

  21. C@t

    “Why bother with another day of snark at everyone who doesn’t bow at The Greens’ altar? We get it already. You know you are just as obsessive as briefly in your own way.”

    i’m not asking anyone to ‘bow at The Greens’ anything.
    I am debating the meme that is evolving here that the election loss is because of some actions the Greens took. This is a meme that Briefly, Boerwar and Frednk have been mindlessly repeating.

    It’s important to stop this meme for several reasons.
    1. It’s clearly wrong.
    2. It’s prevents people from looking for the REAL reason behind the loss – and so they won’t learn what needs to change.
    3. It feeds this idea that the real enemies to Labor are The Greens. which is wrong.
    4. It feeds the idea that The Greens want Labor to lose. Which is wrong.

    The ALP won’t win if their biggest cheer squad are looking in the wrong direction.

  22. @briefly

    If you include about 80% of the Greens voters then the left/right ratio you describe is more like 44-42, although the that ‘right’ bloc is higher if you include One Nation and United Australia Party voters (I am not sure what percentage of their preferences went for the Coalition). I argue the electorate is very polarized and has been since 2010.

  23. Tristo, yep, this has been a truly rubbish government. Then again, I thought it was even worse in its first term (2014 budget, repeal of carbon pricing mechanism). I also thought the Howard governments were rubbish. And the Fraser governments too.

    Unfortunately, only 48% of voters agreed with with you and me that this warranted replacing this rotten government with a Labor alternative. In this, they happened to replicate the judgement of their voting forebears on the other five occasions a two-term conservative government has been up for re-election in our federal history: 1922 (counting 1917-19 as the first full term of Hughes running an anti-Labor government), 1937, 1954, 1980 & 2001.

    I understand this pattern doesn’t constitute an “iron law of history”. But it does justify us in regarding a departure from it as something remarkable – and so, not to be expected. And a Labor victory this year would have been such a departure.

    As for 2022, the precedents are 1925, 1940, 1955, 1983 & 2004, for 4 conservative wins to one Labor win. Expectation justified by this: expect either outcome, but more likely Coalition than Labor.

    You may notice I am trying to strictly separate my judgement of “who I expect will win” from that of “who I think should win”. If only I had done this prior to May 18, and not accepted so uncritically polling evidence that just happened to support my own preference!

  24. Briefly

    “Voters are tempted to express their protests by routing their choices through the Pop-Right.”

    Yes, this is a world-wide phenomenon. It’s not unique to Australia, and it has nothing to do with the Greens.

    This what Social Media has created. The Alt-Right and Gamer-gate folk have become a driving force for change – They crave power and they know how to manipulate Social Media.
    The Coalition used Cambridge Analytica in this Election, yes? Look to Social Media for the way out.

  25. Asha, the sad truth is that many in Labor did know the polls were wrong. But no-one in a position to take action was prepared to listen to those who were calling for changes in the campaign. We were smashed. Some saw it coming.

  26. briefly @ #1076 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 12:00 pm

    Astrobleme says:
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 11:56 am
    Briefly

    “The Greens will rejoice, no doubt.”

    Why do you relate everything back to the Greens?

    Because they are an important factor in the success of the LNP.

    Jeez Briefo you’ve really jumped the shark. You sound sad and pathetic now.
    My first pref goes to Labor, my second to the Greens.
    Sometimes it’s been the other way round.
    Most Labor voters I know do the same thing.
    I could put the Greens last I suppose but, that’d be stupid.

  27. Astrobleme….

    The dysfunction on the Left is attributable to the Green campaign against Labor.

    It’s very difficult to fight the Right at the best of times. They’re winning. You’re effectively fighting on their side. Get used to it. You’re Rightist irregulars.

    Labor will not win again until its plurality is rebuilt. The Green campaign against Labor complicates this. It thwarts and disables Labor. This is the truth. Deny it if you like. Denial is an element in the dysfunction.

  28. Michael:

    As for 2022, the precedents are 1925, 1940, 1955, 1983 & 2004, for 4 conservative wins to one Labor win. Expectation justified by this: expect either outcome, but more likely Coalition than Labor.

    I don’t know if 1940 can truly be chalked up as a Coalition win. It resulted in a hung parliament that collapsed in a bit over a year, with Labor then taking office under John Curtin and being re-elected in a landslide two years later. Otherwise, you make some strong (and depressing) points.

    You may notice I am trying to strictly separate my judgement of “who I expect will win” from that of “who I think should win”. If only I had done this prior to May 18, and not accepted so uncritically polling evidence that just happened to support my own preference!

    An excellent point, and something many of us (me definitely included) are often guilty of.

  29. Astro

    On the other hand, if we can’t discuss one of the reasons Labor lost because it gets up someone’s nose, we also won’t learn.

    Yes, it’s only one. But it’s in there.

  30. Mundo….you simply persist in missing the point.

    The Greens campaign against Labor all the time and in all places. They set out to make sure Labor does not come to power. The games they play with prefs are simply a part of this. Labor-positive PVs go to the election of Green Senators. Without these, the Greens would not exist.

    Get used to it. The Greens are Irregulars for the Libs.

  31. Briefly

    “The dysfunction on the Left is attributable to the Green campaign against Labor.”

    I don’t understand what version of Democracy you are supporting.
    One where no other parties can try to win?

    “You’re Rightist irregulars.”
    No, we’re not.

  32. Zoomster

    “On the other hand, if we can’t discuss one of the reasons Labor lost because it gets up someone’s nose, we also won’t learn.”

    This is not a discussion. It’s a tidal wave.
    And if you have a point to make, with some data, make it.
    How did the Greens cause Labor to lose?

    And if you answer is “Because they campaigned…” then it’s obvious and boring.

  33. Cat

    I hope Morton finds a job elsewhere soon. He was excellent on the NDIS and aged care. I saw his comments on the Drum.

    Edit: Sorry Lizzie saw him making comments

  34. Asha Leu,

    Yep, 1940 is problematic as a precedent, mainly because it was in wartime, though. But as a result it was a “conservative win” in exactly the same way 2010 was a “Labor win”.

    Still, my point with these three-term analogies was made in 1983: voters have shown themselves willing to give such a conservative government the shove. Hopefully this will occur in 2022, though hopefully not for the same reason (ie, wrecked national economy).

  35. Astro…the inference that I’m not a democrat is basically rubbish. I spent most of March, April and May as a volunteer for democracy. This evening I will attend a policy meeting in the hope of influencing the outcomes of a democratic forum, intending to add my voice to the formation of policies that will be taken to elections.

    You might not like my analysis. Nonetheless, it’s a good one. You’ve never dealt with its substance.

    The Greens DO campaign against Labor. This is a successful campaign. It has secured the election of Green Senators. It has also disabled Labor in the quest for government. The result is that everything accomplished in this country in the 20th century – every achievement in social justice, the economy, social democracy, civil and political rights, the pursuit of equality, the defence of the environment – is at risk. The Right are winning. Get used to it. This is the result of dysfunction in the Labor-positive plurality.

    This can be deduced simply by looking at the results of elections. They are real results. I have been present at polling places, at community events, during door-knocking, at the counting of votes. This is absolutely real. Stop kidding yourself. While the Greens are doing quite well, the country is in very serious trouble.

  36. Astrobleme @ #1092 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 12:16 pm

    Zoomster

    “On the other hand, if we can’t discuss one of the reasons Labor lost because it gets up someone’s nose, we also won’t learn.”

    This is not a discussion. It’s a tidal wave.
    And if you have a point to make, with some data, make it.
    How did the Greens cause Labor to lose?

    And if you answer is “Because they campaigned…” then it’s obvious and boring.

    Are you honestly trying to say that The Greens’ Stop Adani Convoy to Queensland had no effect on voting in the seats up there? None at all!?!

    If someone is going to go to the trouble of doing this:

    Then it has wider electoral ramifications. The ‘hard data’ you demand (like all Greens you demand Labor supporters jump when you say jump, or you won’t believe them), can be found in the massive swings to the Coalition in the Regional Queensland seats.

    As Julia Gillard famously observed, it wasn’t the whole reason but it was a reason why…Labor didn’t do well in Queensland and in other mining states and mining seats. You can’t deny that.

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