Foreign affairs and Senate preferences

A comprehensive new survey on attitudes to foreign affairs, and deeper-than-ever dive into Senate voting and the preference question.

We’re still yet to have a new poll of federal voting intention after the election, for whatever that may still be worth, but I would imagine Newspoll will be breaking its drought to mark next week’s resumption of parliament. We do, however, have one of the Lowy Institute’s occasional surveys on attitudes to foreign affairs, the results of which are attractively presented on the organisation’s website.

The headline topic of the poll is Sino-American relations, and the results point to a sharp decline in trust towards China, which a clear majority of respondents rated the “world’s leading economic power”. Even clearer majorities, of around three-quarters, believed China was pursuing regional domination, and that Australia should do more to resist its military activities even if it affected our too-close economic relationship.

However, the poll also finds a further decline in trust in the United States, to add to the body-blow it took when Donald Trump was elected. Of particular interest here are the age breakdowns. Whereas there was little to distinguish the age cohorts in their positive view of the US on Obama’s watch, respondents in their youth and early middle-age now take a substantially more negative view than older ones.

Relatedly, the highly negative and worsening view of Trump personally, while evident across all age cohorts, is most pronounced among the young. This carries through to a head-to-head question on whether respondents should prioritise strong relations with the United States or China, with a majority of those aged 18-30 favouring China, and a large majority of the 60-plus cohort favouring the United States.

Beyond that, the survey offers no end of interesting material:

• Respondents were asked about their satisfaction with democracy – which, one often reads, is in freefall throughout the western world, particularly among the young. However, the Lowy Institute’s yearly tracking of this question going back to 2012 doesn’t show any such thing. If anything, there seems to be a slight trend in favour of the response that “democracy is preferable to any other kind of government”, which is up three on last year at 65%. While the young are less sold on this notion than the old, there has been a solid improving trend among the 18-to-30 cohort, with this year’s result up six on last year’s to 55%, a new high over the course of the series.

• Evaluations were sought on a limited sample of foreign leaders, specifically concerning whether they could be trusted in world affairs. Donald Trump ranked down alongside Vladimir Putin, while Jacinda Ardern recorded near-unanimous acclaim, with 88% expressing either a lot of or some confidence. New Zealand was rated “Australia’s best friend” out of six available options by 59%, up from six since 2017.

• Brexit was rated a bad thing for the United Kingdom by 62%, a bad thing for the European Union by 70%, and a bad thing for the West in general by 58%. The UK’s rating on a “feelings thermometer” fell six points, to 76.

• Concern about climate change maintained an upward trajectory, with 61% favouring action “even if this involves significant costs”. The long-range trend on this question going back to 2006 suggests climate change is less of a problem when Labor are in office.

• Views on immigration were less negative than last year, after a significant hardening of opinion between 2014 and 2018. However, the immigration rate was still held to be too high by 48% of all respondents, and a very large majority of older ones.

The survey was conducted online and by telephone from March 12 to 25 from a sample of 2130.

The second part of today’s lesson relates to Senate preference flows, from which we can obtain no end of information thanks to the Australian Electoral Commission’s publication of the data files containing the preference order for every single ballot paper. By contrast, we’re still waiting on the two-party preference splits the AEC eventually publishes for each party in the House of Representatives. There will be a lot of analysis of this information here over the coming weeks, but for starters I offer the following:

This shows, from left to right, the rate of voters’ adherence to their favoured party’s how-to-vote-card; the rate at which minor party voters’ preference orders favoured Labor over the Coalition or vice-versa, or neither in the event that they did not number either party (“two-party”); and a similar three-way measure that throws the Greens into the mix (“three-party”).

This shows that United Australia Party voters heavily favoured the Coalition over Labor, but not because they were following the party’s how-to-vote cards, a course followed by around 0.1% of the total electorate. One Nation preferences were only slightly less favourable to the Coalition, and even fewer of the party’s voters followed the card. Since One Nation’s preferences in the lower house split almost evenly in 2016, out of the 15 seats where they ran, it seems safe to assume a shift in One Nation preferences accounted for a substantial chunk of the two-party swing to the Coalition. I will calculate Senate preference flows from 2016 for comparison over the next few days.

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.

1,777 comments on “Foreign affairs and Senate preferences”

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  1. James Paterson waving away the shenanigans that went on when MT was rolled. He supported Dutton.

    He says Morrison now has absolute authority in the partyroom, given he won the unwinnable election.

  2. The first record that exists of the concept of “souls” being judged and sent up or down is in Plato!! In “The Republic, Book 10”. A warrior called Er was killed but then raised to see the judges at work.
    Someone has said that it is most embarrassing thing in Plato.
    The Jews thought that dead bodies did nothing until the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus appeared to think that also, and believed that the “end-times” were very close – as in a few years!
    Opinions in the 300 or so years after Jesus were VERY diverse. The Roman/Byzantine emperors and bishops stamped out all those other ideas, and added original sin in addition. Augustine and Ambrose were particularly effective in destroying the evidence of other believers. And their followers continued the work by burning libraries and shutting down Greek philosophy.

  3. Clare O’Neill challenging the People’s Panelist. I wonder if she has some insider goss on his background and motivations.

  4. Confessions @ #1754 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 9:42 pm

    James Paterson waving away the shenanigans that went on when MT was rolled. He supported Dutton.

    He says Morrison now has absolute authority in the partyroom, given he won the unwinnable election.

    And you know who you wouldn’t be able to shut up if it was Labor they were talking about? Paterson, or whichever other Liberal mouthpiece was on Qanda.

  5. C@tmomma
    Apologies!- but I find it interesting to discover how many ways people can be wrong and believe that they have hold of the only absolute truth!
    Something wrong there – I just can’t put my finger on it.
    I once would tell students – “Don’t believe automatically anything you are told – including what I just said”

  6. Young man on Qanda objects to women using language calling out men to lift their game when it comes to reducing sexual violence against women by playing victim. For heaven’s sake man, look at the statistics.

    O’Neill sets him straight. Thank goodness for Clare O’Neill.

  7. phylactella @ #1760 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 10:00 pm

    Apologies!- but I find it interesting to discover how many ways people can be wrong and believe that they have hold of the only absolute truth!
    Something wrong there – I just can’t put my finger on it.
    I once would tell students – “Don’t believe automatically anything you are told – including what I just said”

    Maybe so, but it gets like a DLP revival meeting around here sometimes when certain people wax lyrical about the minutiae of Catholicism. 🙂

  8. The more I hear that Morrison “dominates the party room”, “has the complete support of his MPs”, “enjoys absolute loyalty” etc. the more I think those who say this do protest too much.

    Morrison is too smug (and abrasively so) to be admired by his party. There are too many dead political bodies strewn across the paths he has travelled. If you get in his way you’ll be next. The “party” knows how he got to where he is now.

    They know how he backstabbed everyone from Fran Bailey, to Michael Towke, to Malcolm Turnbull (and many more in-between, and since). They know he’s not “a team player”. This is not the picture of either a likeable or a trustworthy person.

    And most Liberals are not religious nutbags. They know that people like Morrison are dangerous hypocrites, likely to get them (and us) into trouble because of it. I know there’s a lot of honour among thieves involved, but there are limits both to that and to their sympathy for any nasty fate Morrison may encounter.

    I can’t see any “Morrison honeymoon” lasting long.

  9. Holden Hillbilly says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm
    20 years ago we relied economically on the USA.

    That depends on what you mean by ‘relied on’. We’ve always relied on the US for key imports. They have never been the most significant export market. We’ve been dependent on them for technologies and for capital. We still are. This is the most important role played by the US in the global economy. We are one of their many subordinates in the capital, capital goods and knowledge sectors and are a supplier of key labour to them.

    We have relied on countries in Asia for many decades for our export markets. China has displaced Japan, which remains very important.

  10. BB @ 10:43. Morrison “has the complete support of his MPs” – did someone say that? That normally means the challenge is on, although that seems unlikely at this stage. Maybe in about a year. I don’t think that Dutton had pledged his “complete loyalty” yet.

  11. If we must have a Coalition Government, maybe we’d be better of with Dutton. He’s not a religious zealot, just a nasty authoritarian, so probably much less dangerous. And he’s incompetent, so he’ll have trouble getting anything done. The last thing I want this Government to be is competent in prosecuting its agenda.

  12. Malthus believed the agrarian revolution that preceded and accompanied industrialisation in England would fail with a decline in the productivity of land, and that this would result in food shortages and mass starvation.

    This had nothing to do with climate change, which he never foresaw.

    The predictions made by climate scientists are quite different. For one thing, they predict that changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere and the the oceans will change the way they behave and that this will disrupt nearly all life. The predictions are testable and they are also explicable. We can measure the changes in the composition of the atmosphere. We can observe changes in the temperature and acidity of the oceans. We can observe all kinds of disruption in ecosystems that are being caused by this. We can also observe that changes in natural systems can become self-propelling; that in dynamic systems positive feedback loops will accelerate changes in those systems themselves.

    Only a complete fucking moron or a paid (professional) liar would pretend that climate change is not happening and that it is caused by increased concentrations of GHG. There are plenty of both in the conservative/reactionary wings of political opinion. They derive financial and/or political gains by practicing scepticism. They put their own gains ahead of the common interest. They are the scum of the earth.

    Malthus was a clergyman. He was not a scientist. He was wrong about the capacity of science to study and explain the natural world, including in his case the knowledge that could be attained and applied in botany, zoology, microbiology, biochemistry, genetics and soil science. Climate change is also science. The voices that dispute climate change are really cut from the same cloth as Malthus. They are just wrong. They are so fucking wrong it’s hard to believe.

  13. Well said Briefly.

    If you want to see the real Henny Penny’s, look no further than those campaigning on the right of politics. If a property speculator or a millionaire retiree has to pay an extra dollar in tax, it’s a job-destroying, economy-collapsing disaster. Ditto cars that don’t use petrol. Ditto power stations that don’t use coal. And if the rapacious, parasitic gaming industry is limited, there’ll be no more sport or community groups. And the economy will collapse. And they want to keep us paralysed with fear of terrorism, which kills or injures fewer Australians than thunderstorms or falling out of bed, let alone heatwaves.

    The fossil fuel industry is applying the tactics used by the tobacco industry before them, only far more effectively, greatly magnified by the fake news media.

  14. IMO, both Dutton and Morrison are authoritarian bullies and loose with the truth to boot. Note their treatment of asylum seekers and those most vulnerable in our society.
    While extremely uncomfortable and depressed with Morrison as PM, a Dutton leadership will be the last straw for me.

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