Hands off Sankey

A visual representation of how votes flowed between the parties at the 2016 and 2019 elections, plus other observations from the Australian National University’s post-election survey.

First up, note that you can find Adrian Beaumont’s latest British election post immediately below this one, and that The Guardian has preliminary details of what will presumably be the last Essential Research poll for the year, which I will blog about this evening when the full report is available (suffice to say for now that it still doesn’t feature voting intention numbers).

Now on to some further observations from the Australian National University’s post-election Australian Election Study survey, at which I took a preliminary look at the tail end of the previous post. Over the fold at the bottom of this post you can find a Sankey diagram showing how respondents’ vote choices in 2016 and 2019 compared, based on the slightly contingency of their recollections of what they did three years ago.

These suggest the Coalition actually lost a sizeable chunk of voters to Labor – 5.1% of the total, compared with only 1.6% going the other way. I might take a closer look at the survey responses for that 5.1% one day, but presumably they were the kind of Malcolm Turnbull-supporting voter who drove the swing to Labor in affluent inner urban areas. The key point is that the Coalition was able to make good this loss out of those who were in the “others” camp (i.e. everyone but the Coalition, Labor and the Greens) in 2016 – both directly, in that fully 30% of “others” from 2016 voted Coalition this time (or 4.1% of voters overall, compared with 1.6% who went from others to Labor), and indirectly, in that their preference share from what remained went from 50.8% to 56.3%.

Before that, some other general observations based on my reading of the ANU’s overview of its findings:

• The survey adds context for some intuitively obvious points: that the Coalition won because self-identified swinging voters rated them better to handle the economy, taxation and leadership, and rated those issues the most determinants of their vote choice. Labor’s strengths were, as ever, health and environment, which rated lower on the importance scale, and education, which hardly featured.

• Coalition and Labor voters weren’t vastly in their opinions on negative gearing and franking credits, with support and opposition being fairly evenly divided for both. However, there were enormously divided on their sense of the importance of global warming, which was rated extremely important by 64% of Labor voters but only 22% of Coalition voters.

• A drop in support for Labor among women caused the gender gap to moderate compared with 2016, although the unchanged 10% gap on the Liberal vote remains remarkable by recent historic standards. The new normal of Liberal doing better among men and Labor among women only really goes back to 2010 – back in the Keating era, it was Labor who had the women problem.

• Scott Morrison trounced Bill Shorten on popularity, their respective mean ratings on a zero-to-ten scale being 5.14 and 3.97.

• The number of respondents professing no party identity reached a new peak of 21%, maintaining a trend going back to 2010.

• The 2018 leadership coup was received as badly as the 2010 coup against Kevin Rudd. The 2013 and 2015 coups were less badly received, but both scored over 50% disapproval.

• Long-term trends show a steady erosion in trust in government, satisfaction with democracy and belief government is run for “all the people”, although the 2019 results weren’t particularly worse than 2016. Satisfaction with democracy is poor compared to the countries with which Australia is normally compared – though slightly higher than the United Kingdom, which is presumably one symptom among many of Brexit.

Based on weighted results from the AES survey, this shows how votes moved between the parties at the 2016 election (on the left) and the 2019 election (on the right). Roll your mouse pointer over it to see the percentage figures.

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.

702 comments on “Hands off Sankey”

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  1. Barrie Cassidy nails the dismal fortnight in Australian politics:

    “I don’t think we’ve ever had a government so out of touch with a national concern and an opposition so incapable of putting the pressure on them.”

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