Category Archives: Election Profiles

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Malcolm Turnbull campaigns in Caboolture, in the Queensland seat of Longman

DIVINING VOTES ALL ABOUT SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS AT BY-ELECTIONS

Category:By-Elections,National 2019 Tags : 

Provided your humble correspondent is not eaten by a grizzly bear next week while trout-hunting in the wilds of northwest Canada, he will be back in time to help our team sift through the demographics of Super Saturday.

We will be looking for demographically driven swings across the booths in Longman and Braddon that are consistent with the swings we saw in New Eng­land and Bennelong; and tangible links between these patterns of swing and the policy offerings of the government and the opposition, especially as they relate to the hip-pocket nerve.

I’m looking particularly at swings by voters concerned with imputation tax increases for retirees and ­income tax increases for aspirational voters.

If we can see patterns among bigger demographic groups living in marginal seats then we can draw some inferences as to their impact at the next federal election. The other seats will provide a bit of a sideshow to the main event in Longman and Braddon.

South Australia’s Mayo, for ­example, is a seat a popular, local Liberal should have won back easily from former Nick Xenophon protege Rebekha Sharkie, who won Mayo from the less-than-popular local Liberal MP Jamie Briggs. However, polls show about 60 per cent of Mayo’s new generation of prosperous and professional commuters support Sharkie over the Downer dynasty’s Georgina Downer. After generations of political mulishness that has splintered the ­Coalition vote in South Australia — dating back to the original Liberal Movement — the Adelaide political establishment, like the old French aristocracy, learns nothing and forgets nothing.

The two West Australian by-elections of Fremantle and Perth will be interesting as a guide to how many intending Liberal voters, when denied a candidate, will vote for Labor over the Greens. Way too many to cancel the loss of Mayo, would be my guess.

Let’s look at what we know.

Last year’s by-elections in New England and Bennelong showed an average swing to the government of 1 per cent and a range of swings across the booths of about 12 per cent. The biggest swings against the government were in urban Bennelong booths dominated by progressive Left Sydney voters who hated having to vote yes in the same-sex marriage plebiscite and by conservatives who hated losing.

However, urban middle-class mainstream voters could not see what the fuss was about and quietly saved Liberal John Alexander.

In New England, Nationals flag-bearer Barnaby Joyce had his vote boosted by the big group of Howard battlers who had drifted back to Labor since 2007. We’re talking here about welfare recipients, tradies and hospitality workers living in rented accom­­mo­­­­dation in country towns where they can find affordable housing.

Battlers are also pretty thick on the ground in Longman in Queensland, a state where, in 2004, about one in seven electors voted for Labor premier Peter Beattie at the state election and then for Coalition prime minister John Howard eight months later at the federal election. This splitting of votes at state and federal elections is a characteristic of the Howard battler, a demographic that can be sentimentally supportive of favourite leaders but ruthless towards parties they regard as taking them for granted — especially with their Senate votes.

The trick for politicians is to match the sentimental rhetoric with what these voters see as their economic self-interest.

In Longman, they voted for Beattie because they saw themselves as Labor supporters and they voted for Howard because he stopped the boats, looked after their pensions and made the economy run on time. They had no problem holding what many commentators would regard as contradictory positions.

Plenty of Howard battlers are found in Braddon, where one in seven locals split their primary vote in the last state and federal elections. In mid-2016 the federal primary Liberal vote was 41.5 per cent for MP Brett Whiteley, but the primary vote for state Liberal candidates in March this year was 56.1 per cent.

In Longman and Braddon, polls are showing an average swing towards the Coalition of about 2 per cent, meaning both seats could go either way next Saturday. This is broadly consistent with the 1 per cent average swing to the government in New Eng­land and Bennelong, perhaps even a slight improvement for the Coalition.

Given some of the economic difficulties facing the federal government, compounded by its gaffes, even a small swing to the Coalition on its 2016 figures in these two seats would be exceptional, especially considering that Labor’s new MPs in Long­man and Braddon would have seen their vote rise by a couple of per cent since 2016 because of the personal vote benefits of ­incumbency.

Any opposition should comfortably win by-elections in seats it already holds. It should come close to winning more marginal seats like Bennelong.

Hopefully the demographic range of swings across the booths in Braddon and Longman will shed some light on why the opposition is underperforming and tell us what this could mean at the federal election due before the middle of May next year.

I’ll be paying particular attention to the range of swings across booths dominated by the different income groups to see which tax policies look like winning the most votes — with the opposition favouring those earning below $90,000 a year and the Coalition favouring those earning above that amount, particularly up to $200,000.

Like my Canadian trout taking a breather in a deep pool on their upstream spawning run, taxpayers tend to concentrate in income tax ranges just below a big jump in their marginal tax rate, so we’ll check the reaction from working voters who aspire to earn more.

We will see if we can discern any impact from the reductions in dividend imputation for retirees, although this one could be messy in practice.

With this sort of research, we go where the evidence leads us and we could see, for example, some impact from the campaign run by Catholic education against some of the federal funding ­reforms, which would be easy enough to measure given the ­detail in our education database.

We may see some increased support for the government’s quiet cuts in immigration, which would show as an increased vote for the Coalition among the huge mainstream groups of English-speaking and Australian-born. It’s pretty hard to lose an Australian election when you’re getting a swing towards you from Australian-born voters.

My working hypothesis is that Labor is making gains among younger, professional voters, ­especially those benefiting from the opposition’s big spending promises on new jobs in health and education.

We find these voters in the high-priced houses of the inner cities, the city seaside suburbs or bigger blocks with a view in the outer suburbs. But the Liberals should be able to withstand this sort of movement in what are typically their more comfortable urban seats, unless they repeat the mistakes of Mayo.

Labor is also making gains in Sydney and Melbourne among some conservative, non-English speaking migrant groups living in safe Labor seats, who respond well to big-spending promises as they are direct beneficiaries. However, these gains in votes by Labor often don’t bring commensurate gains in seats.

The Coalition seems to be still going well among middle-class, Australian-born families in mainstream urban areas and among Howard battlers in the middle to outer suburbs and in some pro­vincial city-rural seats. This is not the picture of a comfortable Labor majority, either in votes or in seats.

Roll on, Super Saturday, and I’ll report back if the bears don’t get me first.


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PROJECT 5 – The Australian Democrats

Category:National 1966-80,Project 5 The Australian Democrats


Introduction:

The Australian Democrats were formed in mid-1977 under the leadership of ex-Liberal Minister Don Chipp. The party was formed primarily to provide a vehicle for the Victorian Senate Campaign of its Leader and to a lesser extent a power base in the Senate for the same man.

In this context the aim of the part was to win support in roughly equal proportions from both major political groupings by gaining (Senate) votes from the “middle-ground”. In the lower house the party furthered this strategy by contesting as many seats as possible, winning votes from weakly-aligned pro and anti-Labor groups, and then returning this support via a two-sided how to vote card.

Click to continue reading:  Project 5: The Australian Democrats


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Longman By-Election - 2018 Qld

LONGMAN BY-ELECTION 2018

Category:By-Elections,National 2019 Tags : 

The ADS team has prepared an exhaustive profile of by-election swings in Bennelong, New England, Longman and Mayo.

A full report of the swings and their implications for the 2019 election appears in the Weekend Australian.

Below is a link to the maps of the swings and the associated demographic drivers for Longman.

Click away and compare the swings to and from the major parties with key demographics in our statistical profile.

Click on the Map to view

Longman By-Election - 2018 Qld


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PROJECT 6 – Key Seats

Category:National 1966-80,Project 6 Key Seats

Introduction:

One of the facts of political life in Australia is that swings at election time are never uniform.

Table 6.1 presented below shows that since 1961 the range of swing has typically been about five times as large as the mean swing.

Click to continue reading: Project 6 Key Seats


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STEREOTYPES AND VOTING

Category:National 2019 Tags : 

Hi there, election tragics. Here’s some data in Excel form for you to play with, in the lead up to election day and afterwards.

It’s in Excel form, so you can copy it, rank the seats, compare them with the vote and do your own sums with them on election night re the swings. We will try and do the same late next week, when the results are clear in close run seats.

https://www.elaborate.net.au/PDF/Stereotypes 2019.xlsx

The file shows the official ALP 2PP votes on current boundaries for all seats, plus our five most interesting stereotypes, based on 50 years of my own demographic research, including Labor’s demographic marketing campaign for the 1983 national election, which makes me very mature, indeed. I guess I’m the original tragic as far as demographic profiling is concerned.

As these are 2PP ALP votes, you can calculate the LNP 2PP vote by simply subtracting these figures from 100 percent for each seat, unless of course, it turns out to be won by an Independent.

Here’s a brief run down on the key stereotypes and their significance.

Stereotypes and Voting - Here’s a brief run down on the key stereotypes and their significance.

Working Families, are mainstream, average Aussie families, with skilled blue collar dad and a white collar mum, with an anxious eye on the family budget, flatlining real wages, transfer payments and tax cuts. Rank the excel file by this stereotype and you see a lot of them in marginal seats in Queensland and Western Australia. An awful lot. Too many to include here.

Goat Cheese Circle residents are inner city, very high income professionals. Lots of bike pants, Green votes, and senior public servants. They liked Malcolm Turnbull in 2016 but not Tony Abbott.  The votes of most of these are wasted in formerly safe Liberal seats, but some of these seats may swing to Independents  in NSW or Labor in Victoria.  A swing in 2019 against the liberals among this group would shore up my local member in Griffith and help Labor in Macnamara, the old Melbourne Ports. But not help Tony Abbott all that much.

Swinging Voters are made up of the demographics which consistently lead the swings either way at elections since 1966. Look for your local Nappy Valley, with lots of pre-school kids. Motivated by costs of housing, child care and part time jobs. These seats are strongly clustered in WA and any big swing amongst this demographic could turn very ugly for the Coalition, particularly very late on election night. I can still remember Mick Young late on 1969 election night, joking that the 1969 election would have been won for Labor, if there had been another state to the west of Western Australia. Conversely, the seats with fewer swinging voters which would be more likely stick to the Coalition are in Tasmania and National Party strongholds in the bush.

Coming of Age voters are young adults, often first time voters, moving away from parental political influences and starting out on life’s journey for themselves, with fewer visits to the Bank of Mum and Dad. There’s a few of these in marginal Coalition seats, like Brisbane, Chisholm, Swan and Reid and the one-time Labor seat of Ryan. There’s also some marginal Labor seats, like Griffith, Moreton, Hotham, Perth and Macnamara, but given the Newspoll swings in the relevant states, there’s not much joy there for the Coalition.

The Digitally Disrupted are working in blue collar and white collar jobs, currently among the first to be displaced by technology. There’s a big overlap with Working Families, which explains their anxieties at the moment. Typically these jobs are frozen in terms of numbers and then wither as a percentage of the workforce. In terms of seats, this is pretty safe territory for the Labor Opposition, but there are some marginals for the LNP in Queensland in Flynn and Forde. There’s also some marginals for Labor in Lindsay, Braddon and Lyons and if swings in NSW and Tasmania go the Coalition’s way, these would be vulnerable.

We’ve already posted some scatterplots using these stereotypes, showing how Goat Cheese Circle voters influenced the Green Primary vote in 2016 and how the Working Families group dominated those seats swinging to Labor. The full picture can be seen on our 2016 Dashboard under Demographic Profiles, Family Types, Voter Indices. https://www.elaborate.net.au/ADSElect2016%20PostVote.htm

It shows, subject to ecological fallacies of course, seats swinging to Labor in 2016 dominated by Working Families and the Digitally Disrupted and swings to the Coalition dominated by Goat Cheese Circle voters who liked Malcolm Turnbull.


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PROJECT 7 – Key Groups for 1983

Category:National 1966-80,Project 7 Key Groups for 1983

 

Introduction:

In this project I will deal with factors endogenous to the demographic model developed in projects one to siX. This part will draw together and summarise the relevant material on long-run volatility, the groups which have drifted towards or away from Labor during 1966-80, the 1980 Australian Democrat voters and voters living in the key 1983 seats. Particular attention will also be paid to the key seats and the relationship between votes and seats.

Click to continue reading: Project 7 Key Groups for 1983


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The Religious Rudd and Grey Voters - their significance in the Federal Election 2019

THE RELIGIOUS RUDD AND THE GREY VOTERS

Category:National 2019 Tags : 

Hi there again, election tragics. Sorry I’m late with this short article but I had to ice the cupcakes for our school election day fundraising stall. No, seriously, I did. And I had to stop the five year old eating all the chocolate sprinkles. This is a quick note as I have to drop off the jellies, which have hopefully set. So apologies if there’s any errors in the comments on individual seats.

https://www.elaborate.net.au/Excel/Stereotypes 2019 (003).xlsx

The previous piece on Stereotypes and Voting drew a big response, so I decided to re-send the same Stereotypes Excel File, which you can download and play with, but with added columns for the Activist Religions which voted against type for Kevin Rudd in 2007, as well as Aged Pensioners and also our mean dollar figures for Superannuation Income in 2015/16.

I’ve been running into a few self-funded retirees this past week and it’s fair to conclude this group won’t be swinging to Labor anytime soon. I also think, given the strong evangelical profile of the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, compared to his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, that this group will be moving towards the Coalition tonight. Remember here that it’s the swings that are important, not their absolute level of support for either party. A small swing from a big group located in marginal seats is campaign gold for party strategists. A big swing from a small group can also be valuable, if it’s also located in marginal seats.

The Activist Religions. This represented about ten percent of the vote in 2007 and does so again in 2019. In 2007 we took all those religions dominating the swings to Labor and selected the same groups again from the last census for 2019. Normally these religions are clustered in safer Coalition seats, but there’s huge numbers of them across Queensland seats, including quite a few marginals. Of the top 25 seats ranked for Activist Religions, 15 are in Queensland. Given the small national swings we’re seeing, for the reasons I outlined above, I would expect this group to be moving towards the Liberal Leader Scott Morrison. Among the seats which could be impacted by any such movement include Lingiari, Longman and Braddon (Labor), Dickson, Forde, Flynn, Capricornia and Petrie  (Liberal). Labor would thus be a little more vulnerable in three seats and have less chance of picking up five marginal Queensland seats. At the other end of the Activist scale, the seats tend to be stonking rich and full of Goat Cheese Circle types, such as Wentworth, the former seat of Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull or inner city Green Left students and professionals, like Wills, the former seat of late Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke. I served as a humble backbencher with Bob and I can still smell his Havana cigars up the corridors in the Old Parliament House. He will be missed.

The Religious Rudd and Grey Voters - Federal Election 2019

Aged Pensioners. We model this data every couple of years and these figures are probably a bit dated, but still relevant. I really don’t know how much the hostility to Labor’s policies on franking and capital gains tax are going to flow through to less asset rich persons who have retired on the Aged Pension. I suppose a little, but nowhere near as much as for those on their own super schemes. Still, if you select all columns on the Excel File and rank by Aged Pensioners, you can see some seriously big numbers in marginal seats, including Page, Robertson (Coalition), Richmond, Braddon, Lyons, Bass, Dobell  (Labor). These could be real momentum stoppers for a small pro-Labor national swing on election night.

Super Income. We extracted this ATO data and averaged it out over persons for our modelling of income generally. When we rank the federal seats for this figure, the ACT just jumps out as the top of the list, with figures in the thousands, with the next highest seats also looking to be representative of retired public servants. It fairly warms my heart to think we sold Telstra to set up a national Future Fund to achieve these figures. In reality, I’m probably just jealous I can’t put my own retirement savings into the Future Fund, because neither party has had the wit to allow us. When we consider the figures for the seats outside Canberra, we need to discount for the numbers of retired public servants on gold plated super schemes. This means you could probably rule out Eden-Monaro, marginal Labor with a lot of retired public servants. Coalition marginals which could benefit include Gilmore and Corangamite, although the latter is nominally Labor after the redistribution. The only marginal Labor seat which could be impacted is Herbert, although there would be a lot of Herbert retired military service voters on more secure super schemes.  That’s about it, really. The per capita Super figures really level right out after the top 20 or so seats. Which probably explains why the ALP adopted the policy it did.

The risk here for the ALP tonight is the extent to which all retirees feel targeted by changes to their retirement incomes generally. As far as the evangelicals go, these voters tend to be pretty quiet at election times and keep their opinions to themselves until they get to the ballot box. I suspect this might be a sleeper for some Queensland marginals.


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PROJECT 3 Australia 1975-77

Category:National 1966-80,Project 3 Australia 1975-77

 

Introduction:

Project two provided a complete national demographic analysis of variations in the Labor vote between 1966 and 1975. The demographic data was based on the application of the 1968 boundaries to the 1971 census results and the political data was based on national 1966-75 2PP votes and swings in the 1968 electorates.

In 1977 there was a national redistribution and a national election in quick succession. The 1976 data had not been collated by the Bureau of Statistics on either 1968 or 1977 boundaries by early 1978 when a review of the 1977 elections was required.

Click to continue reading:  Project 3 Australia 1975-77


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Shifting Demographic Tectonics - National Election 2019

SHIFTING DEMOGRAPHIC TECTONICS

Category:National 2019 Tags : 

Hi again, election tragics. We’re currently sifting through the statistical entrails of Saturday’s election, looking for key demographic characteristics of the ALP and Coalition votes and swings.

Peeling back the layers to find the underlying linkages between demographics and votes is time consuming and we’re also a bit busy working in the real world at the moment, running Education Geographics.

To keep you entertained, while we rummage around columns of stats, here’s a cute little Excel file which shows correlations going back to the election in 1966 for some key occupational indicators, male Tradies, female Clerks and Professional women.

Shifting Demographic Tectonics - Federal Election 2019

Female clerks and male Tradies have traditionally been huge groups in the workforce, and they still dominate our Working Family Stereotype across urban marginal seats, but the proportion of Working Families in the labour market has been steadily eroded over recent decades by technological change, now known as digital disruption.  Meanwhile, the workplace share of female Professionals is still growing fast and has already overtaken female Clerks, but these professionals are more clustered in the inner-cities and now dominate our Goat Cheese Circle Stereotype.

As Labor’s profile among Tradies declined during the 1980s, it increased among white collar working women, firstly among Clerks, then among Professionals, retaining a broad basis of support for Labor candidates across a majority of seats, while nudging it towards the inner cities, until Kevin Rudd’s Religious Activist profile in 2007  lifted Labor’s votes in the outer suburbs of our major capitals.

This professional support for Labor was lost in 2016, when Malcolm Turnbull led the Liberals, attracting inner urban professionals but at the expense of suburban Working Families. In 2019, under the folksy Scott Morrison as Liberal Leader, professional women turned back to Labor in droves, especially in Goat Cheese Circle seats. While this strategy held up Labor’s vote in higher SES seats,  it didn’t work out quite so well with Labor’s traditional Working Families, especially in LNP seats in Queensland.

To sum up: It’s always good for a Party to win a majority of the 2PP national vote, but it’s even better to win a majority of seats. In 2019, Scott Morrison won both by attracting support from marginal seats containing traditional Labor heartland voters and skipping the Goat Cheese Circle set.

As Morrison would say: How good is that?


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Labor Digs A Hole With Miners - Federal Election 2019

LABOR DIGS A HOLE WITH MINERS

Category:National 2019 Tags : 

Hello again, political tragics. As we proceed with our 2019 profiling, the longer-term damage Labor has done to itself with working class men just keeps getting uglier.

The chart here tracks the declining profile of miners for the ALP since we first profiled national elections back in 1966.

Labor Digs A Hole With Miners - Federal Election 2019

In 1966 the Labor Party and Labour Movement were the same group in strong mining seats, such as Hunter, held by Labor MPs since 1910.

After male Tradies, male miners were the second most significant driver of the Labor 2PP vote in 1966. The strong mining seat of Hunter recorded a 1966 2PP vote for Labor of 74.4 percent, which was ten percent above the vote predicted by our 1966 model.

So Labor was not only winning the votes from miners, but winning extra votes from mining families, turning mining towns and cities like Newcastle and Broken Hill into Labor fortresses. If you worked in the mines, you were in the union and if you were in the union, you voted Labor and so did your family and your neighbours.

From 1966, the vote for Labor in mining seats began a long-term decline, with the profile for miners falling into negative territory in 1998. By 2019 male miners were as big a negative driver for Labor as they had been a positive driver in 1966. In other words, you were more likely to find miners in Coalition seats than Labor seats and the stats were significant to more than 99.9 percent confidence levels.

In 2019, the three seats with the largest 10 percent plus swings to the Coalition were Dawson, Capricornia and the above seat of Hunter, three of the top eight seats for male miners as a share of the male workforce.

The first two of these mining seats – Dawson and Capricornia – are now held by the Queensland LNP, with Hunter, the former rock-solid Labor seat now reduced to marginal status on 52.5 percent 2PP for Labor.

In fact, of the top eight seats for male miners, all but Hunter now elect non-Labor MPs.

To add insult to injury, when we were modelling the swings to the Coalition across these three mining seats, not only did they record ten percent plus swings to the Coalition, but these swings averaged five percent greater in each seat than the national swing model was predicting.

So miners are voting for the Coalition, so are their families and their neighbours. The model from 1966 has been turned completely on its head.

The mining fortress for Labor among working class men in the mines has fallen. Rebuilding it seems a task too far for the Labor party by 2022, if it remains fixated on fighting back the Green challenge to its MPs in its inner urban Green Left seats. The miners don’t want to pay for them anymore.

To quote Labor’s great Finance Minister from the Hawke Government WA Senator Peter Walsh: if you base your policy on the demands of a minor party, you are destined to become one.