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.
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.
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.