In this post we’ll get into the non-leader results from the Liberal and Labor party surveys – what people think of the parties.
Of the 1674 people who participated in the December survey, 1006 did the Labor questions, and 973 did the Liberal Party questions. All numbers below are weighted on age, gender and reported 2016 vote.
I’m sure most won’t find this surprising, but it appears voters still think about our major parties in class and left vs right terms.
The left versus right binary was more exaggerated when respondents were asked what the parties stood for. A very clear people/workers versus business binary.
Ok, so the concept of the parties and what they represent seems to be fairly well entrenched. What about policy recall? The following are coded from long text answers, with respondents ask to think of a particular policy and describe it in a sentence or two. Note that no judgement or sentiment is indicated here: just because some recalled, for example, ‘stop the boats’ does not mean they indicated support of the policy. In fact, the majority of recalled policies were ones they opposed, or they did not indicate a feeling either way.
It was apparent Labor’s proposals, particularly the changes to negative gearing and dividend imputation credits, were more easily recalled, although there was a lot of confusion in the detail – for example, the Renewable Energy Target was cited as a range of percentage from 33% to 50% and the target year ranged from 2020 to 2050. By contrast, the most recalled Liberal policies were things they have done previously, like offshore detention, or the recently passed encryption laws. The Labor Conference being at the tail end of the response window may have helped in the recall of current proposals. That said, some of the policies recalled were quite old – like Pink Batts or the mining tax. And, many found the task of recalling a specific policy hard.
This is hard actually. They seem to have chopped and changed so often that I’m not sure which policies are actually theirs any more. They were pushed kicking and screaming into the Bank Royal Commission.88 year old female voter in rural South Australia, commenting on Liberal Party policy
Can’t think of any off the top of my head. That in itself is concerning.24 year old male voter in southern WA, commenting on Labor Party policy
One of the really interesting things about the methodology we use at the VCP is that by asking a question like this, and having people respond in their own words rather than check a box, is you not only get a more accurate measure of saliency (how an item of information stands out from the rest to be recalled by people), but you get an insight into how people relate policies to their own lives.
…trying to get into my whatsapp31 year old female voter in Perth, commenting on Liberal Party policy (AA Bill/Encryption)
We also asked a specific question for each party related to their internal affairs. For Labor, we asked about the influence of factions and unions.
Yes, the majority of people are concerned about oth – but I was honestly surprised that the concern about unions is slightly less than the concern about factions.
For the Liberal Party, we asked about their internal battle for what they stand for, and where respondents think most Liberal Party supporters sit.
Most fascinating is that many who indicated they were a Liberal Party supporter commented they though the majority of Liberal supporters had views like their own; while those who identified as not being supporters thought the average Liberal supporter was the opposite of where they were on the spectrum (so if they were a strong Labor supporter they were more likely to indicate Liberals were strongly conservative; soft supporters were more likely to think Liberals were also moderates, or at worst it was a broad church).
The comments for both parties were overwhelmingly negative and strongly worded. The ‘none of ya’ sentiment is a persistent undercurrent in all of our surveys, and it is joined by a ‘not good enough’ feeling from supporters about their own parties. The people are in revolt. Which makes for a very volatile election.