Polarised is the overwhelming feeling about the responses to our recent Change in PM short survey, but there isn’t a lot of good news for Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party. What is known and thought about Scott Morrison would indicate he will have difficulty wooing the broader public, and the disgust at another PM being dumped is widespread and non-partisan. However, a note of caution: the level of highly emotional responses equally points to these results being *soft* (for that matter, so is everyone else’s polling). We will have a better indication of what effect the change of Prime Minister has had on a possible vote outcome after the September wave, where we can show exactly what proportion of the panel has shifted their vote. (You can join the panel here.)
WAS THIS THE RIGHT DECISION?
There were quite a number of ‘other’ answers that needed coding across all questions, as participants used the option of the text box to vent. The ‘don’t care’ and ‘should have called the election’ options were not in the pick list. Most of the remaining ‘other’ responses are that it is irrelevant, or ‘Yes and No’, but they were significantly nuanced and detailed responses that can’t be coded easily.
Interestingly, despite the fact that a clear majority did not think Turnbull should be deposed, a near majority also thought he was doing a bad job as Prime Minister. A healthy number were unhappy I didn’t offer something worse than ‘bad job’, again using the ‘other’ option to express disappointment, declaring him to be the worst prime minister in history, or using words like ‘abysmal’ and ‘pissweak’. (They were coded to bad job for the purposes of the below graph, but all comments are all noted.) ‘Blocked’ is people that answered other, and then commented to the effect that he could have been a good leader, or was trying, but was blocked by Abbott and/or the right wing of the Liberal Party. The sympathy for his situation continued in the following question about whether he was running the country well, but the negative evaluations increased.
Over 90% of respondents knew something about Scott Morrison, and many were very happy to hold forth on exactly what they thought. The treatment of refugees, opposing same sex marriage, love of coal, advocating for big business tax cuts and opposing the banking Royal Commission were all mentioned frequently, along with descriptors such as ‘cruel’, ‘horrible’, ‘hypocrite’, ‘racist’, ‘terrible’ and ‘terrifying’. I know you like the word clouds… so here ya go – top 100 terms.
As is pretty clear, most people knew that he was right wing and Christian. Some of the references to his faith were positive “I’m happy someone of faith is leading the country”; however, most were not warm to the idea. Concern was expressed about his tendency to allow his beliefs to dictate his policy approach, and negative, at times even derogatory, terms used about his particular denomination of Christianity. The ‘better’ I left in (common non-indicative words are usually removed) due to the number of people that said ‘Better than Dutton’, and a smaller number said better than Abbott, Bishop, Turnbull or Shorten. Some said Bishop would have been better.
WILL IT MOVE VOTES?
The most important question… and while these numbers are soft, that someone might shift as a result of this change is what this short survey was about. An event like this resets the campaign, and causes a significant chunk of the electorate to re-evaluate their vote. Specifically, we found 19% re-evaluating their decision. Note: 45% have locked their decision in already and say they won’t change.
Again – these numbers are soft, September’s numbers will be more solid. However, it looks as though there hasn’t been a significant hit – although we know there is movement in all directions, a lot of that movement is cancelling others out. The more typical party voters have balanced out our unhappy, protesting, panel members nicely – so don’t compare this to the August results (unless you’re interested in seeing the difference in terms of how electorally adventurous the panel is compared to a broader sample). Australian Conservatives are clearly up, however, and I can tell you from the comments and other pointers there are a number of Coalition voters parking their protest there. Those familiar with the Voter Choice Project will know that I don’t produce a 2PP number and actually hate the measure. I do an inferred 2PP to make it easy for people, which draws from a range of indicators, analysing long text answers in the normal monthly panel responses, to infer which way they would be likely to go, if they were in a standard Liberal v Labor electorate. Many voters are not in such a contest, and when asked who they intend to preference the correct answer for them may be Green, Independent, Centre Alliance or indeed National v Liberal: thus the inferred model. The I2PP is one of three experimental features in the Voter Choice Project. That said, I can’t infer anything from the short survey. I asked straight out who participants wanted to win government instead… and this is not pretty for the Liberal Party.
Hung parliament or minority government was not a given option, those respondents commented to the effect in the ‘other’ option. Some were specific that they wanted a coalition of independents, or a minority government with many parties, or say a Labor minority government with the Greens holding the balance of power. Those who wanted another party to win Government were mostly Greens, PHON, Conservatives and Centre Alliance supporters, although most acknowledged it was unlikely.
There is always an open text box in Voter Choice Project surveys to allow participants to add anything or say whatever they like. Generally speaking this helps me interpret their individual responses, and does not provide a clear message on the topic.
This time it did. Election. Now.
ABOUT THE SAMPLE
1883 people completed the short survey, 787 being members of the ongoing Voter Choice Project panel and the balance being anonymous, self-selected web respondents largely recruited from Facebook and Twitter. We continue to have an issue getting younger women to participate, and Coalition voters are fewer than I would like. These issues are corrected for using three layers of weighting: above results are weighted by age, gender, and who participants recall voting for in 2016. Responses were collected between Friday August 24 and Monday August 28, 2018.