The results of the Australian Conservatives shorts survey were not that different to the other micro-right wing parties: not much is known about the party or leader; opinions are highly partisan; and a lot of our respondents really don’t care about Bernardi or his party one way or another.
We began by asking what people thought generally of the party, and what people through of Bernardi.
The largest group didn’t know much about the party or Bernardi, or didn’t think about him enough to form an opinion.
Of those that did have an opinion on the party, they fell into five categories of sentiment: good, ok, bad, despised, and dangerous. And there were very strong opinions and very ‘meh’ opinions, with no clear theme. Not surprising, given the party really hasn’t stretched its legs.
Opinions on Cory Bernardi himself were stronger and more polarised. Racist, bigoted, homophobe, narrow-minded, King of the Fools, smug, self serving, self-obsessed, power hungry, narcissistic, pompous nob, reactionary, extremist, arrogant, creepy, opportunistic, grandstander, turncoat, etc. On the flipside: principled, traditional, Christian, values, wholesome, charismatic, truthful, steadfast, thoughtful, honest, honourable and so on.
IfF we peel back the veil of some of the more partisan venom, Bernardi is both seen as not as dangerous as a Pauline Hanson or Fraser Anning – more rational, someone who could be negotiated with – but with that, his supporters are also less passionate than his more radical contemporaries.
We asked if you approved of the two significant acts involved in the party coming into being.
The very high ‘other’ on the first question about Bernardi leaving the Liberals is a lot of people thinking he should have left the Senate.
I think he is entitled to found a party more in keeping with his beliefs. However, he was elected as a Liberal Senator, so should have resigned from the Senate when he resigned from the Liberal Party.
58 year old male voter
For both questions more than 50% either didn’t care, didn’t know, or neither approved or disapproved… so we can’t read much into this.
Of more interest was where we asked if people knew what the Australian Conservatives stood for. About 35% thought it was some kind of Christian Conservative party anchored to religion. About 25% thought it was a small government conservative party, and were talking about the economic principles rather than values. (Most didn’t know, didn’t answer, or answered something that didn’t make a lot of sense.)
If even those familiar with the party cannot figure out what kind of conservative party it is, that is not promising for the fledgling organisation.
Frankly I don’t think they know themselves let alone the rest of us.
60 year old male voter
Thanks to all our participants as always.