Wave 5 coincided directly with the final week of the Wentworth by-election, and while the Wentworth voters were removed from the sample and doing their own special surveys, the influence of the campaign was evident elsewhere.
There is very little movement in the inferred two party preferred (I2PP) vote this month, but the Liberal first preference vote intention did recover from the immediate change of PM slump to be ahead of the Labor party for the first time since the beginning of the study. The Greens vote is also up, with a few warm and fuzzy mentions of Bob Brown on the Wentworth campaign trail and climate change was clearly more salient than usual. Pauline Hanson’s vote has been kidney punched for the second month in a row – last month it was the left flank of her vote, this month it’s mostly fleeing to the right. Still no idea what’s going on there, although we have started to notice a cycling behaviour: voters leaving a significant minor party like the Greens or One Nation tend to go to the undecided column, or a more fringe candidate or independent for a month or two, before eventually moving to their major party of choice, or back to their original party. So if you recall last month when the left of Hanson’s vote moved on, a significant chunk (7% of her vote) went to the undecided column while 19% went to Labor and 10% to the Greens. This month we see 19% of the undecided vote move to Labor – a good proportion of which were the same voters who moved from PHON to Not sure in September.
The real story of the vote retention/movement figures this month, however, is the movement towards the major parties, and the rapidly declining number of undecided voters. Enough mucking around, Australia is getting ready to elect a government. Remember, read across the rows to see where they have gained votes from, down the columns to see where they have lost votes to, percentage shown is the percentage of last month’s vote. The diagonal is the vote retained (anything under 90% for a party is less than ideal). I’ve included the table for those who prefer to read numbers than look at the pretty colours of the heat map.
This month we asked about minority identification, which will be used in the overall analysis but won’t be summarised here, and a number of quick issues questions.
Aside from the difficulty of deciding what to do with responses to the alternately worded ‘safe, free, legal and rare’ version of the question, this question generated the highest ‘other’ responses, the vast majority of which simply could not be coded back to an agree, disagree scale. As noted in the caption, those that agreed with ‘safe and legal’ but not ‘free’ were coded to ‘neither agree nor disagree’; but there were many responses that argued for other limits, conditions, stipulations, expressing concerns about abortion as a form of contraception, or just had a good vent about abortion broadly and it wasn’t possible to deduce an answer. Others said ‘I’m a guy, it’s none of my business‘. However, 64% or a very healthy majority agreed with the statement, so, while it’s clear we need to keep educating on why abortion needs to be accessible for all and that people don’t willing subject themselves to surgery as a preferred form of contraception, perhaps we can stop asking this question in political surveys soon. This one generated a lot of ‘others’ too but most of them were easily coded back to neither agree nor disagree, as they all said the same thing. ‘Mental health is a big challenge, and an important one, but not the BIGGEST challenge’. Many specified climate change as the biggest or a bigger challenge. Some got a little distracted by the question and talked about their own battles with mental health, or other issues in the health system failing to provide services, or otherwise argued it’s not mental health but poverty/homelessness/drugs/gambling/etc that caused mental health issues.
Foreign aid split largely along partisan lines, with the Hanson/Bernardi et al supporters being the only ones to strongly agree. The ‘others’ for this question were arguing for more targeted aid, or that they don’t want aid stopped but would like to see a review to make sure our money isn’t in the hands of corrupt governments. Others expressed a ‘support those here at home first’ sentiment. Others for this question were all able to be coded, as the vast majority were wanting to give some personal anecdote of experience with marijuana to explain their answer, or wanting only medicinal marijuana to be legalised.
This question brought out the cynic in y’all. There were a number of ‘other’ responses – the ‘some do, some don’t’ comments were coded to Neither agree nor disagree, and the ‘completely ignore unless it’s a marginal seat and there’s an election on, at which point they’ll pay a lot of attention for 6 weeks, and then go back to ignoring you‘ were coded to agree. This question got the strongest total agree numbers at 70.7%. There were a few ‘other’ responses who commented with things like Sunday should be the same as Saturday rates, or public holiday yes but Sundays no. Others argued it should be left up to each business, that it varied depending on what industry you worked in, or whether you had worked all week as well.
Almost a lose/lose issue but with a few more on the disagree side of the ledger, many used ‘other’ to comment that it depends on what union, or that there’s a difference between bargaining power and political power. All were able to be coded.
This was the most mixed response to any of the questions, and a clear indication that Australians refuse to think about issues of immigration in simple terms. There was a very large number of ‘other’ responses for this question, most arguing we should decrease skilled migration and increase humanitarian intake (coded to neither agree nor disagree). Others argued for race based conditions on migration, and others argued for more people instead of less. Others talked about infrastructure or the need for a more scientifically based population policy. Some of these ‘other’ responses clearly favoured stopping migration, some didn’t, they were all coded appropriately.
The drought short survey results will be posted separately.
Participation was low this month, with only 782 panel members completing their surveys; and the short surveys also didn’t garner much interest bringing the entire sample for October to 885. I’m hoping that with the transition to shorter surveys from November the rest of the panel will re-engage. The older voters participated at the usual rate – it was voters under 45, and particularly women, who did not participate this month. We always have trouble with this demographic so will need to recruit some more participants, as well as our ongoing need to get more Liberal voters in the panel. This recruitment will happen in January, after we’ve assessed how the shorter format surveys perform.