Over at his blog, Andrew Leigh is pondering why the Liberals keep winning federally and keep losing in the states. He likes the Mummy party/Daddy party thesis (on which he cites me, though it was not my idea – Don Arthur has some of the history). Don explains it this way:
Labor is mum because it
6 thoughts on “The Mummy party vs the Daddy party”
“there are almost always more idiosyncratic issues – the leaders, party division, particular policies – that influence particular elections.”
Yes, but that is essentially a swing vote. Sure it can decide the election. But apart from the swing centre, people may have these stereotypes and vote accordinly.
To the extent this hypothesis is true, from a Liberal party perspective, the GST has been a mixed blessing. It has given the States a guaranteed (so far) income stream and allowed them to avoid having to demonstrate economic (budgetary) management skills. If it weren’t for the GST revenue, the Federal Government could squeeze the States by reducing payments and forcing spending cuts or tax increases. That would potentially bring a ‘Daddy’ issue to the state level, although Labor in Victoria would probably still do alright.
“Perhaps the problem with this question is that it is too focused on problems – while the voters want the federal government to do something about health and education, most of all they want the government to keep the prosperity coming.”
Perhaps giving respondents a list of options isn’t necessarily a bad idea. A potential problem with open ended questions is that responses that are seen as obvious, such as “continued prosperity” may not be mentioned at all.
An example of this effect is the Out of Sight – Out of Mind study by the Australian Childhood Foundation. They asked respondents about their “issues of most concern” (I don’t know the exact question). When unprompted, child abuse was mentioned by 4%, putting it 13th, behind even high petrol prices. When asked to choose from a list, child abuse was mentioned by 76% of respondents, putting it first. Of course, people are likely to say that child abuse is an issue of concern because they don’t want to appear uncaring, rather than because it actually concerns them, but in my opinion the best explanation for the exceptionally low figure of 4% is that people see child abuse as such an obvious answer that it doesn’t need mentioning. Could the same be true for “want[ing] the government to keep the prosperity coming”?
This is all well and good, but I think personalities have a lot to do with it. The oppositions across Australia at state level are hardly the most inspiring collection of individuals – this suggests to me that politics at the state level is not a rational career choice for many.
I always find it amusing when people say the Labor Party is better on issues like health. I remember being asked after I had been in rehab for about 10 months by one of my lefty friends if I were still a Liberal after spending so long in the public health system. My response was that I had gotten a spinal injury, not a brain injury. On that note, the Austin could well do with some privatisation… and that coming from someone who has spent the majority of the last three years as an inpatient there!