According to this week’s Nielsen poll, women (38%) were slightly more likely to support than Coalition than men (36%). Newspoll doesn’t routinely report by gender, but a pooling of polls between April and September this year found identical rates of male and female Coalition support.
The conventional wisdom is that this is set to change:
He [Abbott] has a serious problem with women voters
Abbott, who is deeply unpopular with female voters due to his hardline and aggressive Catholicism…
…his conservative social views make him divisive among voters, particularly women.
He’s taken a stand on a number of issues that would certainly alienate, has the potential to alienate, especially female voters.
The only attempt to argue this with data that I have seen is by Lena Bell in today’s Crikey, though she does not show that there are gender differences in party support, just that female support is low, particularly in the younger age groups (though my own past analysis of the AES suggests that young women are more left wing than young men).
The basic theory seems to be that Abbott is conservative on some feminist issues, but I don’t think we should assume that these are major issues at all in federal politics, or vote changers for the women who might consider voting Liberal or National. The alternative theory is that women, like men, vote on an extended bundle of issues that affect their interests and the broader national interest.
Given regular polling in Australia, the pundit conventional wisdom is empirically testable. I’ll report on whether the pundits are right.