Abbott and women #2

There is no sign in today’s Newspoll (it will be on the Newspoll website later) of Tony Abbott’s forecast problems with women voters.

On a question asking whether Abbott would be a better leader, worse leader, or about the same as leader compared to Malcolm Turnbull women were less likely than men (26%-29%) to rate Abbott as better, but much more likely to rate him about the same (46%-36%). It was men (25%) rather than women (18%) who were much more likely to rate Abbott as worse than Turnbull. Overall, 72% of women and 65% of men rate Abbott as the same as or better than Turnbull. And this is the whole Newspoll sample, so includes left-wing women.

My main test of the women-don’t-like-Abbott theory is in the 2PP voting intention, which is essentially the same as last time with no gender breakdown. But for the theory to be correct, the swing by men towards the Coalition must have been big enough to counter-act any swing against by women.

It’s too early to say for sure, but it is looking more likely that the women-don’t-like-Abbott theory was a product of a massive over-sampling of women pundits know.

13 thoughts on “Abbott and women #2

  1. Robert – I really think this is a non-issue. 1) Federal parliament has no direct authority over whether or not abortion is legal. 2) Abbott as PM is very unlikely to try to force party discipline on abortion issues, and so there will be a conscience vote if he raises it (which he probably won’t). Last time this happened under a Liberal government the anti-abortion people lost by nearly 2-1.

    As I have have observed before, there is a neurotic aspect to feminism, an over-anxiety that they are going to be sent back to the 1950s.

    It’s people like me who should be worried about Abbott – his conservatism is of the Howard big-spending kind, not the legally-enforced family values kind.


  2. Thing is, any attempt at a smear campaign by Labor will legitimise Abbott doing the same thing, and I think most people will agree he’s better at it.

    I think he’s being over-rated based on the by-election results though. He’s in a honeymoon period, Clive Hamilton’s a weirdo from out of town, Kelly O’Dwyer isn’t backing Abbott’s approach on climate change, and interest rates are going up.

    As for women, if he’s actually a lifesaver I doubt he’ll have much problems with them as long as he can hold his tongue between now and election day.


  3. “As for women, if he’s actually a lifesaver I doubt he’ll have much problems with them as long as he can hold his tongue between now and election day.”
    Er…. right. That’s that political argument settled then.
    As for Abbott’s track record on abortion, well, that’s all in the future, really, isn’t it, for the reasons that Andrew outlined (and others)? You seem to be judging Abbott on a track record that may never eventuate, Robert.


  4. As an empirical point, politics is often not about the calm, rational consideration of issues; it’s about fear. I’m sure, from your point of view, the 2007 election was lost an a completely irrational scare campaign with no basis in reality. But look what happened. Or, for that matter, the 1993 election.

    The second point is that sometimes circumstances arrange themselves in strange ways and give politicians the chance to do things they’d like to do, but can’t ordinarily. Again, WorkChoices. In Abbott’s case, if he ever managed to achieve the kind of changes to the Federation he floated, that would also give the federal government – and thus him – a lot of pull on the states. And, given his expressed views and track record, it is not a wild stretch to imagine that if the circumstances ever arose where he had the power to significantly restrict access to abortion, Tony Abbott would use that power.

    I really don’t think you appreciate the potential explosiveness of this as an issue. Statistics aren’t exact, but roughly one quarter of women have an abortion at some time. That’s 12.5% of the electorate who might reasonably think that if Tony Abbott had the chance, he would have prevented them having that abortion and left them responsible for a child they clearly didn’t want. And that’s not counting the partners, parents, and close friends of those women who were aware of the decision.

    Given all that, do you really think a scare campaign on the issue (which Labor needn’t have anything to do with, by the way) would have no traction?


  5. If one takes a honest look at the poles that have come out; Liberal voters are more likely to vote Liberal and Labor voters are more likely to vote Labor. Or to put it another way 56,57,58 to 42,43,44 likes like solidifying, and that is a disaster for the Liberal party.


  6. Given all that, do you really think a scare campaign on the issue (which Labor needn’t have anything to do with, by the way) would have no traction?

    You’re over-egging the omelet, aren’t you Robert?


  7. Robert – As em notes, they are already trying scare campaigns, but the abortion one is the least plausible for the reasons I outlined, and Labor isn’t likely to want to upset its conservative Catholic base by promoting their baby-killing credentials. As the recent formal Victorian decriminalisation legislation showed this is a sensitive issue on both sides of politics. I think there are powerful political reasons why this issue will be left to rest.

    Charles – The Essential Report doesn’t say that; unfortunately it provides too little detail to draw any real gender conclusions. It and Newspoll and Nielsen do however show that the Liberal divisions haven’t affected its vote, which was certainly contrary to my and general political class predictions. However you are right that the vote is too low.


  8. I agree with Andrew on this. While Abbott’s behaviour over RU486 irritated me enormously, I see it as all of a piece with his big government, centralizing conservatism. This is not a bloke who is going to be able to resist poking governmental sticky fingers in all sorts of pies.

    That said, he is polling incredibly badly (if Newspoll is to be believed), although I will wait for Possum’s elucidation before saying anything further on that point.


  9. I agree Labor isn’t likely to be involved directly in any such campaign. What I’m suggesting is that there are plenty of people and organizations who don’t have a conservative Catholic base who would do the job for them.


  10. Just an anectdote – my grandma is a bit of a ‘weathervane” on politicians. She like Howard initially but was sick of him towards the end, thought Brendan was a bit emotional, loathed Turnbull but really likes Abbott.

    She thinks he comes across as a ‘real’ normal person.

    I think she might have a bit of a crush.


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