After Tony Abbott became opposition leader, I think I was among the first, if not the first, to question the political class conventional wisdom that Abbott had ‘trouble’ with women. To me, it looked the like the sociological insularity of the political class, with its n= a-few-of-my-feminist-friends level analysis, could be leading it astray.
Unfortunately – and surprisingly, given the interest in the issue – none of the major pollsters have yet provided results from their routine party and leader preference questions by gender.
But some analysis of the ‘worm’ reactions by gender reported at Pollytics blog today, along with a Turnbull vs Abbott Newspoll in December, both question the political class conventional wisdom.
My hunch remains that female voters who would consider voting Liberal are not going to neurotically fret over federal non-issues like abortion, and will instead like other voters consider a bundle of the most salient issues relevant to them and the campaign. It’s quite possible that women and men will make different judgments on these, but Abbott’s Catholicism and the opinions that flow from that are unlikely to major factors in explaining any gender difference.
12 thoughts on “Abbott and women 3”
It would be interesting to know what issues men and women really differ significantly on with gender related issues. For things like abortion, I imagine attitudes would probably be quite similar, and the reason no-one cares about it is that no-one expects it to change, no matter who gets in. As for things like maternity leave, I think that whilst attitudes might differ somewhat between men and women (I think there’s a reasonable sized “why do women get all this crowd” that has more male than female supporters), I still doubt it really differs that much, especially amongst voters than might swing one way or the other (say, versus fuddy-duddy conservatives, or hard-core libertarians, almost all of whom are male). I think that’s why Kruddy’s maternity leave proposal was so well accepted — both men and women generally accept it.
Andrew, its interesting you blogged on this today, as i caught up with a few liberal voting (long term members) women friends today (including some from Qld) and we all agreed that we can’t vote for Abbott (the arch catholic conservative) nor the drearily boring Rudd and are at a loss as to who to vote for. But this time, none of us can vote Liberal and we’re willing to back that at the ballot bock…so we’ll see:) M
Michelle – With your particular intellectual background, I would class you as an outlier on this issue! My hunch on this could be wrong, but my experience in public opinion research, backed by the two imperfect bits of research to date, suggests that the numbers of people who think the way you do will be too small to show in aggregate data.
The first sign that Tony Abbott was possibly more popular with women than men first appeared in a Newspoll survey way back in July last year, as mentioned in a comment I made at Larvatus Prodeo in August. Of course, since then the evidence that Tony Abbott does not have a particular problem with women has just accumulated.
Conrad – On a quick search, male/female attitudes on abortion differ on the strength of feeling rather its direction.
On government-funded maternity leave, an AusPoll found 75% support among women, and 60% among men. While obviously both are large majorities, I would class that as a significant gender difference.
Andrew_ I’m not sure if I should be flattered or offended:)
His daughters are kinda cute. Don’t know about them frolicking in the pool with him in his budgies though!
Does it matter if the reasons for not voting Liberal differ? If the polls get reflected at a federal election ( I don’t believe they will be, elections seem to be close), the Liberal party will be reduced to its Queensland status. Rudd’s honeymoon has been going on and on ( frustration is shown by those that partake in the childish activity of calling him krudd), Abbott’s honeymoon has been very short.
This is a good example of how the origins of a ‘meme’ get forgotten and thus distorted.
The original observation was that male JOURNOS thought a lot more of Abbott than female journos.
This was, of course, because Abbott can talk to men casually – about sport, mostly – regardless of their politics, but he (apparently) can’t talk to women, who are into girly things.
Somehow it’s been transposed into Abbott being unpopular with female voters, which is obviously a whole different thing altogether.
Interestingly, however, is that the Liberal party seems to have some belief it’s true and keeps banging on about Abbott’s appeal to women as a result.
Which may explain a lot of the budgie smuggler shots.
mehitabel – I didn’t know the origins of this ‘meme’, though it fits with my theory of how the views of an untypical group of women were taken to be the views of women generally.
mehitabel, I don’t think that’s correct. The original observation was not a comparison of journalists’ perceptions at all; it was a full blown allegation that women voters would reject Abbott. The stories linked in Andrew’s first post on the topic provide a good sample.
The allegations were remarkably similar and started appearing within a few hours of Abbott’s win, suggesting they originated in Labor briefings, and were thus part of a deliberate political strategy by Labor.