Abbott and women 4 – some real results

A few days after I complained that none of the major pollsters had published their party and leader preference results by sex, The Australian has remedied the situation and published Newspoll’s demographic summary.

Though there is no evidence that the budgie smugglers are disproportionately attracting women, who remain slightly less likely than men to support the Coalition, over the January to March period women were more likely to support the Coalition than at any time since it went into opposition.

It’s a similar story with the leader satisfaction and better PM questions. The male lead for Abbott is more part of a pattern of greater male than female support for the Coalition than something distinctive about the Abbott leadership. While on the better PM question the male lead is quite large (5 percentage points) this is not an uprecedented gap – and in absolute terms Abbott is seen as the better PM by more women than Nelson or Turnbull. Abbott’s ‘honeymoon’ period with female voters (43% satisfaction with the way he is doing his job as opposition leader) is not as strong as Turnbull’s (49%), but that was true of men too.

Opposition leader satisfaction

Overall, the decision to switch to Abbott seems to have paid off for the Coalition, with increased support from both men and women.

BTW – If anyone has a good method of converting Excel file tables into web images, let me know.

8 thoughts on “Abbott and women 4 – some real results

  1. I’m not sure I’d necessarily agree that the switch has been the cause of most of the recent gains for the Liberals, excluding Abbott’s honeymoon period, which will wear off anyway (and probably has). I think now the GFC has mainly passed, Rudd and co. have been left with the problems their solutions caused and people have difficulty understanding what difference the rest of the package might have made. Labor also now has the problem that things that seemed like good ideas when they suggested them now look a lot like big useless bureaucracy trails (e.g., hospitals), minor wastes of time (e.g., most of their education stuff), and policies that will have little effect (the ETS). They have also had to backflip on stupid ideas (the national broadband network), comments that obviously didn’t get great public support (a big Australia), and they demoted their favorite minister due to incompetence (Peter Garrett). I personally was fairly positive about Rudd coming in as he seemed refreshingly smart with lots of ideas. Now I think he’s basically a waste of time. I don’t just think it’s me either given that people have started speculating about whether Gillard etc. will take over one day.
    As for whether Abbott is good for the Libs? Maybe a broader perspective is needed. Let’s say he was really slightly better than Turnbull. That might be true. However, the problem with Abbott is he is basically leading them down a more conservative path, which, given demographic changes, will get them nowhere in the long term.


  2. Conrad – While I agree that ‘politics as usual’ is starting to hit the government, the Libs had to sort their leadership issues out before they could accentuate and capitalise on the government’s problems. There is a ‘can’t govern yourselves, can’t govern the country’ threshold that has to be crossed to get soft Liberal supporters onside.

    While I don’t think actual opposition policy has much influence on most voters, Abbott has taken a ‘more conservative path’ on only one issue, which is the Liberal response to climate change (and which has nothing to do with his personal Catholicism). He’s fortunate that the political dynamics on this issue have changed significantly in the last 6 months.

    On the demographics 18-34 year old support for the Coalition has been pretty flat in the low 30s for all three opposition leaders. While I agree that this is a huge long-term issue for both the Liberal Party and the proper functioning of the Australian political system, Abbott doesn’t seem to have changed it either way.


  3. Michael – Yes, I saw it via Will Wilkinson’s blog. Unfortunately with Australian political science in a sorry state there is little analysis of how beliefs cluster here.


  4. Overall, the decision to switch to Abbott seems to have paid off for the Coalition, with increased support from both men and women.

    At the same point in the political cycle, the polls also suggested that Labor’s switch to Latham had “paid off”. In practice, the Libs have gone for short term populism and are getting a short term reward for it. The risk is that, if it doesn’t pay off at the next election, it will have longer term adverse consequences – its hard to come back when you’re a right wing party and you’ve mortgaged your economic credibility.


  5. Tom – Despite the in retrospect unfortunate choice of title for my post last week, there is no public opinion evidence yet that the Coalition has lost its economic credibility. The either/or issue questions can conceal the fact that the apparent ‘losing’ party has threshold level of credibility, while not being preferred. This is what happened prior to the 2007 election, when either/or questions showed the Coalition well in-front but other polls found that Labor was regarded as credible on the economy.

    We can also see something similar in the opposition leader satisfaction versus better PM rating – the former generally being much higher than the latter.


  6. I liked some of Conrad’s listings of recent issues troubling the Rudd Government….Not sure if it’s inadvertant, but the reader is certainly left thinking…w’ell what have they done right?’ Perhaps that is the key to Abbott’s acension in the polls (ok an uptick from a low base!)
    Agree on demographics, but not on the ways you do. E.g. the Libs will never win the under 35 vote. Young people are often idealistic, before the long grind of the workplace sets in (perhaps a good reason to lift the voting age and to curtail subsidised university education). No, rather, I think the big demographic movement is immigration from outside of the Anglosphere. You can spin it all you like and we can have a big debate over it, but the fact is, immigrants from certain cultures are far less likely to vote Liberal. That is, it’s changed the citizenery. And unless the libs broaden their appeal they’re gonna struggle to win elections (see the demographic change in Bennelong – Howard’s ole seat for proof on that!). But therin lies the issue, as I think many would interpret ‘broadening their appeal’ as moving away from liberalism, English-based cultural institutions, foreign policy support for Israel etc.
    Anyway, to the subject of the post. I agree with Norton that women won’t be hugely turned off Abbott – at least by not as much as initially suggested by the gallery. That said, I’m not sure that the ‘female’ vote is the biggest game in town.


  7. “You can spin it all you like and we can have a big debate over it, but the fact is, immigrants from certain cultures are far less likely to vote Liberal……Bennelong”
    I’m not sure that those living in Bennelong are really those you are referring to (and I used to live in Bennelong when Howard was in!). I think it’s better to say they are, not surprisingly, less convinced by party lines. I would think that, on average, the Chinese and Koreans are more socially and fiscally conservative than the average white Australian-born citizen (quite a bit so in fact), so the fact that Howard couldn’t get them to vote for him was thanks to his policies, not his party. If Howard offered low taxes and hard-work-is-good style policies, I’m sure they would have voted for him en mass. There are probably other groups like this too — I would think probably the majority excluding those not coming in on work visas.


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