Reasons for voting intentions

This week’s Essential Research survey asked its repondents about the main reason for their voting intention. Unfortunately a lack of consistency between the questions asked undermines comparisons. Nevertheless there are some interesting differences:

* Liberals and Greens voters are both more likely to have negative than positive reasons for their voting intention, but differ a lot in what those reasons are
* Gillard is a bigger plus for Labor voters than Abbott is for Coalition voters
* policies are not a big factor
* the Greens have the lowest proportion of ‘party faithful’, and Labor the highest

8 thoughts on “Reasons for voting intentions

  1. The differences aren’t all that interesting, really. Labor is the incumbant, so it’s no surprise that people are more likely to say “we don’t like the government” when saying why they want to vote for the opposition. I suspect you’d see a similar pattern in reverse when the Liberals are in power. I also think a lot of Gillard’s plus points come from her being the Prime Minister, because no matter how hard she tries to avoid it, she is the PM.

    The large proportion of negative reasons for voting for the Greens is probably because a large number of Greens votes are people disillusioned by both majors. And these negative reasons probably hide a lot of people voting-by-policy: “I don’t like Labor’s policies, so I’ll vote Liberal/Green” etc.

    As for the Greens having less party faithful, well, the Greens are young. A lot of the Greens faithful will be converts from Labor or, on occasion, the Liberals.


  2. I found the relatively low ‘always vote for’ surprising. If we look at the Australian Election Study it isn’t unusual for the major parties to have 80%+ return voters, and even for losing elections like 1996 or 2007 the losing party retained about 75% of their voters from the previous election. This looks like habitual behaviour to me. It is supported by the same survey’s figures showing that about 45% always vote for the same party, and a third plus each say they identify with the Coalition or Labor.

    Perhaps it sounds better to say you have considered the policies, and by amazing coincidence always come to the same partisan conclusion.


  3. Andrew I think there are quite a lot of Liberal supporters who are simply anti-labor and like to claim that Labor is bad at governing regardless of what has actually occurred.

    “Interest rates are always higher under labor”

    “Labor is controlled by the union movement”

    They don’t really like voting Liberal based on policies, but they do it anyway because they have the idea that Liberal governments are more competent.

    This is driven by the recession we had to have and the Cain/Kirner governments bankrupting victoria.


  4. Or arguably much deeper in Australian politics than 1990s Labor problems, though they may have helped entrench it. The Liberal Party was formed by combining various anti-Labor groups who agreed on what they did not like more than on what they liked.


  5. Who cares WHY people vote the way they do. All that matters is WHO they vote for. And in this case, it looks like Gillard is on the ropes…You bloomin BEAUTY!
    Abbot has been totally underestimated, including somewhat by me. Everyone said that conservatives are ole news, but like Smokin Joe Frasier he just keep boarin in!
    On other side, I have always said that Labour is a stand-for-nothing party that believes in power just for the sake of it – well since Hawke-Keating anyway. You can see the NSW governing (Hawker-britton, Bob Carr) philosohy creeping in at the federal level. These guys are ametuers that screw up everything they touch.
    Good riddance!


  6. Perhaps it sounds better to say you have considered the policies, and by amazing coincidence always come to the same partisan conclusion.

    I think you’re right – no one likes to come across like a sheep (except I suspect people like you, Andrew, who are confident enough in their own intellect that they don’t load the question up that way). This is also why the “Don’t like X Party” reasons are also poorly subscribed. So I think it’s a badly-worded question. “Always vot(ing)” for one party is a fact, not really a reason. It would be better to provide several options, such as whether you are philosophically aligned to one party, or whether you vote based on your family history/background.


  7. Portion of voters who claim to have always voted for same party is declining but aggregate electoral volatility has not increased that much, this seems paradoxical and suggests that voters were more volatile in the past than they admitted at the time?
    Labor has a rusted-on cultural support among non-Anglo voters that accounts for having more party faithful perhaps?


  8. Geoff – The two parties had near identical levels of ‘party faithful’ in the 2007 Australian Election Study. Liberals have been fairly stable over time, while Labor has declined from its 1980s peaks. You are right that there is clear long-term decline in the proportion of people saying that they always voted for the same party, but maybe part of the explanation for your paradox is in the ‘always’ – they might have deviated once or twice, but generally they vote for the party to which they are generally inclined.

    Also a lot of volatility cancels itself out – people switching Labor to Liberal are counterbalanced by people switching Liberal to Labor.


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