The “pink vote” is a mysterious, dangerous area of politics that gets column inches but is soon forgotten after polling day.

But to what extent does the L-sbian, Gay, Bis-xual and Trans (LGBT) vote affect the Election Day result? With little or no evidence on the matter we have exclusively conducted a snapshot poll for Crikey on how 322 LGBT people across all ages and states voted in the 2007 Federal Election.

House of Representatives:

Political Party LGBT Poll Election Result Swing
Labor 47.2% 43.4% 3.8%
Greens 24.5% 7.8% 16.7%
Liberal/Nationals 18.1% 41.8% -23.7%
Democrats 6.5% 0.7% 5.8%

Perhaps a little surprisingly the Labor party only saw a relatively small swing towards them in first preference voting of 3.8%. The big winners were the Greens who picked up an impressive 24.5% ahead of the Coalition who suffered a 23.7% drop in votes relative to the election result. The now virtually defunct Democrats put up a strong performance with 6.5%.

However, when preferences are taken into consideration, the ALP picked up a huge swing of 24.3% and was a firm favourite with LGBT voters on 24 November 2007.

Two Party Preferred

Political Party LGBT Poll Election Result Swing
Labor 77% 52.7% 24.3%
Coalition 23% 47.3% -24.3

And the Senate poll shows an even more extraordinary result

Senate

Political Party LGBT Poll Election Result Swing
Greens 39.4% 9% 30.4%
Labor 28.9% 40.3% -11.4%
Coalition 16.8% 40% -23.5%
Democrats 9.6% 1.3% 8.3%

A massive exodus from the major parties saw the Greens bring in more pink votes than the Labor party and pick up an incredible 30.4% swing compared to the Australian electorate.

Why such a huge two party swing to Labor and the Greens in the Senate? Some answers can be found in what issues influenced the pink vote on Election Day. Echoing a Newspoll survey in December ’07, respondents were asked what issues were very important to them in making their decision.

Issue LGBT Poll Newspoll Swing
Health and Medicare 67.7% 68% -0.3%
Environment 66.8% 58% 8.8%
LGBT Issues 65.8% n/a n/a
Education 57.1% 67% -9.9%
Economy 53.4% 58% -4.6%

Like the rest of Australia, Health and the Environment (in particular) were two of the most important issues affecting their vote. However LGBT issues were just as significant. With 50% respondents stating that the Greens were the best to deal with these issues, it’s hardly surprising they performed so well. And when that filters down to a two party preference, the votes will always fall Labor’s way.

Respondents were also asked about their support on a variety of issues and the results show more Labor/Green affiliation. 90% support for the Kyoto Protocol, 82% for the Apology and 72% for a Republic.

One issue that has a more personal resonance is the question of same-s-x marriage. 87% of respondents support same-s-x marriage whilst 96% support Civil Partnerships or Unions (like those in the UK or New Zealand). Though the support is slightly split, there can be no doubt that some type of formal relationship recognition is supported by nearly the entire LGBT community.

This brings us back full circle to present day Kevin Rudd. According to a British Government estimate, 6% of the population belong to the “pink vote” — which equates to around 800,000 votes across all Australian electorates. With 77% of those going to Labor, we know Kevin07 rode part of the way to Canberra on the back of the LGBT community.

One year on and the Same-S-x Entitlements Bill has passed through the Senate. Will this be enough? Kevin Rudd has repeated and defended John Howard’s “Marriage is for only a man and a woman” rhetoric. Penny Wong’s appointment to Cabinet has been soured by her silence on same-s-x marriage while the list of countries recognising same-s-x relationships continues to grow.

Following the defeat of gay marriage in California, the American LGBT community has awoken with some vigour — will the somewhat apathetic Australian community do the same? How will this affect the pink vote with a “gay-friendly” Malcolm Turnbull leading the Coalition?

Only one thing is certain — Kevin and Malcolm can’t wait two years to find out.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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