Feb 25, 2013

Essential: how determined are voters to throw Labor out? Very.

Voters on average expect a Coalition government to be worse for them, but still want to throw Labor out.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

As Labor's polling position worsens and voters indicate they don't believe the government deserves re-election, there's little in the way of hope at the prospect of a Coalition victory, today's Essential Report finds. On voting intention, Labor's position has worsened, with its primary vote falling a point to 34% and the Coalition's vote returning to the heights of 2011 and the first part of 2012, picking up two points to 49%. The Greens remain on 9%, yielding a 2PP result of 56-44% in the Coalition's favour, up from 54-46% a week ago. Asked whether they believe the government deserves to be re-elected, voters seemed to respond along party lines, but even 17% of Labor voters said they did not believe the government deserved to be re-elected, and more Greens voters thought it didn't deserve to than did, 38% to 31%. But there's little apparent belief among voters that the Coalition will be any better than Labor across a range of important issues. Indeed, it seems voters are resigned to a new government despite believing it will actually act against their own interests. Asked which issues would be better under a Coalition government led by Tony Abbott, on only 3 issues did more voters think the Coalition would perform better than worse -- the number who believed the economy would be better off was 10 points higher than the number who believed the economy would be worse off, the net number of voters who believed there'd be better "political leadership" was a single point and the net number of voters who believed company profits would be better under the Coalition was a remarkable 25 points.

Otherwise, voters appear in net terms to believe many things would be worse: given the poor esteem in which Julia Gillard is supposedly held in trust issues, more voters believe trust in government will be poorer under the Coalition (net -2) than better. More think unemployment will be worse than better (net -7), more think the cost of living will be worse (net -10); more think interest rates will be higher (net -12), job security will be worse (net -12), workers' conditions will be worse (net -22), the environment (net -14) and benefits for welfare recipients (-21), health services (-12). And more people think they'll be financially worse off under a Coalition government than better, by 9 points. This is coupled with the response to the question about whether voters feel the Coalition is ready to govern. Forty-five per cent believe not, compared to 36% who feel they are. Twelve per cent of Liberal voters believe the party isn't ready to govern; another 16% say they don't know. And yet, despite voters' belief that they will be worse off across a number of important issues unless they're a company executive -- including their own financial and employment situation -- they still appear determined to elect a Coalition government: in short, voters are so primed to ditch Labor out they will vote against their own interests to do so. It's not just the numbers that are dire for Labor now. It's the strength of sentiment behind them.

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27 thoughts on “Essential: how determined are voters to throw Labor out? Very.

  1. Michael Hilliard

    There was some graffiti I saw once which said “Australians are bloody minded sheep.” I am beginning to understand what the author meant.

  2. Mike Jones

    The interesting question, IMHO is not “what is it?” but “Why is it so ?”

    Given that a bloodbath for Labor seems inevitable, and people seem to be willing to vote against their own self-interests to get one, I’m guessing that people prefer to hate Liberal Prime Ministers more than they can put up with feeling ashamed of Labor ones. Or… we feel more comfortable being led by a pack of miserable counts* than a mob of well-meaning but essentially useless clowns.

    Some choice, eh ?

    * remove your own vowel.

  3. Hunt Ian

    The essential survey does not ask how strongly voters want to throw out the government, Bernard, it shows rather disturbingly that people indicate they will vote for the Liberals even though they have no confidence that a Liberal government will improve things for them. The alternative to the view that they just want to throw Labor out is that many voters tag along with the dominant line, which is that the government is chaos (even though ti seems quite steady) that it cannot keep two ministers (even though both indicated a long time ago that they wanted to go) and that in general the government is in a mess. But this is what MSM says. Under this media pressure, it is perhaps surprising that the ALp’s position is not worse.

    Another thought is that a government campaign, media permitting, to emphasise the reservations that voters have about the Liberals is overdue. I doubt that given the MSM tilt against Labor and given the inability of the ALP to even bell the cat (with some honourable exceptions, such as Stephen Conroy) and to adopt a social media strategy that would enable them to communicate around MSM. The difficulty is that social media seems to work very effectively only when the public is aware that official media outlets are government controlled or otherwise in the grip of interests contrary to their own and that sharp differences can be found between those contending for power. It is sobering that Berlusconi, at 78 years but with loads of film star nips and tucks, is still capable of being a serious contender in Italy’s election. This is partly a reflection of the “austerity” madness that Merkel has imposed on Europe and that Abbott & Co will impose on us, but it also says something about the inflence he has through his media ownership. Perhaps the government could sell my own position of very much not wanting austerity Abbot & Co elected, given the reservations people have.

  4. Kevin

    If this is the result from Abbott keeping a low profile for just one month…. We will get the government that the MSM is insisting we deserve.
    Being from Queensland, I know that many commentators and readers think that my view might be naive but….. Only 2 people I know will admit to voting for the travesty of a government we now have, and everyone I know is disgusted with the behaviour of the LNP…. so vote for Abbott if you feel like losing services and jobs, wait for the next GFC and watch as they happily crush us into a recession…. But I will not be voting for them.

  5. David Allen

    It makes one wonder, will they actually do it come election day?

    Loathe as I am to contemplate it, it may also be that KRudd could save the day for us ABA (Anyone But Abbott)fans.

  6. zut alors

    MJ, welcome back!

    My theory: the electorate has only one possible way of silencing Rabbott from “stop the boats” and that’s by voting him into the position where he won’t actually be able to. Silence assured.


    From almost the first day that Ms Gillard was PM, the media have been happy to broadcast Mr Abbott’s message: burn the witch.

    So, dutifully, the punters will.

  8. CML

    What an incredible situation. The bogans (and others)are going to vote against their own best interests.
    One time when all us grown-ups will be able to say: I told you so!
    Agree with David Allen – KRudd may not be able to win the election, but he must surely be the best bet to limit the damage.

  9. klewso

    Ever wonder what it would be like, to actually “cut your nose off to spite your face”?
    But isn’t that Abbott all over – “All spite and No-No’s”?

  10. Jesse mandragoria

    i don’t really care any more. i just want to see australians suffer.
    and it looks like i’m going to get my wish.

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