Labor’s Woes

Jul 16, 2012

If you offer people two options to choose from–vote for a lite version of political ideology or the real thing–most people will vote for the real thing. It’s an emotional reaction–not entirely rationale. And, therein, my friends, lies a big problem faced by Labor.

I thought about Labor’s problem this morning after reading a fine column by Ross Gittins, entitled, “Prejudices rule when judging Labor”. I think Gittins misses, or under-emphasizes, two very important points. But, let’s start with what he gets right:

The conundrum is why so many people could be so dissatisfied when almost all the objective indicators show us travelling well: the economy growing at about its trend rate, low unemployment, low inflation, rising real wages, low government debt – even a low current account deficit.

That is correct. We got it good here (see: US unemployment above 8 percent, for example). Hang on to that thought for a moment…

And:

Similarly, only the one-eyed could believe an Abbott government would have much better policies. It’s likely to be less populist in government than it is opposition but, even so, Tony Abbott is no economic reformer.

Yup. The Empty Suit, leader of the Coalition, is vapid, entirely void of anything to say that is either true, new or useful about the future.

It gets even more bizarre. The Empty Suit, and his shills in business, are so craven, they resort to the Big Lie, as Gittins observes:

So, for instance, a favourite commercial tactic at present is to search for, and give false prominence to, all stories that portray our almost-dead union movement as a threatening monster about to engulf big business.

Boosting productivity equals making industrial relations law more anti-union. End of story. [emphasis added]

Ah, yes, the Big Labor fear campaign. Again, The Empty Suit is fully engaged with the American Disease–the Big Labor threat figures prominently in the US where Republicans use it at every turn, even though “Big Labor” is, representing 7 percent in the private sector and maybe 11 percent overall, more like “Big Labor”.

The Prime Minister also has a host of other issues, not the least of which is sexism in politics–there is always a higher barrier women have to leap over when it comes to the judgement of the chattering media and know-it-alls (see: Hillary Clinton–after all, though she may have actually believed in it, her vote for the Iraq War was, at least, partially driven by the conventional wisdom that, to run for president, she had to look “strong” i.e., appear to be willing to spill blood like a man…well, that didn’t work out too well but I digress).

But, Gittins sidesteps two really fundamental points. First, remember where we started? That given the choice between ideological “lite” and the real thing people opt for the real thing. So, for example, if you run around harping, stupidly, about the need to have a balanced budget, which Labor is doing, you sound just like The Empty Suit.

For the love of God, there is no friggin’ debt crisis or even a serious debt problem–as Gittins points out. The end result of sounding like The Empty Suit–government spends too much and needs to cut back–is that (a) it leads to bad policy and people losing their jobs because of an obsession with cutting public sector jobs and (b) voters actually start believing the nonsense.

And voters are inclined, then, to vote for the real thing–because The Empty Suit, and his chorus of ideological midgets, actually hate government.

Second, and to the bigger point–and a bit wonky. People vote not based on reason, but emotion.  It is a huge–fatal–mistake to hang on to polls that say Labor’s actual policies are supported. That is a path to defeat.

May I suggest people read “The Political Brain” by Drew Westen. Here is the upshot:

In politics, when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins. Elections are decided in the marketplace of emotions, a marketplace filled with values, images, analogies, moral sentiments, and moving oratory, in which logic plays only a supporting role. Westen shows, through a whistle-stop journey through the evolution of the passionate brain and a bravura tour through fifty years of American presidential and national elections, why campaigns succeed and fail. The evidence is overwhelming that three things determine how people vote, in this order: their feelings toward the parties and their principles, their feelings toward the candidates, and, if they haven’t decided by then, their feelings toward the candidates’ policy positions.

The political types, and the wonky types, might not like that. But, if you ignore what people emotionally feel, you are dead politically. And, it seems like this is what Labor is banking on to save its bacon–once people focus on how great are policies are (see: carbon pricing), all will be good.

Nope.

Twitter @jonathantasini

Federal politics – voting intention

Mar 5, 2012

Q. If a Federal Election was held today to which party will you probably give your first preference vote? If not sure, which party are you currently leaning toward?

Q. If don’t know -Well which party are you currently leaning to?

Sample size = 1,891 respondents

First preference/leaning to

Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago

2 weeks ago

Last week

 

This week

Liberal

44%

45%

46%

47%

National

3%

3%

3%

3%

Total Lib/Nat

43.6%

47%

48%

49%

49%

Labor

38.0%

33%

33%

32%

32%

Greens

11.8%

11%

11%

11%

10%

Other/Independent

6.6%

9%

9%

8%

9%

 

2PP

Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago

2 weeks ago

Last week

This week

Total Lib/Nat

49.9%

54%

55%

56%

56%

Labor

50.1%

46%

45%

44%

44%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived from the first preference/leaning to voting questions.  Respondents who select ‘don’t know’ are not included in the results.  The two-party preferred estimate is calculated by distributing the votes of the other parties according to their preferences at the 2010 election.

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Federal politics – voting intention

Feb 27, 2012

Q. If a Federal Election was held today to which party will you probably give your first preference vote? If not sure, which party are you currently leaning toward?

Q. If don’t know -Well which party are you currently leaning to?

Sample size = 1,908 respondents

First preference/leaning to

Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago

2 weeks ago

Last week

 

This week

Liberal

44%

44%

45%

46%

National

3%

3%

3%

3%

Total Lib/Nat

43.6%

47%

47%

48%

49%

Labor

38.0%

34%

34%

33%

32%

Greens

11.8%

10%

10%

11%

11%

Other/Independent

6.6%

8%

9%

9%

8%

 

2PP

Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago

2 weeks ago

Last week

This week

Total Lib/Nat

49.9%

54%

54%

55%

56%

Labor

50.1%

46%

46%

45%

44%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived from the first preference/leaning to voting questions.  Respondents who select ‘don’t know’ are not included in the results.  The two-party preferred estimate is calculated by distributing the votes of the other parties according to their preferences at the 2010 election.

Comments »

Federal politics – voting intention

Feb 20, 2012

Q. If a Federal Election was held today to which party will you probably give your first preference vote? If not sure, which party are you currently leaning toward?

Q. If don’t know -Well which party are you currently leaning to?

Sample size = 1042 respondents

First preference/leaning to Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week

This week
Liberal 45% 44% 44% 45%
National 3% 3% 3% 3%
Total Lib/Nat 43.6% 48% 47% 47% 48%
Labor 38.0% 35% 33% 34% 33%
Greens 11.8% 10% 11% 10% 11%
Other/Independent 6.6% 7% 9% 9% 9%
2PP Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week This week
Total Lib/Nat 49.9% 54% 54% 54% 55%
Labor 50.1% 46% 46% 46% 45%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived from the first preference/leaning to voting questions.  Respondents who select ‘don’t know’ are not included in the results.  The two-party preferred estimate is calculated by distributing the votes of the other parties according to their preferences at the 2010 election.

Comments »

Federal politics – voting intention

Feb 13, 2012

Q. If a Federal Election was held today to which party will you probably give your first preference vote? If not sure, which party are you currently leaning toward?

Q. If don’t know -Well which party are you currently leaning to?

Sample size = 1,906 respondents

First preference/leaning to Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week

This week
Liberal 45% 44% 44% 44%
National 3% 3% 3% 3%
Total Lib/Nat 43.6% 48% 47% 47% 47%
Labor 38.0% 35% 34% 33% 34%
Greens 11.8% 9% 10% 11% 10%
Other/Independent 6.6% 8% 8% 9% 9%
2PP Election

21 Aug 10

4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Last week This week
Total Lib/Nat 49.9% 54% 54% 54% 54%
Labor 50.1% 46% 46% 46% 46%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived from the first preference/leaning to voting questions.  Respondents who select ‘don’t know’ are not included in the results.  The two-party preferred estimate is calculated by distributing the votes of the other parties according to their preferences at the 2010 election.

Comments »

Impact of Gina Rinehart on Independence of Fairfax Newspapers

Feb 13, 2012

Q. Gina Rinehart (mining company owner and Australia’s wealthiest person) has recently bought a major stake in Fairfax newspapers (publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age). Do you think this will make Fairfax newspapers reporting of politics and business more balanced and independent, less balanced and independent or will It make no difference?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens NSW Victoria
More balanced and independent 7% 7% 8% 6% 11% 5%
Less balanced and independent 31% 35% 22% 62% 33% 31%
Make no difference 44% 36% 55% 23% 38% 46%
Don’t know 19% 22% 15% 9% 18% 18%

44% think that Gina Rinehart’s purchase of a major stake in Fairfax will make no difference to the balance and independence of the newspapers. 31% think this will make the newspapers less balanced and independent and only 7% think the newspapers will become more balanced and independent.

Greens voters (62%) and respondents aged under 35 (37%) were most likely to think the newspapers will become less balanced and independent and Liberal/National voters least likely (22%).

Comments »

Federal politics – voting intention

Jan 30, 2012

Q. If a Federal Election was held today to which party will you probably give your first preference vote? If not sure, which party are you currently leaning toward?

Q. If don’t know -Well which party are you currently leaning to?

Sample size = 1,899 respondents

First preference/leaning to Election

21 Aug 10

2 weeks ago Last week

This week
Liberal 45% 45% 44%
National 3% 3% 3%
Total Lib/Nat 43.6% 48% 48% 47%
Labor 38.0% 35% 35% 34%
Greens 11.8% 9% 10% 10%
Other/Independent 6.6% 8% 7% 8%
2PP Election

21 Aug 10

2 weeks ago Last week This week
Total Lib/Nat 49.9% 54% 54% 54%
Labor 50.1% 46% 46% 46%

NB.  The data in the above tables comprise 2-week averages derived from the first preference/leaning to voting questions.  Respondents who select ‘don’t know’ are not included in the results.  The two-party preferred estimate is calculated by distributing the votes of the other parties according to their preferences at the 2010 election.

Comments »

Interest in Federal Politics

May 2, 2011

Q. When it comes to following Federal politics, which best describes you?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens Aged 18-34 Aged 35-54 Aged 55+
I follow it closely 10% 12% 13% 8% 7% 10% 17%
I follow it enough to know what’s happening 45% 46% 49% 45% 30% 49% 57%
I follow it when something big is happening 18% 19% 20% 24% 27% 14% 15%
I only pay attention when there’s an election 8% 7% 9% 6% 13% 8% 3%
I have no interest in politics 14% 14% 8% 15% 17% 16% 6%
Can’t say 4% 2% 1% 2% 6% 4% 2%

55% say they follow Federal politics closely or enough to know what’s happening, 26% follow it only at elections or when something big is happening and 14% have no interest in politics.

Older respondents tended to follow Federal politics more closely than younger respondents – 74% of those aged 55+ follow it closely or enough to know what’s happening compared to only 37% of those aged 18-34. Greens voters (53%) were a little less likely to follow politics than Labor (58%) or Liberal/National voters (62%).

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