The so-called “Mediscare” campaign run by the Labor Party had a far less significant role in in the outcome of the recent Federal than widely believed, new analysis by the Australian Institute for Progress has shown today.
Surveys of votes conducted on and immediately after election day showed the Coalition may have actually gained from the Mediscare campaign, particularly with minor party voters. It also did relatively well with these voters on the economy.
Where it lost was on superannuation, and with its own support base.
AIP Executive Director Graham Young said the research also disproved the theory of the Coalition pollsters that the Liberal Party would capture a greater share of the “middle” with Malcolm Turnbull as leader, without bleeding votes to minor parties on the right.
Mr Young used the AIP’s poll of actual votes on the day, to examine three critical issues –Medicare/Mediscare, Superannuation, and the Economy.
“Some 15 per cent of respondents mentioned Medicare as a concern compared with 3.6 per cent for Superannuation, and 36 percent for the economy or economics,” he said.
“We then compared how these respondents reported their first preference vote last election versus whether they cast their preference to favour Coalition or Labor this election.
“On Mediscare we found that there was a relative 2 per cent swing to the Coalition from last-time Labor voters, but a relative 1 per cent swing to the ALP from last-time Liberal voters.
“However, non-Greens minor party voters were 12 percentage points more likely to vote to favour the Coalition if they mentioned this issue.”
“Superannuation was an own-goal, with a relative 9.43 per cent swing against the Liberals in their own support group, but overall the percentage of respondents who were interested in super was very small.
“The economy was the biggest surprise, with a relative swing to the Coalition of 0 per cent from last time Labor voters, but a migration away from the Liberals of 3 per cent over and above the general swing away among those who cited the economy as a vote shifting issue.
“The only bright light here was that again the minor party voters concerned about the economy were more likely to favour the Coalition.”
Mr Young said the figures showed that the Coalition, while more highly trusted to manage the economy, bungled the economic messaging and managed to turn the issue into a net vote loser.
He also said the research debunked the belief that the “centrist” Malcolm Turnbull would attract voters from Labor and the Greens, but retain all those voters on the Coalition’s right fringe because of its economic management credentials.
“We find these voters voice concern over cultural issues much more than economic ones, although the economy is definitely an issue. These cultural issues are to do with gay marriage, climate change, Islamic terrorism and refugees.
“Mr Turnbull appeared unable or unwilling to address these concerns, so these voters felt alienated, and many of them turned to the Labor Party.
“Voters for right-wing minor parties have shown in the past that around half of them are happy to preference Labor before the Liberals. It is only a short jump from this to giving Labor a first preference, and that’s what seems to have been their response to the Coalition’s move to the centre.”
The full AIP analysis of the Federal Election exit polling is available at:
Graham Young is available for media interviews. Phone 0411 104 801