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Liberals win by default in Victoria

By Graham Young - posted Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Newly elected Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu's plan to bring the parliament back for a week before Christmas to get his program going is an absolute imperative for him personally and for his party.

Contrary to the propaganda from the major parties and the Greens, no-one really did well in the last Victorian election.

Although Labor definitely lost it, the Liberals only fell into government by the merest of margins. Perhaps the Labor brand is "toxic" as alleged by Tony Abbott, but the Liberal brand could hardly be said to be ascendant.

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So Baillieu needs to start working hard to imprint his personality on the process from day one.

The election was a vote against politicians, not for any of them.

One of the weaknesses in the Liberals campaign was Ted Baillieu which can be seen in this table below.

Do you approve of Ted Baillieu?

Greens

Labor

Liberal

Nationals

Strongly approve

0%

2%

7%

0%

Approve

9%

13%

44%

29%

Neither approve nor disapprove

42%

30%

37%

43%

Disapprove

30%

35%

4%

14%

Strongly disapprove

15%

19%

4%

14%

Unsure

4%

2%

4%

0%

Grand Total

100%

100%

100%

100%

Total approve

9%

15%

52%

29%

Total disapprove

45%

54%

7%

29%

Net approve

-36%

-39%

44%

0%

When you look at the "Neither approve nor disapprove" category, even amongst Liberals it is 37% rising to 42% with Greens and 43% with Nationals. And then look at the distribution of approve and disapprove where hardly any of the responses fall in the "Strongly approve" or "Strongly disapprove" categories.

Baillieu is a bit of a blancmange. He doesn't arouse strong passions. This can be a handicap when trying to win a campaign, or implement policy, because it means you can have difficulty carrying people with you.

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But in an election like this one it was also probably a strength. Here is the same table for John Brumby.

Bumby_Approve

Greens

Labor

Liberal

Nationals

Strongly approve

0%

30%

0%

0%

Approve

23%

50%

9%

0%

Neither approve nor disapprove

21%

15%

11%

0%

Disapprove

27%

6%

35%

57%

Strongly disapprove

27%

0%

43%

43%

Unsure

2%

0%

2%

0%

Grand Total

100%

100%

100%

100%

Total approve

23%

80%

9%

0%

Total disapprove

55%

6%

78%

100%

Net approve

-32%

74%

-69%

-100%

Brumby's rating across the whole sample is about the same as Baillieu's, but the composition is entirely different. He owns his heartland vote with 80% of Labor voters "Approving" and only 15% "Neither approving nor disapproving". 30% of Labor voters "Strongly approve" while amongst Liberals and Nationals voters 43% "Strongly disapprove".

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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