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Liberals do a Bradbury in NSW

By Graham Young - posted Saturday, 26 March 2011


The result of the New South Wales election really will be "historic", but it will be almost a solo performance. NSW Labor can claim all the credit for their loss as the Liberals do little more than a Bradbury. This means that government after the election will be perilous for the winner. Bizarre as it may seem Kristina Keneally is right - the Liberals won't really have a mandate.

As the winning margin is likely to be so huge (64 per cent two-party preferred to the Libs according to Newspoll this morning), there is not much point running through much of our quants.

However, while I've based the qualitative analysis on a politically balanced sample drawn from all the responses we received, it is worth noting that in the original sample Greens were highly over-represented (33 per cent), and Labor was the most under-represented of all the parties with only 14 per cent of original respondents voting Labor, compared to somewhere around 24 per cent in the population at large.

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From this response we can infer that Greens voters are energised this election and Labor voters disengaged. That should mean that the Greens pick up some inner city seats. They've got close in seats like Port Jackson before, and I think they'll probably spill-over this time.

So, given the certainty of the result most interest for me is in the issues and personalities, a story which I will tell using Leximancer maps.

Issues

Generally the issues that respondents say are important for the state are very similar to the issues that they say are governing their vote. That's not the case this time.

NSW_Issue_State_11_03_25

Figure 1. Issues important to the state.

You can see from the map that central themes are "planning", "transport" and "people", so concerns are essentially about service delivery. "Transport" encompasses within its field "hospitals", "education", "services" and "investment". "People" is a theme which suggests that electors, rather than political parties or politicians' ambitions, ought to be more central. Over on the left of the graph you can see a tussle between a Sydney-centric view of what is important and one that takes a wider view of the state.

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NSW_Issue_Election_11_03_25

Figure 2. Issues important in determining voting intention.

When we get to issues that will effect respondents' votes in the election the service delivery issues that dominate the centre of the previous graph have shrunk in importance and are relegated to the edge. The central themes in this graph are the political parties themselves which present as negative reasons for justifying a vote. "Liberal" is an important issue for Labor voters, and "Labor" for Liberals. A need to "change" the "government" and cure "incompetence" are also strong reasons for Liberals.

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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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