A hung parliament is the result that the fewest voters want, but it's become the most likely in light of the lacklustre performances of the two major political parties in South Australia.
Analysis of our polling, conducted early in the campaign shows that while this election is superficially about jobs, the economy, and government's response to both, it is really more of a time for a change election, but this change may be smothered by doubts about the Liberal leader, and the overwhelming expectation that the Libs are going to win the election.
The graph below shows the top six issues, as nominated without prompting by our respondents. These are employment, the economy, government financial management, health, education and the federal government. Note that while Labor has been campaigning hard on trying to link the state liberals to Tony Abbott and the federal liberals, this is very much a minority concern, and restricted to those intending to vote Labor.
However issues aren't necessarily the reason people vote the way that they do. The table below gives the reasons people gave for how they were ultimately intending to preference – Liberal or Labor. This gives a much better idea of what is going on.
This graph demonstrates that Labor's biggest hurdle is the time for a change factor. Of those who responded who had yet to make up their mind, over 70% expressed an intention to protest, and in a state election protest votes generally go against incumbents. It was also a factor with Liberal voters. And while over the whole sample it was just less than 10% of respondents, it could be enough to determine the results in marginal seats.
Next strongest was the time for a change factor, dominated by Liberals. This is an argument that is almost conceded by Labor voters, whose strongest voting reason is the local candidate. This is followed by concerns about social justice and the Liberals.
A worrying factor for the Liberals is that being the "least worst" alternative is given more frequently as a reason for voting Liberal than Labor – their supporters are less enthusiastic.
The only two issues on this list that are specifically policy orientated is "business" – an intention to vote for the party that will be best for business – and "government" – concern about the size of debt and how the government is being run.
All of this suggests that the Liberals have not been successful in giving South Australians a strong reason to change. With the economy and jobs overwhelmingly the big issues, and the economy generally being a strong issue for the Liberals, they should really own this election, but they don't.
This may have something to do with the Liberal history in South Australia, where a number of respondents nominate factional problems as a reason for not voting for them.
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