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Textor thesis fails empirical test

By Graham Young - posted Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The 2016 federal election kills off Liberal Pollster Mark Textor’s theory of how the Liberal Party would win under Malcolm Turnbull.

Quoted in an article in The Australian he agreed that the ascent of the “centrist” Malcolm Turnbull would not result in a loss of conservative votes saying:

“The qualitative evidence is they don’t matter,’’ Mr Textor said. “The sum of a more centrist approach outweighs any alleged marginal loss of so-called base voters.’’


Now that the results are in we can test that thesis quantitatively, using election results, as well as qualitatively, using the results from our online qualitative polling.

The first part of the thesis is that the Coalition will win more votes in the centre.

After distribution of preferences the Coalition will have beaten the Labor Party by 50.37% to 49.63%, a two-party preferred swing of 3.12%. On first preferences the Coalition lost 3.37% and the ALP gained 1.32%.

Where did the rest of the first preference swing from the Coalition go?

The Greens grew by 1.26% leaving just an additional 0.79% to go to all the other minor parties, including the new whales of the minor party pool, the Nick Xenophon Team and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

These are the net figures. It is not as clean as this looks. While the ALP gained 1.32% net, they will also have lost some to the Coalition, and vice-versa. But in so far as the Greens are on the left and Labor and Liberal meet in the centre, Textor’s expectations were wrong. The major centre-left parties have advanced and the major centre-right parties retreated.


However, it is possible that some of the centre may have decamped to the Greens, as a protest party, or one of the other minors and might have come back via preferences. Preferences from the other minors are also a test of the second part of the thesis, which is that there will be a loss of right wing voters which is less than the gain from the move into the centre.

The electoral commission has not done a full distribution of preferences yet, so it is impossible to exactly know the answer to that, but a simple model demonstrates this is unlikely to be the case. In the last election Greens voters allocated 83.03% of their preferences to the ALP. If they did the same this election, then Labor won 49.71% of preferences from the rest of the minor parties. This is up from the 46.69% they won at the previous election.

So not only was there a loss on the left, but there was a loss on the right.

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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.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Graham Young
Related Links
Issue Analysis Federal Election Exit Poll
Polling Report Exit Poll Federal Election 2016

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