It’s generally agreed that this election will be closer than was expected before campaigning began. The main problem for the pollsters is that the number of votes cast for the small parties is about 15 per cent nationally. This can be uneven; in one seat the small party vote approaches 30 per cent.
Small party voters can fall into the ‘shy Tory’ category, that is they are reluctant to tell a pollster which party they prefer, particularly ones that are denigrated in the media. Then there’s the added difficulty of working out their preferences, crucial in so many seats and in the Senate.
Most pollsters rely on the preference flows from small party voters in the last election. But there are significant differences from 2016, which I try to summarise below. Morgan actually asks those polled, but this raises problems about the size of each sample.
I summarise the differences from the 2016 election and today’s as the result of the three TPD factors, the Thief, Palmer and DelCon factors.
As to the ‘T’ or Thief factor, this is the impact of Labor’s plans to confiscate franked dividend refunds of tax already paid, increase taxes including those on capital gains, change superannuation, limit negative gearing, and possibly introduce death duties. To the people affected we should add those angry about plans to force them to buy vehicles they know would not be suitable for their needs. This ill-considered proposal has particularly alienated traditional Labor voters, including tradies. In summary voters influenced by the T factor see Labor under Shorten as a thieving party of incompetent wastrels.
The P or Palmer Factor is essentially the impact of his advertising. First, he spells out the sort of policies a Liberal Party would be expected to adopt, at least by traditional Liberals. This would be similar to President Trump’s agenda. Second, while engaging in a massive advertising campaign on those policies, he has more recently chosen to expose Labor’s weaknesses as only Tony Abbott has done in recent years.
Finally there is the ‘D’ or DelCon factor. This, short for ‘Delusional Conservatives’, is a term invented, I believe, by Miranda Devine to denigrate those conservatives alienated by the Turnbull coup. They attracted more adherents with the Turnbull government’s unbelievably foolish decisions, first to impose a draconian backpackers’ tax and then to attack self-funded retirees by changing the rules to their disadvantage. The pure DelCons decided to withhold not only their votes but their preferences, others joined smaller parties and yet others went on strike, refusing to assist at elections. Some believed that the only way to restore the Liberal Party to the true path was to put them in opposition for a term.
Now that Turnbull has gone, many have either come back or are at least prepared to preference the Coalition. This has been aided by Scott Morrison’s down-to-earth style of campaigning rather than his policies which, for many, are a paler version of Labor’s. This is especially so on energy, global warming, immigration and drought-proofing the nation. Morrison has however scored a late well-timed advantage with his young person’s housing policy, however questionable it may be economically.
In the table of 31 key seats below, I list two crucial statistics which indicate the impact of the Thief Factor. This could show whether there are enough voters to ensure the Coalition hold or takes a given seat.
Accordingly, one column indicates whether the average franking credit received in the electorate is higher than the national median. If it is, this probably indicates that there are a considerable number of self-funded retirees there who will be adversely affected by Labor policy. The next column shows the number of voters claiming a loss on a rental property. Some of these are quite large and should at least be doubled to cover spouses equally affected, as well as children of voting age living at home or in the electorate. In each figure there will be a number of people who normally vote or preference Labor or often consider doing so. I expect that self-interest will prevail and they will try to ensure that this time Labor does not win. So in several marginal electorates this could be sufficient either to keep the seat in Coalition hands or for Labor to lose.
I do not think the polls do or can sufficiently predict this at least in this election. Nor can the polls cover changes of mind or the delay in making of firm decisions until the polling booth. In either eventuality I think there will often be sufficient voters outraged by the T factor to significantly disadvantage Labor.
Take for example Herbert held by Labor on a margin of 0.02 per cent and where Newspoll reports 28 per cent will vote for small parties. There are probably about 20,000 there outraged over Labor’s property taxation changes. That and disaffected tradies and farmers, Adani, self-funded retirees, the religious, free speech advocates and so on should swamp the margin and hand the seat to the LNP.
Take the Victorian seat of Corangamite held by Labor on a margin of 0.03 per cent. There are up to 15,000 there disgruntled by property taxation as well as a large number of self-funded retirees. Or Labor’s Northern Territory seat of Lingiari, with over 12000 potentially affected by property taxes, an unpopular local Labor government and a splendid candidate in Jacinta Price. Similarly, Warren Mundine should keep Gilmore for the Liberals with about 12000 relying on negative gearing.
The Coalition should do better than either the polls or the betting markets say. With the impact of the TPD factors they should hold most of their seats and win more.
KEY SEATS SHOWING THE IMPACT OF THE THIEF FACTOR
|STATE||PARTY||ELECTORATE||MARGIN||FRANKING CREDIT HIGHER THAN NATIONAL MEDIAN||RENTAL LOSS CLAIMANTS||IMPACT of TDP*
|NEW SOUTH WALES||LIB||Warringah||11.55||No||8763||Likely Liberal retain|
|LIB||Gilmore||0.73||No||5428||Likely Liberal retain|
|ALP||Lindsay||1.1||No||8147||Likely Labor loss|
|LIB||Reid||4.69||Yes||15316||Likely Liberal retain|
|ALP||Macquarie||2.19||No||7059||Possible Labor loss|
|Independent||Wentworth||1.0||Yes||8288||Likely Liberal gain|
|VICTORIA||ALP||Corangamite||0.03||Yes||6969||Likely Liberal gain|
|LIB||Dunkley||1.0||Yes||6952||Likely Liberal retain|
|LIB||Chisolm||2.91||Yes||12168||Likely Liberal retain|
|LIB||La Trobe||3.2||Yes||8627||Likely Liberal retain|
|LIB||Deakin||6.44||No||9169||Likely Liberal retain|
|LIB||Flinders||7.01||No||6086||Likely Liberal retain|
|1.21||Yes||10901||Possible Labor loss|
|QUEENSLAND||ALP||Herbert||0.02||No||9532||Likely Labor loss|
|LNP||Forde||0.63||No||7232||Possible Labor loss|
|LNP||Flynn||1.04||No||9950||Likely LNP retain|
|LNP||Petrie||1.6||No||7922||Likely LNP retain|
|LNP||Dickson||1.7||Yes||8712||Likely LNP retain|
|NORTHERN TERRITORY||ALP||Lingiari||8.19||No||7213||Likely CLP win|
|ALP||Solomon||6.09||No||10,875||Possible CLP win|
|ACT||ALP||Bean||8.85%||No||10,537||Likely ALP retain|
|TASMANIA||ALP||Braddon||1.73%||No||3562||Likely Lib win|
|ALP||Bass||5.42||Yes||3375||Likely Lib win|
|ALP||Lyons||3.83||No||3013||Possible Lib win|
|SOUTH AUSTRALIA||Lib||Boothby||2.71||Yes||9910||Likely Lib retain|
|Centre Alliance||Mayo||2.9||No||8834||Possible Lib win|
|WESTERN AUSTRALIA||Lib||Hasluck||2.05||Yes||8942||Likely Lib retain|
|Lib||Stirling||6.12||No||9753||Likely Lib retain|
|Lib||Swan||3.59||Yes||10962||Likely Lib retain|
|ALP||Cowan||0.68||No||9533||Possible Labor loss|
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