Flat White

Are we resigned to an early election?

15 June 2021

4:31 PM

15 June 2021

4:31 PM

After talk of an early election began in earnest in late January, polling suggested a majority of Australians were opposed to the idea.

A solid majority of people — 58 per cent — told Essential Research in February that they agreed with the proposition “It would just be opportunism for the Prime Minister to call an early election, and the federal election should stay in 2022”.

In the wake of the budget the Resolve Political Monitor, conducted for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, found that only one in five of the sample thought the Prime Minister should go to the polls with 61 per cent believing the parliament should run its full term.

Now, the same survey seems to suggest we’re resigned to an early election. Why? The narrowing has begun.

The narrowing became a favourite term in the Press Gallery in the noughties as John Howard overcame lags in the Newspoll two-party preferred vote to win in 2001 and storm home in 2004.

This isn’t quite that sort of narrowing, but it’s a movement of votes that suggests we’re pondering our votes far more seriously than we’d usually do at this stage in the electoral cycle.

The Resolve Political Monitor doesn’t do a 2PP, only giving primary voting intention. Today’s report shows a drift away from minors such as the Greens and One Nation to the Coalition and the ALP.

“Voter support for minor parties and independents was 29 per cent in April but has since dropped to 24 per cent,” it finds. “At the same time, the uncommitted vote has gone from 21 to 28 per cent.

As Resolve director Jim Reed says, “Voters are increasingly moving away from parking their votes with minor parties to picking between the major parties as the contest of policy and performance sharpens, but they are not yet locked in to those choices.”

In other words, voters are increasingly picking sides or lining up to see what’s on offer before deciding.

We’re behaving as if an early election was on — and that’s going to make it much, much easier for Scott Morrison should he choose to push the button.

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