A vote of un-confidence? 14% of Australians still undecided

In the fast-diminishing hours leading up to tomorrow’s election, the attentions of major political candidates have turned to those voters who are still undecided – or at least, ‘softly’ committed – in a fraught final attempt to sway ballots. 

But with 3 million votes sealed ahead of Saturday, is there enough time for ScoMo or Shorten to make any significant headway? And who exactly should they be directing their last-minute campaign efforts at? The curious minds at Faster Horses investigate…

Our survey respondents, having been first quizzed about which party they are intending to (or leaning towards) voting for, were then asked about the likelihood that they might change their minds.

Based on our independent poll of 1076 Australians, a total of 14% reported that they were likely or very likely to alter their first party preference vote before Saturday.

A further 37%, although unlikely to revise their decision, were still reluctant to state that they were 100% committed to their party. It would be therefore unwise to discount such voters – perhaps there is a small chance they could be convinced otherwise.

When these percentages are projected onto the larger population (and of course taking into account how tightly drawn public polling has proved to be thus far), it is no wonder that swing voters have become the subject of so much political interest. They may in fact possess enough power to decide the election.

In order to pinpoint where political alignments might be the weakest, our survey results were broken down by party:

The Coalition and the One Nation party show the highest percentages of fully committed voters with 56% and 57% respectively. Close behind, 51% of Labor voters said they would not be changing their preference come election day.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party garnered the least-committed voters overall at 28%, unveiling a potential nesting ground from which the other parties could snatch up support.

The unpredictability surrounding swing voters is of course unsettling for all parties. Swing voters often get unfairly branded in the media as apolitical, apathetic, or lacking the necessary education to make informed decisions. Interestingly, our data shows that respondents who hold a Bachelor degree or higher were the least likely to be committed to their voting preference as compared to less formally-educated groups.

Wealth was another surprising indicator of swinging voters. Only 36% of those in the income range of $100,000-$150,000 per annum were completely sure of their voting decision. This is in stark opposition to 60% of the lowest income group (<$50,000 income per annum) who stated there would be no chance of changing their vote.

On what issues should parties be focusing their final push for pledges?

Shorten’s “A Fair Go for Australia” tagline has evidently struck a chord. Our poll suggests that the majority of prospective voters consider Labor to be more adept at handling social issues, including: poverty and inequality (65%), LGBTQ rights (64%), and healthcare funding (62%).

Environmental concerns were another key responsibility placed squarely into the Labor camp by 63% of respondents. This sentiment was consistent across our survey, with 57% in favour of Shorten’s proposed policy to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030.

Despite the clear support, it is likely that many voters won’t be willing to risk the perceived threat that Shorten’s ambitious policies present to our nation’s economy. Rather, it is the Liberals — who are always quick to flaunt their economic credentials and stroke fears about a recession under Labor leadership — that are pitched as the ideal economic custodians by 58% of respondents. A clear majority also perceive the management of immigration and national security to be Liberal strengths (55% and 61% respectively).

However, preferences begin to shift when the data is segmented according to lifestage and gender. Mature households with no children living at home are inclined to feel that the Liberal party is better suited to managing issues surrounding healthcare, cost of living and national security. In contrast to the majority, young adults in a shared living space feel confident in Labor’s ability to lead the economy, as well as manage population growth. Female voters also tend to be more pro-Labor regarding immigration issues as compared to their male counterparts.