CO2 played little part in NSW election

The Carbon Tax is said by some to have played a big role in the New South Wales election so I thought I'd check it against our responses. And the answer is that it didn't play a significant direct role at all. Or if it did it was in electorates that I don't get many responses from in the coal mining or heavy industrial areas of New South Wales.

For what it's worth this analysis tends to be backed-up by Bob Hawke and Nikki Savva.

Out of our entire sample only 5 per cent mentioned the carbon tax as an issue. That's hardly runaway popularity. Those who did mention it were more likely to be from the left. Compared to the whole sample, they were more likely to be Green, equally likely to be Labor, and less likely to be Liberal or National. Reading Greens' comments the tax was an issue when it came to thinking of voting Liberal, not Labor. That is probably why they were much more likely to allocate a preference to Labor (75 per cent) than the Greens in our general sample (40 per cent).

In other words, as a direct issue it actually improved the Labor vote.

Nikki Savva says:

The Liberals tracked all the way through the NSW campaign. Their final figures were less than 1 per cent out from the final result. The numbers blipped upwards slightly with the announcement; mostly it showed up as a reinforcement of all of Labor's negatives.

That's probably right. On the negative side if the issue was still there by election day it was only as a subliminal reinforcement of views that voters had already formed of Labor. On the positive side it was actually a reason for some left of centre voters to stick with Labor.

There is a lesson here for those campaigning on the carbon tax. It's not an issue that is important to many voters in its own right, and those that are most motivated by it are likely to be on the left. What is concerning voters is service delivery and cost of living. To the extent that the carbon tax contributes to a perception that the government doesn't care about these things and is incapable of managing them, it is important, but no more than that.

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0 #1 I would be interested to know why you thJennifer Marohasy 2011-03-29 10:15
I would be interested to know why you think that the majority of voters in the electorate of, for example, Lithgow, voted neither ALP nor Greens... when they historically voted ALP.
0 #2 If it was an issue for up to 5% of thoseBill Koutalianos 2011-03-29 12:37
If it was an issue for up to 5% of those from the left, that can explain up to a third of the swing. Some of us in the inner city seats of Balmain and Marrickville, were forced to direct our preferences to Labor in order to avoid a worst fate. That's hardly an endorsement of Labor or Green policies.
0 #3 Hi Jen, Bathurst was only just a Labor sGraham Young 2011-03-29 13:46
Hi Jen, Bathurst was only just a Labor seat previously, although it has a long Labor history. There was a huge swing however to the National Party of 36.7%. They've been independently minded out that way for a while with Peter Andren being the local member until he retired.

I'd assume that the carbon tax could have influenced the vote in Lithgow, but I have no data on that. The postcode is 2790 and I have absolutely zero data on that. I admit that I don't have a handle on areas like this in the first par.

But I do have a handle across the state generally.

Bill, it was an issue for people from the left, but it made them less-inclined to vote for O'Farrell. My polling showed that concern about CO2 increased the tendency amongst Greens voters to preference Labor rather than to exhaust their vote.
0 #4 Jen, I've just been looking at Maitland,Graham Young 2011-03-29 13:59
Jen, I've just been looking at Maitland, another coal mining area where Kellie Tranter, a regular on OLO, ran as an independent. Kellie is pro-putting a price on carbon, yet she won 21% of the vote. If she'd been able to grab another 4% from the ALP she might have actually won. That suggests the carbon tax issue is fairly complex.
0 #5 You still have not addressed my observatRoss 2011-03-29 20:17
You still have not addressed my observation Graham.Labor's primary vote was down 13.5%,yet the Greens only picked up an extra 1.4% of the votes and won not a seat.Was this not a carbon tax factor?
0 #6 Seems to me that a carbon tax has been pMichael Lonergan 2011-03-29 20:39
Seems to me that a carbon tax has been painted, especially by its opponents, as another big boost to the "cost of living" concept being developed by popular discussion. So how can it not be a flow over issue for the Feds from State issues? My betting is that there is real concern in Fed Labor about it and that the State result has put much more squeeze on them. Of course, they won't admit it. And the role of the carbon tax in NSW was simply to cement the antilabor vote and remove the "sympathy for the local member" late swing back to Labor which could reasonably have been expected with such a widely anticipated outcome. That certainly didn't happen, eg in Monaro where a very good local member was beaten.
0 #7 I don't think the Greens vote is directlGraham Young 2011-03-30 08:58
I don't think the Greens vote is directly correlated with the carbon tax. The Greens perform two functions. One is as a political party with their own platform that voters believe in and vote for on that basis. The other is as a protest vote vehicle that voters don't particularly believe in but vote for so that they don't vote either Liberal or Labor.

In this election the Liberals made a clear pitch to that protest vote by saying that if you wanted to change the government you had to vote against Labor. So the only way to protest in a lot of voters' minds was to vote Liberal.

In the couple of seats where the Greens were most likely to win - Balmain and Marrickville - their vote was already pretty high, so there was not a lot of room for improvement. But they needed Liberal preferences to get over the top, and these haven't been forthcoming.