Voters polarised around discrete issues

When it comes to elections, this one is more polarised than previous ones. You can see that from the flat shape of the Leximancer map and the way that the issues associated with voting ALP have very little overlap with those associated with voting Coalition. 


Election Issue Thumb 13 08 18


This is a Leximancer map showing the issues that respondents list as being the most important in determining their vote overlaid with how voters intend to cast their final preference vote - that is to favour the Coalition or Labor, and whether they are a first preference Labor, Liberal, Green or "minor party" voter. The last category includes Katter, Palmer, Australian Democrats, Christian Democrats, Family First, DLP etc but not the Greens, so they are essentially mostly blue collar conservatives.

On the Coalition end of the map you can see that the strongest issues are to do with "debt", "illegal" and "boat", "business", "government", "money" and "Rudd".

The refugee issue does have some overlap, but the language that is used is so entirely different that the map reads them as completely separate issues. While Coalition voters use terms like "illegal" and "boat people", Labor voters use "asylum seekers" or "refugees".

On the Labor end "climate change", "environment", "health" and "education" are all mentioned. The "NBN" is there, closely associated with "future" while wanting to stop "Abbott" is the most closely associated issue.

The ALP has owned the "future" as an election issue since at least 2007, although it appears to me that the Libs now have an answer, which is "debt". If your argument is that the future being promised is unaffordable, then a tangible demonstration of that, which frames future promises effectively, is an increase in debt.

You can see the issues that will determine the election in the middle, closest to the Minor party voters. They are also closest to those who tell us they haven't determined how to cast their final preference. These are almost all to do with the "economy" and "management". This is where the "carbon tax" makes an appearance along with "refugees" and "time". The first two are examples of where Labor has changed direction, and the last is generally a reference to an "it's time" to change the government mood.

"Infrastructure" is a concept that is closest to the minor parties. As this election is really about who gets the preferences of minor parties (see the deals that Labor has done with Palmer United and the Katter parties) that explains why Tony Abbott declared that he wanted to be the "infrastructure king".

These voters tend to come from regional areas and be a little older than average. Promises like the NBN don't have the same cachet to them as to urban Australians - they'd rather see better roads and more development.


Educational standards; The possibility of radical Islamic laws and ways of life being stealthily (or even forcefully) introduced due to excessive adherence to political correctness; Unemployment; Homelessness in a so called wealthy country; Reduced ability to take in migrants and refugees from groups unable to buy their way in through unscrupulous means; General malaise with regard to morals and ethics. in too many areas such as politics, sports, business etc. and of course the instability in economic management. Final Pref Undecided

Ending wasteful government spending, such as propping up the automotive industry and implementing an NBN which will cost more than twice what we were told ($43B > $100B), be delivered late, and be technologically obsolete by the time it's commissioned. (Besides which, who needs such high internet speeds in their home?) Final pref Coalition

Feel that we need to diversify away from a mining-dependent economy; and start playing to our other strengths: intellectual capital (stop brain drain, educ the young properly), protect the environment for future tourism potential; stop mining in agricultural land, protect our food and water security. Refugees are only part of the much bigger issues that seem to be being ignored. Final pref ALP

Free Public Education (which necessarily excludes so-called Independent and Church-based schools); full-time jobs for all capable and willing adults; return to full-time Apprenticeship schemes, and structured trades-based jobs; public and Government-supplied Housing and Health programs; an END to ALL political RORTS (such as O'Farrell in NSW, granting rights to James Packer & his proposal to build the biggest gambling den in Australia; and Newman in Queensland, slashing public. service jobs, while building huge Government offices for MPs; and Australia's REFUGEE policies. Final pref ALP

A more humane solution must be found for asylum seekers. I know that if we are too ’soft’ when dealing with the people coming by boat, we will be encouraging more people to risk their lives by trying to sail to Australia, but surely a decent solution can be found - though to be honest I cannot think of one. Final pref ALP

There are 2 issues that would strongly affect the way I vote. I want to see someone like Helen Clark change the way refugees are spoken of and people educated about the vast sums of taxpayers money spent on torturing people who seek refuge. Final pref Undecided

Poor governance across the economic, border protection, education and employment security areas and a divided, unstable Labor party now presenting inexperienced ministers in important portfolios. Final pref Coalition

The only issue that will influence my vote is ’which is the lesser of two evils, Abbott or Rudd’. Abbott wins by a mile and I vote Labor for the first time in years (instead of Green) for that reason. Final pref ALP

Rudd handled the GFC crisis pretty well yes there were mistakes mainly at bureaucrat and industry level but that will always happen when such action has to be taken in a short time frame. The minority Liberal government with the Nat's tend to build big surpluses at the expense of our infrastructure and in the case of the last two Lib government sold off the silverware to do it. Final pref ALP


Rising cost of living, invasion of our shores by illegal boat people, law and order is a joke - judges not working with police to jail criminals and child molesters/killers. Final pref Coalition

Fixing the boat people problem, and also get back on the road of fixing our economy , plus elimination of the carbon tax. Final pref Coalition

I want to see Labor punished for their monumental incompetence and lies. I want to see Rudd punished for ending the Pacific Solution and creating $300Bn in government debt. Final pref Coalition

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+9 #1 MrJasen Anderson 2013-09-02 09:23
Whatever happened to the environment in all of this chaos? It's all about the jobs, money, economy and trust. Without a sound, stable environment, you have none of the rest.
0 #2 RE: Voters polarised around discrete issuesGraham Taylor 2013-09-02 14:12
And no-one mentions industrial relations as a major worry for them ? You do know that the Liberals will be resurrecting their so called "dead and buried" Workchoices , (though under a different name ) don't you ? They are already supporting a business push to scrap penalty rates, and they're not even in government yet !

If you're a blue collar working class person, don't EVER vote Liberal - you'll be voting yourself reduced pay and conditions. How will that help you with the rising cost of living ? Labor aren't perfect, but they will protect your rights at work. The Libs. will strip them away. Don't say you weren't warned when it happens.....
-5 #3 RE: Voters polarised around discrete issuesDave Aitchison 2013-09-02 14:35
Graham Taylor, where do you get your information from? I think you are getting it from Labor Party HQ.

You are just as bad as K Rudd in spruiking false drivel.
+3 #4 RE: Voters polarised around discrete issuesMa 2013-09-02 15:09
When will we learn that we can't eat money? When the Liberals have destroyed our productive farmlands in the name of coal production and gas production from gas fracking, and when they have cut down all the Queensland and SW WA forests, will it finally dawn on the electorate that we have blighted our own country, for the sake of short term investors' profits?
-4 #5 Mr.Sadsak 2013-09-02 15:28
Graham Taylor should realize that to employ all those blue collar workers we need profitable business to pay them all not just the favored union few
+4 #6 Press biasDave Mitchell 2013-09-02 17:26
Why were we subjected to days of drivel about Rudd's perceived rudeness to a make up person yet we have heard nothing about Abbott's terrible decision to visit a children's hospice on Fathers' Day for a photo opportunity.
+1 #7 RE: Voters polarised around discrete issuesbrian mcmahon 2013-09-02 19:23
The elephant in the room is clearly the Liberals lack of costing and refusal to tell the voters where the cut will be made?
The arrogance of Hockey saying, " get over it?! Just maybe voters will turn off the Libs at the last minute?d
0 #8 Abbotts trick, - 1Geoff Thomas 2013-09-03 16:02
Part 1. Mr Abbott has won this election on a trick, a simple argument that a country is like a family, it has got to balance it’s budget.
This is a false argument, a country is not like a person, a person has a simple relationship to the world, they pay their rent. food bill etc, or they have no home and starve.
That is true of the country as far as it’s balance of payments is considered, only it’s balance of payments.
The rest of the country’s economy is internal, it is managed by the Government, whereas the person is looked after by their own body, sure you can feed it too much, drug it, walk it in front of a bus, but it looks after itself, quite a miracle really, and finally dies, whether you want it to or not.