16 May Australian federal election: It’s getting political!
During April 2019, we asked our panel members about their voting preferences, perceptions of citizen influence on the Australian government, and their level of understanding of the important issues facing our country. To give some greater insights into the political leanings of our sample, we compared the answers of individuals from different generations: Baby Boomers (born 1945-1960), Gen X (1961-1980), Gen Y (or Millennials; born 1981-1995), and Gen Z (born post-1995).
If an election was held tomorrow, which political party would get your vote?
Across our sample, 29% would vote Labor and 24% would vote Liberal if there was an election held tomorrow. There were 8% more left-leaning individuals who would vote for the Greens, and another 6% more right-wing individuals who stated that their vote would go to One Nation. Almost one in five Australians in our sample (18%) were undecided, stating that they were not sure who they would vote for.
Our analysis of generational differences revealed some fascinating, albeit expected, differences in voting preferences across the political spectrum. The youngest generation of voters, Gen Z, had the highest proportion of Greens voters (15%). Greens support reduces with each older generation: Gen Y (11%), Gen X (7%), and Baby Boomers (2%). In contrast, more right-wing support for the One Nation party was seen in the oldest generation in our study, the Baby Boomers, with 12% stating that they would give their primary vote for One Nation. There was markedly lower support for one nation across the younger generations: Gen X (5%), Gen Y (3%), and Gen Z (4%).
How much influence do ordinary citizens have on the government in Australia?
One third of Australians in our sample (33%) perceived that ordinary citizens had very little influence on the government, while about one in five (22%) felt that ordinary citizens had a lot of influence on the government.
Gen X were the most disillusioned generation, with only 12% stating that ordinary citizens have a lot of influence on the government, and the highest proportion (38%) perceiving that ordinary citizens do not have any influence at all. In comparison, the younger generations were more hopeful, perceiving a higher level of influence. Just over a quarter of Gen Y and Gen Z (27% and 29% respectively) felt that ordinary citizens have a lot of influence on the government, whereas slightly less than a quarter (23%) of these younger generations perceived citizens had little influence.
Do you have a good understanding of the important political issues facing Australia?
The majority of Australians (59%) agreed that they had a good understanding of the important political issues facing the country, while only 11% disagreed.
A comparison across the generations shows a marked difference between the youngest and oldest generations. The vast majority (75%) of the oldest generation perceived that they had a good understanding of the political issues, with only 3% stating that they had a poor understanding of the issues. In contrast, less than half (47%) of the youngest generation Gen Z, agreed that they had a good understanding of the issues, and almost a quarter (24% of Gen Z thought that they did not have a good understanding of the important issues facing Australia.
Where to from here?
It is clear from our analyses that there are generational differences in political party preferences. Does this mean that there will be a trend toward the selection of left-leaning parties and independents in the future, as Gen Z, Gen Y, and Gen X form the majority of the population? The youngest generation also has the largest proportion of undecided voters, in line with their perceived lack of understanding of the important political issues, compared to individuals from the other generations. Or is it an indication that we change our political leanings as we age? Of course, we cannot know this without studying individual’s political preferences over time.
The upcoming federal election will be an interesting one indeed – with issues like climate change, taxation, and government funding for health and education, there is currently strong competition between the two leading parties to win the votes of the Australian public.