Australian Elections: Where Did It Go Wrong for Labor and Bill Shorten?

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Scott J Davies

Scott Davies is a freelance writer and tutor. He is currently studying a Master of Education. He is interested in education, economics, geopolitics and history. He's on Twitter and has a Medium page.

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  1. Avatar George Turner says:

    There are quite a lot of elements to unpack to the Australian election. Last night I saw someone identify 24 factors, but I’ll just start with one.

    Polling errors

    Vicious moral scoldings from the press and online communities have made a whole lot of people reluctant to tell a pollster their true feelings because they’re tired of being chastised or insulted. They have been conditioned to respond to political questions with silence or feigned agreement unless they are very certain about the beliefs of a person or group they’re engaging with. This effect has already shown up in the polling for the US 2016 elections and Brexit, and although it’s not occurring to nearly the extent it does under oppressive regimes, it’s still more than enough to make opinion polling problematic.

    I think the effect naturally favors the party whose beliefs are decried by the media. Due to the bias in the polling errors, one party will think they’re already in a winning position and will slack off by not compromising, not changing stands to win over reluctant voters, etc. They’ll slack off thinking victory is at hand. The other party will redouble their efforts, thinking they’re facing defeat, and go the extra mile to win people over. And then the election results come as a surprise.

    It is a more general version of The Bradley Effect, which was specifically racial and based on Tom Bradley’s failed bid to be governor of California, despite leading in pre-election polling. A more general term in polling is “social desirability bias”.Report

    • Avatar LTL FTC in reply to George Turner says:

      I agree that the “shy Tory” effect may be increasing as the median media person drifts farther and farther away from the median voter. Matt Yglesias notes in “The Great Awokening” that white wokes are much farther to the left on race issues than people of color themselves. The same goes on issues of immigration and the environment (bigger issues in Australia than American-style race politics). Lefty call-out culture and pile-ons certainly make me less likely to speak about politics when I can be identified (he said from an anonymous handle) because I like my job, but I don’t think most people pay enough attention to worry about that. Still, repeated polling failures across the English-speaking world show that something is up.

      It appears that the far left is smaller and more unpalatable to its would-be party compatriots than the far right is to theirs. Yet the woke rump dominates the non-Murdoch media to such an extent that more and more people see it as hostile at worst and strange at best.Report

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