Australian voters becoming more volatile: study

By Staff Writer

Australian voters are becoming more volatile, with a diminishing number rusted on to any particular party, according to the recent Australian Election Study (AES) that examined long-term changes in the political opinions of the public.

Trends in Australian Political Opinion: Results from the Australian Election Study, 1987-2004, by Professor Ian McAllister from the Austrealian National University and Dr Juliet Clarke from Deakin University, reveals long-term changes in voter behaviour and interests. The release coincides with the 20th Anniversary of the Australian Research Council-funded study.

Professor Ian McAllister, principal investigator for the AES, said the monograph allowed analysts to stand back from week-to-week opinion polls and look at what was really happening among Australian voters.

“We can see that the pool of potential swinging voters has grown over time as loyalty to any particular party diminishes,” Professor McAllister said.
“Contrary to popular thought, however, voters do not appear to becoming disengaged. In fact, there has been a gradual growth in interest in politics.
“The economy counts as an important driver and voters seem to feel both they and the country are better off. On the flipside, though, those voters who supported economic reform in the 1990’s indicate a growing desire to see government spending on infrastructure and social services rather than tax cuts."

The AES, which polls around 2000 voters in the eight weeks following an election, covers: attitudes toward election campaigns; voting and partisanship; election issues; the economy; politics and political parties; the Left-Right dimension; political leaders; democracy and institutions; trade unions; business and wealth; social issues and defence and foreign affairs.

Copies of the AES are available at

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