Predictions of the outcome of the 2019 federal election were inaccurate. Both polls of voting intentions and betting markets failed to predict a Coalition victory.
I have explored whether the Wisdom of the Masses, the general public’s expectations about the future on several issues, can explain the election outcomes between 2007 and 2019. Elections are intrinsically about the future.
My findings are positive and this provides a new basis for predicting Australian federal election outcomes.
Expectations about three issues have explained the outcomes of the past five elections: belief in imminent climate change; fear of terrorism; and economic pessimism. Expectations about each of these three issues have varied considerably over this period. The findings provide insights relevant to the focus of election strategies of political parties.
My report is available at foreseechange.com.au.
Australia has joined other countries with polls and betting markets proving very inaccurate in forecasting the 2019 federal election outcome.
My article suggests that studying polling trends would have been accurate.
How Labor lost
The Coalition is very likely to lose the 2019 federal election, which will probably be held in May. Three separate predictive methods all show a Labor win. Is this a repeat of 2007 when Labor won despite a strong economy? Will climate change be the deciding factor?
It is not a repeat of 2007 because the economy now is much weaker than then. But climate change does seem poised to be a very influential factor because the level of voter belief in climate change has now recovered to the same level as in 2007, across all age groups.
A detailed analysis is contained in my report, along with an assessment of the top 10 issues that will be in the minds of voters.
In September 2017, in a regular survey of the Australian general public, foreseechange asked respondents about the likelihood that particular events would occur in the next year.
One of those was that Malcolm Turnbull would be replaced as Prime Minister. The Wisdom of the Masses estimated likelihood was a 53% chance. As a federal election was unlikely in the following year, this result means that it was perceived to be a slightly better than 50/50 chance that Turnbull would be dumped by his own party.
Just under a year later, this seems almost certain to happen today.
Another component of the foreseechange survey is canvassing opinions on the issues people feel they will be most concerned about in the foreseeable future.
Number one in June 2018 was the cost of living. Despite consumer price inflation being only 2%, at the bottom of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target zone, consumer price expectations are over 4% and wages are only growing by 2%. Politicians have to do something about this gap if they want to be popular (so to for employers!).
Of course, there are many other issues that segments of the population are concerned about, such as housing affordability, traffic congestion, and climate change.
Malcolm Turnbull’s likely replacement as PM seems unwilling to do anything about climate change, for example.
If politicians do not understand, and act on, the concerns of all Australians then the revolving door for Australian prime ministers since 2009 looks set to continue at a fast pace.
It seems likely that Malcolm Turnbull will call an early election for August 2018. While losing 30 Newspolls in a row, the gap is not large and could easily be closed. In fact, the recent Fairfax IPSOS Poll has the two party preferred vote close to even – depending on how preferences are allocated.
The Turnbull government has made it clear that there will be personal tax cuts in the May 2018 budget. This will make some voters more happy and will tend to boost the economy. Employment growth has been very strong, but seems to be weakening (growth has been temporarily boosted by the National Disability Insurance Scheme rollout). A tax cut fillip may just extend the good employment news for another few months. Good old Keynesian fiscal stimulus
Today Malcolm Turnbull announced $5 billion to build the airport to city rail link we have been waiting for these last 50 years. The funding has to be matched by the Victorian State government who face the polls in November 2018. How can they refuse?
Today there are reports that Malcolm has asked the party machine to have all pre-selections finalised soon.
The timing of the federal election is constrained by the timing of state elections in Victoria (November 2018) and New South Wales (March 2019) and by the need to have a half Senate election within the next 12 months.
Prime Ministers tend to call elections when they expect the economic news to be best and that will probably be in August 2018.
On the subject of political opinion polls, they are becoming less accurate. See my article in my book Forecasting: the essential skills.