Each quarter, we publish the Australian Polity Scan, looking at general adult population attitudes towards topical issues across the Australian socio-political landscape, as well as regarding government performance.
This month, we continue to measure current levels of happiness and anger, regarding the Federal Government and the Prime Minister. We will track this set of measures, to gauge any shifting currents of satisfaction or despair, particularly leading up to the election in 2022.
Why measure such happiness or anger? It is our thinking that this will provide a very useful ongoing temperature check of just how much government actions (or lack of) are being noticed and judged. Furthermore, as we lead into the next election, tracking these sentiments will serve as a wake-up call, either to the current Government and PM or to those in opposition.
However, we are also running this tracking as a monitor of more direct political engagement among Australians. It is a widely accepted wisdom that, across western democracies, opposition parties rarely win government, but rather incumbents lose. This is because being in power provides enormous advantages over public hearts and minds, so long as the job is being done. Not least of all, our over-riding cognitive biases and behavioural traits towards caution and conservatism, means we are reluctant to change things unless they are dire. Just think of how many idiomatic expressions we have in this regard: “stick with what you know”; “better the devil you know”; “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, etc etc.
As such, we believe the best measure of whether a sitting government and PM are in trouble, will be the level of anger current in the polity, whatever the reasons behind it. As we go, this research scan will be testing that correlation.
About this data:
Polity’s survey was conducted online between 7-11 February 2022. The sample comprises 1,508 Australian residents aged 18-74 years old, sourced from a professional research panel. The total sample has been weighted to be nationally representative by gender/age/location/education/2019 primary vote, and has an error margin of +/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level.
More people (47%) currently plan to vote against the Morrison Government, than plan to vote for it (29%)
Anger with the Federal Government continues to spread, with 25% of Australians now mostly or very angry. This compares with only 20% who are mostly or very happy with the Government.
However, for the PM Scott Morrison, the gap between those who are angry and happy with him across the electorate has widened even further, with 32% of people now mostly/very angry with his performance, compared to 21% who are mostly/very happy.
This growing despair with Morrison’s performance continues to be dominant in people’s thinking about the next election, with 47% of Australians now planning to vote against the Morrison Government at the next election. This compares with 43% in November, and 39% in August, while those planning to vote for the Government continues to drift lower at 29%. Moreover, the gap has widened further since our first measure in May, when the split was 37% against, to 34% for.
But how do attitudes correlate with voting intentions, and how has that changed since May?
Satisfaction with the PM, Scott Morrison continues to decrease since May
In terms of key trends, anger among the polity continues to increase, especially with the PM. Whilst 32% of the population were angry with Scott Morrison’s performance in May last year, this has now grown to 46%. Similarly, while only 29% of Australians were angry with the Federal Government in May, that has increased to 41% currently.
That growing anger is clearly driving more people to feel they will vote against the Government at the next election. Again, while only 37% of the Australian polity were intending to vote the Coalition out back in May, that is now the intention of 47% of people.
Finally, we can now reveal how this shift away from the Morrison Government is happening to varying degrees within voters of all political stripes. Since May last year, more ALP voters (59-78%), Coalition voters (11-18%) and voters of other parties and candidates (54-66%) have decided they’ve had enough.
There continues to be a clear correlation between anger and intention to vote against the Government. Among those who currently feel angry (at any level) about either the Government’s performance or Scott Morrison’s, around 8 out of 10 continue to plan to vote against the Government.
However, while the link between anger and intention to vote the Government out remains steady, the problem for the Morrison Government is that the percentage of Australians who are angry with him and the Coalition, at least on some level, has steadily increased over the last 8-9 months.
Does this predict defeat for the Government at the coming election? We will soon see.