Australian Electorate Overview

I’ve spent the last several days building a data base of key demographic information at the district level. My goal is to build a model explaining variations in percentage shares received by each political party at the district level. While I still have a bit of work left to do to complete the model, I am able to provide the reader with some broad brush strokes of important demographic factors driving support for the two major party groups and the Greens in the 2010 election:

1. Labor’s support primarily comes from middle class people. Except in relatively poorer Tasmania, the party tends to do less well in districts with lower median incomes with the exception of districts with large populations of immigrants from non-western and/or non-English speaking countries. The party also does well in districts with relatively high concentrations of people who have never been married. However, Labor also competes with the Greens for this segment of the electorate. The party runs poorly in districts with high concentrations of professionals and managers. Labor’s electorate has some similarity to that of the Democrats in the US, particularly in it’s support from ethnic immigrants and young unmarrieds.

2. Liberal support comes at both high and low income levels. High income level support is urban based and is usually tied in with high levels of professional and managerial workers. Curiously, the Liberals appear to compete with the Greens for support from professional and managerial workers. Low income support is rural based especially in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, the latter two states where the Nationals usually run candidates in rural districts. The Liberals/Nationals base of support appears to have more than some affinity with the American Republicans.

3. Green support is concentrated in urban districts with high percentages of unmarrieds and high percentages of professionals and managers and relatively high incomes. The Greens are young and well-heeled and, as such, ethnic immigrants appear to find the party unappealing. The only clear exception to this general run is in Tasmania where the party is popular in spite of the fact that the state is rural and poor. Overall the Greens would appear to share a common bond with urban Democratic progressives in the US.

4. A common thread runs through the four districts that are held by independents. All are relatively poor with median incomes 20% to 40% below the national average. They have very low percentages of ethnic immigrants. Three of the four districts are rural (in New South Wales and Queensland) while the fourth is based in the small city of Hobart in economically distressed Tasmania.

More to come shortly.