Eureka Street readers shift towards Greens


Eureka Street readers are changing their political allegiance in this federal election campaign.

A readers’ survey conducted last week revealed a shift away from the ALP, which the majority of poll respondents supported in the 2010 federal election. Then, nearly 60 per cent of readers voted Labor but this time only 36 per cent intend to do so.

Readers are not, however, moving to the Coalition: the number intending to vote for the Liberals (just under 13 per cent) or the Nationals (just over one per cent) is almost exactly the same as it was three years ago.

The Greens have been the chief beneficiary of the decline in support for Labor. In 2010 just under 18 per cent of readers voted for the Greens but this time more than 25 per cent intend to do so. The extent of the Greens’ support varies, however, according to age and religious belief. A majority of readers who identified as either atheists or agnostics – 53 per cent – are Greens voters, compared with 43 per cent of Catholics. Other Christians divide almost evenly in support for the Greens (just under 38 per cent) and support for Labor (just under 37 per cent). Younger readers are also more likely to vote Greens: 40 per cent of those under 50 intend to do so, compared with just over 26 per cent of those aged 60 or older.

The survey data, compiled from emailed responses by more than 1400 readers, was analysed by Emily van der Nagel of Swinburne University’s Institute of Social Research. Some of the results do not confirm popular preconceptions about the ways in which demographic groups are likely to differ. Support for the government’s National Broadband Network, for example, is higher among older readers – nearly 59 per cent of readers aged 60 or older rated implementing Labor’s version of the NBN as either important or very important, compared with 50 per cent of those aged 50 or younger. 

Responses to some other survey questions were more predictable. The younger readers are, the more likely they are to support same-sex marriage: nearly 70 per cent of those aged 50 or below either agreed or strongly agreed that same-sex marriage should be legalised, compared with just over 53 per cent of those aged 60 or older. Religion also appears to have shaped attitudes to this question. An overwhelming majority of atheist and agnostic readers (nearly 84 per cent) support marriage equality but Catholics are strongly divided. A bare majority of Catholic readers (50.5 per cent) are n favour, with just under 30 per cent opposed and almost 20 per cent neutral.

But, however readers may differ on same-sex marriage, comparatively few regard the issue as a vote changer.  Only 35 per cent rated it as important or very important in determining how they will vote, compared with nearly 90 per cent who rated issues of social inclusion – parental leave, equal pay, homelessness and the treatment of indigenous people – as the most important.

Education, the environment, health and the treatment of asylum seekers were also rated highly as vote determinants, though not as highly as social inclusion. On asylum seekers, Eureka Street readers strongly reject the hostility to boat arrivals that opinion polls regularly indicate exists among the wider population. More than 90 per cent of readers aged 50 and under, and more than 84 per cent of those aged 60 and older, believe Australia lacks compassion in its treatment of asylum seekers.

Readers also rated the economy lower as an election issue than poll respondents in the wider population typically do. Only 53 per cent described it as important or very important in determining their vote. Care should be taken in drawing inferences from this response. It may reflect readers’ ethical priorities, but it may also reflect their socio-economic status. As earlier demographic surveys have indicated, Eureka Street readers tend to be well educated and comparatively affluent: anxieties about job security and mortgages might have less sway with them.


Ray Cassin headshotRay Cassin is a contributing editor.

Topic tags: Ray Cassin, election 2013, Greens, Labor, Coalition, democracy, voting, Swinburne, research, poll, survey



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Existing comments

Why would anyone with any sense vote for people labelled cruel, inhuman and degrading by the chief human rights committee in the world?

Marilyn | 29 August 2013  

This is very worrying when you consider that most of the Greens policies - especially in regard to bioethics and life issues - are directly contrary to Catholic teaching. I plead with Australians to vote for pro-life candidates rather than the Greens.

David | 30 August 2013  

Compared with mainstream politicking, Julian Assange is looking saner by the day... even with his mock karaoke election add featuring his new look mullet wig.

Name | 30 August 2013  

David, with some Catholics prepared to choose to ignore its principles and teaching on certain issues, perhaps it is timely for the church to re-examine these in the light of 21 century scriptural, theological and sociological understandings?

Lorna Skilton | 30 August 2013  

In response to David, it is true that some Greens policies on 'sex and life' issues are strongly opposed by the Church. But MOST Greens policies are actually very similar to those advocated by the Catholic Church - especially those in the 'social inclusion' category that the article says is most influential among readers here, as well as, obviously, treatment of asylum seekers.

Justin | 30 August 2013  

I listened to a single mother on talk-back radio this morning. She struggles to make ends meet, she works part time and chose to be single due to domestic violence. The Rudd government has cut the single mother allowence yet Nicola Roxon will retire at 46 with a lifetime annual pension of well over 100,000 dollars, this is in addition to any salary she will earn as a lawyer. I call this a gross injustice.

Trish Martin | 30 August 2013  

Thank goodness that the number of ES readers who intend to support the greens is so low as to have virtually no influence on the outcome of the coming election. Will be interesting to see how ES readers cope if the government does change. They might well have to cope with a prime minister, possibly deputy PM, treasurer, senior ministers, the senate leader and probably a leader of the Labor opposition who will be the products of a Jesuit education. Oh shock! Oh horror! And a Jesuit Pope to boot! We'll all be rooned.

john frawley | 30 August 2013  

I am a catholic, yes practicing, and I vote Green. My second preference is usually to Labor or at least it was before it too became xenophobic. I am also gay and in a stable thirty year relationship. I can understand David's plea for Catholics' to vote according to the teachings of the Church but I have to agree with Lorna Skilton's comments - re-examination is sorely needed and if my congregation is anything to go by it is long overdue.

Jeff | 30 August 2013  

I agree, David. Sadly, a perusal the comments on this blog over the years reveals that most Catholic left supporters here have a view of Church teaching which is 180 degrees around from the truth. Thus, they reject or at least hold as up for discussion what are in fact binding Church teachings on sexual ethics, etc. On the other hand, on the specific solutions to social and political problems (such as boat people, global warming, etc) on which the Church refrained from pronouncing definitively - since this is not her sphere of expertise (as we are reminded in Gaudium et Spes) - they push their own favoured solutions as unquestionably infallible. See for example Justin's comment above: passing off Green policies as if "the Church" - as opposed to this or that non-binding entity such as a bishop's conference - has "advocated" them. In line with this inversion of the true order, they propagate another: they complain about "creeping infallibility" when the Church pronounces definitively on matters of faith or morals, but are agents of the very same process on issues lying well outside the scope of the Church's infallible authority.

HH | 30 August 2013  

Are you supporting the globalization of indifference? The Gillard government increased Australia's annual intake of humanitarian refugees from 13,750 places to 20,000. Tony Abbott initially said he supported the increase. But in its search for savings, the Coalition has pledged to reduce it back to 13,750 places a year, booking a saving of $1.3 billion across the four year budget horizon.Did you not 'get' the Pope at Lampedusa: " Herod sowed death in order to defend his own well-being, his own soap bubble. I am concerned about - the oppression of the poor .Who are you concerned about, John Frawley?

peter bohm | 30 August 2013  

I'm one of the over-60s who indicated an intention to vote Green. I'm certainly a Catholic, and I've had to think long and hard about this, because euthanasia and abortion-on-demand fit the Green's Peter Singer philosophy but not mine or the Church's. However, it comes down to the primacy of the command to love. The heart of the Church is compassion, and I can't find that in any other party's manifesto.

Joan Seymour | 30 August 2013  

I am an Abglican priest and intend to vote Green. Most of their policies are far more in keeping with the the gospel than the other parties. Did people see the ABC report on Christian principles and the Greens? Very well balanced and well worth a look.

Jorie | 30 August 2013  

Sorry David, but doctrines of old men in frocks set down in the days of the Borgias don't count for anything at all in the 21st century.

Marilyn | 30 August 2013  

Peter, a quota of 20,000 people when there are 45 million people who need help while we waste $2.9 billion locking up most of them and cut aid to the starving is just insane.

Marilyn | 30 August 2013  

I am unable to write a comment. I can't see what I am writing. Is it because I am a Liberal supporter

Ron Cini | 30 August 2013  

David, it is not your place to plead with anyone to vote against the Greens because they are not ( as you see it ) "pro-life" It seems to me that the "pro-life" parties are "pro-birth" and damn what happens once the cord is cut and clamped.

JR, Sydney | 30 August 2013  

This 'Green lean' suggests perhaps it's time the Jesuits reviewed the demographic of Eureka Street readership and its consistency with the contemporary Jesuit mission of promoting justice in the context of the Catholic faith.

John | 30 August 2013  

Marilyn, believe me I do understand and I am also disgusted by the lack of charity - tzedakah / justice. Shalom.

peter bohm | 30 August 2013  

To David and HH Thank you and I agree with you 100 per cent. I have difficulty in writing a long comment and you express what I believe. God bless you

Ronald Cini | 30 August 2013  

I'm voting unashamedly for my socio-economic interests as a working class family man. That means I am voting ALP however, I do wish people would join it to make it again the party of the great Joe Cahill- who combined good life values combined with improving the material well being of the people who need it most.

Michael Webb | 30 August 2013  

One hopes that polls are aimed at getting a reasonably fair cross-section of Australian demographics. Such would not be ES readership I dare say.But what is one to make of a persistent media question - Who do you think would make the better PM?Rudd or Abbott? We have at least seen/experienced Rudd in the job. We have some pertinent data to go on. Whereas with Abbott we know his self-description as the political love-child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop. I suppose there are supporters of such conservative icons who think such breeding would produce the Black Caviar of Australian politics. The answer to the Rudd/Abbott question I would suggest would be based on very little evidence, very little objective facts about both men, but rather a gut-reaction to what one reads and sees in the media. I have met Kevin Rudd and found him a pleasant higly intelligent, slightly nerdish sort to guy and if it were a Presidential election I would vote for him. I shall be voting Green - because I am voting on local issues in a regional NSW seat. A female friend met Mr Abbott, didn't like him, and will vote Palmer United.

Uncle Pat | 01 September 2013  

Just have a look at a Liberal government in action in WA. Cuts to education, out of control debt, price increases to power and gas, increases to public transport costs, broken promises, backflips and lies. Just a taste of what we can expect from the economic illiterate and his crew.

Mark | 02 September 2013  

Yes, as soon as I saw the headline to this article I predicted that the ES "trolls" would be cramming the comments column with their pessimistic attitudes of Empirical Catholicism.

AURELIUS | 02 September 2013  

HH's views are a perfect example of Western binary thought that allows political systems such as that in the United States to thrive - it takes economic/social justice issues off the practical agenda and replaces them with the red herring of human sexuality - taking our attention away from the bigger picture that the Gospel of Jesus focussed on - love towards one another and compassion.

AURLEIUS | 02 September 2013  

What's a "troll" by your reckoning, Aurelius? I read comments from several people who had a different view to you.

David O'Shea | 02 September 2013  

And by the way -"The Archbishop of Canterbury has told Christians to "repent" over the treatment of gay people as he warned that those who hold to a traditional line on sexual morality are widely seen as "wicked"."

AURELIUS | 02 September 2013  

Trolls by my reckoning are people who merely comment for their own personal gain. They have no real personal values and so are not interested in contributing to the debate or seeking understanding - just muck-raking, putting others down and patting themselves on the back for their perceived superiority over others.

AURELIUS | 03 September 2013  

Aurelius: ever heard of 'live and let live'? Live and Let Live is an idiom in which expresses the idea that all should be able to live their lives in the manner they want to, regardless of what other may think of them. Example 1: I don't care what they do! Live and let live, I always say. Your parents are strict. Mine just live and let live.Example 2: They seem as a society to have a very live and let live attitude towards issues like gay rights.

Annoying Orange | 03 September 2013  

Annoying Orange, yes I have heard of that saying but I can't say it seems relevant when it comes to human rights (presuming you think gays are human so their rights should be the same as "human rights"). I don't believe we should all be able to live how we want to in all respects because the way we live affects others. Maybe if you are talking about trivial things like choosing to walk barefooted all the time, or playing the banjo on street corners then yes - live and let live. But would you say equality for African Americans is a result of a live and let live attitude? Like - whatever dude - let them vote and do what they want!

AURELIUS | 04 September 2013  

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