Christians and the low paid won it for Morrison - ANU professor

A combination of “battlers” – low-paid workers without university degrees – and Christians may have delivered Scott Morrison his miracle victory, according to ANU Professor Ben Phillips.

Phillips “found that electorates with a lower percentage of people with Bachelor degrees and income greater than $100,000 and a higher percentage of persons identifying as Christian, positively correlated with a swing to the Coalition”, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The Fin journalist Bo Seo notes that the two party preferred swing to the Coalition “was driven by electorates that share the demographic profile of John Howard’s ‘battlers’ and voters who elevated Donald Trump to the presidency.”

Professor Phillips is Principal Research Fellow at the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods. In Seo’s article, Seo points out three surprises from the weekend’s election results: The Queensland results simply reflected demographics; advanced age did not correlate with a swing to the Coalition; what did was being a renter, rather than a property owner.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), Family Voice Australia and other conservative Christian groups campaigned hard in this election.

In particular, ACL ran a targeted ground campaign.

“Hundreds of thousands of leaflets, countless phone calls, and an extensive digital campaign went into seats like McMahon, Canning, Bass, Chisholm, Boothby and Petrie,” according to the ACL’s Martyn Iles.

“The results in McMahon speak for themselves, with an extraordinary swing against incumbent Labor MP Chris Bowen, but our other target seats also showed strong results, with Labor losing Bass.”

Comparing Bass (2PP swing currently at 5.79 oer cent) and the similar northern Tasmanian seat of Braddon (5.13) does not question a Christian influence but makes the specific ACL effect hard to track.

Looking at McMahon (5.18) and the similar western Sydney seat of Watson (3.23) may show an ACL influence in McMahon, which is ALP’s Tony Burke’s seat. But these seat comparisons are a crude measure.

“Labor did poorly in areas of Australia where religious faith ― of all kinds ― is alive and well.” – Patrick Parkinson

Former Labor Senator John Black, an avid electorate watcher, has the so-called “Activist Religions” at about ten per cent of the vote in 2019. Writing before the election, he said: “Of the top 25 seats ranked for Activist Religions, 15 are in Queensland. Given the small national swings we’re seeing … I would expect this group to be moving towards the Liberal Leader Scott Morrison.”

Citing Black, Patrick Parkinson, head of the University of Queensland law school, concluded for ABC News: “Labor may want to look at its attitude to religious faith among the causes of its disastrous performance.”

“It did poorly in areas of Australia where religious faith ― of all kinds ― is alive and well.”

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