ALP Campaign Review 2019

The Australian Labour Party has released its Review of Labor’s 2019 Federal Election Campaign, conducted by the Hon Dr Craig Emerson and the Hon Jay Weatherill.   CSA appeared on ABC News Tonight to discuss the Review and its analysis of the effect of Christian voters.

A key recommendation of the Review for Christian schools is Recommendation Six which indicates (emphasis added)-

Recommendation 6: Without compromising existing support, Labor should broaden its support base by improving its standing with economically insecure, low-income working families, groups within the Christian community and Australians living in regional and rural Australia.

As we indicated in our media release following the release of the Review this should come as no surprise to the ALP and in many ways this has been a key feature of post-election political engagement.

This recommendation comes in response to a finding that “self-declared Christians swung against Labor” –

“Christians are defined as those who identified themselves as being of the Christian faith in the 2016 Census. They do not include secular Australians who were Christened or Baptised but no longer identify themselves as Christians. In some way or other, the group called Christians practise their religion.

When all other variables are controlled for, it is estimated that identifying as Christian was associated with a swing against Labor. While the statistical analysis did not break down Christian voters into sub-groups, it appears from electorate-based evidence the most pronounced swings were among devout, first-generation migrant Christians.

Finding 30: Some groups of self-declared Christians swung against Labor.

The Review goes on to indicate that this group and “Economically insecure, low-income voters in outer-urban and regional Australia” comprised up to 400,000 voters  who changed their votes at the 2019 election.

More broadly the Review indicates how much faith became an issue in the campaign –

“Internal polling confirms when Scott Morrison became Prime Minister in August 2018 he was not well known by voters. He set about defining himself, at first, as a daggy, baseball cap-wearing dad, but then, as the election campaign itself unfolded, as a devout Christian. Most conspicuously, Morrison was filmed praying, arms aloft, in his local church on Easter Sunday. These images were a prominent feature of the remainder of the campaign, with Morrison speaking openly about his Christian faith.

In contrast, Labor as a whole did not project an image that was appealing to devout Christians.  …

The Party would be wise to reconnect with people of faith on social justice issues and emphasise its historic links with mainstream churches.”

The Review also analysed in detail the results of the election –

“The review commissioned an ALP internal statistical analysis of categories of voters who swung from and to Labor to more fully understand the demographic swings at the 2019 election. We are able to determine voting patterns at the SA1 level, the smallest grouping reported by the ABS.

When all other variables were controlled for, SA1s  with a high proportion of the following groups were associated with a swing against Labor:
• Voters aged 25-34 years living in outer-urban and regional areas;
• Christians;
• Coal mining communities;
• Chinese Australians; and
• Queenslanders.”

Once again there is further evidence of the impact of faith based voters, particularly Christians, on the election results. 

As former ALP Senator Graham Richardson indicates in The Australian (emphasis added)-

“Labor’s relationship or, more correctly, lack of it, with Christianity is becoming a problem with voters. Labor is seen as somewhat ungodly and Christians are finding the party less friendly than in previous eras. The NSW branch was heavily Catholic in the 1950s and that tradition lasted well into the 1990s. As fewer and fewer Australians attend church services on a Sunday, it is easy to forget that those who worship are still formidable in number.”

A full copy of the Review is available online here.