This caught my eye the other day. The red line is the net leader dissatisfaction value given by the PM dissatisfaction level minus the Opposition leaders dissatisfaction level as determined by Newspoll. The black line is the minor party primary vote and the undecideds also given by Newspoll.
Between 1996 and the Ryan by-election, the level of the minor party votes and undecideds combined tracked the net leader dissatisfaction levels extremely well.The Ryan by-election started a divergence and by February 2002 the two series went their separate ways. As can be seen by the below graph which shows the dissatisfaction ratings of the two major parties, while the PM dissatisfaction rating roughly tracked the minor party vote, the difference between the two dissatisfaction levels really tracked the minor party and undecided votes over the 1996-2001 period.
I’m not quite sure what this means, but if anyone has a good explanation of what dynamic could have been at play here – I’d love to hear it.
Another piece of related data is the total dissatisfaction levels compared to the minor party vote + undecideds, where the total dissatisfaction levels are simply the dissatisfaction ratings for the PM and the Opposition Leader added together.This is graphed below:
This seems to show that while the satisfaction levels with the two major parties does in fact drag the minor party and undecided vote level around; it doesn’t actually do it as much as I was expecting to be the case. There are a number of spikes (both up and down) in the dissatisfaction levels that weren’t matched by movements in the minor party + undecided vote level. The electorate seems to regularly say to the major parties “I think you’re shit, but you still get my vote”.
Economan thoughtfully pointed out that I had indeed missed the obvious downward spikes in Total Dissatisfaction levels (dont ask me how I did that) and that this could well mean that the voters are saying to the major parties “I think you’re OK, but I’m going to tell the pollster I’m voting Green/Dem/whatever”