The patterns of the vote estimates for the Greens since the 2004 election are rather interesting, showing a considerable upswing late in 2007 that carried through the election into 2008 to settle own at what looks like a new base level.
If we use the Newspoll quarterly aggregations to track the Greens vote since the 04 election (we unfortunately can’t go back any further since that is as far back as the records go with Newspoll), the pattern stands out:
The Greens vote had been sitting up around the 6-7 point mark until Rudd became leader, where a large chunk of Labor voters that had been parking their vote with the Greens raced back to their old voting home. That points to a danger for the Greens – the historical soft nature of their support.
Yet, in the 2 months leading up to the last election, a lot of those voters appeared to come back to the Greens in a pretty significant upswing, where by election day, they ended up outperforming their lead-in poll estimates.
What’s interesting here is the way that swing continued on into the Rudd administration and has since stabilised around the 10 point mark.
If we break these vote estimates down further – by State, age and gender/geography – a few things pop up:
Firstly, while Qld has been the relatively historical poor State performer for the Greens, since the 2007 election Qld has actually provided the Greens with the largest state swing towards them of 3.4%. NSW on the other hand – the historically middling Green performing State – has been the only cohort where a swing away from the Greens has occurred over the last 18 odd months. Although, the vote in NSW has retreated by a miniscule 0.2%, so saying that the vote has stood still would be a more accurate assessment.
While the Greens vote has improved across all demographics except NSW since the last election, the big move has been among the 18-34’s, where that age group has moved towards the Greens by 6 points.
The problem here for the Greens is that this is the same cohort that proved so fickle in early 2007 and moved away from them and back to Labor at a greater rate than any other demographic – again, a 6 point move away from the Greens when they bottomed out with this demographic in October 2007.
So we have the Greens new stabilised vote level running at it’s highest ever at 10 points – although it’s held up by a demographic that has proved enormously volatile over the previous two and a half years or so, and where that demographic tends to move between Labor and the Greens.
So the big question here is whether this new Greens vote level is a sustainable base leading into the next election, or should we expect some of these demographics to run back to Labor?
The alternative – that the Greens get another upswing leading into the next election – is always possible, but the question that would need to be answered is just where those additional votes would come from?