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Jul 12, 2010


Today we have two new polls published – Nielsen via Fairfax (demographic tables here) and Galaxy via the News Ltd tabloids. The vote estimates, sample sizes, MoE’s and changes since the last respective polls (taken immediately after the Gillard ascension) come in like this – with Nielsen data to a decimal place.


Nielsen and Galaxy both asked additional questions – quite a few for Nielsen and two for Galaxy. We’ll get the Galaxy ones out of the way first as there’s some interesting gender splits in the Nielsen data that will take some time to go through.

Galaxy asked about asylum seeker policy- firstly whether people approve of the new Labor policy and secondly whether they believed it was well thought out.



With 63% approving of the policy change (or rather, approving of the notion of “getting tough” that was inherent in the question asked), Labor must be thinking “job well done” about now. Though with 59% believing the policy was not thought out, it’s an odd kind of political sacrifice to make, where you up the approval on border protection at the expense of reducing the general impression that you know what you’re actually doing.

On to the Nielsen questions, one of the things that has popped up since Gillard became PM is the large gender split that is happening across all issues.

If we look closer at the Nielsen vote estimates, and take a squiz at the gender cross-tabs, it starts to tell the story.


The Coalition is much stronger with males while the ALP is much stronger with females – a complete reversal of the 2007 election result (that you can see in the sidebar). Not only is the strong gender split evident with the vote estimates, but also across the full spectrum of  approval ratings and the questions on “Better Party to Manage”. With the approval ratings, we’ll do the top line results first with partisan cross-tabs, then the gender and capital/non capital city breakdowns.



On the party cross-tabs, it’s interesting to note that Greens voters show the same broad levels of disapproval for Tony Abbott that Labor voters do, while their approve of Gillard is positive by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. This is also reflected in Nielsen’s respondent allocated preference flows (which Nielsen uses to get the two party preferred results), where this poll Greens preferences flowed to Labor at a rate of 76%.

On the gender split, Gillard leads Abbott on net approvals among males by a moderate 16 points – but among women it blows out to a massive 42 points!

On the Preferred PM beauty contest, while the top line result and the partisan voting cross tabs look like this:


… on the gender split, Gillard leads Abbott by 14 points among men (53/39) and by 28 points among women (59/31).

Not only is this gender split not isolated to the more personal attributes of political leadership, but flows through strongly on issue management questions. Nielsen asked the following question:

For each one please tell me which of the major parties, the Labor Party or the Liberal-National Coalition, you think would best handle that issue. Which of the major parties, the Labor Party or the Liberal-National Coalition, do you think would be best for handling:

The results for each of the issues, including gender cross-tabs come look like this:


On every issue where the ALP was ahead of the Coalition, their lead among women was higher than their lead among men and for every issue where the ALP trailed the Coalition, they trailed less among women then among men. In the case of asylum seekers, the ALP actually enjoyed a lead on that issue among women while they trailed the Coalition among men.

If we look at the leads the ALP experienced by gender, and measure just how much more favourable to the ALP that lead was among women compared to men, the gender gap really starts to stand out.


It’s really quite stark.

On that asylum seeker issue, Nielsen followed that question up with the following additional question including the Greens as an available response.

I’d like to ask you about asylum seekers again, this time including the Greens. Which of the parties do you think has the best policy on asylum seekers?


With responses by party vote, it appears that about a fifth of ALP voters want the ALP to move to the left on the issue towards the Greens, while only 1 in 10 Labor voters now want the ALP to move closer towards the Coalition on the issue. With  Coalition voters, we see around 1 in 5 wanting to move to the left, but equally split between moving towards a slightly more moderate ALP position and a far different Greens position.

Interesting too is the Greens voters, with 54% of them supporting Greens policy, 15% of them wanting a slightly tougher ALP approach, and 1 in 10 wanting a much tougher Coalition approach.

Finally, Nielsen asked which party do you think will win the election – the results come in like this:



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38 thoughts on “Nielsen, Galaxy and the Gender Gap

  1. Newspoll and more gender gaps – Pollytics

    […] to handle” the issues of the economy, climate change and asylum seekers. As we say with the most recent Nielsen poll, large gender gaps have emerged, where the ALP’s lead on a given issue among women was higher […]

  2. Singha

    caf @ 27 & agnesmack @ 36

    Always suspected this. How depressing.

  3. agnesmack

    caf @ 27
    You’re right, I did find http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/?page=full of more than passing interest. Thanks.

  4. Possum Comitatus

    I’ll get back to you all folks – just having a few days off before the campaign.

  5. jenauthor

    [Putting Singha’s observations together with my own I’m beginning to understand why Coalition governments/parties are hostile towards higher education. It just doesn’t suit them to have a lot of well-educated people about the place …]

    Exactly so. ‘Thinking’ people are less likely to swallow the conservative’s reactionary policies and sloganeering.

    A larger proportion of educated people will embrace change and forward looking policies, as they understand that innovative change and growth is necessary for prosperity.

    Conservatives ALWAYS hark back to a nostalgic time when they perceive the world was a supposedly better place. But memory (and history records) are:
    a) highly selective, in that they can be used to reinforce certain theories or beliefs despite evidence to the contrary
    b) are usually guided by the historical ‘winners’
    c) tend to only concentrate on the extremes, with little focus on the everyday or average.

  6. David Richards

    fredex – and in seats where the Libs are running with no Nats candidate (which would be most of the urban seats), the assumption that the coalition figure quoted in opinion polls is applicable would be even more incorrect. Now in safe Liberal seats, this is not an issue, but in marginal seats, especially those it hopes to take from the ALP, the situation might not be as good as it would appear. I seriously doubt that the Liberal Party primary in urban seats is ahead of the ALP primary.

  7. Cuppa

    [One question comes to me re the gender gap in support of Gillard: Is there an education gap between males and females evident in the population at large? As a teacher I’ve noticed over a couple of decades an increasing discrepancy between girls’ and boys’ attitudes towards learning (not individually of course, but taking in groups and classes). That, coupled with bogan attitudes being more common among the blokes.]

    In addition to the above, there are two premises I find interesting, in drawing a connection between educational levels of the older demographic and Coalition support:

    1) The older a person, the more likely they are to be a Coalition supporter.

    … leading into:

    2) The older a person, the less formal education they’re likely to have. (What percentage of our grandparents’ generation completed high school or got university degrees? I’m sure it’s lower than the current generation).

    Putting Singha’s observations together with my own I’m beginning to understand why Coalition governments/parties are hostile towards higher education. It just doesn’t suit them to have a lot of well-educated people about the place …

  8. fredex

    David Richards @ #30
    Thats an interesting observation.
    In the federal electorate that I was involved in in ’07 the Nationals candidate indulged in considerable criticism of the Howard govt of which his party was an active coalition member.
    Somewhat strange.
    When it came to preferences his supporters split:
    Greens 5%
    FF 5%
    ALP 40%
    Lib 50%

    Even stranger, as far as preferences went, was in my home electorate where the sitting Liberal member received 60% of the Nationals preferences and the ALP got 40% [the Nats were the last excusion].

    Even more stranger still was the SA state by-election in Frome where the National party did a 2 ticket HTV card with Nats #1 and the Libs #2 on one side and the ALP #2 on the other side.
    The Nats second preferences went [roughly], despite the HTV:
    ALP 10%
    Libs 40%
    IND 50%
    and the Independent won.

    Now maybe its unique to the SA nationals, but perhaps the assumption that all Nats preferences will go to the Libs [and vice versa] where both are running candidates is not a foregone conclusion.

  9. David Richards

    How would the coalition figures change if you deduct the National Party? Wouldn’t that make the straight ALP – Liberal fight ALP 39% Lib 37%?

  10. Lynchpin


    How come Newspoll hasn’t had a poll out for about 2 weeks? Anything sinister there?


  11. blue_green

    Three really sad things about the climate policy debacle.

    1. Climate policy vs no climate policy is yet to be tested electorally yet. This means that the conservative opposition will always have that in their back pocket and the ALP will be scared of it.
    2. Kevin Rudd immediately before copenhagen said that ‘we will do no more or less than the rest of the world on climate’. Psephos’ claim about a CPRS not being useful in a no-global agreement world is not true. THE CPRS was explicitly designed to be flexible to the global situation. Our % cut committment would change depending on the level of golbal action with a 5% minimum. So we are now stuck with that poor baseline with no mechanism to get there.
    3. That the coalition have adopted an anti-science posture that demeans them and the Australian people.

  12. David Richards

    Which is why I don’t hang around with blokes. Too much like the XXXX ads for my liking.

  13. Singha

    One question comes to me re the gender gap in support of Gillard: Is there an education gap between males and females evident in the population at large? As a teacher I’ve noticed over a couple of decades an increasing discrepancy between girls’ and boys’ attitudes towards learning (not individually of course, but taking in groups and classes). That, coupled with bogan attitudes being more common among the blokes.

  14. jenauthor

    they’ll swear too!

  15. jenauthor

    [The gender issue is getting very little coverage in the MSM. Perhaps it goes against the Liberal message that the ladies love Abbott]

    Yeah, like they love a dose of the clap!

    Sometimes these pollies really need a reality check.

    Every woman I know finds Abbott an offensive hypocrite with as much magnetism as as a gnat. There is NOTHING sexy or appealing about him.

    I love Mother of MRS Sprocket above … shows how ‘indoctrination’ can last a lifetime, and no matter the evidence to the contary, they will sware black is white unto death!

  16. Andrew

    The gender issue is getting very little coverage in the MSM. Perhaps it goes against the Liberal message that the ladies love Abbott

  17. sprocket_

    on the gender issue, here is an unscientific sample of 2:

    mrs Sprocket_ was going to vote for anyone but Rudd, and now is rapt in Julia so much that she has tears in her eyes watching Julia’s speeches when she gets empathetic about working hard, raising kids, doing without…… definately connecting

    mother of Sprocket_ who is 79 and a life-long card carrying Liberal told me yesterday that she didnt like Julia cause she was a communist. When I asked gently what was the source of this information (which I can’t recall in the public domain), my mother said that her friends had told her that prior to joining labor Julia was in the communist party. So maybe the Obama was not born in America crowd have started similar rumours in the senior citezens clubs?

  18. Thomas Paine

    They will need to change the candidate to win back any women votes. Abbott out.

  19. David Richards

    agnes – like the paranoia and delusion surrounding asylum seekers, which JG has simply stoked with her asinine carte-blanche to all the twisted, sick, scared little xenophobes

  20. The refugee debate dilemma: you can’t be “too tough” | AlexWhite.org

    […] Possum Pollytics over at Crikey looks at the Nielsen poll, finding that there is high levels of approval on “getting tough” on asylum seekers. […]

  21. jenauthor

    Am just chiming in to say I very much approve of Tony Abbott as Opp leader — so long as he is there, he guarantees a Labor win!

  22. agnesmack

    A little PS to above:

    Government debt bad, surplus good, is the prime example of indoctrination which has led to a belief becoming so ingrained it has become an article of faith in the electorate, and consequently in both major parties. Such unevaluated beliefs in the electorate severely constrain a government’s ability to react to unexpected economic circumstances, or to retain a reputation for good management if it does act contrary to the strongly held belief. as Rudd did with the economic stimulus.

  23. agnesmack

    Imacca says “but i find it difficult to believe that the Coalition lead the ALP by 14 points on who is the best party to handle the Economy and Interest Rates”.

    The GFC-prompted low interest rates have demonstrated the falsity of John Howard’s constant refrain that interest rates will always be lower under a Coalition
    Government. It is ironical that voters apparently see the GFC not the ALP Govt as responsible for their interest rate holiday but don’t accept the corollary that the GFC was a financial tsunami which would have swamped the Australian economy without the Govt’s stimulus. Holding the two positions at once is either irrational or the result of blind faith, the sort we usually associate with indoctrination.

    It seems that sloganeering and catch phrases, no matter how ill founded, have a long term effect on the political psyche. Constant repetition plus an unquestioning media can turn fiction into fact and create a mythology which is imbibed with mother’s milk. Interest rates and the economy both fall into this category. Labor’s perceived superiority on education and health could be benefitting from the same phenomenum, as the bad BER publicity and some quibbling on computers in schools don’t appear to have dented voter sentiment on the ALP and education. Then again, that could be because the positive effects are visible and appreciated locally. Also, of course, there is Naplan. On health the Government has relentlessy repeated the mantra that Abbott ripped $M out of the health budget as a minister in the Howard Govt. True enough, but I suspect generations of voters to come will have laid down a memory of the Coalition’s untrustworthiness on health without being able to recall the evidence. And when the Coalition returns to govt , as it will some time , even if not at this election, they will have the same trouble overcoming the mythology of poor performance on health, no matter how much money and effort they put into the area.
    The gender divide is fascinating. Is it an example of female solidarity or a reaction against the carefully restrained violence Abbott’s macho image projects? Or maybe women have a more sensitive bullshit detector.

  24. Charles Richardson

    Hi Poss –
    That recurring gender gap suggests to me that (as I’ve always suspected) voting intention mostly drives the other questions, rather than the other way around: ie most people decide how they’re voting based on class, personalities, inertia or whatever, and then interpret questions about “better able to handle issue x” and so on in light of that decision. What do you think?

  25. blue_green

    Ooh, just found out that the AEC have seat enrolment counts by male/female. Poss, you have have to tailor your monte carlo simulations through this.

    I wonder if there are more female dominated marginal seats or vice versa.

  26. blue_green


    That is a big discrepancy between the sexes. Is there any data on whther males or females are more likely to vote? Seems to be a critical question to me.

  27. David Richards

    While I don’t want to see Tony Abbott and his cretinous cadre back in power, the current ALP are doing their damnedest to make it as hard as deciding between cancer and ebola.

  28. David Richards

    Poss – could this be another demographic nail in the coffin of the Libs, seeing as women outnumber men, especially in the older demographic. So not only are they losing the old buggers as they cark it, but the old boilers are switching allegiances. Or is this gender gap occurring mainly in the younger end?

  29. Phil

    I agree with Peter Wood.

  30. Andos

    I want to know who are the 4% of ALP voters that would prefer Tony Abbott as PM.

  31. Peter Wood

    I am sick of seeing opinion polls with questions about asylum seeker policy using words like “tough” – the results say as much about framing as they say about what people actually think.

  32. Cuppa

    No surprise that the top spinning-top organisation in the land, the so-called Liberal Party, has engaged the services of an ad agency specialising in marketing to women.

    Spin – the Liberals live for, by and in Spin.


  33. Tad Tietze

    The key for Gillard is the Greens preference flow (76% to ALP). If this result is correct then it’s the typical left-of-the-ALP vote that the Greens are getting, rather than the more diffuse protest vote that operated as Rudd was in freefall, and which you covered here: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/06/08/labor_green_preferences/

    Gillard has successfully captured the middle-ground swingers, some of whom had parked with the Greens, who can hear the dog-whistling. She has also reinstated a “protected Left flank” for the ALP.

    Of course the big issue is that when social democratic parties employ the dog whistle it often ends up benefiting forces well to their Right in the medium-long term. Gillard is lucky her timetable is so tight. The rest of us are unlucky that nasty race politics has gained new legitimacy thanks to the ALP.

  34. Tweets that mention Nielsen, Galaxy and the Gender Gap – Pollytics -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pollytics, Simon Howson and others. Simon Howson said: @aussenatesnoop Good Galaxy & Nielsen analysis here: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/07/12/nielsen-galaxy-and-the-gender-gap/ […]

  35. ShowsOn

    [..i find it difficult to believe that the Coalition lead the ALP by 14 points on who is the best party to handle the Economy and Interest Rates??]
    Maybe there is a strange phenomena where voters prefer Labor to handle the economy during periods of slow growth, and the Coalition when growth returns to or above trend?

    Maybe voters don’t think the different parties CAUSE changes to economic growth, but they think the different parties are preferable to handle the economy at different times.

    Maybe something for Possum to investigate. 😀

  36. imacca

    Ok, i’m somewhat partisan in this, but i find it difficult to believe that the Coalition lead the ALP by 14 points on who is the best party to handle the Economy and Interest Rates??

    If the Coalition’s bunch of economic illiteratii had been in charge during 2008/2009 we would most likely have had LARGE increases in unemployment with all the long term consequences to the Budget, Economic Growth, and in general a lot more people having a very hard time of it.

    Suggests to me that the ALP have some work to do on selling the message about their performance this term and just how economically incompetent the current bunch of Ooppo rabble are.

  37. Robert Beswick

    Good grief, I’m probably first commenter.

    Must not be working hard enough..


    You’d think losing 7 points off the primary vote would make a person unpopular with a person’s colleagues. I assume the NSW right assumption is the distribution will be different in that magical far away place called Western Sydney and that the rest will come back from the Greens on preferences.

    Poss, do we have any data that can help us discern the truth or otherwise of the Western Sydney meme during the course of this year?

    Interesting to note that the gender spread is much bigger on economic management and interest rates. Sadly, that looks like old school misogyny of the worst sort, which is depressing to see electorally manifest in this day an age.

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