29 May 2019

The University of Sydney’s Shaun Ratcliff has a lesson for the Australian media on how to interpret electorate-level voting and demographic data: “Contrary to the narrative forming around this election — that the Coalition has become the party of workers, ordinary Australians or battlers — according to data collected on individual voters during the campaign, its strongest supporters remain high-income business owners. Workers, the disabled and parents on low incomes receiving federal government payments are all more likely to support Labor.” Part of this is because journalists are blinded by high-vis and are falling for Australia’s own Joe the Plumber sleight-of-hand. Ratcliff explains: “A high-income, self-employed plumber is not working class. They are a capitalist. This is not a pejorative. They own capital (their business) and profit off their own and (potentially) their employees’ labour. They do not necessarily have identical economic interests as a low-income plumber who is an employee, working for someone else and being paid a wage. … It was only the self-employed in blue collar, and sales and service occupations, with incomes above $208,000 a year who overwhelmingly voted for the Coalition. These voters can hardly be called battlers, working class or even ordinary citizens.”