One of the interesting trends in Australian politics is decline of the major parties and increase in support for the GIMPs. As the trends in this graph show, this has been going on for some time.
While this graph makes their situation look quite clear, in fact it is not quite so simple. Approximately 50% of GIMP vote goes to the Greens, with the rest of it spread out over a number of Independents, One Nation and Team Xenophon, none of whom can be expected to vote either consistently or as a bloc.
So the most reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the voters who are deserting the major parties are fragmented in their support for GIMPs.
The latest Fairfax/IPSOS shows that this trend is continuing and accelerating.
These trends need to be taken with a grain of salt. The poll was based on a sample of 1400 voters which means rather less than 20 per electorate. When you think of it in these terms it’s very difficult to project what a poll like this for me in terms of representation in the Lower House. However, these numbers are likely to play out in the Senate and if they are anywhere near accurate, neither major party will have any chance of controlling that chamber.
The poll also showed Labor ahead of the Coalition 51%/49%, a difference well inside the margin of error.
Nonetheless some conclusions can be drawn.
The first is that the primary vote is becoming increasingly fragmented.
The second is that, given this fragmentation and the way in which will be manifest in the Senate, we are likely to see an increase in the number of GIMP senators with the concomitant legislative difficulty for the government of the day.
The third is that the two major parties will be increasingly reliant on second preferences to gain government and this will inevitably mean making policy concessions to an increasingly disparate volatile and fractious cross bench in the Senate.
The fourth conclusion is that Labor is losing ground to the Greens whose primary vote in this poll was 18% to Labor’s 30%.
Someone in the Labor Party who can add up beyond the point of having to take off their shoes and socks is going to work out that 30%+18% = 48% and that is a bigger primary vote than the Coalition’s.
It is interesting that the vote in the US presidential election has been described as a result of disillusion with mainstream politics. But when push comes to shove, one of the two major parties has won the presidency and has a clear majority in both Houses of Congress.