Shifting demographics could spell long-term trouble for the Liberals, with a new study showing it was age and education factors that most split the voters between the major parties at the 2022 federal election.
The Australian National University study published Monday found younger and educated voters were where the Coalition government lost the most support at the election - more than one in three voters (34.9 per cent) aged under 55 who voted for the Coalition in 2019 ended up voting for someone else.
Similarly, around a third of previously Coalition voters (31 per cent) who had completed year 12 voted for someone else this year.
These two factors were much stronger than sex, country of birth, location and even household income, says the study's co-author Nicholas Biddle.
Dr Biddle says the Coalition, which lost many previously blue-ribbon Liberal inner-city electorates to Teal independents, is now faced with a strategic choice on how it responds to the findings.
"It will be interesting to see whether the Coalition feels that it's able to win back the highly educated, or whether it focuses on consolidating its votes for those with relatively low levels of education," Dr Biddle said.
"I can't see them winning in the future, given the trends in education attainment and the fact that that Australian population group continues to not vote for the Coalition. It's going to be really hard to see them kind of winning back those electorates they lost."
More than 3500 participants in the joint ANUpoll/Comparative Study of Electoral Systems survey were asked in April about who they supported in 2019 and their intentions in 2022 and were contacted again in May about who they did vote for.
While many voters went into the election having made up their minds, the campaign and local candidates made an impact. More than one in five (21.9 per cent) were swinging voters, changing their mind by election day. More than one in 10 voters (13.6 per cent) made up their mind on election day.
"The highest proportion of people [who changed their voting intention by election day] said it was because of their local candidate," Dr Biddle said.
"Another quirk of this election is the Coalition announced some of the candidates so late. So coming into the election, people were making judgments based on hypotheticals [before] they saw the candidates."
Gender still matters, the survey found, but the gender of the voter was less influential than their views of gender issues in the Parliament, workplaces and society, and whether they trusted a party was aligned with them on those issues.
"A male who felt strongly about equal rights for women, felt there's more work to be done [such as addressing sexual harassment in the workplace] ... was far more likely to vote for Labor or the Greens or other, than a female who had the opposite view."
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