Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Soft" voters rule us

A newspaper report today on Liberal party polling [in marginal electorates, of course]. They seemed to be quite clever identifying what it is about the so-called "soft" voters - those that have no strong inclination - that can be influenced, and how they can be influenced.

From the survey of soft voters, they came up with a list of ten top concerns:

1 Water
2 Education (skills training)
3 Economy/cost of living
4 Industrial relations
5 Immigration, multiculturalism
6 Border/homeland security
7 Climate change
8 Health (ageing, hospitals, mental health)
9 Infrastructure (transport, roads, schools)
10 Tax

* Source: Focus group research conducted by Mark Textor.

"The research, by the Liberal Party's chief pollster, Mark Textor, to help develop the business community's pro-Work Choices advertising campaign, also finds very few of those surveyed have experienced first-hand any evidence that the laws are unfair."

"But their suspicions are fed by the sheer weight of voices in the community who are opposed to the new system," it says.

"At a deeper level, there is virtually universal concern for the plight of individuals who might not be able to stand up for themselves, even though they are unable to cite any specific examples and do not believe they are at risk of unfair treatment themselves.

"The threat of a vulnerable individual being treated unfairly is the only reason they can put forward as to why Work Choices should be scrapped or wound back."

Tellingly, "despite months of heated debate on industrial relations and attacks on Labor by business and the Government, voters could not recall what business and business associations had been saying."

The whole experience suggests that if you can identify concerns in such a way as you can best exploit them, the world’s your oyster and the winner is the one with the best pollster.

This would seem to be a weakness with a system of compulsory voting. It's a bit sad, really, although I remain an advocate of compulsory voting, for the marginal level of encouragement it gives people to at least try better to understand the forces that govern them.

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