Economic Voting and Electoral Behaviour: How do Individual, Local and National Factors Affect the Partisan Choice?
What impact do income and other demographic factors have on a voter’s partisan choice? Using post-election surveys of 14,000 voters in ten Australian elections between 1966 and 2001, I explore the impact that individual, local and national factors have on voters’ decisions. In these ten elections, the poor, foreign-born, younger voters, voters born since 1950, men, and those who are unmarried are more likely to be left-wing. Over the past 35 years, the partisan gap between men and women has closed, but the partisan gap has widened on three dimensions: between young and old; between rich and poor; and between native-born and foreign-born. At a neighbourhood level, I find that, controlling for a respondent’s own characteristics, and instrumenting for neighbourhood characteristics, voters who live in richer neighbourhoods are more likely to be right-wing, while those in more ethnically diverse or unequal neighbourhoods are more likely to be left-wing. Controlling for incumbency, macroeconomic factors do not seem to affect partisan preferences – Australian voters apparently regard both major parties as equally capable of governing in booms and busts.
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