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While the Voice has a large poll lead now, history of past referendums indicates it may struggle


Support for the Indigenous vote in parliament has declined since polls first asked for it in late 2022. Analyst Kevin Bonham has plotted all survey results and average voice support has dropped from 65% in August 2022 to 57% now.

Last week’s Morgan (a “yes” lead of just 54-46) was especially concerning to Voice supporters, given the history of support for referendum proposals collapsing as the referendum approaches.

Read more: Labor gains in Newspoll, but Voice support drops in other polls; NSW final results and polls in Queensland

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday that a YouGov Poll of more than 15,000 respondents, for the group behind the Uluru Declaration from the Heart, had a “yes” vote nationally at 51-34, and in every state and territory, with Queensland closest at 47-40 “yes” .

However, this poll was conducted from March 1 to 21, so it is more than a month out of date.

To win a constitutional referendum in Australia, both a majority of states and an overall majority must vote “yes”. This means that at least four of the six states must vote “yes”.

History of previous referendums

Only eight out of 44 proposed referenda To pass. There have been five cases where “yes” won nationally, but the majority of states did not win.

I examined whether proposals for a referendum were put forward by Labor or Conservative governments, and whether proposals held concurrently with a general election were more successful. Referendum results and dates are heregovernments formed after each election here and election dates of the House of Representatives are here.

The first ten years after federation in 1901 predated the development of the two-party system, and Labor was part of a protectionist-led government that passed the 1906 referendum. Since then, only one of the 25 referendums proposed by Labor governments has passed.

Conservative governments have had more success, with six of the 18 referenda proposed by non-Labour governments succeeding. analyst Peter Brent wrote in Inside Story that Conservative oppositions almost always oppose Labor referendum proposals, while Labor oppositions sometimes support Conservative government proposals.

Although they did not do well enough to pass in a general election, the Labor government’s proposals performed better in elections than in by-election referendums. The four 1988 interim referenda all failed with between 31% and 38% national support, while the four held with the 1974 election had 47% to 48% support.

Brent says elections are about who will form the next government, and referendums held with elections benefit from not being the center of attention. But midterm referenda are the focus, and can become like a by-election, with governments usually doing poorly.

Early opinion polls for referendums are not predictive. Brent said the 1988 referendums were polls in the 1960s and 1970s in May 1988, before crashing into the 1930s in the September referendum.

The record “yes” vote of 90.8% on the Referendum of 1967 is not a guide to the result of the Voice referendum, as this earlier referendum had been proposed by the coalition and backed by Labour. Brent also thinks this referendum benefited from being the second question asked in 1967; the former was heavily defeated.

Read more: ‘Right wrongs, write Yes’: what was the 1967 referendum about?

In 2017, the plebiscite that allowed same-sex couples to marry was passed with 61.6% support (this was not a referendum as it did not require a constitutional amendment).

This plebiscite was initiated by the Coalition with Labour, and the vast majority of voters would have known someone who was homosexual and therefore tended to be sympathetic to same-sex marriage. In contrast, most Australians do not have regular contact with Indigenous peoples.

If The Voice is to defy the history of Labour-initiated referenda that the coalition has opposed, particularly interim referenda, the Albanian government will have to keep polling at the honeymoon level until the date of the referendum. Labour’s historic victory in the Aston federal by-election gives The Voice some chance to succeed, but history suggests it will be a battle.

UK local elections and the US debt limit

I prescribed The Poll Bludger last Thursday that local elections will be held in the UK this Thursday. Labor has a big lead in the polls, but it is shrinking.

Last Thursday AEST, Republicans passed a bill that would raise the US debt limit in exchange for cuts that Democrats through the House of Representatives strongly opposed. The US is heading for a debt limit crisis later this year. Donald Trump’s lead in the national Republican primary continues to grow. Polls for the Turkish elections of 14 May were also discussed.

Victorian Resolve Survey: Labor Still Way Ahead

A Victorian state Solve the poll for The Age, conducted with the federal March and April Resolve polls from a sample of 1,600, Labor gave 42% of the primary mood (one up since February), the Coalition 30% (fixed), the Greens 10% (three down), the Independents 12% (one down) and other 5% (one up).

Resolve won’t provide two-party estimates until just before the election, but Labor is clearly way ahead. This poll was conducted before the corruption watchdog report criticizing the Labor government. Incumbent Daniel Andrews led the Liberals’ John Pesutto 49-28 as prime minister-preferred (50-26 in February).

Liberal MP Moira Deeming attended an anti-trans rights rally that was crushed by neo-Nazis. Pesutto tried to expel her from school, but had to settle for a nine-month suspension.

The poll article states that 23% wanted Deeming suspended, but 20% said she deserved less punishment than her suspension. “About a third” were unsure or indifferent about her sentence, with 24% believed to support the nine-month suspension.

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