April 12, 2023

Distrust behind recent election losses for the Liberals

Topic: Morgan Poll Review, Special Poll, State Poll
Finding No: 9201
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The Liberal Party has suffered a crippling and unexpected loss in the Aston by-election in early April, losing the once safe seat in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs to Labor – the first time a government has won a seat off an opposition at a federal by-election since 1920.

This latest loss comes only a week after the Liberals suffered defeat at the New Souths Wales election, following losses at the Victorian state election, federal election, and South Australian state election in 2022.

Roy Morgan’s data has consistently shown that the Liberal Party, as well as its leaders, are suffering from deep levels of distrust (far outweighing their levels of trust) – while the Labor Party has generally recorded near equal levels of trust and distrust.

Prior to the New South Wales election, a Roy Morgan Snap SMS Poll showed the Liberal-National Coalition recorded a Net Distrust Score (% Trust - % Distrust) of -21. This compared to a Net Distrust Score of -1 for the ALP. This resulted in a bruising 5.5%+ swing away from the Liberal Party at the election.

The final two-party preferred result of 53.9 ALP cf. 46.1 L-NP was most accurately predicted by the final Roy Morgan Poll in New South Wales prior to the election.

Trust and Distrust in New South Wales Politics

Source: Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey. 1-2 March 2023. Base: New South Wales voters aged 18+, n=1,025.
Thinking about the upcoming New South Wales election, who do you trust? (unprompted)
Thinking about the upcoming New South Wales election, who do you distrust? (unprompted)

Distrust was also a major factor in the Victorian state election last year. The Liberal Party brand is even more distrusted in Victoria than it is north of the Murray, with a Net Distrust Score of -26, compared to a Net Trust Score of +6 for the ALP. This resulted in the Andrews Labor government being easily re-elected with an increased majority.

This deep level of distrust in the Liberal brand in Victoria was likely a factor in the historic defeat of the Liberal party in the Melbourne seat of Aston on the first weekend of April.

Trust and Distrust in Victorian Politics

Source: Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey. 11-14 November 2022. Base: Victorian voters aged 18+, n=1,460.
Thinking about the upcoming Victorian election, who do you trust? (unprompted)
Thinking about the upcoming Victorian election, who do you distrust? (unprompted)

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says that distrust is a danger that political parties and leaders should always be aware of, not only in the lead-up to elections.

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“Roy Morgan trust and distrust polling prior to recent elections shows that without trust, a candidate or party will struggle to win – but when they are distrusted, they lose easily.

“This played out at the federal election in May 2022, the Victorian election in November 2022, and most recently the New South Wales election last month. Deep levels of distrust of the Liberal Party in Victoria also contributed to the loss of the seat of Aston at the by-election held on the first weekend of April.

“Labor now governs in every state and territory on the Australian mainland, as well as governing federally. Before the Liberal Party can re-gain the trust of the Australian people and form government again, it must first neutralise its high levels of distrust.

“This must be a key focus for the opposition between now and the next federal election”

Roy Morgan’s recent report on Trust and Distrust in NSW Politics is available here.

The latest Risk Report ranking over 200 brands on Net Trust or Net Distrust Scores is available here.

The Roy Morgan Risk Monitor surveys approximately 2,000 Australians every month (around 25,000 per year) to measure levels of trust and distrust of around 1,000 brands across 26 industries. Respondents are asked which brands they trust, and why, and which brands they distrust, and why. The survey is designed to be open-ended, context-free, and unprompted. Roy Morgan Risk Monitor data is available in a variety of formats, from snapshot overviews to detailed tracking of individual brands and competitors. Industry Trust and Distrust Surveys are also conducted (eg. Politics, Telco, Utilities, Insurance, Banking, Agribusiness, Media, Retail, etc.) for deeper insights into perceptions of, and experience with brands.

To learn more call (+61) (3) 9224 5309 or email askroymorgan@roymorgan.com.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2
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