Are the NSW Greens too left wing?

Why do the Greens do worse in NSW than in Victoria? Not because they are too left wing as many suggest but because NSW Labor is more left-wing and thus offers more competition. This seems hard to believe but this is what the Australian Election Survey suggests. In the United States it is common to consider the impact of the ideological position of candidates on their electability. Candidates who are notably more liberal or conservative than voters in their district or state tend to poll worse than candidates who are a better fit. The match is not perfect with voluntary voting there are benefits to mobilising your base vote and a strong electoral tide can carry even ‘extremist’ candidates to victory. Rand Paul will probably win but Christine O’Donnell looks very unlikely and the odds are against Sharron Angle. In Australia however the ideological position of individual candidates is rarely a point of controversy due to the primacy of party in determining the voting behaviour of Members of Parliament. However the issue has been raised in the case of the NSW Greens. They have polled notably worse compared to Labor than the Victorian Greens. In 2010 NSW Greens polled 8.4% in the Senate compared to 10.1% in Victoria, and the NSW Green vote was also notably less compared to Labor who polled 36.5% in NSW and 37.8% in Victoria. In 2007 the pattern was similar. In 2010 the Greens’ Senate candidate in NSW was Lee Rhiannon once a member of the pro-Soviet Socialist Party of Australia and this fact was highlighted by her critics on the right and left. The 2007 Australian Election Survey questioned respondents about their ideological positioning from left to right on a score of 0 (left) to 10(right) and about where they placed different parties. Overall NSW voters’ average self-evaluation was 5.3 compared to Victoria’s 5.2. Respondents were also asked to place political parties on the same scale, Victorian voters rated Labor at 5.7 and the Greens at 3.7 but NSW voters rated Labor at 4.4 and the Greens at 3.5. Although voters do see the NSW Greens as slightly to the left of their Victorian counterparts they see NSW Labor as notably more left wing. Hence NSW Labor offers stronger competition to the Greens.

2 thoughts on “Are the NSW Greens too left wing?

  1. [...] Greens apparently being ‘too left-wing’, Geoff Robinson has used Australian Election Study data to show that it is NSW Labor’s ability to project itself as more left-wing than other state ALPs can that [...]

  2. [...] Greens apparently being “too left-wing”, Geoff Robinson has used Australian Election Study data to show that it is NSW Labor’s ability to project itself as more left-wing than other state ALPs can that [...]

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