Laura from Perth has been doing research on the Voice to Parliament for a few weeks now, but she is still no closer to deciding how she’ll vote.
“I’ve been asking questions of friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues — anyone — to get a bit more info and insight into what people are thinking,” Laura, who doesn’t want us to use her last name, told Hack.
“I’ll watch a Yes video and be like, yup, agree. Then I’ll watch a No , and I’ll agree with the No. It’s very conflicting.”
Laura is concerned about the make-up of the Voice and its ability to represent the diversity of First Nations communities and is conflicted by opposing views within the communities themselves.
“I don’t know if any information is going to be able to help me to vote because there’s still them [First Nations communities] saying Yes and No,” Laura said.
“I just don’t want to do the wrong thing by any of them.”
How many voters are still undecided?
On ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said “more than one in four are yet to make up their minds” on the referendum.
But that figure is contested, because it accounts for so-called “soft” voters who may be convinced to change their votes.
As polling and election analyst Kevin Bonham explained, the number of true undecided voters depends largely on the polling method used.
One method asks if a person is undecided just once, and counts that answer towards the final result. The second method asks the question twice, giving the person an opportunity to revise their answer. The two methods reap different results.
“In the polls that only asked the question once, the undecided rate has dropped from an average of about 20 per cent [in May 2023] to an average of about 15 per cent,” Dr Bonham said.
“For those polls that ask the question twice, the average has dropped from about 11 per cent to about eight and a half per cent.”
Who’s most likely to still be undecided?
What’s interesting about this referendum is that young people are more solidly in the Yes camp, and older people are more solidly in the No camp.
Which leaves those in the middle as the most undecided, according to pollster and former Labor strategist, Kos Samaras.
“It [the rate of undecided voters] peaks around people in their 40s.”
Dr Bonham said we can use information from previous elections to determine who’s most likely to be undecided in the referendum.
“The usual patterns in undecided voters, is that undecided voters are more likely to be young, more likely to be female, more likely to be Labor voters than supporters of the Coalition or the Greens.”
How can you win over undecided voters?
Mr Samaras, who is a Yes supporter, said the window for cutting through to undecided voters is “very, very small”.
“Reaching them on an issue they have either opted to not engage with or opted out of paying attention to, is very difficult.,” he said.
“You would use popular culture and other forms of third party endorsements to try to get their attention via those many different platforms which they generally use in their daily lives.”
Mr Samaras is critical of the Yes campaign’s initial strategy of using intellectual arguments on why the Voice is needed to win over voters.
“Using emotion is an absolute must for any campaign. It should have been something that the Yes should have utilised from the very beginning of this year.”
He added that the “only hope of getting any coverage” during the last week before polling day, is to appeal completely to emotions.
“The No camp understands that principle when it comes to political campaigning, and they’ve been ruthlessly focused on that,” Mr Samaras said.
Mr Samaras said people who are still undecided on polling day tend not to vote for a change.
“If they’re not across the detail, they’re more likely to just vote no.”
Can the undecided vote sway the outcome?
While Mr Samaras said there is still time to win over undecided voters to the Yes camp which he supports, he acknowledges it likely wouldn’t make a difference to the outcome.
“It’s hard to see how that will get to that 52 and a half per cent across the country to get that critical double majority that is required for a referendum to succeed,” he said.
“It’s definitely looking pretty grim for the Voice.”
Dr Bonham agrees that the polls are likely to be an accurate reflection of voter intent.
“You just don’t get such dramatic movements against the run of what’s been a very steady downhill trend,” Dr Bonham explained.
“So at this stage, it seems to me that the only way that Yes wins is if there is some kind of massive polling failure of a sort that’s not been seen before. It would have to be several times larger than the 2019 federal election polling failure.”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-10/who-are-the-people-still-undecided-in-the-voice-referendum/102953252 Who are the people still undecided in the Voice referendum?