Hunting the Swinging Voter
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This chapter addresses Liberal and Labor Party efforts to understand swinging voters and how both parties use polling and focus groups to aid campaigning, particularly in marginal electorates. Internal party documents and accounts of interviews with party ‘campaign professionals’ have been used to illustrate the evolution of sophisticated polling methods. My argument questions the obsessive use of polls and the implications for party organisation of the carefully stage-managed nature of modern election campaigns. Arguably the work of campaign professionals tends to foster such a high degree of cynicism among voters that more votes are probably lost than are won by their efforts. The assumptions made by campaign professionals about voters may, however, lack firm foundation. This chapter questions the emphasis that campaign professionals have placed on the swinging voter and further considers how the stress on opinion polls has affected the internal dynamics of modern parties, especially in relation to leadership.
This chapter has been made available with the permission of the publisher. Haydon Manning, 'Hunting the Swinging Voter', in Contemporary Australian Political Party Organisations, edited by Narelle Miragliotta, Anika Gauja and Rodney Smith. Monash University Publishing; Clayton, Victoria. 2015. http://www.publishing.monash.edu/books/cappo-9781922235824.html