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Self-interest didn't swing the election results, but the scare campaign did

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As Labor’s shock defeat crystallised on Saturday night, it didn’t take long for commentators to draw parallels with the unlosable 1993 election. Once again an opposition party within striking distance took a bold tax agenda to an election and was rebuffed by voters.

But the emerging consensus that Labor’s tax plans – particularly the changes to franking credit refunds and negative gearing – are solely responsible for its defeat is far too simplistic.

The voting figures do not support the idea that angry self-refunded retirees and aspiring property investors had the baseball bats ready for Labor. In fact, many of the areas where people get big tax benefits from negative gearing and franking credits swung away from the Coalition.

There were undoubtedly people across the country angry enough about these policies to switch their votes. But the proportion of people over 60 in different electorates had no correlation with the Liberal swing. Other analysis indicates the share of people claiming rental losses and franking credits by electorate was correlated with a swing towards Labor. The overall results suggest the well-heeled were voting on grounds other than their immediate financial self-interest.

Conversely, the seats that swung most strongly to the Coalition on a two-party-preferred basis – including Dawson, Capricornia, Hunter, Herbert and Forde – span regions with significant economic challenges. Average incomes vary but........

© The Guardian