A convincing win last week for the Greens at a by-election in inner-city Melbourne illustrates how polarised Australia has become - politically and culturally.
The Greens contested all 150 seats in the House of Representatives in last year’s federal election, and failed to attract more than 10 per cent of the vote in 92 of them.
But the Greens ended Labor’s 90-year stranglehold in Northcote last week with more than 45 per cent of the primary vote. Here are ten peculiarities of Northcote that explain why it happened.
- It’s an easy commute to a world-class university with a $1 billion payroll. Universities, and the progressive values that dominate have a big footprints. (figure 1)
- There are a lot of graduates. Support for Greens is closely matched with higher education. (figure 2)
- There are more journalists than plumbers. Tradies are thin on the ground, while media professionals, doctors and teachers abound. (figure 3)
- It’s favoured by same-sex couples - particularly women. Not every LGBTIQ person is a Green, but it is a useful proxy for progressive values. (figure 4)
- Most people work in the public sector. If you rely on the government for your income, you’re less troubled about the drivers of economic growth.
- They’re losing their religion. 47 per cent of Northcotians have no religion, according to the 2016 Census. Secularism is another strong proxy for progressivism. (figure 5)
- They’re less ethnically diverse than you think. Northcote's population has a high proportion of people of Australian or European ancestry. (figure 6)
- Income is above average. Forget the image of the penniless hippie shunning consumerism - Greens voters tend to be well off. (figure 7)
- Millennials outnumber baby boomers. Age is becoming a stronger predictor of voting patterns. (figure 8)
- Inner city Melbourne is different. Greens support clusters close the CBD. (figure 9) - Nick Cater