Politics

We’ve Broken Down All The Juicy Numbers From The Marriage Equality Postal Survey

NSW is letting Australia down.

The results are in and Australia has voted resoundingly in favour of marriage equality. With nearly 80 percent of eligible voters taking part in the voluntary postal survey, the Yes side secured 61.6 percent of the national vote.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics, who conducted the survey, has released state and electoral level breakdowns of the result, along with participation rates by age. The overall picture is pretty positive but there are a few interesting standouts. Let’s take a closer look at Australia’s attitude to marriage equality.

The State-By-State Breakdown

While every state expressed majority support for marriage equality, there was still quite a lot of variation.

ACT voters were the most emphatic supporters of marriage equality, with 74 percent of the electorate voting Yes. On the other end of the spectrum lies NSW, which recorded 57.8 percent support, the lowest of any state or territory.

Every other state recorded a Yes vote between 60 and 65 percent, but because NSW contains one-third of the country’s population, its lower Yes vote pulled down the national average.

The participation rate also varied quite dramatically state-by-state. While NSW recorded a turnout figure of 79.5 percent (bang on the national average), the ACT pulled out in front yet again with 82.4 percent of voters taking part in the survey.

The NT had the lowest turnout figure with only 58.4 percent of voters there participating. The figure is similar to results in federal elections, suggesting lower political participation in the NT is a structural issue rather than something specific to marriage equality.

What’s Happening At The Electorate Level?

In addition to providing state level responses, the ABS has also published data at an electorate level which shows that 133 of Australia’s 150 federal electorates voted Yes and 17 voted no.

The electorates of Sydney and Melbourne, held by Tanya Plibersek and Adam Bandt respectively, recorded a Yes vote of 83.7 percent — the highest Yes figure in the country. Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs wasn’t that far behind with a Yes vote of 80.8 percent.

The tenth most pro-marriage equality electorate in the country is… drumroll please… Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah! Yep that’s right, 75 percent of people in Abbott’s electorate voted Yes.

In fact the electorates of all of the most vocal opponents of marriage equality recorded resounding Yes votes. Andrew Hastie’s electorate of Canning delivered a 60.2 percent Yes vote; Ian Goodenough’s seat of Moore posted 68 percent; and in Kevin Andrews’ division of Menzies,  57 percent of people voted yes.

Sydney’s western suburbs made up a huge chunk of the No voting electorates. The eight highest No votes were all recorded in Sydney’s west in seats all held by the Labor Party. The seat of Blaxland, held by Jason Clare, had the highest No vote in the country with 73.9 percent of voters opposing marriage equality.

An ABS map showing the disparity in the result across Sydney.

The huge variation in the result across electorates has a number of factors, but is partly driven by the fact the No campaign appeared to focus its resources on migrant and non-English speaking communities while the Yes campaign spent its time and energy turning out the vote rather than convincing people to change their position on the issue.

Initial analysis comparing the Yes vote against a range of demographic factors suggests that more secular electorates supported marriage equality while religious electorates tended to vote No.

Did Young People Turn Out?

While overall turnout was 79.5 percent, there was a lot of variation within different age groups. Nearly 90 percent of people aged 65-84 participated in the survey, with the number dropping to 80 percent amongst voters over 85.

Australians aged 20-34 had the lowest participation rate with just 72 percent taking part in the survey. It’s a disappointing figure, especially since younger voters are more likely to vote Yes and could have helped deliver a more emphatic result in favour of marriage equality, but let’s remember that the postal survey was always designed to make it hard for this cohort to take part.

There was a silver lining amongst young people though: 78 percent of Australians aged 18-19 participated in the survey, significantly outperforming their slightly older millennial comrades.

Over the coming days we’re going to take a deeper look at some of the factors driving the Yes and No votes, but hopefully this cheat sheet has made it easier to understand how the result played out across the country.