Fred Argy wants me to look at ‘moderate’ lefties and ‘moderate’ right-wingers instead of just the psycho types who want to brawl with the cops. To take (I hope) some of the heat out of comments, I will not discuss the issue of whether one group is less civil than the other, but will look at them on the same questions that I used to examine the extremes of the left-right spectrum.
The AES has a 0-10 left-right spectrum. Last time I used 0-1 for the left and 9-10 for the right. This time I will use 2-3 for the left and 7-8 for the right. This leaves out the great Australian middle, 4-6, which contains 58% of respondents to the AES.
For the strong feelings about parties and party leaders I will also relax assumptions. This is also on a 0-10 scale. Last time I used only 0 (labelled ‘strongly dislike’). This time I will use 0 and 1.
For ‘moderate’ lefties, 39% dislike the Liberal Party a lot. On the other side, 15% of ‘moderate’ right-wingers dislike the Labor Party a lot. On party leaders, 49% of ‘moderate’ lefties dislike Howard a lot, while 19% of ‘moderate’ right-wingers dislike Latham a lot. These are, I think, still pretty big differences. But I also checked to see what ‘moderate’ right-wingers thought of Bob Brown. 47% dislike Brown a lot, making him nearly as unpopular on the right as Howard is on the left. It shows that the moderate right is capable of as much dislike as the left.
On activism, there is one very big difference between the moderate right and left. 44% of the lefties had been to a protest in the previous 5 years, compared to 6% of the right-wingers. The lefties were also more likely to have worked with others to express their views, 39% compared to 22%. They were most alike on contacting officials, 38% on the left, 35% on the right. The left is more into collective action than the right.
What do middle Australians think about the leaders? 18% dislike Howard a lot. 12% disliked Latham a lot. Brown is the most unpopular, with 23.5% disliking him a lot.