Polls and surveys

What we know (and don’t know) about the Holocaust

Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, Berlin

On Thursday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Gandel Foundation published the results of a survey of Australians’ awareness and knowledge of the Holocaust.

Our knowledge of basic facts is reasonably sound: offered a range of dates, 80 percent of those surveyed knew that the Holocaust occurred between 1933 and 1945; 62 percent knew that the Nazis’ “final solution” was aimed at exterminating all Jews in Europe; and offered a range of numbers, 52 percent correctly answered that about 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

On some other questions around the Holocaust our knowledge has gaps. Only 11 percent knew that in 1938 the Lyons government joined with a handful of other countries in refusing to accept Jewish refugees from Germany. Of more general concern is the finding that only 49 percent of respondents knew that Hitler became Chancellor of Germany through a democratic election. Older Australians and those with more education revealed better knowledge of the Holocaust than younger people and those with less education. 

One finding that may surprise many is that on some basic questions about the Holocaust, Australians are better informed than Americans.

The survey is a rich source of data about Australians’ attitudes to refugees and beliefs about limits to free speech. We don’t believe people should be permitted to use Nazi symbols, slogans or gestures, but we’re less inclined to believe that those who question the Holocaust should be banned from giving public talks, for example. It also has a great deal of information about Australia’s history in relation to the Holocaust.

Morgan – more bad news for Morrison

On his Poll Bludger site William Bowe reports that the most recent Morgan poll, conducted between January 4 and January 16, gives Labor a 56:44 two-party lead. In terms of primary vote, generally a more reliable figure than two-party estimates, the Coalition’s loss of support is not entirely to Labor’s gain. Labor’s primary vote is 37.0 percent (33.3 percent at the 2019 election), while the Coalition’s is 34.5 percent (41.4 percent in 2019).

The poll reports Green support at 12.0 percent (10.4 percent in 2019), and One Nation at 3.0 percent (unchanged from 2019). Support for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is 0.5 percent. All these figures need to be treated with caution, because mathematically the smaller the actual proportion the greater is the relative margin of error. Also, Clive Palmer’s support is most probably concentrated in certain Queensland electorates.

Perhaps the most striking finding from recent polls is that the combined Labor plus Coalition vote is down from 2019. In the 2019 election it was 74.7 percent: according to this poll it is now around 71.5 percent. Or, to re-frame, support for others and independents has risen from 25.3 percent to 28.5 percent. This could well be an understatement of the shift, because independents remain comparatively unknown outside the election period.

Essential – another cornucopia

Essential is back, with a set of questions about attitudes to Morrison and Albanese (but not voting intention which was last surveyed in November), Covid-19 issues, and what people believe should be government priorities for 2022.

Both Morrison and Albanese happen to be on a net zero approval rating. That is the proportion approving of their performance is exactly matched by the proportion of people disapproving. Morrison’s approval has been falling over the last 18 months. Morrison is still ahead as preferred prime minister, but the gap between Morrison and Albanese is closing (28 percent in February last year, 8 percent now).

Our rating of governments’ response to Covid-19 continues to fall, but even the state with the lowest rating (New South Wales) has a better rating than the Commonwealth.

There is still a small proportion of people (7 per cent) who say “I’d never get vaccinated”. When this question is disaggregated by voting intention it is 16 percent among those who vote “other” (other than Labor, Coalition or the Greens).

Quite a few people (35 percent) report that they have either had Covid-19 in the last month, or that a close family member or friend has had it. Younger people have had more such exposure than older people.

There is a poorly-structured question on our attitudes to anti-vaxxers. Mostly we think they are poorly informed rather than “deliberately selfish”.

A question on the Commonwealth’s handling of Covid-19 issues over the last month reveals that most of their actions have had a negative effect on people’s support for the government. The only winner for the government was its handling of Novak Djokovic. On Covid-19 issues women judge the government more harshly than men. Also, contrary to the general trend for older people to be more supportive of the Coalition, older people seem have turned against the Coalition for its recent Covid-19 performance.

The final question on priorities shows that our top priority, particularly among older people, is to “provide the necessary healthcare resources to protect the country from Covid-19”. The government may be hoping that this concern will diminish before the election, but even so the Coalition’s favourite, reducing the budget deficit, comes in a poor 6th place, well behind jobs growth and addressing the effects of climate change.