• For people who took home pay in the upper income bracket, 75.3 per cent were in favour, compared to 58 per cent of people who learnt less money. (Getty)
Did our education or income levels influence how we voted in the marriage equality postal survey?
By
Alana Schetzer

9 Nov 2017 - 4:15 PM  UPDATED 9 Nov 2017 - 4:20 PM

The battle to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia was wrapped up in what type of person was most likely to vote ‘yes’ and what sort of person was most likely to have voted ‘no’.

It’s been widely reported that younger people - Millennials and Gen-X - are much more likely to vote in favour of same-sex marriage and that older people - those aged XX and older - were more likely to be firmly in camp ‘no’. An August Newspoll confirmed just that, revealing that 70 per cent of Australians aged between 18 and 34 years would vote ‘yes’, compared to just 49 per cent of Australians aged 65 and over.

But what about other factors? Does where a person live or how much they earn have a role to play in how the results will unfold, when they are announced publicly on November 15?

Education, income level, location of where you live, cultural and ethnicity identification, and sexual orientation all play a role in whether someone will tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the survey form.

Age is only one indicator of someone’s postal vote intention, says University of Queensland senior fellow at the Institute for Social Science Research Francisco Perales and PhD candidate Alice Campbell. Education, income level, location of where you live, cultural and ethnicity identification, and sexual orientation all play a role in whether someone will tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the survey form.

Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), which tracks demographic trends, Professor Perales and Ms Campbell have been able to narrow down who will vote ‘yes’ and who will vote ‘no’.

While age is the biggest indicator of voting intention (79 per cent of 15 to 39 year olds are in favour), education and religion and the next biggest indicators. The HILDA data reveals that, generally, the higher level of education achieved, the more supportive someone is of same-sex marriage:

Education

Degree - 77.9 per cent

Certificate/diploma - 64.5 per cent

Completed Year 12 - 76.7 per cent

Did not complete Year 12 - 58.3 per cent

Given the large role that many religious institutions are playing in the ‘no’ campaign, by stating that homosexuality goes against the teachings of the Bible, people who identified as non-religious were 77.4 per cent in favour, compared to 47 per cent of religious people.

While age is the biggest indicator of voting intention (79 per cent of 15 to 39 year olds are in favour), education and religion and the next biggest indicators.

For people who took home pay in the upper income bracket, 75.3 per cent were in favour, compared to 58 per cent of people who earned less money.

There has been significant speculation throughout the public survey about which way certain groups of people will vote in the survey, with many individuals speaking up about their intentions or their lobbying motivations. For example, a woman who was raised by lesbian parents is lobbying against legalising same-sex marriage.

Psychology can also predict which way demographics will swing over the survey. Research undertaken by American sociologists Amy Armenia and Bailey Troia identified three main voting identifiers - political beliefs, religion and demographics. Their researched showed that the biggest supporters of legalising same-sex marriage in the US were women, younger people, more educated people and people living in urban areas.

For people who took home pay in the upper income bracket, 75.3 per cent were in favour, compared to 58 per cent of people who earned less money.

Looking back at public polls on attitudes, Armenia and Troia showed that while certain people have strongly entrenched views and opinions, many people are open to changing their views due to influence, persuasion and evolving social norms.

Meanwhile, data from HILDA shows that those most likely to be against same-sex marriage are men, the religious, older Australians and people from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

There is also data that breaks down support - or lack of - by states and territories. In October, Roy Morgan did a snap poll which showed that Victoria was leading the way, with 69.5 per cent of voters in favour, while New South Wales has so far recorded the highest levels of people voting no, at 21.5 per cent.

Data gives us an excellent overview of voting intentions but there are still flaws, including sample size, and time, that can skew actual results. The HILDA survey, while extremely comprehensive, is from 2015.

There is no ideal way to predict who voted which way and why until the results are announced - but this could be the best indicator we have so far.

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