Saturday, November 23, 2019

Conservative bias about 'leftist bias'

The ABC recently published an article Teachers, schools in firing line as conservatives rail against 'leftist agenda',  based on their Australia Talks National Survey. The crux of the piece is that: 'One Nation voters are turning on the mainstream education system as conservatives across the country express a deep mistrust of what they say is a "leftist agenda" taking over the classroom.'

There's nothing wrong with the story per se, but the headline and associated graphs they use send a misleading message. They show the satisfaction of voters of different parties with the education system and with teachers.

However, they are out of 100% for each party, thus greatly 'biasing' the results for parties that have a small number of voters. Consider the sizes of the orange columns, which belong to One Nation, who nationally polled 1.29% at the last federal election.

When you adjust the graphs based on the national first preferences, making them out of 100% in total, this is the result.

There are certainly lessons to be learned in terms of why different groups responded to the survey in this way, but it should be kept in perspective. This isn’t about ‘conservatives’, given the blue LNP would fall under that category. It’s about a small far right party that already gets quite a bit of media attention, especially when compared to the proportion of the population who throw votes their way. Further, as the article goes on to say:"[t]he root of the frustration can be traced to a wider dissatisfaction with the political landscape...", rather than the education system and teachers themselves.