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The Punch: This election was not the ranga revolution predicted

31 Aug 2010

First Published on The Punch 31/08/2010

When the political history of 2010 is written, every element of the closest election in a generation will be rightly scrutinized. The winning side will get home by a hair’s breadth ­ but could it be hair that determines the result?
Because there is a minority group whose natural connection with their chief advocate did not translate into votes on August 22 ­ Australia’s rangas turned on Julia Gillard at the moment she needed their support most.

Exclusive hair-based research from the Punch shows that redheads turned their locks away from Gillard, being the least likely hair coloured group to support the ALP.

Essential Media Communications

Source: Essential Media Communications

So what’s happening here? Is it a ranga recoil or simply a case of a group of voters refusing to back their roots?

Despite its Irish base, the redhead vote shifted away from the first ginga to lead the nation since the Depression. Instead, the Greens fired them up, as did the Mad Monk. Could this be a backlash against Labor’s centrism, a sign that redheads want to be fired up by conviction, be it from the Left or the Right?

There is another simpler theory, the ‘Reds Under the Beds’ pushed by an auburn member of the EMC team: ”I can testify it’s become really hard to be a redhead in this country since the rise of Julia Gillard,” our ginga flamed “Can’t even walk along the road without someone yelling ‘ranga’ out the car window.”

If this logic holds true, the backlash could be pushed by the very attention that redheads accrued from this high-profile figurehead was sufficient for them to turn away and seek the anonymity they so traditionally crave.

The Punch’s official tint guide shows interesting differences between other hair shades.

Black Hair – including the bulk of Australia’s immigrant population, black hairs were more likely to vote for the ALP, indicative of Labor’s long-term affinity with new arrivals. Also most likely to say they didn’t know how they were going to vote, even as they headed to the polls.

Brown Hair – the base of middle Australia was where the Coalition gained momentum in the swing seats with their appeal to traditional follicle values.

Blondes – contrary to stereotype blondes do not appear to have driven the Queensland backlash against the ALP.

Grey/white/bald – the older demographic met expectations, being more likely to vote conservative and less likely to have no idea about where their vote was going.

Of course, there is a simple solution for anyone who is not happy with these results who thinks we are providing a superficial analysis that belittles their political views. Apply the Clairol (or better still the henna).

Peter Lewis, Director EMC