It is wrong to say that Alan Jones has very little impact on the electorate and election outcomes because his radio program appeals to rusted on Liberal voters and he is merely reinforcing the views of his audience.
While not as important as appealing to the swinging voters, Jones’ ability make sure his audience stays with the Liberal Party is very valuable to it.
It is not impossible to imagine a regular Jones listener and one normally glued to Jones’ views seeing some national and even self interest in the current policy climate and perhaps, in a moment of weakness, switching their vote from the Liberal Party.
Who knows, but maybe 1% or 2% or 3% of his audience who when looking at the pension increases in place, considering the education of their children and grandchildren, hearing the news of strong economy with rising employment, might vote Labor. So too with the disability insurance scheme, with the national interest in retaining the triple-A credit rating, returning the Budget to surplus or the new dental scheme which will fix the teeth of thousands of people – these are good bits of news that could sway a few votes.
Jones’ ability to dismiss these policy issues, or never even refer to them, and make sure that none of his audience considers the value of the policy agenda matters in terms of votes and potentially the election outcome.
His influence cannot and should not be underestimated on the grounds that he only preaches to the converted.
If even 2% of his audience of more than 200,000 people in Sydney alone don’t change their vote away from the Liberal Party because they listen to Jones prejudiced and ill-founded views (that 2% is merely for illustration), that’s 4,000 precious votes retained for the Liberal Party. His radio program is of course syndicated throughout Australia so his reach and influence is every greater than that.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Jones has only limited influence on the electorate. You just have to look at the last election to see how important a couple of thousand votes can be.