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Sydney’s political geography revealed in seven maps

The Political Persona Project aims to examine n attitudes to politics, society and lifestyle. If a city’s personality could be mapped, Sydney might look something like this.
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Wealthy conservatives in the north, disillusioned pessimists to the south, social progressives in the east and traditionalists out west – this is the political geography of Sydney, according to the results of the Political Personas Project quiz “What type of Aussie are you?”.

Conducted by Fairfax Media in collaboration with the ANU’s Social Research Centre and Netherlands-based political research enterprise Kieskompas, the project is one of the most comprehensive attempts to examine n lifestyles, politics and social values.

It revealed seven groups, or “personas”, representative of the most common patterns of thinking in .

The quiz calculated how much users resembled each of the different personas, based on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with 36 statements covering a range of political, social and lifestyle topics.

These maps, based on the average result for users in that postcode, show how closely the different areas of Sydney match each persona.

They reveal where particular mindsets, with common political views and social values, are strongest and weakest, and which personas tend to congregate in the same areas. Pessimists, for example, often huddle in areas with strong egalitarian and progressive politics, while anti-government sentiment runs high in suburbs where traditional values still reign.

Sydney’s inner west is the epicentre of social change. People in these postcodes had the highest matching scores for the Progressive Cosmopolitan and Activist Egalitarian tribes – the two tribes with the strongest social conscience and support for wealth equality.

Newtown, Enmore (2042) and Chippendale (2008) are the heartland of Sydney’s Progressive Cosmopolitan mindset, while Marrickville (2204), Dulwich Hill (2203) and Summer Hill (2130) scored highest for the Activist Egalitarian.

However, the inner west is also home to some of Sydney’s most disillusioned postcodes, with Marrickville and St Peters (2044) ranked 6th and 8th for closest resemblance to the Disillusioned Pessimist.

The gloomy belt stretches westward from Newtown and intensifies in the south-west suburbs of Lakemba (2195) and Punchbowl (2196), and in the western suburbs around Blacktown (2148) and Toongabbie (2146).

However, it is Berowra (2081) in Sydney’s northern outskirts that claims the top spot, alongside Lakemba, for Sydney’s most pessimistic postcode.

The optimistic island of white on the Disillusioned Pessimist map is Sydney’s affluent east and north shore, which scored lowest for this persona, led by Northbridge (2063), Double Bay (2028) and Hunters Hill (2110).

The wealthy north side scored highest for the Lavish Mod-con and Ambitious Saver – the two tribes with the strongest focus on money.

The lower north shore, northern beaches and east scored highest for the Ambitious Saver tribe. The most ambitious and thrifty postcodes, however, are scattered across Sydney, with Rose Bay (2029) in the east, Cecil Hills (2171) in the south-west and Waterloo (2017) in the inner city revealed as the closest matches to the Saver persona.

Lavish Mod-cons tend to huddle close to their thrifty cousins on the north shore and eastern suburbs. However, the map below also reveals a second stronghold in the north-west, spanning Kellyville (2155), Glenhaven (2156) and Dural (2158). Neighbouring suburb The Ponds (2769) is the closest matching Sydney postcode to the Lavish Mod-con.

However, political sentiment in these two big-spending, conservative enclaves diverges in at least one key way: anti-government sentiment runs much higher through the city’s north-western outskirts.

The Ponds ranks second for closest resemblance to the Anti-establishment Firebrand, behind neighbouring Berkshire Park (2765), while the surrounding dozen postcodes (including Kellyville, Glenhaven and Dural) make up the geographical core of this persona.

Geographer and social economist Peter Phibbs said incomes in Sydney’s north-west had risen in recent years, with high-income earners in the Hills district emerging as a distinct group.

“The anti-establishment sentiment is possibly led by some dissatisfaction with the housing market, and some of the crankiest members of this group are likely to have left Sydney,” said Professor Phibbs, who is director of the University of Sydney’s town planning innovation centre, the Henry Halloran Trust.

Traditional values continue to reign in the city’s outer reaches, with postcodes in Sydney’s west and south-west fringes achieving the highest scores for the Prudent Traditionalist persona. This map is almost the inverse of the Progressive Cosmopolitan map, with the inner west in stark contrast to Sydney’s most cautious and traditional postcodes Doonside (2767), Erskine Park (2759) and Cabramatta (2166).

Professor Phibbs said the personas were probably more tightly clustered than they would have been in the past.

“Changes in the housing market mean that income variations within regions of Sydney are washing away, and you are getting sharper spatial differences across the city,” he said.”For example, inner areas used to have more mixtures of households but now gentrification is changing the distribution.”

Disillusionment and pessimism also seemed highest in areas with large numbers of renters, he added.

More than 270,000 ns, including 56,000 in Sydney, have completed the quiz since it launched on February 6.

Overall, they were more likely to be male (57 per cent, compared to 49 per cent of the general population), younger (most were aged between 20 and 50), university-educated (more than 60 per cent had a bachelor or postgraduate degree, compared with 20 per cent of the general population) and to live in a capital city.

They were nearly 2.5 times more likely than someone in the general population to match most closely with the Progressive Cosmopolitan tribe, and nearly twice as likely to match most closely with the Active Egalitarian or Ambitious Saver tribes.

The most under-represented were Prudent Traditionalists. Only 10 per cent of people who completed the quiz were most closely matched to this tribe, compared with 30 per cent of the general population.

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