ACT Election: Conclusion

A word about that Canberra Times poll. The sample of 327 isn’t much, but it’s not completely useless and even the extreme end of its margin of error is still good news for Labor. After allocation of the undecided it has Labor on 55 per cent, Liberal on 30 per cent and the Greens on 11 per cent. This puts the Liberals roughly level with their 31.6 per cent from 2001, and it’s far from the only reason to think they won’t improve this time. For the Greens, 11 per cent feels a little on the low side, but only a little. The federal election demonstrated that the dividend they will receive from the decline of the Democrats has been over-estimated, and while they should improve on their 9.1 per cent from 2001, Senator Bob Brown’s prediction of four seats may be dismissed as another of his extravagant boasts. No doubt Labor’s score is excessive, but probably not to the degree that many would assume.

There are a number of good reasons to expect a particularly strong showing for Labor. Firstly, it would be a bit out of character for the voters of Canberra to deliver yet more power to the Liberal Party in the week that the Coalition secured a historic majority in both houses of federal parliament. Secondly, there has been a long term trend of "normalisation" in the ACT since the first election was held in 1989, when eight of the 17 members returned represented groups cranky about the establishment of self-government. The influence of independents has since progressively declined which is always good news for the traditionally dominant party, that being Labor in Canberra’s case. Thirdly, to an observer of recent state elections there seems to be a familiar pattern at work – the Labor Government that came to power in a minority position, and went on to win the following election in a landslide. Outstanding examples include Bob Carr in 1999, Peter Beattie in 2001 and Steve Bracks in 2002.

For these reasons, the Poll Bludger’s tips are as follows. Molonglo: Labor 4, Liberal 2, Greens 1. Brindabella Labor 3, Liberal 2. Ginninderra: Labor 2, Liberal 2, Greens 1.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.