Break it down

Earlier in the campaign, I had occasion to divide Queensland’s 89 seats into 12 regions in order to compare variations in population growth. I will now use the same regions to compare the size of the two-party swing for and against Labor, after omitting seats where independents or exceptional circumstances interrupted the normal two-party contest. The number in brackets after the name of each region is the number of seats in the sample; the two sets of figures are mean and standard deviation. I will add further commentary regarding the outliers in these samples shortly. UPDATE: See below.

Sunshine Coast (4) -4.1 3.6
Gold Coast (8) 2.0 2.6
Northern Brisbane (7) -0.7 1.6
Urban Hinterland (3) 1.6 2.7
Southern Brisbane (13) -1.7 3.5
Central Coast (4) 0.7 4.1
Inner Brisbane (13) -1.9 2.4
Western Brisbane (6) -0.4 2.8
Cairns/Townsville (6) 4.6 2.6
Regional Towns (5) 1.1 3.5
Interior/North (5) 0.2 5.9
Weighted (7) 3.3 3.0

By the way, the regions are listed in order of their rate of population growth, a potentially interesting hangover from the last time I used the table.

Sunshine Coast. The mean figure here would be even more pronounced if you removed Pumicestone, which swung 0.5 per cent to Labor. That would leave Kawana (7.3 per cent), Maroochydore (6.5 per cent) and Caloundra (3.0 per cent). Independent-held Nicklin and Noosa have been excluded, although it’s notable the Nationals were up 6.9 per cent in Nicklin and Labor down 3.1 per cent.

Gold Coast. Most of the results here were roughly status quo compared with 2004, including Gaven, which swung 1.8 per cent where it needed to swing 5.0 per cent if the Nationals were to repeat their April by-election win. The exceptions were the big swings to Labor in Robina (6.5 per cent) and Burleigh (4.0 per cent).

Northern Brisbane. The wild talk about Kallangur amounted to nothing more than a 3.2 per cent swing; all other swings in this region were less than 2 per cent either side.

Urban Hinterland. Not much left of this after you remove Gympie and Nanango – Lockyer (2.8 per cent to Labor), Beaudesert (3.5 per cent to Labor) and Glass House (1.5 per cent to Liberal).

Southern Brisbane. There are two conspicuous outliers here: Chatsworth, where Michael Caltabiano still managed a 9.8 per cent swing compared with 2004, and Cleveland, which lived up to expectations with a swing of 8.0 per cent. Remove those two and you get a mean of -0.4 per cent and a standard deviation of 1.7 per cent. So in other words, an extremely stable picture with a small number of exceptions.

Central Coast. Gladstone and Maryborough are out because of independents, Whitsunday because its 11.0 per cent swing to the Nationals was an outlier born of one-off circumstances. That leaves an evenly mixed bag: Burnett (4.4 per cent to Nationals member Rob Messenger), Hervey Bay (0.8 per cent away from Labor member Andrew McNamara), Keppel (3.2 per cent swing to Labor member Paul Hoolihan) and Mirani (4.7 per cent swing against Nationals member Ted Malone).

Inner Brisbane. Ashgrove (6.7 per cent) and Brisbane Central (5.0 per cent) slightly boost the anti-Labor mean here. Interestingly, Peter Beattie’s margin in the latter has gone over two elections from 25.0 per cent to 14.6 per cent. Removing those two puts the mean at -1.2 and the standard deviation at 1.8.

Western Brisbane. A 4.6 per cent swing against Labor in Inala and a 3.6 per cent swing to them in Ipswich West (a slightly embarrassing outcome for retiring member Don Livingstone) cancel each other out and inflate the standard deviation; the other four seats hardly budged.

Cairns/Townsville. Uniformly excellent results for Labor, the outstanding figure being the 9.6 per cent swing in Thuringowa, partly explained by independents distorting the result in 2004. Removing that reduces the mean to 3.6 per cent and the standard deviation to 1.1. Other swings ranged from 2.2 per cent in supposedly vulnerable Mulgrave to 4.9 per cent in Mundingburra.

Regional Towns. By which I mean Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Mackay and Rockhampton. The only swing against Labor was the 5.0 per cent that has brought Bundaberg down to the wire; remove that and you’ve got a mean of 2.6 per cent and a standard deviation of 0.8.

Interior/North The figures here are not much use, as the results are a testament to the importance of candidates in these areas. First-termers Jason O’Brien (Labor for Cook) and Shane Knuth (Nationals for Charters Towers) picked up 7.6 per cent and 8.4 per cent swings, while the other seats hardly budged.

Weighted. By which I mean the seats that are allowed to have fewer voters than the others because they cover vast geographic areas. This covers eight seats, including Tablelands which is excluded because it is held by One Nation; of the remainder, Mount Isa is held by Labor and the others are held by the Nationals. There was a general swing to Labor throughout the area, only Darling Downs bucking the trend by going 1.8 per cent the other way. Hinchinbrook led the way with a 7.8 per cent swing to Labor, influenced by the retirement of sitting member Marc Rowell.

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.

26 comments on “Break it down”

  1. It’s no surprised Labor lost a fair bit of ground on the Sunshine Coast but surprised me that they pick up 2% on avg in the Gold Coast. Do these figures include Gaven and Robina?

  2. Yes. The swing compares Gaven with the 2004 election rather than the by-election. From this perspective Gaven was the best Coalition result on the Gold Coast with a 1.8 per cent swing (whereas they needed a 5.0 per cent swing to “retain” it), and Robina was the worst with a 6.5 per cent swing to Labor. Most of the others had small swings to Labor.

  3. Did the coallition try to loose this election? If history repeats itself- there will be no change at the Federal level if the opposition are in government at the state level. So would Mr Howard really want to see Liberal/National in at the state level?

    Well – if you want to fail:

    change the leader at the last moment and give him the driver’s seat.

    refuse to exchange preferences with the independents

    make sure the guys of have a profile (ie. the National party leader) keeps his head down.

    reinforce the image that the liberal party are controlled by the federal libs any way.

    Yes it’s cynical but facts speaker louder than words.

  4. The drop in Beattie’s margin, according to some Labor campaign strategists, is due to apartment development and changing demographics in the inner city. If you compare some booths in Brisbane Central which are still (just) going Labor’s way with the same booths in the 2004 Federal election, you can see that they’re much stronger for the Libs than the “Beattie Liberals” phenomenon would predict. So it’s gentrification probably accounting for a large amount of the drop off in the margin. Anyone who, like me, has lived in Brisbane Central for the last 5 years has seen the massive change in the inner city suburbs.

  5. The regional story is interesting. By rights the Sunshine Coast should swing back Labor’s way next time round – there were some very strong local factors operating there. Quinn’s dumping has also done damage to the Tories on the Gold Coast – but really the Gold Coast is looking like nice territory for Labor these days – compare it to years ago when the ALP’s only impact was to occasionally switch a seat from Nat to Lib through preferences.

    No one in the Brisbane based commentariat seems to have picked the FNQ swing to Labor. Hopefully next time around we’ll have some more distributed blogging with people on the ground all over the state.

  6. If Labor stays at 60, I make $1050 from Centrebet. Only $700 for 58 and 59. The Labor guys I talked to just before we shut up shop tonight varied between best prediction 58 and 60, but I’m hoping against my partisan urges they don’t get up in Clayfield and push it up to 61!

  7. Once again Billy provides the best analysis of Australian election campaigns.

    Although your dedication to seeing it through has evidently increased substantially from the 2001 Qld election 😉

  8. Where’s that genius who said “oh there’s something happening in Kurwongbah”??
    Looks like I was right after all. Slight swing back to ALP, no impact from the two time loser Nat!!

  9. In other election news, the NT Stuart by-election is scheduled for the 23rd of September, with the close of nominations and public announcement of candidates at noon tomorrow. A bit of filler before Victoria in November!

  10. Are there 7 ‘weighted’ seats? There used to be only 5. Either way, Labor holds Cook, one of the biggest of all, as well as the Isa.

    Cheers, and thanks for the coverage.

  11. G’day William and everyone:
    is there any further counting done on Sunday? I’m curious to know what ultimately happens with Bundaberg, Clayfield and Chatsworth.
    William, a brilliant election night coverage as always!

  12. Evan, I am fairly sure that there is no counting again until Monday morning.

    And may I say what a superb job this blog has done of covering the election. Glad to see Antony Green dropping in on the comments section of the live blog last night from the tally room. No idea how he found the time.

    Superb job, Bludgers.

  13. According to the QEC website they are doing some counting on Sunday with results released everyday at 4:30pm or something like that… and postals and all will be counted within a week or so… then again I was reading this at 2am this morning so I apologise for vaugness.

  14. Thank you for that Mark, and for the many, many links. While we’re in a congratulatory mood here, I should put in a rare good word for the opinion pollsters. Newspoll and Galaxy Research both had Labor on 48 per cent and the Coalition on 38 per cent in their final polls. Current tally: Labor 47.4 per cent, Coalition 37.5 per cent.

  15. The papers and commmentaries seem to be giving J B-P a hardtime for failing to capture Nanango. If we look at JB-p’s results though we see he commanded a significant swing in his favour (reducing Dolly Pratt’s margin from about 12% to about 2%). In comparison to other traditionally conservative seats held by independents where the independent members enjoyed massive swings in their favour (Nicklin and Marlborough) the result in Nanango was quite impressive. I’m not including Gympie and Gladstone in this comparison because Gympie was skewed by the weirdness of Elisa Roberts and Gladstone is a traditionally Labor seat.

  16. There was fresh counting today. (No idea why the ECQ took on the task when there are so many other things to sort out first) The QEC pre-processed pre-poll and postal votes so they could count today. However, the reporting of todays counting has been erratic.

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