Idle speculation: late February edition

The previous thread was getting on the long side, so here’s a new one. Conversation starter: a Roy Morgan poll commissioned by Crikey shows the Prime Minister trailing Labor in his seat of Bennelong by 41 per cent to 40 per cent on the primary vote, and 55-45 on two-party preferred. The sample was 394, which is pretty good for an electorate-level poll. The fortnightly Newspoll will be published in The Australian tomorrow.

UPDATE: 54-46 to Labor in Newspoll; down from 56-44 last time, but Kevin Rudd has a headline-grabbing lead as preferred PM. Elsewhere, England’s finest blogger, Harry Hutton, has made his debut entry on Australian psephological matters.

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.

232 comments on “Idle speculation: late February edition”

Comments Page 1 of 5
1 2 5
  1. Bennelong has never been Liberal heartland, and over the years has migrated slowly west, and so taking in more ALP-inclined areas. The corresponding State seat (Gladeville/ Ryde) has usually been an ALP marginal. Demograhics are also at play here, as there has been a huge influx of many Asian migrants over the last couple of decades. I actually grew up in Ryde (with Johnny as the local member), and it’s a very different area that the one I went to school in.

    I suspect that Howard will retain it this year (much as I’d love to see him be the first PM since Bruce in 1929 to lose his seat), but if the Libs do lose the election, he almost certainly will lose this seat. Once Labor does win it (probably aafter Howard) they will probably hold it more often than not (ie it will switch from a Lib marginal to an ALP marginal).

  2. Bob Katter’s father was once a member of the ALP; so maybe young Bob would support a fellow Queenslander. After all, the maverick Liberal Peter Lewis gave Mike Rann his chance in SA.

  3. Sacha,

    the ALP already holds Oxley, i think you mean Blair, even though it is mainly quasi ruaral it has a big chunk of ipswich in it. Ipswich is a pretty happy place for the Labor Party.


    Crazy Bob may be crazy, but hes not that crazy, Kennedy likes conservatives

  4. If Labor picks up only 13 seats and requires the support of all three independents, it’s not inconceivable that they could offer Katter the Speakership. Katter seems so confident in his own electoral buffer in Kennedy that he might be silly enough to accept it, regardless of how poorly that would probably be viewed by his constituents. Neither Andren nor Windsor seem likely to accept it, both for ideological and electoral reasons, and Labor might see it as an affordable way to neutralise Katter’s vote.

    And it’d make Question Time more entertaining!

  5. The first time the conservatives won Kennedy was in 1925 when the sitting Labor member died after the close of nominations. Without Katter Labor could win Kennedy in a good year, they did in 1990 with Rob Hulls, and their 1966 loss of the seat was self-inflicted. Like Kalgoorlie it might have stayed in the Labor fold a lot longer. On Bennelong, if Labor get anything like the 54-55% some polls are suggesting Bennelong will be one of the less surprising gains. I agree that social change is pushing it towards Labor, following the path of Lowe which the Liberals will probably never win again.

  6. It’s true the Katters were once Labor, but Bob Senior went over to the QLP-DLP in 1957 and later joined the Country Party. Bob Junior retains some Old Labor views such as high tariffs etc, but is very conservative on most social issues. He doesn’t hate the Nats as much as Windsor does. But he MIGHT support a Labor govt if the other two inds did so, as part of a deal such as the 3 inds in Vic did with Bracks. His price might be too high for Rudd tho. He would be quite impossible as Speaker. Windsor or Andren as Speaker might be possible.

    On the bush seats generally, one of Labor’s problems is that we have to win more urban seats than Whitlam or Hawke did, to compensate for the fact that we no longer win many bush seats. If you go back to 1972, Labor under Whitlam held Darling, Hume, Riverina, Eden-Monaro, Macquarie, Wide Bay, Capricornia, Dawson, Leichhardt, Grey and Kalgoorlie, of which we now hold only Capricornia and (on paper) Macquarie. (Curiously Whitlam never won Herbert).

    In 1983 Hawke won Eden-Monaro, Calare, Macquarie, Ballarat, Bendigo, McMillan, Capricornia, Herbert, Leichhardt, Grey, Kalgoorlie and Northern Territory. In 1987 he won Hinkler and in 1990 Richmond, Page and Kennedy. In 1993 Keating won Paterson.

    In 2007, of all these seats, we hold only Richmond, Ballarat, Bendigo, Capricornia and Lingiari and on paper Macquarie. Only Eden-Monaro, Paterson and Herbert are realistic possible wins. Almost certainly we will never again win Grey, Kalgoorlie, Kennedy, Dawson, Hinkler, Wide Bay, Hume or Riverina, and I doubt we can win Leichhardt, Flynn, Page, McEwen or McMillan.

  7. Kalgoorlie was considered a chance a few weeks before the 2004 election; suburban Melbourne is spilling into McEwen; McMillan seems sour at the moment but the demographics are possibly less daunting than in the other seats mentioned.

  8. The pattern seems to be that once we lose these seats it is very hard to get them back. We can’t even win the state seat of Kalgoorlie now. I agree that McEwen and McMillan are winnable, but I doubt we can win them this time.

    Offsetting this is that we now hold some urban seats which Whitlam never won – Lowe, Bruce, Hotham, Chisholm, Griffith.

  9. We can take the US House of Representatives as an analogous situation. The Democrats have lost a large chunk of the Roosevelt majority coalition – the white South, which has gone over almost totally to the Republicans. To win their current majority in the House, the Democrats had to win large majorities of seats in the North-East, the Upper Midwest and the West Coast, areas which in Roosevelt’s time were strongholds of liberal Republicanism.

  10. I see Larry Anthony is Running for preselection in Page.

    That is excellent news for the Nationals, he win that and the election, then hell be deputy leader and ensure their survival for at least another 15-20 years.

    He probably should have run for Richmond again, but its too important for the NAtionals to have their star in a coin toss seat

  11. All country Queensland was Labor until the shearers deunionised in the 50’s.

    the country provided red ted theodore and ryan.

    then Nicklin broke the pattern and with his successor bjelke-petersen used the boundaries Labor had put in place to keep Labor out for 40 years.

    THe boundaries Nicklin inherited were not so much gerrymandered but malapportioned so as to prefer the country ( an instance that still occurs today, Seeneys seat has about 10000 less electors than Beatties).

    gerrymandering is a better description for the boundaries that Goss instituted in the early 90’s in Brisbane

  12. Queensland – if Seeney’s seat has fewer voters than Beattie’s it’s due to relative enrolment decline – from memory, only seats with an area larger than 100,000 square kilometres are weighted and they are: Cook, Mt Isa, Charters Towers, Gregory and Warrego. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next redistribution, only four seats end up being weighted or else these five will expand eastwards.

    Goss legislated for the weightage following the E.A.R.C. report – without any earc report he probably would have instituted no weightage. And it’s not a gerrymander.

  13. The way i see it the ALP can only win with Green preferences in the more moderately safe Lib seats and they cannot afford to loose any themselves. Are there any seats in the other states that might have the greens run second ? I’m in SA

  14. I do not think John Howard will lose Benelong unless there is a very big swing to Labor in NSW. I consider that any other liberal candidate would find this seat very difficult to win. In a byelection Labor would probably win the seat. This
    means that should John Howard lose the next federal election he would
    be forced in the interests of the liberal party to remain in parliament.

  15. If Larry Anthony wins preselection for Page, which I think he will, it will greatly reduce the Nationals chances of holding that seat.

    Voters in Page are unlikely to accept an outsider being forced on them – especially one who was previously rejected by another electorate.

    In the past the Nationals have managed to lose safe seats by preselecting candidates from outside the electorate, e.g., Groom 1988 & Fairfax 1990.

  16. Makin is a mortgage belt seat in the outer north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide. It is named after a Labor luminary, Norman Makin, a member of the House or Reps from 1919-46 and 1954-63, a minister in the Curtin government and ambassador to Washington. The seat was creaqted in 1984 and its first member was Peter Duncan, a minister in the Dunstan state government and then in the Hawke federal government. Duncan was pushed out in Labor’s horror election of 1996 and the seat has been held since by Trish Draper, morals crusader and protege of Liberal right-wing faction heavy Nick Minchin.

    Labor mounted several ineffectual campaigns against Draper but lifted its game in 2004 with Salisbury mayor Tony Zappia, who cut her margin from 3.8 percent to 0.9 percent. Many thought Draper was dead meat after it was revealed she had travelled overseas with her boyfriend at public expense, but Labor did not go in hard on this issue and remarkably she received preferences from Family First which is very strong in this area.

    Draper is retiring and Zappia is again the Labor candidate. His Liberal opponent is Housing Industry Association chief Bob Day, responsbile for building many of the homes in Makin.

    The Advertiser polls in several Adelaide maginals have shown big swing to Labor, but it has not yet polled Makin, Wakefield or Adelaide.

  17. I agree with Bruce, there is a good chance of Page falling to Labor like Richmond did last time or being won by the Liberals. A Labor victory is more likely. Labor is certain to pick up Parramatta (notionally Liberal on the new boundaries), Page, maybe Eden-Monaro, Lindsay, Dobell Bennelong and Wentworth. They will lose Macquarie, which is notionally Labor on the new boundaries to Andren.

  18. I can’t say much about Makin, but in the Adelaide papers and in the air, there feels like a bit of a swing against Howard. Granted it is only February (and Rudd is going through a honeymoon period), but it feels different.

    How would you know if this isn’t just a honeymoon for Rudd (meaning when would you know, if it happened?)

  19. I can’t see the ALP winning Wentworth. Bennelong, yes, but Wentworth’s margin is surely the result of the Turnbull-King war.

    What’s the general opinion on why the Nats lost Richmond? I have to say that I had Page pencilled in as a gain but I’m quite worried by the advent of Anthony.

    Also – does anyone know if the Courier-Mail (or perhaps anyone else?) have done any seat-specific polling around Brisbane? The margins are mostly artificially inflated I think and Rudd will definitely help… but nevertheless some of the seats talked up as ALP targets (Dickson and Bowman in particular) seem to be a bit too much to ask.

    Would also be interested in any perspectives on the North Queensland seats that might be within reach – Herbert, Hinkler and Flynn.

  20. In Queensland there are probably a dozen seats that the ALP could count itself a chance, these include the little mentioned seats of forde and leichardt.

    THe courier mail hasnt released any polling if it has it, but the courier mail is a biased paper, it had a loely puff piece on how great rudd and swan are on the weekend just gone.

    The Nationals lost Richmond because the Green vote was too strong, off the top of my head it won booths, and the preferences delivered the seat to labor. Anthony won on primaries, however if he isnt running for it, which we know hes not the ALP is going to hold onto it.

  21. If a seat like Forde, with a 13% buffer, is considered to be in any sort of trouble then Howard should start writing his memoirs now because he’d be dead in the water.

  22. Queensland – if Seeney’s seat has fewer voters than Beattie’s it’s due to relative enrolment decline – from memory, only seats with an area larger than 100,000 square kilometres are weighted and they are: Cook, Mt Isa, Charters Towers, Gregory and Warrego. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next redistribution, only four seats end up being weighted or else these five will expand eastwards.

    A lot of seats are over and under quota. There should have been a redistribution last year but it was delayed when Beattie called an early election.

    On Queensland seats, my sense is that Labor hasn’t surged as much here as in other states. Only Bonner is a cert. Some Labor people I’ve talked to think Moreton is a tossup. Dickson and Petrie had big problems last time – poor campaigns and poor candidates. Also FF style mortgage belt seats. The strong economy in Qld is going to provide a cushion for Howard, I think. I’ve got a feeling any significant Labor gains might be more likely to come outside Brisbane than in Brisbane, but I haven’t really looked at the seats yet.

    Some state based polling would be extremely helpful. I’m very surprised no one’s done it – there’s an obvious big news angle on whether Rudd has lifted Labor’s vote in his own state.

  23. I thought we had established before that Andren is running in Calare, not Macquarie. I agree that whichever one he runs in, he will win it.

  24. Kay Elson isnt running in forde, and she is actually a candidate who has a personal vote, the family name got a better than above average swing to it at state level in woodford, which is like the third safest labor seat in Queensland. A woman named wendy creighton is, a former candidate for rankin.

    at the last election every sitting member recontesting there old seat got a swing to them in queensland, i dont know what to make of that but its an interesting fact.

    nb sciacca ran for bonner not his old seat of bowman

  25. Charlie, there was a 2.5% swing to the ALP in Wentworth last election and it’s impossible to know what the swing would have been if King hadn’t run.

    Disregarding this 2.5% swing to the ALP, the redistributed margin would be about 5%. This of course doesn’t take into account that in the strong ALP parts of Sydney transferred to Wentworth, there was hardly any Liberal campaign (and there was an ALP campaign). No doubt that will be different this election!

  26. Re Wentworth I do not expect Mr Turnbull to lose for much the same
    reasons as John Howard will not lose. Malcolm Turnbull will campaign
    very strongly and given his advantage of being the sitting member
    and his financial resources a loss would be very unlikely

  27. This speculation about individual seats is endless fun but of little use. If Labor gets the swing they will win and with many surprises. In 1998 Labor failed to win not because of factors in individual seats but because the marginals were disproportionately suburban mortgage belt. On rural Qld; the main problem is the decline of the provincial unionised blue-collar working class and its replacement by a non-unionised retail and hospitality workforce, Leichardt is a classic example of this. Cairns has more in common with suburban Brisbane than the bush, but Labor can win these seats. The seat that has become more working-class is Capricornia due to coal mining and this has moved firmly into the Labor column. However coalfields in Flynn hence importance of the coal issuse.

  28. There’s a redistribution now due in Tasmania.

    Will they start it now knowing that the election is coming?

    Do they still have to do one if all the seats are within the projections, as I think they might be?

  29. They’d certainly have to suspend it once the election is called. If the seats are within projections, they would still have to ensure that all the seats are within plus minus 3.5% of the average in 3.5 yrs.

  30. Charlie : pre 2004 election margins were as follows :

    Moreton 1.2%
    Blair 1.1%
    Herbert 1.4%
    Longman 1.5%
    Petrie 3.5%
    Bowman 2.8%

    The Bonner/Bowman one is a bit difficult to predict. Bonner (my electorate) will definately see a return to Labor. Bowman, now taking in alot of new mortagee’s in Thornlands and Redland Bay will probably show similar patterns to other “mortgage belt” seats. The “fringe” seems to get further and further out with each election

  31. If a redistribution is due, then the AEC will start it. There’s provision in the Act for elections being held during redistributions. If there’s no change to the number of divisions (as will be the case for Tas) the election will be held on the old boundaries.

    The projected populations make no difference to the decision about whether or not to hold a Redistribution. They don’t get looked at until the Redistribution Committee is formed and the process has begun.


  32. “They’d certainly have to suspend it once the election is called. ”

    Actually Sascha, the redistribution continues through the election. IF there is a change to the number of divisions for a state, they do a ‘mini-redistribution’ where they take the two contiguous divisions with the highest (or lowest) aggregate enrolment and create three (or one) divisions, using a hypenated name for the new one (eg from the divisons of ‘Smith’ and ‘Jones’ we’d get a new one called ‘Smith-Jones’)

    Then later it’s re-redistributed into ‘proper’ boundaries.


  33. “Redistributions are not taken within a year of the expiration of parliament.”

    Good catch David. The Tas redistribution will commence within 30 days of the first sitting of the new House of Reps.

  34. I’d assume that post-redistribution that Calare would be a likely Nats or Liberal seat if Andren wasn’t running, so if, as people are saying Andren can win either Calare or Macquarie, that gives him a lot of power to decide which party he’d rather see win – Labor in Macquarie or the Nats in Calare.

  35. off the top of head

    Ashgrove, where ashgrove and the gap (the blue bits) are cut in half and shared with mtcootha then it somehow reaches all the way to newmarket and alderley (extremely labor), it is a stretch to claim community of interest.

    Ferny grove should use brisbane forest park as its northern boundary but it reaches well into the samford valley.

    sandgate takes carseldine and bracken ridge and shoves them in with deagon and sandgate, this one makes a little more sense but the boundary is very fortuitous for the ALP.

    Clayfield makes a bizarre hook shape so that nundah and pinkenba can be grouped with hamilton and ascot turning it safe to marginal for the liberals.

    Moggill is drawn so safe for the liberals , it could ditch chapel hill or pullenvale and still be won easily by the liberals, the liberals would never ever loose indooroopilly if it included chapel hill and crows nest would be extremely competitive if pullenvale was in it.

    That was just off the top of my head. I get a little rusty south of the river, but hopefull i have painted a picture that supports my statement.

    the boundaires are drawn so favourably for the ALP that the coalition cannot win Government unless they get 55% 2PP.

    I know this is a federal thread but i think its interesting

  36. Alex – do you really think that the ALP might continue to go backwards in those seats? There’s no chance of that, surely. Seeing those numbers I can’t help but ponder the ‘what-ifs’ of 2004. 🙁

    I’m quite hopeful about Herbert and Blair and won’t quite rule out Flynn and Hinkler. In most of Australia Labor does well in provincial cities. They hold all three Newcastle seats, both Wollongong seats, Ballarat, Bendigo, Corio, Oxley and Capricornia. They should also be able to win Bass and Solomon.

  37. Queenslander, I disagree. I don’t see any sign of gerrymandering in Qld boundaries. Are you must be mixing things up as The Gap hasn’t been shared between Mt Cootha and Ashgrove since the 1989 election?

    Changing the seat of Clayfield so that Toombul was included probably wouldn’t change things much.

    The state seat of Sandgate has comprised roughly the same suburbs for decades.

    Moggill is a safe seat for the liberals (in that the Libs always win it) because most people in that area vote liberal and have done so for a long time. It would be difficult to draw a seat in that area that the Liberals wouldn’t usually win.

  38. sacha,

    the ashgrove mt cootha boudary is waterworks rd which goes straight thru the middle of the gap. i worked on both ashgrove and mt cootha campaigns at the last election and couldnt believe the baltant absurdity of the border.

    apologies for those annoyed at how far weve gone off topic,

    also what i meant by moggill was gerrymandered, i meant that the boundaries were drawn so that is super safe and and leading the bordering electorates being that much harder for the libs to hold onto.

    Actually the thing about clayfield is it is really ritzy then drops away really fast to labor areas, but that sort of thing happens a bit in brisbane

    i suppose its time to fess up and admit what most people already picked, but i am a paid up member of the liberal party.

    but on this issue it is so blatant that even with my personal bias taken into account i think its a bit too far

  39. Ashgrove does have a rather unusual shape elongated shape that stretches from inner to beyond the outer suburbs..

    I’ve always thought the Brisbane City Council might be Gerrymandered. The Liberals should have won based on votes – see the Lord Mayor.

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 1 of 5
1 2 5