Reuters has just issued its semi-regular Poll Trend, a weighted composite of results from Morgan, Newspoll and ACNielsen (but not Galaxy, which has been kinder to the Coalition in recent months). Their current figure has Labor ahead 57.3-42.7; the long-term trend looks a little something like this:

Despite Monday’s ACNielsen, that much-touted trend towards the Prime Minister as preferred leader is evident in other polls:

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.

364 comments on “Flatliners”

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  1. Melbalp, I live in the Federal seat of Higgins and state seat of Hawthorn, Ted Bailieu’s seat. Hawthorn is not included in your analysis of Higgins. In 2002 Baillieu got 55.9% 2CP, and in 2006 he got 62.3%. At the 2002 Labor landslide, Labor came very close to taking East Yarra Upper House Province, which includes the seats of Hawthorn, Burwood, Kew and Box Hill; the Libs only just scraped in with 50.1% 2CP.

  2. MelbALP, your argument re Higgins is flawed when:

    1: You forgot that Higgins contains the strongest Liberal voting areas of the state seat of Hawthorn.
    2: Those areas within Higgins of Burwood were the only liberal voting areas in the latter seat.
    3. The contibution of Oakleigh voters to Higgins must be a very small proportion.

  3. And in 2006, those parts of Prahran south of Dandenong Road (and not in Higgins) voted very heavily against the Liberal party. There was a mix of results within Higgins.

  4. Still, Newspoll is reporting a 14% Labor swing in safe Lib seats, which would be more than enough to take Higgins. It would be great fun for me if Costello actually had to doorknock. “Knock, knock, knock, Peter’s at the door. Peter wants your vote.” LOL!

  5. There is only One booth in the State seat of Oakleigh which lies in Higgins.

    also as someone pointed out the ALP’s strongest booths in the seat of Prahran are booths like Reden Central and St Kilda East and these are in Melbourne Ports.

    Its also very true that Higgins contains the strongest Liberal booths in the state seat of Hawthorn., the Liberal vote at the Camberwell end of Hawthorn is some 10% higher than the Hawthorn end.

    Looking at this part of Melbourne the Suburb of Hawthorn should be in Higgins for it has more in common with South Yarra and Malvern than Camberwell and Balwyn, one could alsio argue that Richmond should be in Higgins as well.

  6. That’s a good point regarding Hawthorn. That’s a stronger argument than simply claiming that Malvern was held by a 16% margin (which it wasn’t) and that’s the end of story. I would point out there was an 8.3% swing to the ALP in Hawthorn at the 2002 election.

    Back of the envelope, about 5000 voters in the state seat of Oakleigh fall into Higgins, 10,000 from Hawthorn and Burwood, 25,000 from Prahran and 35,000 from Malvern.

    If you check the ’02 results, it appears the ALP won the Ashburton, Alamein, Burwood booths and was almost even in the Glen Iris and Glen Iris South booths. All of these fall into Higgins. At the 06 election, the ALP won the Glen Iris South booth.

    I’ll reiterate my previous point – if a swing is on, Costello will have a close fight but will probably survive. I’ll add to that: if the swing is 6% in Victoria, Costello could possibly lose his seat, given the variability in swings that occurs (i.e. swings are never uniform). There are surely enough caveats in those statements that this shouldn’t be in dispute.

    Just as an aside, it is sometimes forgotten that the Coalition’s metro seats (even those considered blue ribbon) are rarely as safe as the ALP’s metro seats. With some exceptions, the Coalition’s very safe seats (its powerbase) are found in rural areas (Murray, Mallee, O’Connor, Riverina, Groom, Gwydir). The ALP’s are generally found in the strongly ethnic and/or inner urban areas of Melbourne & Sydney (Fowler, Batman, Scullin, Wills).

    Discussions regarding likely outcomes for seats (and more generally) should be based on evidence, rather than broad assumptions.

  7. From Oakleigh, Higgins contains:
    Carnegie North
    Carnegie Upper
    Hughesdale North
    Oakleigh (shared with Hotham)

    From Prahran, Higgins includes the suburbs of:
    South Yarra (part) excluding the Liberal voting bit around Domain Rd but including large public housing
    Prahran & Windsor – strongly ALP and high Green vote
    Toorak – solidly Liberal
    Armadale – split

  8. Sorry, Graeme, for the Tour result.

    The deporting of Haneef has already been covered here so I’ll simply say, not a good look for the govt.

  9. Evan Says:
    I live in Ruddock’s electorate: what’s the chance of a big swing against the Liberals in Berowra?


    There was a 3.5% swing agst Ruddock in Berowra in 2004. There certainly is potential for a further swing in Berowra however this will be mitigated agst by the redistribution into Bradfield of the area east of the railway up to the Bobbin Head turn-off. This includes some Hornsby booths that Lab has won 2PP both state & federally over the past 10 years.

    This should actually necessitate Ruddock moving his electoral office as it is now situated in Bradfield !!

  10. Discussions of Victorian seats (Higgins et al) are interesting. That seat down Geelong way (Corangamite) is probably going to be the first to go IF Labor gets a substantial swing on in Victoria.

    Still, I maintain my view that Labor has exhausted its seat potential in Victoria despite the very good results in 2004 which could be built on in 2007.

  11. Interesting comments, Strop.

    I DO agree that Labor may face slimmer pickings in Victoria than in other states. I would, however, take issue with your reference to “the very good results in 2004”. Barring the smallish swings in such Lib seats as Higgins & Kooyong, I would have characterised the Labor results in Victoria as more damage limitation with heavy swings in once marginal Lib seats and heavy damage in their own seats.

    I think the most likely results in Victoria will be a return to normal in Labor seats with the likes of Holt & Isaacs exiting marginal territory and margins extending in the likes of Bendigo, Ballarat & Calwell.

    Any gains will be a bonus. Corangamite, MCEwen & maybe McMillan may come into play if a cross the board swing eventuates but at best they are 2nd-3rd line of betting rather than prime targets.

  12. Dirk is correct. There is not the slghtest chance of Labor winning Higgins or Goldstein, and not much chance of winning Deakin or La Trobe. The only Victorian seats I would give Labor much chance in are McMillan, McEwen and Corangamite, but I don’t *expect* Labor to win any of them. Labor has a large number of marginals in Victoria (Holt, Isaacs, Chisholm, Bruce, Melb Ports, Bendigo and Ballarat) and will be happy to hold all of them. Any gains will be a bonus.

  13. I take your point Dirk: I suppose when I spoke of very good results in Victoria I was thinking visa-vie other States. I shall do some more thorough research before I make this kind of statement again, or at least qualify it.

    Now I have to go and cf Victoria with other States in 2004 and see if my ‘qualified’ thoughts hold any water. Meantime, I think I am still right in suggesting that the Labor seat qouta in Victoria is exhausted. ie Expect Labor to gain 1-3 seats max in Victoria.


    Labor had slight first preference gains (0.2-3.2) in 7 of the 18 Coalition held seats in 2004 (Corangamite, Gippsland, Goldstein, Higgins, Kooyong, McMillan, Mallee) helped along by the 2004 pre election redistributions in Victoria in some, hindered by others.

    Ironically, the 5.4% 2004 redistribution in favour of Labor was met with a 5.5 2PP swing against Labor in Gippsland. On the other hand, the 5.4 swing in favour of the Coalition in McMillan was met with a slight improvement in Labor’s First preference vote (0.9) and a 2PP swing toward the Coalition of ‘only’ 2.1%.

    On the other side of the ledger, Labor suffered a fall in 1st preference votes in 14 of its 19 Victorian seats (2004) ranging from 0.03-5.3. The exceptions were Ballarat, Bendigo, Chisolm, Gorton and Melbourne. Melbourne was the only Labor seat that improved its 2PP outcome in 2004.

    At least part of the 2PP “heavy damage” in Gellibrand, Holt and Lalor can be credited to the 2004 pre-election redistributions that occurred in Victoria. The 2PP swing in Gellibrand was 5.4, preceded by 5.5 pro Coalition redistribution. The 2PP swing in Holt was 6.4, preceded by a 5.4 pro Coalition redistribution. The 2PP swing in Lalor was 3.7, preceded by a 3.5 pro Coalition redistribution.

    Other Victorian Labor seats that I would classify as suffering “heavy damage” in 2004 at the 1st preference level were Scullin (-5.2) and Maribynong (-5.3). The Maribynong result was helped along by a pro Coalition redistribution (2.0) and both seats retain a 2PP margin of 5.9% or better.

    10 Labor seats became more ‘marginal’ in 2PP terms in 2004, including Ballarat (2.2), Bendigo (1.0) Bruce (3.5) Calwell (8.2) Chisolm (2.7) Corio (5.6) Hotham (7.4) Isaacs (1.5) JagaJaga (4.4) and Melbourne Port (3.7) but only Isaacs (-5.4) and Calwell (-7.0) suffered what I would categorise as “heavy damage” and Calwell retains a comfortable 2PP margin (8.0%).

    The 2PP swing against Labor in the other 8 (loosely) marginal Labor seats in Victoria was above the National 2PP swing against Labor (-2.2%) in Bendigo (-2.5) Bruce (-3.0) Corio (-2.8) and Hotham (-3.5), not what I would categorise as “heavy damage” outcomes.

    In summary, at least some of the 2PP “heavy damage” suffered by Labor in Gellibrand, Holt , Lalor and Maribynong was the product of the pre election Victorian redistributions; Scullin retains a very healthy 2PP margin; the 2PP swing against Labor in those 10 marginal seats could only be considered “heavy damage” in Isaacs and Calwell .

    Having said that, it is clear that Ballarat, Bendigo, Bruce, Chisolm, Corio, Isaacs, Jaga Jaga, Maribynong and Melbourne Ports will be assigned margin recovery missions by Labor at this election and the loss of any of these seats would certainly cause “heavy damage” to Labor. In other words Dirk, your prognosis is probably spot on !!

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