I’ve variously heard it said that this election was Labor’s biggest ever win, and their biggest ever swing. I presume this is because nobody can be bothered looking past 1949, a benchmark year due to the expansion of parliament, the election of the Menzies government and the fact that the AEC’s historical two-party preferred figures don’t go back any further than this. However, John Curtin’s wartime victory of 1943 had it all over Rudd’s performance. Curtin won 66 per cent of the seats from a primary vote of 49.94 per cent, up 9.78 per cent from 1940. Rudd has won probably 58 per cent of the seats from a two-party swing currently at 6.5 per cent. I personally am not willing to call this a slide, be it of the land- or Rudd- variety, given the score on the primary vote is 43.95 per cent to 42.68 per cent (UPDATE: Coalition vote now 41.54 per cent). I was actually expecting the Labor vote to be slightly higher, hence my exaggerated expectations for the Greens in the Senate.
It is a remarkable fact that there are two seats which the Liberals might gain from Labor, given that there were only four seats in the land which swung to them. The potential gains are the Perth seats of Cowan and Swan, the former of which has definitely been won while the latter is once again going down to the wire. The 2.2 per cent swing in Cowan can be readily explained by the popularity of retiring sitting member Graham Edwards, but rapid suburban expansion in the seat would also have been a factor. The swing in Swan, while only 0.2 per cent at this point of the count, is coming off a disastrous campaign from an accident-prone candidate in 2004. Other seats in Perth swung slightly to Labor. The 3.1 per cent swing that won them Hasluck was at the upper end of the range.
A little further to the west, swings were in the exact 5 per cent to 6 per cent range Labor was shooting at. Deakin has been won for only the second time in its history, while McEwen and La Trobe are still in doubt.
Not hard to spot the odd seat out in South Australia: with swings elsewhere of between 4.3 per cent and 11.0 per cent, Nicole Cornes could manage only 2.0 per cent in Boothby. Makin and Wakefield swung heavily enough that they’re outside the Labor marginal zone, but not so Kingston, which produced the state’s second smallest swing at 4.3 per cent.
The Liberal vote proved curiously resilient in the Australian Capital Territory: they were down only 3.7 per cent in the Senate, enough that Gary Humphries retains his seat, with swings of below 2 per cent in the two lower house seats.
This election produced even less support for the doctors’ wives thesis than 2004. There was very little movement in inner Sydney and Melbourne, either in safe Labor or safe Liberal seats. The most notable beneficiary was Joe Hockey in North Sydney, where a harmless 4.3 per cent swing was nonetheless a relatively poor result by inner urban standards. Sophomore surges for Julie Owens in Parramatta (7.7 per cent) and Chris Bowen in Prospect (7.3 per cent).
Outer Sydney swung as heavily this time as it famously did in 1996: Chifley (8.3 per cent), Greenway (8.4 per cent), Lindsay (9.8 per cent), Macarthur (11.0 per cent), Mitchell (9.6 per cent) and Werriwa (7.9 per cent).
A diverse range of Queensland seats produced double digit swings: Dawson and Leichhardt in the north, Longman in northern Brisbane and the neighbouring Brisbane hinterland seats of Groom, Blair and Forde. Groom was the only survivor. Retiring sitting members were a factor in Forde and especially Leichhardt. Ryan failed to live up to the hype, with a 6.8 per cent swing that was very modest by Brisbane standards. I’d be interested to know why Longman swung so heavily.
Labor’s two party share of the remote mobile votes from Lingiari was up from 78.7 per cent to 88.4 per cent.
While enough to bag two seats, swings in Tasmania were relatively mild. Franklin was one of the four seats to swing to the Liberals, a testament to Harry Quick’s personal vote.
A noteworthy outcome in Melbourne, where Greens candidate Adam Bandt will likely overcome the Liberal candidate to take second place, a first for the party at a general election. Lindsay Tanner made it academic by winning more than 50 per cent of the primary vote, but the seat will be marginal after preferences.
Links for the photo finishes series of posts have been added to the sidebar. The most notable development of the past few days has been very strong performances for the Liberals on postal votes in the neighbouring seats of La Trobe and McEwen.