How’s it swinging

Below is a preliminary Mackerras pendulum/table based on current results. The first thing to note is that the Liberals seem to be enjoying one-way traffic in late counting. They have taken the lead in Dickson, Swan and Bowman, appear home-and-hosed in La Trobe and are strongly placed in Macarthur. An 862 vote lead in McEwen would also normally be a basis on which to claim victory, but there are reports of “the discovery of about 3000 votes wrongly sent to neighbouring Scullin” which don’t seem to have been factored in yet. Only in Herbert has late counting actively improved Labor’s position. They are also keeping their noses in front in Solomon, although the imminent count of electronically lodged military votes might narrow the gap. If these trends continue Labor will end up with a relatively disappointing haul of 84 seats, against 64 for the Coalition and two independents. In that case it would take a loss of only nine seats at the next election for Labor to lose its majority, which would occur on a uniform swing of just 1.7 per cent. Bennelong again emerges as the litmus test seat: Labor can take comfort in the likelihood that it will swing heavily to them in John Howard’s absence. The next seat up the pendulum is Petrie in northern Brisbane, where Labor currently leads by 2.3 per cent.

Labor supporters might assume that federal politics will now follow the precedent established time and again at state level, where Labor enjoyed landslide re-election wins after establishing themselves in power. However, the historical record at the federal level offers the unhappy precedent of first-term swings against every post-war government (though only in 1998 was it greater than 1.7 per cent). I have a high enough opinion of Malcolm Turnbull to imagine he can steer the party clear of many of the obstacles that have faced it at state level, should the party be sensible enough to make him leader. Whoever takes the mantle, they will face the severe difficulty of a party room dominated by members from Western Australia, whose sensitivity to the national mood is indicated by today’s front page headline in The West Australian: “WA Libs demand party stands by WorkChoices”.

26.5 Batman
25.4 Grayndler
24.1 Throsby
23.6 Melbourne
23.3 Wills
22.0 Gellibrand
21.2 Scullin
21.0 Chifley
21.0 Gorton
21.0 Watson
20.0 Port Adelaide
20.0 Sydney
New England 24.6 (IND vs NAT)
Mallee 21.6
19.5 Calwell
19.2 Blaxland
18.9 Fowler
18.5 Cunningham
17.0 Reid
16.4 Hunter
15.9 Newcastle
15.8 Lalor
15.6 Denison
15.6 Fraser
15.3 Maribyrnong
15.3 Werriwa
15.1 Shortland
Murray 18.3
O’Connor 16.6
Kennedy 15.9 (IND vs ALP)
Riverina 15.7
14.9 Oxley
13.9 Prospect
13.7 Hotham
13.6 Kingsford Smith
13.5 Capricornia
13.3 Charlton
13.1 Lingiari
12.5 Barton
12.5 Griffith
12.3 Holt
12.0 Rankin
11.8 Canberra
11.2 Banks
Moncrieff 14.4
Curtin 14.3
Bradfield 13.6
Maranoa 13.0
Mackellar 12.6
Parkes 12.4
Mitchell 11.4
Calare 11.3
Farrer 11.3
Fadden 10.4
9.5 Corio
9.5 Fremantle
9.5 Richmond
9.4 Perth
9.2 Jagajaga
Warringah 9.5
Moore 9.3
Barker 9.1
Pearce 9.1
Indi 9.0
8.7 Bruce
8.6 Ballarat
8.6 Lilley
8.6 Lyons
8.5 Adelaide
8.0 Melbourne Ports
Kooyong 8.9
Tangney 8.8
Berowra 8.7
McPherson 8.7
Lyne 8.4
Wide Bay 8.3
Groom 8.1
7.9 Isaacs
7.8 Makin
7.5 Chisholm
7.4 Lowe
7.4 Macquarie
7.2 Parramatta
7.1 Lindsay
7.0 Brisbane
Flinders 7.8
Wannon 7.3
Cook 7.1
6.9 Wakefield
6.1 Brand
6.0 Bendigo
Higgins 6.8
Mayo 6.8
Casey 6.1
5.1 Hindmarsh Forrest 5.8
Gippsland 5.7
Menzies 5.7
Goldstein 5.6
Canning 5.4
North Sydney 5.2
Aston 5.1
4.9 Blair
4.8 Bonner
4.8 Moreton
4.7 Leichhardt
4.6 Kingston
4.5 Franklin
4.1 Dobell
4.1 Eden-Monaro
McMillan 4.9
Greenway 4.6
3.7 Longman
3.5 Dawson
3.1 Forde
Grey 3.9
Ryan 3.8
Wentworth 3.7
Dunkley 3.5
Gilmore 3.4
Hume 3.4
2.6 Flynn
2.4 Page
2.3 Petrie
Boothby 2.9
Fairfax 2.6
Fisher 2.6
1.7 Bennelong
1.7 Deakin
1.5 Braddon
1.4 Hasluck
Hughes 1.8
Kalgoorlie 1.6
Cowan 1.4
Hinkler 1.2
Paterson 1.2
Stirling 1.1
Cowper 1.0
Sturt 1.0
0.9 Bass
0.9 Corangamite
0.8 Solomon
0.5 Robertson
0.4 Herbert
La Trobe 0.5
McEwen 0.5
Macarthur 0.4
Bowman 0.02
Swan 0.02
Dickson 0.01

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.

720 comments on “How’s it swinging”

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  1. Be it 84, 85, 86 seats to Labor, it is a hefty mandate that has it well placed in 2010 or 2011. A 2% swing to Labor next time around will give it 98 seats and a majority of 46. Malcolm Turncoat – have a nice time!

  2. In 1977 there really was only a negligible swing back to Labor of around 1.1%. This was after a huge loss in 1975 when you’d expect there would ordinarily be a larger swing. Now this could be put down to the fact Gough stupidly stayed on, but I suppose that’s just to say that really anything could happen.

    I don’t happen to share William’s high opinion of Malcolm Turnbull and honestly see him flopping within 2 years time. Still, Labor will need to work hard to consolidate their marginals and possibly win a few in the next election.

  3. I don’t think Turnbull or anyone can really help the Libs now. After reading Simon Benson’s article in the DT, I am convinced that not only do the Libs NOT need to merge with the Nationals as one party, they need to split themselves a la the Labor Party circa 1954. The factions within the Liberal party are so deep and divided that they can’t mend them. Whether or not that split is along geographical lines (WA Libs split and form their own party) or ideological lines, it must happen if they are to survive in any functional capacity. This is proven by the fact that they are now out of power everywhere.

  4. Even if there is a swing to the Coalition at the next election, they would still need a 2.6% swing in their own right to gain a majority.

  5. I think what constitutes the term “relatively disappointing” could benefit from further elucidation by William Bowe.

    If the Coalition had won 84 seats, this would have been considered one of Howard’s greatest triumphs.

    It matters infinitesimally little, either in the Parliament or the next election, how many of these knife-edge marginals you win. The demographic changes alone between now and next election will be greater than their current % margins.

    Also next time it will boost Labor’s vote to have one or more Coalition state governments. Too bad NSW won’t be gone before then, but people will have it in mind that it’s only 5 months away before they can flush Iemma as long as they’ve already retained Labor in Canberra.

  6. Wow. After the biggest result for the ALP in decades, they still only have a wafer thin majority.

    This changes the nature of the game a bit. For instance, everybody seems to be assuming that the Coalition turn inward and eat itself in despair. But why should they? They have a reasonable chance of winning government back after only one term in Opposition.

    Thus I expect the Coalition will actually get its act together quite effectively betwen now and the next election.

  7. the wa dominance over the liberals is quite interesting. bishop should be a shoe in given she will be picking up wa and moderate support (at least second preferences).

  8. Is there anywhere I can find out how particular booths swung. I am interested in two specific booths in different electorates to see a) if my observations on the day were accurate and b) in one booth see how a particular behaviour translated.

  9. William, I wouldn’t call 84 seats for Labor disappointing! It’s more than I predicted they’d win. And let’s not give up yet on Swan, Dickson and Bowman as potential Labor wins. Am I correct that Labor does better in absentees and provisionals than postals?
    It’s a damn shame Rodney Cocks won’t win La Trobe – he would have been a good addition to the parliament. Maybe the ALP can find something else for him, or Rudd can appoint him to some body.

  10. Hemingway, I don’t think Morris Iemma will last until 2011: the N.S.W ALP will dump him in favour of John Watkins(who did a lot to help Maxine McKew win Bennelong)

  11. Additional consideration is that out that 5 of the 6 remaining Coalition incumbent doubtfuls were not even considered remotely marginal three years ago. Only La Trobe was down near 5%. Macarthur was over 10%.

    Conversely, Swan could be a Labor incumbent loss with a miniscule swing of 0.1% and Cowan less than 1%. Are Swan and Cowan now the Anti-bellweather electorates?

  12. As a general observation, there seem to be more seats with very small margins (less than 1%) now than in the previous parliament. Is this true?

  13. Howard Hater @ 13.

    Hope you are correct about dumping Iemma for Watkins, even though don’t know how they can survive when we don’t need them to protect us from the big, bad Howard Government anymore.

    Watkins is a great choice. When he was education Minister for about a year before the 2003 election, he even managed to get along with the Teachers Federation!

  14. BTW, regardless of mandates, I think Rudd got elected because he was competent and harmless, promising only to do what was needed. But I found Rudd’s comments on Bernie Banton, visiting homeless shelters, and even Ross Gitten’s comments in SMH this morning all heartening. They all spoke about a desire for a more decent government, as well as just being efficient and doing the obvious (scraping Workchoices, signing Kyoto). People said that this election made no difference, but we have already seen that it has mattered a great deal.

    Howard got relected promising to raise standards, then didn’t. He over promised, and under delivered. If Rudd can do the opposite, I would be very pleasantly surprised.

  15. HH

    I wouldn’t be sorry to see Iemma go, but if we are going to be honest about NSW Libs and their toxic crew, then similarly I have to say that a lot more than Iemma need to go in NSW State Labor. He is the tip, but unfortunately there is a very slimy berg underneath.

  16. Fargo61 Thank you!!! It confirmed my sense of the vibe and it also tells me the behaviour I was observing was people carrying mini baseball bats in their pockets.

  17. John Watkins has turned a formerly marginal Liberal seat of Ryde into a safe Labor seat, he’s a good media performer, and a thoroughly nice bloke.
    In comparison, Iemma is a tongue tied, accident prone buffoon.

  18. Robertson is an interesting one. On election night Labor looked to have won comfortably; now there’s a only 0.5% lead. Postals must be breaking pretty strongly for Jim Lloyd, and depending how many are remaining it could still be pretty close.

  19. Extraordinary.

    The ALP achieves a very large swing ~ 6%, the third largest in history since the war, equals the ALP TPP vote in 1983, and holds a 20+ seat majority, all in the best economic times in our history, and it’s a disappointing result!

    Now we have people forecasting how the next election will play out and who will gain seats and who will lose seats, it’s quite extraordinary.

    Three things came out of Saturday, and all of them are good:

    1. The Howard era is over. The era of the wedge, the race card, the divisiveness, and the mean spririted behaviour is over. The Crosby-Textor view of the political world is over. Not only did Howard lose the election, he lost his seat, another record.

    2. Kevin Rudd has been elected, and if anyone saw the 7.30 report last night, you began to see what he will be like. He will be a first rate PM.

    3. The Liberal party will once again return to being a Liberal party. Turnbull, Nelson, Bishop ,and Pyne, are all Liberals. This can only be good for the nation.

    The backward looking, divisive, petty and mean spirited nature of recent politics will be gone for good. Thank heavens!

  20. Thanks William. The final count doesn’t look too much like a landslide now does it? Regardless, interesting times for 2010 with so many marginals.

  21. Two Points:

    1. Can someone explain what’s meant by “imminent count of electronically lodged military votes”. I’m worried about the electronic lodgment bit – given how bad electronic voting has been in the USA, I hope it’s not coming here.

    2. Those suggesting a Double Dissolution, keep in mind that with a DD the quota required for a seat is halved. Some may think this will be good for the Greens but it will also be so for Family First, One Nation, and other right nutters. The threat of One Nation getting a number of seats in the Senate is supposedly part of the reason Howard never called a DD in his early terms.

  22. I know it’s been mentioned before, but do we have any actual read on how the preferences in O’Connor are developing?

    SMH Report

    Apparently (??) the national is widely respected as an environmentalist and so maybe enough of the greens will follow the HTV cards and edge the Nats ahead of hte ALP.

    If everyone follows the HTVs then Tuckey loses – FF, the CEC and the Greens send the Nats ahead of Labor. Tuckey needs (irnoically enough) lots of green voters to give their second preferences to the ALP (against the green HTV card).

    Did anyone here scrutineer in O’Connor? Their the only one’s likely to know the real answer.

  23. Its possible that both Hasluck and Bennalong will move into the less than 1.0% margin before counting is finished.

    Last election Bennalong picked up about +0.8% in swing from postals, absents etc

    Its also fun seeing the national 2PP swing to ALP bouncing around as the postal, pre-poll and absent votes are getting counted.

    From memory, election night left the 2PP swing to ALP at 6.3%.

    Its now down to 5.9% and deflating slowly.

  24. I just can’t see WA sticking to [insert leader here] like they stuck to Howard.

    I would assume that Labor would do better in the west.

    I also reckon that there would be a swing to the ALP in the east also – assuming Rudd delivers and in the absence of some stunning cock-up.

  25. Watkins is almost the only saving grace in NSW parliament. He has performed like a superstar especially given the team of duds surrounding him. But it seems a bit of a stretch to think that the NSW right would allow someone from the left to take the top job.

  26. Over at the Manly Daily yesterday they were trying to cinvince the locals that the Liberals had won. They had something about ‘bucking the trend’. Any swing against ‘The Mad Monk’ is a positive, even if ~ 2%. I expect though that when your head is firmly up your arse for so long you just don’t notice the stench.

  27. Watkins gets all the hard portfolios, like police and transport, and does a fair job with them! Iemma will no doubt stick him in health next, because you can be sure Reba Meagher won’t last in that portfolio.
    Who have the N.S.W right got to offer? Sartor, Tripodi, Costa? Watkins trumps the lot of them.

  28. Kruddites, deal with it: the new Government’s majority is underwhelming, certainly when measured up against every other first term government since the Depression, the notable exception being E.G. Whitlam. Furthermore, the swing required for a change of government is also relatively modest. Its all about the Liberals…if they get their act together (I acknowledge a big ‘if’) they are a huge chance, especially if their is a recession (unfortunately for the country, not such a big ‘if’)

  29. Hey Ave it!

    “Ave it 07 Says:
    November 5th, 2007 at 7:07 am
    162 LOL
    View from england – we think the Coalition will hold on!
    Could be as big as 10 maj for Coalition….. a long night of disappointment for Labor….”

    Close, boss! Good to see you keeping your chin up.

  30. I suspect the Liberals, for superficial reasons only, will go for Julie Bishop as deputy. This woman is typical Perth Western Suburbs – expensive private schools, flash houses, and perpetual cocktail circuits. Hence the headline in today’s Worst Australian about keeping workchoices – “That will keep those working class bludgers in their place won’t it”.

    It just demonstrates how thick she really is. Surely all the negative stats that the Howard Govt. wouldn’t release will soon be made public, and this blight on our industrial relations history will be rubbed out for all time. Even Howard knew this when he said that if this IR system was disposed of now, it could never be introduced again in the future.

    They will elect her, and they will regret it.

  31. Er…mainly because we make sure that everybody votes here in Australia so we don’t have a government winning with the votes of less than 25% of the population, there’s two-candidate preferred counting to do, and it’s geographically more challenging. For starters.

  32. Chris@39, wasn’t 16 seats a huge ask, and beyond what was possible given a decade of government and a strategic marginals campaign? So what does that make a 26 (or thereabouts) gain? The Liberals have no money and no power base. I wouldn’t be holding my breath if I were you.

  33. 38 Ave it 07 Says

    Why does it take you lot so long to count the votes?

    In UK we do it in 24 hours……

    Because we have a democracy of the whole people not just those who can be cajoled into voting plus:

    1) Absentee ballot papers have to be sent from the booth they were cast to the relevant Divisional counting office. In a big country this takes time.

    2) Time has to be allowed for Postal Vote ballots to get to the relevant Divisional counting office.

    3) We have automatic recounts in this country.

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