Election plus two weeks

A deep look at federal election swings, plus a few meagre snippets of post-election polling news.

Two points to emerge from our friends in the polling community, which passed notice while I’ve been diverted by close counts:

• ReachTEL has published a helpful table illustrating pollster accuracy, which is sporting of them given the attention it calls to the eye-watering accuracy of Newspoll. However, all concerned did very well in predicting a two-party preferred result which, by my back-of-envelope reading, will ultimately settle at around 50.5-49.5 to the Coalition. Essential and especially Ipsos overshot on support for the Greens, with the latter landing around 2% too low for both major parties, but the only other substantial errors involved the balance of support between the Liberals and the Nationals, which I don’t regard as particularly important. Electorate polls were a different matter, and will be looked at in greater detail when all the results are in.

• On the Tuesday evening following the election, Roy Morgan conducted an SMS poll poll from 3587 respondents on leadership approval. The poll had Malcolm Turnbull with a narrow 51-47 lead as preferred prime minister, which the Morgan release sets up for comparison with a 57-24 result from May. However, the May result was an interviewer-administered phone poll, a method evidently less conducive to a “neither/can’t say” response. The poll also found Malcolm Turnbull leading Tony Abbott by 71-25 as preferred Liberal leader, and Anthony Albanese leading Bill Shorten 49-48 for Labor.

Now to an exercise I’ve conducted to get a clearer sense of what sort of areas did and didn’t swing. The chart below shows results of a regression analysis on 6582 polling booth results in which two-party swing data was available, which excludes the 14 electorates where the AEC’s two-party count is not between Labor and the Coalition. The purpose here is to discern if the swing to Labor was more or less evident in areas with particular demographic characteristics. The results record a big move back to Labor in the ever-volatile mortgage belts; an apparent failure of the Abbott-to-Turnbull leadership switch to improve the Coalition’s standing in ethnic communities; and better swing results for the Coalition where voters were wealthier and better educated, and – perhaps more surprisingly – older.


After the constant and starting with “Age”, the table lists the associations between polling booth swings to the Coalition, which in practice usually means negative results recording swings to Labor, and five demographic variables for the census districts in which the booths were located. All but one of these variables, English spoken at home, records a statistically significant association with the swing, as indicated by a score of less than .05 in the significance column on the right. The “B” coefficient of .001 for “Age” tells us that areas with a median age of 40 would generally swing 1% more favourably for the Coalition than areas with a median age of 30. “MFY” stands for median weekly family income and is measured in thousands, so the coefficient means swings tended to be 0.3% stronger for the Coalition for every $1000 of average household income. “School” represents the percentage of the 18-plus population who had completed high school, every point of which associates with nearly 0.1% of swing in favour of the Coalition. Conversely, Labor did 0.02% better for every percentage point of mortgaged dwellings.

The five demographic variables are followed by geographic ones that are there to ensure the results for the demographic variables aren’t influenced by regional differences in the swing, particularly those from state to state. Sydney is excluded so it works as a baseline, so the coefficient for Melbourne tells us that the Coalition would typically do 2.6% better there than at a demographically identical booth in Sydney. Finally, two variables are listed to control for retiring member and sophomore surge effects, which prove to be significant in both cases. “LNPgain” was coded 1 where the candidate was a Coalition sophomore and -1 where a Coalition member was retiring; vice-versa in the case of Labor sophomores and retirees; and zero where neither applied. “ALPloss” was coded 1 where Labor lost the seat in 2013 and 0 otherwise, to measure the boost to the sophomore effect in seats where Labor had a sitting member defending last time. The results suggest Coalition members who won their seats from Labor in 2013 did 2.2% better in swing terms than other Coalition candidates, which reduces to 0.5% in seats where they were replacing retiring Coalition members.

To observe these effects in action, the four tables below identify the 15 highest and lowest ranked electorates by the four statistically significant demographic indicators, and show their two-party swings to the Coalition where available. The lowest education electorates, all of which are regional, were 4.0% worse for the Coalition than those at the top of the scale, of which all apart from Fenner in the ACT are near the centres of the largest cities. Median age was more of a mixed bag — old electorates are regional, but the young ones encompass inner cities, mortgage belts, enclaves, a defence town and the largely indigenous seat of Lingiari. Nonetheless, the distinction here is as great as it was for education, and not in the direction that might have been anticipated from a touted backlash over superannuation policy.


The lowest income electorates, all of which are regional other than two in Sydney, recorded an average 3.5% swing to Labor, only slightly above the national result. But the results for the Liberals were well above average among the wealthiest electorates, over half of which swung in the Coalition’s favour. The mortgage effect is more modest, with 2.8% separating the averages for the top and bottom fifteen. Electorates at the top end of the mortgaged dwellings table are all in the outer suburbs of big cities, but the bottom end is a dissonant mix of regional and inner-city areas, producing a wide range of swing results.

The extent to which this exercise actually explains the results is illustrated by the chart below. For each electorate, the result the model would have predicted is plotted on the horizontal axis, and the actual result is plotted on the vertical. The electorates identified by name are those where the Coalition most under-performed or over-performed the prediction. Keep in mind that this accounts for regional as well as demographic factors, so Lyons shows up as a strong Liberal performance because the swing there was lower than in the other three Tasmanian seats included (remember Denison is not included due to its lack of two-party swing figures). Most electorates’ results were within 2% of the prediction, but a good many had results where alternative explanations are substantially required.


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.

1,112 comments on “Election plus two weeks”

Comments Page 2 of 23
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  1. “Diversity comes in many ways” says JBishop of gender diversity. Obviously only the male kind for the Liberals.

  2. Julie Bishop trying to sledge Labor women who have risen out of the Union movement defending the lowest paid women and others in the workforce was just slimey. Typical really from a Tory Toff.

  3. c@tmomma @ #13 Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Thanks for the heads up, lizzie!
    It’s just as well I didn’t have to run on the field today as my eldest sent me a text at 5.30am to tell me to pick him up at the train station at 7am!! He had been at a party in Sydney, up all night and didn’t want to couch surf a nap so decided to come home instead!!!

    Pampered! A good walk from the station is probably just what he needed to clear his head. 👿

  4. C@t:

    She got quite defensive when asked about their going backwards with women. Obviously a sore point for her.

  5. Attacks on a good bloke always backfire. People realised Bill Shorten was and he proved he was over the long campaign.

  6. ‘fess,
    Yes, Bishop’s logic is that, if a woman is pre-selected in a notionally Labor seat then she should be elected because she is a Liberal woman! Sheesh!

    What she didn’t point out was that some of those women, eg Karen Howard up Newcastle way, was a dog of a candidate that no one wanted to vote for, female or not! If she had been a he, people still wouldn’t have voted for the candidate, they were that bad.

  7. C@t,
    If you can have a go at the cartoons early, that would be great.
    These links should help:
    David Rowe: https://twitter.com/roweafr?lang=en (right click on the cartoon, and click on “view image”

    John Kudelka: http://www.kudelka.com.au/ (Cartoons only appear here irregularly, but I usually check), or http://www.kudelka.com.au/category/political-cartoon/the-australian/

    Fairfax Cartoons: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/cartoons (open in a private tab if you do not have a subscription)

    Cathy Wilcox: https://twitter.com/cathywilcox1?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

    Mark David: https://twitter.com/mdavidcartoons

    Mark Knight:
    And while checking the links, I found a few new ones:
    Julie Bishop dips her toe:

    New father Mick Jagger:

    Mark David on health funding:

  8. barney in saigon @ #60 Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Or a point she doesn’t give a toss about.

    On the contrary. I think she is genuinely concerned about this issue. After all, can you imagine how abruptly her political career would end if the Liberals had an alternative token woman to appoint?

  9. Barney:

    I think she does care about that. What does it say about her party that it only has 13 MPs out of 100 or so who are women? That’s got to be embarrassing.

  10. Player One @64

    barney in saigon @ #60 Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Or a point she doesn’t give a toss about.

    On the contrary. I think she is genuinely concerned about this issue. After all, can you imagine how abruptly her political career would end if the Liberals had an alternative token woman to appoint?

    This is my suspicion. She is “the woman”, there is no need for another. Any new women will be stared down and frozen out.

    A senior woman from QUT, whose name I sadly do not remember, said in a talk about a decade ago “Do not expect senior women to help you rise up the ladder. They have got to their position by using the existing system, and they will protect it.”

    This is gradually changing, thanks to a few very dedicated woman and men who have consciously tried to help talented women in their careers. so, we are now seeing a new cohort at more senior levels who regard women as a normal part of the workforce.

  11. Bemused

    I think it is just part of the investigatory process and I understand it included his estranged wife.

    Yep. Standard to take people into custody for questioning on the Continent.

  12. C@t:

    And then there’s Mirabella, a candidate so odious that she’s failed twice in a row to win in Indi.

  13. Sunny and lovely morning in Melbourne town. Perfect conditions for VP Biden

    Sky News Australia
    5h5 hours ago
    Sky News Australia ‏@SkyNewsAust
    US Vice-President Joe Biden to tour Melbourne http://bit.ly/29LgWW3
    Embedded image

  14. [“Diversity comes in many ways” says JBishop of gender diversity. Obviously only the male kind for the Liberals.]

    Well it might just be that there are very few intelligent competent woman in the Liberal party supporting population, although we know that of the male part of the liberal supporting population and it seems to help them succeed.

  15. Bemused,
    We live 15km away from the ‘closest’ railway station! Pampered he is not. There aren’t even any buses on a Sunday here! Though he, and I, have walked it when we have had to. : }

  16. c@tmomma @ #73 Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 10:05 am

    We live 15km away from the ‘closest’ railway station! Pampered he is not. There aren’t even any buses on a Sunday here! Though he, and I, have walked it when we have had to. : }

    My comment was tongue in cheek. 😀 And I didn’t know it was that far.

  17. Barack Obama just became the first sitting president to publish a scholarly article.

    The article, titled “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps,” with “Barack Obama, JD” listed as the author, was published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (known as JAMA) on July 11.

    It’s a pretty badass move for a president, and he got a lot of love on Twitter with the hashtag #ObamaJAMA.


    It’s unthinkable that Trump is even in a position to become POTUS after the class act of Obama.

  18. Re women in the LNP.
    The LNP is a Corporate PR Business. They do mergers, acquisitions and asset stripping, not government. It is in J Bishop’s interest to keep the younger spokesmodels down – particularly with her increasing dependence on botulinum toxin.

  19. One for DTT.

    Zika epidemic has peaked and may run its course within 18 months, say experts

    Researchers have created a model of the virus, currently circulating in more than 35 countries in the Americas, to explore how the epidemic will play out

    The Zika virus epidemic in Latin America is likely to run its course within the next 18 months, according to a study by researchers in the UK and US.

    Zika is currently circulating in more than 35 countries in the Americas and is primarily spread by mosquitoes. It is believed to cause the birth defect microcephaly, that results in babies being born with and unusually small head and possible damage to the brain, as well as the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome that can result in temporary paralysis.

    But scientists say that the epidemic might have reached its peak.

    Writing in the journal Science, researchers from Imperial College, London and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, describe how they have created a model of the disease to explore how the epidemic will play out. The model is based on surveillance data currently available for the Zika epidemic in Latin America, together with information on mosquito populations, plus data regarding similar, mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue.

    The researchers say the findings suggest the current epidemic is likely to last for three years in total. “The three years counts for the transmission we have seen so far, and we have seen at least a year of very high levels of transmission,” said Neil Ferguson, lead author of the research from Imperial College, London. “So we are probably coming to roughly about the halfway point.”


  20. William

    Fantasic analysis.
    Do you think you could post a permanent or easy to find link as i think I may wish to refer to this again – often!!!

  21. Bemused

    I so not know why I bother – STFU is not yet working

    What have I got to do with Zika virus. I have never commented on it. While I do not dispute it is serious, I do not regard it as a serious threat, albeit very, very nasty for some.

  22. Indi, for some obscure reason, has always run a high number of female candidates. In 2007, 2010 and 2013, the Liberal, Labor and Greens candidates were all female – and in 2013, so was the major independent.

  23. daretotread @ #80 Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I so not know why I bother – STFU is not yet working
    What have I got to do with Zika virus. I have never commented on it. While I do not dispute it is serious, I do not regard it as a serious threat, albeit very, very nasty for some.

    It seemed to fit one of your interests. Anyway, I found it interesting.

  24. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/shorten-took-lessons-from-andrews-tight-campaign-tactics–but-guy-has-much-to-learn-20160715-gq6ctd.html

    Local state political editor makes comparisons with Andrews and Shorten, and shows how state opposition leader Matthew Guy really falls short.

    In the final three weeks of the campaign, 10,200 calls were made to undecided constituents, and the campaign office even managed to identify 56 households of Greens voters who were so angry that Andrews had dumped the East-West Link they agreed to put Liberals ahead of Labor on their how-to-vote cards.

    I could never understand how campaign directors find out information like these. It’s odd enough to find Green voters who will preference Libs over Labor on EWL when the Greens policy in Victoria is against the EWL.

  25. Oh dear

    Bridget O’Flynn retweeted
    15h15 hours ago
    Arif ‏@Atozai
    This video will lit up your weekend✨, @PaulineHansonOz got the best treatment EVER at Indigenous Art Fair.

  26. It certainly does have a feel that we are at a tipping point………..
    Jane Caro
    16h16 hours ago
    Jane Caro ‏@JaneCaro
    Does anyone else feel like the world is unravelling? Or am I just in a gloomy mood?

  27. Niki Savva final observation suggests it’s all doom and gloom for Labor. She suggests if Labor wants to win in it’s own right it needs a higher primary vote.

    Oh no! Really Niki? Gee tell me something we don’t know. Savva also had a smirk on her face when she said it too. This really isn’t a great challenge for the Labor party. In Queensland the public wanted to get rid of Campbell Newman not only voters who previously voted Liberal came back to Labor, but also voters who previously supported Palmer United Party in the federal election were coming back to Labor as well. Savva comment really was only stating the obvious, and was nothing more then a petty swipe at Labor.

  28. Is it not a bit hypocritical and potentially sexist of us to attack Julie Bishop for how she looks? I do not like her or her policies but talking about whether she had botox or not seems a bit silly, when she has an already interesting backstory. I think her death stare is fair game though. She has definitely mastered that and its part of her moves.

  29. Apart from the tragedies in France and Turkey, one of the saddest stories I have seen this week is on ABC TV right now and was on 7.30 earlier in the week.

    The plight of Chinese families who have had a child stolen and the desperate search the parents conduct, often for many years. Watching, I could feel the pain of those parents. So terribly sad.

  30. raaraa @ #90 Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Interesting twist. Would Clover Moore someday be Sydney’s own Xenophon?

    For Sydney’s sake, I hope people come to their senses soon and purge Clover and her cronies from the council. Sydney has become a much worse place to live under her decade of stewardship.

  31. Bemused

    OK sorry for bering cranky.

    I am interested in epidemiology and the article IS interesting. Now I rather thought /think the Zika panic is a bit overblown – or it is at least for our western nations. Given that the only people in danger are pregant women and babies, it would be relatively easy and cheap to do a blood test to determine if a woman has been exposed and there are reasonably effective preventative measures er mospuito repellent.

    Of course Zika in far North Qld amongst indigenous communities might be a problem for a while, but bizarrely it would probably rapidly ease as a threat because every baby girl would catch the disease in childhood, well befroe child bearing years. Young women travelling to the North for the first time might be the only ones at serious risk.

  32. She never misses an opportunity to deride Labor. “cookie cutter women”

    Yup, the winning ALP candidate for Cowan was just such a run of the mill standard offering. Smart, Muslim, Academic, Woman rather than union background. Oh how common.

    FFS. Bishop is just so full of crap. That she, who has been turfed from her previous ministerial gigs for sheer incompetence should comment like that pisses me off.

  33. Ides

    I have to agree.

    Given the outrage on this blog everytime someone commented on Gillard’s jackets or hair etc, it is pretty poor form to do the same to Bishop.

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