Call of the board: Sydney

Ahead of Newspoll’s apparently looming return, the first in a series that probes deep into the entrails of the May 19 election result.

In case you were wondering, The Australian reported on Monday that the first Newspoll since the election – indeed, the first poll on voting intention of any kind since the election, unless someone else quickly gets in first – will be published “very shortly”.

In the meantime, I offer what will be the first in a series of posts that probe deep into the results of the federal election region by region, starting with Sydney and some of its immediate surrounds. Below are two colour-coded maps showing the two-party preferred swing at polling booth level, with each booth allocated a geographic catchment area built out of the “mesh blocks” that form the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ smallest unit of geographic analysis (typically encompassing about 30 dwellings). The image on the right encompasses the core of the city, while the second zooms further out. To get a proper look at either, click for an enlarged image.

In a pattern that will recur throughout this series, there is a clear zone of red in the inner city and the affluent, established eastern suburbs and northern beaches regions, giving way to an ocean of blue in the middle and outer suburbs. The occasional patches of red that break this up are often associated with sophomore surge effects, which played out to the advantage of Mike Freelander, who had no trouble retaining Macarthur (more on that below); Susan Templeman, who held out against a 2.0% swing in Macquarie; and Emma McBride, who survived a 3.3% swing in Dobell (albeit there was little to distinguish this from a 3.1% swing in neighbouring, Liberal-held Robertson).

The second part of our analysis compares the actual two-party results from the election with the results predicted by a linear regression model similar to, but more elaborate than, that presented here shortly after the election. This is based on the correlations observed across the nation between booth-level two-party results and the demography of booths’ catchment areas. The gory details of the model can be found here (the dependent variable being Labor’s two-party preferred percentage). The r-squared values indicate that the model explains 76.5% of the variation in the results – and doesn’t explain another 23.5%. Among the myriad unexplained factors that constitute the latter figure, the personal appeal (or lack thereof) of the sitting member (if any) might be expected to have a considerable bearing.

Such a model can be used to produce estimates that hopefully give some idea as to where the two parties were punching above and below their weight, and where the results were as we might have expected in view of broader trends. The latter more-or-less encompasses Lindsay, which was the only seat in the Sydney region to change hands between Labor and the Coalition (the only other change being Zali Steggall’s win over Tony Abbott in Warringah). The table below shows, progressively, the model’s estimate of Labor’s two-party vote, the actual result, and the difference between the two.

The first thing that leaps out is that the current leaders of both parties did exceptionally well, with their margins evidently being padded out by their substantial personal votes. Beyond that though, patterns get a little harder to discern. The Liberal-versus-independent contests in Warringah and Wentworth appear to have had very different effects on the Coalition’s two-party margins over Labor, which reduced to a remarkably narrow 2.1% as voters turned on Tony Abbott in Warringah, but remained solid at 9.8% in Wentworth, suggesting Dave Sharma may have accumulated a few fans through two recent campaigns and a dignified showing in the wake of the by-election defeat. That there was nonetheless a 7.9% two-party swing to Labor illustrates that he still has a way to go before he matches Malcolm Turnbull on this score.

The modelled result further emphasises the particularly good result Labor had in Macarthur, a seat the Liberals held from 1996 until 2016, when Russell Matheson suffered first an 8.3% reduction in his margin at a redistribution, and then an 11.7% swing to Labor’s Michael Freelander, a local paediatrician. At the May 19 election, the seat defied the national pattern in which outer urban seats that responded had unfavourably to Malcolm Turnbull swept back to the Liberals, with Freelander in fact managing the tiniest of swings in his favour. In addition to Freelander’s apparent popularity, this probably reflected a lack of effort put into the Liberal campaign, as the party narrowly focused on its offensive moves in Lindsay and Macquarie and defensive ones in Gilmore and Reid.

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.

1,549 comments on “Call of the board: Sydney”

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  1. AE

    I disagree with you on the politics. Read that Laura Tingle article for the reason why. Trump is turning it into almost a binary you are for him or against him.

    The last thing Labor wants to do is work with fascism. That’s restrained compared to some mainstream US commentators about Trump. Labor needs to read the room.

    As for cities. Sydney has great things going for it. Culture is great here. Strathfield is Korean. Cabramatta is Vietnamese Hurstville Chinese. The list goes on. Even our coffee is good. We just suffer a reputation from not having theatres. As if live theatre is everything in culture.

    Both cities are great and different.

  2. Rex Douglas @ #1500 Saturday, July 20th, 2019 – 9:31 pm

    Andrew_Earlwood @ #1499 Saturday, July 20th, 2019 – 9:29 pm

    “All you got is that harbour. ”

    And the beaches. Beaches upon beaches.

    And parks. Oodles of beautiful parklands.

    The Australian Opera Company.

    The Brandenburg orchestra.

    Coffee in Summer Hill Village on a sunny winter’s day. Or at several dozen other quaint sun traps around town …

    A few other amusements …

    Alan Jones

    Gerry Harvey

    Sussex St HQ

    New England

  3. AE

    “but modesty and a modicum of decorum”

    You do understand this is PB where sometimes both these qualities can be in short supply.

  4. Not sure your point, G

    What reputation? Next week we are seeing John Bell and John Gaden in Diplomacy, you don’t get this quality in Melbourne.

    “Returning by popular demand after a sold out 2018 season, theatre legends John Bell and John Gaden unite in this unmissable WWII thriller about Nazi Germany’s plot to destroy Paris.”

  5. And we have the Conservatorium of Music, adjoining the Botanical Gardens, where I just saw the Boston Children’s Choir sing a freedom song with the Guandong Experimental Middle School Choir

  6. Sprocket

    It’s the whole thing Melbourne uses for its culture thing.
    It’s morphed into laneway cafes but that’s it.

    I don’t think they mean the MCG but could be wrong. 🙂

  7. Mavis….I’m not so concerned about whether or not Labor is stuffed. I’m deeply troubled by the condition of the country as a whole and by our prospects. The centre-left is an absolute shambles. We have let ourselves down and, much worse, we have failed those who might rely on us.

    The country is in the hands of despots. We’re all in Green Valley and we are indubitably totally fucked as a result.

  8. Guytaur: I suspect that labor’s lost voters in the outer suburbs and provincial cities like a progressive tax system for the bottom end and for government assistance with health, education and childcare.

    They also don’t have a problem with the very top income earners being taxed at a higher rate (and I reckon they think that 47 cents in every dollar – including the medicare levy is pretty high) BUT the government promising to tax them at a maximum of 30 cents in the dollar held no fears for them at all. In fact they are very happy about that. They don’t get the nuance of how removing the second highest rate, thereby flattening taxes undermines the progressive taxation principle.

    I also don’t think that the low interest, low information voters liked labor talking about taking away things from people. At all. Even if it didn’t affect them directly. It just inflames an anti-government reaction against who ever is proposing it. Moreover, it’s worth noting that none of the last 3 labor PMs to win government from opposition campaigned on taking away anything from anyone.

    What you keep banging on about are identity politics issues: migration, race, environment, etc. I am dam sure that the lost voters give little thought to these issues at all and as long as things seem ok in their square metre, they give zero fucks about any of it.

    Winning government, implementing lasting (emphasis on lasting) progressive reforms requires us to take these type of people with us and they are only interested in how the government can help them navigate their way through life and their focus is only what is directly in front of them.

    Labor focusing on this is not pandering to fascism. Nor is it becoming liberal lite. In fact I reckon Labor can tailor a comprehensive policy platform that can win them back and would be positively Whitlamesque in its breath and depth.

  9. Pegasus
    Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 9:47 pm
    Thanks. So, it’s in the inner city many kilometres from my bailiwick.
    But not far as the crow flies. Just a short fly from Kew Junction.

  10. Tristo says:
    Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 8:37 pm
    @Mavis Davis

    The Morrison government won, mainly due to exploiting people’s anxiety over Labor’s tax policies.

    This is mistaken. The voters who swung to the Libs in the seats they had to win – the marginals – swung on jobs, household incomes, income security and the cost of living.

    Taxes were down the list.

    The Liberals have enacted the repeal of progressive income taxes. They have wanted this for a very long time. They’ve got what they wanted. Economic and social justice will perish as a result. This is a part of labour repression in Green Valley. Get used to it. It will not change unless and until the dysfunction on the centre left is repaired.

  11. “Alan Jones

    Gerry Harvey”

    Turn it up Rex. You house and feed the Bolter, Daisy Cousens and Rita Pahani. Sussex St is a palace for democracy. And good Chinese food. You on the other hand nurse the fracking IPA and all their spawn to your very bosom! Sacrebleu!

  12. Daisy Cousens is a freelance journalist and (occasional) provocateur based in Sydney, Australia. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 2015 with a Master of Creative Writing, having previously gained a Bachelor of Music at the Australian Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Arts at Macquarie University.

  13. “Don’t be shocked but I agree with your analysis re voters in regional centres and the outer suburban ring.”

    We are as one.

    Now, any ideas on how to bring em home?

  14. We need a”Big Something” on the North Shore.

    Bush Turkeys have moved in here over the last 5 years or so, digging up gardens and making themselves at home. So how about the Big Bush Turkey:

  15. AE

    See what is happening in the US. It’s very scary.
    All around immigration and we choose who comes here. We can send you back.

    Read the room. This is not politics as normal

    Also “Identity Politics” and “Political Correctness” are in fact the language of the privileged to suppress the oppressed. Indigenous rights LGBTI rights Women’s rights etc are not “Identity Politics”. They are amongst the classes of people Labor traditionally stands up for.

    On the economics Labor did not get its act together on that. It played into the LNP strength instead of the Labor ones.
    Labor should have been the ones talking about Morrison’s hand in the taxpayer pocket. Reference Bishops helicopter. Nannies being paid all the rest of the snouts in the trough fat cat politicians and their corporate mates.
    Always come back to that’s your money they are spending like drunken sailors. Stuff like that.

    Hindsight is great of course.

  16. AE

    It’s also an issue for the Greens, an issue I have raised internally over the years.

    Share my thoughts with you….not likely. But I mean that in the nicest possible way.

  17. Speaking of big things….

    Does anyone watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix? We are trying to watch all episodes before our free one month is over.

    It’s hilarious. The episode we saw today featured the biggest penis ever. So funny.

  18. nath says:
    Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Perhaps Briefly is not repetitive but just has a limited vocabulary.

    It’s a tune like any other. The Lib-kin have their incessant acts. They do covers mostly and degrade into parody more often than not. They are played over and over. I’m more out of the cotton club. Old school. My lyrics are original. But I think they’re catching on. I hear them being hummed by some of the musical bludgers. Blues. We got to feel the deeper blues.

    Speaking of which the system is turning out ‘Don’t Let Me Down.’ Very apt….too late, but apt.

  19. briefly
    I’m more out of the cotton club. Old school. My lyrics are original
    You are an insufferable bore. And most likely a terrible painter.

  20. Steve

    For both state and Federal Labor should be going full bore attacks on privatisation and the buildings risk. Even if they have to say they were lax in government.

    That threatens the building industry. Jobs and the economy as a whole as a building slump won’t be good.
    The fear of financial loss is real and a lot of people will fear becoming homeless.

    That beats a fictional death tax.

  21. Guytaur @10:32.

    I agree. Australians vote for their wallets and often still vote against their interests. The bad guys have all the megaphones and lie with impunity.

    So Labor needs to attack. Expose the lies as best they can without megaphones and with no big media allies. Put positive policies in terms of how it benefits the voter.

    As for the other stuff, do it once in office. The Coalition don’t campaign on the basis of what they’re going to cut and what they’re going to privatise.

  22. While some whinge on blogs about “Green Valley” (so clever), “Libkins” (oh right, I get it), Greens (ad nauseam), and moan that “We’re fucked” time after boring time (and amazingy achieve some kind of twisted Labor “guru” status for it), this guy has a bit of a go.

    He literally puts out a shingle, and takes on the enemy. Not much despair or misery about him either.

    I didn’t find the video. My 20 year old grandson was watching it on his phone and sent me the link. He tells me that his friends are all fans. They spread the word. Not a hint of “We’re fucked” out of any of them, either. None are party members, none are “insiders” who get the good goss (or the dirt) on Albo. They’re just kids. Certainly more attractive than some of Les Miserables misery gutsers here, at least.

  23. Steve

    Yes. That’s why I say Labor should keep its policies just pick something to campaign on. Andrews did really well in government with the whole lobster with a mate thing.

    From opposition it’s harder but it’s been done. Labor needs a Bronnie Helicopter scandal issue at election time. That would do it. In fact that was the whole sell of Morrison. Shorten is coming for your money.

    Labor has to run negative campaigning from opposition. Hope does win but some fear helps too.

  24. BB

    Edit. Sorry getting tired going to bed soon.

    David is good. I like his political sketches. Not a fan of his warhammer thing.

  25. I find Sydney is great if you have money and hang out in the inner or the eastern suburbs, whereas I find Melbourne is more inclusive of different demographics. Sydney would be better if it still had its full tram network.

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