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”

  1. ‘Nicholas says:
    Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Excellent news from ACT Labor:

    “Crushing victory for the Job Guarantee motion today on Conference floor. ACT Labor has become the first branch of the ALP calling for a fully funded living wage job for all who want one.” (ACT Labor conference delegate)’

    Who fully funds it is a matter of considerable interest.
    It won’t be the ACT revenue base.
    Already running in the red.

    If they keep shunting up the rates at double, treble and quadruple the rate of inflation and/or property values I might have to go back to work.
    I am more than happy to oblige. One way or another I work an average of sixty hours a week.
    They are already wrecking our little local community as the vulnerable aged are forced out of their homes.
    I am happy to work at my favourite contributions to the social weal if they will just give me a fully funded living wage.

  2. It is just as well the Adani Convoy and the associated virtue signalling by the Greens helped swing the Coal Seats in the Morrison camp!

  3. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/morrison-on-cusp-of-victory-over-5-billion-drought-fund-20190719-p528we.html

    “Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will face calls from senior colleagues to drop Labor’s “stubborn” objection to a new $5 billion fund supporting drought-ravaged regional communities.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has threatened to sideline Labor and woo the Senate crossbench to back the government’s plan, which would use billions of dollars once reserved for infrastructure funding.
    :::
    Several members told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age they “did not want to cop” the political attacks that would follow if the party again opposed the legislation.
    :::
    If Labor was to again block the legislation, the government would need four of the six Senate crossbenchers.

    Centre Alliance, Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie and One Nation will seek to meet Finance Minister Mathias Cormann next week before committing their support.
    :::
    Some within the government were hopeful the Greens would back the fund, but senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on Friday she was “not inclined” to support the legislation.

    “We’ve seen time and again that the Nationals can’t be trusted to manage the funds. Just look at rorting in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” she said.”

  4. I thought Albanese was quite sensible in saying that the Drought Fund should not be taken from other budgeted funds. Seems the LNP is determined to prioritise Surplus over anything else. Always robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  5. lizzie,

    So did I but now it’s all about not opposing, being a small target and being driven by how will it go down in Queensland metric.

    Inspiring leadership, wot.

  6. Yep. Albanese says something sensible, people pile on him anyway and make shit up about him being about to cave into the Coalition.

    Which allows people like mundo and adrian to tee off on Labor for being spineless. Not to mention The Greens trying to make every post a winner and not daring to tell the truth, thus using the confusion around what is actually the truth to spread their own self-serving attempts at corroding the Labor vote.

    It stinks.

  7. A Job Guarantee would be federally funded and locally administered. As you would know, the federal government can always buy anything that is for sale in its own currency, including idle labour.

  8. Cat

    It only works if Labor caves. Like it did voting to end progressive taxation.

    That’s a betrayal of long held values many expect Labor to uphold. I think the only recovery from that will be a wealth tax. In the meantime Labor has only itself to blame for not defending its left flank.

  9. Cat, what you and a few others need to realise is that ALP supporters/members are entitled to disagree with your approach and that of the current leadership, without being seen as any less of a Labor supporter than you.

    I, and I’m sure a lot of others, happen to believe that being a pale shadow of the LNP will not get us anywhere. It doesn’t make us anti-ALP.
    Get used to it.

  10. adrian

    Well so far the real realpolitik hard heads have done a bang up job winning power for Labor……………………….. oh wait.

  11. sprocket_ @ #1368 Saturday, July 20th, 2019 – 2:54 pm

    mundo says:
    Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    There are quite a few things Labor could justifiably be attacked for.
    Being fucking gutless is one.
    Being shit scared of Scrott is another.
    Being spineless big girls blouses is another.
    _—————————————————————————————————

    mundo, the pretend ALP member from Tassie showing it’s true colours

    Sprocket the genuinely weak turd from delusionville showing his completely clueless colours.

  12. Labor will always have to accept that the Greens as political slut shamers are going to get on with political slut shaming.
    Just a fact of life. It has been going on for 27 years and we can safely guess that it will go on for another 27 years. Without actually making the slightest bit of difference.
    And there in lies the key. The ten percenters.
    If Labor ever wants to gain power it is going to have to take votes from the Coalition.
    This will necessarily involve the political slut shamers going into political orgasms of horreur.
    Tant pis.
    In real life this means that we will get endless breathless stunts on Bookhani and Adani and on the Windmills of their minds. (They don’t look right!)

  13. It is just as well they followed classic Greens drugs virtual signalling policies and legalized oxycontin in the US!

    36,000 deaths a year are just the incidental cost being ideologically correct on drugs and pill testing and such like.

  14. One of the great advantages of a Job Guarantee is that it widens our concept of what counts as a paid job.

    If a person is learning, contributing, belonging, having positive social interactions, having mastery experiences, getting a range of psycho-social benefits, and earning enough income to be able to participate fully in the life of the community, that is vastly more powerful than a UBI.

    Also, macroeconomically a UBI would be a disaster. In order to provide a living wage UBI in a non-inflationary manner the scale of tax increases required would be eye-watering. Steven Hail of the University of Adelaide analysed the Greens’ proposal for a UBI that is set at the level of the Age Pension. He found that even if a UBI of this level replaced all existing welfare and social security spending by the federal government, total federal spending would still have to increase by well over over 50 percent. It would be necessary to double the GST, increase every marginal tax rate by 10 to 15 percentage points, and eliminate all existing tax deductions (including the popular deductions for superannuation) in order to make this increase non-inflationary.

    It would be difficult to set up the UBI and the tax increases in such a way that enough people would still be willing to produce the output that is necessary to support everyone. I know the UBI proponents often assume that artificially intelligent robots are already producing everything (or will be any day now) but in the real world human workers are extremely important and we don’t want to tax them so heavily that their incentive structure dissuades them from producing.

    A further problem is that a UBI is not counter-cyclical. The spending doesn’t increase automatically when private sector spending is declining. The spending doesn’t decrease automatically when private sector spending is rising. A UBI does not serve as a macroeconomic stabilizer. A Job Guarantee does. And a Job Guarantee provides the many benefits of participating in paid work. And it adds output. And it develops the knowledge and skills of the labour force.

    UBI proponents assume that paid work is inherently oppressive and dull and exploitative. The reality is that a lot of jobs are like that now but only because the economy is far short of full employment. With a Job Guarantee in place, workers have great options and there is no involuntary unemployment. Businesses are desperate for workers. In that environment, the risk of oppression and exploitation is radically reduced.

    Changes to industrial relations laws would also help improve people’s experiences of paid work.

    So would a transition to an economy in which workers exercise very high degrees of democratic control and autonomy in owning capital stock and making production decisions.

    The point is we have options to make paid work a lot better than it is now for many people.

    UBI proponents are far too pessimistic about paid work and they ignore the many benefits of paid work for psychological health and social inclusion.

  15. So, Albanese has been leader of Labor for 5-6 weeks and he has failed because, two years from now, he cannot guarantee a Labor victory?
    This is where the LNP leave Labor for dead.
    Even with a used-car-salesman type like Morrison to lead them with no policies, no ability, no-nothing, the Libs thought he was a chance……………………and guess what?, he got them over the line……………………………all that mattered at the end of the day.
    Meanwhile, some who espouse Labor support, have already dished Albanese because he has not restored their comfort zone.
    I used to smile, some years ago, when it was constantly reported here that Labor had “wiped the floor” with the government in Question Time. Oh, how happy this made us feel.
    In the election campaign, oh how happy many felt that Shorten had won the “debates” – which he probably did.
    And, LNP supporters? When and where were they shellacking Morrison? No, they clung to the hope that he would hit the right buttons with elements of the electorate who did not like/want/trust Shorten and the result was………………………………………………….oh dear, Labor was sorely disappointed.

  16. Itsthevibe

    The ‘broad church’ has moved to the ALP!

    But as others have pointed out, unless we can snaffle 76+ seats in 2022, it is all piss and wind.

  17. sprocket

    The whole move to the right be for coal as Marles is reported to have said is wrong way go back.

    Be for jobs not coal.
    Be for people not the economy.
    Be for human rights not for fascism.

    Basic values do matter.

    Edit: that also means be seen to be standing for those values

  18. adrian @ #1412 Saturday, July 20th, 2019 – 5:36 pm

    Cat, what you and a few others need to realise is that ALP supporters/members are entitled to disagree with your approach and that of the current leadership, without being seen as any less of a Labor supporter than you.

    I, and I’m sure a lot of others, happen to believe that being a pale shadow of the LNP will not get us anywhere. It doesn’t make us anti-ALP.
    Get used to it.

    Oh that’s right, I forgot oh superior being, that I must believe what you conclude, that Labor has become a pale shadow of the LNP, something which has been comprehensively debunked anyway, but YOU refuse to listen to what anyone with a different opinion to you has to say. Gosh, how could I not have got that already. I must be an idiot, huh?

    And what is YOUR solution? And this is a winner….being a pale shadow of The Greens!

    Yeah, I can really see THAT working for Labor.

  19. If Labor ever wants to gain power it is going to have to take votes from the Coalition.

    Currently that means appealing to some older voters and the frightened poor, not necessarily moving Right, but looking stable, reassuring.

  20. All these years in the ALP, supposedly in the left faction, has Albanese really been a sleeper agent for the Coalition? Or, perhaps, the Greens. (My non-inner city local Greens branch is currently experiencing a surge in membership.)

    Who knows. But either way, well-played Albanese. What a cunning tactician, even better than Shorten as touted by his fervent supporters pre-election.

  21. And what is YOUR solution? And this is a winner….being a pale shadow of The Greens!

    Labor has pivoted from Green-lite to Coalition-lite in the space of a few weeks.

    It’s hard being Labor.

  22. Lizzie

    I agree with Doug Cameron

    So all the comments regarding Greens are irrelevant. As are the bubble attacks as Mr Cameron has a different perspective to me.

    Attacking the Greens when a Labor person has been quoted just shows the idiocy of those hiding in their political dugout

  23. Lol, a surge in Greens membership! Is that going from 5 to 10?

    Since the federal election Labor in NSW has added 2000 new members.

  24. Pegasus @ #1431 Saturday, July 20th, 2019 – 6:16 pm

    And what is YOUR solution? And this is a winner….being a pale shadow of The Greens!

    Labor has pivoted from Green-lite to Coalition-lite in the space of a few weeks.

    It’s hard being Labor.

    Blah Blah Blah

    More meaningless pap from Pegasus.

    Why do I even bother replying to such baseless, unreconstructed garbage?

    I think I’ll stop now. The party that 90% of the electorate rejects isn’t worth the effort.

  25. mundo:

    [‘Sprocket the genuinely weak turd from delusionville showing his completely clueless colours.’]

    You seem like an angry young man. Attack his argument rather than going personal.

  26. Peg

    The Greens in NSW are at each other’s throats, and have been for some time – you might have noticed the high profile resignations, accusations of bullying, accusations of inappropriate conduct, and the ideological split between the Anarcho-syndicalist faction and the Yuppie teals. Sadly, the environmentalists have been shut out of any decision making, as the spoils are fought over like scraps thrown to jackals.

    But hey, look over there at the Albo wanting to position to the centre.

  27. lizzie @ #1428 Saturday, July 20th, 2019 – 6:12 pm

    If Labor ever wants to gain power it is going to have to take votes from the Coalition.

    Currently that means appealing to some older voters and the frightened poor, not necessarily moving Right, but looking stable, reassuring.

    Spot on.

    We shouldn’t mix up the people we are seeking to appeal to with our own imagined view of how they think. (eg “older people are all entitled bludgers” or “people afraid of losing their jobs are all racist”).

    We need to work out clear policies that they will see as of benefit to them as well as society in general.

  28. Mavis Davis @ #1437 Saturday, July 20th, 2019 – 6:35 pm

    mundo:

    [‘Sprocket the genuinely weak turd from delusionville showing his completely clueless colours.’]

    You seem like an angry young man. Attack his argument rather than going personal.

    Okay
    Sproggit, fake ALP supporters like you who tell us everythings fine don’t knock the party Albo is a winner Bill was a winner we ride to victory on the morrow are so transparent.
    As moles go you wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes behind the iron curtain.

  29. So, Mundo and Adrian, you have both just been told, in no uncertain terms, that there is no longer any place for your kind within the Australian Labor Party.

    Not to tell you guys what to do or anything, but… well, surely it’s time to start considering your options? Is it really worth it, for this sort of treatment?

    (Please note that the above should not be interpreted as a plea for you to sign up with, or even vote for, any other political party. To paraphrase Owen Wilson at the end of The Wedding Crashers: I’m not asking you to be members of the Greens; I’m just asking you not to be members of the ALP!)

  30. Sprocket

    When Labor is to the right of a conservative like Dr Phelps it’s not the centre that Labor is at.

    Time to start using terms the Democrats are using. Senator Elijah Cummings on MSNBC referred to deterrent AS policy as being an empathy deficit policy.

  31. mundo:

    Albanese, I must concede thus far, is not a winner. But, is there anyone in Labor who could strut himself/herself? It seems to me, as briefly often opines: Labor’s ‘fucked’. Regrettably, Albo’s not the solution. But we nevertheless battle on.

  32. Itsthevibe

    You mistake the rebuttal of the Adrian’s perspective, and the challenge to ‘mundo’s dumping as being in some way no place for dissent, articulate or earthy, in Labor. Plenty of room, plenty of forums, Democratic options within the tradition.

    However mindless crapping on Albo, the ALP approach or strategy by the elected representatives deserves to be called out.

  33. Guytuar

    You are cherry picking Phelp’s policies. Tell us about her views on wage justice for workers.

    And you may have not noticed yet, but theWentworth Wealthy quickly tired of their experiment away from Liberals.

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