On reflection, my previous post, intended as the first in a series of “Call of the Board” posts reviewing in detail the result of the May 18 election, was deficient in two aspects. The first is that patterns in the results estimated by my demographic model were said to be “difficult to discern”, which can only have been because I didn’t look hard enough. In fact, the results provide evidence for remarkably strong incumbency effects. Of the 12 Liberals defending their seats in the Sydney area, all but Tony Abbott outperformed the modelled estimate of the Liberal two-party vote, by an average of 4.0%. Of the 15 Labor members, all but two (Julie Owens in Parramatta and Anne Stanley in Werriwa) outperformed the model, the average being 3.4%.
The other shortcoming of the post was that it did not, indeed, call the board – a now-abandoned ritual of election night broadcasting in which the results for each electorate were quickly reviewed in alphabetical order at the end of the night, so that nobody at home would feel left out. You can find this done for the Sydney seats over the fold, and it will be a feature of the Call of the Board series going forward.
Banks (Liberal 6.3%; 4.8% swing to Liberal): After winning the seat for the Liberals in 2013 for the first time since its creation in 1949, David Coleman has now scored three wins on the trot, the latest by comfortably his biggest margin to date: 6.3%, compared with 2.8% in 2013 and 1.4% in 2016. In a post-election account for the Age/Herald, Michael Koziol reported that Labor’s national secretariat and state branch were at loggerheads over the seat late in the campaign, with the former wishing to devote resources to the seat, and the latter recognising that they “didn’t stand a chance”.
Barton (Labor 9.4%; 1.1% swing to Labor): Located around the crossover point where the inner urban swing to Labor gave way to the outer urban swing to Liberal, Barton recorded a slight swing to Labor that was perhaps boosted by a sophomore effect for incumbent Linda Burney.
Bennelong (Liberal 6.9%; 2.8% swing to Labor): A fair bit has been written lately about Labor’s struggles with the Chinese community, particularly in New South Wales, but that did not stop the nation’s most Chinese electorate recording a reasonably solid swing to Labor. This perhaps reflected the quality of Labor’s candidate, neurosurgeon Brian Owler, but was also typical of a seat where Malcolm Turnbull had played well in 2016, when it swung 2.8% to the Liberals.
Berowra (Liberal 15.6%; 0.8% swing to Labor): Most of this outer northern Sydney seat is in the outer part of the zone that swung to Labor, barring a few lightly populated regions out north and west. However, Liberal member Julian Leeser is what I will call a half-sophomore – a first-term incumbent, but one who succeeded a member of the same party (in this case Philip Ruddock), so there was no reversal of the sitting member advantage. So the 0.8% swing to Labor is about par for the course.
Blaxland (Labor 14.7%; 4.8% swing to Liberal): The anti-Labor swing suffered by Jason Clare was fairly typical for Sydney’s south-west.
Bradfield (Liberal 16.6%; 4.5% swing to Labor): Apart from the exceptional cases of Warringah and Wentworth, this was the biggest swing against the Liberals in New South Wales. However, given it was only fractionally lower in neighbouring North Sydney, that’s unlikely to be a reflection on sitting member Paul Fletcher, instead reflecting the electorate’s affluence and proximity to the city. The seat also recorded the state’s biggest swing to the Greens, at 2.0%.
Chifley (Labor 12.4%; 6.8% swing to Liberal): Ed Husic suffered Labor’s biggest unfavourable swing in Sydney (and the second biggest in the state after Hunter), after enjoying the second biggest favourable swing in 2016 (after Macarthur).
Cook (Liberal 19.0%; 3.6% swing to Liberal): As noted in the previous post, Scott Morrison enjoys the biggest Liberal margin in New South Wales relative to what might be expected from the electorate’s demographic composition. Only part of this can be explained by a prime ministership effect, as his 3.6% swing ranked only twelfth out of the 47 seats in New South Wales.
Dobell (Labor 1.5%; 3.3% swing to Liberal): The two seats on the Central Coast behaved similarly to most of suburban Sydney in swinging solidly to the Liberals, but there was enough padding on the Labor margin to save Emma McBride in Dobell, a marginal seat that lands Labor’s way more often than not.
Fowler (Labor 14.0%; 3.5% swing to Liberal): Labor’s Chris Hayes suffered a swing unremarkable by the standards of western Sydney, or perhaps slightly at the low end of average.
Grayndler (Labor 16.3% versus Greens; 0.5% swing to Labor): As illustrated in the previous post, Anthony Albanese’s personal popularity continues to define results in Grayndler, where the Labor margin is well out of proportion to demographic indicators. Whereas the Greens hold the largely corresponding state seats of Balmain and Newtown, in Grayndler they struggle to harness enough of the left-of-centre vote to finish ahead of the Liberals. They just managed it on this occasion, as they had previously in 2010 and 2016, outpolling the Liberals 22.6% to 21.8% on the primary vote, narrowing to 24.2% to 23.8% after the exclusion of three other candidates. Albanese cleared 50% of the primary vote for the first time since 2007, helped by a smaller field of candidates than last time, and had a locally typical 1.5% two-party swing against the Liberals.
Greenway (Labor 2.8%; 3.5% swing to Liberal): The swing against Labor’s Michelle Rowland was typical for middle suburbia, and roughly reversed the swing in her favour in 2016.
Hughes (Liberal 9.8%; 0.5% swing to Liberal): Craig Kelly did rather poorly to gain a swing of only 0.5% – as a careful look at the results map shows, the boundary between Hughes and Cook marks a distinct point where Labor swings turn to Liberal ones. The demographic model suggests Kelly to be the third most poorly performing Liberal incumbent out of the 13 in the Sydney area, ahead of Tony Abbott (Warringah) and Lucy Wicks (Robertson).
Kingsford Smith (Labor 8.8%; 0.2% swing to Labor): It was noted here previously that Matt Thistlethwaite strongly outperforms the demographic model, but the near status quo result on this occsion did little to contribute to that. This seat was roughly on the geographic crossover point between the Labor swings of the city and the Liberal swings of the suburbs.
Lindsay (LIBERAL GAIN 5.0%; 6.2% swing to Liberal): One of five seats lost by Labor at the election, and the only one in Sydney. Like the others, Lindsay was gained by Labor in 2016, with Emma Husar scoring a 1.1% margin from a 4.1% swing. This was more than reversed in Husar’s absence, with Liberal candidate Melissa McIntosh prevailing by 5.0%. The 6.2% swing against Labor was the biggest in the Sydney area, and produced a Liberal margin comparable to Jackie Kelly’s strongest.
Macarthur (Labor 8.4%; 0.1% swing to Labor): To repeat what was said in the previous post: Labor strongly outpolled the demographic model 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. The swing to Labor, tiny though it was, ran heavily against the trend of urban fringe seats across the country. In addition to Freelander’s apparent popularity, this probably reflected a lack of effort put into the Liberal campaign compared with last time, as the party narrowly focused on its offensive moves in Lindsay and Macquarie and defensive ones in Gilmore and Reid. Macarthur was one of six seats in New South Wales contested by One Nation, whose 8.6% seemed to be drawn equally from Labor and Liberal.
Mackellar (Liberal 13.2%; 2.5% swing to Labor): Jason Falinski’s northern beaches seat participated in the swing to Labor in inner and northern Sydney, though in this case it was a fairly modest 2.5%, perhaps reflecting Falinski’s half-sophomore effect. A 12.2% vote for independent Alice Thompson caught most of the combined 14.9% for three independents in 2016, leaving the large parties’ vote shares little changed.
Macquarie (Labor 0.2%; 2.0% swing to Liberal): A sophomore surge for Labor member Susan Templeman surely made the difference here, with the 2.0% swing to the Liberals being below the outer urban norm, and just short of what was required to take the seat.
McMahon (Labor 6.6%; 5.5% swing to Liberal): The swing against Chris Bowen was well at the higher end of the scale and, typically for such a result, followed a strong swing the other way in 2016, in this case of 7.5%. This was among the six seats in New South Wales contested by One Nation, whose 8.3% contributed to a 7.4% primary vote swing against Bowen, and perhaps also to the size of the two-party swing.
Mitchell (Liberal 18.6%; 0.8% swing to Liberal): Where most safe Liberal seats in Sydney were in the zone of inner and northern Sydney that swung to Labor, Mitchell is far enough west to encompass the crossover point where Labor swings gave way to Liberal ones. This translated into a modest 0.8% swing to Liberal member Alex Hawke, and very little change on the primary vote.
North Sydney (Liberal 9.3%; 4.3% swing to Labor): Trent Zimmerman’s seat caught the brunt of the inner urban swing to Labor, the 4.3% swing to Labor being the state’s fourth highest after Warringah, Wentworth and Bradfield, the latter of which just shaded it. Labor managed a hefty 8.3% gain on the primary vote, largely thanks to the absence of Stephen Ruff, who polled 12.8% as an independent in 2016. The one independent on this occasion was serial candidate Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, a former Democrats member of the state upper house, who managed only 4.4%.
Parramatta (Labor 3.5%; 4.2% swing to Liberal): Parramatta marks the crossover point where the Liberal swing in western Sydney begins, producing a 4.2% swing against Labor’s Julie Owens that only partly unwound the 6.4% swing she picked up in 2016.
Reid (Liberal 3.2%; 1.5% swing to Labor): The Liberals maintained their remarkable record in this seat going back to 2013, when they won it for the first time in the seat’s history, by limiting the swing to Labor to a manageable 1.5%. While the 3.2% margin is only modestly higher than that predicted by the demographic model, it was achieved despite the departure of two-term sitting member Craig Laundy, who is succeeded by Fiona Martin.
Robertson (Liberal 4.2%; 3.1% swing to Liberal): Similarly to neighbouring Dobell, the Central Coast seat of Robertson swung 3.1% to the Liberals, in this case boosting the margin of Lucy Wicks.
Sydney (Labor 18.7%; 3.4% swing to Labor): The inner urban swing to Labor added further padding to Tanya Plibersek’s margin. The Greens continue to run third behind the Liberals, who outpolled them by 26.6% to 18.1%. As is the case in Grayndler, this presumably reflects local left-wing voters’ satisfaction with the incumbent.
Warringah (INDEPENDENT GAIN 7.2% versus Liberal): Zali Steggall took a big chunk out of the big party contenders in recording 43.5% of the primary vote, but the largest of course came from Tony Abbott, down from 51.6% to 39.0%. Abbott won four booths around Forestville at the northern end of the electorate, but it was otherwise a clean sweep for Steggall. She particularly dominated on the coast around Manly, by margins ranging from 10% to 18%.
Watson (Labor 13.5%; 4.1% swing to Liberal): In a familiar suburban Sydney pattern, Tony Burke had an 8.8% swing in his favour from 2016 unwound by a 4.1% swing to the Liberals this time.
Wentworth (Liberal 1.3% versus Independent): Listed as a Liberal retain in a spirit of consistently comparing results from the 2016 election, this was of course a Liberal gain to the extent that it reversed their defeat at the hands of independent Kerryn Phelps at last October’s by-election. There was an unblemished divide between the northern end of the electorate, encompassing the coast north of Bondi and all but the westernmost part of the harbourside, where the Liberals won the two-candidate vote, and the southern end of the electorate, where Phelps did. As noted in the previous post, there was a swing to Labor of 7.9% on the two-party preferred count, but this was testament more than anything to Malcolm Turnbull’s local support.
Werriwa (Labor 5.5%; 2.7% swing to Liberal): A half-sophomore effect for Labor’s Anne Watson may have helped limit the swing here in this outer suburban seat.