Federal election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s guide to the (presumably) 2022 federal election.

The Poll Bludger’s guide to what I hope it is now safe to assume will be the 2022 federal election is open for business. There remain many gaps to fill owing to yet-to-be-declared candidates, and a Senate guide is still a work in progress (by which I mean I haven’t started it yet), but it remains a pretty substantial piece of work as is. If you find it stimulating or useful, you can show your appreciation by throwing some pennies into the collection jar, featured at the top of the site in the shape of the “become a supporter” button.

A bright and colourful front page serves as an entry point to the 151 individual electorate pages, each featuring a write-up based on detail I have accumulated since I first did one of these things way back in 2004, adding up to around 75,000 words all told. These are complemented by a range of charts and tables detailing past election results and demographic indicators, the latter compiled from 2016 census data to reflect the current boundaries (with acknowledgement due to Antony Green’s post-redistribution margin estimates), together with interactive maps showing booth results from the last election, which can be seen in detail by clicking on the booth icons.

Also featured is an overview page that includes, among other things, a summary of the national polling situation that I hope I remember to update nearer the big day. In the likely absence of any new polling this week, and for the sake of something substantial to hang this post off, I hereby repaste this section in full:

The most striking feature of state-level polling over the past term has been a seismic shift to Labor in Western Australia, where the party has not recorded a majority of the two-party vote at a federal election since 1987. This seems intuitively satisfying given the historical scale of the McGowan government’s win at the state election in March, winning 53 of 59 seats in the state’s lower house with a record-shattering two-party vote of 69.7%. At a bare minimum, Labor would seem a very strong chance of gaining the seat of Swan, which has a retiring Liberal member on a post-redistribution margin of 3.2%. Labor should also be at least competitive in Hasluck, with a Liberal margin of 5.9%, and Pearce, where the redistribution has cut the beleaguered Christian Porter’s margin from 7.5% to 5.2%.

In Victoria, the Coalition performed relatively well during the state’s first COVID-19 crisis in mid-2020, but declined sharply as a new outbreak took hold in New South Wales and spread across the border in mid-2021, as Labor appeared to gain traction with its claim that Scott Morrison had acted as the “Prime Minister of New South Wales”. However, the only highly marginal Liberal seat in Victoria is Chisholm in Melbourne’s inner east, a seat notable for its Chinese population. Other possibilities for Labor include neighbouring Higgins (margin 3.7%), an historically blue-ribbon seat with an increasingly green-left complexion; Casey on Melbourne’s eastern fringe (4.6%), where Labor will be boosted with the retirement of Liberal incumbent Tony Smith; and the eastern suburbs seat of Deakin (4.7%), an historically tough nut for Labor.

Conversely, the damage to the Coalition from the mid-2021 outbreak appeared relatively mild in New South Wales itself, to the extent that the Coalition is hopeful of gain to redress any losses elsewhere. One such calculation is that Labor owed its wins in Eden-Monaro in 2016 and 2019 to the now-departed Mike Kelly, and its threadbare winning margin in July 2020 to the difficulty governments typically face at by-elections. Another is that its loss of neighbouring Gilmore in 2019 reflected a problematic preselection process, and that it will now return to the fold. With the retirement of Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon, the Nationals could enjoy a further boost in Hunter (margin 3.0%), whose coal-mining communities savaged Labor in 2019. Labor also has tight margins in Macquarie on Sydney’s western fringe (0.2%), the Central Coast seat of Dobell (1.5%) and the western Sydney seat of Greenway (2.8%), whereas the Coalition’s most marginal seat is Reid in Sydney’s inner west on a margin of 3.2%.

Queensland has been the crucible of Australian federal elections over the past two decades, but the state’s remarkable result in 2019 left the Coalition with imposing margins in most of the state’s traditional marginal seats without quite shaking Labor loose in its strongholds. Labor’s polling in the state surged in the wake of the re-election of Annastacia Palszczuk’s state government in October 2020, though it subsequently moved back in line with the national trend. Labor’s highest hopes are reportedly for the far north Queensland seat of Leichhardt, held by veteran Liberal National Party member Warren Entsch on a margin of 4.2%, which resisted the surge to the Coalition across regional Queensland in 2019. The most marginal LNP seat is Longman on Brisbane’s northern fringe, at 3.3%. Peter Dutton’s northern Brisbane seat of Dickson is the third most marginal at 4.6%.

The sole battlefield in South Australia is likely to be Boothby, a southern Adelaide seat in which long-held Labor hopes have never quite been realised. It will be vacated with the retirement of two-term Liberal member Nicolle Flint, who retained it in 2019 by 1.4%. Greater attention is likely to focus on Tasmania, where the three seats of the state’s centre and north have see-sawed over recent decades. Labor will naturally hope to gain Bass, with its Liberal margin of 0.4% and record of changing hands at eight of the last ten elections, and to a lesser extent neighbouring Braddon, which the Liberals gained in 2019 with a 3.1% margin. However, the Liberals hope to succeed in Lyons where they failed in 2019 after disendorsing their candidate mid-campaign. Labor seems likely to maintain its lock on the five territory seats, although the retirement of veteran Warren Snowdon suggests the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari is less secure than its 5.5% margin suggests.

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.

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