Consolation prizes

On election night and the following day, the best bet seemed to be that Labor would emerge with between 86 and 88 seats. After that, Labor watched leads disappear in one seat after another. Liberal candidates took the lead in McEwen and La Trobe on the Monday after polling day, followed by Dickson and Swan on Tuesday, Herbert on Friday and Bowman on Wednesday of this week. Corangamite, Flynn and Robertson were also on the critical list at various stages after looking secure for Labor on election night: Robertson arguably still remains there. In Solomon, Labor’s Damian Hale watched nervously as his 860-vote lead on booth votes was whittled down to 89 on Wednesday, before he was saved by a late rally yesterday that widened the gap to 194. The entirely one-way nature of this traffic raises the question of what has happened and why. Here at least I will limit myself to the first half of the equation.

The first table shows the size of the swings to Labor for each type of vote in all seats which look to have margins of less than 1 per cent, barring the new seat of Flynn where any swing calculations would be hypothetical (an unfortunate omission as it would have cut the Labor swing on postals still further). Provisionals are excepted because too many of them are still to be counted, and they are few in number in any case. The outstanding feature is the Coalition’s strong performance on postal votes, which cost Labor dearly in McEwen, Dickson, Herbert and La Trobe. I read one newspaper report (I can’t remember where) suggesting this was because most postal votes were cast before the Lindsay pamphlet scandal broke, but the pattern would surely have been reflected in pre-polls if this was the case.

Ordinary Absent Pre-Poll Postal Total
Corangamite 6.43 7.42 6.20 5.00 6.10
Solomon 3.06 1.87 4.77 2.88 3.00
Robertson 7.35 7.00 6.51 6.14 7.06
McEwen 6.19 9.44 8.78 4.21 6.38
Bowman 9.17 8.34 9.95 9.36 9.09
Dickson 9.30 8.69 8.07 6.13 8.99
Herbert 6.18 2.41 8.21 1.86 5.92
Swan -0.08 -2.81 1.21 0.61 -0.32
La Trobe 5.78 6.20 6.05 0.58 5.31
Macarthur 11.04 8.63 8.51 11.29 10.58
TOTAL 6.65 6.15 6.79 4.57 6.39

The second table shows the number of votes cast for each type over the past three elections. Here as elsewhere it must be remembered that a small number of 2007 votes still remain to be counted. It can be seen that this election has maintained a trend of sharply increasing numbers of postal votes, exacerbating the impact of the Coalition’s strong performance, along with the more neutral pre-polls.

2007 2004 2001
Provisional 167,167
Absent 856,407
Pre-Poll 1,105,948
Postal 820,946
Turnout 12,681,332

The final point to note is how lucky the Coalition has been. Present indications suggest it will win five of seven seats determined by margins of less than 0.3 per cent. Assuming no further changes, the bottom end of the Mackerras pendulum will look as follows:

Corangamite 0.8
0.7 Macarthur
0.5 La Trobe
Flynn 0.3
Solomon 0.2 0.2 Swan
Robertson 0.1 0.1 Dickson
0.0 Bowman

Elsewhere, the chances of a National Party boilover in O’Connor have been reduced as the slowly progressing late count has widened the gap between Labor and the Nationals from 2.08 per cent to 2.70 per cent. It will take an extremely high level of obedience to the how-to-vote card from Greens voters if that gap is to be closed, which seems an unlikely prospect in a sparsely populated electorate where the party would have had a hard time finding volunteers to cover each of the booths. Any vague chance that independent Gavin Priestley might win Calare has probably been laid to rest by late counting which has increased Nationals candidate John Cobb (formerly member for Parkes) from 47.71 per cent to 48.47 per cent, close enough to an absolute majority that the question of who comes second out of Priestley and Labor is probably academic. In the Victorian Senate, the Greens’ hopes rested on what would have been an out-of-character boost from declaration votes, which have in fact reduced their vote from 10.1 per cent to 9.7 per cent. The Labor vote has also faded enough that third Liberal candidate Scott Ryan has overtaken Labor’s number three David Feeney, so that Ryan looks likely to take the fifth seat and Feeney the sixth. Greens candidate Richard di Natale is 1.67 per cent behind Feeney after preferences CORRECTION: I wasn’t factoring in the Liberal surplus, which actually makes the gap more like 0.9 per cent.

UPDATE: One other thing – it is clear that dramatically fewer provisional votes are being allowed through this year. In 2004, any given electorate ended up with about 400 to 600 provisional votes counted. This time it’s more like 100 to 200. I suspect the answer to this mystery lies somewhere in the Electoral and Referendum (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act. Can any wise heads out there point me in the right direction?

UPDATE 2: Comments respondents note that provisional voters must now show photo ID either at the booth or by emailing or faxing a copy to the AEC in the following week. Peter Brent: “Presumably the number of people who took ID to the AEC in the next week was about zero”. Grace Pettigrew: “Many voters who are likely to need a provisional vote do not carry ID around with them (aboriginal voters, the homeless, for example) are also most likely not to vote for the Coalition”. Adam Carr also takes issue with my description of O’Connor as “sparsely populated”: I would argue that this is sort of accurate, but Carr says the real point is that O’Connor is “the most agricultural seat in Australia, where most people live in or near small farming towns”, and consequently has “more booths than any other seat”.

Late mail

There are no fewer than seven seats which are still too close to call a week after polling day, with less than 0.3 per cent separating the two parties. The AEC’s official Close Seats list further includes Flynn and La Trobe, but these are all but certain to respectively go with Labor and Liberal. Corangamite briefly popped on to the list a few days ago, but it’s gone now. Two other seats that could be of at least theoretical interest come the preference count are O’Connor and Calare. In O’Connor, Nationals candidate Philip Gardiner (18.37 per cent) has a vague hope of getting ahead of Labor (20.42 per cent) on preferences from, among others, the Greens (6.68 per cent), and then overcoming Liberal member Wilson Tuckey (45.25 per cent) on Labor preferences. Similarly, in Calare the independent candidate Gavin Priestley (23.73 per cent) might be able to overcome Labor (24.84 per cent) with preferences from the Greens (2.60 per cent) and the Citizens Electoral Council (0.94 per cent, which was boosted by a donkey vote that will flow on to Labor) and then, just maybe, within spitting distance of John Cobb of the Nationals (47.89 per cent). For some reason only ordinary votes have been counted to this point in O’Connor.

Bowman. Labor’s Jason Young narrowly led Liberal incumbent Andrew Laming from election night until Tuesday when Laming got his nose in front on pre-polls, but this has proved to be the only close electorate where postals have favoured Labor. Young recovered the tiniest of leads and has inched slowly ahead to his current lead of 116 votes.

Herbert. Liberal incumbent Peter Lindsay leads by just 60 votes, and I have unconfirmed reports that only provisional votes remain to be counted. Last time provisionals favoured Lindsay 279-257: if there’s the same number this time and they swing the same way as the rest, Colbran will close the gap by 45 votes and lose by 15.

McEwen. Another seat where Labor was ahead on election night, but postals put Liberal incumbent Fran Bailey a very handy 502 votes up on Monday. That looked like it might be enough, but a remarkably good partial count of absent votes pulled it into 111 yesterday. Further counting of pre-polls then pushed her lead out to 150.

Solomon. Labor’s Damian Hale was a full 1.0 per cent ahead on election night, but late factors such as overseas Defence Force votes have steadily whittled it down to 262 votes, or 0.3 per cent. That leaves some hope for CLP incumbent Dave Tollner, though Hale should probably get up.

Swan. Labor incumbent Kim Wilkie had a 134-vote lead on election night, but has since had to watch as each new batch of votes has delivered a few dozen votes to Liberal candidate Steve Irons, who currently leads by 239 and is looking increasingly likely to emerge as the only Liberal candidate to topple a sitting Labor MP.

Dickson. Labor’s Fiona McNamara had reason to feel confident about her 425-vote lead on election night, but a strong performance on postals by Liberal member Peter Dutton pushed him 268 votes ahead on Wednesday. The seat has since provided Labor with some rare late count good news, absents and pre-polls reeling in the lead in to just 106.

Robertson. This one hadn’t been on my watch list, with Labor candidate Belinda Neal holding a formidable 1094 vote lead on election night. However, Liberal member Jim Lloyd has kept whittling away Neal’s lead, once again being boosted by postals which have gone 58-42 in his favour. Neal’s lead is now just 273 – too close to comfort, but probably just enough.

To illustrate the recurring theme of Liberal comebacks, here is a table comparing party support by type of vote cast for 2004 and 2007, bearing in mind that the 2007 figures are still incomplete. While there was a slightly better performance by the Coalition in declaration votes across the board, it does seem they have managed to produce their best results on postals where it has mattered most.

2007 2004 2007 2004 2007 2004 2007 2004
44.0 38.3 5.8 39.3 34.0 5.4 41.1 34.9 6.2 40.2 34.4 5.9
41.7 46.5 -4.8 40.8 44.2 -3.4 45.3 48.3 -3.0 49.2 52.9 -3.7
7.6 7.0 0.6 12.1 10.9 1.2 6.7 7.9 -1.2 5.0 4.9 0.1

What is to be done

What I don’t know about the Liberal Party could fill a warehouse, but most of the prescriptions outlined by Michael Kroger on Sky News on Tuesday accord with my prejudices:

The organisational wings around the country need to be reformed immediately, particularly in relation to the branch structure and preselections. There’s a lot of things that can be done, very quickly. The party is in a terrible electoral position, but it can very quickly put itself into a fantastic position. This is not a five or ten year repair job. You could actually fix all the organisational and structural problems in the Liberal Party within 12 months if you had the will to do it, and make whoever the incoming leader is in a fantastic position to fight the next federal election in three years’ time. But what tends to happens is people retreat to their corners, they want to protect their own power bases and nothing happens. It requires some strong decision-making from the senior people to fix this thing, they can fix it in 12 months … The branch structure is 60 years old and even though the branch members still do a fantastic job, it’s the structure, not the branch members, it’s the structure which is drowning us. We’ve got probably 500 people in the Victorian Liberal Party whose job is as honorary auditor … There need to be branch amalgamations, we need to base the party around state or federal electorates, you need to broaden the base of people voting in preselections, you need to have perhaps a senior committee of senior party people who have the final say over preselections to rubber stamp the selections, you’ve got to stop the petty branch stacking, we should amalgamate with the National Party, we should give the federal party some more power a little like the ALP does, we should make it a federalist party and not just individual states, we need to totally revamp the fundraising within the organisation and we need to give the federal executive some power … you just can’t have situations where five or 10 or 20 people can stack a few branches and take over a safe Liberal Party seat and preselect a C-grade candidate and be happy with that. I pay credit to the Labor Party for some of the candidates they preselected, I don’t like their politics, but the fact is in various places they strong-armed some tired old members out, put some new people in who may or may not succeed but on the face of it some of them have got very good credentials for parliament. That’s the way you have to operate in politics. To leave these things to the branch-stackers is a recipe for disaster.

Malcolm Turnbull – wealthy, assertive, independently powerful – struck me as being just the man for the job outlined by Kroger. Perhaps the party room knows better. Or perhaps, to use Kroger’s formulation, they have signalled an intention to retreat to their corners and protect their own power bases, and nothing will happen.

Recommended reading: Alister Drysdale of the Business Spectator reports that both parties’ internal polling showed a late Coalition recovery that was stopped dead in its tracks by the Lindsay pamphlet disgrace. It’s also argued that the fake Jeff Kennett letter regarding proposed funding cuts to the states had the same impact during the last week of the 1996 campaign. I personally do not imagine that either incident was single-handedly decisive, but this is not the first report to emerge of a sharp shift in party tracking polling following Jackie Kelly’s infamous “Chaser-style prank” interview of last Wednesday. There’s also a very intriguing article on the Liberal Party’s late-term leadership ructions from Pamela Williams in today’s Financial Review (subscriber only unfortunately).

Toil and trouble

Federal Coalition. Today’s Liberal leadership contest is of course being amply covered elsewhere. I will say only that the 6-to-1 odds on Brendan Nelson from SportingBet look remarkably attractive from what I’m hearing. Warren Truss is set to take the Nationals leadership unopposed following the withdrawal of Peter McGauran. No by-elections loom at this stage, but I suspect they will be happening sooner or later in Higgins, Mayo, Berowra and perhaps Lyne.

Queensland Liberals. The state Liberal Party has been plunged into a constitutional crisis by a four-all leadership deadlock between incumbent Bruce Flegg and challenger Tim Nicholls. Flegg and his three supporters voted down a leadership spill motion yesterday, prompting state president Warwick Parer to declare he must “do the honourable thing and stand down”. The two groups might end up holding separate party room meetings today, each claiming official status. Nicholls is associated with the Santo Santoro/Michael Caltabiano faction of the Queensland Liberal Party, and is supported in the party room by John-Paul Langbroek (Surfers Paradise), Jann Stuckey (Currumbin) and Steve Dickson (Kawana). Flegg represents the moderate “western suburbs” faction and is supported by Mark McArdle (Caloundra), Ray Stevens (Robina) and Glen Elmes (Noosa), at least for now: the Courier-Mail reports Flegg’s supporters are united by animus towards the Santoro faction, and would be willing to back a candidate other than Flegg to keep Nicholls out.

Western Australian Liberals. It had long been understood that the looming federal election was the only thing preventing a challenge against Liberal leader Paul Omodei, and the talk is that a spill will be on next week. On Tuesday the ABC reported that Omodei was about to be tapped on the shoulder and asked to make way for Vasse MP Troy Buswell. Omodei – a dangerous man to be around at times – today told the media any colleagues who did so would be “very lucky if they don’t get a good right hook, and they’ll be lucky to get out of the room standing up”. Like his Queensland counterpart Tim Nicholls, Buswell is a first-term MP. Meantime, former leader Colin Barnett has announced he will not seek re-election for his seat of Cottesloe at the state election due in February 2009. Barnett has told The West Australian he has thought better of retiring immediately, because it “wasn’t the right thing to do and a lot of people in my electorate want me to stay”. His enemies in the Liberal Party say he’ s only staying to block any move to recruit Julie Bishop to the state party leadership by having her take his seat at a by-election.

Northern Territory ALP. Clare Martin and her deputy Syd Stirling have both pulled up stumps and moved to the back bench. The Northern Territory News reports that leadership rival Paul Henderson delivered Martin a “gentle ultimatum” a few weeks ago. Martin accepted this without demur as she had lost her enthusiasm for the job following the federal government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities. Mutterings first emerged last November that Martin’s inaction in indigenous affairs had cost her the support of the most of the Aboriginal members of caucus, and that a challenge by Henderson would win the support of 10 out of 19 party room members. Martin and Stirling have both vowed to remain in parliament until the election due in mid-2009, so it does not appear we will be treated to by-elections in Fannie Bay and Nhulunbuy.

In late election counting news, Labor’s Jason Young is back in front of Andrew Laming in Bowman, if only by 21 votes. The pattern of voting in 2004 suggests Young has cleared his biggest hurdle now that pre-polls have been counted (mostly if not entirely), and should be able to keep his nose in front on remaining postal (where he has performed strongly so far), absent and provisional votes. In Herbert, Defence Force votes have slashed Labor’s lead from 528 to 36: the outlook appears better for Labor’s George Colbran now those are out of the way, but like Bowman it’s still close enough that anything could happen. Liberal member Peter Dutton’s lately acquired lead continues to widen in Dickson, and the Liberals are home and hosed in La Trobe and Macarthur. The only reason McEwen is not on the list is those votes we were told about which were wrongly sent to Scullin, on which I have heard nothing further. Defence Force votes have cut Labor candidate Damian Hale’s lead over CLP member Dave Tollner in Solomon from 718 votes to 427, but he should still get up unless there’s a surprise lurking in the remaining pre-polls. The trend in Swan contains to favour Liberal candidate Steve Irons, now 136 votes in front, although there will be very little in it either way. Anyone wishing to discuss these results is encouraged to use the dedicated threads linked to in the sidebar.

A couple of other seats worth noting. The Greens camp has been talking up a possible late-count boilover in O’Connor, where Nationals candidate Philip Gardiner could theoretically overtake Labor’s Dominic Rose and surf over Liberal veteran Wilson Tuckey on preferences. At the moment Gardiner is some way behind Rose, 20.42 per cent to 18.37 per cent. It is argued that most of the 9.28 per cent vote that went to various minor candidates will go to Gardiner as preferences, although a good many went straight to Tuckey in 2004. The other question is how many of the 6.68 per cent who voted Greens followed the card and gave their second preferences to the Nationals. If the combined 15.96 per cent from minor parties delivers the Nationals 2.06 per cent more than Labor, Gardiner might be in business. In 2004 there was an 18.8 per cent minor party vote that split 7.8 per cent Labor, 5.7 per cent Nationals and 5.3 per cent, but the Greens were running split-ticket how-to-vote cards as opposed to their direct recommendation to the Nationals this time.

A late-count surprise has been a narrowing of Labor’s margin in Flynn, where postal votes have split over 70-30 in favour of the Nationals. This is because postal voting is a favoured method of voters in isolated rural areas, although the size of the gap is still a surprise. Whether or not the Nationals are still a show depends on whether there are more postals to come. Today’s Courier-Mail states that “postal votes were counted today”, which sounds like it means they were all counted, in which case the remaining 590-vote Labor lead should be enough. Pre-polls have in fact been running quite heavily in Labor’s favour, and absent votes are unlikely to buck the overall trend.

Corangamite is now on the AEC “close seats” list with pre-polls and postals having favoured the Liberals 57-43, cutting the Labor lead from 2217 to 767. However, there should be few if any remaining pre-polls and postals, and Labor did quite a lot better on the uncounted absent and provisional votes in 2004.

There has been no significant progress in Senate counting this week, but it might yet be worth keeping an eye on the Australian Capital Territory. The Liberal vote is clear of a 33.3 per cent quota on 34.1 per cent, which will need to drop at least 1.5 per cent if the Greens are to sneak through for an upset. At the 2004 election it actually increased by 0.22 per cent.

How’s it swinging

Below is a preliminary Mackerras pendulum/table based on current results. The first thing to note is that the Liberals seem to be enjoying one-way traffic in late counting. They have taken the lead in Dickson, Swan and Bowman, appear home-and-hosed in La Trobe and are strongly placed in Macarthur. An 862 vote lead in McEwen would also normally be a basis on which to claim victory, but there are reports of “the discovery of about 3000 votes wrongly sent to neighbouring Scullin” which don’t seem to have been factored in yet. Only in Herbert has late counting actively improved Labor’s position. They are also keeping their noses in front in Solomon, although the imminent count of electronically lodged military votes might narrow the gap. If these trends continue Labor will end up with a relatively disappointing haul of 84 seats, against 64 for the Coalition and two independents. In that case it would take a loss of only nine seats at the next election for Labor to lose its majority, which would occur on a uniform swing of just 1.7 per cent. Bennelong again emerges as the litmus test seat: Labor can take comfort in the likelihood that it will swing heavily to them in John Howard’s absence. The next seat up the pendulum is Petrie in northern Brisbane, where Labor currently leads by 2.3 per cent.

Labor supporters might assume that federal politics will now follow the precedent established time and again at state level, where Labor enjoyed landslide re-election wins after establishing themselves in power. However, the historical record at the federal level offers the unhappy precedent of first-term swings against every post-war government (though only in 1998 was it greater than 1.7 per cent). I have a high enough opinion of Malcolm Turnbull to imagine he can steer the party clear of many of the obstacles that have faced it at state level, should the party be sensible enough to make him leader. Whoever takes the mantle, they will face the severe difficulty of a party room dominated by members from Western Australia, whose sensitivity to the national mood is indicated by today’s front page headline in The West Australian: “WA Libs demand party stands by WorkChoices”.

26.5 Batman
25.4 Grayndler
24.1 Throsby
23.6 Melbourne
23.3 Wills
22.0 Gellibrand
21.2 Scullin
21.0 Chifley
21.0 Gorton
21.0 Watson
20.0 Port Adelaide
20.0 Sydney
New England 24.6 (IND vs NAT)
Mallee 21.6
19.5 Calwell
19.2 Blaxland
18.9 Fowler
18.5 Cunningham
17.0 Reid
16.4 Hunter
15.9 Newcastle
15.8 Lalor
15.6 Denison
15.6 Fraser
15.3 Maribyrnong
15.3 Werriwa
15.1 Shortland
Murray 18.3
O’Connor 16.6
Kennedy 15.9 (IND vs ALP)
Riverina 15.7
14.9 Oxley
13.9 Prospect
13.7 Hotham
13.6 Kingsford Smith
13.5 Capricornia
13.3 Charlton
13.1 Lingiari
12.5 Barton
12.5 Griffith
12.3 Holt
12.0 Rankin
11.8 Canberra
11.2 Banks
Moncrieff 14.4
Curtin 14.3
Bradfield 13.6
Maranoa 13.0
Mackellar 12.6
Parkes 12.4
Mitchell 11.4
Calare 11.3
Farrer 11.3
Fadden 10.4
9.5 Corio
9.5 Fremantle
9.5 Richmond
9.4 Perth
9.2 Jagajaga
Warringah 9.5
Moore 9.3
Barker 9.1
Pearce 9.1
Indi 9.0
8.7 Bruce
8.6 Ballarat
8.6 Lilley
8.6 Lyons
8.5 Adelaide
8.0 Melbourne Ports
Kooyong 8.9
Tangney 8.8
Berowra 8.7
McPherson 8.7
Lyne 8.4
Wide Bay 8.3
Groom 8.1
7.9 Isaacs
7.8 Makin
7.5 Chisholm
7.4 Lowe
7.4 Macquarie
7.2 Parramatta
7.1 Lindsay
7.0 Brisbane
Flinders 7.8
Wannon 7.3
Cook 7.1
6.9 Wakefield
6.1 Brand
6.0 Bendigo
Higgins 6.8
Mayo 6.8
Casey 6.1
5.1 Hindmarsh Forrest 5.8
Gippsland 5.7
Menzies 5.7
Goldstein 5.6
Canning 5.4
North Sydney 5.2
Aston 5.1
4.9 Blair
4.8 Bonner
4.8 Moreton
4.7 Leichhardt
4.6 Kingston
4.5 Franklin
4.1 Dobell
4.1 Eden-Monaro
McMillan 4.9
Greenway 4.6
3.7 Longman
3.5 Dawson
3.1 Forde
Grey 3.9
Ryan 3.8
Wentworth 3.7
Dunkley 3.5
Gilmore 3.4
Hume 3.4
2.6 Flynn
2.4 Page
2.3 Petrie
Boothby 2.9
Fairfax 2.6
Fisher 2.6
1.7 Bennelong
1.7 Deakin
1.5 Braddon
1.4 Hasluck
Hughes 1.8
Kalgoorlie 1.6
Cowan 1.4
Hinkler 1.2
Paterson 1.2
Stirling 1.1
Cowper 1.0
Sturt 1.0
0.9 Bass
0.9 Corangamite
0.8 Solomon
0.5 Robertson
0.4 Herbert
La Trobe 0.5
McEwen 0.5
Macarthur 0.4
Bowman 0.02
Swan 0.02
Dickson 0.01

Random notes

• I’ve variously heard it said that this election was Labor’s biggest ever win, and their biggest ever swing. I presume this is because nobody can be bothered looking past 1949, a benchmark year due to the expansion of parliament, the election of the Menzies government and the fact that the AEC’s historical two-party preferred figures don’t go back any further than this. However, John Curtin’s wartime victory of 1943 had it all over Rudd’s performance. Curtin won 66 per cent of the seats from a primary vote of 49.94 per cent, up 9.78 per cent from 1940. Rudd has won probably 58 per cent of the seats from a two-party swing currently at 6.5 per cent. I personally am not willing to call this a “slide”, be it of the land- or Rudd- variety, given the score on the primary vote is 43.95 per cent to 42.68 per cent (UPDATE: Coalition vote now 41.54 per cent). I was actually expecting the Labor vote to be slightly higher, hence my exaggerated expectations for the Greens in the Senate.

• It is a remarkable fact that there are two seats which the Liberals might gain from Labor, given that there were only four seats in the land which swung to them. The potential gains are the Perth seats of Cowan and Swan, the former of which has definitely been won while the latter is once again going down to the wire. The 2.2 per cent swing in Cowan can be readily explained by the popularity of retiring sitting member Graham Edwards, but rapid suburban expansion in the seat would also have been a factor. The swing in Swan, while only 0.2 per cent at this point of the count, is coming off a disastrous campaign from an accident-prone candidate in 2004. Other seats in Perth swung slightly to Labor. The 3.1 per cent swing that won them Hasluck was at the upper end of the range.

• Interestingly weak swings to Labor in McMillan and Gippsland, which were also areas of weakeness for Labor at last November’s state election.

• A little further to the west, swings were in the exact 5 per cent to 6 per cent range Labor was shooting at. Deakin has been won for only the second time in its history, while McEwen and La Trobe are still in doubt.

• Not hard to spot the odd seat out in South Australia: with swings elsewhere of between 4.3 per cent and 11.0 per cent, Nicole Cornes could manage only 2.0 per cent in Boothby. Makin and Wakefield swung heavily enough that they’re outside the Labor marginal zone, but not so Kingston, which produced the state’s second smallest swing at 4.3 per cent.

• The Liberal vote proved curiously resilient in the Australian Capital Territory: they were down only 3.7 per cent in the Senate, enough that Gary Humphries retains his seat, with swings of below 2 per cent in the two lower house seats.

• This election produced even less support for the “doctors’ wives” thesis than 2004. There was very little movement in inner Sydney and Melbourne, either in safe Labor or safe Liberal seats. The most notable beneficiary was Joe Hockey in North Sydney, where a harmless 4.3 per cent swing was nonetheless a relatively poor result by inner urban standards. Sophomore surges for Julie Owens in Parramatta (7.7 per cent) and Chris Bowen in Prospect (7.3 per cent).

• Outer Sydney swung as heavily this time as it famously did in 1996: Chifley (8.3 per cent), Greenway (8.4 per cent), Lindsay (9.8 per cent), Macarthur (11.0 per cent), Mitchell (9.6 per cent) and Werriwa (7.9 per cent).

• A diverse range of Queensland seats produced double digit swings: Dawson and Leichhardt in the north, Longman in northern Brisbane and the neighbouring Brisbane hinterland seats of Groom, Blair and Forde. Groom was the only survivor. Retiring sitting members were a factor in Forde and especially Leichhardt. Ryan failed to live up to the hype, with a 6.8 per cent swing that was very modest by Brisbane standards. I’d be interested to know why Longman swung so heavily.

• Labor’s two party share of the remote mobile votes from Lingiari was up from 78.7 per cent to 88.4 per cent.

• While enough to bag two seats, swings in Tasmania were relatively mild. Franklin was one of the four seats to swing to the Liberals, a testament to Harry Quick’s personal vote.

• A noteworthy outcome in Melbourne, where Greens candidate Adam Bandt will likely overcome the Liberal candidate to take second place, a first for the party at a general election. Lindsay Tanner made it academic by winning more than 50 per cent of the primary vote, but the seat will be marginal after preferences.

• Links for the “photo finishes” series of posts have been added to the sidebar. The most notable development of the past few days has been very strong performances for the Liberals on postal votes in the neighbouring seats of La Trobe and McEwen.

The day after the day after

That lucid analysis I promised two posts ago will still have to wait another day. In the meantime, I have added a new “photo finish” thread below for Dickson, where Labor’s lead is an uncomfortable 389 votes, to those already existing for Swan, Solomon, McEwen, Macarthur, La Trobe, Herbert, Bowman and the Victorian Senate. It would also be remiss of me not to note the very sad passing of Matt Price, taken far too young at 46.

Quotable quotes

Four observations that grabbed me from Insiders this morning. One from Barrie Cassidy:

• “Paul Keating described his win in 1993 as one for the true believers. Last night’s was not. Kevin Rudd promised to govern for all Australians. His appeal within the Labor Party itself is tempered because of his conservative cautious stance on so many issues. He will be seen as the leader the party had to have to beat John Howard. Julia Gillard will be the light on the hill.”

Three from George Megalogenis:

• “I suspect Jackie Kelly tipped (Bennelong) over the line for Maxine McKew. Her performance that Thursday morning on AM radio – my understanding of the tracking polls, a few of them went mad on Thursday night. There was actually swings back to Labor in marginals where there were previously narrowings through the week.”

• “Going into this election, 12 out of the top 30 seats for single mothers were held by the Coalition. They’ve lost eight straight off the bat, another three are doubtful, they’ll be left with one out of 30. (Cassidy: Why?) Welfare to work. Mal Brough. May have been popular in the intervention into Aboriginal affairs, but you know, he wanted single mums to go to work. And if they didn’t go to work they were going to lose their benefits. If you think that this didn’t shift votes where the government didn’t expect them … I think it did.”

• “The Liberal Party needs to have a good hard look at its membership base. This wasn’t just Lindsay, we saw a breakout at the Press Club on Thursday where Liberal Party members were heckling female journalists including Michelle Grattan, I think there was a meanness of spirit in the Liberal Party this year that came from its grass roots. I don’t know what it’s about, but Peter Costello (sic) needs to have a good look at it.”

To elaborate on the second point. I don’t have figures on single mothers specifically, but Megalogenis’s demographic tables include data for single parents which shows 11 previously Coalition-held seats in the top 30: Wakefield, Cowper, Lindsay, Leichhardt, Dunkley, Dobell, Solomon, Page, Robertson, Kingston, Bass, with Macarthur, Hasluck, Blair, Herbert and Longman not far out. The only definite survivor out of these is Dunkley, with Labor narrowly ahead in Solomon, Robertson and Herbert, just trailing in Cowper and Macarthur, and victorious in the other nine.