Call of the board: regional Queensland

A deep dive into the darkest corner of Labor’s federal election failure.

Welcome to the latest instalment of Call of the Board, which probes into every seat result from the May federal election region by region. Earlier instalments covered Sydney, here and here; regional New South Wales; Melbourne; regional Victoria and south-east Queensland. Today we look at the electorates of Queensland outside of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

The posts dealing with the big cities have featured colour-coded seat maps and the results of a model estimating how the results would have looked if determined by demographic factors alone. Unfortunately, colour-coding doesn’t get you very far when zooming out to vast and unevenly populated regional terrain, and the model hasn’t proved to be much use in producing plausible results for regional seats, in which elusive factors of local political culture appear to loom large. However, I can at least offer for purposes of comparison Labor two-party estimates derived from the Senate results, potentially offering a pointer to how much candidate factors affected the lower house results.

Seat by seat alphabetically:

Capricornia (LNP 12.4%; 11.7% swing to LNP): Labor held this Rockhampton region seat for all but one term from 1977 to 2013, but history may record that it has now reached a tipping point akin to those that have excluded the party from former regional strongholds including Kennedy (Labor-held for all but two terms from federation to 1966, but only once thereafter), Grey in South Australia (Labor-held for all but one term from 1943 to 1993, but never again since) and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia (Labor-held for all but three terms from 1922 until Graeme Campbell quit the party in 1995, and now divided between the safely conservative seats of O’Connor and Durack). The 11.7% swing to Michelle Landry, who has held the seat since 2013, was the biggest in the country, shading the 11.2% swing to the beloved George Christensen in Dawson. Landry’s primary vote was actually little changed, reflecting the entry of One Nation, who accounted for most of Labor’s 14.3% collapse. The rest came from a halving of the Katter’s Australian Party vote from 7.1% to 3.7% and the absence of Family First.

Dawson (LNP 14.6%; 11.2% swing to LNP): Dawson behaved almost identically in swing terms to its southern neighbour, Capricornia, as voters showed themselves to be a great deal more concerned about Adani and its symbolism than George Christensen’s enthusiasm for life in the Philippines. As in Capricornia, the LNP primary vote was little changed from 2016, but the arrival of One Nation soaked up 13.1% which neatly matched Labor’s 12.5% decline. Katter’s Australian Party held up better here than in Capricornia, their 6.3% being only slightly down on 2016.

Flynn (LNP 8.7%; 7.6% swing to LNP): Labor narrowly won this Gladstone-based seat on its creation at their 2007 high-water mark and sliced the margin back to 1.0% in 2016, but hopes of going one better this time fell foul of the party’s region-wide disaster. The swing in this case was fairly typical of those suffered by Labor outside the immediate range of proposed Adani mine, though in this case One Nation were not a new feature, their 19.6% being slightly higher than their 2016 result. The seat was a bit unusual in that Labor’s score on the two-party Senate estimate was 2.8% stronger than their House result.

Groom (LNP 20.5%; 5.2% swing to LNP): The 5.2% swing to John McVeigh was a bit below the regional Queensland par, despite him being a sophomore of sorts – although he may have arrived in 2016 with a ready-made personal vote due to his background as a state member. Nonetheless, it was sufficient to catapult the seat from fifteenth to second on the national ranking of seats by Coalition-versus-Labor margin, reflecting the narrowing of margins in many blue-ribbon city seats. The 2016 result was remarkable in that Family First polled 10.0% in the absence of right-wing minor party competition – this time the newly arrived One Nation polled 13.1% in their absence. The LNP primary vote was little changed and Labor was down 3.5%, the rest of the swing bespeaking a more right-wing minor party preference pool.

Herbert (LNP GAIN 8.4%; 8.4% swing to LNP): Labor’s most marginal seat pre-election, following Labor member Cathy O’Toole’s 37 vote win in 2016, the Townsville seat of Herbert was one of five seats across the country and two in Queensland that were gained by the Coalition (balanced to an extent by Labor’s gains in Gilmore and, with help from redistribution, Corangamite and Dunkley). While the swing was lower than in the Adani epicentre electorates of Dawson and Capricornia immediately to the south, it was sufficient to produce the most decisive result the seat has seen since 1954. O’Toole’s primary vote was down 5.0% to 25.5%, while LNP victor Phillip Thompson added 1.6% to the party’s 2016 result to score 37.1%. High-profile Palmer candidate Greg Dowling did relatively well in polling 5.7%, and One Nation were down from 13.5% to 11.1%.

Hinkler (LNP 14.5%; 6.1% swing to LNP): Keith Pitt, who has held this Bundaberg-based seat since 2013, picked up a swing well in line with the regional Queensland norm. He was up 2.2% on the primary vote, while Labor was down 3.8%; One Nation fell from 19.2% to 14.8%, mostly due to an expansion in the field from seven candidates to ten, including three independents, none of whom did particularly well individually.

Kennedy (KAP 13.3% versus LNP; 2.3% swing to KAP): Bob Katter had a near death experience at the 2013 election, at which time he was presumably tarred with the minority government brush despite being the only cross-bencher who backed the Coalition after the inconclusive 2010 result. However, he’s roared back to dominance since, picking up successive two-party swings of 8.9% and 2.3%, and primary vote swings of 10.5% and 2.6%. On the latter count at least, he’s been assisted by the fact that One Nation have declined to challenge him. In Coalition-versus-Labor terms, the seat participated in the regional Queensland trend in swinging 7.8% against Labor.

Leichhardt (LNP 4.2%; 0.2% swing to LNP): The negligible swing in favour of LNP veteran Warren Entsch was an exception to the regional Queensland rule, and was generally attributed to the centrality of tourism to the economy of Cairns, giving the region a very different outlook on issues like Adani. The result was generally status quo in all respects, but the seat had the distinction of being one of only three in the state where the Labor primary vote very slightly increased, along with Ryan and Fairfax. With Entsch’s primary vote down slightly, the two-party swing, such as it was, came down to an improved flow of preferences.

Maranoa (LNP 22.5% versus One Nation; 6.6% swing to LNP): For the second election in a row, Maranoa emerged with the distinction of being the only seat in the country where One Nation made the final preference count. One Nation and Labor were down on the primary vote by 3.2% and 2.7% respectively; at the last preference exclusion, One Nation led Labor 21.3% to 19.0%, compared with 23.6% to 22.9% in 2016. The other story here was the strong sophomore showing for David Littleproud, who was up 6.8% on the primary vote and by similar amounts on two-party preferred against both One Nation and Labor. The 25.4% margin versus Labor is now by some distance the biggest in the country, compared with the electorate’s ninth ranking on this score in 2016. Equally impressive for Littleproud is the distinction between his 25.4% margin and the 20.4% recorded by the two-party Senate measure.

Wide Bay (LNP 13.1%; 5.0% swing to LNP): Llew O’Brien may also have enjoyed a sophomore effect after succeeding Warren Truss in 2016, as his primary vote was up 3.2% while One Nation fell from 15.6% to 10.8%. However, the Labor primary vote held up unusually well, and the two-party swing was at the lower end of the regional Queensland scale.

Wright (LNP 14.6%; 5.0% swing to LNP): So far as the major parties were concerned, the result here was typical of regional Queensland, with LNP member Scott Buchholz up 3.1% on the primary vote and Labor down 4.0%. Independent Innes Larkin, who appears to have made his name locally campaigning against coal seam gas, scored a respectable 5.3%, which presumably helps explains the drop in the One Nation vote from 21.8% to 14.0%.

Sins of commission

Kooyong and Chisholm legal challenge latest; by-election rumblings in Isaacs; Jim Molan strikes back; and the Victorian Liberals gearing up already for federal preselections.

Possible (or possibly not) federal by-election news:

• The Australian Electoral Commission has petitioned the Federal Court to reject challenges against the federal election results in Chisholm and Kooyong. The challenges relate to Chinese-language Liberal Party signage that appeared to mimic the AEC’s branding, and advised voters that giving a first preference to the Liberal candidates was “the correct voting method”. As reported by The Guardian, the AEC argues that “the petition fails to set out at all, let alone with sufficient particularity, any facts or matters on the basis of which it might be concluded that it was likely that on polling day, electors able to read Chinese characters, upon seeing and reading the corflute, cast their vote in a manner different from what they had previously intended”. This seems rather puzzling to my mind, unless it should be taken to mean that no individuals have been identified who are ready to confirm that they were indeed so deceived. Academic electoral law expert Graeme Orr argued on Twitter that the AEC had “no need to intervene on the substance of a case where partisan litigants are well represented”.

• Talk of a by-election elsewhere in Melbourne was stimulated by Monday’s column ($) from acerbic Financial Review columnist Joe Aston, which related “positively feverish speculation” that Labor’s Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, would shortly quit his Melbourne bayside seat of Isaacs with an eye to a position on Victoria’s Court of Appeal. Aston further reported that Dreyfus hoped to be succeeded by Fiona McLeod, the prominent barrister who gained a 6.1% swing as Labor’s candidate for Higgins in May. Dreyfus emphatically rejected such “ridiculous suggestions” in late August, saying he was “absolutely committed to serving out this term of parliament”, and again took to Twitter on Monday to say he would be “staying and fighting the next election”. Aston remains unconvinced, writing in Tuesday’s column ($) that the suggestions derived from “high-level discussions Dreyfus has held on Spring Street with everyone from Premier Daniel Andrews, former Attorney-General Martin Pakula, his successor Jill Hennessy and his caucus colleagues”, along with his “indiscreet utterances around the traps”.

Federal preselection news:

• Jim Molan has won the endorsement of both Scott Morrison and the conservative faction of the New South Wales Liberal Party to fill the Senate vacancy created by Arthur Sinodinos’s departure to become ambassador to the United States. However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports this is not dissuading rival nominee Richard Shields, former deputy state party director and Insurance Council of Australia manager, and the runner-up to Dave Sharma in last year’s keenly fought Wentworth preselection. Shields’ backers are said to include Helen Coonan, former Senator and Howard government minister, and Mark Neeham, a former state party director. Earlier reports suggested the moderate faction had been reconciled to Molan’s ascendancy by a pledge that he would only serve out the remainder of Sinodinos’s two-year term, and would not seek re-election in 2022.

Rob Harris of The Age reports the Victorian Liberals are considering a plan to complete their preselections for the 2022 election much earlier than usual – and especially soon for Liberal-held seats. The idea in the latter case is for challengers to incumbents to declare their hands by January 15, with the matter to be wrapped up by late February or early March. This comes after the party’s administrative committee warded off threats to members ahead of the last election, most notably factional conservative Kevin Andrews in Menzies, by rubber-stamping the preselections of all incumbents, much to the displeasure of party members. Other preselections are to be held from April through to October. Also proposed is a toughening of candidate vetting procedures, after no fewer than seven candidates in Labor-held seats were disendorsed during the period of the campaign.

Self-promotion corner:

• I had a paywalled piece in Crikey yesterday which noted the stances adopted of late by James McGrath, ideological warror extraordinaire and scourge of the cockatoo, in his capacity as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which is presently conducting its broad-ranging inquiry into the May federal election. These include the end of proportional representation in the Senate, the notion that parliamentarians who quit their parties should be required to forfeit their seats, and — more plausibly — the need to curtail pre-poll voting.

Call of the board: South-East Queensland

How good was Queensland? The Poll Bludger reports – you decide.

The Poll Bludger’s popular Call of the Board series, in which results for each individual electorate at the May 18 federal election are being broken down region by region, underwent a bit of a hiatus over the past month or so after a laptop theft deprived me of my collection of geospatial files. However, it now returns in fine style by reviewing the business end of the state which, once again, proved to be the crucible of the entire election. Earlier instalments covered Sydney, here and here; regional New South Wales; Melbourne; and regional Victoria.

First up, the colour-coded maps below show the pattern of the two-party swing by allocating to each polling booth a geographic catchment area through a method that was described here (click for enlarged images). The first focuses on metropolitan Brisbane, while the second zooms out to further include the seats of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. As was the case in Sydney and Melbourne, these maps show a clear pattern in which Labor had its best results (in swing terms) in wealthy inner urban areas (for which I will henceforth use the shorthand of the “inner urban effect”, occasionally contrasted with an “outer urban effect” that went the other way). However, they are also bluer overall, reflecting Labor’s generally poor show across Queensland (albeit not as poor in the south-east as in central Queensland).

The seat-by-seat analysis is guided by comparison of the actual results with those estimated by two alternative metrics, which are laid out in the table below (using the two-party measure for Labor). The first of these, which I employ here for the first time, is a two-party estimate based on Senate rather than House of Representatives results. This is achieved using party vote totals for the Senate and allocating Greens, One Nation and “others” preferences using the flows recorded for the House. These results are of particular value in identifying the extent to which results reflected the popularity or otherwise of the sitting member.

The other metric consists of estimates derived from a linear regression model, in which relationships were measured between booths results and a range of demographic and geographic variables. This allows for observation of the extent to which results differed from what might have been expected of a given electorate based on its demography. Such a model was previously employed in the previous Call of the Board posts for Sydney and Melbourne. However, it may be less robust on this occasion as its estimates consistently landed on the high side for Labor. I have dealt with this by applying an across-the-board adjustment to bring the overall average in line with the actual results. Results for the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast seats are not shown, owing to the difficulty involved in classifying them as metropolitan or regional (and I have found the model to be of limited value in regional electorates). The coefficients underlying the model can be viewed here.

And now to review each seat in turn:

Continue reading “Call of the board: South-East Queensland”

ANU post-election survey and Essential Research poll

Comprehensive new research suggests a telling shift from the “others” column to the Coalition through the campaign period, while Labor were either consistently overrated by pollsters or fell off a cliff at the end.

Some particularly interesting post-election research has emerged in the shape of a paper from Nicholas Biddle at the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods. This draws from the centre’s regular online panel surveys on social attitudes, which encompasses a question on voting intention for reasons unrelated to prediction of election results. The study compares results for 1692 respondents who completed both its pre- and post-election surveys, which were respectively conducted from April 8 to 26 (encompassing the start of the campaign on April 11) and June 3 to 17 (commencing a fortnight after the election). Respondents were excluded altogether if they were either ineligible to vote or failed to answer the voting intention question.

The results are, to a point, consistent with the possibility that pollsters were confounded by a last minute shift to the Coalition, particularly among those who had earlier been in the “others” column. The changes can be summarised as follows, keeping in mind that a “don’t know” response for the April survey was at 2.9%, and 6.5% in the June survey said they did not vote. Since the disparity leaves a net 3.6% of the total vote unaccounted for, the shifts identified below will err on the low side.

The Coalition vote increased an estimated 2.6% from the time of the April survey, suggesting the polls were right to be recording them at around 38% at that time, if not later. However, no movement at all was recorded in the Labor vote, suggesting they were always about four points short of the 37% most polls were crediting them with. The exception here was Ipsos, which had Labor at 33% or 34% in all four of the polls from the start of the year. The Greens fell very slightly, suggesting a poll rounding to whole numbers should have had them at 11% early in the campaign. Newspoll consistently had it at 9%, Ipsos at 13% or 14%, and Essential fluctuated between 9% and 12%.

The biggest move was the 5.9% drop in support for “others”, although a fair bit of this wound up in the “did not vote” column. Even so, it can conservatively be said that pollsters in April should have been rating “others” at around four points higher than their actual election result of 15%, when they were actually coming in only one point higher. This three point gap is reflected in the size of the overestimation of support for Labor.

The results also point to a remarkably high degree of churn — an estimated 28.5% did not stick with the voting intention expressed in April, albeit that a little more than a fifth of this subset did so by not voting at all. The sub-sample of vote changers is small, but it offers little to suggest voters shifted from Labor to the Coalition in particularly large numbers. The Coalition recorded the lowest rate of defection, although the difference with Labor was not statistically significant (I presume it’s normal for major party supporters to be more constant than minor). Conversely, 49.4% of those who left the “others” column went to the Coalition (which comes with a 9% margin of error), and most of the remainder did not vote.

The survey also features statistical analysis to determine the demographic characteristics of vote changers. These find that older voters were generally less likely to be vote changers, and that young vote changers tended not to do so in favour of the Coalition, presumably switching for the most part between Labor and the Greens. Also particularly unlikely to budge were Coalition voters who lived in areas of socio-economic advantage. Those at the other end of this scale, regardless of party support, were most volatile.

Also out this week was the regular fortnightly Essential Research survey, which is still yet to resume its voting intention series but will do so soon. A question on the anticipated impact of government policies over the next three years produces encouraging numbers for the government, with 41% positive and 23% negative. A question on racist sentiments finds 36% agreeing that Australia is a racist country, and 50% saying it is less racist than it was in the past. Breakdowns record no significant differences between those of migrant and non-migrant backgrounds, although the former may include too many of British origin for the results to be particularly revealing.

A question on political interest finds only 15% professing no interest in federal politics, with 53% saying they follow it closely or “enough to know what’s happening”. A big question though is whether polling has gone astray because too many such people are included in their samples. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1075 respondents drawn from an online panel.

Call of the board: regional Victoria

Part four in the region-by-region review of the results in each seat at the May federal election.

This site’s slow-moving Call of the Board series, which takes a closer look at the results for every seat at the May 18 election, now makes it to regional Victoria. This area once enjoyed its fair share of marginal seats (see Ballarat, Bendigo and Monash/McMillan below), but now has only Corangamite to offer in the way of reliable election night seats-to-watch. Nonetheless, there were a few interesting things going on in the results for those who cared to look. (And while you’re here, note also the post on Brexit developments immediately below this one).

Ballarat (Labor 11.0%; 3.6% swing to Labor): Labor has been strengthening in this once highly marginal seat since Catherine King gained it at the 2001 election, at which it was the only seat in the country to shift from Coalition to Labor (with some help from the retirement of Michael Ronaldson, later a Senator). The only serious speed bump in that time was a 6.8% swing to the Liberals in 2013, reducing her margin to 4.9%, which she has now almost made good with successive swings of 2.4% and 3.6%. The Liberal primary vote on this occasion was down 4.0% despite the absence of the Nationals, who polled 4.2% in 2016, although they did face new competition on the right from the United Australia Party, which polled 4.6%.

Bendigo (Labor 9.0%; 5.2% swing to Labor): Victoria’s other regional city seat has followed a similar pattern to Ballarat over time: won by Labor from the Liberals in 1998, retained only narrowly in 2004 and 2013, and now looking secure again after successive swings of 2.5% and 5.2% in 2016 and 2019. The current member, Lisa Chesters, has now almost made up the 8.2% swing she suffered when she came to the seat on Steve Gibbons’ retirement in 2013. The Liberal primary vote was down 6.1% amid an overload of competition on the right, with One Nation, Conservative National and Rise Up Australia all in the field alongside the ubiquitous United Australia Party.

Casey (Liberal 4.6%; 0.1% swing to Liberal): Located on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts and held for the Liberals by the Speaker, Tony Smith, Casey was one of many Victorian seats that looked promising for Labor after the state election, but singularly failed to deliver on the day. Smith actually picked up a very slightly swing on two-party preferred, and none of the primary vote swings were particularly significant. Labor tended to do better in the more urbanised western end of the electorate, particularly in those parts of it newly added from La Trobe in the redistribution.

Corangamite (LABOR NOTIONAL GAIN 1.1%; 1.0% swing to Labor): Corangamite was designated as a notional Labor seat by the barest possible margin, so whoever received the swing was almost certain to win the seat. That proved to be Labor’s Libby Coker, just, in a result perfectly in line with the state average. Defeated Liberal member Sarah Henderson picked up a few swings in the booths newly added to the electorate on the Bellarine Peninsula, but the Great Ocean Road swung to Labor, reflecting its affluent and educated sea-changer demographic. The Greens were down 3.0% on the primary vote, as voters situated in the state’s south-west failed to warm to a candidate called Simon Northeast.

Corio (Labor 10.3%; 2.1% swing to Labor): Labor’s Richard Marles picked up 4.2% on the primary vote and 2.1% on two-party preferred, the former assisted by a small field of four candidates. The Liberals picked up some swings in Geelong’s down-market north, but the city centre and its surrounds went solidly to Labor.

Flinders (Liberal 5.6%; 1.4% swing to Labor): One of many disappointments for Labor was their failure to seriously threaten Greg Hunt in an area that had swung forcefully their way at the state election. Hunt was also little troubled by Julia Banks, who managed 13.8% of the primary vote, well behind Labor on 24.7%. Banks’s presence cut into the vote share for Liberal, Labor and the Greens – Hunt was down 3.8% to 46.7%, and needed preferences to win the seat for the first time since he came to it in 2001.

Gippsland (Nationals 16.7%; 1.5% swing to Labor): For reasons not immediately apparent, Labor was up 3.0% on the primary vote and cut slightly into what remains a secure margin for Nationals member Darren Chester.

Indi (Independent 1.4% versus Liberal; 4.1% swing to Liberal): As a number of highly trumpeted independents failed to live up to the hype elsewhere, Helen Haines performed a remarkable feat in retaining the independent mantle of Cathy McGowan. Haines’ primary vote of 32.4% was only slightly short of McGowan’s 34.8% on her re-election in 2016, although the Liberals put up a stronger show after gouging half of the Nationals vote. An interesting feature of the result was the 7.7% swing to the Liberals on two-party-preferred versus Labor, suggesting Haines’ preferences favoured the Liberals more strongly than did McGowan’s.

La Trobe (Liberal 4.5%; 1.3% swing to Liberal): A swing to the Liberals in Melbourne marginals was not a feature of too many pre-election predictions, but such was the outcome in La Trobe. Both major parties were up slightly on the primary vote amid a smaller field of candidates than 2016.

Mallee (Nationals 16.2%; 3.6% swing to Labor): Vacated with the demise of Andrew Broad’s two-term career, this was retained by the Nationals against a challenge from the Liberals, as it was in 2013 when Broad succeeded John Forrest. Liberal candidate Serge Petrovich actually fell out of the preference candidate before Labor, despite outpolling them 18.8% to 15.7% on the primary vote, and his preferences duly delivered a large winning margin to Nationals candidate Anne Webster. Webster would likely have won the seat even if Petrovich had survived to the final count, given her 27.9% to 18.8% advantage on the primary vote.

McEwen (Labor 5.0%; 1.0% swing to Liberal): Despite being an area of dynamic growth, particularly around Mernda and Doreen at Melbourne’s northern edge, McEwen turned in a largely static result on this occasion. This was in contrast to its form at the five elections from 2004 to 2016, when two-party swings ranged from 4.1% to 9.0%. Both major parties were down slightly on the primary vote as One Nation took to the field, scoring 5.9%, and Labor member Rob Mitchell’s two-party margin was slightly clipped after a blowout win in 2016.

Monash (Liberal 7.4%; 0.2% swing to Labor): The solid margin built up by Russell Broadbent since 2004 in the seat formerly known as McMillan was little disturbed, although the 7.6% recorded by One Nation took a 3.6% bite out of his primary vote. A noteworthy feature of the result was a heavy swing to the Liberals in the Latrobe Valley towns of Moe and Newborough, a pattern reflected in coal and electricity producing areas across the country.

Nicholls (Nationals 20.0%; 2.5% swing to Labor): After a three-cornered contest in 2016, in which Damian Drum gained the seat for the Nationals on the retirement of Liberal member Sharman Stone, the Liberals vacated the field in Nicholls (formerly Murray), and Drum retained the seat with a majority of the primary vote. One Nation polled 11.3%, easily the best result of the five seats they contested in Victoria.

Wannon (Liberal 10.4%; 1.2% swing to Liberal): Liberal member Dan Tehan picked up slight favourable swings on both the primary and two-party vote. Former Triple J presenter Alex Dyson polled 10.4% as an independent.

Call of the board: Melbourne

More gory detail on the result of the May 18 federal election, this time focusing on Melbourne, where an anticipated election-winning swing to Labor crucially failed to materialise.

Time for part four in the series that reviews the result of the May 18 election seat by seat, one chunk at a time. As will be the routine in posts covering the capital cities, we start with a colour-coded map showing the two-party preferred swing at polling booth level, with each booth allocated a geographic catchment area by means explained in the first post in this series. Click for an enlarged image.

Now to compare actual election results to those predicted by a demographic linear regression model, to help identify where candidate or local factors might be needed to explain the result. I now offer a new-and-improved form of the model that includes interaction effects to account for the differences in demographic effects between the cities and the regions. The utility of the change, if any, will become more apparent when I apply it to regional seats, which confounded the original version of the model. The coefficients and what-have-you can be viewed here – the table below shows the modelled predictions and actual results for Labor two-party preferred, ranked in order of difference between the result and the prediction of the model.

The main eyebrow-raisers are that the model anticipates a stronger performance by Labor in nearly every Liberal-held seats, to the extent that blue-ribbon Higgins and Goldstein are both rated as naturally highly marginal. While this could prove a portent of things to come in these seats, it might equally reflect a model leaning too heavily on the “secular/no religion” variable to cancel out the association between income and Liberal support in the inner cities.

As in Sydney, the numbers provide strong indications of incumbency advantages, with both Labor and Liberal members tending to outperform the model and thus appear at opposite ends of the table. I suspect this reflects both the obvious explanation, namely personal votes for sitting members, and a lack of effort by the parties into each other’s safe seats. A tendency for parties to perform more modestly when a seat is being vacated is not so overwhelming as to prevent strong results relative to the model for Labor in Jagajaga and Liberal in Higgins.

With that out of the way:

Aston (Liberal 10.1%; 2.7% swing to Liberal): Aston attracted a lot of discussion after the 2004 election when the Liberals recorded a higher two-party vote than they did in their jewel-in-the-crown seat of Kooyong. Now, for the first time since then, it’s happened again, and by a fairly substantial margin (the Liberal-versus-Labor margin in Kooyong having been 6.7%). As illustrated in the above table, the swing places Alan Tudge’s margin well beyond what the seat’s demographic indicators would lead you to expect.

Bruce (Labor 14.2%; 0.1% swing to Labor): Located at the point of the outer suburbs where the Labor swing dries up, cancelling out any half-sophomore effect that may have been coming Julian Hill’s way after he came to the seat in 2016.

Calwell (Labor 18.8%; 0.9% swing to Liberal): Among the modest number of Melbourne seats to swing to the Liberals, reflecting its multiculturalism and location at the city’s edge. Maria Vamvakinou nonetheless retains the fifth biggest Labor margin in the country.

Chisholm (Liberal 0.6%; 2.3% swing to Labor): Labor’s failure to win Chisholm after it was vacated by Julia Banks was among their most disappointing results of the election, but the result was entirely within the normal range both for Melbourne’s middle suburbs and a seat of its particular demographic profile. The swing to Labor was concentrated at the northern end of the electorate, which may or may not have something to do with this being the slightly less Chinese end of the electorate.

Cooper (Labor 14.6% versus Greens; 13.4% swing to Labor): With David Feeney gone and Ged Kearney entrenched, the door seems to have slammed shut on the Greens in the seat formerly known as Batman. After recording high thirties primary votes at both the 2016 election and 2018 by-election, the Greens crashed to 21.1%, while Kearney was up from 43.1% at the by-election to 46.8%, despite the fact the Liberals were in the field this time and polling 19.5%. In Labor-versus-Liberal terms, a 4.2% swing to Labor boosted the margin to 25.9%, the highest in the country.

Deakin (Liberal 4.8%; 1.7% swing to Labor): While Melburnian backers of the coup against Malcolm Turnbull did not suffer the retribution anticipated after the state election, it may at least be noted that Michael Sukkar’s seat swung the other way from its demographically similar neighbour, Aston. That said, Sukkar’s 4.8% margin strongly outperforms the prediction of the demographic model, which picks the seat for marginal Labor.

Dunkley (LABOR NOTIONAL GAIN 2.7%; 1.7% swing to Labor): Together with Corangamite, Dunkley was one of only two Victorian seats gained by Labor on any reckoning, and even they can be excluded if post-redistribution margins are counted as the starting point. With quite a few other outer urban seats going the other way, and a part-sophomore effect to be anticipated after he succeeded Bruce Billson in 2016, it might be thought an under-achievement on Chris Crewther’s part that he failed to hold out the tide, notwithstanding the near universal expectation he would lose. However, his performance was well beyond that predicted by the demographic model, which estimates the Labor margin at 6.6%.

Fraser (Labor 14.2%; 6.1% swing to Liberal): Newly created seat in safe Labor territory in western Melbourne, it seemed Labor felt the loss here of its sitting members: Bill Shorten in Maribyrnong, which provided 34% of the voters; Maria Vamvakinou in Calwell, providing 29%; Tim Watts in Gellibrand, providing 20%; and Brendan O’Connor in Gorton, providing 16%. The newly elected member, Daniel Mulino, copped the biggest swing against Labor in Victoria, reducing the seat from first to eleventh on the national list of safest Labor seats.

Gellibrand (Labor 14.8%; 0.3% swing to Liberal): The city end of Gellibrand followed the inner urban pattern in swinging to Labor, but the suburbia at the Point Cook end of the electorate tended to lean the other way, producing a stable result for third-term Labor member Tim Watts.

Goldstein (Liberal 7.8%; 4.9% swing to Labor): Tim Wilson met the full force of the inner urban swing against the Liberals, more than accounting for any sophomore effect he might have enjoyed in the seat where he succeeded Andrew Robb in 2016. Nonetheless, he maintained a primary vote majority in a seat which, since its creation in 1984, has only failed to do when David Kemp muscled Ian Macphee aside in 1990.

Gorton (Labor 15.4%; 3.0% swing to Liberal): The swing against Brendan O’Connor was fairly typical of the outer suburbs. An independent, Jarrod Bingham, managed 8.8%, with 59.2% of his preferences going to Labor.

Higgins (Liberal 3.9%; 6.1% swing to Labor): One of many blue-ribbon seats that swung hard against the Liberals without putting them in serious danger. Nonetheless, it is notable that the 3.9% debut margin for Katie Allen, who succeeds Kelly O’Dwyer, is the lowest the Liberals have recorded since the seat’s creation in 1949, surpassing Peter Costello’s 7.0% with the defeat of the Howard government in 2007. Labor returned to second place after falling to third in 2016, their primary up from 14.9% to 25.4%, while the Greens were down from 25.3% to 22.5%. This reflected a pattern through much of inner Melbourne, excepting Melbourne and Kooyong.

Holt (Labor 8.7%; 1.2% swing to Liberal): The populous, northern end of Holt formed part of a band of south-eastern suburbia that defied the Melbourne trend in swinging to Liberal, causing a manageable cut to Anthony Byrne’s margin.

Hotham (Labor 5.9%; 1.7% swing to Labor): The swing to third-term Labor member Clare O’Neil was concentrated at the northern end of the electorate, with the lower-income Vietnamese area around Springvale in the south went the other way.

Isaacs (Labor 12.7%; 3.4% swing to Labor): What I have frequently referred to as an inner urban effect actually extended all along the bayside, contributing to a healthy swing to Mark Dreyfus. The Liberal primary vote was down 7.4%, partly reflecting more minor party competition than in 2016. This was an interesting case where the map shows a clear change in temperature coinciding with the boundaries, with swings to Labor in Isaacs promptly giving way to Liberal swings across much of Hotham, Bruce and Holt.

Jagajaga (Labor 6.6%; 1.0% swing to Labor): Jenny Macklin’s retirement didn’t have any discernible impact on the result in Jagajaga, which recorded a modest swing to her Labor successor, Kate Thwaites.

Kooyong (Liberal 5.7% versus Greens): Julian Burnside defied a general Melburnian trend in adding 2.6% to the Greens primary vote, and did so in the face of competition for the environmental vote from independent Oliver Yates, whose high profile campaign yielded only 9.0%. Labor was down 3.7% to 16.8%, adrift of Burnside’s 21.2%. But with Josh Frydenberg still commanding 49.4% of the primary vote even after an 8.3% swing, the result was never in doubt. The Liberal-versus-Labor two-party margin was 6.7%, a 6.2% swing to Labor.

Lalor (Labor 12.4%; 1.8% swing to Liberal): The area around Werribee marks a Liberal swing hot spot in Melbourne’s west, showing up as a slight swing in Lalor against Labor’s Joanne Ryan.

Macnamara (Labor 6.2%; 5.0% swing to Labor): Talked up before the event as a three-horse race, this proved an easy win for Labor, who outpolled the Greens 31.8% to 24.2%, compared with 27.0% to 23.8% last time, then landed 6.2% clear after preferences of the Liberals, who were off 4.6% to 37.4%. The retirement of Michael Danby presumably explains the relatively weak 5.0% primary vote swing to Labor in the seven booths around Caulfield and Elsternwick at the southern end of the electorate, the focal point of its Jewish community. The result for the remainder of the election day booths was 9.7%.

Maribyrnong (Labor 11.2%; 0.8% swing to Liberal): Nothing out of the ordinary happened in the seat of Bill Shorten, who probably owes most of his 5.0% primary vote swing to the fact that there were fewer candidates this time. Typifying the overall result, the Liberals gained swings around Keilor at the electorate’s outer reaches, while Labor was up closer to the city.

Melbourne (Greens 21.8% versus Liberal; 2.8% swing to Greens): The Greens primary vote in Melbourne increased for the seventh successive election, having gone from 6.1% in 1998 to 22.8% when Adam Bandt first ran unsuccessfully in 2007, and now up from 43.7% to 49.3%. I await to be corrected, but I believed this brought Bandt to within an ace of becoming the first Green ever to win a primary vote majority. For the second election in a row, Bandt’s dominance of the left-of-centre vote reduced Labor to third place. On the Labor-versus-Liberal count, Labor gained a negligible 0.1% swing, unusually for a central city seat.

Menzies (Liberal 7.2%; 0.3% swing to Labor): Very little to report from Kevin Andrews’ seat, where the main parties were up slightly on the primary vote against a smaller field, and next to no swing on two-party preferred, with slight Liberal swings around Templestowe in the west of the electorate giving way to slight Labor ones around Warrandyte in the east.

Scullin (Labor 21.7%; 2.1% swing to Labor): Third-term Labor member Andrew Giles managed a swing that was rather against the outer urban trend in his northern Melbourne seat.

Wills (Labor 8.2% versus Greens; 3.2% swing to Labor): The Greens likely missed their opportunity in Wills when Kelvin Thomson retired in 2016, when Labor’s margin was reduced to 4.9%. Peter Khalil having established himself as member, he picked up 6.2% on the primary vote this time while the Greens fell 4.3%. Khalil also picked up a 4.2% swing on the Labor-versus-Liberal count, strong even by inner urban standards, leaving him with the biggest margin on that measure after Ged Kearney in Cooper.

Federal election preference flows

New figures from the AEC confirm the Coalition’s share of Hanson and Palmer preferences was approaching two-thirds, a dramatic increase on past form.

We now have as much in the way of results out of the federal election as we’re ever going to, with the Australian Electoral Commission finally publishing preference flow by party data. The table below offers a summary and how it compares with the last two election. They confirm that YouGov Galaxy/Newspoll was actually too conservative in giving the Coalition 60% of preferences from One Nation and the United Australia Party, with the actual flow for both parties being nearly identical at just over 65%.

The United Australia Party preference flow to the Coalition was very substantially stronger than the 53.7% recorded by the Palmer United Party in 2013, despite its how-to-vote cards directing preferences to the Coalition on both occasions. A result is also listed for Palmer United in 2016, but it is important to read these numbers in conjunction with the column recording the relevant party’s vote share at the election, which in this case was next to zero (it only contested one lower house seat, and barely registered there). Greens preferences did nothing out of the ordinary, being slightly stronger to Labor than in 2016 and slightly weaker than in 2013.

The combined “others” flow to the Coalition rose from 50.8% to 53.6%, largely reflecting the much smaller footprint of the Nick Xenophon Team/Centre Alliance, whose preferences in 2016 split 60-40 to Labor. This also contributes to the smaller share for “others”, with both figures being closer to where they were in 2013. “Inter-Coalition” refers to where there were both Liberal and Nationals candidates in a seat, some of whose preferences will have flowed to Labor rather than each other. The “share” result in this case records the combined Coalition vote in such seats as a share of the national formal vote.

While we’re here, note the blog’s other two recent posts: Adrian Beaumont’s account of Brecon & Radnorshire by-election, and my own in-depth review of the legal challenges against the election of Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong and Gladys Liu in Chisholm.

Legal matters

Three Court of Disputed returns challenges target two Liberal election winners in Melbourne: Josh Frydenberg in the safe seat of Kooyong, and Gladys Liu in highly marginal Chisholm.

Hard up upon the deadline for legal challenges to results from the May 18 federal election, three petitions were lodged in the Court of Disputed Returns on Wednesday: two against Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong, and one against Liberal colleague Gladys Liu in the neighbouring seat of Chisholm. Both Frydenberg and Liu face claims arising from section 329 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, concerning the misleading of electors in relation to the casting of their votes. On top of that, Frydenberg faces a claim he is ineligible to sit in parliament under the citizenship requirements of Section 44.

The Section 44 action is based on the now familiar claim that Frydenberg is entitled to Hungarian citizenship. Since such a claim would be derived through a mother who fled that country in 1943 to escape the Holocaust, most have reckoned Frydenberg to be well at the undeserving end of those entangled in actual or potential complications under the section. The matter was widely canvassed amid the broader Section 44 furore last year, so voters in Kooyong were fully appraised of it when they re-elected him. Nonetheless, this is the only one of the two complaints that could plausibly lead to the seat being vacated, since the fact that Frydenberg won by a comfortable margin is not relevant to his qualification to be a member of parliament.

Continue reading “Legal matters”