Margin of terror!
Posted by Possum Comitatus on July 14, 2007
To start off, Newspoll considers seats held with a margin of 6% or less as “marginal”.
I’m going to use 4 data points. The 2004 Election, Jul-Sep 2006, Oct-Nov 2006 and Jan-Mar 2007.
Let’s look at the most uninteresting aspect first (yes, the most uninteresting) – marginal seat polling using primary votes: The ALP and the Coalition primary votes can be read from the left hand side of the graph, the “others” as in, ‘everyone else’ can be read from the right hand side.
The ALP primary vote under Rudd has moved from 40 to 50%, while the Coalition primary vote has moved from 41 to 37 over the same period. As you can see, in the marginals the ALP has clipped the Coalitions wings, but they’ve decimated the “Others” vote. This is consistent with other data that suggested the Coalition lost 5% from their primary vote to the minor party +undecideds camp after the 2005 budget, which then moved across to the ALP under the Rudd leadership.
Since the last election, there has been an estimated swing away from the Coalition primary of 8.3% and a swing to the ALP of 9.2%.
This probably won’t hold as some homogenous pattern across all the marginals because there are a lot of local factors in play that protect some members against even large swings – but this looks like a blood bath. There are 23 Coalition held marginals according to the Mackerras Pendulum
Labor needs 16 seats.
Now let’s get onto the really interesting thing – safe government seats.
Below are two graphs, the first looks at the ALP vs Coalition vs Others primary votes in the safe government seats, the second looks at the ALP vs Liberal vs National primary votes in the safe government seats. These results have profound ramifications for the geographical distribution of where seats will likely fall at the next election if anything like this swing pattern holds.
As we can see from the first graph, the ALP has nearly completely closed the gap with the Coalition in those safe government seats in terms of the primary vote, and if you throw in the minor party preference flows, the two party preferred would be neck and neck. But if we look at the breakdown of that Coalition vote in the second graph, the Nats have dropped their vote by 2.8% since the last election (and the Nats do seem to get underestimated a bit in the polls – just my opinion), but the Libs vote has slumped by 8.6%!
The swing away from Coalition in the safe government seats has been 11.4%, and the swing to the ALP is 13.7%
Yes, that isn’t a joke, it says 13.7%.
If that pattern holds, you are talking about 40 Coalition seats being in play including some of the most blue ribbon Liberal seats in the country. These figures are absolutely disastrous for the Coalition.And taking into consideration the earlier quarterly newspoll data where the capital and non-capital city swings were roughly the same, the seats in question aren’t isolated to the capital cities, but are much much broader in geography.
This isn’t some “Oh yeah, we’re behind in the polls but we have a cunning plan” moment, this is staring down the barrel of an electoral execution.
Realistically, 40 seats wouldn’t change hands as swings aren’t homogenous, but those Liberal held outer suburban, mortgage belt seats where Interest Payments to Disposable Income are hitting (both in terms of housing stress and reducing discretionary spending budgets), and where Workchoices is impacting upon perceptions of job security and working conditions, especially for the second income earner – if anything like these swings persist through to the election, the capital cities will be surrounded by a sea of red Labor seats, all the way out until you run into a Nat.
Even the larger regional centers appear to be in danger of becoming red dots.Surely that cant be the case? Surely large parts of regional Australia wont return to their early history and support a Labor party?
These results aren’t just an ALP raid into the Coalition held marginals, these are an ALP assault on Coalition heartland. Or what has been since 1996 for suburbia, and decades for the regions.
I’ve been waiting for this poll for a few weeks now, expecting to see the marginals behaving the way they are, but I didn’t expect the safe government seats to be doing anything like this. A bit of movement, sure.
A 13.7% swing to Labor just wasn’t in the picture.
People are making comparisons between 2007 and 1996, and 2001 and 2004.But this is different in every aspect. The satisfaction rating differentials are different, the primary vote swings are different, the patterns of the swings are different.
Statistically, the relationship between the satisfaction levels of the government and their primary vote has completely broken down.
Over the last few days, the marginal seat patterns have shown themselves to be different, the State by State breakdown has been different. I’m convinced that insight wont be found for the forthcoming election by looking at the past – this is a different kettle of fish altogether.
That’s not to say that I’m writing the Coalition off (although it’s getting to point where I’m about too) nor do I expect these patterns to hold to their current level, but this is a completely different level of trouble they have found themselves in compared to the 1998 One Nation assault, the 2001 pre-Ryan by-election slump and the few months following the election of Latham to the ALP leadership.
Continue on to Part 2