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A Cautionary Tale: Senate Votes In The 2013 Federal Election

Aside from the Coalition, ALP and Greens, just five parties were able to poll above 1% nationally in the last Senate election.

The Palmer United Party, Liberal Democrats, Nick Xenophon Group, Sex Party and Family First each managed to reach 1% nationally in the 2013 federal election. They polled higher numbers in particular states and managed to win seats. Only the Sex Party failed to elect a senator.

A further 46 groups polled less than 1% each. Nineteen of these failed to make it to 0.5%. Twenty-five groups failed to poll more than 0.66% and will not contest this year’s election. Only Ricky Muir from this group of 46 managed to win election to the Senate and that was due to group voting ticket preference deals which have now been abolished. [Read more…]


New Research Paper On House By-Elections

The Parliamentary Library has released a new research paper on House of Representatives by-elections since 1901.

The paper is titled: House of Representatives by-elections: 1901-2015. It is writted by Stephen Barber of the Statistics and Mapping Section.

The paper is displayed below, in accordance with its Creative Commons licence.

The paper’s updated statistics show that the party complexion of a seat has changed on just 35 occasions out of 149 by-elections. The average two-party preferred swing against the government of the day has been 4.0 per cent.

Other data shows that that the average number of nominations for by-elections has grown from 2.2 to 11.6. [Read more…]


Preferential Voting In Action: Denison 2010

The Tasmanian electorate of Denison at the 2010 Federal Election is an interesting case study of preferential voting in action.

The seat had been held by the ALP since 1987, although the sitting member, Duncan Kerr, retired at the election. The Labor, Liberal and Greens candidates were joined by a candidate from the Socialist Alliance and an independent, Andrew Wilkie.

The image below shows that Wilkie came third on primary votes, behind the Labor and Liberal candidates. The Greens were in fourth place and the Socialist Alliance in fifth. No candidate had an absolute majority of 50% + 1. This meant that preferences had to be distributed until someone secured 50% + 1.

Because she had the lowest number of votes, the Socialist Alliance candidate was excluded first. The allocation of her preferences did not change the order: the ALP still led, the Liberals were second and Wilkie remained in third place. [Read more…]


Electoral Pocketbook – 2015

The Australian Electoral Commission has released its latest Electoral Pocketbook, containing the full results of the 2013 Federal Election.

The pocketbook also includes the results of the 2014 Western Australian Senate re-run election.

The pocketbook is shown below. It can be expanded and downloaded. [Read more…]


Federal Election Results 1901-2014

This is a research paper from the Parliamentary Library with statistics on Australian Federal Elections since 1901.

The paper is part of the Research Paper Series 2014-15 and was written by Stephen Barber and Sue Johnson of the Statistics and Mapping Section of the Parliamentary Library.

The paper is shown under the terms of its Creative Commons licence.

It does not contains result of individual seats, but includes aggregate and state-by-state statistics for both Houses on primary votes, two-party-preferred votes, voter turnout, informal votes. It provides state-of-the-party tables for each House and Senate election since 1901. [Read more…]


The Malcolm Mackerras Six And The Question Of How To Define A Landslide

In a weekend newspaper article, the well-known psephologist and election analyst, Malcolm Mackerras, argued that there have been only six federal election “landslide” victories.

In his article, Mackerras nominated the six elections as: 1917, 1929, 1931, 1943, 1966 and 1975.

Mackerras quite rightly objected to the idea that “every second federal election” is a landslide. He described the 2013 election as a “respectable loss” for the ALP but not worthy of being called a landslide.

He said: “However, I have a more rigorous definition, the details of which I have not the space to elaborate now.”

How To Define “Landslide”

I would suggest two essential election statistics as criteria for defining a landslide:

  1. The proportion of House of Representatives seats held by the winning party or parties.
  2. The national two-party-preferred vote achieved by the winning party or parties.

The primary vote achieved by the election winners is also of some interest but since our system of compulsory preferential voting always provides us with a national figure of combined primary and preferred votes the primary vote alone doesn’t necessarily mean much. [Read more…]


Final Two-Party Figures: Coalition Won 2013 Election With 3.61% Swing

Final figures published by the Australian Electoral Commission show that the Coalition won the 2013 federal election with a 3.61% swing.

The Liberal-Nationals coalition polled 53.49% of the national two-party-preferred vote. The ALP received 46.51%.

Every state and territory recorded a swing against the ALP. The largest swing was 9.39% in Tasmania. The smallest was 1.09% in the Northern Territory.

The Coalition did best in Western Australia, where it polled 58.28%, Queensland, where it polled 56.98% and New South Wales, where it polled 54.35%.

The Coalition had a net gain of 17 seats. It picked up 10 seats in NSW and 3 in Tasmania. It had a net gain of 2 in Victoria and 1 each in Queensland and South Australia. It lost one seat to the Palmer United Party’s Clive Palmer and one to Cathy McGowan, an independent.

The ALP received a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in just two states: Tasmania, where it polled 51.23% and Victoria, where it polled 50.20%. Its highest vote was 59.91% in the ACT. [Read more…]


2013 Primary Vote Winners, Preference Vote Losers

There were 15 seats in the 2013 federal election where the primary vote leaders were defeated after the full distribution of preferences.

In 12 seats, all held by the ALP, the coalition candidate led on primary votes but the seat was won by the ALP after preferences. In 3 seats, coalition leads were overtaken by independent or third-party candidates.

The 15 seats were concentrated in Victoria (7), Queensland (5) and New South Wales (3).

Overall, 53 (35.3%) of the 150 House of Representatives electorates were decided on primary votes, whilst 97 (64.7%) required preference distribution to obtain a winner.

It is worth noting that 82 of the 97 electorates were won after preferences by the candidates who led the primary vote count. Even with preferences, a primary vote lead is difficult to overcome. [Read more…]


Abbott Leads Coalition To Decisive Victory; Rudd Saves The Furniture And Quits ALP Leadership; Labor Loses 14 Seats With Lowest Primary Vote Since 1931

Disunity, Perceptions Of Incompetence And Waste, End Six Years Of Labor Rule; Greens Vote Drops But Bandt Wins Easily; Wilkie Secures Denison; Minor Groups Likely To Control Senate

Abbott

The Liberal Party leader, Tony Abbott, will become Australia’s 28th prime minister, after his Liberal-Nationals Coalition won at least an extra 16 seats in the federal election that saw the ALP’s primary vote fall to its lowest level since 1931.

There has been a 3.53% national swing against the ALP. The Coalition has polled 53.33% of the two-party-preferred vote, compared to the ALP’s 46.67%.

The Coalition is likely to govern with around 90 seats, just short of the 94 Abbott’s mentor, John Howard, won in his first victory in 1996. [Read more…]


A.L.P. Federal Election Results Since 1910

An updated version of the data on this page was published in 2016.

“The ALP is heading for its biggest defeat ever under Gillard,” I was told recently.

The confident assertion promptly fell to pieces when I asked for a definition of “biggest defeat ever”. A garbled account of seats, votes and swings followed. Such are casual political conversations. Few people know the figures.

But the question is a good one. How do you measure the extent of an election defeat? If the Gillard government is annihilated this year, what measures of comparison should we use?

Here’s a table showing ALP statistics for three different measures: the proportion of seats won in the House of Representatives, the two-party-preferred vote, and the primary vote. The ALP’s winning election years are shaded yellow.

The table includes every election since Federation, except for the first three: 1901, 1903 and 1906. These have been excluded since they took place before the formation of the two-party system as we know it. Since 1910, elections have been fought between the ALP and the non-Labor parties under a variety of names.

The ALP has won 14 of the 40 elections held since 1910. I have categorised the 26 elections it has lost into four groups:

  1. Seven major defeats where the ALP won no more than a third of the seats in the House: 1917, 1925, 1931, 1966, 1975, 1977 and 1996.
  2. Seven significant defeats where the ALP won between 33% and 40% of the seats: 1919, 1922, 1934, 1937, 1949, 1955 and 1958.
  3. Nine moderate defeats where the ALP won between 40% and 50% of the seats: 1928, 1951, 1954, 1963, 1969, 1980, 1998, 2001 and 2004.
  4. Three near misses where the ALP just fell short: 1913, 1940 and 1961.
A.L.P. Performance In Federal Elections
Election Leader Election Won or Lost Seats Won In House of Representatives Two-Party-Preferred Vote % Primary Vote %
1910
Fisher
WIN
42 / 75 = 56.00%
49.97
1913
Fisher
LOSS
37 /75 = 49.33%
48.47
1914
Fisher
WIN
42 / 75 = 56.00%
50.89
1917
Tudor
LOSS
22/ 75 = 29.33%
43.94
1919
Tudor
LOSS
26 / 75 = 34.66%
42.49
1922
Charlton
LOSS
29 / 45 = 38.66%
42.30
1925
Charlton
LOSS
23 / 75 = 30.66%
45.04
1928
Scullin
LOSS
31 / 75 = 41.33%
44.64
1929
Scullin
WIN
46 / 75 = 61.33%
48.84
1931
Scullin
LOSS
14+4=18 / 75 = 24.00%
27.10+10.57 = 37.67
1934
Scullin
LOSS
18+9 = 27 / 74 = 36.48%
26.81+14.37 = 41.18
1937
Curtin
LOSS
29 / 74 = 39.19%
40.40
43.17
1940
Curtin
LOSS
32+4=36 / 74 = 48.64%
50.30
40.16+5.23 = 45.39
1943
Curtin
WIN
49 / 74 = 66.21%
58.20
49.94
1946
Chifley
WIN
43 / 74 = 58.10%
54.10
49.71
1949
Chifley
LOSS
47 / 121 = 38.84%
49.00
45.98
1951
Chifley
LOSS
52 / 121 = 42.97%
49.30
47.63
1954
Evatt
LOSS
57 / 121 = 47.10%
50.70
50.03
1955
Evatt
LOSS
47 / 122 = 38.52%
45.80
44.63
1958
Evatt
LOSS
45 / 122 = 36.88%
45.90
42.81
1961
Calwell
LOSS
60 / 122 = 49.18%
50.50
47.90
1963
Calwell
LOSS
50 / 122 = 40.98%
47.40
45.47
1966
Calwell
LOSS
41 / 124 = 33.06%
43.10
39.98
1969
Whitlam
LOSS
59 / 125 = 47.20%
50.20
46.95
1972
Whitlam
WIN
67 / 125 = 53.6%
52.70
49.59
1974
Whitlam
WIN
66 / 127 = 51.96%
51.70
49.30
1975
Whitlam
LOSS
36 / 127 = 28.34%
44.30
42.84
1977
Whitlam
LOSS
38 / 124 = 30.64%
45.40
39.65
1980
Hayden
LOSS
51 / 125 = 40.80%
49.60
45.15
1983
Hawke
WIN
75 / 125 = 60.00%
53.23
49.48
1984
Hawke
WIN
82 / 148 = 55.40%
51.77
47.55
1987
Hawke
WIN
86 / 148 = 58.10%
50.83
45.76
1990
Hawke
WIN
78 / 148 = 52.70%
49.90
39.44
1993
Keating
WIN
80 / 147 = 54.42%
51.44
44.92
1996
Keating
LOSS
49 / 148 = 33.10%
46.37
38.75
1998
Beazley
LOSS
67 / 148 = 45.27%
50.98
40.10
2001
Beazley
LOSS
65 / 150 = 43.33%
49.05
37.84
2004
Latham
LOSS
60 / 150 = 40.00%
47.26
37.63
2007
Rudd
WIN
83 / 150 = 55.33%
52.70
43.48
2010
Gillard
WIN
72 / 150 = 48.00%
50.12
37.99

By any measure, the ALP’s most successful election was John Curtin’s victory in 1943. Curtin won 66.21% of seats in the House. James Scullin won 61.33% in 1929 and Bob Hawke won 60% in 1983.

Curtin’s victory is also the only election in which the ALP polled in excess of 55% of the national two-party-preferred vote. [Note: Early figures for the two-party vote are not shown either because there are no precise figures available or because the election took place before preferential voting was introduced in 1918. Up until 1955, two-party figures contain a small element of estimation because some seats returned a member unopposed.] [Read more…]