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Success And Failure: The ALP’s Results In Federal Elections Since 1910

The tables on this page show the extent of the ALP’s victories and defeats in federal elections since 1910.

Each table shows the ALP statistics for three different measures:

  • the proportion of seats won in the House of Representatives,
  • the national 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. [Read more…]


2016 House Of Representatives Primary Votes: State-By-State Breakdown

Despite a declining vote, the Coalition and the ALP maintained their dominance of the House of Representatives in the July 2 double dissolution.

The Coalition (Liberal, Liberal National, Nationals, Country Liberals) and ALP polled 76.77% of the nationwide primary vote, down 2.16% from 78.93% in 2013. They secured 145 (96.7%) of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Big Two + Greens

The Greens polled 10.23% of the primary vote, up 1.58% from their 2013 tally of 8.65%. Adam Bandt consolidated his hold on Melbourne but the party failed to win any more lower house seats.

The Coalition, ALP and Greens combined polled 87% of first preference (primary) votes nationally, marginally down from 87.58% in 2013. They won 146 (97.3%) of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Greens maintained their influence with the lion’s share of preferences. These preferences were vital to the ALP holding 8 of its seats and winning another 7 from the Liberal Party.

A Big Field of Micro Parties With Micro Votes

There were 42 parties that contested at least one seat each. They polled a total of 10.17%. Only the Nick Xenophon Team (Mayo) and Katter’s Australian Party (Kennedy) won seats.

The majority of micro parties (32 of 42) contested 10 or fewer seats. Twenty-four of these contested 5 or fewer seats. Whilst 10 parties ran more than 10 candidates each, they all nominated candidates for fewer than half the seats in the House. Family First ran in 65 seats, the Christian Democratic Party in 55 and the Animal Justice Party in 41.

The votes for micro parties were derisory, with 38 of the 42 failing to make it to 1% nationally. Moreover, 27 polled less than 0.1% nationally. The other 11 polled no higher than 0.7%. [Read more…]


2016 Senate Votes: A Higher But Fragmented Vote For Minor And Micro Parties

Aside from the Coalition, ALP and Greens, 47 parties contested the Senate at July’s double dissolution election.

Just 8 of the 47 parties polled above 1% nationally. Five of these 8 parties elected senators: Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (4 senators), Nick Xenophon Team (3), Liberal Democrats (1), Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (1) and Family First (1). The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, the Christian Democrats and the Animal Justice Party did not elect any of their candidates.

There were 39 parties that nominated candidates in at least one state or territory but failed to poll above 0.74%. Fourteen failed to even reach 0.1% nationally and did only marginally better in individual states. Another 25 polled between 0.14%-0.74%.

The Jacqui Lambie Network was the only party in the latter group that managed to elect a senator. Lambie polled just 0.50% nationally, but she only ran candidates in three states and polled a full quota in her own right in Tasmania. With 8.30% of the vote, Lambie won a place in the first group of senators who will receive six-year terms.

The election of Derryn Hinch in Victoria is somewhat comparable to Lambie. His party only polled 1.93% nationally, and less than 1% in all states except Victoria, where Hinch secured election off a primary base of 6.05%.

The combined Coalition-ALP-Greens vote was 73.62%, down 2.85% from the 2013 result. This delivered 65 of the 76 Senate positions (85.5%) to these three groups.

The remaining 26.38% of the vote was split between 47 parties. These parties won the remaining 11 seats (14.4%).

Independent and ungrouped candidates below-the-line received just 0.18% of the vote.

The figures in the table below are consistent with the previous election. In 2013, there were 46 parties that polled less than 1% each.

The overall proportion of the vote flowing to the Coalition, ALP and Greens fell once again at the 2016 election. It fuels the argument that voters are disillusioned with the major parties and looking for alternatives. However, the figures indicate that this is a simplistic analysis.

Voters have failed to coalesce around more than a handful of minor and micro parties. Outside the top 11 groups, the votes for other parties are derisory. The so-called fragmentation of support for the major political groups is more than matched by a fragmented voter rebellion.

Group voting tickets were abolished for this election. Without them, all but a handful of parties were incapable of winning seats. Those elected more closely represent the parties with the highest primary votes. The Family First party in South Australia elected Bob Day from the lowest primary vote of 2.87%. [Read more…]


MPs Who Won Their Seats On First Preferences In The 2016 Federal Election

Just under a third of the seats in the House of Representatives were decided on first preference (primary) votes at the 2016 Federal Election.

By definition, these seats are the most secure for the various parties, since preference distribution cannot change the result. The winner has already secured an absolute majority of at least 50%+1 over every other candidate.

Of the 150 electorates, 48 (32%) were won on the primary vote. There were 53 such seats (35%) at the 2013 election. In 2004, 89 seats (59%) were decided on first preferences.

The Liberal Party was most successful, winning 27 of the 48 seats (56%), including 12 in NSW. The Liberal wins covered 4 states.

The Nationals won 5 seats (10%), including 3 in NSW, giving the coalition 32, or 67% of the total.

The ALP won 16 (33%) of the seats, including 10 in NSW. It won 6 seats in Victoria, but failed to win any more in other states or territories.

Seats Won On Primary Votes – 2016 Federal Election
Party NSW Vic Qld WA Total
Liberal Party
12
8
4
3
27
The Nationals
3
2
5
Australian Labor Party
10
6
16
TOTAL
25
16
4
3
48

 
NSW was the only state to have a majority of seats (25 of 47, or 53%) won on primary votes. In Victoria, 16 seats out of 37 (43%) were won on first preferences. Western Australia recorded 19% and Queensland 13%.

The two smallest states, South Australia and Tasmania, had no seats decided on primaries. The four seats in the two territories all went to preferences. [Read more…]


2016 Primary Vote Winners, Preference Vote Losers

There were 16 seats in the 2016 federal election where the primary vote leaders were defeated after the full distribution of preferences.

The ALP benefited in 15 seats and the Nick Xenophon Team in one. In 14 seats, (7 held by the ALP and 7 by the Coalition), the coalition candidate led on primary votes but the seat was won by the ALP after preferences. In one seat, the Liberal lead was overtaken by the Xenophon candidate. In another, the ALP overcame a Greens lead.

The 16 seats were spread across the states: Queensland (4), Victoria (3), South Australia (3), New South Wales (2), Western Australia (2) and Tasmania (2).

Overall, 48 (32%) of the 150 House of Representatives electorates were decided on primary votes, whilst 102 (68%) required preference distribution to obtain a winner.

It is worth noting that 86 of the 102 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…]


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…]


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…]


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…]