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published

two decades of Newspolls

state votes at federal elections

Votes and seat
representation
1949 - 2001

Newspoll
preferences


Newspoll &
Morgan graphs

preferential voting

federal election 2001

NSW election 2003


Vic election 2002

Beazley versus Crean

Newspoll Opposition leader approval ratings

Newspoll Opposition voting intentions

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Prime time 

Question: What's been the biggest federal primary vote for a party (or Coalition) since 1946? 

Answer: Fifty-three percent for Malcolm Fraser's Coalition  in his famous 1975 post-dismissal landslide, a forty five seat majority. No surprises there.

And the runner up? That was Labor's 50.1 percent in 1954. But that translated into a seven seat loss.

And the lowest primary vote? That's easy -  Labor's last year at 38 percent. The second lowest was Labor's in 1996, the third Bob Hawke's 1990 victory, 39 percent to the Coalition's 43.

The lesson: primary vote is only indirectly related to a party's success.

We have preferential voting, and so it is the two party preferred vote that counts.

More on that

So moving along to two party preferred results ...

 

Uneven playing fields

In March 1995 Liberal Premier John Fahey lost office despite getting 51 percent of the two party preferred vote. Bob Carr's share, 49 percent, was enough for a one seat majority.

In September 1999 Steve Bracks got 50.2 percent. Were it not for the support of three independents from otherwise Coalition seats, Labor would have remained in opposition.

Kim Beazley won the 1998 vote by over 51 percent, a larger "win" than John Howard's last year.

Claire Martin became Chief Minister of Northern Territory in September 2001 with about 48 percent of the vote (Dennis Burke's Country Nationals got 52).

And Bracks looks like needing a substantially more than half the two party preferred vote to stay in office this time. (He also looks like getting it.)

And so on. Australian politics is not always fair. 

Once upon a time these distortions were deliberate, usually to give bushies a hand up.

Nowadays the rorting's gone and it's just the luck of the draw. But the hurdles remain. NSW generally works against the Coalition at the state level. Victoria works against Labor. (Although John Cain's last hurrah in 1988 was a minority vote win.) It's about "wasting" votes in safe seats and not getting them elsewhere.

At the federal level this has usually worked in the Coalition's favour. The Hawke government's longevity was built on tackling this wastage and distributing votes more evenly. (They alienated the heartland and impressed voters elsewhere.) They won in 1987 and 1990 with votes that, at any previous election, would probably have been insufficient. Kim Beazley won a bigger vote majority in 1998 than either of those two. 

Winners are grinners though. They are political colossi, slaying all on-comers. They retain this status until the second the voters toss them out. History rewrites itself instantaneously.

As Bob Ellis and the Tralfamadorians would say: so it goes.

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