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two decades of Newspolls

state votes at federal elections

Votes and seat
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1949 - 2001

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Newspoll &
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preferential voting

federal election 2001

NSW election 2003


Vic election 2002

Beazley versus Crean

Newspoll Opposition leader approval ratings

Newspoll Opposition voting intentions

Vic election result

Unpublished Lies and Stats version

 

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Attempts to explain the inexplicable produced the old standards this week.

 

Steve Bracks stormed home because voters prefer the devil they know in uncertain times. They had reform fatigue. Opposition pre-selections were crook.

 

Even the preposterous “the voters always get it right” got a guernsey, although hearing it from the losing side was a first.

 

But make no mistake, last Saturday could do with an explanation. To provide some context, John Howard’s landslide victory over Paul Keating almost seven years ago was a five percent swing that gave the parties 53.6 to 46.4 percent two party preferred. The post Dismissal election in December 1975 result was 55.7 to 44.3 percent. And the most lop-sided in sixty years, the 1966 Vietnam poll, was 57 to 43.

 

At Victorian state elections, the last big shift was in 1992 - five percent to install Jeff Kennett with 56 to 44.

 

And then, a week ago, Victorians deliberately, without fuss, proved the opinion polls right by constructing an eight percent swing to put the major parties on 58 to 42. A record set, just like that.

 

Unless you really believe the Bracks smile was so winning, memories of Jeff so awful and a Doyle premiership so unthinkable, the result defies analysis.

 

Except like this: all Victoria did was follow a path set by New South Wales and Queensland.

 

At their elections in 1999 and 2001 respectively, both states took a one term Labor administration with a shaky hold on power and gave it a thumping majority.

 

Peter Beattie bagged 73 percent of lower house seats and Bob Carr 59.  Bracks looks like getting 70.

 

With Labor’s Jim Bacon doing something comparable in Tasmania under proportional representation earlier this year, something is afoot in Australian electoral psyche.

 

It’s not as simple as punters choosing to balance parties between spheres of government, because Tasmania and Victoria backed a Beazley government last year.

 

But there is a murky correlation between state and federal voting.

 

Consider this: the total swing to the federal government last year was two percent. Most of it came from NSW, which moved by four percent.

 

The popular “Sydney is different” explanation falls flat because the most rabid seats were outside the capital. Gilmore, around Nowra on the state’s south coast, topped the national list of swingers with over ten percent. Neighbouring Cunningham and Throsby also made the top five. No Victorian seat was in the top 15.

 

This was two years after the big Carr win. It was also nine months after Beattie’s, and there was no coincidence in Queensland being the next biggest swinging state to John Howard in 2001.

 

Now back to Victorians, who put on their own version of the state election show last weekend.

 

It was a site to behold, but we’ve seen it all before. And if Queensland and NSW are any guide, Victoria, having lanced the boil, will move back towards the Coalition at the next election federal.

 

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