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Federal pendulum

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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

Rural seats, unsurprisingly, are predominately held by the Coalition.

But their marginals are many; nine (ignoring Calare, certain to stick with independent Peter Andren) would fall to Labor with swings of three percent - almost enough for victory.

Electorates today have about 90 to 95 thousand voters apiece. So, all up, less than ten thousand country people in nine seats stand between the government and, as the PM put it, "electoral oblivion".

Watch the regions.

full pendulum

Why rural seats matter

This exercise requires a broad sociological brush. There, I've dipped it and ...

Close Australian federal elections are decided by two groups of voters: (1) swingers in the outer suburbs and (2) those in regional seats. 

Although both are socially conservative, their demographics differ greatly.

Outer suburbanites are "aspirational" four wheel drivers, and with their private health rebates, appreciating houses and often double incomes, they're doing not too badly. While they might, egged on by politicians, think they're battling, median income statistics say otherwise.

Take Lindsay, around Penrith in western Sydney. The media represents it as Battlersville, but the 2001 census showed Lindsay as the 26th highest income earners (out of 150) in the country. Lindsay has strongly backed the Howard government since 1996.

Compare Lindsay (unemployment in census: 5.5 percent) with Fowler, a stone's throw south-east and ranked 143rd in income (unemployment: 15.1%). Fowler really is battling and remains massively safe for Labor.

The ALP is obsessed with the outer suburbanites. They think they can't win an election without them. But they have Buckley's of recapturing them this side of a burst housing bubble and should cut their losses and continue out, far away from the cities.

That is, take a leaf from Steve Bracks : peel away rural voters who really are doing it tough, missing out on the fruits of globalisation.  

Regional seats are rural ones with enough Labor voters - in the towns - to make them marginal. Most didn't greatly participate in the big pro government swing in 2001, and a couple even went to Labor a smidgen.

Look at the most marginal rural in the pendulum, Paterson. Ten percent unemployment, 138th in income. Hinkler (margin 2.3) - 132nd in income and 11.1 percent unemployment. In this they are closer to Fowler than Lindsay (though in other things, like ethnic makeup, not.)

Labor's acknowledgement of the bush can be seen in its Telstra policy - no further sale.

I said the brush was broad. All "probably"s and "perhap"es extracted.

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