States' two party preferred
Labor vote 1949 - 2001
Above are all states' two party federal votes since 1949. See key at right;
national vote also included (thick red). Being 2pp, the Coalition's
(which isn't shown) is always 100 minus Labor's. NSW, with a third of the
population, has most influence on the national line. Labor's Victorian
vote wallowed from '55 to '72 (Labor split), keeping the Coalition in power on at least
two occasions ('61 and '69). Tasmania took time to get over the Whitlam
experience, but today contributes all five seats to Labor. Qld
(dotted brown) has (presumably proud) strong anti-Labor record.
And the last three Hawke/Keating
wins, '87 to '93, produced most state discordance. From one to the next, different states would swing different
ways, washing through, perhaps with a degree of luck, to reasonably close
This brings me back to a favourite
thesis of mine, alluded to here
and here, that in close contests
state governments, in Vic and NSW at least, make all the difference.
For example, the Coalition's current
success in NSW has more to do with Bob Carr than John Howard. It certainly
isn't a Sydney phenomenon; the biggest Tampa swings were on the South Coast.
Anyway, to examine
state behaviour I've calculated for each one's relative
support for federal Labor. It is the two party preferred Labor vote minus the average of all
states'; this avoids the tendency of the big states to flood the national vote.
Below is each state's
component of the line graph above - Coalition line is also included - and below each is a bar graph showing
relative support. The red/blue horizontal line below the bar chart indicates
which party was in power at state level.
The going gets a little
heavy from here on in. Continue at your own risk. This is light on explanation
and heavy on observation. Also, you can do your own observing. For example,
the big South Australian swing in '66 coincided with a brief period of Labor
government (the first Dunstan one).
can resize frames on this page, eg to shrink the graph above
Click each to enlarge
NSW has historically been the Labor
state. So although it sometimes gives the Coalition a two party preferred
majority, its relative support is nearly always above the line. Not in 2001,
is the opposite: almost without exception a relative supporter of the
Coalition, except its two party preferred Labor vote (the
red line) only strays above 50% once every several decades (most recently
Tasmania was a traditional Labor state
until 1975; it took another 18 years to get over the Whitlam experience and take
its red line above 50%. It's been there ever since, was the only state to
swing to Labor at the last poll, and currently the party holds all five seats
Victorian graphs, centre of the Labor
split of '55, tell the dramatic story. Whitlam finally kicked the Vic apparatchiks into shape after '69 and
got elected in '72. Victoria contributed a massive Coalition swing in 1990 but, after
unloading Cain/Kirner government in 1992, has been Federal Labor's best friend.
In this way Victoria exhibits similar behaviour to NSW, although the Bracks
government hasn't so far been particularly detrimental to its federal
Of course, a comparison at any date of a state's behaviour relative to the
rest should recognise that 'the rest' can be greatly influenced by a particular
state's individual behaviour. On this and other things I'm guilty of
simplification, but my main charge in this instance remains: the presence of Bob
Carr, in the state with 50 of 150 House of Representatives seats, has been disastrous
for federal Labor.
No wonder John Howard doesn't seem to be busting a gut for John Brogden.
There's a whole other story - of the disappearance of state Coalition
government's since Howard's election. No coincidence here, some
But that's for another day.
In recent history, 1993 saw NSW, Victoria and Tasmania swing to Keating
while Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia swung to Hewson. In 1996
everybody swung to Howard, in 1998 everybody swung to Beazley; in
2001 everybody except Tasmania swung to Howard.