What a map can show

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The seat of Batman in the inner north of Melbourne has been in the news since Martin Ferguson announced his retirement earlier this week.

Earlier today I was discussing the geography of Batman: specifically how the Greens do better in the south of the electorate.

One map I produced earlier this year shows this very clearly. The map below shows which out of the Greens and Liberals polled higher in each polling place (Liberal in blue, Greens in green).

In most polling places Labor came first, so this indicates the second-polling candidate, but the Greens did beat Labor in some booths.

Batman5-GRNvsLIB

This map should be viewed alongside the other maps on the profile of the seat of Batman.

This map shows very clearly that the Greens do well until about halfway up the electorate, while in the north of the electorate the Greens come third – reflecting a similar political make-up to other Labor-leaning seats across Melbourne.

A similar map is also revealing for the Sydney seat of Grayndler. Grayndler is the Greens second-best seat in the country, while Batman is third.

grayndler6-grnvslib

This map demonstrates that the Greens do better in the Marrickville area, with the Liberals strongest in the west of the electorate.

Both of these electorates are places where the Greens were behind the Liberal Party prior to the 2010 election – and overtaking the Liberal Party is a critical first-step before winning the seat off Labor.

Residents of the inner-north of Melbourne or the inner-west of Sydney probably can easily see these booth maps reflecting the local demographics and culture of their areas, and you can see it in some other maps.

In the Hobart seat of Denison, there is a clear divide between the northern half of the electorate, dominated by Labor, and the southern half, where Labor is competing with the Greens, Liberal Party and Wilkie, and where Wilkie won the two-candidate-preferred vote.

On the map this divide can be seen as the local government boundary between the cities of Hobart and Glenorchy, but I understand Hobart locals also know this divide by other names.

Map of two-candidate-preferred votes in Denison at the 2010 election. Labor in pink/red, Wilkie in yellow/orange.
Map of two-candidate-preferred votes in Denison at the 2010 election. Labor in pink/red, Wilkie in yellow/orange.

Maps like these are what I look for when I make my booth maps. Analysts find it very easy to treat an electorate like a single bloc that is homogenous and swings together. The reality is that most seats are made up of different communities that have been stuck together, and you can see this when you map out the results.

Batman is a perfect example: the southern half is very strong for the Greens, almost as strong as the Greens seat of Melbourne to the immediate south. In contrast, the northern half is much weaker for the Greens, and looks more like a typical northern Melbourne safe Labor seat, with the only competition coming from a weak Liberal Party.

Of course, these lines change over time, and the line demarcating these two areas has been slowly shifting north over time. Whether this will be enough for the Greens to win Batman, we don’t yet know, but it will be one to watch on September 14.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. You’re right about it being the border between Hobart and Glenorchy – the “other name” you might be thinking of is the “flannelette curtain”, a name used to refer to Creek Road (though it shifts north and south occasionally), and a name used pretty much exclusively by those south of the curtain. Living south and working north of the divide, the differences are very clear.

  2. Wills likely has a similar thing going on. A similar map for Wills would be interesting. Same with Sydney.

  3. I have heard Bell Street through Wills and Batman described as the “Latte Curtain”.

    It’s not as obvious a barrier as Hobart/Glenorchy, but real estate agents and stuff still use “South of Bell Street” as a selling point for the wannabe Trendies……

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