Opinion polls all point in the same direction – Labor is facing an uphill battle to win in 2013, and are likely to lose a large number of seats, and government.
The first place to look when considering which seats will be key in 2013 is the pendulum.
The pendulum lists all seats by the margin of victory at the last election. Labor seats on the left, Coalition seats on the right, with the most marginal seats at the top and the safest at the bottom.
Most of the key seats at this election will be fought between Labor and the Coalition parties. There are seats in every state where Labor will be struggling to hold on in the face of a potential landslide.
There are also a handful of seats where the race will be fought between an independent and a major party, seats where Labor and the Greens will be fighting it out, and a small number where the National Party will be fighting off a challenge from their Liberal coalition partners.
There are Labor-Coalition marginal seats across Australia.
In New South Wales, a lot of the attention is focused on Western Sydney. There are a number of seats in that region that will be up for grabs, but the ALP will also be defending seats in regional NSW.
In Western Sydney, Labor holds the seats of Banks, Greenway, Lindsay and Reid on less than 3%. The ALP will find it hard to hold on to any of these seats. If the campaign is going particularly badly for Labor, these seats are likely to be written off early to save resources for seats on higher margins.
The ALP holds both seats on the Central Coast by slim margins, and are expected to lose both of them. Dobell is currently held by former Labor MP Craig Thomson, while Robertson was the controversial seat in 2010 when Belinda Neal was dumped after one term and replaced with Deb O’Neill.
The ALP also holds a number of other seats on relatively slim margins that could be in danger. The ALP holds Eden-Monaro in South-Eastern NSW, as well as Page and Richmond on the far north coast. All three were held by the Liberal Party as recently as 2004. Peter Garrett’s seat of Kingsford Smith and Robert McClelland’s seat of Barton have been considered rock-solid in the past, but could also be vulnerable.
If there is a total wipe-out in New South Wales, Labor’s two safest seats in Western Sydney and the four Labor seats in the Hunter region could also be vulnerable, but these would all require swings of over 10%.
The other state that is likely to provide the bulk of the Coalition’s gains is Queensland. Some polls have suggested swings large enough to see every Labor MP in Queensland lose their seat. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd holds his seat of Griffith by 8.5%, and he’s widely predicted to be the “last man standing” of the Queensland Labor delegation. No other seat is held by more than 6%.
The ALP holds three seats in Brisbane on margins of less than 4%: Lilley and Petrie in northern Brisbane and Moreton in southern Brisbane. The ALP only holds one seat north of the Greater Brisbane region. Kirsten Livermore’s seat of Capricornia in central Queensland is held by 3.7%, and is expected to fall upon her retirement at the upcoming election.
Labor holds three more seats on the edges of Brisbane that will likely be the most hotly contested: Oxley and Blair in the Ipswich area, and Rankin in the Logan area. These three seats are held by margins between 4% and 6%.
The ALP has been performing more strongly in Victoria, where they gained seats in 2010. Labor’s two most marginal seats in the country are Corangamite in western Victoria and Deakin in eastern Melbourne. Along with the seat of La Trobe, these three seats are highly vulnerable and likely to fall.
The ALP’s fortunes in Western Australia have turned since the party won half of the state’s 14 seats in 1998. In 2010, the party was reduced to three out of fifteen, and all three are considered marginal and in serious danger: Brand, Fremantle and Perth.
The ALP holds no seats in South Australia by margins of less than 6%. There are four Labor seats held by margins from 6% to 12% that were considered much more marginal before big swings to Labor in 2007 and 2010: Hindmarsh, Adelaide, Wakefield and Makin. If those voters who swung to Labor in 2007 and 2010 swing back, these seats could fall despite a large margin.
In Tasmania, the ALP holds four seats, and the Liberal Party holds none. The seats of Bass and Braddon are held on margins from 6.7% to 7.5%. Both seats were held by the Liberal Party before the 2007 election, and should fall based on current polling, but no seat on such a large margin can be expected to fall without a fight. The ALP will also be worrying about Franklin and Lyons, but should hold on to them.
The Nationals will be hoping to win back the northern NSW seats of Lyne and New England, currently held by independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor. Many voters in their electorates were outraged by their decision to support a Labor government in 2010, and the three independents who represent overlapping state electorates have now lost their seats: two in 2011, and one who resigned earlier this year.
The third independent-held seat of Denison is quite different. Andrew Wilkie won the seat in 2010 from third place on Greens and Liberal preferences. Denison is a traditional Labor seat, and both the ALP and the Greens are looking to take down Wilkie, but he will be in a strong position to win a second term.
The Greens will be defending the seat of Melbourne from the ALP after winning the seat in 2010. The Greens will also be seeking to expand their territory by winning more inner-city seats off the ALP: Grayndler and Sydney in New South Wales and Batman in Victoria, which will be vacated by Martin Ferguson.
In most seats, the Liberal Party and National Party have agreed to avoid a contested election. In the seat of Mallee in northwestern Victoria, the retirement of sitting Nationals MP John Forrest has prompted the Liberal Party to run a candidate. In O’Connor in Western Australia, the Nationals Tony Crook is retiring after winning the seat off the Liberal Party in 2010. In addition to defending O’Connor, the Nationals will be aiming to gain the seat of Durack – covering northern parts of WA where the Nationals gained seats in the recent state election.
Click through to profiles of all 150 electorates here: