Higgins – Australia 2019

LIB 7.6% vs GRN

Incumbent MP
Kelly O’Dwyer, since 2009.

Geography
Higgins covers suburbs in the inner south-east of Melbourne. Its suburbs include South Yarra, Prahran, Toorak, Carnegie, Malvern, Glen Iris, Murrumbeena and Hughesdale. Most of the seat is covered by Stonnington LGA, as well as southern parts of Boroondara LGA and small parts of Glen Eira and Monash LGAs.

Redistribution
Higgins lost Windsor to the renamed seat of Macnamara, and gained Murrumbeena and Hughesdale from Hotham. It isn’t possible to precisely estimate the Liberal vs Greens margin for the new seat, but the closest estimate suggests a drop from 8% to 7.6%.

History
Higgins was first created in 1949 when the Parliament was expanded in size. Its first member was Harold Holt, who had previously been Member for Fawkner in the same part of Melbourne. Holt was a minister in the Menzies United Australia Party government at the beginning of the Second World War.

Holt returned to the ministry in 1949 as Minister for Immigration. He became Menzies’ Treasurer in 1958 and became Prime Minister upon Menzies’ retirement in 1966.

Holt disappeared in sensational circumstances in December 1967 while swimming at Cheviot Beach in Victoria. Higgins was won by new Prime Minister John Gorton in a 1968 by-election. Gorton had previously been a Senator and was required to move to the House of Representatives.

Gorton held the seat continously until the 1975 election. Following Malcolm Fraser’s accession to the Liberal leadership Gorton resigned from the Liberal Party and sat as an independent. At the 1975 election he stood for an ACT Senate seat and Higgins returned to the Liberal Party.

Roger Shipton won the seat in 1975 and maintained his hold on the seat until 1990, when he was challenged for preselection by Peter Costello. Costello held the seat from 1990 until his 2009 resignation, triggering a by-election.

The ensuing by-election became a contest between the Liberal Party’s Kelly O’Dwyer and the Greens candidate, prominent academic Clive Hamilton, as the ALP refused to stand a candidate. O’Dwyer won the seat comfortably, and was re-elected in 2010, and again in 2013. O’Dwyer was re-elected with a smaller 8% margin against the Greens in 2016.

Candidates
Sitting Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer is not running for re-election.

Assessment
Higgins is a reasonably safe seat – the Greens would need a big swing to win here, but there is probably potential for growth in Greens support.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Kelly O’Dwyer Liberal 46,95352.0-2.451.6
Jason Ball Greens 22,87025.3+8.524.2
Carl Katter Labor 13,49514.9-9.116.5
Nancy BassettNick Xenophon Team2,0072.2+2.22.1
Eleonora GulloneAnimal Justice1,3441.5+1.51.6
Rebecca O’BrienMarriage Equality1,2651.4+1.41.3
Jessica TregearDerryn Hinch’s Justice Party1,2641.4+1.41.3
Robert KennedyLiberal Democrats1,0931.2+1.21.1
Others0.3
Informal3,5503.8

2016 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Redist
Kelly O’Dwyer Liberal 52,35958.057.6
Jason Ball Greens 37,93242.042.4

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Kelly O’Dwyer Liberal 54,79860.7+0.860.1
Carl Katter Labor 35,49339.3-0.839.9

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four areas: central, north-east, south-east and west.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote (against the Greens) in three out of four areas, ranging from 53.2% in the west to 59.9% in the centre. The two-candidate-preferred vote was a tie in the south-east.

Labor’s primary vote ranged from 13.1% in the centre to 26.1% in the south-east.

Voter groupALP prim %LIB 2CP %Total votes% of votes
West14.153.215,03916.2
South-East26.150.014,26715.4
Central13.159.912,00013.0
North-East14.757.09,0299.8
Other votes16.061.619,32620.9
Pre-poll15.160.822,90924.7

Election results in Higgins at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Liberal vs Greens) and Labor primary votes.


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175 COMMENTS

  1. Shorten seemed very cocky on Sunday talking about this seat.

    I wouldn’t call anything on that the either, but definitely in play.

  2. Seat polls are not renowned for their accuracy but the Liberals are going to struggle if the primary vote is below 40%. It’s going to be a tight between Lib/Lab/Grn – arguably the most genuine 3 cornered contest of the election.

  3. Even if the ALP weren’t close, if I were Shorten I would talk it up to try and spook the Libs into keeping resources here to deter them from bolstering Corangamite etc. Katie Allen doesn’t strike me as overly dynamic so there must be a chance that this flips.

  4. Even talk about labor winning this seat is bizarre. Goodness Labor had a primary of 15% in 2016.

    It could happen by it is a symptom of the utterly changed nature of our electoral profile.

  5. Maverick

    Few differences between 2016 and 2019.

    -The lost of local MP factor
    -The lost of Liberal leader seen as being better aligned with seat’s demographics
    -2016 for the ALP was about recovering from 2013
    -Changes to seat boundaries and recent Victorian state poll indicate the ALP should be more competitive

    If the Liberals had performed well with a solid record of good economic, social and environmental policy outcomes then this seat shouldn’t be mentioned until the call of the board at about the time A.Green’s computer gives up for the night 😉

  6. “There’s an essential poll that has the Greens ahead 52-48 against the LNP. Primaries of Lib 36%, ALP 30% and Greens 29% however the sample size was pretty small at only 400.”

    We really can’t read much into that Greens commissioned Essential poll given the small sample. However, the Greens only need to increase their primary to 30% and the ALP increase theirs to just above 20% to make this a possible Green gain. I’d suggest that the Lib vote has softened in the Malvern (Central) part of the seat.

  7. Pencil
    All good points but they would not normally swing from 15% to say 35% to be in a winning position.

    Loss of local MP is worth 2-3%, the removal of Turnbull I suspect with another 2%, labor’s much better candidate worth perhaps 5% and boundaries 1-2%. So max possible is 15%. Perhaps a green drop could add another 3% to have labor on 33% and Greens on 21%. with 85% of greens preferences it is winnable.

    More realistically let us say that 5% leaves the LNP due to factors above of which 4% goes ALP and 1% goes green. Then Labor gets another 4% because of the quality of the candidate (2% from Greens and 2% from Libs). That gives you Labor on 22%, Greens 22%, Libs 44%. touch and go.

  8. Galaxy poll on Higgins has LIB 52 (-5.4) & ALP 48.
    Primary at LIB 45 (-6.6), GRN 29 (+4.8), ALP 18 (+1.5), UAP 4

    As I suggested in a post 2 days ago, I think the GRN primary needs to be at 30 and ALP above 20 to make this a chance. Still not quite there to make it a possible GRN gain if these figures are accurate and the LIBs would probably be relatively happy to hold the primary drop to -6.6. Still a chance for a surprise result…..

  9. Well, the Galaxy poll for Higgins has gone live, and suggests that it’s 52-48… to the LNP over the Greens. With Labor lagging by quite a distance. They have Liberal 45%, Greens 29%, Labor 18%, with a sample size of 538.

    This one shows a much stronger Liberal vote and much weaker Labor vote, with Greens about the same in both… but also not a dramatic difference in 2pp. I’m not sure how to interpret this, but it sounds like it’s pretty close when taking both polls into account.

    Incidentally, apparently the Guardian’s reporting of the ERC poll was a little wrong, the 2pp was meant to be 54-46 to Greens.

    I suppose the ultimate questions are… is the ERC poll trustworthy (they’re an unproven pollster)? If it’s trustworthy, do either source have a bias problem? I could imagine a scenario in which the ERC is overpolling in one area and Galaxy in another. But 9% (difference in Liberal primary) is well beyond the normal margin of error, it’s almost two MOEs apart… so if both polls are “trustworthy” enough, the result is probably about half way between the two.

  10. Everyone in LIBs and the ALP keep saying that this seat is a mess and no one really knows how it will unfold! Greens seem to be increasingly confident, but I still think that need to get a bit above 30% to have a real crack. This is the Greens best chance in Melb to pick up a seat and ironically they are doing better in growing their vote in traditional Lib seats than traditional ALP seats such as Wills and Cooper.

  11. I voted this morning at the Chapel Street polling place in Prahran (Functions on Chapel @ Prahran Town Hall).

    Usually I try to gauge the support by what flyers most people have, for example at the state election I noticed most people only had red & green, the only people holding a blue flyer generally had all 3 and I only saw about 2 people with blue only. That pretty much matched the result where the Liberal PV was only about 22% for that booth.

    Very hard to tell this morning. There was no queue at all so it wasn’t a huge sample size, and interestingly about 3 in 4 people lined up actually had no HTV in their hand at all. Possibly a good sign for the Greens given their low rate of people following HTV cards?

  12. That said, it probably means nothing because Prahran is the suburb least representative of the electorate anyway – it’s always been by far the weakest for the Liberals (part from Windsor which is now gone) and the best for the Greens.

    The winner of Higgins will really be decided by how big the swing is in the Liberal heartland (Malvern, Armadale, Toorak etc), if the Greens can win all the South Yarra booths again like they did in the state election, and how much the Murrumbeena corner swings to Labor which would reduce the Liberal 2CP.

  13. Liberals hold Higgins and retain Government, Labor tries to win big and loses the marginals and gets destroyed in Queensland. Congratulations on doing a Hillary!

  14. Yeouch well I was definitely way off on this one, I thought it was impossible for Labor to overtake the Greens. Seems like going from no Labor campaign to a serious one in Lib seats like this can sweep away Green efforts.

  15. Bennee

    Orrong Rd is like Burke Rd Camberwell and Bell St in that it acts as a boundary between where the Greens are stronger and where they drop away. Will be interesting to take a closer look at the booths to see how things played out.

  16. Booth results are up on AEC site now. It looks like the Lib retain comes down to protecting their heartland in the middle.

    Breaking the seat into 3 parts, roughly equating to overlapping state boundaries, 3 things really needed to happen for the Libs to lose and all seemed possible:
    – Prahran end: Greens really just needed to solidify their hold over this area
    – Oakleigh end: Labor needed a big swing here
    – Malvern heartland: A near-repeat of the November bashlash was really the key to a Lib loss

    The first two happened, the third didn’t.

    Every booth in South Yarra & Prahran except Hawksburn Central swung against the Liberals at 2CP level (+0.6% in Hawksburn Central) and had a Greens PV over 30% (26.5% in Hawksburn Central), and Labor won the 2CP in every one of those polling places.

    Pencil’s comment about Orrong is spot on too. Prahran & Prahran East both had a Greens PV of 39% and Labor 2CP of 62-63%; Orrong had a Greens PV of 30% and Labor 2CP of 54%. Its results definitely reflect the geographic transition from left-wing Prahran to conservative Armadale.

    At the Oakleigh end, the swings were massive. The Murrumbeena booths had swings of -11% and -7% against the Liberals, Hughesdale over 6%, and some Carnegie booths had swings up to -10% and one even had a 65-35 Labor 2CP.

    Based on that, the area overlapping the Malvern state seat probably only needed a solid 6-7% swing against the Liberals (compared to the 11% swing against them in the state election) to lose it, but the Liberals held their ground there and across Malvern, Glen Iris and Toorak the swings were contained to about 1-3%. That’s really all they needed to do and they managed to do it.

  17. Labor blew the election based on their over-confidence and arrogance! A total mis-allocation of resources, a big swing in safe Liberal seats and they make no ground in Latrobe, Deakin and Casey.
    Arrogance that reeks of Hillary 2016, aiming for Texas while losing Pennsylvania!

  18. That’s a good point Stan. By oiling resources into seats with 7-12% margins that have a completely different demographic to the easier targets with 3-6% margins, they blew the easier ones. They should have left the inner city Liberal seats to the Greens to fight and focused on suburbia.

    The reality is though that Queensland really decided the election in the end..

  19. For the first time in many decades, first preference has fell below 50%, looks like demographic changes are occurring and could be a Labor gain in the future.

  20. With the vast majority of votes left to count being absent (favouring Labor) & provisional (50-50) now, it looks likely the Liberals’ 2PP margin will remain under 4% in the final result. Has it ever even been under 5% before in the seat’s history?

  21. @Trent This is the 1st time that the seat has been under 5%, but the more marginal results are owed to redistributions which have weakened the Liberal margin over the years such as the 2010 redistribution left it with a 5.4% margin by losing strong Liberal parts to Kooyong, and the 2018 redistribution sliced a further 0.6% off the margin. Over the years, most of the more stronger Liberal territory have been lost to neighbouring electorates such as Kooyong, parts of Caulfield which used to be in the electorate before the 1989 redistribution. You can have a look at the historical boundaries here: http://pappubahry.com/pseph/aus_stats/?plot=map&year=2013&colour_by=informal&multiple=max&geo_map=1

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