Mapping the major party swing


On Monday I wrote about the continuing trend of a declining vote for the major parties, which has been a major topic of conversation since Saturday’s election.

In this post I’m going to look at where the swing has taken place: the swing against each of the major parties, and the combined decline.

First up, let’s look at the statewide totals.

Voter groupALP %LNP %Major %ALP swLNP swMajor sw

There was a primary vote swing against the Coalition in every jurisdiction. It was worst in Western Australia and the NT, and least severe in Tasmania, with the rest all between 4% and 6%.

Labor’s picture looks a bit better, with positive swings in two states. The Labor primary vote climbed 7.4% in Western Australia, and it is now the highest Labor primary vote of any of the six states. Labor also gained 1.1% in Queensland and 4.1% in the ACT. The biggest negative swing was 6% in Tasmania.

When you put the two together, you see a decline in the vote for the majors in all jurisdictions, ranging from just 0.7% in the ACT to 11.2% in the Northern Territory.

Another way to look at the data is by the four geographic classifications used by the AEC:

Voter groupALP %LNP %Major %ALP swLNP swMajor sw
Inner Metro36.031.867.80.6-7.4-6.9
Outer Metro37.334.671.9-1.1-6.0-7.1

The combined major party vote is highest in outer metro areas, and lowest in rural areas. But this gap has shrunk in 2019, with the swing against the major parties smallest in rural areas and largest in the outer suburbs.

The Labor primary vote actually increased in the inner metro regions, while this was the worst area for the Coalition.

Finally I’ve made a map you can toggle to see the major party swing, and the swing for the two majors separately. Sorry, legends would have taken up too much space (they don’t toggle on and off) but you can click on a few seats to get a sense of scale.

The combined major party vote increased in a smattering of regional seats on the east coast, along with some Perth seats and Bean in southern Canberra. The biggest declines took place in regional Victoria, southern New South Wales, northern Sydney, a smattering of outer Melbourne seats, and strong Greens areas in Brisbane and far north NSW.

I was particularly interested in the Labor swing in “teal” seats – Labor suffered big negative swings in Curtin, Kooyong and Goldstein, but but much less so in North Sydney. Mackellar lies somewhere in between, but unsurprisingly Warringah and Wentworth show no downward trend, since there were strong independent challenges in 2019. If you reverse the downward swings to Labor in these six seats (their vote went up in Wentworth) plus in Hume and Hughes, where there were other serious independent challenges, it only increases the national Labor primary vote from 32.8% to 33.3%. It really doesn’t explain the lack of upward trajectory in Labor’s election win.

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back with more tomorrow.

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  1. Thanks for this. Given that coalition seats were lost largely from the Liberals, a further in depth analysis of the individual swings within the coalition – Liberal, Nationals, and LDP (as far as they can be dissected if at all) would be helpful, and with current coalition machinations and Barnaby’s unqualified claim that they held every seat.

  2. I’m intrigued by the huge swing away from Labor in Melbourne’s western, northern and south-eastern suburbs. Unfortunately for the Liberals, the swings were in safe Labor seats and so they didn’t gain any seats in Victoria.

    Can any Melburnians explain the anti-Labor swing? I’m guessing some of the Labor voters had swung to the UAP/PHON/LDP but that doesn’t explain everything. Are there other local factors?

    There were also large anti-Labor swings in Werriwa (NSW) and Spence (SA) due to a high vote for UAP/PHON/LDP.

  3. Ben – “I was particularly interested in the Labor swing in “teal” seats – Labor suffered big negative swings in Curtin, Kooyong and Goldstein, but but much less so in North Sydney.”

    Labor actually had an excellent candidate in North Sydney and campaigned for 4 months from mid January to 21 May. Labor had strong results in the Dec 21 Council elections across 1/2 the electorate. Renshaw in North Sydney kept the ALP vote within a few % of the 2019 primary because many people thought they could win, whereas in other areas, Labor and Green voters gave up trying to get a ALP member elected and simply went Teal IND. No one in the media has yet mentioned that Tink won off <26% of the PV.

  4. @Votante, I would put the major contributor to the anti-Labor swing in the parts of Melbourne you identified down to the disaffection due to lockdowns and other covid restriction measures. These were places I identified before the election as having the lowest vaccination-rates in Victoria which gave us a hint to where there was likely to be protest vote against covid restrictions. This vote mostly was directed towards UAP in Victoria. The Labor margins in these parts of the country were too insurmountable to be flipped from Labor regardless.

    I haven’t checked the vaccination rates in parts of Sydney you identified however I know that UAP made in-roads amongst the Lebanese communities of Western Sydney, particularly in divisions like Werriwa. Again the driving factor behind this swing to UAP was disaffection due to covid restrictions which local migrant communities felt unfairly affected them. ABC did some reporting on this UAP vote.

    The covid restriction disaffection vote didn’t play out in Queensland in the form of a swing. I’d argue because the ceiling was already quite high for the UAP/ONP vote prior to the pandemic in Qld. The ONP vote in Qld is seemingly more animated by the issue of immigration (which didn’t feature as an issue this election).

    Another issue that animated ONP voters last election would have been the Adani coal mine debate. Since last election, electors in Central Queensland would have come back around now that Labor was offering a compelling-enough vision and tangible transition plan for them. Activists were also no longer stomping around Central Queensland pissing off the locals.

    Instead ONP ran on “freedom” and “anti-vax” sentiment.

    Building on from this, the measures that Palaczuk implemented were fairly well received by Queensland despite its low vaccination rates.

    The preventative measures like state border closures maintained the lifestyles that locals enjoyed and prevented outbreaks and the need for crushing lockdowns. While Morrison was actively trying to tear the borders down which locals were not prepared for.

    Another thing I think is understated is how popular measures like border closures would have been to ONP voters. The closing of international borders would have quelled a lot of the concerns that leads electors to vote for ONP. Palaczuk’s tough stance on state borders and quarantine also would have been received well by some ONP voters.

    Recognising this potential loss of an animating issue, ONP opportunistically pivoted towards the anti-covid restriction crowd which conveniently overlapped with parts of their prior base.

  5. On the AEC website , what category are the telephone voters going to be? – Provisional or something else?


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