Defining and mapping the teal vote


There has been a lot of talk about the “teal vote” at this last election, identifying a movement of independents almost like a party, and trying to gauge levels of support for their agenda.

In a sense this is doomed to failure. This group shares some policy objectives but also consists of quite different people, and their presence in certain seats is a creation of the political environment in those areas. In many seats there is no “teal vote”, not just because no candidate runs but because the political context of that seat is different. But it is still worth identifying how broad the movement was, and how many people voted for them.

In this post I will try to define who counts as part of this group of independents, how they polled, and will drop in some booth-level maps for four of the main regions of success.

The first question is a matter of definition, and I have come up with three lists to use. They mostly contain the same candidates, but there are some differences.

Before the term “teal” became so popular in the last few months, the group of candidates was often referred to as “Voices independents”, after the local community groups founded in a lot of electorates. These groups went on to seek out and choose a candidate. Wikipedia has a handy list that features 18 candidates.

Then there is Climate 200’s list of supported candidates. Climate 200 has been raising funds for a select list of candidates, as well as providing support in other ways. I haven’t been able to find a text list, but the website has the photos of their 23 supported candidates on the front page, and I’ve been able to make a list. Their list includes four sitting MPs as well as six new MPs elected in 2022.

The list also includes three senate candidates, so that leaves 20 House candidates. Thirteen of these twenty candidates are also on the Voices list. There are two seats where two candidates are running: one endorsed by a Voices group, and the other endorsed by Climate 200. Those seats are Hughes and Flinders, and in those seats I’ve included both on the list.

The Guardian also produced an interactive in March with a list of 22 House candidates. This includes almost everyone on the other two lists (but not Sharkie, Wilkie, or Climate 200-endorsed candidates in Flinders and Grey) and includes one more candidate: Rob Priestly in Nicholls.

So all up that’s 26 candidates. Four elected in 2019 or earlier, six more elected in 2022. Three of these candidates are men, and the other 23 are women. 25 are officially independents, with one a member of the Centre Alliance, but the only CA candidate running in 2022. For the rest of this piece, unless specified otherwise, I’m including Sharkie as one of the independents. Excluding the four incumbents, 22 of these candidates ran in 20 Liberal seats, with the other four running in Nationals seats. There were no teals running in Labor seats.

As of the time of writing, the total vote for independents is 5.4% of the total House formal vote. It’s 5.65% if you include Sharkie’s Centre Alliance. Of that 5.65%, 3.97% of the vote was cast for one of the defined teals. That’s about 70% of the total independent vote. About 1.04% of the national formal House vote was cast for Haines, Wilkie, Steggall and Sharkie, leaving about 2.9% for non-incumbent teal candidates.

A remarkable number of independent candidates made it to the two-candidate-preferred vote. Sixteen independents made it to the top two in their seat, and fifteen of these independents are teals. The only exception is Dai Le, who is sitting on 52.4% of the two-candidate-preferred vote in Fowler.

The four incumbent teals were all comfortably re-elected, with margins ranging from 8.7% in Indi to 20.6% in Clark.

All of the newly-elected independents won by quite slim margins. Kate Chaney is sitting on a 1.04% margin in Curtin, while Allegra Spender is on 4.1% in Wentworth, with the others all sitting in between.

The other five candidates all performed respectably, with two-candidate-preferred votes ranging from 39.4% for Kate Hook in Calare to 47.3% for Caz Heise in Cowper.

While all six newly successful teal independents represent urban electorates, four of the five other candidates who made the top two were in regional seats: two in Victoria and two in New South Wales. The fifth, Nicolette Boele in Bradfield, borders teal seats in North Sydney, Warringah and Mackellar.

I have two main takeaways from this analysis. Firstly, a lot of these independents were elected on slim margins. Maybe this was luck, or good targetting, but it demonstrates how single-member electorate races can produce significant number of seat gains with a small swing.

Secondly, while it is interesting to look at these candidates as a group, they are not a consciously formed party. I don’t expect the ten teal-tinged independents in parliament will all moved together. For a start, I’m not sure Andrew Wilkie fits in with the others, despite the C200 endorsement. While there are strong incentives for these independents to cooperate in parliament, in the end they will have different agendas and policy perspectives, even if they have things in common.

Finally, I’ve produced booth maps showing the two-candidate-preferred vote for the teal independents in their strongest areas.

First up, Sydney. This map shows four seats on the north shore of Sydney, and Wentworth in the eastern suburbs.

There is a strong divide in Wentworth that has been consistent over numerous elections. The independent won most election-day booths along the coast of Mackellar, and actually won a lot of booths in Bradfield. I suspect the Liberal Party did better in the special votes than they did on the day, and that doesn’t show up in this map.

Next up is Melbourne. I’ve included Kooyong, Goldstein and Higgins in between. No teal independent ran in Higgins, so that part of the map shows the Labor-Liberal two-party-preferred vote.

Next up, a booth map of Curtin in Perth.

And finally, this map shows the Coalition-Independent two-candidate-preferred count in three rural Victorian seats: Indi, Nicholls and Wannon.

If you zoom in, you can see that the independent in Nicholls won most of the booths around Shepparton, which is represented by an independent state MP.

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  1. The Teals have struck me as the Australian Democrats reborn. A socialy progressive, economic conservative party dominated by females who are intererested in “keeping the bastards honest”/ICAC. I took a look at 2001 senate vote (when AD were ate their peak). There were 34 seats (so about 1/5th of all electorates) that voted 10% or more for AD.

    Those 34 elected 17 Labor, 6 Liberal, 6 Teal, 4 Green and 1 Centre Alliance.
    Boothby Labor
    Mayo Centre Alliance
    Adelaide Labor
    Kingston Labor
    Sturt Liberal
    Sydney Labor
    Brisbane Green
    Makin Labor
    Melbourne Green
    Macnamara Labor
    Hindmarsh Labor
    North Sydney Teal
    Kooyong Teal
    Fraser Labor
    Hindmarsh Labor
    Higgins Labor
    Ryan Green
    Grayndler Labor
    Goldstein Teal
    Canberra Labor
    Deakin Liberal
    Cunningham Labor
    La Trobe Liberal
    Chisholm Labor
    Spence Labor
    Warringah Teal
    Dickson Liberal
    Bradfield Liberal
    Jagajaga Labor
    Wentworth Teal
    Moreton Labor
    Mackellar Teal
    Casey Liberal
    Griffith Green

  2. Hello Ben

    A couple of things

    (1) I was a founding member of Voices of Warringah, which ran a purely info campaign in 2019 and had nothing to do with the selection of Steggall. We are pretty peeved that Wiki persists to list us as supporting Steggall in 2022 and refuses to take that stuff off its list, despite numerous pleas to the Wiki author to do so.

    (2) For my own use, I re-jigged my Excel results lists (which I grab from Media Feed) to create a new “type” of party – “Teal” – to replace the party type “Democrats”. As of this morning I have 22 on that list, with primaries ranging from 7% to 45% and averaging 22%.

    I thought I was pretty clever last week by rebranding coastal Sydney as “New Tealand” – but I wasn’t the only one to think of that

  3. The Teals won on the policy platforms of climate change, political integrity and federal ICAC and gender equality and the treatment of women. In hindsight, Labor would think practically everything went right for them except for losing two seats (Grififth and Fowler). They defended their marginal seats and won several marginal Liberal seats. I think the aforementioned issues may have swayed some votes in the middle-ring and outer suburbs and Labor would be the go-to major party. In these areas, what mattered most were cost of living and the economy, and to a lesser extent, healthcare and other public services.

    In Mackeller, the northern beaches of Sydney, the more north you go, the older and wealthier the population become. Sophie Scamps’ best results were in the north. This surprises me because in other teal seats, the best showings are in suburbs that are younger and more densely populated. It may be because she’s a doctor who worked in the north. Who knows.

  4. I think for Mackeller the northern area would be a lot of people who are fairly comfortable economically and personally and have concern for things like the environment (they chose to live near a lot of nature) and corruption in politics (this area isn’t a beneficiary of pork barrelling)

    The only area that stayed close to the libs were the inland areas (Belrose/Frenchs Forest/Forestville/Cromer) which have a bit more typical suburban demographic (tradie/aspirational) and a few larger retirement villages.

    In the 2019 election the independent candidate got a decent vote in the same areas that saw Scamps have her highest votes.
    Also locally the old Pittwater council area usually have at least 1 Green on the local council and have previously voted for an independent in the NSW state seat

  5. I’m guessing that in Mackeller, at the northern end from Newport to Palm Beach where the 2PP was in the 60s, it has more to do with the culture, lifestyle and secludedness of the peninsula, rather than the demographics. After all, it is the oldest and wealthiest part of the electorate. That area probably isn’t middle-class Liberal but rather like a smaller, wealthier Byron Bay. Normally, there’s a high Greens vote there.

  6. Hi Ben
    Your Wannon map seems to be missing half or more of the 94 polling places … also, when analysis demand is a bit less hectic, could the Liberal-Dyson 2CP for those of the Wannon booths within the boundaries of the South-West Coast state district make it a close-run thing this November?

  7. I think possibly they were still conducting the count at the time? Sorry, not doubling back on this stuff, stay tuned for my 2025 election guide some time in 2024.


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