New dataset – referendum results


As I started to put my mind to the upcoming Voice referendum, I realised there was a surprising absence of data on the results of previous referendums. A number of people were trying to track down electorate-level results for the 1967 referendum (although as the referendum with the highest Yes vote, it’s not the most interesting to analyse) and it just wasn’t available on the internet.

Then I unearthed a CD-ROM published after the 1999 referendums which included electorate-level results for every constitutional referendum as well as the two conscription referendums. The CD also includes booth-level results for the 1999 referendums.

The CD data unfortunately wasn’t in a particularly useful format. Each referendum was in a separate file, and the data generally isn’t in a tidy format.

But after a bit of work, I’ve now finished compiling all these datasets into tidy formats. I’ve published results nationally, by state and by electorate. In the case of the 1999 referendums, it also includes results at the polling place level, and a list of addresses for the polling places. I haven’t added latitudes and longitudes but it’s all in the right format to add that at some point.

I had originally intended to just include the 44 constitutional referendums, but found that the AEC CD included the 1916 and 1917 conscription referendums. It doesn’t include the National Song Poll held in 1977 alongside a number of referendums. I decided to also add in the electorate-level results from the 2017 marriage survey, so that’s also included. So the dataset includes the results from the 47 different yes-no votes held at a federal level since 1901.

This dataset has been published as part of the free section of my data repository. The free repository includes the last election for each state and territory in Australia, along with some by-election results. If you’d like to access earlier election results, they are available for those who sign up to pay $5 or more per month via Patreon. I probably won’t keep the referendum dataset free for all to access forever, but it’s up for free for now.

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  1. Thank you very much!

    This means that I am now almost as near as possible, absent an alternate reality machine, to being able to answer the question “did the ALP`s opposition to statehood for New England in the 1967 New England New State Referendum cause the defeat of the 1977 Simultaneous Elections Referendum or its equivalent in the alternate reality”. And the answer is that (assuming there was still a Simultaneous Elections referendum under Fraser) it probably did, given that a significant swing (~20%?) would have been required to have been caused by less than a decade of statehood as a small state.

  2. The conscription referendums were called “referendums” at the time. They just weren’t constitutional referendums. Likewise the 2017 marriage referendum was clearly a referendum, whatever differences there were in how it was implemented. The words “plebiscite” and “referendum” mean the same thing and the recent Australian phenomenon of using the former word for non-constitutional referendums didn’t apply in 1917.

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