Yesterday’s Nielsen poll has Labor still on track for a catastrophic defeat. Along with the January Galaxy poll, the Nielsen poll has the ALP polling only 34% of the two-party-preferred vote, compared to the Coalition on 66%. On primary votes, the Coalition has hit a new high with 53%, compared to 51% in the Galaxy poll, with the ALP on 22% (compared to 20% in Galaxy) and the Greens on 13% (compared to 15% in Galaxy).
There is a general consensus that such a result would produce a massive defeat for the ALP, way out of proportion to the voting figures. Antony Green’s swing calculator has the ALP winning only 14 seats compared to 73 Coalition seats on a uniform two-party-preferred swing. In the next election, however, many contests will not be between Labor and the Coalition, with Greens and independents coming in the top two in many seats in Sydney and the country. In addition, two-party-preferred figures in polls are based on preference flows from minor parties remaining consistent. Yet it appears that the Greens preference flow to Labor will be greatly diminished. Both of these factors suggest that the impact could be worse than Antony Green’s calculator predicts.
I developed my own calculator which instead calculates swings on primary votes, based on proportional swing, which means a party’s vote will swing more heavily in areas where their vote is higher. This reflects the expectation that the swing against Labor will be more heavily concentrated in its heartland and marginals, rather than in Coalition seats, and that the Greens vote appears to have the most potential to grow in areas where it is already strong.
Before laying out what my calculator produced, it’s worth noting that many flaws still remain. Like a simple pendulum calculator, it relies on the concept of a uniform result. It doesn’t take into account the abilities and appeal of individual candidates, either at the current election or at the last. As an example, Macquarie Fields appears much more marginal than its neighbouring seats of Campbelltown and Liverpool largely because of the 2005 by-election and 2007 election which saw a particularly strong Liberal candidate and a local ALP hit by repeated scandals. It is unlikely to experience such a strong swing as other seats that have not previously swung so hard.
Neither calculator can factor in the strong Liberal candidates in Keira and Cabramatta, both of which are some of Labor’s safest seats in the state on paper. It is a particular problem when it comes to independents. The calculator assumes that defeated independent MPs will run again in Pittwater and Manly, while ignoring the independent candidate in Wollongong who many are tipping to win the seat.
In addition, the calculator allows the user to make changes to the estimated preference flows in a contest between any two of Labor, Coalition, Greens and Independents. These assumptions could be wrong. For example, I assume that 30% of Greens preferences will go to Labor, and 15% to the Coalition, which is substantially less than in 2007.
Having said that, the result the calculator produces is:
- Liberal – 56
- National – 19
- Labor – 10
- Greens – 3
- Independents – 4
After the break, I break down these figures, map them out on a map of NSW, and give you a link to where you can download the calculator yourself.
In the seat of Keira, the result is an exact tie between Labor and Liberal. The ten other seats are Auburn, Bankstown, Cabramatta, Canterbury, Heffron, Lakemba, Liverpool, Mount Druitt, Shellharbour and Wollongong. The four independent seats are Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Northern Tablelands and Sydney. The three Greens seats are Balmain, Marrickville and Newcastle.
There are three seats which I think the calculator has clearly gotten wrong. In the seat of Wollongong, independent candidate Gordon Bradbery is polling strongly, and if Labor is this devastated, he should win. I don’t believe the seat of Newcastle will be won by the Greens. The calculator has the Greens narrowly pulling ahead of Newcastle mayor John Tate and winning on preferences from the Liberal and Tate. However, Tate would likely overtake the Greens on Liberal preferences. In the seat of Maitland, it appears that the main opposition to Labor comes from the sitting Liberal MLC Robyn Parker, with the independent Peter Blackmore now serving as Mayor of Maitland, and expressing little interest in returning to state politics. I also believe that Keira’s swing is underestimated due to the presence of a strong Liberal candidate, so that dead heat should be resolved in the Liberal Party’s favour.
If you change these three results, you get:
- Liberal – 58
- National – 19
- Labor – 9
- Greens – 2
- Independents – 5
On these figures, Labor barely holds on to nine seats. Their hold on Heffron is also tenuous, with Kristina Keneally only barely outpolling the Green, with the Liberals ahead on primary votes, allowing Keneally to win with a sliver of Greens preferences. This could easily go the other way on similar polling figures, leaving the ALP with only eight seats. Many commentators have also raised the prospect of Liberal candidate Dai Le overturning Labor’s hold on Cabramatta. Once you take out these seats, you are left with the very definition of rock-bottom for the ALP: their rump consists of the Western Sydney seats of Auburn, Bankstown, Canterbury, Lakemba, Liverpool and Mount Druitt, and Shellharbour in the Illawarra.
Below are maps showing what an election would look like where Labor is reduced to single figures, with a conservative Coalition holding 77 seats.
You can download this calculator here. Please comment below if you find the calculator interesting.