2005 WA Pendulum

Federal pendulum (old)

Mackerras US Presidential pendulum

margins since 1983

2003 reviewed

Qld election 2004

Federal results by two party preferred

See the lemmings!
elections AT

published articles

two decades of Newspolls

state votes at federal elections

Votes and seat
1949 - 2001


Newspoll &
Morgan graphs

preferential voting

Newspoll Opposition leader approval ratings

Newspoll Opposition voting intentions



States' two party preferred Labor vote 1949 - 2001

Above are all states' two party federal votes since 1949. See key at right; national vote also included (thick red). Being 2pp, the Coalition's (which isn't shown) is always 100 minus Labor's.  NSW, with a third of the population, has most influence on the national line. Labor's Victorian vote wallowed from '55 to '72 (Labor split), keeping the Coalition in power on at least two occasions ('61 and '69). Tasmania took time to get over the Whitlam experience, but today contributes all five seats to Labor. Qld (dotted brown) has (presumably proud) strong anti-Labor record.

 And the last three Hawke/Keating wins, '87 to '93, produced most state discordance. From one to the next, different states would swing different ways, washing through, perhaps with a degree of luck, to reasonably close wins.

This brings me back to a favourite thesis of mine, alluded to here and  here, that in close contests state governments, in Vic and NSW at least, make all the difference.

For example, the Coalition's current success in NSW has more to do with Bob Carr than John Howard. It certainly isn't a Sydney phenomenon; the biggest Tampa swings were on the South Coast.

Anyway, to examine state behaviour I've calculated for each one's relative support for federal Labor. It is the two party preferred Labor vote minus the average of all states'; this avoids the tendency of the big states to flood the national vote.

Below is each state's component of the line graph above - Coalition line is also included - and below each is a bar graph showing relative support. The red/blue horizontal line below the bar chart indicates which party was in power at state level.

The going gets a little heavy from here on in. Continue at your own risk. This is light on explanation and heavy on observation. Also, you can do your own observing. For example, the big South Australian swing in '66 coincided with a brief period of Labor government (the first Dunstan one).

You can resize frames on this page, eg to shrink the graph above

Click each to enlarge


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NSW has historically been the Labor state. So although it sometimes gives the Coalition a two party preferred majority, its relative support is nearly always above the line. Not in 2001, however.

Queensland is the opposite: almost without exception a relative supporter of the Coalition, except its two party preferred Labor vote (the red line) only strays above 50% once every several decades (most recently in 1990.)

Tasmania was a traditional Labor state until 1975; it took another 18 years to get over the Whitlam experience and take its red line above 50%. It's been there ever since, was the only state to swing to Labor at the last poll, and currently the party holds all five seats there.

Victorian graphs, centre of the Labor split of '55, tell the dramatic story. Whitlam finally kicked the Vic apparatchiks into shape after '69 and got elected in '72. Victoria contributed a massive Coalition swing in 1990 but, after unloading Cain/Kirner government in 1992, has been Federal Labor's best friend.

In this way Victoria exhibits similar behaviour to NSW, although the Bracks government hasn't so far been particularly detrimental to its federal counterparts.

Of course, a comparison at any date of a state's behaviour relative to the rest should recognise that 'the rest' can be greatly influenced by a particular state's individual behaviour. On this and other things I'm guilty of simplification, but my main charge in this instance remains: the presence of Bob Carr, in the state with 50 of 150 House of Representatives seats, has been disastrous for federal Labor.

No wonder John Howard doesn't seem to be busting a gut for John Brogden.

There's a whole other story - of the disappearance of state Coalition government's since Howard's election. No coincidence here, some "over-determination" happening.

But that's for another day.

Recent history

In recent history, 1993 saw NSW, Victoria and Tasmania swing to Keating while Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia swung to Hewson. In 1996 everybody swung to Howard, in 1998 everybody swung to Beazley; in 2001 everybody except Tasmania swung to Howard.