Federal pendulum

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The Coalition, not Labor,
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Is it 1990 all
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Socio-Demographic graphs & pendulums

Warning!! This page has a high esoteric rating

The Australian Electoral Commission puts each seat into one of four socio-demographic seat classifications: Inner Metropolitan, Outer Metropolitan, Provincial and Rural.

These are the AEC's categories, so don't complain to me. 

Go straight to the graphs and pendulums or read on.

Below left are graphs (time-lines) for votes in these four categories at the last three elections. Seat numbers won are also shown. Next to each is the pendulum going into this election. These show precisely where Labor lost the last election - in the rural seats.

So what?, say you, Labor always does badly in the rural seats. This is true, but the graphs show that rural seats were the big difference between the 1993 win and 1998 loss.

Two GST elections

Look at it this way: Australia had two GST elections last decade. At the first one the ALP got 51.4% to Coalition's 48.6%, and won the election with a double digit seat majority. In 1998 Labor got 51% to Coalition's 49% - and lost by a double digit number of seats.

The broad explanation for this is that they wasted votes in safe seats last time, which is true. But as the following graphs show, what they really failed to do was make gains in the country. 

Click any to enlarge and see key

inner_metgraph.gif (7572 bytes) pend_innmet.gif (32224 bytes) With all its chardonnays-swillers, not surprisingly Inner Metro is pretty strong Labor - 26 to 16 going into this election. Even after Howard's 1996 landslide the seat numbers were even. As with the other three soci-dem categories, there was little difference between 1993 and 1998 vote, and as with two of the other three, little difference seat-wise.

Click graph or pendulum to enlarge and for further explanation

outmet_graph.gif (8474 bytes)  

pend_outmet.gif (31359 bytes)

Outer Metro also returned to Labor in 1998 from 1996 although with a few less seats than 1993.

Click graph or pendulum to enlarge and for further explanation

prov_graph.gif (7921 bytes)  

pend_reg.gif (19424 bytes)

Same story for Provincial seats as outer metro, swung back to Labor in 1998 and gave about the same number of seats as previous GST election.

Click graph or pendulum to enlarge and for further explanation

rural_graph.gif (7710 bytes)  

pend_rur.gif (31008 bytes)

The graph looks symmetrical around the 1996 poll, but the seat allocation isn't. Whereas about 45% of rural votes gave Labor 15 out of 42 possible seats in 1993, a very similar vote level gave them only 7 rural seats last time around. Had they managed something approaching 15 seats in 1998, they would have won the election.

Click graph or pendulum to enlarge and for further explanation

It's obvious why Labor is emphasising Telstra as an issue this time around. But they are not silly enough to fight the last battle. The 2001 election is a totally different one to the one last time. Put simply it is not a referendum on the GST; the seats and socio-demographic categories will swing very differently to last time.

This is one reason why taking the national pendulum as a starting point and plotting the swing required for a change of government would be very misguided. Mark my words, if the ALP were to get 51% of the two party vote again (they probably won't), they would win the election quite handsomely in seat numbers. (See further elaboration.)


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