New South Wales:Banks has been singled out for special attention as a result of its current position on the pendulum, with only a 1.5% margin. However, banks has been ALP since it was created in 1949. It is possible that the seat is undergoing a transition towards the Coalition, but it is equally possible that this close-run race is a historical blip that we have passed. Either way, I suggest the ALP stands a good chance in Banks this year, and I do not consider this as close as others may. Right out of the blocks we have an example of how the Mackerras pendulum – useful though it is – is not the be-all and end-all of psephology, or of my feeble emulation of that science.
Bennelong is an interesting seat – a possible glimpse of the future of Banks in reverse. Bennelong had been consistently Liberal since it was founded in 49; consistently Liberal, that is, until the 2007 ALP landslide when PM John Howard lost the seat to Maxine McKew and withdrew from politics. One election later the seat returned to the Liberals and, although still on a margin of 3.12%, I would expect this to firm up over the short term to see the Coalition comfortably retain this seat.
Dobell, too, is at the short end of the pendulum (although not as close as the seats above, with a margin of 5.07%), but was determined to be a 'tossup' in my seat rundown. While this subjective rating implies that I consider this seat in play, it is important to note that the seat has been subject to the swings of public opinion more than Banks or Bennelong. From its creation in 1984 until 2001 it was an ALP seat – the last two elections of this period being the only times that Dobell has elected an incumbent not of the ruling party. The seat then supported the Howard Government until the 2007 landslide until it returned to the ALP. With this election as close as polling suggests, it follows that the near-bellwether of Dobell will be hotly contested, especially with the incumbent shifting from ALP to Independent after a scandal, thus erasing any incumbency benefits for Labor.
Eden-Monaro is famous as a bellwether seat, having always voted for the successful party since 1972. This variability was reflected in the Variable-Dependent Transparency Array, and the margin sits at 4.24%. As a to-ing and fro-ing seat keenly in tune with the general mood of the nation, this seat is (unsurprisingly) considered something of an important possible win for both parties.
Gilmore ranks here because (surprise, surprise) the margin is only 5.73. However the seat has been Liberal since 1996 – resisting the pro-ALP landslide of 2007 – and consistently Coalition since it was founded with the exception of 1993. With 9 out of 10 elections to the Coalition and a Liberal incumbent who resisted Rudd's popularity at its peak, Gilmore will not easily be taken by the ALP this year.
Greenway is an odd seat in terms of trends. Like many other seats it bounded joyfully onto our electoral stage in 1984. The seat stayed firmly with the ALP until 2004. It remained with the Liberal from 2004 to 2010, neatly voting against the ALP during Rudd's highest of highs, but returning to Labor under Gillard. This broadly contradicts the general voting trends of the nation and, although its history has an undeniable pro-ALP slant, with a margin of 0.88% and an unpredictable voting history, who knows which way this seat will jump.
Hughes has a margin of 5.17% and an unpredictable voting history according to the VDTA. This is true, but these trends last for persistent periods of time. The seat was ALP form 69 to 96 (after a brief Liberal incumbency and an even earlier dalliance with Labor). From 1996 to the present, the seat has remained with the Liberal party, and I would expect that to continue this time around.
Kingsford Smith may have a margin of 5.16%, but it also has a history of voting Labor since foundation in 1949. I'm calling this one safe and moving on.
Lindsay is another of those seats from 1984. From 1984 to 1996, under the Hawke-Keating government, Lindsay voted ALP. It shifted with the nation to the Liberal Party under Howard and returned to Labor for the Rudd-Gillard years. As a bellwether since creation, it is not surprising both parties consider Lindsay an important seat to carry. Add in the 1.12% margin and Lindsay has everything to play for.
Macarthur may have a margin of 3.53% and a long-term variable history, but as the VDTA demonstrates, the seat is reasonably stable for the Liberal Party. It has voted for the Libs since 1996 and will probably continue in that vein this year.
Macquarie has been oscillating between major parties since 1901, and switching about all the more rapidly in recent times. The margin of 1.54% added to this mix makes the seat a clear Category 1: Critical seat, and very much in play.
McMahon is one of the two NSW seats on this list outside the marginal range of the pendulum. The history of this electorate has been consistently ALP*. McMahon is one of those inner urban seats that pretty well fits the Young Labor demographic. Yet I pinned this as a tossup. Many would expect this seat to stay with Labor. I would not be surprised about that myself. *However, this seat was created last election and there is not enough data yet to provide certainty. This seat replaced Prospect, which was safe ALP since it was founded in 69.
Page brings a little flavour to this list, with a Category 1: Critical rating off the back of a 1.83% margin and a volatile history of changing hands every two or three years, and yet practically no chance of falling to the Libs. Page will be a close-run contest, I am sure, but between Labor and the Nationals.
Parramatta has a margin of 4.37%, a variable history and, with the exception of Toongabbie, contains only Liberal state electorates – all pointing to an uphill battle for the ALP to retain this seat. Definitely one to watch.
Paterson is a Liberal seat nominated for this list with a 5.33% margin and variable history, although it has been reliably won by the Libs since 2001, pre-Rudd. I would not expect this seat to change hands, although this is far from certain. Consider this an informal prediction.
More importantly, since its re-founding in 1993, Paterson has only been won by people named Bob: Bob Horne (ALP) twice and Bob Baldwin (LIB) twice. If Labor continues to run people called Jim and Giovanna, how can they expect to win?
Reid is retained by Labor with a margin of 2.68%. This may look like a possible win for the Coalition, if it were not for the entire history for the seat (since 1922) being ALP (assuming we include Lang Labor’s first, second (Non-Communist) and third incarnations and ignore Charles Morgan’s brief defection to become Independent from 1958 until he was voted out… in 1958). Such a strong ALP history has to suggest that this seat will remain with Labor again, so I am scratching this from the close seats list.
Richmond is, with McMahon, one of the two NSW seats not within the marginal range of the pendulum, although at 6.99% it is just outside. What makes this seat interesting is that Richmond is traditionally National territory. With the exception of 5 elections this seat has been National since 1922 and Coalition (or Coalition-predecessors) since 1901. Reid contains the state seat of Tweed and parts of Ballina and Lismore. All three are held by Nationals by margins of over 30%. I don’t know how Labor took this seat, but I would not be surprised to see them lose it in four weeks’ time. Worth watching since it is either changing hands or defying my expectations.
Robertson has been won by Labor in the last two elections by two different Labor candidates, after a consistent Liberal incumbency during the Howard years. Otherwise, the seat has been ALP for decades. On the other hand, all of the state seats in Robertson are Liberal held, and the margin is sitting at 1%. All in all, Roberson is a master of mixed messages: that seat that gives you its phone number and tells you not to call, then phones you to tell you it never wants to speak to you again because you didn’t have the courtesy to phone.
Seriously Robertson! What do you want?!
Northern Territory:Lingiari is retained by Labor with a margin of 3.7%. The seat has only had one incumbent, and was founded in 2001. I feel the data is insufficient to make an argument for this seat being stable, although there is probably a good chance of Labor retaining this in the absence of a significant pro-liberal swing. With the low margin, this seat is probably worth watching.
Solomon was picked up on the VDTA for its lack of obvious trend (CLP for 2 elections, ALP for 1 and CLP for another), but is also noteworthy for its short history and 1.75% margin. The NT territorial government seats don’t offer a clear picture – largely a result of dividing a two-electorate territory into so many divisions. Let’s wait and see.
Queensland:Blair is another example of a seat with a very short history. Prior to the two years under the Rudd-Gillard government, during which Blair was an ALP seat, the seat has been Liberal since it was founded during the Howard years. The seat is currently held by the ALP with a margin of 4.24%. To young to call, this has to be a seat to watch.
Bonner has only been around for three elections, electing a Liberal politician, then an ALP candidate, and then a LNQ incumbent. The seat shows up as noteworthy on the VDTA and is currently held by a margin of 2.82%. Potentially a very close race here.
Bowman, by contrast, is a “very safe” seat with a margin of 10.39% for the LNQ, who also won all of Bowman’s state divisions (and almost all of the other state divisions too). This seat is only listed here because it has a variable history from the early 60s onward which shows up on the VDTA. In reality this seat is safe for the LNQ.
Brisbane has been in focus in every media analysis I have read so far. This is largely the result of the LNQ incumbent holding this seat by a meagre 1.13%. The recent (and not so recent history) of the seat, however, is very pro-ALP. Although the LNQ won the seat in 2010, the ALP had held it for the 20 years prior. The 5-year Liberal incumbency before this is no more than a blip after the 17 sequential victories of the ALP from 1931 onwards. Since 1901, the ALP has controlled Brisbane for a total of 76 years. On the other hand, LNQ incumbency in this seat and all of its state divisions may be more than a relic of the radical anti-ALP swing following the deposal of Queensland’s own Kevin Rudd. And maybe not.
Capricornia, as things stand, is slightly Coalition leaning. This is in spite of a Labor incumbency, which is only held by 3.68%. Although the seat has been ALP since 1998, its sub-divisions were four LNQ seats, one ALP and one for Katter’s Australia Party. However, less objectively, it is important to remember that state Labor in Queensland has less seats than a small bus. This major anti-ALP swing may carry over into Capricornia this year, though this seems highly unlikely now that Rudd is back in the pilot seat. Objectively close, I would guess this is actually a reliable ALP win.
Dawson is marginal with only 2.43% of voters between the LNQ incumbent and defeat. The seat has a pretty firm Nationals background, however; a 12-election run since 1975 was only broken during the Kevin 07 landslide. The seat has now returned to the LNQ, where I would expect it to stay. That said, watch this space.
Dickson shows up on all radars. Its variable history raised a flag on the VDTA, and its 5.13% margin is a lot closer than the LNQ would like. The 5-year Lib/LNQ trend was noted to give the Coalition an edge here during the state summaries, but not enough to rule this as safe.
Fisher may have a mere 4.13% margin and be held by an Independent, but has only fallen to the ALP twice since it was founded in 1949. The current incumbent was elected as a LNQ member as well, so I’m quite confident in ignoring this seat as a safe Coalition win.
Flynn, on the other hand, has a very even history: one term ALP, one LNQ. The seat is held by 3.58% of the population, and is too young to be considered safe for any party.
Forde has a longer, but not much more decisive history. There is a slight Coalition bias (6 elections to 4), but with a 1.63% margin Flynn is clearly still in play.
Herbert seems to switch incumbents every 15 years or so (although after a 30 year ALP run ended in the late 50s there was a brief to-and-fro). This pattern was detectable in the VDTA. Throw in a 2.17% margin and it is possible the Liberal/LNQ’s 17 year run is at an end. For those who believe in electoral patterns, it is time for Herbert to change. The rest of us will have to wait and see.
Leichhardt, with a 4.55% margin and volatile recent history, is definitely worth watching. Further back, this was an ALP safe seat, but does this have any relation to the attitudes of the modern, LNQ held seat? I doubt it.
Lilley is held by the ALP by a mere 3.18%. This is a very low margin for a seat held by someone as high profile as Wayne Swan. The history is variable, but Coalition leaning. Since being founded in 1913, the most elections won in a row was 6, a feat achieved once by the ALP and twice by the predecessors of the LNQ. Add in the retirement of Mr Swan and bets are far from off for this seat.
Longman was considered, in the Queensland district rundown, to be volatile but safe for the LNQ. This seems a little odd off the back of a 1.92% margin, and there is easily potential for an ALP victory here. However of the seat’s 6 elections, 5 have been won by members of the Liberal or Liberal National Parties. Perhaps overly cautious, I’m going to call this in play.
Moreton must be one of the closest seats in the state, if not the country. Of the 89 state seats, only 7 were won by Labor. Two of these intersect with Moreton. However, Moreton is not an ALP stronghold. The seat has been around since federation, and the ALP has won Moreton at general federal elections only 4 times (6 including a so-called ALP Independent in 1901 and 1904). Yet, against the odds, the Incumbent is a member of the Labor Party. I’m struggling to get a feel for Moreton, so I have to call this one in play.
Oxley is marginal on the pendulum, with a 5.77% margin. However by any other standard the seat is safe ALP. Labor has won the seat at every election since 1961, excluding Pauline Hanson as an Independent in 1996. With 2 of its 5 constituent state seats being those rare ALP wins, Oxley will be incredibly unlikely to shift to the LNQ.
Petrie has a highly variable history and a margin of 2.51%. The VDTA, pendulum and district run down all put Petrie in the sights of both Labor and the Coalition. Enough said.
Rankin may have a margin of 5.41%, but of the 10 elections held in this seat, Labor has won 10, and the only state seat entirely contained by Rankin is Woodridge, one of those few that have a Labor incumbent. Rankin is only on this list because of its margin, and is probably a safe hold for Labor.
Wright, by contrast, is definitely not listed here for its margin, which is 10.15%. The seat history is not very informative, because this seat has only run in a single election. Every available indication certainly suggests an easy LNQ retain, but we shall have to wait and see.
South Australia:Adelaide is currently held by Labor with a not-too-shabby margin of 7.69%. However the seat’s recent history is volatile, and its current political makeup is ambiguous. The state seats that intersect Adelaide are divided between 5 with Labor incumbents and 4 – including the two entirely contained within the federal seat – held by the Liberal Party. Although a maintenance of the status quo is expected, especially with Kate Ellis as its high-profile incumbent, such a volatile seat is more than capable of upsetting this prediction. I’m going to call this safe for now, and wait for this to blow up in my face.
Boothby is always trumpeted in my home state as a possible win for the ALP. With a 0.75% margin, it is not impossible. With a consistent liberal winning streak since 1949, it will be quite an upset if they pull it off. And the Libs only hold 4 of the 8 state seats that intersect with Boothby. However there is an argument to be made that this is about as pro-Labor as Boothby will get. I’m marking this as one to watch not because I think Labor is likely to carry the seat, but because if it is pulled of it will be the first time in over 25 elections.
Grey has shown up on this list because its long-term history does not provide an obvious trend on the VDTA. However, with a margin of 11.16% for the Liberal Party who have held the seat for two decades, and a distinct pro-Coalition lean in the state seats I don’t expect Grey to shift any time soon.
Kingston’s margin is 13.91% in favour of the ALP, and the state seats in the area are dominated by the Labor party. The seat is very volatile, however, and most elections I see at least one swing over 10%. If this seat is volatile enough, perhaps the Coalition stands a chance here. I doubt it, though, so despite ruling this a tossup in the state rundown I’m giving this to the ALP.
Makin is primarily on this list due to its volatile history – 4 ALP wins, 4 LIB wins and then 2 more ALP wins. On the VDTA this looks close, but with a 12.20% ALP margin and all five state seats held by Labor, I’m agreeing with the pendulum and the rundown to call this a safe ALP seat.
Sturt has been won by Christopher Pyne since 93 and by the Liberal Party since 72. I do not see a 3.43% margin and mixed state seat make up as reason enough to call this anything but a Liberal victory.
Wakefield is a seat of great contrasts. For every seat I have named as unlikely to fall based on past voting, it is important to remember seats like this. A run of 23 election victories by the Liberal Party was trumped by Labor in 2007 who now hold the seat by 11.95%. The seat was controlled by the ancestors of the Liberal Party from 1909 to 1938, only to switch to Labor, back to the UAP and back to Labor again in a 3-election period. It is not impossible that a similar blip may be occurring now, but a near-12% margin is one heck of a blip. I’m labelling this a Labor win, and a warning against relying too heavily on the past to predict the future.
Tasmania:Bass has a variable history which showed up on the VDTA and in the run down. Labor currently holds the seat by 6.74%, and has the slightest of advantages based on historical results. As with all federal Tasmanian electorates the state seats offer very little indication of current voting patterns, since all five Federal divisions contain two ALP, two LIB and one GRN state seats. Slight ALP advantage here, but still within reach for the Coaltion.
Braddon is also a seat of great turmoil, although this time the ALP incumbent and his 7.48% margin is up against a slightly pro-Liberal history. Expect this one to be close.
Denison is the only marginal seat in Tasmania according to the pendulum, with Independent Andrew Wilkie holding on against the ALP by 1.12% of the population (two-candidate preferred). Before Wilkie, the ALP hold on this seat stretches back to 1987. Under the Hare-Clark system the Greens won the first state seat in Denison, followed by former state ALP Premier David Bartlett (replaced by Graeme Sturges in 2011, as Dr Kevin Bonham corrected me some weeks back). This may provide further evidence of a left-wing bias among voters indicating the Libs are unlikely to take this seat. As a former Greens candidate in Bennelong it is surprising that enough conservative, and particularly Liberal, preferences flowed to Wilkie to outrun Labor, however in the highly divisive campaign that looks set to start in Australia, it is not impossible that this may happen again. Although I can confidently say that the Coalition will not win in Denison, this is still a seat worth keeping an eye on.
Franklin shows up on the VDTA for an evenly-balanced history, but there is little else to support keeping it on this list. The ALP has held the seat since 1993 – throughout Howard’s golden years, and currently has a margin of 10.82%. The Coalition has held the seat for considerable periods of time in the past, and did elect a Liberal candidate first among its state seats. On the other hand, the other Liberal to win a seat came last of the five candidates, and one state seat is also held by Labor Premier Lara Giddings. I’m giving this one squarely to the ALP this year.
Victoria:Aston is definitely marginal with a 1.76% on the pendulum. However the Liberal party has held the seat for over two decades, and controls all state seats in the area. I’m going to give Aston to the Libs at this point.
Bendigo has been ALP since 98 and has a clear ALP trend in its past voting record and state seat makeup. Despite a 5.93% margin, I’m confident in a Labor retain for this seat.
Bruce’s apparently even-handed history on the VDTA is the result of 6 ALP wins on top of 16 Liberal victories. The state seat makeup is varied, but with an ALP margin of 8.12% to bank on and an incumbent who has held the seat since 1996, Bruce is probably a safe ALP win.
Casey is held by a mere 1.48% margin, but with a Liberal victory in every election since 1984 I’m passing this one off as Coalition.
Chisholm’s history shows that a return to the Coalition is not out of the question in the long term, and with a 6.11% margin this year has a chance of making this happen. Triggering an interest on the VDTA, pendulum and state summaries, Chisholm will be worth watching.
Corangamite is indisputably marginal. 0.41% of the electorate is not where the ALP wants to be sitting on the pendulum, especially as prior to the Kevin 07 landslide the seat had been Liberal since 1944 and then Coalition forerunners since 1931. There is a slight ALP lean in the state seats, last elected in 2010, but as I said in the Victorian summaries, I think we are coming to the end of a Labor blip in this Coalition seat. However the Incumbent still needs to fall, so I’m calling this an important seat. If nothing else, it has to be the seat most likely to change hands this year.
Deakin was first contested in 1937 and has been won by Labor three times. Two of those times were 2007 and 2010, but I think this is another blip soon to be corrected. All state seats are Liberal. Labor’s margin is 2.41%. Another seat that may be a comfortable Liberal win, but still worth watching in case Mike Symon can hold out.
Dunkley has a habit of changing incumbents regularly, and after 6 years the time may be up for the Liberal Party. A 1.02% margin makes this a possible hand-changer.
Flinders has a clear Liberal lean in its history. Of all elections since 1901, Labor has won three (1929, 1952 and 1983). This gives the Libs a 10-election victory record to maintain, and with a 9.11% margin, this looks certain. This is perfectly safe for the Coalition and should never have made this list, except I accidentally read it as a Category 1 seat, when the Stable-Safe rundown rating actually makes it Category 3.
Gellibrand is another Category 3 that should not have made the list except for my inattention. With every election since its first in 1949 going to Labor, who also hold all of the state seats in the area and a comfortable 23.9% margin, not even the retirement of Nicola Roxin is likely to shake this seat.
Higgins is yet another Category 3 that should not be on this list. A near-perfect mirror of Gellibrand – Higgins has been won by the Libs in every election since foundation in 49 along with a strong pro-Lib collection of state seats – the current margin of 6.75% means that the pendulum rules this seat fairly safe. I do, too. I’m giving this seat squarely to the Coalition in 2013.
La Trobe has a pretty balanced mix of state seats, a variable state history, and first term Labor incumbent after two decades of Liberal representation. Most of all, however, the 0.91% margin makes La Trobe anyone’s seat (at least on a two-party preferred basis).
McEwen is another first-term ALP incumbent who has just shuffled off a period of Liberal control. The history provides little help in predicting this seat. The same may be said for the state divisions in the area. A 5.32% margin is not enough to keep Labor out of the woods in this situation. This one has to be considered in play at this point.
McMillan ticks all the boxes. 4.41% Margin. Variable long-term history. Highly variable short-term history. The state seats are all Coalition (3 Liberal, 2 National), but this dates from 2010 when the Libs also won the seat. McMillan can go either way, and without local polling one can only guess which.
Wannon is another Victorian seat that should not have made his list. Apparently I got a little slack with this state. A 7.29% margin is not great, but nor is it enough to raise warning flags. The seat has been Liberal since 55, and the Coalition holds three of the 4 state seats in Wannon. Safe Liberal.
Western Australia:Brand has a 3.33% margin for Labor. It also has 100% Labor control of state seats and a track record of 100% ALP incumbents. I have no hesitation in calling this a Labor seat.
Canning has an even narrower margin of 2.19% and the VDTU indicates a much closer long-term history. The short term history is rather variable, too, and considering the trouncing Labor received earlier this year, the ALP is well represented in the state seats. All indications suggest that Labor’s fortunes in WA have drastically increased after the leadership change. This may not be enough to take Canning from the Libs, but it should make for an interesting contest.
Cowan has a particularly variable history: 3 ALP wins, followed by 2 Liberal victores, 3 more ALP incumbents and now 2 Liberal wins starting counterintuitively during the 2007 ALP landslide under “Rudd 1.0”. Throw in a 6.29% margin for the Liberal incumbent and a varied, slightly Labor-leaning state seat make-up in a heavily anti-ALP state election earlier this year and we may easily see Cowan cross the line.
Durack has a 3.67% margin for the Libs over the ALP. Since the seat only came into existence last election it is too early to award this seat based on past data, but the state seats show a heavy lean to the Nationals. We will just have to wait and see how Durack pans out, although I am unofficially tipping a Coalition win.
Fremantle’s 5.7% margin and 50-50 split of state seats between the Liberal and Labor Parties is not enough to shake my confidence that a 30-election ALP winning streak dating back to 1934 will continue. Enough said.
Hasluck is probably the most unstable seat in the election. The seat has changed hands every election since it was founded. The state seats that intersect Hasluck are divided evenly – 4 ALP, 4 Liberal. The seat has a margin of 0.57% for the Liberal party, and sends up flags on the VDTU, pendulum and state rundown measures, rating as a tossup – not even a Category 1 – on the latter. Anyone who thinks Hasluck is not a key seat is mad. Mad I say!
O’Connor was close-run in 2010, with a 3.56% margin. This is 3.56% for the Nats against the Libs. After a perfect Liberal record, the seat passed to the National Party in 2010. The Nationals also hold 5 state seats, compared to 1 Liberal and 1 ALP. I would not be surprised if this was close run between the Coalition parties in this election, but a Coalition victory is pretty well assured. Whether or not this is worth watching depends, I guess, on your interest in inter-Coalition contests.
Perth has been Labor since 1983 and has only a moderate tendency to change hands. The Coalition has a slight advantage according to the state seats, but remembering the strength of the anti-Labor swing which is not expected to be replicated federally, and noting that of the state seats entirely contained within federal Perth are Labor-held, I think even the 5.88% margin will be enough for Labor to hold the seat. Playing it safe, however, I’m going to admit that this one could still change hands.
Stirling has a 5.55% margin in favour of the Liberal Party, and a variable history that puts the ALP in striking range on a good year. Whether this year will be a good one for Labor remains to be seen, but for the moment I’m ruling Stirling in play.
Swan, finally, is a seat with a 2.53% margin and a volatile recent history. The state seats show a pro-Liberal attitude recently, but how much of this has been reversed is unknown. Enough, perhaps, to topple the Liberal incumbent. I’ll certainly be watching this one.