Bragging rights are forfeited by those who fail to chance their arm and with this in mind I’m now inclined to make a prediction for the upcoming election. My view is that the most likely outcome is that Labor will win with the 2pp vote being just over 51% and that Labor will win 79 seats, the Coalition will win 68 seats while Bob Katter, one Palmer candidate and Andrew Wilkie will sit on the crossbench.
Victoria and South Australia carried Labor last time, South Australia in particular recorded Labor’s best result in fifty years. No doubt this was in part driven by Julia Gillard’s popularity in these areas, as such I expect they will swing back heavily to Labor now that they’ve replaced Gillard with Kevin. Using Antony’s Green’s wonderful electoral calculator I’ve given the Liberals a 4% swing in Victoria and a 5% swing in South Australia. Lucky Labor, their most marginal seat in South Australia, Hindmarsh, has a margin of more than 6%. Labor should resist any seat losses in South Australia.
Victoria is not so safe. I gave the Liberals a 4% swing in Victoria, I think Rudd travels slightly better/Abbott travels slightly worse in Victoria but if you apply the swing uniformly then anything from 2-6% gives the same result. Labor will definitely lose Deakin and Coringamite.
Applying the swing uniformly should also mean the coalition pick up La Trobe, but I’m giving it to Labor anyway. Labor’s member for La Trobe, Laura Smyth, is a first termer who defeated a Liberal incumbent at the previous election. Consequently she’s likely to enjoy the sophomore effect, that is, she will benefit from having accrued her own personal vote. Add this to the fact that she gets a little more profile than most backbenchers due to where she’s seated in question time, I think her newfound personal vote will be worth more than 2.3%, which is the margin by which the calculator has her losing. I’m also going to give Labor Melbourne but it really makes little difference in the end.
When it comes to NSW firstly I’m giving the coalition Lyne and New England. NSW swung big to the coalition last time, by 4% in fact. Parking the fact that Rudd is simply more popular than Gillard was, Labor won’t have to contend with the overhanging spectre of a smelly old Kenneally government putting downward pressure on their vote like they did in 2010. Consequently I’m prepared to give Labor a 2% swing in NSW.
Only one Coalition seat is held by a margin smaller than 2% and its sitting member is also likely to enjoy a sophomore surge so Labor won’t pick that up. I do however expect they will pick up Joanna Gash’s Gilmore. Gilmore is one of those funny seats that vote Liberal in the House and Labor in the Senate. The explanation for this is that the local member has a strong personal vote. In Gash’s case the difference between the Liberal vote in the House and the Liberal vote in the Senate is a whopping eight percent. With a current margin of just 5% and a general NSW vote likely to increase slightly under Rudd I expect Gilmore to bolt heavily towards Labor. On the other hand I expect Craig Thomson’s seat of Dobell to go to the Liberal party. So my view is Labor will win votes in NSW but the Coalition will enjoy a net gain of two seats. It’s a cruel world.
Dennison aside, most of the Tasmanian seats are held by pretty solid margins these days. Bass is the most marginal seat and it has a margin of 6%. Tasmania might swing a bit against Labor, but not by that much. The real contest will be between Labor and Wilkie in Dennison which I expect Wilkie will win but it could go either way.
The ACT contains two safe Labor seats and will not change. Labor’s Primary vote in the Northern Territory fell by nearly 10% in 2010 and Damien Hale lost Solomon. My view is that this swing was something of a freak occurrence and Labor are unlikely to do so poorly this time round and may even improve their vote slightly. Either way I don’t think Warren Snowden with his 3% margin is likely to be dislodged nor the newly elected Natasha Griggs with her double sophomore surge is in any immediate danger. I gave the coalition a 2% swing in the Territory and no change of seats.
So far we have the coalition picking up Coringamite, Deakin, Lyne, New England and Dobell and Labor picking up Melbourne and Gilmore. That’s five seats to the coalition on top of their base of 73 which would seem to give them an unassailable lead of 78 seats t Labor’s 70. But it is in the two big states (geographically) that the fun starts to happen.
West Australia is the Liberals best state and will continue to be so but Labor can take comfort in the fact that last election its vote nearly hit rock bottom. Amid the spectre of the bungled leadership change and the mining tax debate Labor’s primary vote dropped by more than 5%. It’s telling that most of the Newspoll quarterlies since the 2010 elections have had Labor’s vote remaining fairly unchanged in West Austrlaia, this suggests to me that the 31% who stuck by them will be difficult to dislodge. Labor now have a better salesperson at the helm, the mining tax is no longer a salient issue and Rudd is talking about abolishing the carbon tax. The flip side is the most popular Labor politician from West Australia, Stephen Smith, is retiring. This will mean a swing against Labor in Perth with a margin of 4.4% but with all the other factors I’m willing to bet that Labor still holds Perth. Overall I’m prepare to give Labor in WA a small swing of 2%. The most marginal seat in WA is Hasluck but it’s local member is Ken Wyatt who in addition to being a sophomore MP will benefit from his high profile status as the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives. The division of Canning is also held by just 2.2% but Labor’s vote in Canning was last time inflated by the presence of a high profile candidate in Allan MacTiernan. She’s now contesting Perth instead so Canning might be safe. But the division of Swan is interesting. Swan was won by the Liberal party in 2007 by current member Steve Irons. With everything else that was happening in 2010 you might have thought that a sophomore MP would enjoy a massive swing but instead his swing was slightly below the state average. In fact his house of representatives vote was actually lower than the Liberal party senate vote in his electorate of Swan. This suggests to me that the good burghers of Swan aren’t fans of their local MP and if Labor swings by 2% in WA, Swan will swing by more. It will be close, but I’m prepared to give Labor Swan by slenderest of margins giving Labor a gain of one seat in West Australia.
As we head into the great state of Queensland we have the coalition leading Labor by 77 seats to 72 and Messes Wilkie and Katter occupying the crossbench but in Queensland everything changes. Rudd is popular in Queensland, his personal vote in the electorate of Griffith is the greatest personal vote of any MP in Australia. Last election the voters punished Labor for removing their favourite son and installing Gillard in his place. This alone will ensure a swing to Labor but there is also the Newman factor. When Gillard in 2010 and even Rudd in 2007 contested their respective elections Queensland had an unpopular, old state government. Now it has a Liberal National government which has put a lot of people’s noses out of joint with its aggressive spending cuts. Last election Labor’s primary vote in Queensland fell by 9%. This time it’s going to swing back and it’s going to swing back big.
Initial polling since Rudd has returned has shown an enormous Labor swing is on the cards and I believe it. I’ve given Labor a swing of 5% but I think that’s conservative(polling has the number closer to 6%). Still if Labor gets a 5% swing in Queensland it should pick up Brisbane, Forde, Dawson, Flynn, Herbert, Leichardt and Bonner. They should also get Wyatt Roy’s electorate of Longman but given he is a Sophomore who has attracted a high personal profile for himself I’m giving Longman to Abbott. Then there is Peter Slipper’s electorate of Fisher. If there is a uniform Labor swing of 4% in Queensland than Fisher would stay Liberal by the skin of its teeth, but Fisher also has a sitting local member running as an independent, Mal Brough facing allegations of trying to pervert the course of justice and both the Palmer United Party and Katter Australia Party will have candidates splitting the conservative vote about five ways. Frankly it will be a lottery and between Fisher and Fairfax, where the current Liberal MP is retiring and Clive Palmer is standing I’m prepared to give one Liberal National seat to the crossbench in Queensland.
So at the end of all that we have the following seats changing hands.
Melbourne(Green to Labor)
Gilmore(Liberal to Labor)
Swan (Liberal to Labor)
Brisbane(Liberal to Labor)
Ford (Liberal to Labor)
Herbert (Liberal to Labor
Dawson (Liberal to Labor
Bonner(Liberal to Labor)
Flynn(Liberal to Labor)
Leichardt (Liberal to Labor)
Corangamite (Labor to Liberal)
Deakin (Labor to Liberal)
Dobell (Labor to Liberal)
New England (Independent to National)
Lyne (Independent to National)
Fairfax/Fisher(Liberal to Independent)
O’conner (WA National to Liberal)
Giving us a result of Labor 79 seats, the Coalition 68 and 3 Independants. Am I asking to end up with egg on my face? You betcha, but if I get it right, or close to right the bragging will never ever end.