Tuesday’s controversial Galaxy poll in the Courier-Mail has drawn further attention to Queensland’s importance in this year’s federal election, and more generally to the sometimes large differences in voting behavior between the states.

Western Australia is also alleged to be an exceptional case: a poll in last Saturday’s West Australian (not online, but Poll Bludger has the figures) showed the federal Coalition ahead there by 56.3% to 43.7% two-party preferred, but Labor holding a lead on state voting intentions, 52.3% to 47.7%.

So it’s worth again running Crikey’s comparison of federal and state/territory voting figures. The following table shows Labor’s primary vote in each jurisdiction at the 2004 federal election and at the most recent state or territory election:

Last election

Federal

State/
Territory

Difference

2nd term Labor governments

ACT

2004

50.3%

46.9%

-3.4%

WA

2005

34.8%

41.9%

7.1%

NT

2005

44.3%

51.9%

7.6%

SA

2006

36.8%

45.2%

8.4%

3rd term Labor governments

TAS

2006

44.6%

49.3%

4.7%

VIC

2006

40.5%

43.4%

2.9%

4th term Labor governments

QLD

2006

34.8%

46.9%

12.1%

NSW

2007

36.7%

39.0%

2.3%

As you can see, Labor’s performance varies widely, with a gap of more than 17% between its best and worst results. But the differences between state and federal figures display a clear pattern. For the two-term governments, with one exception, it’s around 7 or 8%. For those in the third or fourth term the shine has come off a bit, and the difference, again with one exception, comes down to around 3 or 4%.

One of the two exceptions is the ACT, whose dynamics are quite different. But the other one, which sticks out like a sore thumb, is Queensland: Labor’s state performance there is a full 12% ahead of the last federal result.

David Briggs’s spin on the Galaxy figures was that Labor’s support “is now in line with other states,” and that “Without a home state advantage, the Labor Party may struggle to win the swag of seats required”.

But what above table shows is that federal Labor doesn’t need to do especially well in Queensland; it just needs to stop doing especially badly. If Kevin Rudd can even go close to emulating his state counterparts, he will win comfortably.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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