The full results from the November 24 federal election are in — and they show something interesting.

The Coalition ended up with 47.44% of the two party preferred voted. Despite the impression on the night of a strong Labor win, Kevin Rudd was only elected with a margin just over 1.5%.

That’s the smallest swing for a change of government since World War II, going by Mr Mumble’s table.

The Coalition clawed its position back “after strongly outpolling Labor in the record 2.5 million postal, pre-poll and absentee votes counted after election night”, according to Tim Colebatch’s analysis in The Age.

The conventional wisdom has said that the Coalition does better from these vote as they come from older, more conservative electors stuck at home or the more affluent.

That, however, is challenged. It’s a little out of date to assume that only Liberal voters can afford to take interstate holidays that require them to cast postal votes.

So how do we explain the high Coalition postal, pre-poll and absentee vote?

The influence of elderly voters was certainly felt there. It’s easier for many oldsters – and their carers – if they cast a postal or pre-poll vote. This demographic favours the conservative parties.

But all the major parties chase postal, pre-polls and absentee voters. Virtually every household would have received postal vote applications from both the Liberals and the ALP in the first few days of the campaign.

There’s usually strong competition between the majors to see who can get theirs in the mail first. They hope the applicant will follow their how to vote.

The Coalition had the advantage of incumbency at the November 24 poll – more MPs with more electorate databases and more postal allowance to spend.

Did this help them win more postal, pre-poll and absentee votes, or does the conventional wisdom still apply?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey