Following on from our look at how the capital city vote has been changing, we may as well take a bit of a squiz at how the state-by-state composition of that headline vote has been changing as well. Even though the headline primary and two party preferred numbers appear to be pretty static at the national level, there’s some interesting action happening underneath.

Firstly, a recap of just how stable everything looks at the national level using Newspoll quarterly data – which we’ll also use as the working numbers of everything in this post.


Nationally there’s been over a 4% swing to Labor in two party preferred terms since the last election, yet only a 1.7% swing to the ALP on the primary vote while the Coalition has experienced around a 6% swing away from them on the primaries.

But what is more interesting is the composition of that swing at the State level. If we look at the primary vote swings for both the Coalition and Labor, then put them together with the ALP two party preferred change since the last election we get:

apv cpv



That last table is the one with the most valuable info – as it highlights most of the state-by-state dynamics.

Labor is getting their largest gains in South Australia and the old Coalition stronghold of WA, while NSW is showing the weakest gain for the ALP – but let us not kid ourselves here, NSW is sitting on 56% and still swinging to Labor. A 1.8% swing in NSW gives the ALP an additional 3 seats over and above the 2 they’d pick up from the redistribution – resulting in 5 new ALP members sitting in the next parliament if this result was repeated at the next election.
Keep that in mind the next time you read about NSW being a problem for Kevin Rudd when the polling is saying 56%.

This relatively diverse set of swings isn’t something that just recently popped up either – we can see the way the two party preferred has been moving among the states in some quite distinct ways. Firstly, we’ll just chart the quarterly figures – but we’ll also take the average state TPP results for Labor in 2008 and 2009 (the average of the Newspoll quarterly figures for each year) and chart those as well, to highlight the longer term movements. We’ll do this in two charts for each set, for what will be pretty obvious reasons.

statetppchart1 statetppchart2

yearly1 yearly2

While NSW, Victoria and Queensland have pulled back for Labor in 2009 after strong growth in 2008, South Australia and the West have continued to be a source of vote share growth for the ALP. It’s also worth noting how NSW in the quarterly chart is pretty much following the national headline figure.

The significance here is that WA, by far the worst performing state for the ALP, is showing the highest ALP primary vote swing since the election, the second highest two party preferred swing since the election and the highest swing to Labor of any State over the last 12 months on either primary vote of TPP terms..

Labor is consolidating its worse performing state in a fairly significant way.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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