Queensland and Evidence

After the Queensland election we have had predictable squawks that this inevitably foreshadows the annihilation of Labor federally. In the spirit of a blog about science I thought I’d try a little evidence, something many of these commentators seem averse too.

It’s true that the scale of this landslide is unprecedented in terms of seats, and matched only by NSW 2011 in two party votes in the modern era. Nevertheless, there have been some pretty big margins before, and it is worth taking a look at what happened. I’m still digging for more detailed data (it’s quite hard to find two party-preferred swings for older elections).

Nevertheless, we know that in Victoria in 2002 and Qld in 2001 Labor won enormous victories, but followed up by suffering swings against them in those states at the subsequent federal election. In each case the swing was worse for them in that state than the national average. It’s true that there are counter-examples, eg WA in 1983, but the feature here tends to be that the federal election was held very soon after the state.

It looks to me like there are two conclusions we can draw in regards to the federal election.

1) If the federal election is soon, Labor will be smashed in Queensland. Soon here probably means less than 6 months.

2) If Labor does get thumped in Qld at the next election it is possible for the smashing to be worse than previously thought – Labor’s base is smaller than most people realised.

However, neither of these indicate to me that an election held in about 18 months, by which time the LNP’s honeymoon may well have worn off, is likely to be bad for Labor.

About Stephen Luntz

I am a science journalist, specialising in Australian and New Zealand research across all fields of science. My book, Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats: A Field Guide to Australian Scientists is out now through CSIRO Publishing. I am also a professional returning officer for non-government organisations. I'm very politically active, but generally try to restrict this blog to scientific matters.
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