Category Archives: Election Profiles

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Category:Election Profiles,National 1966 to 1980 Tags : 

One in four women work as professionals. Their support for Labor candidates steadily increased from 1980 under Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and by 2004, this support had levelled off to split 50/50 between Labor and the Coalition.

However, the inner-urban professional seats – such as Melbourne Ports and Brisbane – swung to Coalition Leader Malcolm Turnbull in 2016, bucking the national swing back to Labor in 2016.

About one in four men work as Tradies and one in four women work in clerical and admin jobs.

Since the 1966 election, Tradies have been seen as the pro-union, working class foundation for Labor campaigns, with the politically non-aligned female clerks successfully targeted in 1972 and 1974 to provide the more volatile winning margin in the outer suburbs.


The political significance of these two demographics switched after the period 1977 to 1980, and by 1998-2001, we were more likely to see safe Labor seats dominated by female clerks than by male Tradies, as white-collar workers became more unionised, and many older, blue collar workers such as the Howard Battlers, switched to the Coalition in the outer suburbs.

These two groups have remained the ALP’s campaign focus as Labor’s Working Family Stereotype and in 2016 seats containing the highest proportions of Working Families -such as Burt and Macarthur –  swung strongly to Labor and Bill Shorten, even as former pro-Labor professionals moved in the reverse direction towards, small-l Liberal Malcolm Turnbull.

So, the Coalition lost Working Family seats across Australia’s outer suburbs, but clung to power by its fingernails across wealthier, inner urban professional seats.

In this ADS update, we’re publishing the last instalment of John Black’s demographic profiles of Australian voting behaviour, stretching back to the 1966 Federal election.

This instalment covers the period of 1977 to 1980, the mid-point of Malcolm Fraser’s Prime Ministership, which marked a watershed era for the demographic alignments of Australia’s biggest occupational voting blocs: Tradies, Clerks and Professionals.

These three groups determined the outcome of the last election, and they are also likely to determine the outcome of the next election. Read how they came of age here.

PROJECT 4 –  Australia : 1977-1980  Project 4-Part One   Project 4 – Part Two



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New England and Bennelong By Elections in NSW


Category:By-Elections,NSW Tags : 

See for yourself in our Esri online map how local demographics fed into the results in New England and Bennelong by-elections and the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite.

Click on the link to the map below. It will open with a default map of the Bennelong estimated 2PP swing to the Liberals, with the dark blue streets swinging slightly to the Liberals and the lighter areas swinging strongly to Labor. Now click on the Layer icon  at top right of your screen to open the Layer list. You can see the legend in the map by clicking on the small arrow to the left of the layer called Bennelong Liberal-Swing . You can click on the layer Bennelong Polling Booths  to show each booth and click on the booth icon itself to see the results.

Save this map of the swing by taking a screen snip or leave it open in another screen and then click off the swing and open the other Bennelong layers. You can open more than one at a time and see the impact of the various demographics on the swing. So you can open Layers for creative arts, Green votes and Agnostics, to see the combined impact of all three. This isn’t rigorous statistical modelling, but it gives you an idea of how it works.

The strongest predictor of the swing was not the Bennelong Chinese born males (or females), but Bennelong Males with No Religion. These Agnostics at the National level were the strongest supporters of the Yes vote in the Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite and when we fed this variable into the modelling, ethnicity did not contribute any additional explaining power. Chinese born persons in Bennelong tend to be Agnostics, but it was their lack of religion, rather than their ethnicity which tended to accompany the biggest political swings to Labor in Bennelong.  This shows us we should look past obvious ethnic stereotypes if we’re trying to explain voting behaviour.

When you have finished with Bennelong, you can click on the Bookmark icon  at top left and select New England which opens a default map showing the estimated 2PP swing to the Nationals, with the darker green areas registering the largest pro-National swing. Once again, save a copy of this map and compare it to those larger local demographics most strongly linked to the by-election swing to the Nationals: 2016 ALP voters, Tradies, or those demographics dominating the booths with smallest by-election swings to the Nationals: in this case men working in the Agricultural industry.  We reversed the direction of the legend in this last one so the areas with the darker green colouring contain the fewest farmers and farm workers and the biggest pro-National swings. This confirms that the smallest swings to a party often occur in the areas of strongest support for the same party.

Click on the map or link below to view.

New England and Bennelong By-Elections - See for yourself in our Esri online map how local demographics fed into the results in New England and Bennelong by-elections and the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite. See for yourself in our Esri online map how the local demographics fed into the results in New England and Bennelong.



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Category:Election Profiles,Maps - Elections,National 2016 Tags : 

ADS, in conjunction with ESRI and Map Data Services, have produced a dashboard and linked interactive maps, to show you the key voting stereotypes for the 2016 Australian election and where you can find them. Click on the icon above for the Post Election ADS.Elect Dashboard and Maps. You will find all of the vote and swing stereotypes and related maps for every Australian electorate.

Post Election ADS.Elect Dashboard

Click on Post Election ADS.Elect Dashboard for full screen viewing.

2016 Electorate Analysis and Voter Profiles by Electorate

Pre Election ADS.Elect Dashboard

Click on Pre Election ADS.Elect Dashboard for full screen viewing.

Pre Election Dashboard

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Don Dunstan

SA 1973 to 1977

Category:Election Profiles,SA 1973 to 1977

Project One – The South Australian Research

south-australian flagThis is the original research carried out by John Black while working on state and federal ALP campaigns in eastern Adelaide between 1971 and 1977. During the early part of this period, Black was a politics student at Flinders University under Neal Blewett and Dean Jaensch, who co-wrote Playford to Dunstan.

Black then became an adviser to the ALP Deputy Premier Des Corcoran and ALP Premier Don Dunstan. During this period Black profiled the 1973 and 1975 SA state elections and devised the original version of elaborate, drawing from the work of Blewett and Jaensch and UK work by Butler and Don DunstanStokes.

Black provided demographic advice to the Cabinet Campaign Committee for 1977 on demographic and spatial targeting and the refinement of local campaign techniques, such as swinging voter campaigns and voter enrolment drives. These techniques involved the first amalgamation of printed street order electoral rolls, the telephone white pages and the Australian census, to locate and target key groups both centrally and down to the local street level.

This work laid the foundation for the early versions of campaign software, which has since evolved into the more individually focused product used by all major parties. In the early days this was all done with paper and pen, craft glue, scissors and hand held calculators. Data was stored on punch cards in shoe boxes and super computers for the major number crunching programs had to run overnight to complete calculations which now take seconds on a home computer.

Black delivered a series of papers on these profiling and campaign techniques to the ALP Federal campaign committee between 1974 and 1977 and prepared the demographic research component of the ALP submission to South Australia’s first one vote value electoral redistribution.

The late John Lockwood assisted with the statistical analysis and data preparation for this work and Kevin Harris advised on the geographical implications.

Read more…PROJECT 1 – SA 1973 to 1977

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Category:Election Profiles,National 1966 to 1980

PROJECT 1  – South Australia  1973 to 1977

PROJECT 2A, B & C – Any election you win is a good result and 1972 was no different for Gough Whitlam and the It’s Time campaign.

In 1972, Whitlam was backed up by a then record spending campaign organised by his new National Campaign Director Mick Young, with all the latest campaign disposables – the tight T shirts, theme tunes and show business hangers on.

Gough_Whitlam-its-about-timeIt was Labor’s first truly national campaign but it still generated a relatively small swing of only 2.5 percent and the dividend in terms of seats won was patchy, with 12 seats won in the eastern states but the western states and Victoria ceding four seats to the Coalition. And we have to factor in here that in 1972 Whitlam was campaigning against Billy McMahon, who makes Mathias Cormann seem charismatic.

But in 1969, Whitlam had none of these advantages. The long serving federal ALP secretary Cyril Wyndham had been hounded out of his job a few months before and Mick YMick Youngoung was filling in for him, with a $50,000 budget and a shambolic, federalised campaign structure, beholden to some pretty dreadful state based factional hacks and time servers.

Despite this sort of dead weight in the saddle bag Whitlam in 1969 won a huge national swing of 7.2 percent and picked up 17 seats across the country, without losing any.  He won 50.2 percent of the preferred vote across the nation and fell three seats short of victory.

It was a stunning result in the circumstances for Whitlam and this was a contest in which the World War II air force navigator Whitlam went head to head against a Coalition led by charismatic former air force fighter pilot John Gorton.

Both of these men knew what cricketing invincible and former World War II fighter pilot Keith Miller meant when asked by Michael Parkinson about the pressures of facing up to fast bowling in cricket and Miller responded with his famous larrikin quote: “pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not”.

The downloadable PDFs below show the original research done by John Black in 1981 for the ALP’s 1983 winning election campaign strategy.

Project 2A starts with the methods used and the long run profiles of rusted on voters and volatile voters during the period 1966 to 1975.

Projects 2B and 2C cover the Labor’s outstanding 1969 campaign run by Labor’s then charismatic new Leader Gough Whitlam and the much smaller swings from 1969 to 1972, which finally installed Whitlam in power.

Read More …  Project 2A 1966-75 averages.    Project 2B 1966-69.   Project 2C 1969 to 1972

PROJECT 4 –  Australia : 1977-1980 

PROJECT 5 – The Australian Democrats

Australian DemocratsThe Australian Democrats were formed in mid 1977 under the leadership of ex-Liberal Minister Don Chipp. The party was formed primarily to provide a vehicle for the Victorian Senate Campaign of its Leader to a lesser extent to provide a power base in the Senate for the same man.

In this context the aim of the part was to win support in roughly equal proportions from both major political groupings by gaining ( Senate ) votes from the “middle ground”. In the lower house the party furthered this strategy by contesting as many seats as possible, winning votes from weakly-aligned pro and anti-labour groups, and then returning this support via a two-sided how to vote card.

No one has ever demonstrated to my satisfaction that this sort of electoral tactic in the lower house has had any net impact on the outcome in any House of Representatives seat.

Read More …   Project 5 – The Australian Democrats


In 1980 Labor Leader Bill Hayden won 49.6 percent of the national Two Party Preferred (2PP) vote, but won only 40.8 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives. ALP demographic researcher John Black was then asked by Hayden to find out why this happened and what he could do about it for the 1983 scheduled election. At this time, with the economy in trouble, Labor was confident of winning a majority of the 2PP vote in 1983, but neither Hayden nor the ALP organisation were equally confident of winning a majority of seats.

This had already happened to Labor in 1969 when Gough Whitlam won a narrow majority of the 2PP vote but a minority of seats and Whitlam had to wait another three years to win enough votes to deliver his historic 1972 victory with a national campaign brilliantly targeted and sold to working families in the outer suburbs of our major cities. With the ambitious frontbencher Bob Hawke after his job, Bill Hayden knew he did not have the luxury of waiting another three years if he lost in 1983. As events transpired, Hayden did not even have this long and the leadership was snatched from him just before the 1983 election.

The marginal seat strategy devised by the ALP during the previous 12 months was however already in place, and Hawke won 60 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives with 53.2 percent of the 2PP vote.  Lessons learned are quickly forgotten by Leaders who assume victory came by virtue of their own popularity and in 1984,  with a populist and poorly targeted campaign, Hawke won only 55 percent of the seats with 51.8 percent of the 2PP vote. Worse was to come for Labor in 1998, when Hawke supporter Kim Beazley ran the most poorly targeted marginal seat strategy on record and won 45 percent of the seats despite recording a convincing 51 percent of the 2PP vote. Labor supporters had to wait another nine years to secure Government with a clever copy of the 1972 Whitlam campaign.

The two papers here are those prepared by John Black and used by the ALP in 1982/3 to select both key seats and key demographic groups for the 1983 election. It is a reasonably practical guide on how to win Government by maximising returns for effort among key groups in selected marginal seats.

PROJECT 6    Key Seats

PROJECT 7    Key Groups for 1983



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1983 strategy graph map

Demographic Strategy for Historic ALP Win

Category:Election Profiles

The historic election win by Bob Hawke in 1983 set Labor up for more than a decade of reformist Governments. Hawke won the election, but the policy work had been done over the previous five years by Opposition Leader Bill Hayden and this is the associated demographic targeting strategy prepared by Bill’s then research assistant John Black. It has been scanned from the original paper and has never before been published.

This is the final summary chapter and the remaining seven parts which include profiles of elections back to 1966 will be published over coming months. There is about 500 pages in all.

Download original paper – 1983 Election Strategy





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2015 NSW State Election Profile

Category:NSW Election 2015

The current study takes a close look at the demographic characteristics of New South Wales voters who supported Labor or the Coalition in 2015, and who swung to Labor or to the Coalition between 2011 and 2015. We also take our first look at the Greens since 2010.

In this report we examine the demographic impact of similar state campaigns by the major parties in Queensland and NSW within the same short time frame and we make estimates of the difference a popular, as opposed to an unpopular leader can make to the results and to the demographics of the seats affected.

Invariably there will be mistakes made here and all we can do try to minimise them as best we can and confess our limitations. But it is worth trying, as this sort of inferential work breaks some new ground and doesn’t place the reader in a position where they are captive to the subjective assessments of vote counters or political players with a vested interest.

In 2015 a Queensland style negative campaign from NSW Labor about privatisation gained Labor votes and seats in the sorts of welfare dependent suburbs which swung to Labor federally in 2010. In 2015, this campaign won back traditional safe ALP seats dominated by these suburbs, but the lack of any credible plans for economic growth held NSW Labor candidates back in middle class seats won from Labor in 2011, some of which swung even further to the Coalition in 2015.

Read more..  2015 NSW State Election Profile.pdf




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2015 – Qld State Election Report

Category:Election Profiles,Maps - Elections,QLD,Qld Election 2015

A week after the election on January 31, it is still unclear which of the two major parties will form a Government. The most likely outcome is a minority Labor Government supported by Independent Peter Wellington.

Labor candidates won an estimated 50.9 percent of the two party preferred (2PP) vote, but Labor appears likely to win only 44 out of the 89 seats. On the same state boundaries in 2009, Labor Premier Anna Bligh won a comfortable majority of 51 seats with 50 percent of the 2PP vote.

This failure in 2015 to translate a majority of the 2PP Labor vote into a majority of seats came about because Labor failed to win middle class and professional voters in aspirational marginal seats on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.

The major driver of the swing against the LNP appears to have been the current high net dissatisfaction levels of LNP Leader Campbell Newman and Federal Coalition Leader Tony Abbott.

Campbell Newman’s personal vote in his own seat of Ashgrove was minus 5.5 percent and this is consistent with the impact of a net dissatisfaction rating of minus 23 percent, which was recorded by Newspoll on January 29.

Read Full Report – Qld State Election Report 2015.

Download spreadsheet showing :

Qld State Performance, Qld State Trends, Aust. State Predictions and Federal Seat Predictions.

Map showing predicted alp 2pp vote by neighbourhood (sa1) based on the Qld State Election.

The map shows the Predicted ALP 2PP Vote by SA1 based on the QLD state election with the Federal electorates overlaid. You can search for an electorate and get the results for the electorate. There is also a separate layer available showing the 2pp swing to the ALP in QLD state electorates as per the original map.


2015 - Qld State Election Report

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Category:Election Profiles,Maps - Elections,QLD,Qld Election 2012

The strongest swings against the ALP in 2012 were from Labor’s own 2009 Labor voters. This swing correlation of minus 0.67 from Labor’s Queensland state 2009 support base was even bigger than the swing correlation of minus 0.57 against the NSW ALP from its support base last year. In other words, the biggest swings against Labor were in its safest seats.

On Election Day, March 24, Labor lost 15.6 percent of its 2009 primary vote, taking it from 42.3 percent to 26.8 percent. This is more than one in three former state Labor voters. Of the 89 seats contested by Labor, the Labor Party did not win more than 50 percent of the primary vote in any seat. The highest primary vote was 47.4 percent in Woodridge, one of the eight seats retained by Labor.

Read Full Report – QLD STATE ELECTION REPORT April 2012.pdf


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Category:Maps - Elections,Maps By Postcodes,National 2013

Postcodes that swing to the coalition are shown in blue. Postcodes that swing to Labor are in Yellow – Red.

The first range is up to 3.5% which was the national average swing, the second range is 3.5% to 7% and the highest swings are shown as 7% or more.

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