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Federal 2019 – Swan’s booths move to the centre

June 4, 2019 - 08:00 -- Admin

Once you notice the trend of Liberal areas (particularly those with higher education and income levels) swinging towards Labor while Labor areas swing to the Coalition, you start to see the trend all over the place.

One particularly good example is in the marginal Liberal seat of Swan in the inner suburbs of Perth. Swan covers trendy inner-city areas like South Perth and Victoria Park, but also includes more suburban areas at the eastern end of the seat, such as Belmont, Cloverdale and Cannington.

I’m not particularly familiar with this area, but it appears that the eastern end of the seat has lower education and income levels compared to the west, and traditionally has voted more strongly for Labor. The western end of the seat includes the South Perth council area, which voted solidly for the Liberal Party in 2016 (66% 2PP), but also the Victoria Park council area, which narrowly voted for Labor (51% 2PP) while also having the highest Greens vote.

When you look at the swings, you see a similar trend to elsewhere in the country. The eastern end of the seat mostly saw small swings to the Liberal Party. Meanwhile there were bigger swings in the west and centre of the seat.

In most areas this wasn’t enough to flip the winner, although the Liberals did win the three High Wycombe booths at the far east of the seat. Instead it just reduced margins for both sides all over the seat.

It’s worth noting that this pattern isn’t as simple as “Liberal swing to Labor, Labor swing to Liberal”. The Victoria Park area looks a bit more like a typical inner-city progressive-voting area. It has a high Greens vote and is won by Labor (although not by much in 2016). A similar pattern can be seen in Macquarie, where Labor increased their margins in the upper Blue Mountains.

These swings ended up producing an overall seat-level swing of 0.8% to Labor, which wasn’t enough to overturn Steve Irons’ 3.6% margin. The seat-level result makes it look like not much happened here, but diving into the booths reveals a far more complex story.

I should acknowledge that Gareth Parker wrote a story about this specific trend in Swan in the Sunday Times on the weekend before last.