20 August 2010

Federal Election: Narrow Labor win predicted tomorrow

The Queensland Times - 25 June 2010

Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully is Ipswich's most qualified psephologist - a person who studies and predicts the result of elections.
In 2007, Tully accurately predicted the federal election result down to the exact number of seats Labor won.


This election is likely to be the most-closely contested election since 1961 when Liberal Prime Minister Bob Menzies was returned with a 1 seat working majority after Jim Killen was re-elected as the Liberal Member for the Brisbane seat of Moreton after securing Communist Party preferences.  Menzies was reported as ringing Killen and declaring: "Killen, you're magnificent".

In 2010, there has been a myriad of polls, predictions and pundits' pontifications – some differing wildly, including today's Newspoll in The Australian showing the two parties locked on 50:50 two-party preferred vote.  But there are several key indicia which enable some reasonably confident observations and predictions to be made.

In 2007, Centrebet betting correctly showed Labor would win the election.

As at 7.00am today, had the ALP at $1.33 and the Coalition at $3.25, an overnight lengthening of Labor's odds of winning the election

The bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro in New South Wales, on the outskirts of the ACT, traditionally elects a local member who is a member of the party which forms the Federal Government. The incumbent ALP Member Mike Kelly was quoted at 7.00am today by Centrebet at $1.22 whereas his Liberal opponent David Gazard is quoted at $3.85.  If the people of Eden-Monaro re-elect Mike Kelly, its bellwether status suggests Julia Gillard is on her way to The Lodge.

In 2007, Centrebet favourites won 144 of the nation's 150 electorates and there is no reason to think that the smart money is not following the winners again in 2010.

Malcolm Mackerras' Pendulum should never be overlooked in making predictions about the outcome of any Australian election.  His pendulum is based on the fact that swings across Australia are never uniform but higher (and lower) than expected swings tend to cancel each other out, thus making each party's overall percentage an excellent barometer of that party's final number of seats.


This is the toughest election to predict since I correctly forecast the 1974 debacle in Queensland when Labor was reduced to a cricket team of 11 in the Queensland Parliament after the Labor leader Percy Tucker was humiliated by Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Percy also lost his own Townsville-based seat.

Tomorrow, Labor will lose a significant number of seats in Queensland and New South Wales.  Labor may pick up a handful of seats in Victoria but the status quo is generally likely to prevail in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory.

Things can always change over the next 24 hours but I predict that Labor will win the 2010 election and that the 150 seats in the House of Representatives will be won as follows:

ALP 77

Liberal/National 70

Independents 3


ALP 76

Liberal/National 70

Independents 3

Greens 1.

After supplying the Speaker, Labor would have either a 3 seat majority on the floor of the House of Representatives in the first scenario or a 1 seat majority in the second scenario.

Assuming Labor wins by a small margin, as Menzies did in 1961, it would be tempting for the Coalition to think that the 2013 election would be a walk-in for them.

That's what the ALP thought after the 1961 election but Menzies called a general election a year early in 1963 and INCREASED his Liberal/National Party majority and the Coalition then went on to hold power for another 9 years!

 In Queensland, I predict The Greens will wins their first Senate seat.


"Psephology" is the art or science of predicting the outcome of elections.  Psephologists across the world are doing this every day.  In reality, everyone is a psephologist.  In practice, it is neither an art nor a science but simply a judgment by each individual, based on polls, figures, trends, hunches, good luck and sometimes plain old political bias.

Good luck to you for tomorrow night in your own practice of psephology.

Cr Paul Tully

20 August 2010

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