It seems that the most common Google/Yahoo search on my blog at the moment involves the words "Bennelong", "Opinion" and "Poll", searches which mostly go to this previous posting.
So, in face of popular demand, here are some more thoughts on John Howard's chances of winning his electorate.
At the bottom of this blog entry, I've placed a map of John Howard's Bennelong electorate. The image is an animation: if you wait long enough for your internet connection to download it, you'll see that it flips between the 2001/2004 boundaries and the 2007 boundaries.
You'll see on the map where the electorate has expanded to include Roselea and a much larger section to the west called Melrose Park. None of the old electorate seems to have been dropped off. His electorate was 53 square km, now it is 58 square km: more streets for the Prime Minister to power walk down in the unlikely event that he chooses to door-knock his electorate.
The area that the Electoral Commission calls Roselea appears in my Sydway directory as part of Beecroft that has been chopped off from the rest of Beecroft by the M2 Motorway. It's part of the Shire of Hornsby. Now: Hornsby is huge. It's hard to draw any demographic conclusions for the entire Shire, except that most of it is likely to vote Liberal under almost any circumstances.
The Wikipedia article on Beecroft describes it like this "Beecroft residents tend to vote conservatively, and for fiscally conservative political parties, while often being socially liberal in their political views [Citation Needed]." (sic) That is, Wikipedia's claim is not supported. But I guess it may have been written by somebody who has actually visited Beecroft/Roselea, so they've got a better idea than I do. The conclusion we might draw from this summary is that this region might normally vote for Howard, but that the "Doctors' Wives" may turn against him if a swing is on.
The area described as Melrose Park is called Ermington in my Sydway. It's part of the City of Parramatta.
In 2004, the ABC's Election Analyst, Antony Green described Ermington as "less salubrious". (Scroll down until you get to the word Ermington.)
But his overall analysis for 2007 is that the 1,800 people from Beecroft and 5,500 people from Ermington will only count against Howard to change his margin by -0.1%. I'd tend to agree that they will only have a minor impact on the electorate: Beecroft is still moderately well off, so Ermington would have to be extremely down market before it might make a big difference to Howard's chances.
Maxine McKew is going to have to get votes from elsewhere. Either former Liberal voters need to turn her way in the electorate as a whole, or new voters need to have moved into the electorate with new views. (Lots of Lateline fans?)
On 3rd November, Newspoll reported that there was a 4.7% swing happening in Bennelong. (My thanks to Mumble, an excellent political site, for the info on the poll.)
Various sources give me different figures on the swing needed to unseat Howard: Crikey's Election Guide: 4.2%. Antony Green: 4.1%. The Australian (with the Newspoll analysis): 4.0%. All of which seem to suggest that Maxine needs to start thinking about how she will decorate her Electorate Office. Except that Newspoll reveals that the margin for error for this poll is 3%. Meaning Howard may end up winning the seat with a 7% margin. Or he might go down with McKew gaining a win by more than 53% of the vote. In truth, since Newspoll's sample was only 800 voters, the margin for error is probably a bit more than 3%: perhaps plus or minus 3.5%.
The best analysis of the Betting Market seems to be done by Simon Jackman. It's hard to make specific links to his web site. Here's a general link to his election betting market analysis. At the moment, the likelihood of an ALP win in Bennelong is low. Somewhere between a 31.5% and 35.1% chance of an ALP win, depending upon who you place your bet with.
Given that the overall betting market is predicting a (possibly narrow) ALP victory in the election, it would seem that it isn't outrageously hypothetical for Howard to start thinking about what he might do if the Coalition loses the election, but he hangs on to Bennelong. Perhaps he'll have more fun attending the local Granny Smith Festival when he's a back bencher? He'll get to meet the Granny Smith Queen in 2008, 2009, 2010 and, if the ALP gets its way with four year terms, in 2011 too.
Maps courtesy of the Australian Electoral Commission.
Anthony Holmes November 4th, 2007 20:25:31