Author Archives: EGS

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Chat with John Stanley of 2GB/4BC this week, at the tail end of yet another hot and humid Queensland summer of cyclones, heatwaves and floods.

John Stanley and John Black – 26th March, 2024

Category:Demographics,Election Profiles Tags : 

I caught up with John Stanley from 2GB/4BC on Tuesday night for an informal chat about an election review article I’d written for the Australian Financial Review on Monday. Here is a  .pdf link to that page.

John and I talked about demographic and political events and themes over the timeline since the May 21, Federal 2022 election, including the curious cases of State and Federal leaders from supposedly opposing parties, and why they manage to share what, for them and their constituents, can be a mutually beneficial political relationship, as Frenemies.

As I was often told when I was a member of the Australian Senate: Your enemies aren’t the ones sitting opposite you mate, they’re the ones behind you.

I’ve just finished writing a longer piece for the AFR on the long term Australian demographic trends dominating Federal politics now and into the next decade, which is in the AFR Easter Edition today. I hope you enjoy it.


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There’s an hilarious cartoon in the Australian Financial Review today, with a story from me below it. My op ed piece runs through the elections and by-elections we’ve had since the last Federal election on May 21 2022. There’s some good news in there for the Government I think, from the evidence and explanations of why it’s occurring.

What happened on the weekend to rev up the week ahead.

Category:Election Profiles,Election Profiles 2024

There’s an hilarious cartoon in the Australian Financial Review today, with a story from me below it. My op ed piece runs through the elections and by-elections we’ve had since the last Federal election on May 21 2022. There’s some good news in there for the Government I think, from the evidence and explanations of why it’s occurring.


Opinion polls are useful indicators to track public opinion, but by-elections and elections (including the big Brisbane Council ballot) are even more useful. It’s one thing for voters to tell someone on the phone how they are thinking of voting at the time, but altogether different when they actually front up to the booth and do it. And there’s more of them of course at an election.

Personal votes need to be taken into account here. The swing against Governments at by-elections tends to occur when it’s a Government sitting members personal vote being lost and if the Government is unpopular at the time, then that can get added to it. So they can get pretty big and bad news for a Government, if it is on the nose at the time, as we saw during the Whitlam Government in Bass.

But if a very popular Opposition MP retires, and the Government is travelling reasonably well with its constituents, we need to consider that the personal vote for the Opposition MP retiring was taken from the Government’s local candidate in the first place. The return of this vote to the Government candidate at the by-election isn’t a swing, just a reset. That’s why Aston’s figures looked good for the Albanese Government and the Dunstan figures looked pretty good for the Malinauskas SA State Government last weekend.

What demographic modelling shows us is an approximation of this personal vote and thus we can take it into account. I started researching personal votes and donkey votes 50 years ago when working for Don Dunstan, the then SA Premier, after whom the SA seat was named. We had a rare occurrence at the time with simultaneous Upper and Lower House elections and a decent set of rolls and, from memory, few minor parties to cloud the major party vote in the upper house. (You can do the same sort of thing with Senate and Reps votes, but it’s a lot harder these days with so many minor parties and more strategic voting.) I was able to isolate the donkey votes, get to the personal votes for the sitting members and the personal vote estimates was very close to demographic residuals for models we were doing at the time. So a strong demographic model, possible then in SA due to a range of demographic, economic and social factors, provided a good estimate of the vote the party could get at the relevant election and a pointer to the personal vote of the candidates.

We’ve been tracking personal votes and party votes ever since for most Federal and some State polls and the evidence tends to hold up pretty well when we look at the outcome for by-elections.

It’s interesting in that the personal vote is just that: personal. An MP in a city seat with a big population turnover tends to have a small personal vote, as the voter who’s been met in electoral office is often voting in another seat the next election and voters meet at social or sporting functions often live in other seats. But a country MP in a stable seat talks to voters who tend to live and play and work and vote in the same seat. This means when the MP meets someone it’s a local voter. And the MP builds up friends and personal contacts. Personal votes can also be negative, for cases where an MP antagonises his or her local constituents on a regular basis. I tend not to mention personal votes in election reports unless they are a couple standard errors of estimate above or below predicted votes. And, for the record, the best performing MPs in the current Parliament are female Labor representatives of regional and rural seats. And long-standing MPs for the Coalition also do well. If you’re ever running a campaign, these factors are taken into account. Or should be.

The other factor taken into account in the article is the voters’ desire for balance between parties at the state and federal levels, especially in Queensland. This is why winning State elections is not necessarily a good thing for Federal Governments of the same party. Anyway, check out the article. I hope its useful.


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I’ve written a profile of the by-election on Saturday in Dunkley for the Australian Financial Review and we have added Map.

Dunkley By-Election

Category:By-Elections,Dunkley By-Election

I’ve written a profile of the by-election on Saturday in Dunkley for the Australian Financial Review, putting it in the context of our 2022 National Election Personal Vote Profiles and our profiles in Aston and Fadden.   

See AFR story here: 🔗

The three individual seat profiles use ADS modelling of personal votes to  estimate the impact of the retirement or death of an MP with a large personal vote on the subsequent by-election result.

The personal vote for sitting members tends to be higher for provincial city or rural seats, as they are demographically more stable and voters are more likely to live and work in the same seat. These voters are easier for sitting members to locate at work or home and they tend to live in the same seat for a few elections and so are more likely to have a personal knowledge of their MP either socially through family sporting events, or officially, if they seek assistance with a federal Government matter, to do with transfer payments for example. The personal vote therefore builds up over time for these MPs.

To illustrate this point ADS modelling of the 2022 General Election showed a personal vote of more than ten percent for three female ALP MPs in Richmond, (Justine Elliot), Eden-Monaro (Kristy McBain) and Corangamite (Libby Coker) and without this personal vote, Labor would not have won their seats in 2022. So the personal vote is crucial when it comes to winning marginal seats.

Because the average personal vote of sitting Government members is typically about three to five percent, this figure is often confused by commentators with an average by-election swing of three to five percent against the Government if the Government MP leaves office unexpectedly in a by-election.

Unfortunately this simplistic use of swings comes unstuck when an Opposition MP with a big personal vote, such as we saw in Aston, retires and the resultant re-allocation of his personal vote back to the Labor tally produces a swing towards the Government. Oops.

Knowing this personal figure for the seat as a whole, we then profile the range of by-election swings for individual seats across booth catchments and profile these against key demographics across the same booth catchments.

This is a tricky exercise, especially with increasing numbers of pre-poll votes in a limited number of booths and a small number of matched pairs of booths. So caution is exercised.

But when we are looking at a strong inferential relationship significant to more than 99 percent confidence levels between votes and big demographics like Female Professionals and Male Construction workers in Dunkley, it is possible to make some comments, especially when it is consistent with longer term trends at general elections and demographic break downs of regular aggregated polling data.

Our Senior Demographic Mapper Dr Jeanine McMullan used our polling booth catchments to show some of the spatial links between Dunkley vote swings and Dunkley demographics at the by-election. Using the various layers, the reader can form their own impressions from the relationship between the swing to Labor and Professional Women and between the swing to the Liberals and Men working in Construction.

The link for the map is here:



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Australian Female Participation Rates and Independent School Market share. As the female jobs increased, so did Independent Market Share.

Australian Female Participation Rates and Independent School Market share.

Category:Demographics,Education Tags : 

🎓I put on my Education Geographics hat today to write an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review for Tuesday’s paper and you’ll find it now in the online edition on this link (behind the paywall):

🔗  View this story in the AFR

The story discusses the choices confronting all parents when they choose a school for their kids. Essentially, my experience profiling schools over the last 20 years doing hundreds of detailed school profiles points to the balance between aspiration and affordability as being the key determinant of school choice. 🏣

As more women have entered the workforce during the last two decades, they have been able to afford a greater range of choices for their kids, across the three sectors. You can see that in the little chart here on Australian Female Participation Rates and Independent School Market share. As the female jobs increased, so did Independent Market Share. It’s the job itself that pays the school fees and the actual size of the pay check is not as significant.

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Chat with John Stanley of 2GB/4BC this week, at the tail end of yet another hot and humid Queensland summer of cyclones, heatwaves and floods.

John Stanley and John Black – 29th January, 2024

Category:Election Profiles Tags : 

Had a chat with John Stanley of 2GB/4BC this week, at the tail end of yet another hot and humid Queensland summer of cyclones, heatwaves and  floods. I recall making the suggestion to John that if the Labor PM was planning on fighting another election over the impact of global warming, then it would be a good idea to call it at the tail end of next summer, especially in Queensland, where he needs to win seats. We’ll see early next year if the PM was listening.

You can listen here.

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Seats won by major political groups in 2022 by SES & income quartiles

The odds still point to another close Labor win in 2025.

Category:Election Profiles Tags : 

My editor has okayed me posting the original story on spatial electoral strategy from the Australian Financial Review’s special New Year’s Edition and here it is.

It looks as though 2024 will be a rerun of 2023 in many respects, albeit with signs of cresting and then stabilising for population growth, prices and interest rates.

We are also likely to see some stabilisation in Labor’s political fortunes in Western Australia, following the mid-2023 retirement of the state’s popular premier Mark McGowan. Our modelling of the 2022 election voting showed that Mark McGowan government was worth a flat 6 per cent to that year’s federal Labor Party vote in WA.

When McGowan quit in June, this vote was up for grabs and recent polling by RedBridge indicates that McGowan’s replacement Roger Cook, is likely to comfortably retain power on March 8, 2025, and also hold up Labor’s federal vote to the same 55% percent level attained in 2022.

In Queensland, the long-running soap opera that was the once-popular premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has finally ended during an ad break, with the election of her deputy Steven Miles, as the new Labor premier.

Click to

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John Stanley and John Black – 8th November

Category:Demographics Tags : 

I had the pleasure of meeting with John Stanley of 2GB/4BC for a captivating conversation about Australian and international demographics. We didn’t shy away from the pressing current events either, delving into the intersection of demographics and the ever-evolving world around us. I hope you find it informative.


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The Quest for Unclaimed Ground

Category:Election Profiles Tags : 

I have an election strategy piece in the Australian Financial Review special New Year’s Edition for 2024.

For AFR subscribers, the link can be found here:

The thrust of the AFR article is that both leaders of the two major parties seem to be talking to the converted demographics which already dominate their own power bases.

While PM Anthony Albanese appears to be focussed on fighting off challenges in his own seat from the affluent inner-city Green Left, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton appears to be focussed on holding off challenges to the National Party and the LNP from the populist right of One Nation and Palmer United. Hence the ALP is losing support in the outer suburbs over cost of living issues and the Coalition is not winning back the support it lost at the last election from higher SES professionals, particularly professional women.

Election campaigns across Australia’s single-member constituencies are about winning a majority of votes in a majority of seats. This requires a combined demographic and spatial strategy.

I worked on this strategy for the ALP leading up the 1983 election for then Opposition Leader Bill Hayden, after I wrote to him, pointing out that his 1980 campaign had won him won plenty of votes, but not in the seats that could have been won. Bill was kind enough to let me publish these research papers which you can now find at

Table 2 shows 20 seats which changed hands in 2022 by new MP and Party, votes, SES and Income Quartiles

Let me illustrate the importance of a combined demographic and spatial strategy with the Table above, which didn’t appear in the AFR story. The table shows 20 seats which changed hands in 2022, by their new MP and Party, their 2PP votes and swing, their SES and Income quartiles.

(Please note I am using here the official Australian Electoral Commission post-election allocation of preferences between the major parties and use the headings AEC: 2PP ALP, AEC: 2PP Lib/Nat and AEC: ALP 2PP Swing. This 2PP count works by assuming the ALP and the Coalition candidates polled enough primary votes to remain in the count, as 2022 preferences were distributed. Hence the ALP is shown as ‘winning’ the 2PP in Fowler, whereas the seat was in fact lost by the ALP to popular Independent Dai Le. Similarly, the table shows the Coalition ‘winning’ the 2PP vote in all formerly safe Liberal seats which were actually won by the Teals.)

The table shows that:

The only low SES seat that changed hands in 2022 was Fowler, lost by the ALP to an Independent. The only other ALP loss was the high SES seat of Griffith, lost to a Green.

The ALP tended to win Liberal seats in the medium SES range and these were mainly in WA where the swing was State based.

The ALP, Greens and Teals tended to win the seats in the higher SES ranges.

If it continues its failed 2022 strategy of targeting lower SES seats, the Coalition stands no chance in 2025 of regaining middle class and professional seats which it lost in 2022. Furthermore, these former safe Lib seats lost to Teals are evolving into marginal ALP seats.

For the ALP, the primary vote challenge remains the atrophying of its support among working families chasing well paid blue collar jobs. The West Australian Government did the heavy lifting for Labor in 2022 with this demographic and showed Federal Labor how it could be done in the other states.

The demographic target for both parties in 2025 can be found among younger, aspirational families, making a go of life and its challenges in the middle to outer suburbs. Increasingly, as Australia’s birth rate falls, this demographic is becoming dominated by Asian born parents who are currently voting Left, but consuming Right. They are supporting Labor electorally, but choosing private health insurance and non-government schools for their families.

This is a politically transactional demographic interested in opportunities and outcomes.

To have a chance at winning a narrow majority of seats in 2025, the major parties need the support of this demographic.

To win a working majority of seats, the major parties also need to regain some of their lost demographics – working families for Labor and professional women for the Coalition.

Leaders need to focus not just on voters they think they can win, but on voters who are also living in the seats that can be won.



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Great Opportunity

Category:Other Tags : 


Are you a student who is studying Geography, GIS, or Spatial Statistics or a mature-aged person seeking to re-enter the workforce?  We are looking to train a small team of men and women to use Esri Mapping Software which not only assists us with our mapping business but equips you for your future professional career.

Education Geographics’ Spatial Strategist and Senior Mapper Dr Jeanine McMullan has trained numerous young men and women who have used their mapping skills to secure well-paid careers as Management Consultants for top Four consulting firms, Geography Teachers at High Schools, Town Planners or Professional, full-time Mapping Specialists.

In the second half of the year, casual positions may become available for work on spatial strategy maps, with a focus on transport logistics.

If you are a mature-aged person with a similar background or have experience with Esri software and are seeking to re-enter the workforce on a part-time basis, we would love to hear from you.

To take advantage of this opportunity send us an email providing details and a profile about yourself to

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Bruised Labor Back To Basics

Category:Voice Referendum 2023 Tags : 

I had an opinion piece in the Financial Review today on the demographics driving the Voice Yes and No votes. The online edition has a lot of the charts which you might find interesting.

Here’s the link to my online op ed (behind the AFR paywall): 🔗

Our chief Mapper and head of Health Geographics Dr Jeanine McMullan also did a wonderful series of maps which highlight the demographic divides between the Yes and No voters and they are well worth a look.

Here’s the link to her maps which are now public access

Jeanine has designed the map in conjunction with the work from our great team of forensic statisticians, so that it highlights the Yes and No votes and puts in two layers for each of the main demographic drivers for both Yes and No. There’s also a slider at the top right of the map, so you can see the clear relationship between what happened and what drove it. The Yes vote was based on the very well educated and those in professional jobs, while the No vote was driven by the big group of male Tradies and workers with a Certificate Level of Education. There’s a message in there for a Labor Government which they cannot afford to ignore.

It’s a great map, so open it and zoom around the country to see what happened, where it happened and why it happened. And don’t forget to click on the pop ups to see all the details you need to know about each seat, including their Voice votes, their MPs and their demographics.

Voice Referendum 2023