BALLARAT voters have traditionally been split down the middle when it comes to electing its federal members.
Since Federation, Ballarat has been served by 13 members: six from the Australian Labor Party, five from the Liberal Party, one National and one from the World War II-era United Australia Party.
Two have served two parties during their terms. Our first member, Alfred Deakin, was initially elected for the Protectionist Party, which merged with the Anti-Socialist Party to become the Commonwealth Liberal Party, the forerunner of the modern-day Liberal Party.
Charles McGrath initially held Ballarat for the ALP in the 1920s but moved to the United Australia Party in the early 30s.
Ballarat’s longest serving member was Dudley Erwin, who held the seat for the Liberals for 20 years, between 1955 and 1975.
Mr McGrath served 14 years from 1920 to 1934 and Mr Deakin had a 12-year stint, from 1901 to 1913.
However, incumbent Catherine King will overtake Ballarat’s Father of Federation if she retains the seat next weekend, having already also served 12 years.
Ms King has held Ballarat since 2001 and had a comprehensive victory in the 2010 election, with 51.75 per cent of the vote, which was a 1.42 per cent swing in her favour.
On a two-candidate preferred basis, Ms King received 61.70 per cent of the vote, or a 3.55 per cent swing, compared with the Liberal Party’s Mark Banwell, with 38.30 per cent.
This result contrasted with a much tighter 2007 election in which Ms King had 58.15 per cent of votes, compared with the Liberal Party’s Samantha McIntosh with 41.85 per cent.
Greens candidate Belinda Coates also had a 3.36 per cent swing in her favour in 2010, while Family First candidate Jim Rainey had a .69 per cent drop.
Interestingly, both Ms McIntosh and Ms Coates went on to become Ballarat City councillors.
An analysis of Ballarat’s 63 polling booths also shows a strong win to Labor in 2010.
Ms King won in 51 of the booths, compared with Mr Banwell’s 12.
Her most comprehensive victory was in Wendouree West, where she gathered 60.24 per cent more of the vote than Mr Banwell, followed by Ballarat-enrolled residents voting in Melbourne, with 60 per cent.
Most of the Liberal Party polling booth victories came in farming areas, including Bungaree, Burrumbeet, Clarkes Hill, Elaine, Learmonth, Mount Wallace, Newlyn, Smeaton, Springbank and Warrenheip.
Mr Banwell’s largest victory was in Ascot, where he scored 58.14 per cent more than did Ms King.