Re-Examining Leader Effects: Have Leader Effects Grown in Australian Federal Elections 1990-2004?

Document Type

Journal Article


Routledge Taylor & Francis

Place of Publication



Education and Arts


Communications and Arts, Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications




This article was originally published as

Senior, P., & Van Onselen, P. (2008). Re-examining leader effects: have leader effects grown in Australian federal elections 1990–2004?. Australian Journal of Political Science, 43(2), 225-242.


Original article available here


It is well established that the popularity of party leaders exerts an important influence on vote choice in modern federal elections. Significant partisan and class de-alignment have been key drivers of this trend. Although Australia's development in this respect has been slower than in some other liberal democracies, it has nonetheless been significant, and has weakened voters' attachments to the major parties. This article examines six federal elections (1990–2004) and investigates whether the electoral impact of party leader popularity is continuing to grow, or whether the impact, although important, has been relatively stable or declining. We also investigate the impact of different methods of calculating leader effects on their implied size and, drawing on new data available in the most recent Australian Election Study surveys, present an alternative model of leadership effects that has not been assessable previously in the Australian context.


Link to publisher version (DOI)