Overall, the ALP primary vote in WA was far from the worst the party has received in recent state elections. The ALP's bigger problem is that the continuing decline of the Greens is reducing its capacity to rely on second preferences to boost the historic decline in its primary vote. While the swing against the ALP in WA on primaries was just over 2%, the two party preferred swing was closer to 6%.
WA is by no means the worst state for the ALP.
The ALP's WA primary vote at the close on Saturday night was 33.6%, a decline of 2.3%.
This is much better than the 24.03% the ALP achieved in the March 2011 NSW election, and much better than the 26.7% the ALP got in the March 2012 Queensland election. In NSW the ALP vote fell by about 13% or just over a third. In Queensland, the relative drop was even in greater.
The WA primary vote is also broadly consistent with the primary vote the ALP has been getting in national opinion polls. For example, a galaxy poll published yesterday had the ALP primary vote at 32%.
On the other hand, the WA result is a few points shy of the 37% primary vote recorded for the Victorian ALP in the latest opinion poll in that state.
The swing against the Greens in WA was much greater in both absolute and relative terms.
The Greens vote was down by 4 percentage points to 7.9%. In relative terms this decline, one-third, is similar to the disasters experenced by the ALP in NSW and Queensland.
The Greens performance in WA is in sharp contrast to its outcomes in the NSW and Queensland.
When the ALP lost in NSW in March 2011, the vote for the Greens actually rose by about 1.3% to 10.3%. A figure very close to the Greens vote of 10.7% in the Senate in NSW at the 2010 federal election.
When the ALP lost in Queensland in March 2012, the vote for the Greens went down from 8.4% to 7.3%. An outcome that was down sharply on the Greens Queensland 2010 Senate vote of 12.8%.
The Greens vote in the WA election is a little over half what the party achieved in the Senate in 2010.
First preferences for the Greens grouping were just under 14% in the Senate in WA in 2010 - 6 percentage points more than they got on Saturday.
The Greens Senate performance in WA in 2010 was up 4.7% and was slightly higher than a national Senate vote of 13.1% for the Greens at that election.
In NSW and Queensland, the Greens failed to capitalise on significant Labor routs.
Equally, the lacklustre performance of the Greens in these states did little to offset the ALP's collapsing primary vote with extra second preferences.
A similar phenomenon seems evident at the national level. According to the latest Newspoll, the ALP primary vote has fallen 6 percentage points to 32% since the 2010 election, at the same time the Greens vote is down from 11.8% to 9%.
In WA, a collapse in the Greens vote dragged the ALP's two party preferred vote down.
There is evidence that the Greens have fallen from favour since the 2010 election.
No doubt there are a range of factors. It could be the retirement of Bob Brown (and the loss of his comfortable middle class conservative country doctor image); it could be that the Greens have lost their independent voice because of their alliance with Gillard (something have recently moved to address); it could be their range of unpopular policy stances on the mining and carbon taxes and asylum seekers. Or it could be just some local factors.
Nevertheless, it is pretty clear that the ALP can no longer rely on the Greens as a source of second preferences that is sufficient to offset historically low primary votes for the ALP and help it win government in September this year.
Nor can the ALP simply assume that a collapse in the Greens vote will see an improvement in its own primary vote.
The recent electoral performances of the Greens makes it all the more important that the ALP find ways to re-build its primary vote - this year and in the future.