The Playford government, in power since 1938, went into the 1962 elections in a precarious position. At the time the writs were issued, South Australia was dogged by a massive recession. This led observers to think that Labor would finally have a chance at power. Longtime opposition leader Mick O'Halloran had died suddenly in 1960, and Labor was led into the election by former deputy leader Frank Walsh.
In the election, Labor scored 54.3 percent of the two-party vote to only 45.7 percent for the LCL. However, due to the Playmander -- the rural overweighting that had kept the LCL in power for three decades —- Labor won only 19 seats, one seat short of a majority. Even with this to consider, speculation was rampant on election night that Playford's long tenure was finally over.
However, Playford refused to concede, instead saying he would wait to see how the two independents in the chamber lined up once the legislature reassembled. They both declared their support for Playford, giving the LCL a bare one-seat majority. Walsh lobbied GovernorEdric Bastyan not to reappoint Playford, to no avail.
The furor over the 1962 election illustrated how distorted the Playmander had become. By this time some two-thirds of the state's population resided in and around Adelaide, but they only elected one-third of the members of the legislature.