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Griffith by-election live

Live coverage of the Griffith by-election count, featuring booth-matched swing calculations and result projections.

Sunday

While Terri Butler’s 2.3% buffer at the end of the night is enough to secure her victory, Bill Glasson can at least claim the uncommon feat of delivering a by-election swing to the party in government. The current margin represents a 0.7% two-party swing to the Liberal National Party compared with the September election result, which is likely to widen a little further on postals.

Commentators around the place have been scrambling to place the result into historical context, mostly with reference to the long record of federal by-elections. A general paucity of swings to governments is easy to spot, but closer examination shows how much swings can vary according to the circumstances of the by-election, and how unreliable a guide they can be to a government’s future electoral performance. The last pro-government swing federally was achieved when Carmen Lawrence moved from state to federal politics in Fremantle in 1994, and it was followed by a shellacking for the Keating government at the next general election two years later. The most recent state example I can think of is the Peel by-election in Western Australia in February 2007, when Alan Carpenter’s Labor government boosted its margin 18 months before being dumped from office.

Given the array of circumstances that can bring by-elections about, an effort should be made to compare like with like. Griffith is part of a long tradition of by-elections held when a member of a defeated government decides opposition isn’t for them. Unfortunately, those involved tend to be senior figures representing safe seats which the opposing party doesn’t bother to contest. During its first term, Rudd Labor only took the field when Peter McGauran departed in the seemingly winnable seat of Gippsland, only to cop a bloody nose for its trouble. Few were surprised Labor stayed out of the fray in Higgins (Peter Costello), Bradfield (Brendan Nelson), Mayo (Alexander Downer) and Lyne (Mark Vaile). Labor likewise went undisturbed during John Howard’s first term at by-elections to replace Paul Keating in Blaxland and John Langmore in Fraser.

The one by-election held during the parliament elected in December 1975 was occasioned by the death of Rex Connor, with the remainder of Labor’s diminished caucus staying put. It was a different story early in the life of the Hawke government, as Malcolm Fraser (Wannon), Doug Anthony (Richmond), Billy Snedden (Bruce), Jim Killen (Moreton) and Tony Street (Corangamite) headed for the exit at a time when forfeiting a by-election was still thought poor form. The last useable example in anything resembling modern history is the Parramatta by-election of 1973, which brought Philip Ruddock to parliament.

From this field of seven, the only result to match Griffith is Richmond in 1984, when Labor picked up a slight swing upon the retirement of Doug Anthony. No doubt this reflected an unlocking of the loyalty accumulating to brand Anthony, which between father Larry and son Doug had occupied the seat for an unbroken 46 years. Even so, the other Hawke government by-elections weren’t far behind, with the exception of Bruce where voters seemed to take a shine to Liberal candidate Kenneth Aldred for some reason. Coincidentally or otherwise, the two worst swings, in Gippsland (a 6.1% swing against Rudd Labor in 2008) and Parramatta (a 7.0% swing against Whitlam Labor in 1973) were suffered by the two shortest-lived governments of the modern era.

However, Griffith looks quite a bit less exceptional if the eight state results I can identify going back to the early 1990s are thrown into the mix. Four swings in particular dwarf those in Griffith, the two biggest being at by-elections held in country seats in New South Wales on May 25, 1996. Results in Clarence and Orange provided a fillip to Bob Carr’s year-old Labor government and a severe blow to the Nationals, perhaps reflecting the party’s recent acquiescence to the Howard government’s post-Port Arthur gun laws. On the very same day, Labor had an historically mediocre result against the Liberals in the Sydney seat of Strathfield, and finished third behind the Democrats in the Liberal stronghold of Pittwater.

The third and fourth placed results are from early in the life of the Bracks government in Victoria, when Labor pulled off rare victories in Jeff Kennett’s seat of Burwood in 1999 and Nationals leader Pat McNamara’s seat of Benalla in 2000. Also higher up the order than Griffith is the Elizabeth by-election of 1994, held four months after Dean Brown’s Liberal government came to power in South Australia. This may have indicated the popularity of outgoing member Martyn Evans, soon to be Labor’s federal member for Bonython, who had been designated as “independent Labor” for most of his ten years as a state member. Rob Borbidge’s Queensland government of 1996 to 1998 did less well, with the looming Liberal collapse in that state foreshadowed by swings to Labor in the Brisbane seats of Lytton and Kurwongbah.

All of this is laid out in the chart above, which ranks swings to the government (positive at the top, negative at the bottom) from the eight federal and eight state by-elections just discussed. Red and blue respectively indicate Labor and Coalition governments, the lighter shades representing state and the darker representing federal. Stats enthusiasts may care to know that the model y=10+44.3x explains 38% of the variability, where y is the government’s eventual longevity in office measured in years and x is the swing to the government across 15 observed by-elections. For what very little it may be worth, the positive 0.5% swing in Griffith associates with 10.3 years in government.

Saturday

# % Swing 2PP (proj.) Swing
Timothy Lawrence (SPP) 570 0.8% +0.7%
Geoff Ebbs (Greens) 6,890 10.2% +0.3%
Christopher Williams (FFP) 651 1.0% +0.3%
Karel Boele (IND) 458 0.7%
Anthony Ackroyd (BTA) 526 0.8%
Anne Reid (SPA) 379 0.6% +0.1%
Terri Butler (Labor) 26,356 39.0% -1.6% 52.5% -0.5%
Melanie Thomas (PPA) 1,051 1.6%
Travis Windsor (Independent) 585 0.9%
Ron Sawyer (KAP) 694 1.0% +0.4%
Bill Glasson (Liberal National) 29,456 43.6% +0.9% 47.5% +0.5%
FORMAL/TURNOUT 67,616 71.2%
Informal 2,093 3.0% -1.8%
Booths reporting: 42 out of 42

Midnight. Finally got around to adding the Coorparoo pre-poll voting centre result.

9.22pm. Or perhaps not – Coorparoo pre-poll voting centre still to report, which is likely to amount for a lot – 5859 votes cast there at the federal election.

8.51pm. Morningside 2PP now in, and I’d say that’s us done for the night.

8.36pm. Camp Hill reports 2PP, leaving just Morningside. Glasson and LNP reportedly not conceding, but 2.4% leads (which accounts for the fact that the LNP is likely to do better on postals – Labor’s raw lead is 3.3%) don’t get overturned on late counting.

8.29pm. That’s all the fixed booths in on the primary vote; the outstanding ones referred to in the table are special hospital booths that may not actually exist (but did in 2013). Camp Hill and Morningside still to come in on two-party, and then I think we’re done for the night. It’s been a pretty quick count.

8.03pm. Two more booths a slight move to the LNP.

8.00pm. Four more booths in and a slight tick in Labor’s favour on the swing projection.

7.53pm. One more primary result and a number more on two-party preferred, it remains unclear who will end up with bragging rights to the negligible swing. What is clear though is that Terri Butler is over the line.

7.45pm. Thirty-two of 43 booths reporting, and the picture of a status quo result is unchanged.

7.36pm. A big rush of results that taxed my data entry chops to the limit has produced very little change to the projection, which essentially looks like no swing at all.

7.26pm. Coorparoo Central was a tricky one from a booth-matching perspective, as it’s a “merger” of two booths from the 2013 election.

7.25pm. Coorparoo Central, Greenslopes, Morningside South and West End in on the primary; Buranda West and Norman Park South on two-party. Upshot: a bit more breathing space for Terri Butler, who will be difficult to pull in from here.

7.19pm. The informal vote seems to be down pretty solidly.

7.18pm. I note that none of the booths from the electorate’s north-western latte belt have reported yet.

7.15pm. Bulimba, Carina Heights, Greenmeadows and Norman Park find Labor still with its nose in front, despite a slight swing against. Annerley has also reported a two-party result, so I’ve switched on preference projections based on the booths that have reported so far. This finds Labor’s share of preferences up 6% on 2013.

7.12pm. Annerley, Bulimba Heights and Norman Park South booth results provide better news for Labor, with Butler now pulling into a projected lead. However, I’m still going off 2013 preferences here, as only two very small booths have reported two-party results.

7.03pm. Holland Park and Buranda West are in, and also Murarrie on two-party, and the swing to the LNP is sticking, as is the extremely close projected result.

6.53pm. Another small booth on the fringe of the electorate – Mount Gravatt East in the south-east – and it’s another bad result for Labor, down almost double digits on the primary vote. I’ve switched off the preference swing calculation for now, so the two-party is going off 2013 preference flows.

6.50pm. The preference result is in from Holland Park West, and Labor has 7.2% more preferences than it got in 2013 – but we’re only going off 14 votes here. Nonetheless, my model is extrapolating off it to project the result for the other booth, causing Labor to go up about 1%. Bottom line: hold off reading anything into anything yet.l

6.42pm. Both booths are on the very fringes of the electorate: Holland Park West in the south and Murarrie in the east. The dynamic nearer the city may well be very different. I’ll stop getting a “#VALUE!” result on the Stable Population Party when I get a result from a booth where their vote in 2013 wasn’t zero.

6.38pm. Two very small booths on the primary vote provide a measure of encouragement for Bill Glasson, suggesting a very close result if 2013 preferences are any guide.

6.30pm. There have apparently been 2090 ballots cast at the Whites Hill booth, which compared with the 2083 cast at the election suggests a pretty healthy turnout.

6pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the Griffith by-election. With polls closing round about now, first results should be in in maybe about an hour, although this can be a bit variable. Results in the table will show raw figures for the primary vote and booth-matched swings for both primary and two-party vote, together with a projected two-party total based on the booth-matching. Where available, the latter will be based on booth two-party results; at booths where only primary vote totals have been reported, two-party projections will be derived from 2013 preference flows taken together with the “swing” in preferences recorded across booths where two-party results have been reported. I’ll be copping my results off the ABC Elections page, as the AEC annoyingly does not publish booth results as they are reported (or at least, never has in the past). So those without a minute to lose should note that my table updates will lag about that far behind the ABC.

517
  • 51
    AJ Canberra
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    AEC showing a small TPP swing to Glasson.

  • 52
    pedant
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Frickeg @ 38: The AEC and (I think) the ABC do matched booth analysis, so the % they will be showing for the Greens will be what they got in 2013 in the booths which have reported, not the whole division.

  • 53
    womble
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    switched over to sky briefly – Brandis was on saying anything short of 58-59% 2PP to Labor would be a bad result for Shorten

  • 54
    Lynchpin
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Too close for my liking at this stage.

  • 55
    Steven Grant Haby
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I hope I am wrong…

  • 56
    sprocket_
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Antony Green’s ABC website about to cark it I fear

  • 57
    Darren Laver
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t there also a ReachTEL poll showing PUP winning Griffith?

    ;-)

  • 58
    Steven Grant Haby
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I hope I am wrong…

  • 59
    mikehilliard
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Gawd, I can feel a Hudson moment coming on.

  • 60
    confessions
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    womble:

    Surprised any govt MP is commenting tonight, least of all a Cabinet Minister.

  • 61
    Frickeg
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    pedant @52: Thanks, I had no idea the AEC did that too.

  • 62
    Kevin Bonham
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    womble@53

    switched over to sky briefly – Brandis was on saying anything short of 58-59% 2PP to Labor would be a bad result for Shorten

    I would have put the bar at anything from 53-58% being a nonentity result, below 53% = below par, above 58% = distinctly good

  • 63
    Lynchpin
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    With 20% counted swing of 1.5% to Glasson on first prefs.

  • 64
    Steven Grant Haby
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Too close to call at this stage. Not good for Labor. So depressing… How f***g stupid are the voters of Griffith?

  • 65
    triton
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Steven Grant Haby@50

    I think this is going to be bad for Labor… Abbott probably is already creaming… %%$$#$

    Thanks for your thoughts. Enjoy the night once the result is clear.

  • 66
    Oakeshott Country
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Labor will get home from here
    The shade of Hugh Mahon is still not at rest

  • 67
    rossmcg
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Confessions

    An ego like Brandis can’t resist the chance to homonym TV. And he starts the spin which the MSM will be running tomorrow: massive blow to shorten, leadership rumblings.

  • 68
    rossmcg
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    That should say go on TV!

  • 69
    ruawake
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Glasson seems to be getting prefs from Family First. It could be ugly on TPP. 56-58% to ALP

  • 70
    confessions
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Peter Brent ‏@mumbletwits 10m
    The 3 people who know how tonight will end—Sen Brandis, Chris Kenny & Gerard—are keeping schum so as not to ruin it for the rest of us.

    lol

  • 71
    kevjohnno
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    ruawake

    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Glasson picking up PUP votes, from heavy PUP booths. He is toast.

    Antony now echoing RU’s assessment.

  • 72
    confessions
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    rossmcg:

    “Homonym TV” sounds exactly like a Sky News Liberal cheer squad commentary panel.

  • 73
    pedant
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Looks to be a clear ALP win, possibly with a smallish swing to the LNP. So: Are Messrs Abbott and Newman more popular than some here might have supposed? Or is Ms Butler especially unpopular? Or (my guess) did Mr Rudd have quite a significant personal vote, the loss of which has cancelled out what might otherwise have been a swing to the ALP?

  • 74
    rossmcg
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Confessions

    I’ll have to your word for it. Sky is off my radar, even though I have foxtel. People who can give evil doers like Ross Cameron a a platform must be ignored.

  • 75
    kevjohnno
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Bulimba blue booths in now.

  • 76
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    The informal vote seems to be down pretty solidly.

    Many of the informals were Labor people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Rudd.

  • 77
    triton
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure Rudd had a big personal vote. A swing to LNP is no surprise.

  • 78
    Kevin Bonham
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Remarkable consistency in the various projections, all within about half a point of each other (51.8-52.2) when I checked recently.

  • 79
    triton
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    AEC has it back to 53-47.

  • 80
    Oakeshott Country
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Informals down by 50% – I am not the only one who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Rudd

  • 81
    pedant
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Frickeg @ 61: They’ve been doing it for the last 20 years at least.

  • 82
    Oakeshott Country
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    You said it Psephos

  • 83
    Kevin Bonham
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    triton@79

    AEC has it back to 53-47.

    AEC now showing 52.25.

  • 84
    triton
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    But only briefly.

  • 85
    davidwh
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a win for Labor but not a disaster for Abbott.

  • 86
    triton
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    KB

    AEC now showing 52.25.

    Yes, it was 53-47 and one refresh later it was gone.

  • 87
    Darren Laver
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Many of the informals were Labor people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Rudd.

    Couldn’t they have just pegged their nose when they voted?

    Or does that count as informal under AEC rules?

  • 88
    Mithrandir
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a win for Labor but not a disaster for Abbott.

    Didn’t Abbott say this by-election was a referendum on the carbon tax?

  • 89
    rossmcg
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Davidwh

    So we can expect the double dissolution to be back on the agenda again

  • 90
    confessions
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure Rudd had a big personal vote.

    Most of his personal vote crashed at the 2013 election.

  • 91
    mikehilliard
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t Abbott say this by-election was a referendum on the carbon tax?

    Correctorama, but was it in writing?

  • 92
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure Rudd had a big personal vote.

    You would expect that in seat held a retiring PM. But I think he may have overstayed his welcome even in Griffith. He got a bigger swing against him than in the surrounding seats.

  • 93
    confessions
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Yes, this by-election is indeed a referendum on the carbon ‘tax’, according to TA.

  • 94
    Andrew Owens
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    most obvious explanation for informals down is in lower turnout – they simply didn’t turn up this time. We’re looking at people who wouldn’t vote if it wasn’t for the fine.

  • 95
    confessions
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    He got a bigger swing against him than in the surrounding seats.

    The second largest in Qld, as I understand it. Second only to Slipper in Fisher.

  • 96
    davidwh
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    DD unlikely even when they were ahead 53/47.

  • 97
    rossmcg
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Davidwh

    That not what the cheer squad were saying

  • 98
    pedant
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    There may be only one precedent of a government winning a seat from an opposition at a by-election, but at the same time, I have a feeling the LNP might well have had a devil of a time defending a marginal seat at a by-election 5 months into the Rudd government. To me, this isn’t going to be a smashing ALP win, but it seems consistent with the evidence of the lack of a honeymoon for the government.

  • 99
    mikehilliard
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    DD unlikely even when they were ahead 53/47

    No offence davidwh but Abbott is a gutless wonder & would never have pulled a DD.

  • 100
    triton
    Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Psephos

    But I think he may have overstayed his welcome even in Griffith. He got a bigger swing against him than in the surrounding seats.

    Yes, but I would expect the personal vote to be the hardest to move. That swing might have been prior Labor voters not particularly loyal to Rudd but fed up with his destructive antics for the previous three years.

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