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NSW Politics

Oct 19, 2013

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# % Swing 2PP (proj.) Swing
Murray Scott (Greens) 1,729 4.3% -4.0%
Lisa Walters (Independent) 825 2.1%
Barry Collier (Labor) 18,504 46.5% 24.1% 55.3% 26.3%
George Capsis (CDP) 2,791 7.0% 3.4%
Brett Thomas (Liberal) 15,567 39.1% -22.0% 44.7% -26.3%
John Brett (Independent) 328 0.8% -3.9%
FORMAL/TURNOUT 39,744 81.7%
Informal 812 2.0% -0.7%
Booths reporting: 18 out of 18

Sunday

Some morning-after observations on this remarkable result.

• The O’Farrell government appears to have pulled off a worse by-election swing than any suffered by Labor in its final term, the currently projected 26.3% swing comparing with 25.7% in Penrith, 23.1% in Ryde and 21.8% in Cabramatta. In the government’s defence, the comedown from the 2011 landslide is off an enormously higher base than Labor’s modest re-election in 2007. Some insight into this is provided by the 16.3% swing Labor picked up in November 2011, just nine months after the O’Farrell government was elected, at a by-election for the rural seat of Clarence. This passed largely unremarked at the time, as the Nationals retained the seat by a margin of 15.1%.

• It would be fascinating to know the precise impact of Labor’s polling booth volunteers from the Fire Brigade Employees Union, who looked for all the world like they had come direct from the front line but for t-shirts reading “stop O’Farrell’s fire station closures” and “firefighters say put the Liberals last”. The union had been using the campaign to castigate the government over the state of local fire services, so the coincidence of the by-election with the present bushfire emergency was highly inopportune from the Liberals’ perspective.

• Voters’ lack of appreciation at having their weekend interrupted to accommodate an outgoing politician’s career move seems to be intensifying, and is presumably much sharpened if it’s their second trip to the polling booth in as many months.

• Barry Collier may well be very popular, and he certainly gave Labor some name recognition lacking from the Liberal opposite number. However, I suspect this to be the least of the contributing factors listed here.

• Hopefully the result will serve as a corrective to the hyperbole that has been inspired by Labor’s epic defeats of the past two to three years. Labor unquestionably finds itself at a low ebb, which only looks set to get lower when the South Australian and Tasmanian elections are held in March. However, the unprecedented scale of some of Labor’s recent drubbings tells us less about the party’s competitiveness over the medium to long term than it does about the increasing volatility of the electorate. This is a sword that cuts both ways, as state Coalition parties learned on a number of occasions in the early 2000s, and the NSW Liberals were reminded today.

Election night

9.06pm. Two-party results for those pre-polls now added, together with 666 primary votes from “iVotes” for the visually or otherwise impaired.

8.52pm. Primary votes from 5460 pre-polls now added.

8.31pm. All booth results are now in, but I believe we should get some pre-polls and postals counted before the evening is done. The NSWEC’s results reporting improved considerably late in the count, so I’m guessing there were technical problems for the first two hours.

8.14pm. Another seven booths in with two-party results, leaving two to come.

8.06pm. All booths now in on the primary vote, with nine still to come on two-party preferred. The two-party preferred result above projects the preference flow from booths which have reported two-party results on to those that haven’t, so it’s very unlikely to change much.

8.03pm. Another two booths reporting on the primary vote find the Labor margin ticking below 5%, but this race was over a long time ago.

7.57pm. Two more booths have reported two-party preferred, the Labor margin being resolute in sticking between 5-6%.

7.54pm. Big round of applause to the NSWEC, which has finally gotten around to publishing some results.

7.52pm. Four more booths in on the primary vote leave the picture essentially unchanged.

7.45pm. Wasn’t looking hard enough – Antony does have the two-party numbers at booth level, so now my 2PP is based on the four booth results with preference flows extrapolated to booths with primary vote counts only (which has made practically no difference, so my preference modelling was doing its job). On top of which, another two booths have reported primary vote results.

7.39pm. Antony now has two-party results from four booths, but without raw numbers at booth level I can’t put them to use. The NSWEC has … nothing.

7.34pm. Two more booths added, now up to eight, and swing holding firm. All results courtesy of the ABC owing to a spectacularly bad performance by the NSWEC. Two-party projection still based on preference modelling.

7.31pm. I’ve now copied the result over from the ABC site, and it appears the Liberals’ concerns were real – Labor look to be romping it in. So far though the two-party result is based on my own modelled preference distribution.

7.28pm. Loads of results at the ABC, but the digit at the NSWEC remains firmly implanted.

7:26pm. Antony Green is able to tell us that “six polling places have Labor strongly placed to win”. Why the NSWEC is not able to bring us any actual results, I must leave to your imagination.

7:10pm. Someone on Twitter says there are “big swings” at the Kirrawee Primary School booth. Not very helpful I know, but all we’ve got at this stage.

6pm. Polls have closed for the Miranda by-election (full background here), with first results to come through in maybe 45 minutes to hour. Official results will be published here, but the above display will lag only very slightly behind. The table will show raw primary vote numbers and percentages, with all other figures (primary vote swing and two-party numbers) booth-matched against the 2011 election result.

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