Podcast #10 – Wentworth results wrap-up


Ben talked to Peter Brent in a mini-episode about yesterday’s Wentworth by-election.

Some links if you want to read more about the by-election:

You can subscribe using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.

Wentworth – wait just a minute


EDIT 6:44PM: We’ve now got new figures for both Bellevue Hill and Bondi Beach. In both cases we saw the preference flow to Kerryn Phelps increase significantly, and between the two of them Phelps’ 2CP lead has increased by almost 1000 votes. It now looks very unlikely that extra postal votes will put Dave Sharma in front.

EDIT 9:31AM: We now have the first batch of postal votes – about 5,463 votes. Dave Sharma is winning 64.4% of them after preferences. This suggests he is roughly polling enough in the postal vote to have a chance of winning – the big question is how many postal votes are left to be counted, and whether adjustments in the election-day vote might give Phelps some breathing room. It’s also worth noting that I didn’t factor in informal postal votes when calculating Sharma’s threshold to win, up from 63% to 63.6%.

ORIGINAL POST: Since I posted last night, we had some shifts in the count following the inclusion of pre-poll votes. In short, it is no longer certain Kerryn Phelps will win. We are awaiting the results of the postal votes, which could see Dave Sharma win if he does well. On the other hand, there’s also reason to suspect a counting error in two booths which may be underestimated Phelps’ vote.

I’ll run through both of these issues in this post, and try and briefly explain why I think we had problems predicting this result last night.

Wentworth wrap-up – Liberals destroyed in heartland


Tonight’s election result was very clear. A massive swing against the Liberal Party has pushed the Morrison coalition government into a minority position, with Dave Sharma losing a seat held by the conservative major party since federation, despite a 17.7% margin built up by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

There are many things to say about the causes, and i won’t go into a lot of depth on this point. Clearly the departure of Malcolm Turnbull made it harder for the Liberal Party, and this was made worse by the manner of his leaving. The party’s inability to reconcile its base with sensible policy on climate change made it much harder for them in a seat like Wentworth, and a strong independent like Kerryn Phelps was able to exploit this position.

In this post I’m going to focus on the geography of the electorate, showing how the swings spread across the seat, and how a distinct geographic divide within the seat is much more obvious following this result.

Last week I blogged about “the three Wentworths” – three distinct parts of this electorate I had identified which I believed would behave differently. Specifically, I thought the Liberal Party was more vulnerable to a swing in the city and beach areas than they were in the harbour area. And this has been proven right.

Kerryn Phelps won the two-candidate-preferred vote in every booth in the city and beach areas, while Sharma held on in every booth in the harbour area. While the Liberal Party suffered similar swings in the harbour as they did in the beach, they weren’t enough to lose booths in places like Double Bay, Vaucluse, Watsons Bay or Rose Bay.

Wentworth by-election live


9:33 – I’m going to end this liveblog here. We now have primary vote figures from all ordinary booths, and are just missing the 2CP data from Bondi Beach. We will also be waiting for pre-poll and postals to be reported, presumably most of them coming over the next 24 hours. Phelps currently sits on 54.3% of the two-candidate-preferred count, leading by almost 4,000 votes. I will now start work on a wrap-up blog post, which will feature a map of the electorate.

8:43 – Sorry for the limited commentary. To be honest there isn’t much to report at the moment, but the trend is the same. The only booth to violate the divisions I used for the seat was Dover Heights (which anyone familiar with Wentworth would know should really be lumped in with Harbour, but I had left it in Beach for simplicity), where Sharma won. Once we have the final figures for the booths I’ll put together a map and a subarea summary.

8:31 – Peter Brent on Twitter has pointed out that this will probably end up as the fourth-highest swing against an incumbent party at a federal by-election ever. Two of the higher-ranked results were when a party leader quit and the seat was won by an independent: Mark Vaile in 2008 and Bob Hawke in 1992:


8:09 – We now have fifteen booths reporting the two-candidate-preferred count and the trend is clear. Phelps is winning in the city end and beach end, while Sharma holds on in the harbour. This translates into a Phelps win since there are more voters in her areas. In aggregate, Phelps is on 61.1% in the beach area, 61.7% in the city area, but only 41.6% in the harbour.

7:51 – Things are a bit quiet now because the trend has been pretty consistent. We have 24 booths reporting primary votes, and nine reporting 2CP figures. Sharma continues to hold on in the harbour and lose elsewhere. It seems very clear that Kerryn Phelps has won Wentworth.

7:40 – Last week I wrote a post about “the three Wentworths“, and we’re seeing a clear trend of Phelps winning in the beachside suburbs and the cityside suburbs, and Sharma surviving big swings to hold on in the harbourside areas.

7:38 – Phelps is on 57.6% after preferences in Clovelly North.

7:30 – Sharma is still leading on the primary vote the harbourfront suburbs, in Bellevue Hill South, Double Bay East, Edgecliff and Vaucluse

7:28 – Phelps is outpolling Sharma on primary votes across the beachside end of the seat: Bondi, Bondi Beach East and Bronte, but just behind in Bondi North.

7:27 – Two more booths reporting 2CP counts, and two more wins for Phelps: 58.5% in Bondi North and 72.3% in Darlinghurst East.

7:25 – We spent a lot of this campaign focused on the contest between Phelps and Labor’s Tim Murray for the centre-left vote, with concern about the potential for Murray to come in second and then lose with weaker preference flows. Instead it appears Labor has suffered a large swing, potentially a result of a great deal of focus on strategic voting in the last week.

7:21 – Sharma is also down 22% in Bellevue Hill South and 27.3% in Bronte. Phelps appears on track for mid-30s, as is Sharma. I do think it’s reasonable to expect she would win easily on those figures but I’d like a few more 2CP counts first.

7:19 – Sharma has also suffered 26.7% swing in Paddington Central,

7:18 – Phelps is on 65% of the vote after preferences at Bondi Beach East.

7:17 – Liberals on 71.7% after preferences in Vaucluse, which is not too bad, but in one of their best booths.

7:14 – Phelps is on 33.4% in Bondi North, while Sharma is on 54.5% (down 20.1%). Phelps is on 42.2% in Kings Cross Central, while Sharma is on 25.5% (down 20.2%).

7:08 – Dave Sharma has managed only 52% after preferences at Double Bay East, which you’d expect to be a strong booth for him. If that is a trend, he’s on track to lose.

7:04 – 41.4% of the vote for Kerryn Phelps in Bondi Beach East, with Dave Sharma suffering a 20% swing dropping to 49.7%. She’s also on 43.6% in Darlinghurst East, while Sharma has dropped to 48.2%, down 25.7%.

6:56 – The swing against the Liberals is smaller in Vaucluse, where they’ve dropped to 63.5%, down from 75% in 2016. Unfortunately the AEC doesn’t appear to be calculating swings from the 2016 figures (which would take into account the changes in booths) so I can’t perfectly calculate the swing. Phelps is on 20%. Still, this is an area we would expect to be particularly good for the Liberals.

6:46 – It goes without saying that this is extremely early but it’s an early sign of a huge swing against the Liberal Party and towards Kerryn Phelps. Tim Murray is stuck on 8.4%, which I think is a 1.5% swing against Labor.

6:40 – We have the first results in from Double Bay East. Sharma is on 48%, Phelps is on 29.5%. We didn’t have a Double Bay East booth in 2016, but at Double Bay Turnbull polled just under 75%. That would be a swing of well over 25%.

6:31 – We don’t have any results yet, but it’s worth noting that the AEC has chosen Dave Sharma and Kerryn Phelps as the two candidates for the two-candidate-preferred count. I think this is probably a good choice. I won’t be doing a projection here tonight but will be tracking the booths and will try and track some results at the booth level, and of course there’ll be a map later on.

6:00 – Polls have just closed in the Wentworth by-election. Don’t expect much in the way of results for at least 45 minutes, but I’ll be tracking the results here all night.

Wentworth election day open thread


Polls have just opened in the federal by-election in the seat of Wentworth in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I’ll be back at 6pm to cover the results, but until then enjoy this open thread.

You may like to read my guide to today’s by-election.

No podcast this week


Apologies for this, I was planning to publish a podcast today about the Wentworth campaign and Victoria but some technical issues mean it won’t be happening. I plan to put out a post-by-election podcast this Sunday then we’ll be back in two weeks with a show all about Victoria.

New website design


Some of my more committed readers may have noticed that this website was unavailable late on Saturday night. Basically an attempt to install a new mobile theme screwed up the website and it took some time to fix the damage.

This prompted me to realise I’d had my existing website theme since at least 2010 so have replaced it with a new theme. This new theme is responsive so should work much more smoothly on both mobile and desktop. You’ll notice the ad placement has changed somewhat. I hope that this isn’t too much of a problem for readers, but the ad revenue is a useful boost in funding my work (and pretty much covers all the costs of actually running the website).

I expect this will improve the website experience for the Wentworth by-election, but if you notice any weird things please let me know.

The three Wentworths


When I produce seat guides, I always like to split up the polling places in the electorate into a number of subareas. I find that there are times where you want a sense of the different parts of the seat, but the granular detail of polling places can confuse the broader trends.

Sometimes these subareas represent very clear and distinct divisions in a community, while sometimes they’re more arbitrary. But I think my breakdown of Wentworth reflects some pretty strong differences within the seat which I think will play out on October 20.

I’ve divided this electorate into three areas:

  • Harbour – the north-east of the electorate, including the majority of Woollahra council plus Dover Heights in Waverley council.
  • Beach – the south-east of the electorate, including most of Waverley council and the parts of Randwick council contained within the electorate.
  • City – the west of the electorate, including Paddington, Woollahra, Elizabeth Bay and Rushcutters Bay.

Below the fold, I’m going to explore the differences between these three areas, and how I think these differences could play out in the by-election.

New by-elections datasets available


I’ve just added a bunch of extra data to my collection, covering all of the recent by-elections.

By-election data can often be even more scattered than general election data. I’ve avoided publishing federal election data, because the AEC does a thorough job, at least they do at general elections.

But the data they’ve provided for the eight by-elections held in the last twelves months is lacking this thoroughness. No published booth list with latitudes and longitudes (thankfully they usually publish this before election day so I’ve captured that). No spreadsheet with information about how non-ordinary votes were cast. Not to mention the fact that each by-election is treated as a separate event, so if you want to analyse the lot you need to download many spreadsheets.

I’ve now finished a dataset featuring the first eight by-elections of this parliamentary term, featuring the list of polling places, candidates, and primary and two-candidate-preferred vote at the electorate and polling place level.

I’ve also added the 2018 Wagga Wagga by-election to my NSW state by-elections dataset, which dates back to 2016.

And finally, I’ve just published a comprehensive dataset covering the last twelve Western Australian state by-elections, from Kalgoorlie in 1996 to Darling Range in 2018 (although if anyone can help me with final two-candidate-preferred figures per booth, that’d be appreciated).

The NSW by-elections dataset is available for free to readers of this website. The other two datasets are available to people who donate to my Patreon.

I plan to keep publishing more datasets over time – if you have one you really want to see done I am taking requests from my $20/month Patreon donors.

Podcast #9 – Wentworth and Victoria


Ben is joined by William Bowe and Georgia Tkachuk to discuss the Wentworth by-election and to begin discussing the Victorian state election.

You can subscribe using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.