After analysing the overall preference flow of the Legislative Council count last week, I have moved on to taking a look at the results in each electorate. When analysing electorate results, most energy is expended looking at the Legislative Assembly vote, but the Legislative Council vote is fascinating as it isolates many factors in individual seats, such as candidate quality and ballot paper position. Every voter in the state gets the same ballot paper and vote for the same parties.
Most patterns in the Legislative Council vote mirrors those seen in the Legislative Assembly, but there are some fascinating elements.
The Coalition topped the poll in the upper house in 80 of 93 districts. In comparison, the Coalition won the most primary votes in 70 lower house races, winning 69 of those seats, and only being overtaken on preferences in Balmain.
The ALP overtook the Coalition in twelve of their strongest seats: Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Cabramatta, Cessnock, Fairfield, Keira, Lakemba, Liverpool, Mount Druitt, Shellharbour and Wollongong. The Coalition managed to overtake Labor in the upper house vote in the seats of Canterbury, Heffron, Kogarah, Macquarie Fields, Maroubra, Toongabbie and Wallsend. The Coalition also won the upper house vote in the independent-held seats of Sydney, Lake Macquarie and Northern Tablelands, and in the Greens-held seat of Balmain.
In the seat of Marrickville, the Coalition came third, with the Greens coming first. While the ALP’s Carmel Tebbutt outpolled Fiona Byrne by 2.23% in the lower house, the Greens beat Labor by 8.28% in the upper house, with the Coalition trailing behind.
In Balmain, the Greens outpolled Labor by only 0.56% in the lower house, allowing them to overtake the Liberal Party on preferences. In the upper house, the gap was more than 10%.
|Party||LA vote||LC vote|
This result certainly indicates that, in the most interesting and complicated race in the state, the personal vote for local Labor MP Verity Firth played a large role in blunting the swing and bringing her close to winning. In the neighbouring seat of Marrickville, the Labor vote was 8.16% lower in the upper house, a similar figure to that in Balmain, indicating that Labor held on in Marrickville largely due to the sitting member.
I broadened this analysis to see if this trend appeared in other seats. The ALP polled more votes in the lower house in 63 of 93 seats. The difference was more than 5% in 25 seats, and in twelve seats the lower house vote was at least 7% higher than in the upper house. All twelve of these seats had a sitting Labor MP running for re-election. In seven of them the ALP retained the seat, while in the other five the Labor Party lost the seat. It does indicate that in some contests a strong local MP managed to hold back the tide. This analysis has previously been demonstrated elsewhere when looking at differential swings. This suggests that the anti-Labor tide was just as strong in these seats, but were held back by local Labor MPs who campaigned virtually as independents.
|Seat||Labor candidate||LA vote||LC vote||Difference||Result|
|East Hills||Alan Ashton||40.84%||32.95%||7.89%||Lost|
It’s also worth noting that the upper house vote in Balmain is much lower than the other seats on this list. With a vote of 22%, it was the eighth-worst vote in seats previously held by Labor. The seven seats with with lower upper house votes than Balmain (as low as 19.1% in Menai) all tended to have roughly similar lower house votes, indicating they were some of the seats most heavily hit by the anti-Labor swing. These include Menai, Coogee, Miranda, Heathcote, Blue Mountains, Drummoyne and Riverstone. This seems to indicate that Firth turned what would have been a massive defeat in Balmain into a narrow loss due to her personal vote and effective campaign.
Apart from shining light on the effect of a personal vote on the Labor vote in each seat, the upper house figures include some other interesting statistics.
The Greens overtook Labor in sixteen seats, many of which were the same seats that the Greens overtook Labor in the lower house. This includes Marrickville, and fifteen seats where Labor came third and the Coalition came first.
The Greens were overtaken by other minor parties in 15 seats. In twelve seats they were overtaken by the Shooters and Fishers. In one of these twelve, Barwon, the Greens came fifth behind the Shooters and Fishers and Pauline Hanson. In the seats of Mount Druitt and Blacktown the Christian Democratic Party came third, and in John Hatton’s old seat of South Coast the former independent MP came third with 10.89%.
I was interested in investigating where the increased vote for the Shooters and Fishers came from, geographically. In 2007, the Shooters Party (without the Fishers) polled 2.8% statewide, while the Christian Democratic Party polled 4.4%. This time around the Shooters and Fishers increased their vote to 3.7% while the CDP vote fell to 3.1%. The CDP decline is easily explained by the 1.5% vote for Family First, headed up by former CDP MP Gordon Moyes. Why did the Shooters and Fishers vote increase?
My original hypothesis was that the vote was due to the party taking on the issue of fishing. The fishing issue had become a major political issue on the north and south coasts at the 2010 federal election and the recent state election. When you break down the vote for the Shooters and Fishers, however, you find that most of their vote is concentrated in the inland country areas.
I divided the state between the metropolitan areas including Sydney and areas as far north as Newcastle and as far south as Shellharbour. I then divided the remainder between 12 coastal seats and 17 inland seats. Averaging out the votes in each of these seats in 2007 and 2011 produced the following figures:
|Region||Shooters 2007||Shooters 2011||Swing||Fishing Party 2011|
While the Shooters did gain a swing in coastal areas affected by the fishing debate, the swing was much bigger in inland areas. The biggest swings were in Murray-Darling (5.93%), Murrumbidgee (5.06%) and Albury (4.12%). As a comparison, the Fishing Party (which did not welcome the Shooters Party changing its name) polled more strongly on the coastal strip, but not by a substantial margin.