By-election Archive

Fisher update – could there be another win from third?

All votes have now been counted for last weekend’s Fisher by-election for the state seat in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

Earlier this week I wrote about how, after Labor won a solid lead on election night, a strong Liberal lead in the declaration votes brought the race close to a tie. As of yesterday afternoon, all two-party-preferred votes have been counted and Labor leads the Liberal candidate by 24 votes.

As long as Labor remains in the top two when the official preference distribution concludes today, you would expect Labor to win by roughly 24 votes.

However, there is a scenario where independent candidate Dan Woodyatt could overtake Labor and win the seat on Labor preferences, in a similar way to how the Greens won Prahran earlier this week.

On primary votes, Labor’s Nat Cook is leading independent Dan Woodyatt by 711 votes, and there are an additional 2864 votes cast for five other minor candidates.

For Woodyatt to win, he needs to gain a lead over Labor of 25% of those minor candidates’ votes. That could be a scenario where 50% goes to Woodyatt and 25% each goes to Labor and Liberal.

This is definitely a possible outcome, but there is not as much information about how those candidates’ preferences are flowing, as there was in Prahran earlier this week.

The preference distribution is taking place today, so we should find out this afternoon.

Fisher – Liberal takes the lead?

While we were all distracted by Prahran yesterday afternoon, quite strange things were happening in the count for the South Australian state seat of Fisher following Saturday’s by-election.

We all expected Labor to win the Fisher by-election after an error on Sunday revealed that Labor was holding 52% of the vote on election-day votes.

The Electoral Commission of South Australia (ECSA) added a whole bunch of ‘declaration votes’ yesterday, and with these votes the Liberal Party took a 17-vote lead. Just before this blog post went up, another batch was added and this resulted in Labor’s Nat Cook regaining the lead by 21 votes. At the time of writing, this update hasn’t made it to the ECSA website.

When I say ‘declaration votes’, I’m referring to all votes other than those cast at a local polling place on election day. This includes, prepoll votes, postal votes, absentee votes, and a few other small categories. There are no absentee votes because this is a sole by-election, so you would expect most of that category to be postal votes and prepoll votes.

While there was a swing of about 9% away from the Liberal Party on ordinary votes, the current sample of declaration votes suggests only a slight drop in the Liberal two-party-preferred vote, down to 55.6%. That seems quite unlikely.

Sadly, ECSA does not break down declaration votes by type, so it’s hard to know whether those votes counted are all postal or prepoll, and we can’t separately compare them to similar votes from March.

It’s also unclear whether all votes have been counted. However, when you compare total votes counted, it seems that not as many votes have been counted. In March, 24,087 votes were counted in Fisher, including informal votes. So far, only 21,175 votes have been counted. It’s likely that there has been some drop in turnout, but it’s also possible that some declaration votes are yet to be counted.

On Twitter, Nine News reporter Tom Richardson reported that most declaration votes have been counted, with a small batch to come.

The Liberal Party was only winning by the slimmest of margins thanks to a very high declaration vote, considering their election day vote. If there are more votes, and they don’t favour the Liberals by the same margin, then you would expect Labor to win. Labor has already taken a slim lead.

Fisher by-election – results wrap

Update: Sunday’s recheck did indeed discover an error at the Aberfoyle Park booth which means the booth was won by Labor with 54%, not the Liberal Party with 54%. This puts the Labor two-party-preferred vote over 52%, and pretty much locks down the result.

Original post: Yesterday’s by-election in the southern Adelaide state seat of Fisher produced an unclear result, but one major party should be very happy with the result, while the other should be disappointed.

Fisher is a traditional Liberal seat – the seat was held by the Liberal Party from 1989 until Bob Such left the party in 2000. At the March 2014 general election, the Liberal Party won 57.2% of the two-party-preferred (Liberal vs Labor) vote in Fisher, which suggests that the party would have won the seat without Such’s candidacy.

In comparison, Labor won 50.9% of the two-party-preferred vote in the nine polling places used on election day. Labor won four out of nine polling places. In March, the Liberal Party won all ten polling places, with a vote ranging from 52.3% to 68%.

Independent candidate Dan Woodyatt ran explicitly as a successor to Bob Such, but polled much less than Such. Woodyatt is now polling 22.5% of the primary vote, compared to 38.4% for Bob Such in March.

While around 16% of Bob Such’s voters moved away from Woodyatt, the Liberal Party completely failed to gain those votes. The Liberal vote is currently down 0.05% compared to March, while Labor’s primary vote is up by over 10%.

I don’t have exact figures, but it appears that the number of declaration votes (which includes postal and prepoll votes) has increased compared to March. Antony Green estimates that the Liberal Party will need to do 3% better than they did on election day, which is greater than the gap in March.

If Labor holds on to their lead and wins the seat, the Labor government will regain a majority in the House of Assembly, with 24 seats as well as the support of two independents, compared to 21 seats for the Liberal Party.

For my analysis, I have split up booths into the same three areas used in the by-election guide: East, Central and West.

The ALP won 54.7% of the two-party-preferred vote in the east, and 49% of the 2PP vote in the Central area. The Liberal Party won a large 63.5% majority in the west, but the population is much smaller in that area.

Voter group LIB prim % ALP prim % IND prim % ALP 2PP % Formal % of votes
East 34.58 33.55 18.47 54.65 7,482 51.16
Central 32.98 23.35 27.67 48.89 6,065 41.47
West 50.00 14.01 21.43 36.45 1,078 7.37

One other thing worth noting: Antony Green has identified a possible error in counting that may have underestimated the Labor two-party-preferred vote.

In seven out of nine polling places, the proportion of minor party and independent preferences flowing to the Liberal Party was clustered from 30% to 35%, but the Liberal Party received 45% of preferences in Clarendon, and over 50% of preferences in Aberfoyle Park.

If you look at the following map showing the swings after preferences, you’ll also see that the swing to Labor is much lower at those two booths. Every other booth has a swing to Labor of 7-11%, but those two booths have a swing of 2-3%. This discrepancy does not exist on Labor’s primary vote – Labor gained a swing of 9.6% on primary votes in Aberfoyle Park, although the Labor primary vote swing in Clarendon was substantially lower at 4.2%.

There’ll be a recheck of votes tomorrow, so if there is a problem it should be discovered, and this would make the challenge even more serious for the Liberal candidate.

Two-party-preferred votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Two-party-preferred votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Two-party-preferred swings at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Two-party-preferred swings at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Liberal primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Liberal primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Labor primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Labor primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Dan Woodyatt at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Dan Woodyatt at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Fisher by-election live

Fisher by-election primary votes – all booths reporting, no declaration votes reported

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected %
Heidi Harris Liberal 5,126 35.05 -0.05 35.18%
Jeanie Walker Independent 140 0.96 +0.96 0.96%
Nat Cook Labor 4,077 27.88 +10.14 27.96%
Rob De Jonge Independent 545 3.73 +3.73 3.73%
Bob Couch Stop Population Growth Now 187 1.28 +1.28 1.28%
Dan Woodyatt Independent 3,291 22.50 -15.95 21.83%
Malwina Wyra Greens 582 3.98 -0.75 4.35%
Dan Golding Independent 677 4.63 +4.63 4.63%

Fisher by-election two-party-preferred votes – all booths reporting, no declaration votes reported

Candidate Party Votes %
Heidi Harris Liberal 7,115 49.07
Nat Cook Labor 7,384 50.93

9:01pm - With no more results expected tonight, I would have to say Labor is the favourite to win in an extremely close race.

8:59pm – Labor has won 62.44% of preferences distributed tonight, with the Liberal Party winning 37.56%. If you apply the swings we saw on the booths to the March declaration vote, and then distribute preferences from Woodyatt, the Greens and other minor candidates in the same proportions, then Labor wins the declaration vote by 50.55%. Without knowing how big that vote is, that would see Labor win with a slightly reduced margin. Having said that, this assumes that the declaration vote is similar to what it was in March. We can’t assume that.

8:53pm – And we now have the final 2PP figures for election day – the Liberal Party narrowly winning Aberfoyle Park North. This leaves Labor leading by 269 votes before the inclusion of declaration votes. According to Antony Green there has been a big increase in the number of prepoll votes which makes it hard to predict how they will break.

8:21pm – Using the same model as before (which actually underestimated Labor’s preference flow slightly), I expect the Liberals to win Aberfoyle Park North but not by enough to offset Labor’s current lead. Then it will all come down to declaration votes. In March, there was 5865 declaration votes in Fisher. If Labor holds on to a lead of 227 votes after Aberfoyle Park North reports, then the Liberal Party would need 51.9% of the 2PP to win.

8:17pm – We just got the primary votes for Aberfoyle Park North, and the 2PP figures for Reynella East and Happy Valley West. Those 2PP figures have pushed Labor into first place by more than I predicted – they’re leading by 371 votes. Aberfoyle Park North also saw a solid pro-Labor swing but not as big as some other booths.

8:12pm – If you look at the three Aberfoyle Park booths that have reported votes, the Liberal Party is leading 2020-1989 – a 31-vote lead. If something similar happens at Aberfoyle Park North – a reasonably large booth – then Labor may end up ahead by about 100 votes before declaration votes are counted.

8:09pm – So far there are six booths reporting 2PP figures, and in those booths the minor party vote is splitting roughly 60% to Labor and 40% to the Liberal Party. If you extrapolate that to Reynella East and Happy Valley West, then Labor turns a 386 vote deficit into a 157-vote lead. However Labor is not expected to do quite as well at the ninth booth, Aberfoyle Park North, from which we’ve heard nothing.

8:04pm – We now have eight out of nine booths reporting and the ALP is well ahead of Woodyatt. There’s roughly 14% of the vote with other candidates but it’s hard to see Woodyatt overtaking Labor – quite a lot of that will flow to Labor or Liberal.

7:54pm – Labor has also topped the primary votes in Happy Valley West, which has pushed Cook ahead of Woodyatt on primary votes. The projection model is holding steady.

7:45pm – We’re now missing primary votes from Aberfoyle Park North, Happy Valley West and Reynella East. Happy Valley West, Reynella East and the abolished booth of Woodcroft were the only booths where Labor polled over 20% in March 2014. They were also the three worst booths for Bob Such. This is why my model is suggesting Labor will overtake Woodyatt, but that certainly could be wrong.

7:42pm – Vote after preferences now reported from Happy Valley and the Liberal Party won – just. This narrows the Liberal lead from 52.8% to 52.2%.

7:37pm – Now have the 2PP figures for Aberfoyle Park Central and the primary votes for Aberfoyle Park, and they are both good for Labor. Labor has now won the vote in the two Aberfoyle Park booths to report 2PP figures. In the two booths reporting primary votes but no 2PP, Labor is up over 10% and the Liberal Party is down 2%. Overall, the Liberal Party is only leading by 2.8% after preferences off a sample biased towards them.

7:25pm – We’ve just added another Aberfoyle Park booth – four out of nine booths are in Aberfoyle Park – and we saw a 0.3% swing against the Liberal Party and a swing of over 11% to the ALP. We haven’t yet gotten 2PP figures for either Aberfoyle Park booth.

7:22pm – I’ve also now added in the two-party-preferred count between Liberal and Labor. There are no swings or projections possible on these figures, but it’s worth noting that Labor narrowly won in Aberfoyle Park South. We haven’t gotten results from Happy Valley, but there was a primary vote swing of over 10% to Labor and 2% away from the Liberal Party there, so that should increase Labor’s 2PP vote.

7:18pm – An even bigger booth, Happy Valley, has about as many voters as the first three booths combined. The Liberal vote has actually gone down at Happy Valley by 2%.

7:14pm – The first large booth – Aberfoyle Park South – has reported, and the Liberal vote has dropped to 41%. The projection is roughly the same – Liberal on 41%, Labor 25%, Woodyatt on 17.5%.

7:09pm – With two booths reporting, the Liberal Party is on 50% of the primary votes, with independent Dan Woodyatt second on 21% and Nat Cook on 14%. However my projection suggests that these booths are strong for the Liberal Party and particularly bad for Labor, and if the trends continue (comparing Woodyatt to Such’s vote in March), then Labor will overtake Woodyatt and the Liberal vote will drop to 42%. Heidi Harris should still win on that vote.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in the by-election for the state seat of Fisher in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. I’ll be back with results as soon as they are available.

Fisher by-election – election day

Voters are going to the polls today in the by-election for the southern Adelaide seat of Fisher in the South Australian parliament. The by-election was triggered by the death of independent MP Bob Such.

I’ll be back with live coverage of the results from 6pm Adelaide time (6:30pm AEDT). In the meantime you can read the Tally Room guide to the Fisher by-election.

William Bowe of Poll Bludger also wrote about the by-election in yesterday’s Crikey: in particular considering the prospects of independent candidate Dan Woodyatt, who is attempting to position himself as the successor to Bob Such.

Fisher and Davenport by-elections in South Australia

Fisher1-2CPWhile I’ve been busy preparing guides to the three major state elections coming up soon, I’ve been neglecting two by-elections due over the next two months in South Australia.

The seats of Fisher and Davenport in southern Adelaide will both be electing new MPs in by-elections: Fisher on December 6, and Davenport on January 31, 2015.

The Fisher by-election was triggered by the death of Bob Such. Such was a former Liberal who had held Fisher since 1989 – holding it as an independent since 2000. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after winning re-election earlier this year, and died in October.

Former Liberal leader Iain Evans resigned from Davenport shortly after Such’s death. His seat of Davenport lies immediately to the south of Fisher, and the Liberal Party hoped to have both by-elections scheduled on the same date, but the Labor Speaker of the Legislative Assembly declined to do so, and scheduled Davenport for the end of January.

The Liberal Party are favourites to win both seats.

As usual, the guides feature the history and geography of each seat, the results of the last election, a breakdown of booth results from March 2014, and a list of candidates. You can also join in the discussion about each by-election in the comment thread. Click on the links below to visit the by-election pages, or click on the links on the menu at the top of the website:

Newcastle lord mayoral – maps and tables

Newcastlemayoralresults1-ALPA large swing of 14% to Labor has delivered the party the Lord Mayoralty for the first time in 15 years. Labor lost the lord mayoralty to independent John Tate in 1999. Tate was re-elected in 2004 and 2008, and replaced by Jeff McCloy in 2012.

On current numbers, Labor’s Nuatali Nelmes is sitting on 42.5% of the primary vote, followed by Brad Luke on 23.6%. Luke is the acting lord mayor, and was a Liberal Party member until recently, when he decided to run as an independent for Lord Mayor. The Greens’ Therese Doyle is coming third on 14%, followed by conservative independent Aaron Buman, a former councillor who ran for lord mayor in 2008 and 2012.

For the purposes of analysis, I have broken up votes between the four wards of Newcastle City Council, with special votes such as prepoll and postal votes grouped as ‘other votes’. It’s worth comparing the following table to the pre-election table.

Voter group ALP % Luke % GRN % Buman % ALP swing Total votes % of votes
Fourth 48.11 18.86 9.22 14.85 17.68 19625 23.94
Second 36.34 31.04 15.29 8.61 12.86 17318 21.12
Third 43.82 22.70 14.06 10.93 13.93 16619 20.27
First 42.82 19.12 19.78 10.06 12.94 16040 19.57
Other votes 39.78 27.45 12.10 12.61 11.63 12377 15.10

Labor topped the poll in all four areas, but did substantially better in the fourth ward and substantially worse in the second ward. The second ward was the best area for Luke.

For the Greens, their vote was highest in the first ward, and worst in the fourth ward. The party gained swings of between 3% and 3.6% in three wards, but actually suffered a tiny negative swing in the fourth ward.

Aaron Buman gained a 4% swing compared to his 2012 result, but still came fourth, and only managed to outpoll the Greens in the fourth ward.

Below the fold, I have included booth maps showing the primary vote for the four leading candidates, and the Labor swing compared to 2012. Please note these maps exclude two booths at the edge of the City of Newcastle: Beresfield and Minmi.

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Newcastle mayoral by-election live

City of Newcastle lord mayoral by-election results

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected %
Aaron Buman Independent 8,852 11.29 +3.97 11.33
David Chapman Independent 3,910 4.99 +4.99 4.99
Rod Holding Independent 1,438 1.83 +1.83 1.83
Brad Luke Independent 18,669 23.82 -19.3 23.45
Nuatali Nelmes Labor 33,107 42.24 +13.86 42.42
Joe Ferguson Australia First 1,236 1.58 +1.58 1.58
Therese Doyle Greens 11,166 14.25 +2.46 14.25

9:57pm – I’ve just added prepoll figures to the count.

9:50pm – Final post for tonight – I’ve broken down the figures by each ward of Newcastle council. Labor’s vote ranged from 36.3% in the second ward to 48.1% in the fourth ward. The Labor swing was clustered around 12-13% in three out of four wards, but was 17.7% in the fourth ward. The vote for conservative candidate Brad Luke ranged from 19% in the first and fourth wards, up to 31% in the second ward. The Greens vote ranged from 9% in the fourth ward to 19.8% in the first ward. The Greens vote increased by 3-4% in three out of four wards, but actually suffered a -0.1% swing in the fourth ward.

9:39pm – We now have results from all 47 ordinary vote polling places, and the result is reasonably clear, and similar to the figures from earlier tonight.

8:48pm – We now have almost two thirds of booths reporting, and we are still looking at Labor in the low 40s, Brad Luke second with just over 20%, and the Greens’ Therese Doyle around 14%.

8:22pm – Newcastle results still trickling in, with 19 booths now reporting, but no significant change in the picture.

8:00pm – In the Second Ward, which covers Wentworth Falls and other mid-mountains towns, the Greens councillor resigned from council most recently. At the moment the Greens vote is down from 22.7% to 17.7%, and the Labor vote is down from 36.9% to 27.3%. The Liberal Party polled 40.4% in 2012, but is not running this time. At the moment Labor is leading, followed by two independents on 23% and 20.2% each.

7:56pm – A quick detour to look at the Blue Mountains. In the First Ward (Katoomba, Leura and areas further up the mountains), Labor, Liberal and independent Robert Stock all won a seat in 2012. Stock resigned earlier this year. The Liberal vote has dropped 5.1% from 26.5% to 21.4%. The Labor vote has increased from 23% to 29.8%, and the Greens vote has increased from 22.1% to 28.9%. At the moment, it looks like either Labor or the Greens will gain a seat, depending on preferences from the Liberal Party and two independents. I should note that I haven’t built a booth-matching model, so I am comparing the result so far off 9/10 booths and no special votes to the total vote from 2012.

7:55pm – With about 1/3 of ordinary votes reporting, Labor is still on track for 43% of the primary vote in Newcastle.

7:44pm – We now have twelve booths reporting in Newcastle, and the picture is largely the same – Labor with a huge primary vote lead, followed by a conservative independent and the Greens.

7:32pm – We now have seven booths reporting, and Labor is still on track to lead by a long way on primary votes, and should be able to win with Greens preferences. The Greens on raw numbers are down 1%, but when you match booths this flips to a +2.93% swing.

7:22pm – I should also note that in Newcastle I am comparing Brad Luke’s vote to the vote for Jeff McCloy in 2012, as the leading conservative independent, which explains the 20% swing against Luke.

7:17pm – We have the first two booths reporting from Newcastle, and Labor is projected to end up on about 45.6% of the primary vote – which should be easily enough to win with Greens preferences. In Marrickville West Ward, the Labor vote and Greens vote are both up, with the Liberal vote down, so Labor should retain the seat.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in Newcastle’s lord mayoral by-election, as well as in three other council by-elections in Marrickville and the Blue Mountains. I’ll mostly be covering the results from the City of Newcastle this evening. The lord mayoralty of Newcastle was held by Jeff McCloy from the 2012 council election until he resigned earlier this year after he was exposed as giving donations to a number of Liberal candidates despite being a property developer, prior to winning the mayoralty.

You can also check out the Tally Room guide to this by-election, which includes analysis of the 2012 election result and the history of Newcastle’s lord mayoralty.

McCloy won the lord mayoralty in 2012 with 43% of the primary vote, with Labor coming second with 28%. The main candidates are considered to be Labor’s Nuatali Nelmes, and independent candidate Brad Luke, who was elected to Newcastle City Council in 2012 as a Liberal councillor.

Results will be coming in tonight from 47 polling places, and I will be attempting to match results to 2012 booth results to produce a predicted final result. However we will not be experiencing a two-candidate-preferred count tonight, so the projections will only produce estimates of the final primary vote.

Election day – NSW council by-elections

Today voters are going to the polls in four local council by-elections in New South Wales.

Normally I wouldn’t cover council by-elections, but one of these races is quite significant. The City of Newcastle will be electing a new Lord Mayor after the resignation of conservative independent Jeff McCloy earlier this year after he was caught up in the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The City of Newcastle is the size of a federal electorate, and at the moment the council is split evenly between six progressives (4 Labor + 2 Greens) and six conservatives (including independents and Liberals), so a new Lord Mayor will likely make the difference in the balance of power, as well as being a significant figure in the direction of a major Australian city.

In addition, there are three council ward by-elections taking place in the Sydney region.

The Burraga West Ward of Marrickville Council (where I live) will be electing a new councillor after the death of the sitting Labor councillor.

In addition, the First and Second wards of Blue Mountains Council will be electing one new councillor each after two sitting councillors resigned in protest after a political fight on the council over staff wages.

The first ward of Blue Mountains covers Katoomba, Leura, Blackheath and Mount Victoria. The second ward covers Wentworth Falls, Lawson, Hazelbrook and other parts of the mid-mountains. Burraga West Ward covers most of Dulwich Hill and south-western parts of Marrickville.

I will be covering the results on election night, almost entirely focused on the City of Newcastle by-election. So I’ll see you at 6pm.

Charlestown and Newcastle results wrap

Newcastleresults1-ALPYesterday’s twin by-elections in the Hunter region of New South Wales saw Labor regain two seats it had lost at the 2011 election – seats traditionally considered to be heartland Labor territory.

The results were never in significant doubt, but the results in the two seats are quite interesting.

In Newcastle, Labor is expected to win, but currently sits on less than 37%. Most of the remaining vote is split between an independent Liberal and a Greens candidate, and preferences are not expected to flow. On election night, a preference count was conducted between Labor and the Greens, but independent candidate Karen Howard came second, so a new count will need to be undertaken to confirm Labor’s victory.

In Charlestown, immediately south of Newcastle, the Labor result was much clearer. Labor won 49.7% of the primary vote, with the Greens second on 14.1%. After the distribution of preferences, Labor has won 70.4% of the two-candidate-preferred vote, an easy win.

Charlestown was an easy win, but it’s hard to compare that result to a general election due to the absence of a candidate to pick up the Liberal mantle. In Newcastle, Karen Howard appears to have won most of the Liberal vote from 2011, so it is possible to run a comparison. In Newcastle, the Labor vote increased by 6.3%, and the Greens vote increased by 5%. Karen Howard polled 10.4% less than the Liberal Party. If you assume Howard is a stand-in for the Liberal Party, the by-election points to Labor improving its position since the last state election, but not by enough to win the next state election. It should be noted, however, that by-elections are not good measures of statewide performance – last year’s Miranda by-election produced a much more emphatic swing to Labor. Polls suggest that Newcastle was more in line with statewide performance, but a by-election is not the best way to measure that performance.

In this post, I will break up the votes in each electorate into sub-areas, and post a series of maps illustrating the result, all over the fold.

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