Last night’s result was very dramatic, and something most people weren’t expecting.
Miranda isn’t exactly strong Labor territory, and the massive 22% swing in 2011 seemed to indicate a reversion to form for an area that’s mostly contained in the federal seat of Cook, a very safe Liberal seat.
There’s no way to read the result as anything but a sweeping victory for Labor and a major defeat for the Liberal Party, but it’s hard to know how much broader implications can be read into the result.
There’s no indication in statewide polling that Labor is close to competitive with the Coalition, which you’d expect if Miranda was an indication of broader trends.
The newly-elected MP, Barry Collier, previously held the seat from 1999 to 2011, but chose to retire in 2011. He would have been likely to lose in 2011, with only a small swing needed, but it is likely that his absence massively increased that margin, and his return on its own brought Labor closer to a win.
The by-election was also very unnecessary and in unsympathetic circumstances for the incumbent, who resigned after less than three years to move interstate to run a football team, giving up a ministerial career.
On election day, the Fire Brigade Employees Union targetted the electorate, with firefighters (partially dressed in firefighters’ uniforms) handing out leaflets urging voters to ‘Put the Liberals Last’. I have posted images of this leaflet below the fold.
This followed days of massive bushfires on the edge of Sydney, and took place under a pall of smoke. Early yesterday morning, there was no smoke in the inner west of Sydney, but once you drove down to Miranda the sky was covered in it.
Overall, I think it’s mostly the return of Barry Collier, the unnecessary nature of the by-election and local issues that were decisive, with the fires playing a secondary role. The ALP gained a 27.3% swing at prepoll booths, compared to an overall swing of 26.2%, despite the FBEU having no presence at prepoll.
I’m reposting here the two-party-preferred maps from last night – one shows the overall percentage, the other shows the swings to Labor, for each booth.