NSW 2015 – Greens vote concentrated


One of the stories on election night was the mixed news for the Greens. On the one hand, the party had a tremendous result in the lower house, retaining Balmain and notionally retaining the new seat of Newtown, and surprising most pundits (including myself) by winning Ballina and coming close in Lismore. On the other hand, the Greens vote appeared to have dropped slightly in both houses.

Since election day, the picture has cleared up. The Greens have fallen out of contention to win three seats in the Legislative Council (which they achieved in 2011), and missed out on winning in Lismore. On the latest figures in the Legislative Council, the Greens vote appears to have dropped by 1.2% to 9.9%, and we’ll get the final figures later this morning when the button is pushed.

In the Legislative Assembly (the focus of most of this post), the Greens primary vote overall stayed steady, dropping by a miniscule 0.0002% of the statewide vote (approximately seven votes!), staying roughly on 10.29%.

In addition to increasing their vote in Balmain, Newtown, Ballina and Lismore, the Greens also gained votes in the neighbouring inner-city seats of Summer Hill and Heffron, possibly strengthening their launching pad for future gains in the inner city of Sydney.

So how did the Greens manage to triple their Legislative Assembly representation, and increase their vote in their next best prospects? In this post, I’ll run through where the Greens gained positive swings and suffered negative swings, and where the Greens vote is becoming more concentrated. This post includes two interactive maps showing the shape of the Greens vote.

Firstly, I’m going to start with a regional breakdown showing how the Greens vote has changed. I’m using the same regions that I defined in my post the day after the election. The Greens figures have only changed subtly since that post.

RegionSeatsGreens vote 2011Greens vote 2015Greens swing
Central Coast411.65%9.27%-2.38%
Eastern Sydney515.93%15.44%-0.49%
Inner West Sydney619.87%23.23%3.36%
Northern NSW910.20%13.55%3.35%
Northern Sydney1114.89%14.47%-0.42%
South-West Sydney116.05%5.53%-0.51%
Southern NSW410.70%9.66%-1.04%
Southern Sydney69.09%7.73%-1.36%
Western NSW84.65%5.38%0.72%
Western Sydney158.18%6.96%-1.22%

The Greens vote went up in only four out of twelve regions, and only in two was there a large swing to the Greens. Unsurprisingly, those two areas cover the three seats the Greens won, and the seat the Greens came close to winning.

The Greens gained a 3.4% swing across the inner west, and also across the north of NSW.

The Greens gained a 0.7% swing off a low base in western NSW, and the Greens vote basically stayed the same in the Hunter region.

On the other hand, the Greens suffered a negative swing between 0.4% and 0.5% in the eastern suburbs, the northern suburbs and the south-west of Sydney.

The Greens suffered bigger swings in the Illawarra (1.3%), southern NSW (1%), southern Sydney (1.4%) and western Sydney (1.2%). The biggest swing against the Greens came in the Central Coast, where the Greens vote dropped by 2.4%.

Overall, the Greens suffered a negative swing in 56 seats, and gained a positive swing in 37 seats. The swing was -1.6% in those 56 seats, and +2.4% in the remaining 37.

The following map shows the primary vote swing towards or away from the Greens in each seat – green indicates a positive swing and red indicates a negative swing, and brighter colours indicate a swing of over 5%.

In the Sydney region, there is a clear trend. The swing is biggest in the two Greens seats in the city, with a smattering of other positive swings out to East Hills, as well as seats on the upper north shore. There was a swing against the Greens in a majority of Sydney seats, including most Western Sydney seats. The worst anti-Greens swing was in North Shore, where there was a 5.6% swing against Greens candidate Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, a former Democrats MLC.

The Greens vote was also more concentrated in the Hunter, going up in Wallsend, Newcastle and Charlestown while going down in surrounding seats.

The Greens gained large swings in Ballina and Lismore, but also gained swings in a bunch of other seats in the north, including Tamworth, Northern Tablelands, Coffs Harbour, Oxley and Clarence, and a big swing in Port Macquarie. The Greens benefited from the absence of independents in Tamworth, Northern Tablelands and Port Macquarie, and this pushed Northern Tablelands and Port Macquarie to the top of the list of biggest pro-Greens swings alongside more typical strong Greens seats.

The Greens vote dropped in the Illawarra, dropping 1.6% in the strong Greens seat of Keira, and over 5% in Shellharbour.

Overall, swings against the Greens tended to be smaller than swings towards the Greens. Over one in three seats saw a swing against the Greens of 0-2%, but the Greens gained a swing towards them of over 5% in four seats (compared to a similarly negative swing in only two seats). The Greens gained swings of over 6% in Newtown, Lismore and Balmain, but didn’t suffer a similarly negative swing anywhere.

We are seeing a clear trend here towards the concentration of support for the Greens in their stronger areas, but it’s not universal. The Greens gained swings on the north coast, the inner west, and the lower Hunter, but suffered negative swings in Coogee, Blue Mountains and the Illawarra, along with the lower North Shore.

It’s also worth looking at where the Greens came in the top two. In 2007, the Greens came in the top two in four seats: Balmain, Marrickville, North Shore and Vaucluse. This list grew by quite a lot in 2011, with the Greens coming in the top two in eight seats in Northern Sydney, three seats on the north coast, along with Vaucluse, Balmain and Marrickville. This is largely due to the collapse of Labor’s vote on the north shore and north coast (amongst other places) in 2011, rather than any particular surge in Greens support in these areas.

The redistribution shifted the Greens into third place in the mid-north coast seat of Oxley, and at the March election the Greens fell behind Labor in Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove and Wakehurst, but managed to maintain their top-two finish in five north shore seats, along with Lismore, Ballina, Vaucluse and three inner-west seats. Alongside Balmain and Newtown, the Greens overtook the Liberal Party in the new seat of Summer Hill.

This gives the Greens a total of eleven seats where the Greens are in the two-candidate-preferred, five of which could be plausibly won by the Greens in the short-to-medium term (along with other seats where the Greens are still ranked third).

RegionSeatsGreens 2CP 2011Greens 2CP 2015Greens 2CP swing
North ShoreLIB26.72%28.81%2.09%
Summer HillALP39.47%

The Greens swing on a two-candidate-preferred basis was much bigger in Ballina (20.1%) and Lismore (18.4%) compared to the other nine seats on the list.

Amongst the others, the swings range from 1.7% in Balmain to 4.8% in Newtown.

Finally, the following map shows the lower house primary vote for the Greens at the 2015 election by seat.

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  1. The first and only time I have ever voted Green as my first preference in the House of Representatives was in 2010 when I was enrolled in Melbourne Ports. I felt the ALP was better off without Danby in its ranks. In 2013 I was enrolled in Port Adelaide and more than happy to vote for Mark Butler (and for the wonderful Penny Wong in the Senate) and renew my ALP membership after more than a decade.

  2. Agree Melbourne Ports would be better of without Danby. Senator Wong is a good politician too

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