Bennelong – different swings but no big change


There wasn’t much suspense in last night’s by-election results – it was clear early on that Labor wasn’t coming close to the swing they needed to win the seat. There was a sizeable swing (approximately 5.7% after preferences) which dented the Liberal margin. If this swing was repeated at an election the current government would easily lose its majority, but it would be dangerous to extrapolate this result to a general election. Federal polling has suggested that Labor is up by between 2% and 5%, so the by-election isn’t far outside of this range.

The most interesting part of the results was the geographical variation. My pre-election guide divided the electorate into five areas, and there was a big difference in the swings between these areas:

Area % of 2016 vote ALP % LIB % ALP 2PP % LIB 2PP % ALP 2PP swing
Eastwood 87.57 34.58 39.11 47.31 52.69 7.42
Epping 85.90 31.29 40.68 44.25 55.75 6.07
Gladesville 98.49 29.05 47.44 39.95 60.05 3.22
Ryde 93.72 31.55 43.33 43.27 56.73 2.75
West Ryde 101.83 35.99 36.82 49.24 50.76 3.76
Pre-poll 126.41 36.53 40.23 48.04 51.96 4.46
Other votes 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

The swings were substantially larger in Eastwood and Epping, in the north-western corner of the seat. This is very obvious when these swings are plotted on a map (you can also toggle to see the two-party-preferred total).

These areas have the largest Chinese and Korean populations in the seat. There was a lot of attention paid to that community in the campaign, and a possible shift of support from Liberal to Labor in that community. I’m not going to say that this is the reason for the larger swing, but it’s certainly consistent with that theory.

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  1. It seems that there were also big swings along the edges of the seat, e.g. the big 10% swings in Macquarie Park, Marsfield, Gladesville, and a couple of the southern Ryde booths.

    In 2016, the Absent vote was substantially better for Labor than the Ordinary votes. I wonder if the bigger swing in Epping and Eastwood (which are also towards the edge of the seat) is actually due to the fact there’s no absent votes at by-elections…..i.e. the pro-Labor Absents are being absorbed into booth votes?

  2. Perhaps the biggest story,as things turn out, is that the polls were out.
    The likelihood of that at a general election is much smaller.

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