Wagga Wagga – results wash-up


Last night’s result was extremely bad for the Liberal Party. We won’t know who has won for sure for a few days or even a week, but it looks most likely that independent candidate Joe McGirr has won, and Labor probably has the next best shot at winning.

I’ve got a piece going up in the Guardian today analysing the broader significance of the result, but I’d just quickly note that this result follows up on large double-digit swings from the Nationals to the Shooters at by-elections in Orange, Cootamundra and Murray, which saw one of those seats fall. We have to assume that the coalition is on track for a big thumping in its rural heartland in March.

In this post I want to cover what the voting patterns were (including a map and a booth breakdown) and then how the preferences could shake out.

So on primary votes the swing against the Liberal Party was massive – 28.5% on the latest count. Labor also suffered a 4.7% swing against them, and the Greens and Christian Democratic Party also suffered small swings.

These votes mostly went to Joe McGirr, who polled 25.6% after not standing in 2015, and the Shooters, who polled about 10%.

On a two-party-preferred basis, Labor appear to have gained a swing of about 14.8% for a total of 52.3%. This count was available for most of the night but was pulled down when it became clear that Joe McGirr was going to be one of the final two candidates. It’s still interesting to give us a sense of how much of that anti-Liberal swing was willing to go to Labor. This figure does not include the Wagga pre-poll booth, iVote or Ladysmith Public School.

On a primary vote basis, we are still waiting for postal votes (about 1000 votes) and small numbers of enrolment, silent, provisional and declared institution votes.

I have grouped all of the primary votes based on the booth breakdown in my guide to this by-election. You can see that the swings against the Liberal Party were huge in all areas. Their primary dropped to just over 20% in urban Wagga Wagga, but the swings were larger in Lockhart and the rural parts of Wagga Wagga council.

Voter groupLIB %ALP %McGirr %LIB swingTotal votes
Wagga Wagga20.828.326.0-30.017,431
Wagga Wagga Surrounds25.326.119.9-30.35,287
Other votes30.023.517.72,650

And here is a map showing the swing against the Liberal Party. You can toggle to see Joe McGirr’s primary vote:

Now let’s talk about how preferences will flow.

Firstly we need to consider which candidates are likely to come in the top two. Over a quarter of the total vote is sitting with the four minor candidates, and most of that is with Seb McDonagh of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, and independent candidate Paul Funnell.

McDonagh’s preferences favour Labor, and then flow to McGirr before the Liberal candidate. The Greens preferences flow similarly.

Funnell has recommended a ‘2’ vote for McGirr, and then nothing more.

Only the CDP has preferenced the Liberal.

While you’d expect a lot of these votes to exhaust, this should at least ensure that Joe McGirr stays in the top two, and Labor’s Dan Hayes would have a shot at overcoming the 1.3% primary vote gap between himself and Julia Ham (although postal votes may widen that gap).

If this ends up being a count between McGirr and Ham, you’d expect the Labor preferences (including those which originated with the Shooters and Greens) to help McGirr extend the lead he will presumably have gained thanks to Funnell preferences.

If McGirr and Hayes make the final two it’s harder to predict. Liberal how-to-votes recommended a ‘just vote 1’, which may just mean a very high exhaust rate. But I have to assume that those that don’t exhaust will favour McGirr and make him the favourite, but you could easily imagine Hayes winning if Shooters preferences flowed to him more strongly than Funnell preferences flowed to McGirr.

We’ll keep watching this, and I plan to cover this by-election on the next episode of the podcast, which is due in about ten days.

If you’ve found this analysis helpful, please consider donating to my Patreon? Wentworth and the Victorian election are still coming up, which means there’s more to do than ever before.

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  1. Interesting a genuine 3 Way contest……….now is a contest for 1 2 3….====most likely Mcgirr win ….alp mcgirr in final 2. The indicative count showed 52/48 alp liberal…….I suspect on this and Orange result there will be few lib or np sitting mps in country Areas elected

  2. If the Liberals dont get the “liberal” back into the Liberal Party it might be curtains for them next federal election and beyond. Most of there problems is the amalgamation in Queensland with the National Party and pandering to the ignorant and the right in Western Sydney.

    The Nationals in the southern states are better but Queensland is 20 years behind the times on social issued. Voters hate indecision and policy changing mid term too. The Liberals do need a big clean out. The ALP used to be infected with problems but they seem to have their act together at the federal level although Shorten is not a “charismatic” leader.

  3. When I was doing army recruit training at 1RTB Kapooka, which is near Wagga Wagga, in 1972 I visited my Great Aunt at the farm at Cookadinia nearby and remarked that Whitlam as the ticked in my view at the next election. Aunty (Lex) Alexina (died 1985) said “what a Communist thing to say”. Pretty conservative folk in Wagga in 1972. Wagga is different as they associate themselves with Victoria being closer to Melbourne than Sydney. They play Aussie Rules football and listen to ABC Radio Melbourne too.

  4. A lot of the analysis talks about Funnell giving a 2nd preference to McGirr. I can confirm from on the ground here in Wagga (at least at the Mount Austin Public School booth anyway) the physical How To Vote Card for Funnell only had a “1” for Funnell and no second preference. His decision to preference McGirr came late and after pre-poll started. He verbally advocated for a 2 to McGirr and his online advertising showed a 2 for McGirr, but it seems the HTVs were printed before the decision was made.

  5. Old Catholic region here but one where Santamaria had more a following here than elsewhere in NSW hence it turned against Labor earlier than Goulburn, Yass etc.

  6. Eddie Graham was entrenched when he passed away normal vote. settled at roughly 60/40 in favour of the libs.Dlp split occurred 1955 so very similar time frame. Of course this is the first time labor has been competitive here since I was 2 years old.

  7. Steven that is interesting so Funnells preferences way not go to Mcgirr as solidly as first expected. A.Green suggests libs will finish 3rd but preferences will favour Mcgirr over Labor. this a Mcgirr win.

  8. we know the final results….Mcgirr 59\41 against the libs
    alp 50.5?% against libs
    McGuirr 57 against alp

    This the first time there has been an underlying alp majority in Wagga since I was 2

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