Eden-Monaro – where the south-east was won


It took all night, but early this morning it became clear that Labor had won the Eden-Monaro by-election, when the last of the pre-poll booths reported their results, and a first batch of postal votes were far better for Labor than postal votes usually are.

In this post I’ll show you a map of the results and swings, and break down how each part of Eden-Monaro swung, and how turnout shifted away from election day and towards pre-poll voting.

First up, this table shows the two-party-preferred vote for Labor and the total formal votes cast in each part of the seat in 2019 and 2020. These are based on the five regions I defined in my seat guide.

Voter groupLabor 2PPLabor 2PP 2019Swing to ALPFormal votes 2020Formal votes 2019Turnout change (%)
East 57.6 54.3 3.3 12,053 15,404 78.2
North 51.0 52.5 -1.5 9,768 10,753 90.8
Queanbeyan 54.6 56.3 -1.7 11,310 14,522 77.9
South 43.6 43.1 0.5 4,871 5,258 92.6
West 48.0 47.7 0.3 3,449 4,056 85
East pre-poll 52.9 49.6 3.3 12,629 10,361 121.9
North pre-poll 47.4 45.8 1.6 3,686 3,360 109.7
Queanbeyan pre-poll 50.1 52.8 -2.7 14,262 11,980 119
South pre-poll 40.9 42.3 -1.4 5,605 5,743 97.6
West pre-poll 46.4 46.9 -0.5 3,763 3,670 102.5
Other votes 49.3 48.9 0.4 4,858 14,110 34.4
Canberra pre-poll 56.2 64.3 -8.1 997 42 2373.8

I have also separated out the pre-poll booths based on what part of the seat they lay in. The regions don’t necessarily map perfectly onto the pre-poll areas: in particular the “north” includes the former Palerang council area, but there were no pre-poll booths there. It’s more likely that those voters might have gone to Queanbeyan, not to the Yass booth which is ostensibly in the same zone.

On the election day vote, Labor gained swings in the east, south and west. The swing in the east, which covers the coastal communities including Bega and Eden, was large, while it was much smaller in the other two areas, which tend to be the most conservative parts of the seat.

The Liberal Party gained swings in the north and in Queanbeyan, which remains the best area for Labor but not by as wide a margin as it once was.

The swings in the pre-poll booths have some similarities: Labor did very well on the coast and not so well in Queanbeyan. Labor picked up a swing at the Yass booth, and lost ground in pre-poll in the south and west (at the Cooma, Jindabyne and Tumut booths).

The table shows how the turnout changed, in terms of formal votes. The total turnout in ordinary votes dropped by between 7.5% (in the south) and 22% (in Queanbeyan). There were big increases in pre-poll turnout in Queanbeyan and the east, but turnout actually dropped at the Cooma pre-poll booth, which outweighed a slight increase at the other south booth in Jindabyne. Turnout at most local pre-poll booths jumped, although once you factor in absentee pre-poll votes in 2019 (which don’t exist at a by-election) the total turnout is roughly even. It will still likely be a larger proportion of a smaller overall turnout.

Overall there weren’t dramatic shifts in the pre-poll voting patterns. Labor’s two-party-preferred vote in the pre-poll dropped from 49.4% to 49.3%. The big change was in the postal vote.

We received the results for the first batch of the postal vote late in the night, oddly via tweet from the AEC. The actual figures won’t be in the tally room until tomorrow, and we don’t have primary vote data, but it showed Liberal candidate Kotvojs winning a sample of almost 5000 postal votes by just 70 votes. That’s 50.7%. In comparison, the Liberal Party polled over 57% of the two-party-preferred vote amongst postal voters in 2019.

We should have expected a change in the composition of the postal vote – the total volume of votes has clearly increased substantially – less than 6000 postal votes were cast in 2019, compared to almost 5000 counted just last night, and up to 16,000 total (although it seems more likely that around 13,000 will end up being returned).

We know that Labor generated a lot of postal vote applications, whereas they generated practically none in 2019. And you would expect that a certain kind of voter who traditionally would have voted on election day but switched to postal voting due to the pandemic wouldn’t look like the typical postal voter.

So what’s left to count? We now have all the election-day ordinary votes and the pre-poll ordinary votes, although of course they will need to be checked and there will be some small changes in the totals. We also have about 4900 postal votes. There were 16,840 postal vote applications, although not all of those will turn into votes. My best guess is about 13,000 postal votes will be returned, which means there’s about 8,000 outstanding. There will also be a small batch of provisional votes, but they shouldn’t make much of a difference.

Labor’s Kristy McBain currently leads by 1648 votes. If you assume there are about 8000 remaining votes, Fiona Kotvojs would need over 60% of the remaining votes to win, which doesn’t seem plausible.

Finally, here is a map showing the two-party-preferred vote for each election-day booth, and can be toggled to show the swings instead.

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  1. Re your observation that “you would expect that a certain kind of voter who traditionally would have voted on election day but switched to postal voting due to the pandemic wouldn’t look like the typical postal voter”. That’s true up to a point, but if anything, I would have expected those switching to postal voting specifically because of Covid-19 to come from the older demographic which is more at risk; a demographic which one might have expected to favour the coalition. There could also be postal votes from people in aged care homes, who previously would have had their votes taken by mobile polling teams. So the split of the postals reported late on election night still looks surprising to me.

  2. Looks like a win in which the choice of candidate by the ALP was critical – the increased votes in Bega shire pretty much matched the loss of votes for Mike Kelly – Albo is a genius? Simplistic interpretation but there is something in it

  3. If this is a bell whether seat does this mean an ALP government after the next election I wonder?

  4. I’m wondering if the old adage that pre poll and vote favours Liberal is changing overall now.
    With more and more pre poll votes being made in each subsequent election, the demographics of pre poll will inevitably more closely align with the general demographics of the electorate.

  5. Adrian Jackson, the next election is too far away to determine that, and Eden Monaro lost its bellwether status in 2016.

    I think it will be a bellwether again though. Labor keep hanging on, and they did here due to a strong local candidate and byelection effects but the seat is trending conservative. I don’t think Labor will ever win back the state seat of Monaro, for example. Queanbeyan is growing but Labor’s vote is surprisingly soft given the large Canberra/Public Service influence.

    I can see this being another Braddon or Longman if Labor aren’t careful.

    I could even see Labor failing to retain Eden Monaro in an election where Labor eke out a narrow victory.

  6. Anyone know why there is an inordinately high number of Provisional Votes (almost 1000 compared to 200 in each of the last 2 elections) and Declaration Pre-Polls (550)? .. I can’t see how these numbers could be increased due to Covid as that is why so many Postals have been lodged. Also don’t see any correlation between Absentee Votes and these votes – if so people are lying about their addresses this time or in the last election.

  7. I notice that 375 of the aforementioned votes have been rejected at preliminary scrutiny.

  8. I disagree with John’s comments of 7/7. Labor has been fortunate to have had two good candidates in Mike Kelly and Kristy McBain. Yes the Nationals have been lucky in having John Barilaro in the state seat of Monaro. Yet if he is so popular as a state member why didn’t he run for Eden Monaro?
    What happens once he retires. I suspect the weakness in the Nationals vote was the reason why he did not run. Kristy McBain has just under two years to show that she is an effective member. Like Mike Kelly she is passionate about her community whether be the shire of Bega or the electorate of Eden Monaro.

  9. Joe Marney

    So over people eulogising Mike Kelly
    He was Such an inspiration !!!!.

    1/Took a job using his defence knowledge, & contacts, OF 13 yrs, & parlayed it into a job for hundreds of k per yr. BEFORE he resigned.

    2/ broke his contract with his constituents to do so, & inflicted a by-election upon them, & a million dollar bill for taxpayers.
    3/ then used the the excuse of medical conditions to deflect the reality.

    Beautiful…!. What a shining light, a moral pathfinder. An inspirational leader, & wonderful representative….. of who ?

    He is an outstanding example of……..What we do not want.

    Shallowness, vanity, deceit, & deception.– wonderful qualities for a political representative.

  10. Mike Kelly was unwell….. a mp for Eden Monaro especially if he is labor must be able to get around the electorate. his illness prevented him doing that.

  11. Mick.
    Sorry, that is just not credible. This genuine illness manifested in a matter of weeks ?. Really.!?
    This illness prevented him from being in line for a ministry ?.
    Which would have had no effect on his retirement income ?
    The magical new job that he accepted well before his retirement announcement, had no connection to the parliamentary committees, & inquires he was on ?.
    i won’t venture into analysing his military service, other than to say the most dangerous encounter he would have had, would have been with a disease carrying mosquito !.

    ALL IN ALL false, misleading, & disingenuous . There is a word for that……………

    Let’s talk about someone who is worth it .As in worthy. How about we rate our top 5 Mp’s from the LNP, LABOR & THE sENATE?

  12. Funny how some people always seem to demonise the perfectly constitutional by-election process by virtue signalling “contracts” with the electorate and the apparent exhorbant costs only when it’s people from the other side to their preferred candidate that resigned.
    Let’s see if your opinion is the same when it’s someone you support resigning.
    Mike Kelly had every right to retire when ever he felt like it, as do all members and senators.

  13. Darren
    Sorry mate i have the same attitude to ANYONE breaking their contract with their electorate. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SIDES. Do you really think i am so shallow, venal,& blind ? Really?.

    If you are going to have a go at me, by all means. But make it real .

  14. Although I’m unsure about Mike Kelly’s particular case, I think WD is hinting at a real issue that many in the wide electorate have with elected officials. For example, I don’t think people appreciate it when a recently-elected Senator resigns months into their six-year term to go off for some plum posting.

    People on both sides do this and it’s really quite irksome.

  15. It will be interesting to see of anyone got the Corona Virus in the 3 weeks time after the 04 Jul 20 by election if they used attendance voting; that 25 Jul 20. Fortunately many use postal voting.

  16. To whoever mentioned the state seat of Monaro: it could be won, and even held long term, by Labor, the cards just have to fall right. What they need is (a) a high tide election where they pummel the Lib/Nats, and (b) the new Labor MP turns out to be a keeper. Steve Whan used to fit that description (if he’d’ve held on in 2011, he’d still be there today). Peter Watson (Albany, WA) and Joe Helper (Ripon, Vic) are also good examples of this.

    Sadly for NSW Labor, high tide elections don’t happen all that often. Thanks, Joe Tripodi.

  17. My post today in the OZ on John Black’s article
    All very interesting. However you have completely missed the main point. The fundamental reality.
    Labor did not win Eden – Monaro . A pseudo independent did. For all of Albo’s posturing Mc Bain was front & centre. It was PERSONAL. Everything was about her. Where were pictures of Albo ?. Was she talking about Labor ? NO OF COURSE NOT.
    The most compelling fact presented is about the 6000 enrolled voters who didn’t vote. At the next election clearly it will be a different story, a different result.

  18. Mick: maybe, if Barilaro quits like he said he would. The NSW coalition don’t tend to like three-cornered contests, but his antics may have annoyed the local Libs enough to make an exception in Monaro. That, in an election with a 12 yr old govt, could do it for Labor.

  19. Mick, B OF P.
    Barilaro has already stated that he will not stand in Monaro. It is very doubtful that the libs will stand, as that almost certainly deliver the seat to the Shooters. I would bet Barilaro will stand for E-M, IN 2021. Yes an early election. Who knows what the libs will do with that.

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