Breaking down the Legislative Council vote by seat


After analysing the overall preference flow of the Legislative Council count last week, I have moved on to taking a look at the results in each electorate. When analysing electorate results, most energy is expended looking at the Legislative Assembly vote, but the Legislative Council vote is fascinating as it isolates many factors in individual seats, such as candidate quality and ballot paper position. Every voter in the state gets the same ballot paper and vote for the same parties.

Most patterns in the Legislative Council vote mirrors those seen in the Legislative Assembly, but there are some fascinating elements.

The Coalition topped the poll in the upper house in 80 of 93 districts. In comparison, the Coalition won the most primary votes in 70 lower house races, winning 69 of those seats, and only being overtaken on preferences in Balmain.

The ALP overtook the Coalition in twelve of their strongest seats: Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Cabramatta, Cessnock, Fairfield, Keira, Lakemba, Liverpool, Mount Druitt, Shellharbour and Wollongong. The Coalition managed to overtake Labor in the upper house vote in the seats of Canterbury, Heffron, Kogarah, Macquarie Fields, Maroubra, Toongabbie and Wallsend. The Coalition also won the upper house vote in the independent-held seats of Sydney, Lake Macquarie and Northern Tablelands, and in the Greens-held seat of Balmain.

In the seat of Marrickville, the Coalition came third, with the Greens coming first. While the ALP’s Carmel Tebbutt outpolled Fiona Byrne by 2.23% in the lower house, the Greens beat Labor by 8.28% in the upper house, with the Coalition trailing behind.

In Balmain, the Greens outpolled Labor by only 0.56% in the lower house, allowing them to overtake the Liberal Party on preferences. In the upper house, the gap was more than 10%.

PartyLA voteLC vote

This result certainly indicates that, in the most interesting and complicated race in the state, the personal vote for local Labor MP Verity Firth played a large role in blunting the swing and bringing her close to winning. In the neighbouring seat of Marrickville, the Labor vote was 8.16% lower in the upper house, a similar figure to that in Balmain, indicating that Labor held on in Marrickville largely due to the sitting member.

I broadened this analysis to see if this trend appeared in other seats. The ALP polled more votes in the lower house in 63 of 93 seats. The difference was more than 5% in 25 seats, and in twelve seats the lower house vote was at least 7% higher than in the upper house. All twelve of these seats had a sitting Labor MP running for re-election. In seven of them the ALP retained the seat, while in the other five the Labor Party lost the seat. It does indicate that in some contests a strong local MP managed to hold back the tide. This analysis has previously been demonstrated elsewhere when looking at differential swings. This suggests that the anti-Labor tide was just as strong in these seats, but were held back by local Labor MPs who campaigned virtually as independents.

SeatLabor candidateLA voteLC voteDifferenceResult
OatleyKevin Greene42.13%29.89%12.24%Lost
CanterburyLinda Burney47.18%35.20%11.98%Held
MonaroSteve Whan40.96%29.06%11.90%Lost
MaroubraMichael Daley44.34%33.04%11.30%Held
KogarahCherie Burton44.21%34.75%9.46%Held
LiverpoolPaul Lynch51.43%42.35%9.08%Held
HeffronKristina Keneally41.23%32.57%8.66%Held
WyongDavid Harris40.06%31.47%8.59%Lost
ToongabbieNathan Rees41.19%32.86%8.33%Held
MarrickvilleCarmel Tebbutt38.11%29.95%8.16%Held
East HillsAlan Ashton40.84%32.95%7.89%Lost
BalmainVerity Firth30.16%22.32%7.84%Lost

It’s also worth noting that the upper house vote in Balmain is much lower than the other seats on this list. With a vote of 22%, it was the eighth-worst vote in seats previously held by Labor. The seven seats with with lower upper house votes than Balmain (as low as 19.1% in Menai) all tended to have roughly similar lower house votes, indicating they were some of the seats most heavily hit by the anti-Labor swing. These include Menai, Coogee, Miranda, Heathcote, Blue Mountains, Drummoyne and Riverstone. This seems to indicate that Firth turned what would have been a massive defeat in Balmain into a narrow loss due to her personal vote and effective campaign.

Apart from shining light on the effect of a personal vote on the Labor vote in each seat, the upper house figures include some other interesting statistics.

The Greens overtook Labor in sixteen seats, many of which were the same seats that the Greens overtook Labor in the lower house. This includes Marrickville, and fifteen seats where Labor came third and the Coalition came first.

The Greens were overtaken by other minor parties in 15 seats. In twelve seats they were overtaken by the Shooters and Fishers. In one of these twelve, Barwon, the Greens came fifth behind the Shooters and Fishers and Pauline Hanson. In the seats of Mount Druitt and Blacktown the Christian Democratic Party came third, and in John Hatton’s old seat of South Coast the former independent MP came third with 10.89%.

I was interested in investigating where the increased vote for the Shooters and Fishers came from, geographically. In 2007, the Shooters Party (without the Fishers) polled 2.8% statewide, while the Christian Democratic Party polled 4.4%. This time around the Shooters and Fishers increased their vote to 3.7% while the CDP vote fell to 3.1%. The CDP decline is easily explained by the 1.5% vote for Family First, headed up by former CDP MP Gordon Moyes. Why did the Shooters and Fishers vote increase?

My original hypothesis was that the vote was due to the party taking on the issue of fishing. The fishing issue had become a major political issue on the north and south coasts at the 2010 federal election and the recent state election. When you break down the vote for the Shooters and Fishers, however, you find that most of their vote is concentrated in the inland country areas.

I divided the state between the metropolitan areas including Sydney and areas as far north as Newcastle and as far south as Shellharbour. I then divided the remainder between 12 coastal seats and 17 inland seats. Averaging out the votes in each of these seats in 2007 and 2011 produced the following figures:

RegionShooters 2007Shooters 2011SwingFishing Party 2011

While the Shooters did gain a swing in coastal areas affected by the fishing debate, the swing was much bigger in inland areas. The biggest swings were in Murray-Darling (5.93%), Murrumbidgee (5.06%) and Albury (4.12%). As a comparison, the Fishing Party (which did not welcome the Shooters Party changing its name) polled more strongly on the coastal strip, but not by a substantial margin.

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  1. Fascinating. The inner urban seats look like country NSW in the 1920s here the Country Party steadily advanced but their growth was held up by personal votes for sitting Nationalist members but as they retired (or were defeated by Labor) the Country Party emerged as the dominant anti-Labor force. There always remained a few pockets of Nationalist support such as Albury. Inner urban Labor like 1920s rural Nationalists seems to be on borrowed time.
    You could comapre to my analysis of where Labor overperformed or underperformed from vote precited by social composition of the electorate:

  2. Fishing didn’t gain all that much attention as an issue in the campaign, possibly because the coastal seats are almost all Coalition-held and not much campaigning happened in most of them, whereas at the federal election the coastal seats were mostly all key seats, hence the Coalition fanning that issue.

    Those 15 seats where Labor finished third include Blue Mountains and Coogee.

    Just looking at the difference between Labor’s LA and LC votes in 2007, there’s also a pattern of a higher vote for sitting MPs than the party’s LC vote in those districts back then, though it doesn’t appear to be as significant as this year.

  3. Does this mean, now that the Labor member has been defeated in Coogee, the Greens will have a strong chance to pick that seat up in the next state election? Or will the support for the Liberal member prevent the Greens from winning, even on Labor preferences?

    Did newly elected Coalition members in 2007 get a substantially higher swing in 2011 than their seat’s LC vote?

  4. Here in Balmain there’s a lot of disappointment that Verity is gone (only 205 votes behind the green at the final exclusion). It certainly was her activity and advocacy for the local community that kept her in the race. Lesson as labor wants to rebuild: all politics is local

  5. DC, it really depends on who Labor chooses for next time around. They do have some decent councillors in that area.

    I also believe that the LC vote for Labor was down on the ‘natural’ Labor vote because of the perception of some of the MLCs on the ticket, which, in some quarters, was seen as voting for a person that they don’t believe was ‘true Labor.’ For example, while Keneally was viewed as a good local member, some of the MLCs were viewed as poor ‘state members’, which both pushed Keneally’s vote up and the LC vote down. I think it shows that more people than a lot of us suspect do follow the news and know a bit more about MLCs than perhaps we think?

  6. “Here in Balmain there’s a lot of disappointment that Verity is gone.” Well, maybe among the 32.49% who voted for her in the final count before Labor was eliminated. I think the 67.51% voting for Falk/Parker aren’t too upset. As for all that “activity and advocacy” I think a 9% swing (from Labor to Liberal) is a sharp rebuke, regardless of the state-wide figures. PS Can someone in the Labor Party please take responsibility for taking down all the posters? Leaving them up won’t bring Verity back!

  7. Thanks for your input GNav, certainly in my neighbourhood there is a lot of disappointment Verity is gone, the Glebe/Forest Lodge/Broadway end of the electorate had swings of only 3-4% against Firth, with the Forest Lodge Booth having a swing AGAINST the green of 1.2%. So whilst I cannot speak for 55000 voters, my involvement in my local area gives my statement some credence. And as for the posters, there are zero remaining at this end of town.

  8. I think that’s right Docantk, and not only among Liberal voters in Balmain, but the Liberal party themselves… But they didn’t preference her, did they!

    Interesting comment on this (about the LC vote and the effects of OPV) by Imre Salusinszky writing in this weekend’s Oz: ” In NSW, none of the 93 seats was won by a candidate who failed to finish first on primary votes.”

    No Imre, there was Balmain. 205 preferences swung it for the second place Greens. Strange that he should get that wrong, as Jamie Parker’s “these Jews” comments seemed to have infuriated Imre, guaranteeing Jamie Parker will not escape the national newspaper’s scrutiny.

  9. Quick question, how did you get the percentages for these results? Did you exclude the ‘blank’ and ‘other’ columns from the total for each district? Also, what results does ‘other’ usually include?

  10. I excluded informal votes from each seat. I used the final figures which include below-the-line votes, so there is no “others”.

    The “others” listed above refers to all candidates other than Labor, Liberal and Green.

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