Balmain 2011 – the maps


The Tally Room has gone quiet for most of May. I have been working on other projects, including improving my maps and getting ready for upcoming elections. I’m planning on only blogging sporadically for at least the next month. In the meantime I have also been occasionally writing for New Matilda, and I plan to continue to do that.

I have been planning for a while to do some analysis of the NSW seat of Balmain at the recent state election. While I’m sure I’m biased as a local resident and a Greens member, I think it’s fair to say it was the most interesting race in the state election. It was the only seat where the candidate leading on primary votes didn’t win. The sitting Labor minister fell into third place, and Labor preferences elected the Green over a Liberal candidate who had benefited from a huge swing. It was also a very close three-cornered contest of a nature that is very rarely seen.

I have done the same mapping exercise I did for each seat before the election. I divided the seat into the four areas of Balmain, Leichhardt, Glebe and Haberfield.


AreaGRN %LIB %ALP %% of votes
Other votes31.733.128.726.2
Polling booths in Balmain at the 2011 state election. Balmain in blue, Leichhardt in green, Glebe in orange, Haberfield in yellow.

It’s a story of four different races. In Glebe, Verity Firth maintained a clear lead over the Greens, with the Liberals trailing behind. The Liberal Party’s James Falk gained a 9.5% swing in Glebe, winning 2% off the Greens and 7% off Firth.

In Balmain, Firth was relegated to a clear third behind Falk and Greens candidate Jamie Parker. The Greens gained a 1.95% swing, their best in the seat, with Labor losing 6.4% and the Liberal Party gaining 6.8%.

In Leichhardt, the three parties were closest to a three-way tie, with Firth narrowly outpolling the Greens’ Parker. The Labor Party went backwards by 9.8%, with positive swings of 1.5% to the Greens and 8.6% to the Liberal Party.

The race in Haberfield more resembled those in the rest of the state. The Greens’ Parker was a distant third, with Falk almost winning a majority, with 47% of the vote. This was a swing of 15.5% to the Liberal and 15.7% away from Labor. The Greens vote stayed still, with a swing towards Parker of 0.08%.

The Greens’ highest vote was 35.1% at Forest Lodge PS, with the lowest being 17.8% at St Oswalds in Haberfield. The best swings to the Greens were all around 4.5% at Nicholson St PS in Balmain, Rozelle PS and Kegworth PS in Leichhardt. The worst swings were at the northern Glebe booths of St Scholastica’s and Sydney Secondary College Blackwattle Bay, with swings of -8.7% and -6.2% respectively.

Verity Firth’s best vote was 38.3% at St John’s Glebe. Her worst was 22.6% at Sydney Secondary College Balmain. She suffered a swing of 18.2% at St Oswalds Haberfield. Firth gained a positive swing at only one booth, gaining 0.8% at St Scholastica’s Glebe.

James Falk’s vote varied from 51.2% at Dobroyd Point PS Haberfield to 22.1% at St John’s Glebe. Falk’s biggest swing was 17.8% at St Oswald’s, with his smallest swing being 5.5% at Rozelle Public School.

Top-polling party at each booth in Balmain at the 2011 state election.

There are a few trends we can identify here. Firstly, the Liberal swing was very large everywhere, while swings to the Greens were very small. Glebe is Verity Firth’s heartland. It is in the City of Sydney, where Firth was previously a councillor, and she lives in the suburb and had her electorate office there. It is the only area she won decisively. It was also the one area where the Greens vote went backwards, with the Greens losing 2%. It does suggest that the Greens struggled against Firth’s personal vote in the area.

In the Leichhardt Council area, which makes up a majority of the seat, the Greens did better than in the rest. Some commentators suggested that Jamie Parker had alienated Leichhardt residents as Mayor and this explained why the Greens swing was so small. If you divide the seat in half, you see that the Greens gained a 1.7% swing in Leichhardt LGA but suffered a 1.1% swing against in the rest of the seat. It does suggest that the Greens domination of Leichhardt Council was not a large factor in explaining why the swing to the Greens was so small.

You can see the impact of losing Verity Firth’s personal vote by looking at the Legislative Council vote. Unfortunately the NSWEC has not provided a breakdown of the final count by booth. The initial figures on election night, however, have been broken down by booth. These figures unfortunately don’t include below-the-line votes, so probably underestimate the Green vote.

Top-polling party in the Legislative Council vote at each booth in Balmain at the 2011 state election.

You can see that in the Legislative Council, Labor disappears from the map entirely. The Greens take most of those booths in Firth’s Glebe heartland, as well as many of the booths in Leichhardt. The Liberal Party dominated Balmain even more so, topping the poll in one booth that the Greens topped in the Assembly.

Below the fold I have posted six more maps showing the booth results for each party and the swings for those same parties.

Liberal primary votes in Balmain at the 2011 state election.
Greens primary votes in Balmain at the 2011 state election.
Labor primary votes in Balmain at the 2011 state election.
Liberal swings in Balmain at the 2011 state election.
Greens swings in Balmain at the 2011 state election.
Labor swings in Balmain at the 2011 state election.
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  1. That legislative council comparison is very interesting. There was no Labor majority in any booth’s upper house vote, but there were plenty of Labor booths won on the lower house vote. It just goes to show you what a good campaign Verity Firth ran, especially in the east and North of the seat. A few hundred more votes and she would have won.

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