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Melbourne District By-election by the numbers

July 23, 2012

There will be much written and spoken about the Melbourne by-election result.  Most of it will be rubbish or partisan tosh.

“We have had a big swing to the Greens and Labor’s vote has slumped.” Adam Bandt
“Only one in three people in the Melbourne state seat voted Labor in one of their safest Labor seats that they’d held for 100 years.” Christopher Pyne

Be wary of those who take this result and try to extrapolate it nation wide.  Inner city Melbourne is among the greenest/liberal and most anti-Abbott electorates in the nation.

Being a by-election without a Liberal candidate adds a large variability to the result.  Turnout was down and traditional Liberal voters either didn’t vote or had to find another candidate to vote for.  A field of 16 meant that the Liberal vote and other vote could be widely dispersed.

Importantly don’t ignore the message in the raw numbers.

A quick comparison of the numbers from the 2010 State Election and the 2012 by-election does offer some food for though.  On 1st Preference votes the ALP dropped 4037 votes or 32.8% against a turnout drop of 22.0%.  The Australian Greens dropped 1826 votes or 15.6% against a turnout drop of 22.0%. The Australian Sex Party gained 740 votes or 69.7% against a turnout drop of 22.0%.  The only other party or candidate to run again from the 2010 was John Perkins (Independent from the Secular Party) who dropped 62 votes or 30.8% against a turnout drop of 22.0%.

Melbourne District 2010/2012

Again I’d be wary of extrapolating this too far but on those numbers it is a positive result for the Sex Party.  The Greens would have to be disappointed with their 1st Preferences as they would have hoped the anticipated victory would motivate voters to get to the polls.  While the ALP lost over 4000 votes it was the low turnout as much as it was preferences that helped them scrape over the line.

What does it mean for Melbourne District at the next State election? To be honest who knows? Liberals are likely to preference the ALP ahead of the Greens again and leakage from Liberal votes would match that of Stephen Mayne’s preferences that went Green.  With two more years of a Baillieu government and a Federal election before the next State election much could change in that time.

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