Wednesday, September 1, 2010
ON ELECTION night, the Australian Electoral Commission's website showed Labor well ahead of the Coalition in the two-party preferred vote. Yet by Monday night, the Coalition had surged to the lead. And last night, Labor was back in front.
Which figure is right? None of them. They track the count in the seats where the final two candidates come from Labor and the Coalition. But they don't, and can't, include the eight seats where officials are counting some other contest.
These eight seats are the three seats won by the rural independents (Kennedy, New England and Lyne), the three inner-city seats (Melbourne, Batman and Grayndler) where Labor battled the Greens, Andrew Wilkie's seat of Denison, and West Australian National Tony Crook's seat of O'Connor.
In 2007, in the other 142 seats, Labor won 52.57 per cent of the two-party preferred vote that is, our votes after preferences have been distributed to Labor or the Coalition.
This time the two sides were so close that last night both sides had 50 per cent of votes in those seats a swing of 2.57 per cent to the Coalition.
But when the other eight seats are added in as they will be, when officials have time Labor's vote will grow.
In 2007, they lifted its total two-party vote by 0.13 percentage points, to 52.70 per cent. If it's the same this time, that would give Labor 50.13 per cent, and the Coalition 49.87 per cent.
Why assume the same this time? There was a big swing against Labor in some areas. Might that have wiped out its 2007 lead?
Not if you look at voting for the Senate. In those eight seats, both sides went backwards: Labor's Senate vote fell 4 per cent, the Coalition's by 2 per cent. The Greens vote rose 3 per cent, and those of minor parties, mostly on the right, rose 3 per cent. Net all that out, and it's a swing of less than 1 per cent.
But I read that in the independents' seats, Labor's vote was as low as 8 per cent?
On first preferences, yes, because in Lyne and New England, Labor voters tend to vote first for the independents. In New England in 2007, Labor polled 10 per cent on first preferences, yet 35 per cent in the two-party preferred. In other words, 72 per cent of people who voted for Labor over the Coalition voted for Tony Windsor first.
The same in Lyne. In 2007, Labor won 32 per cent of first preferences. This time it won just 13 per cent in the House, but 30 per cent in the Senate. The Greens polled 4 per cent in the House, 8 per cent in the Senate. So at least half the Labor and Greens supporters voted for Oakeshott.
And what about Andrew Wilkie winning Denison with 21 per cent of the vote? How did he do that?
On preferences. Labor got 36 per cent of the vote, the Liberals 23, Wilkie 21 and the Greens 19. Greens preferences lifted Wilkie above the Liberals, and Liberal preferences then lifted him above Labor.
We think it's a record low for a winning candidate in the House of Representatives. But no one has had the time or energy to check.