Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Win for Everyone

Is it possible for everyone to be a winner? In a by-election, yes.

I've written previously about the way that even if the Nationals won the Clarence by-election (as they inevitably would) Labor would be claiming the result as a win, and living off it for some time.  There was never any doubt that there would be a swing back to Labor, given that the National's member had resigned in disgrace just 6 months after an election.
Disgraced National Steve Cansdell.
Electorates always take out their anger at returning to the polls so soon after an election, no matter what the reason. The circumstances of Cansdell's departure meant that their anger would be heightened, and the size of the swing increased.

The equation was further muddied by the absence of a high-profile independent. While this may affect primary votes, the NAT/ALP 2PP should in theory be unaffected - but of course these things are not always as simple or straight forward as that.

In the event, the results look like this (thanks to Antony Green, whose analysis has been brilliant, as always):
From here
A few salient points.

First of all, the vast majority of Richie Williamson's votes (the majority of the OTH row) flowed across to the ALP. That was to be expected.

But the 2PP for the National's was well down, although in fairness it was more or less what had been predicted.

What really interested me tonight was both sides trying to count the result as a win.

For the Nationals it was easy, given that they had actually won. Andrew Stoner had this to say:
He followed that up with an interesting response to a comment from ABC reporter Mark Tobin:
His point is a fair one, and it picks up quite neatly on just one of the reasons that the swings that we will no doubt be hearing about for some time are essentially meaningless.

Another point he might have made was that there was clearly a large "anyone but Labor" vote in March.  Some of that bitterness would be expected to have evaporated by now.

Funnily enough, the swing was what John Robertson chose to focus on:

Whilst the numbers he has quoted are more or less correct, he is perhaps misusing them slightly to fit the narrative I predicted Labor would try to run. His spin of the reason for the swing is little more than wishful thinking, in my view.

Nonetheless, the ALP will be hoping that this will continue the growing disquiet about the O'Farrell government.  Nothing reinforces an uneasiness felt by a swinging voter than the impression that lots of other people feel the same way.

As journos start (inevitably) picking up on that narrative, Robertson will have at his disposal a powerful tool to starting chipping away that those awful polling numbers that were released earlier this week.

As for the Greens, however, they've really had very little to say.  I'm not aware of any Greens MLC or MLA who has made any comment on twitter (or elsewhere) at this stage regarding the result.

The Greens have been campaigning hard on the Coal Seam Gas issue, and may have been expecting a bump from farmers concerned about the effect on their land and particularly their water supply.  Especially given the lack of a high-profile IND candidate, a swing of 0.3% is really a loss of the Greens,

John Kaye tweeted this photo earlier today, so clearly he is involved, but hasn't been heard from since:

In any event, the Greens' numbers will really only interest Greens members and wonks like myself.  The interesting part will be following the media over the next few days as the Nationals try to talk about how they won and as Labor tell anyone who can hold a pen about the massive swings they achieved.

It's going to be a fascinating week.

No comments:

Post a Comment