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Prior to the election, quite eminent psephologists like Anthony Green had predicted (temorously) that Fletcher would have difficulty holding Bradfield without preferences. Malcolm Mackerras (whose record is apparently better than Green’s), even predicted a Green victory in Higgins.

These predictions were made before Abbott took power. In that case, it was easy to see Fletcher in Bradfield squeezed between left and right-wing candidates. Assuming existing ALP voters don’s first preference Liberal (a weak assumption, I would have first prefed Lib if Turnbull was in charge), then the Liberals might defect towards the CDP because of Turnbull’s moderate stance or because they agree with them more. Others will vote Green for various reasons of dissatisfaction. In that context, the predictions made sense. 5% of voters peeling away from the Liberals on the left, and 5% on the right makes the 10% required to lose 1st preferences in Bradfield.

With Abbott’s ascendency, the 5% on the right is less likely to swing to the CDP/One Nation. Indeed, they may flock to the Liberals for that reason, balancing out the 5% on the left going to the Greens. That perhaps explains why Higgins didn’t even reach preferences.

Going into some deeper analysis of the numbers in Bradfield:

The CDP only got 3% of the primary vote, despite fielding 9 candidates. This is, however, double the former primary vote for the CDP, but still pretty lacklustre.

The Greens did not get the ALP vote. Their primary vote in this by-election is lower than the ALP’s primary in the last election. That shows that we can forget about the Greens as attracting a swing vote (as I said). In fact, the informal vote nearly doubled to 6%. Any protest vote (and the additional 11% of the ALP primary vote) was split amongst the 22 other independent candidates. However, the true independents won a varied amount of the vote, which I find very encouraging. It shows that (some) people actually did their research (at least looking up the candidates’ brief profiles on the ABC website maybe), and deciding which they liked best.

Though in the more inner city electorate of Higgins, the Green primary was higher than the ALP primary in 2007, it was not higher than the combined ALP + Greens primary vote, which means that some ALP voters leaked towards other parties by some 6%. I attribute half of this to the Sex Party (3% in both electorates) which stole the more youthful, lefty vote from the Greens and the other half to the DLP which probably captured the more conservative ALP voters who weren’t willing to vote Green.

The Green 2PP is also lower than the ALP in 2007 in both electorates (by the narrowest margin). This suggests that when faced with the Hodson’s choice of Green or Liberal almost no one was willing to switch from Liberal to Green (indeed some 1% of ALP voters last election chose Liberal over Green, and some 3% of total voters chose to abstain through an informal protest vote).

I think the biggest problem is that the Greens did not rate a single mention in the last week. A truly pathetic showing. They are truly unfit to be our balance of power. Bring back the Democrats!

Edit: An interesting development is the Australian Sex Party. Aside from the large number of donkey votes they would get for the sheer novelty of their name, they would also capture a large portion of the young vote that would otherwise go to the Greens. It will make the Senate races interesting with the Greens and Sex Party jockeying for the left vote and Family First/Christian Democrats jockeying for the right vote.

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