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Griffith by-election result bad news for Tony Abbott

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 10 February 2014


When I sat down to write this my thesis was that the Griffith by-election was more or less a draw.

Bill Glasson, the LNP candidate, picked up 1.41% on first preferences, and moved closer to winning by 0.74% on a two-party preferred basis, but even after preferences, just fell short, with Terry Butler for Labor winning with 52.27% of the 2PP vote.

Or at least that is how things stood at close of counting on Sunday.

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On the basis that my colleague John Black thinks from his modelling that Kevin Rudd's personal vote was around 3%, then the net result was a swing against you of 2.26%.

This is not good, but tolerable, particularly given history where electors tend to vote against governments at by-elections, and where an opposition has only once lost a seat to the government in a by-election, and that was almost 100 years ago in Kalgoorlie.

But those who look at historical precedents, and leave it at that, are not doing their job properly.

Kevin Rudd was a phenomenon, and rewrote the historical precedents, and when I got around to looking at his personal vote in Griffith, it was phenomenal.

On the basis of my analysis, this should have been an easy Liberal win. That Labor maintained their margin is a tribute to their campaign, and a warning to you that if you are going to roll back the tide of Labor legislation, you have a big job in front of you.

John Black has a complicated model based on inferential statistics which profiles key demographics in seats around the country to arrive at his forecasts.

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My model for working out a personal vote for a federal seat is quite different. What you do is compare the first preference Senate vote in the seat against the House of Representatives first preference vote, and you then compare it to the state averages.

The Senate vote for the majors is always slightly lower than their House of Representatives vote, but it is generally devoid of local voting factors. So, once you have captured the general difference across the state between the lower and upper house votes, you can make a rough stab at what the personal votes are in individual seats.

Across Queensland at the last federal election the Labor first preference Senate vote was 28.52%, and in the House of Representatives it was 29.77%, a difference of 1.25%.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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