Brunswick in the Victorian 2014 election

I do like an election analysis! After having some fun predicting the result in Indi for the last federal election, I thought I’d look at my home seat of Brunswick in the 2014 Victorian state election.

Jane Garrett, the sitting member for Labor, won Brunswick in 2010 with a 2-candidate preferred (2CP) vote of 19545 votes against Cyndi Dawes, the Greens candidate, on 16974; Garrett won with a margin of 3.5%.

In 2014, the Greens candidate is Tim Read. With 54.08% of the vote counted, the 2CP count gives Garrett 53.9% of the 2CP vote and a lead of 1897 – on the face of it a slight swing to her. Garrett might be re-elected quite safely. However, I’m not so sure it is clear cut just yet.

Jane Garrett and Tim Read are contesting the election for the seat of Brunswick in the 2014 Victorian election (photos from their Twitter accounts).

Jane Garrett and Tim Read are contesting the election for the seat of Brunswick in the 2014 Victorian election (photos from their Twitter accounts).

In 2010, Garrett won 56.3% of the ordinary votes from the 16 booths in Brunswick plus the postal votes. If these are the votes counted to date in the 2CP (it seems they are), then Garrett has actually suffered a swing of 2.4% against her.

In 2010, Garrett won 45.6% of early, provisional and absent votes; she didn’t get a majority of any of those vote types on a 2CP basis, and these are the votes yet to be counted. The question is whether Read, the Greens candidate in this election, can claw back enough votes to overcome the current deficit of almost 2000 votes. It might seem unlikely, but let’s look at whether it is possible.

From 9407 2CP early, provisional and absent votes in 2010, the Greens won by 827 votes. If we add the -2.4% swing seen in the 16 booths and postal votes to 45.6%, we might predict Garrett would get 43.2% of these remaining votes. If there were 10,000 remaining votes, Garrett might get 4320 votes, and Read would then get 5680 – not enough to overcome Read’s current deficit of 1897.

However, there were many more postal and early votes in this election. Antony Green reports that almost 30% of Brunswick’s electors cast postals or early votes in 2014. With an electoral role of 46954, that is almost 14000 votes. Take out the currently listed postals that have already been counted, and we’d expect 12000 early votes, almost 10000 more than in 2010.

In 2010, these early votes favoured the Greens, but it is very difficult to predict where they might fall in 2014 – many more people have taken advantage of the early voting in 2014, so it is hard to guess their preferences.

But add on almost 7000 absent and provisional votes (there were 6773 formal absent votes in 2010; only 400 provisionals), and we might expect 19000 further votes in the election for the seat of Brunswick. If Read wins 55% of these, he will claw back 1900 votes from Garrett – enough for him to win. That seems within the realm of possibilities if we see a swing of 2.4% against Garrett in these votes, noting that the Greens won 52% of the early votes and 55% of the absent votes in 2010.

The election in Brunswick is not over yet. It comes down to where the early and absent votes fall. If they move away from Garrett, Read might spring a surprise.

Edit (3:00 p.m., 30 November): Kevin Bonham doesn’t expect the early votes to be quite as different from the ordinary votes this year as compared to 2010. I’d tend to agree with his assessment. It is hard to see such a large swag of early votes being radically different from those cast on the day. Still, it is worth keeping an eye on this one.

Edits: I corrected some typos in the original version where I typed the wrong figures for the percentage of early and absent votes.

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About Michael McCarthy

I conduct research on environmental decision making and quantitative ecology. My teaching is mainly at post-grad level at The University of Melbourne.
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6 Responses to Brunswick in the Victorian 2014 election

  1. The two candidate preferred result for early votes is being won convincingly by Garrett. http://www.vec.vic.gov.au/Results/State2014/TCPbyVotingCentreBrunswickDistrict.html Tim Read would need a healthy majority of these to even have a chance – this one is all over folks. Congratulations to Jane Garrett.

  2. kevinbonham says:

    No new figures have been posted since polling day. One issue is that there are still postals to come. I’m not sure of the exact number, probably several hundred. Another is that 4-5% of votes are informal. Taking those into account I still get Labor winning by 200 or so even if the swings on early and absent votes are the same as on booth votes (and after the Greens’ bad performance on early votes in Prahran I’m still further suspecting they won’t be.)

    Still all been very interesting just to know that there is a seat that moved 2.3% from the booth figure to the final figure in 2010. Cases like that are rare.

    • Thanks Kevin. I tend to agree, although the electorate of Prahran is very different from Brunswick – extrapolating from there is uncertain. Brunswick is more similar to Richmond and Melbourne.
      In Melbourne, the 1st preferences for Early votes compared to Ordinary votes slipped slightly more for the ALP (30.0% -> 26.2% for formal votes) than the Greens (42.6% – 40.9%). The Liberals picked up most of those differences (1st preference vote up from 22.4% to 28.0% when comparing Ordinaries with Earlies). What that means for 2CP is unclear, but Liberal preferences will be slightly less influential in Brunswick compared to Melbourne.
      In Richmond, the 2CP result for Early votes is currently much better for the ALP than the Greens (58.8% for ALP), while much closer on Ordinary votes (52.4% for ALP).
      But the results in Richmond and Melbourne do not suggest a large surge of 2CP support for the Greens in the Early votes, so Read would seem to require a miracle. However, Brunswick is very different from all other electorates – they don’t refer to it as the People’s Republic of Moreland for no reason!

      • kevinbonham says:

        I’ve also heard that the Greens focussed heavily on doorknocking rather than prepolls in Prahran which may partly explain their disappointing performance on prepolls there.

  3. kevinbonham says:

    I’ve had an explanation suggested by poster bakunin on PollBludger: of all things, bush doofs! Fits with the Absent vote (out of electorate vote on day) being so high for the Greens and being such a high amount in total. There were similar events this year as well and it seems the electorate again has a high Absent vote. (High absent votes are also common in geographically small electorates.)

    • Thanks Kevin – bush doofs, hey? Being a resident of Brunswick, I can picture that; if a sufficiently large big bush doof is on, Brunswick might well be deserted!

      The large number of early votes might be partly due to people taking advantage of the pre-poll station that was right in the heart of Brunswick. I think the station would have attracted a lot of people who were simply walking by while shopping. That might mean the bush doof crowd might not dominate the pre-poll votes to quite the same extent as the absent votes.

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