Batman By-Election 2018

It’s on in Batman. And the result might well depend on what happens north of the Hipster-proof Fence, a term coined (by my wife) to help describe the voting patterns that flipped in the vicinity of Bell St.

With David Feeney resigning from Federal Parliament due to unresolved issues regarding his citizenship, a by-election for the federal seat of Batman will be held. Batman was an interesting race in 2016, with the ALP narrowly beating the Greens. But with the Greens winning a recent state by-election in Northcote, which covers the southern half of the Batman electorate (south of the Hipster-proof Fence), the 2018 by-election promises to be even more interesting.

One feature of the 2016 federal election was the north-south gradient in votes, both in terms of the 2 candidate-preferred vote, and the swing from the 2013 election. In both cases, the ALP did much better north of the Hipster-proof Fence. Indeed, the ALP had swings toward it in some of the northern-most booths. If the ALP had suffered the same swings north of Bell St as they did further south, the Greens would have won comfortably in 2016.

The result of the Northcote 2017 state by-election closely matched the outcome of the 2016 federal election if one examines the outcomes at individual booths. The consistent swing to Greens in 2017 simply mirrored what had occurred a year before. This is seen in both the 2-candidate-preferred vote, and the swing from the previous election.

FedState2CP

Two-candidate preferred vote to the ALP in each booth for the 2016 federal election in the seat of Batman and the 2017 Northcote by-election as a function of latitude. The 2017 result matches that seen in 2016.

FedStateSwing

Swing to the ALP in each booth for the 2016 federal election in the seat of Batman and the 2017 Northcote by-election as a function of latitude. The 2017 result matches that seen in 2016, with a solid win to the Greens in the south.

While the swings in 2017 and 2016 were quite similar for corresponding booths (above), you might notice that the three northern-most booths in the 2107 state by-election had larger swings away from the ALP than the same booths in 2016 federal election. That will make the ALP nervous, and the Greens hopeful.

While both parties will aim to sway voters in the south, the outcome of the 2018 federal by-election most likely hinges on voting patterns north of Bell St. If the Greens can win back northern voters who apparently turned away from them in 2016 while retaining voters in the south, the Greens might be one of the few winners out of the citizenship saga that has engulf federal parliament.

Interesting times!

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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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