Saturday, September 8, 2018

Wagga Wagga By-Election

Ham (Lib) vs Hayes (Labor) vs McGirr (IND)
GAIN by McGirr (IND) from Liberal

A very interesting three-cornered state by-election tonight in Wagga Wagga (NSW) where the Liberals are trying to defend a 12.9% margin over Labor, but also to hold off an independent.  Obviously, federal carnage is a factor.  Seat polling has suggested the Liberal primary vote has collapsed to the point that the independent Joe McGirr or perhaps Labor could win.  This hastily erected thread will follow counting and post-count developments.  Refresh for updates.  Latest at the top (I've flipped that to make it easier.)


McGirr has won with Ham second - Hayes made some progress on preferences but the flow from the Shooters card was weak.  In the end McGirr prevailed with a massive (for OPV) 59.6% two-candidate vote. Results here.


Antony Green has called the seat as a definite win to McGirr based on Labor scrutineering figures.


Ham now leads by 28 votes after Declared Institution votes so it seems almost certain the Liberals will actually top the primary count, which at least eliminates one source of humiliation.  Perhaps they still have some hope of making the final two as Labor currently needs to catch them at 0.067 votes/vote with preferences splitting four ways between McGirr, Ham, Hayes and exhaust, and that rate will increase with extra votes.  It will be interesting to see how strongly the Shooters card to Labor holds if at all.

Never mind Russian interference in elections, what about echidnas?


8:00 Enrolment and Absent votes were added cutting McGirr's primary lead to 52.

12:20 The addition of 1089 postals has seen McGirr's lead cut to 98 votes, so there must be some prospect Ham will finish first on primaries after the remaining postals are added.  I don't know how many more might be received.

The loss of a "safe" rural seat to an independent is nothing too unusual and shouldn't be treated as too much of a sensation alone.  What would be concerning is that the Liberals have also almost certainly lost the 2PP count to Labor, meaning that Labor might have won the seat without McGirr.  And if the Liberals fail to make the final two, that would be a very unusual result.  I have only been able to find a few precedents for this at state level from by-elections for which results are readily available, but full results of state by-elections are hard to track down online.


11:07 The prepolls are up and we have McGirr on 11,450 (25.6%), Ham on 11,207 (25.06%), Hayes on 10,642 (23.79%).  So Labor will be third on primaries since they won't catch up on postals, but that doesn't mean they will stay third after preferences, as Ham must still be at serious risk of falling to third after preferences should the Shooters card hold to Labor to any degree.   The Liberals have clearly lost.  Hayes can still beat McGirr if the Shooters and Greens preferences flow more strongly to Labor than the Funnell preferences flow to McGirr (this is unlikely, a lot of Shooters voters will baulk at preferencing Labor).  However even if Hayes can get rough parity with McGirr after preferences of minor candidates, it is still implausible that Liberal preferences will break evenly between Labor and the independent.  So I think Labor's chance here is verging on unrealistic.

10:32 Antony Green reports he's been given some scrutineering numbers: "Just leaked some scrutineer numbers, Wagga pre-poll will boost McGirr in lead, Libs still second and Labor drops back a bit in third."  As noted below even if Labor drops to third they could well make the final two after preferences.

9:50 Waiting on 12,000 votes from Wagga prepoll and that will be all for the night with postals still to come.

9:26 iVotes added; McGirr did OK on those.  Live primary totals are now very close: McGirr 25.12 Ham 24.71 Hayes 24.07 SF+F 10.99 Funnell 10.04.    But I'm not sure if it matters because I don't see where Ham gets preferences from to stay in the top two, unless she leads by a few points over someone. The Shooters preferenced Labor and Funnell preferenced McGirr.

9:20 Hope for Labor as McGirr performs very poorly on prepolls, and based on this could well lose the primary lead.  The question is what size of lead Labor might get if they can lead on primaries.

9:00 It looks a lot like the Liberals have in fact lost the 2PP, though that is only relevant if the final two are Liberal vs Labor (which is unlikely).

8:50 Antony Green raising the possibility that if the Liberals finish third, if Labor can get a lead from somewhere (such as poor prepoll performance from McGirr) Labor might win.  We should keep an eye on this but I very much doubt it at this stage.

8:30 The Liberals have now also lost the lead on 2PP based on actually counted votes, though it might be recoverable.

8:26 The only regular booth left is Ladysmith which had only 200-odd votes last time so need not be the cause of much suspense.  Now we await the enormous mountain of prepolls.

8:07 The Shooters (who are on a handy 10%) preferenced Labor so even if Ham gets into first or second on primaries there is still some risk of being pushed to third on preferences. 

8:00 In the event that McGirr is (somehow) eliminated, the ABC projection of the two-party count has it very close now after a distortion caused by the Pleasant Hills Park booth early on. So McGirr is not the Liberals' only problem here.

7:57 Ham has fallen to third in the actual primary count.  There are four booths left before we get onto prepolls, postals etc.

7:49 McGirr is likely to drop back on postals; we'll have to see how he goes on prepolls.  But he would have to drop back quite a distance to not win from here.

7:32 Now Ham has lost the lead on primaries to McGirr and is not far ahead of Hayes for second.  We could see the humiliation of an incumbent party running third on primaries.

7:27 McGirr is now close to taking the lead on counted primaries, never mind projected primaries.  Ham still projecting just ahead of Hayes for second on primaries but it's not relevant at this stage.

7:19 Worse and worse for the Liberals with the swing rising now to an average of 30% and McGirr pushing up to 27%.  It again looks possible McGirr could lead on primaries.

7:14 The first big booth is in and the smashing got even worse for the Liberals there with a 35.8% swing.  The ABC projection currently has the top three finishing more or less together on primaries from which the independent should win - if it stays like that - even if third.

7:07 Eight booths in and McGirr now dropping back and projecting to be third behind Labor on primaries with a little bit of work to do to get into second and win.  At this stage it isn't much work, with the Shooters on 10% and the other indie Paul Funnell on 14%.  But we need to keep an eye on Labor's projection vs McGirr's vote - remember, this is optional preferencing.

6:57 Another few booths down and McGirr is on 24% with Ham projecting to something similar.  We'll also need to keep an eye on Hayes (Labor) who could rise to something a bit ahead of those, perhaps creating a race between McGirr and Ham to make the final two.

6:54 Julia Ham (Lib) retakes the lead for now with the Pleasant Hills Park booth included, however this is an ultra-strong booth where the Liberals polled 78% last time (now down to 56.7%).  At least this shows there are some booths where they can keep McGirr to single figures.

6:50 - Uranquinty up (that's a booth name) and there's a 32.8% swing against the Liberals there with McGirr polling 29.4 and now in the lead on primaries.  If McGirr is ahead on primaries at the end of the night I would expect he wins easily.

6:46 - Labor wins Talbingo on preferences, which will be irrelevant if McGirr is the Liberals' opponent, except that he would likely win by more.  So at this very early stage the Liberals would be losing to either opponent, but again, this is a trivially small sample and larger booths may vary.

6:42 - and another smacking at Yerong Ck Public where the Liberal vote is down 28.4%, McGirr is on 26.5 and Labor is down 5.8%.  At the moment the NSWEC site is configured to do a preference count tonight as Liberal vs Labor, which will tell us nothing about the outcome of a Liberal vs McGirr contest which might be more likely.  How quickly they might override it I don't know.

6:40 - the opening bid from Talbingo Public has a mere 27.7% swing against the Government, with hardly any swing involving Labor and McGirr on 20%.  If that holds up even with optional preferencing one would give McGirr a fair chance of winning from third on primaries.  However, it's a tiny booth with only 120 votes.


  1. Well done Kevin - keep up the excellent work.

    Your site is a really good summary - much better than the ABC.


    1. Indeed, facts/ specialist knowledge rather than PC/ general experience