Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Eden-Monaro By-Election 2020: How Loseable Is It?

By-election July 4th
Cause of by-election: resignation (citing health reasons) of Mike Kelly (ALP)
Outlook: It's a weird one, and so anything could happen.  For what it's worth, historical patterns slightly favour Labor.

Welcome to my pre-analysis page for the Eden-Monaro by-election.  I expect to have a live page on election night, but starting late (say 8 pm) because of a clash with something else.

There are two main narratives about this by-election as the parties compete for the role of underdog and try to manage expectations in advance.  The first is that the loss of an opposition seat to an incumbent government in a federal by-election is literally a once in a century event (it happened for the only time in 1920) and that therefore a government win is unrealistic.  The second is that the seat's marginal nature combined with the high personal vote of outgoing ALP incumbent Mike Kelly makes the seat extremely difficult to defend in the current environment.  I argue here that both these narratives are wrong.   The by-election is much more loseable than the "100 years" history suggests, but all of the arguments as to why it could be lost have at times been overplayed.

If you want a go at picking the outcome yourself, there's a Not-A-Poll in the sidebar, running until polls close.  (As of 4 pm 4 July, the average forecast on this site was 50.89% to Labor, ie zero swing, with one voter predicting a non-major party winner. This site's reader base skews fairly heavily to the left.)


The by-election timing was delayed slightly by the need to obtain advice from the AEC, which took a fortnight, pushing the date back to mid to late June.  The date subsequently landed at the start of the July to August window I was expecting, being earlier than it might have been perhaps because of encouraging progress in the containment of COVID-19.

There was no requirement to hold the by-election at any specific time; it was a matter of balancing risks against the negatives of having the seat vacant.  Those negatives were somewhat reduced for the time being by the limited nature of current parliamentary business.  See Antony Green for extensive discussion of management of the by-election.


Eden-Monaro surrounds the ACT in far south-eastern NSW.  It was long famous as Australia's champion bellwether seat, going with the party that won government at fifteen elections in a row from 1972 to 2013.  This streak was snapped when Mike Kelly recaptured the seat from one-term incumbent Peter Hendy in 2016 and the mantle has now passed to Robertson (on a streak of 14 elections starting from 1983).

Eden-Monaro has never been won by the National Party or its precursor the Country Party.  The Country Party came close in 1972 (lost by 503 votes with 49.5% 2PP) and even closer in 1974 (146 votes, 49.87% 2PP).  In both these cases the flow of preferences from the Liberal Party was very strong (95% and 97.4% respectively) but the fact that not absolutely every Liberal voter preferenced the Nationals saved Labor (this also happened with National to Liberal preferences in 2019, though the Liberals would have needed all bar a few dozen to win.)

The main overlapping state seats are Bega (held by the Liberals' Andrew Constance) and Monaro (held by the Nationals state leader John Barilaro).  Bega has been held by the Liberal Party solidly though at times fairly narrowly since its re-creation in 1988, while Monaro has been held by the Nationals throughout this time except for two Labor wins in 2003 and 2007.  There was a large swing to the Nationals in previously marginal Monaro at the 2019 NSW election, clearly off the back of Barilaro's profile as leader and against the backdrop of a good election for his party in the near-coastal regionals.

Opposition By-Elections Generally

In recent years governments have normally not contested Opposition seat by-elections.  The Howard government from 1996 to 2007 never contested any.  The Rudd government took a swing at Gippsland in 2008, probably hoping to translate Kevin Rudd's popularity into at least some embarrassment for the Opposition, but it backfired with a 6.1% swing to the Nationals' Darren Chester.  The Abbott government took a more realistic shot at Rudd's own seat of Griffith in 2014 and picked up a 1.25% swing off the loss of Rudd's personal vote.  (Such a swing would win Eden-Monaro, but Rudd was an ex-Prime Minister, after all.) The then Turnbull government contested two of Labor's four vacancies in the 2018 Super Saturday by-elections, but ALP incumbents Justine Keay (Braddon) and Susan Lamb (Longman) won with 2PP swings to them of 0.1% and 3.7% respectively.  Labor was bolstered by unimpressive government candidates (especially in Longman) and a government campaign blunder (picking a fight with a local independent) in Braddon.  Both ALP incumbents went on to lose in the 2019 general election.

Prior to these four cases, the last time a government contested a by-election was Groom 1988.  Labor may have had some hopes of exploiting Coalition disunity following the demise of Joh Bjelke-Petersen but ended up running third in a three-cornered contest (and would probably have had a 2PP swing against them anyway).

The long-term average two-party swing in Opposition by-elections that are contested by the government of the day has been 1.25% to the Opposition, excluding Groom 1988 mentioned above.  (Peter Brent has 0.9% but this includes some non-Coalition proto-Nationals.)  This is less than the average swing for all by-elections contested by both Government and Opposition, which has run at around 4% since WW2. The reasons for this difference include:

* In an Opposition seat by-election, the Opposition is usually losing the personal vote of an MP who has resigned or died (Braddon and Longman in 2018 being exceptions to this).

* Governments have increasingly cherry-picked which Opposition by-elections to contest and have typically avoided running those in which embarrassing swings against them appear likely to occur.

* When Opposition MPs throw in the towel soon after losing an election, the government may benefit from honeymoon effects, desire to stabilise the parliament following a close result, or voter contempt for the sitting MP's decision to quit.  There have been cases of Oppositions losing by-elections to Governments in this situation at state level, notably the Victorian examples of Benalla 1999 and Burwood 2000.

While the one case of a Government winning an Opposition seat at a federal by-election (Kalgoorlie 1920 following the expulsion of Hugh Mahon) provides a historical strike rate of only a few percent, that history is misleading because few of the seats contested were super-marginal.  Swings exceeding 1% to the Government of the day have happened in seven out of 25 Opposition seat by-elections.

Mike Kelly's Personal Vote (and its implications ...)

Warning: this section is a bit number-heavy, rising in places to 3/5 on the Wonk Factor scale.

Mike Kelly, decorated Army colonel, PhD scholar and barrister, was the member for Eden-Monaro from 2007 to 2013 and again from 2016 until his retirement, making him a 10-year incumbent.  Kelly was clearly a popular MP and has been praised on all sides of politics following his decision to step down because of health issues stemming from his military service in some of the hotter places on Earth.  But can we put any numbers on just how popular he is?

Looking at graphs comparing Eden-Monaro with NSW as a whole (see Antony Green again) it's notable that the seat was running close to the state average until Kelly's first defence of the seat in 2010.  With Kelly as a candidate who had served as the seat's MP from 2010 onwards, the seat then ran 5.4, 3.8, 3.4 and 2.7 points above the state's average for Labor, in spite of redistributions following the 2007 and 2013 elections knocking 1.1% and 2.7% off Labor's position.  With these factors considered Labor ran 4.9% to 6.5% above their previous relative standing with Kelly as an established or former incumbent, but this is coming off a baseline that includes Liberal Gary Nairn's personal vote as an 11-year incumbent.

One term 2013-6 incumbent Peter Hendy did not appear to generate any personal vote, unlike the normal pattern of new MPs gaining through double sophomore effect.  As an aside, this wasn't because the Turnbull government's campaign played badly in Eden-Monaro, if anything slightly the opposite.  (The swing to the Coalition in Eden-Monaro in the Senate in 2016 was three points higher than the NSW average despite the Reps swings being the same, though about 1.4 points of this is explained by a high rate of Liberal Democrat confusion in the Senate in the seat in 2013).

Estimating personal votes for incumbent MPs, beyond that they usually exist, is very tricky.  One method is to subtract the relevant party's Senate vote from their House vote, on the grounds that the more voters vote for the party in the House but not the Senate, the higher the incumbent's personal vote probably is.  On this measure Kelly does extremely well, polling 10.52 points above Labor's Senate vote in Eden-Monaro, putting him fifth of all the Labor MPs in NSW.  But Labor did 4.74 points better in the Reps than in the Senate in NSW as a whole, so Kelly is 5.78 points above Labor's statewide average.  A 2PP edge of nearly six points sounds enormous (enough to put Labor underwater after accounting for the existing margin and the normal anti-government factor) but it also happens that the Coalition in Eden-Monaro did 5.11 points better in the Reps than the Senate in this seat.  That compares to a statewide difference of 3.99 points.  So it is not as if Kelly is taking such a large share of the 5.78 points in performance above Labor's state average from the Coalition; rather he is taking some from the Coalition and some from minor parties.

That said, the Coalition are advantaged in this comparison by Eden-Monaro being a three-cornered contest, and once three-cornered contests are adjusted for at both state and local levels, Labor's advantage over the Coalition on Reps performance relative to Senate performance lands at 6.26 points.  In other words, a 2PP swing advantage of 3.13%.

(There are reasons why both sides would, all else being equal, have done well on the Reps minus Senate indicator in Eden-Monaro.  The seat had no One Nation Reps candidate and no prominent independents, both candidate types which drag down the minor parties in several other NSW seats.  While it may seem independents mainly drag down the Coalition vote, there is very strong evidence from comparing Reps and Senate votes that in the rural seats of Cowper and Farrer it was mainly Labor voters who went over to independents Cowper and Mack.  Eden-Monaro also has a fairly high Shooters and Fishers vote.)

Another, simpler way of calculating candidate effects between the major parties in the Reps is to subtract the Senate 2PP from the Reps 2PP.  (I've just used the #1 candidate for each major party ticket to calculate the 2PP.)  In cases where there is a bad candidate for one of the parties, this method doesn't say whether the difference was caused by one party's candidate being good, the other party's being bad, or some combination of both.  It is also a rough measure because voters for particular Senate parties might preference one major over another but be less likely to distribute their Senate preferences.  Anyway, the 2019 Senate 2PPs in Eden-Monaro and NSW statewide were virtually identical (52.78 to Coalition vs 52.8).  However the Reps 2PP in Eden-Monaro was 49.15% for Coalition, compared to a statewide 51.8%.  On this comparison, Labor's performance through Mike Kelly comes out 2.63% better as a 2PP swing (or double that on 2PP margin).

But Senate vs Reps personal vote comparisons have one obvious flaw however they are done - they don't say to what extent a popular local member lifts both the party's Senate primary vote and its Reps vote.  Maybe the lift is minor, but it probably exists.  Given all the evidence, I think Antony Green's estimate of Kelly's personal vote at three to four points is likely to be on the money.

(William Bowe has also looked at personal votes by measuring differences from a vote share projected off demographic factors that influenced a specific election, but that method works less well in regional NSW).

So Labor is losing 3-4 points of personal vote, is that fatal?  Well, no, not by itself.  The average swing in Opposition by-elections is 1.2% to the Opposition, but that includes many vacating MPs who took large personal votes with them, former PMs Rudd and Fraser among them.  The best baseline for deducting Kelly's personal vote from is the typical swing from all by-elections, and this only cancels out that swing or nearly so.

So before we consider special factors, Labor seems slightly ahead.

Special Factors

The following are some special factors that may influence the election result:

* Candidates:

Labor have aimed for authenticity and crisis experience (and initially to cover off against Constance) with their selection of Kristy McBain, the first-term Bega Valley Mayor and second-term councillor who also became suddenly prominent leading local responses to the bushfire crisis, starting immediate speculation of a bigger career.  McBain, a lawyer and lapsed-then-recently-rejoined ALP member, does not come across like a career politician either, though she is being quick to stress that she has the experience to do the job.  Labor have been embarrassing various Coalition figures by quoting their praise of McBain from before she was a Labor candidate.

After a messy pre-preselection stoush involving John Barilaro, Andrew Constance and others the Liberals have gone for their 2019 candidate Fiona Kotvojs, who was the first female two-party-preferred candidate ever picked for this seat.  Kotvojs is a well-credentialled candidate with a PhD in education, experience in farming and charity (Oxfam) and as a voluntary counsellor, Army Reservist and fire service volunteer.  Kotvojs' past comments on climate change have come under some attack from the online left but these attacks are overblown, painting Kotvojs as a denialist for any remark seen as downplaying the threat (even in an area where Kotvojs has academic expertise).  Late in the campaign, Kotvojs' social issue views have also been challenged and it has also been suggested that she places cutting "green tape" above bushfire safety.

With Constance out, candidate factors are likely to favour Labor unless McBain has any political skeletons in the closet.  (The closet these days is usually Facebook; alleged goldfish neglect does not qualify).  The swing in Eden-Monaro in 2019 was not greatly different to the national average, so provides little evidence either way about Kotvojs' appeal, especially since Hendy was regarded as a dud incumbent.

Comments regarding Andrew Constance's possible appeal are no longer relevant and have been removed.  Constance was initially a confirmed candidate for preselection then withdrew the day after.  Some views of his likely vote-pulling appeal were probably overblown.

* The bushfires: Eden-Monaro was very severely impacted by the bushfires, which destroyed nearly 1000 properties in Constance's Bega electorate alone and caused severe smoke pollution even in areas not directly threatened by the fires.  The electorate was ground zero for the backlash against the Prime Minister's handling of the fires, including the infamous Cobargo incident in which PM Morrison was heckled by locals, some of whom were a few months ahead of their time in their desire to avoid shaking hands.  To what extent locals who would normally vote for the Coalition might still feel angry or abandoned could be a major factor here. In the final days there has been some public criticism of Kotvojs over very recent views that fuel load is the only significant factor in bushfire control.

* Coronavirus:  Of course economic recovery issues connected with the COVID-19 shutdowns are bound to be prominent in the campaign. A common theme has been that the COVID-19 crisis will give the government a massive lift in the by-election.  For sure, there is a reasonable historic relationship between government polling at the time of a by-election and swings at that by-election.  However, the by-election is still months away and a lot can change in terms of the government's standing at the time.  The other problem is that, as that relationship goes, there isn't much evidence even now that COVID-19 is shifting federal voting intentions.  Rather it so far seems to be mainly just boosting the Prime Minister's own ratings.  This is a little surprising, given that Australia has seen remarkably good results in containing COVID-19 thus far without needing to lock down as severely as some countries.  It is worth noting (see Tally Room) that there isn't much evidence of the disease in this electorate to this stage.

Peter van Onselen in The Australian has claimed that the previous case of a by-election win from a sitting government was pandemic-related and occurred "during the 1919 global pandemic".  This is false; Hugh Mahon lost in December 1920 after being expelled from the House for "seditious and disloyal utterances" against the British Empire over Ireland.  Not only was the pandemic over by that point, but it was also pretty much over in December 1919 when Mahon had recaptured his seat at the general election with a 3.4% swing to him.  (Overall there would have been a small 2PP swing against the Hughes government in 1919 had preferences existed in 1917, but this is meaningless as 1917 was a wartime election.)

(Van Onselen also claims that it would be unusual if such a popular PM as Morrison failed to win a by-election, but very popular PMs have failed to win Opposition by-elections before, even with close margins.  Labor in Hawke's first term contested five of them (vacated by heavy hitters Fraser, Snedden, Killen, Anthony and Street) for four swings against and a 0.1% swing in favour.

Something I don't expect to now be a factor is the three-cornered contest.  The Nationals running without Barilaro they will probably just poll a similar vote of several percent to last time with some of it leaking to Labor (in 2019 nearly 13% of Nationals preferences went to Labor).  That is not to say that a token Nationals candidate would be damaging.  Probably the votes they would leak to Labor would be voters who personally knew the National candidate, or idiosyncratic voters who would have preferenced Labor above the Liberals anyway.  The spoiler effect might look compelling if Labor again wins off this "leakage" but that wouldn't mean it was actually the cause.  The one risk factor here is if there is an upsurge in Nats voters preferencing against the Liberals for tactical reasons (keeping the seat clear for a run by Barilaro at the next election).  I doubt there's much in this though.

Forestry, which was a major issue in parts of this electorate in 2004, is likely to also continue to feature in this campaign.

I'd expect the Coalition chaos involving Barilaro and Constance, and the wider National Party infighting to have blown over in the minds of most voters by election day.  That said, some Nats are determined to destabilise Barilaro, presumably in the hope of causing a loss that can be pinned on him and destroying his leadership.

As for the Labor chaos at state level in Victoria, which has also had some ripples at federal level, plus the NSW state-level issue with Moselmane, I'd be surprised if Eden-Monaro voters saw either as a major issue, but it seems to at times have driven narrowing in betting for the seat.  The recent Newspoll suggests no impact of these issues on federal voting intention at all, but Newspoll often lacked natural volatility in the previous term.

The funding of the ABC is a late-breaking issue.  Labor believes it is on a winner here because polls show strong public support for the ABC and the seat has recently experienced its importance in emergency broadcasting.  The natural counter-attack will be that it is protecting inner-city jobs.

There have been a couple of unusual happenings during the campaign.  Firstly loopy and defamatory email attacks on the Labor candidate, including serious violations of the Electoral Act S 329 (such as falsely saying votes for Labor will be informal).  The Australian Federal Police have made an arrest over the matter.  Secondly a blooper in which a Labor ad talked about being "a local voice for Wagga Wagga" (the city's well outside the electorate, the council area abuts it.)  Apparently meant to say Tumut.


There have been various internal polling rumours that don't deserve that much attention.  A Nationals poll of a matchup between John Barilaro and Jim Molan was said to show Barilaro beating Molan on primaries then winning 52-48, which in view of the accuracy issues with seat polls lately would mean little even with Molan as the candidate.  It would not even show that Barilaro would beat a generic Liberal, as Molan has a cult following but would also have significant negatives in a within Coalition contest among moderate and possibly younger Liberal voters.  The Liberals were said to have polling by Crosby-Textor showing Constance beating Barilaro and McBain but no credible numbers or further details have been published.  Mutterings about a result in excess of 60-40 to journalists need not detain us here.

In mid-May an Australia Institute uComms robopoll was reported with a last-election 2PP of 51.1 to Labor off primaries that according to William Bowe came out as "Labor 39.8%, Liberal 34.3%, Nationals 7.3%, Greens 6.7% and One Nation 6.5%" after exclusion of what this pollster calls "undecided".  Seat polling is often very inaccurate for many reasons.  The poll found coronavirus and bushfire recovery to be taking a back seat as nominated issues to the economy, though concern about the economy may well be dominated by coronavirus-related impacts.  Other findings are bound to include the usual skewed waffle in TAI's issue questions.

On 25 May a further uComms robopoll commissioned by GetUp! was reported by the Guardian, supposedly showing agreement with a claim that the government was not doing enough about climate change.  Until full details of this poll have been published including all wording of all preambles and questions in the order asked I am not taking it seriously.

On 12 June Sky News reported an internal poll with a sample size of 600 said to show Kotvojs at 38%, McBain at 31%.  Nationals were on 6% and Greens on 6%, One Nation 3% (not running), Shooters 5%, Undecided 11%; on these numbers Kotvojs would win.  However, there seems to be no allowance for others, who while generally a waste of ballot paper would poll something.  No information on the pollster or dates is available.  It seems this is probably not a Liberal poll but it is unclear whose it is.  Parties sometimes release gloomy polls for the purposes of expectation management so this should be treated with caution.

On 18 June The Australian reported commissioned polls for The Australia Institute and Australian Forest Products Association, the former of which Simon Benson in his usual fashion spuriously described as "official". Both polls were by uComms.  The 2PPs were 52-48 to Labor (AFPA) (preference method not stated) and 53-47 to Labor (TAI) (last-election).

Primaries for the TAI poll with "undecided" redistributed (the way pollsters should report headline figures to avoid confusion) are:

ALP 39.0 (-0.2 compared to 2019 election) LIB 32.1 (-4.9) Nat 7.0 (-) Green 9.0 (+0.2) SFF 6.7 (+6.7) others 6.2 (-1.9).   Respondent preferences were 54-46 to Labor.  On these primaries, Labor would win easily, and the preferences of the Shooters would be irrelevant (their voters tend not to follow cards strongly anyway) so the idea that the Shooters hold the key to the by-election as claimed by the Australian is rubbish.  

Available primaries for the AFPA poll include Nats 6.7%, Greens 6.3%, Shooters 3.6%. 

(Thanks to readers who assisted me with paywall issues with reporting of these poll results.)

On 29 June the Nats gave the Australian selected details of another internal by an unnamed pollster conducted 25 June that they said showed figures of Liberal 34.3 Labor 29.3 National 11.5 Green 8.7 Shooters 4.6.  That leaves 11.6% unaccounted for, which surely includes several percent of undecided.  Kotvojs would win 54-46ish on these figures but released internal polling tends to favour its sponsor.  The sample size was 630.  The story also reported an earlier Nats internal taken 12 June with the majors at 36 apiece, Greens and Shooters 7, Nats 6 and 8% unaccounted for, on which numbers the seat would be very close.

On 3 July another TAI uComms was reported with a 2PP of 52-48 to Labor off primaries of ALP 39.3 Lib 38.3 Greens 7.5 Nats 5.2 Shooters 4.8 leaving 4.9 for nine others (after redistributing undecided).  The poll included questions about ABC funding which were completely worthless because they were preceded by a question reminding readers of the ABC's role in the bushfires coverage.  Based on last-election preferences the 2PP would be 50-50 according to William Bowe.

Ballot Draw

The ballot draw has favoured Labor by placing McBain above Kotvojs.  However, this was factored in to the 2019 result so is irrelevant in swing terms.  There may, however, be a special disadvantage in being placed last on the ballot (Peter Brent has recently found this has been as much as 2% to a candidate's primary vote).  The donkey vote advantage of being placed first is much less than 1% for most electorates.  The overall advantage of being above the other major party is about 0.5% 2PP, or 1% to the margin.


Betting is not reliably predictive but it is amusing to keep an eye on.  At a certain site that is in the doghouse for paying out early on the 2019 election and therefore is not being named on here at the moment, the Coalition was a narrow favourite as I started this article and has now come down to 1.55 vs 2.55.

Update 6 May: Following Constance's withdrawal odds were 1.80 vs 2.10, but I expect McBain to now become favourite.  (Further update: by the end of the night that was true, McBain 1.85 vs 2.10.)

7 May: McBain 1.65/2.20

12 May: 1.60/2.25

16 May: 1.70/2.25

24 May: 1.60/2.30

1 June: 1.51/2.55, ie an implied 63% chance of a Labor win.

8 June: 1.60/3.25/5.00.  (5.00 = Nationals.) Hard to really see the logic of the Nats running doing so much damage to the Liberals' odds.

11 June: 1.61/2.75/7.50

16 June: 1.70/2.65/7.50

17 June: 1.80/2.20/11.00

1 July: 1.60/2.25/12.00

5 pm 1 July: 1.70/2.10/15.00

1 am 3 July: 1.60/2.30 and who cares about the Nats odds anymore.

4:30 Election Day: 1.55/2.40, an implied 61% chance Labor wins.

Other Candidates

Aside from the question of whether or not the Nationals run, other candidates are likely to just be making up the numbers, but there are far too many of them and they will probably drive up the informal rate, will certainly slow the count, and may inspire dimwitted media articles pretending that their how to vote card preferencing decisions matter (very few voters follow minor or micro-party how-to-votes).  I support Antony Green's call to remove central nomination for by-elections and require 100 local nominators as proof of support.

The Greens have preselected Bega Valley Shire councillor Cathy Griff.

The Nationals have preselected Quenbeyan-Palorang councillor Trevor Hicks.

Other declared intending candidates include:

Joy Angel of "Sustainable Australia", a micro-party that appears to be environmental (a la the Greens), but also argues for immigration restrictions.  While it does so mainly on ostensibly environmental grounds, it can do so in a rather dog-whistly and alarmist manner, causing many on the left to regard it as xenophobic.  Angel ran in the ACT at the 2019 election.

Michael Balderstone (HEMP). Balderstone is from Nimbin, way outside the electorate.

Riccardo Bosi, a former candidate for Cory Bernardi's failed Australian Conservatives, now an independent candidate representing the unregistered Australia One party, a right-wing conspiracy theory outfit that believes a cartel of "China, Islam, globalists, socialists and transnational corporations" are seeking to control Australia.  Number of actual members, if plural, uncertain.  Bosi also has a business leadership website

Serial candidate James Jansson of the so-called Science Party, which is considered unworthy of the name on these pages for its unscientific opposition to Senate reform (see comments here)

James Holgate, an independent who also ran in 2019 polling 1.9%.  An interview with him from then can be seen here.  My general impression is that Holgate is left-wing (eg in one comment he said he was strongly pro same-sex marriage and also said he was opposed to Adani).  However Australia's number 1 micro-party mini-reviewer AndrĂ© Brett says Holgate is also a "sustainable population" type and his second HTV preference going to Angel would appear to bear this out.

Dean McCrae (Liberal Democrats), who has attracted some attention with a call to defund the World Health Organisation.

Karen Porter, an independent running on behalf of an unregistered party called the New Liberals, in fact an anti-Liberal small-l liberal/populist outfit.  It will be interesting to see whether this party succeeds in being registered under this name when the time comes as the Liberal Party are highly likely to challenge the name and might have some prospects of successfully arguing that it implies a connection with the Liberal Party.  There has been some reaction online (including from me) to the party's decision to preference the Christian Democrats third on its how to vote card (apparently because they are impressed with the CDP candidate's take on environmental matters).

Jason Potter of the Australian Federation Party, formerly the Country Alliance and Australian Country Party, essentially a wannabe alternative version of the Nationals.

Matthew Stadtmiller (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers), a local councillor who lives just outside the electorate.  Last year he was involved in a code of conduct incident.

Narelle Storey of the so-called Christian so-called Democrats, Fred Nile's religious morality party that has performed poorly in recent elections.

Andrew Thaler, a serial independent who ran for this seat in 2013 and 2016 polling just over 1% each time, has also run for NSW state parliament and has a colourful internet history

(Andrew Thaler did not nominate.)

See also

Poll Bludger guide
Tally Room guide


  1. Thank you for the detailed, 'slightly wonky' section on the personal vote. I hadn't seen such an analysis before and found it very interesting. As a newly arrived voter in the southern, coastal part of the electorate two things have struck me:
    1. The economic devastation already in place before the arrival of the Covid 19 crisis. A lot of people and businesses needed support that hadn't arrived.
    2. The significant social media presence of Kristy McBain through her work as Mayor. Very sophisticated compared to other local government efforts I have seen with a focus on active involvement of the community. I think there may have been some inkling of a future by-election requirement.
    We will see if these factors influence the result.

  2. the manner of the 2 glamour candidates withdrawl has harmed the non labor vote infighting & petty hatreds...... who would vote non labor now in Eden Monaro?

  3. Interesting summary. I wonder how much the "anyone but the other mob" plays out in these sort of things?

  4. Hi Kevin,

    As usual, your article is excellent.

    But First Dog on the Moon is good too!!!



  5. Kevin,

    Will Mike Kelly retiring because of ill health and then immediately taking a job with a defence company have any impact on Labor's chances in this bye-election?


    1. I don't think it will be a big factor. The circumstances under which an incumbent departs seem to have little impact on the size of swings at by-elections. For instance one might expect a party to get some kind of sympathy bounce when an incumbent dies as opposed to when an opponent resigns, especially since a lot of resignations are unforced and some treat the voters with contempt, but the average swing in by-elections caused by deaths and resignations is much the same.

  6. What on earth would possess a party to ditch a name like "Australian Country Party", which many micro-parties and some not-so-micro parties would probably kill to have, in favour of a bland pile of nothing like "Australian Federation Party"?