Saturday, April 13, 2024

2024 Cook By-Election: Well I Don't Think I Should Call It "Live", But Anyway ...

COOK (Lib vs ALP 12.4% - ALP not contesting)
Cause of by-election: resignation of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Lib)
CALLED 6:46 pm Liberal retain - Simon Kennedy replaces Scott Morrison.  
Liberals win on first preferences. 


9:09 Such postals as are going to be counted tonight is in now, and there is no change to the overall pattern with Simon Kennedy on a primary vote of 62.7% and a 2CP of 70.8%.  Nothing to concern the Liberals in one of their safest seats tonight but it is not in such places the next election will be won and lost. Unless something crops up that needs debunking, that is all from me for tonight.  

8:20 Animal Justice are opening up a gap to the Libertarians for third but postals might narrow this.  Overall the Liberal result is no cause for concern - they would expect some aspect of swing against them over the departure of an ex-PM, but also swings to them because there is no Labor candidate; to come out with a gain of 6.5% out of primary vote off those two things seems fine.  But I wouldn't say it's an especially good result because there's no basis for making such a call when the opposition is so weak.  

8:11 With turnout already up to 74.4% and no postals counted yet I think turnout could finish at something around 84%, about an 8.5% decline.  For sure it will be better than the average turnout decline for a by-election with only one major not contesting.  

7:40 The fight for third is not that interesting but it looks like Sustainable Australia will lose their deposit (and no one else will).  The informal vote is quite high at about 7% but that will move on different kinds of votes and checking.

7:25 That trend slightly down is continuing; it's looking more like 71 at the moment.

7:20 As more booths come in the 2CP is tracking down to below 73 so this is probably just going to be one of the more lopsided recent by-elections and not the record.

7:00 This is currently tracking for a very lopsided 2CP indeed as the booths counted to 2CP all have double-digit pseudo-swings, pointing to a 2CP in the low to mid 70s for the Liberals if that continues.  In the days since all by-elections were thrown to a final 2CP, there hasn't been a 2CP above 74, so this might be some sort of record at the present pace, but we'll see if it stays that high or not.  

6:46 Four booths are in now and there is still a sizeable swing to both the Liberals and Greens; any swing to the Liberals means Simon Kennedy wins on first preferences as the baseline is 55.5%, so this can be safely called now.  We also have one booth in on 2CP with a 10% pseudo-swing to the Liberals (I call it this because Lib vs ALP should not be compared to Lib vs Green in a seat where the Greens do not poll as well as Labor.)

6:43 The first booth is in with a 9.2% swing to the Liberals on primary vote and a 13% swing to the Greens; this is however a high Labor booth so I expect at least one of those to drop at later booths.  

6:05 pm Introduction

This is a quick thread about tonight's Cook by-election which will feature updates through tonight's count, though probably not at my usual pace as I'll be cooking dinner at the same time.  Refresh now and then from about 7 pm onwards for comments scrolling to the top.  

There has been a lot of concern about turnout at this by-election and with good reason, as by-election turnouts are often down considerably when one major party does not contest.  Since 1983 the average turnout swing has been 13.8% for by-elections not contested by one or the other major party, except for Holt 1999 which I've excluded because it was held on the same day as the Republic referendum.  This is blown out by massive turnout drops in Perth (-24%) and Fremantle (-22.7%) in the 2018 Super Saturday by-elections; these were safe Labor seats not contested by the Liberal government.  For seats contested by both majors, the average turnout drop is 7%.  

The turnout will not be final for about two weeks.  Every by-election there are silly people in media social and otherwise whinging about the turnout before all the numbers are counted.  People should either wait for the numbers or at least consult informed projections of the final turnout figures.  

In the leadup the turnout had been running at well below 2022 but there was a surge in prepolls late in the piece and I now have the prepoll turnout down only about 2%, while postals will be down about 7%.  

As for results, it is challenging to read useful things into margins when one major party does not contest.  This is a seat where even in a by-election and with a vacancy for an ex-Prime Minister, the Liberal Party should win very comfortably indeed, there will be some interest in whether or not they are taken to preferences and who is second.  A uComms poll gives some vague idea of the sort of result we might see.  

I should note the prepoll configuration is very different.  Apart from Caringbah which has a similar prepoll total to 2022, the Miranda prepoll has only about half its previous vote tally and the slack seems to have been picked up by Cronulla and Ramsgate; several small prepolls from 2022 are not included.  

The AEC will count the 2CP as Liberal vs Green.  If someone else is clearly second the count may be realigned in coming days or it may be left for the distribution of preferences if the outcome is clear.  

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