A political eternity ago, five byelections were held on July 28. On August 30, the electoral commission provided detailed preference flow data.
Labor won Longman by 54.5-45.5 against the LNP, a 3.7% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.8% Labor, 29.6% LNP, 15.9% One Nation, 4.8% Greens and 9.8% for all Others. 67.7% of One Nation voters preferenced the LNP ahead of Labor, a massive increase from 43.5% at the 2016 election.
Labor also had weaker flows from the Greens, winning 76.5% of their preferences, down from 80.7%. However, Labor won 59.0% of preferences from Other candidates, including 81% from the DLP.
At the 2016 election, One Nation recommended preferences to Labor ahead of the LNP in Longman; at the byelection, they reversed their recommendations. However, I believe the largest factor in the One Nation shift is that they were perceived as an anti-establishment party in 2016, but are now clearly a right-wing party.
One Nation’s preference flows in Longman vindicate Newspoll’s decision to assign about 60% of One Nation’s preferences to the Coalition, rather than the 50-50 split that occurred at the 2016 election.
Labor won Braddon by 52.3-47.7 against the Liberals, a 0.1% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.3% Liberal, 37.0% Labor, 10.6% for independent Craig Garland, 4.8% Shooters and 4.0% Greens. 74.3% of Garland preferences favoured Labor, just above 73.7% from the Greens, while Shooters preferences split evenly between the two parties.
The Greens to Labor preference flow was low in Braddon as the Greens were at the top of the ballot paper, thus receiving the “donkey vote”. As the Liberals were listed before Labor, they benefited from donkey votes who voted Greens.
The Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie defeated the Liberals by 57.5-42.5 in Mayo, a 2.6% swing to Sharkie. Primary votes were 44.4% Sharkie, 37.4% Liberal, 8.9% Greens and 6.1% Labor. Over 78% of Labor and Greens preferences flowed to Sharkie.
The Liberals won the two party preferred vote in Mayo against Labor by 55.7-44.3, a 0.3% swing to the Liberals since the 2016 election. This result implies that over two-thirds of non-Labor/Liberal voters (most of them Sharkie’s voters) preferenced Labor ahead of the Liberals.
The WA seats of Perth and Fremantle were not contested by the Liberals. In Perth, primary votes were 39.3% Labor (up 2.0% since 2016), 18.8% Greens (up 1.7%), 9.5% for independent Paul Collins and 6.7% Liberal Democrats. In the distribution of preferences, Collins came within 0.4% of pushing the Greens into third, despite starting 9.3% behind. Labor defeated the Greens by 63.1-36.9 after preferences.
In Fremantle, primary votes were 52.6% Labor (up 11.6%), 16.5% Greens (down 1.2%) and 14.1% Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems overtook the Greens by 0.5% in the distribution of preferences, with Labor winning by 73.3-26.7 against the Lib Dems.
Overall, Labor had strong performances in Longman and Fremantle, but did not do very well in the other seats. The Greens failed to benefit from the Liberals’ absence in Perth and Fremantle.
Turnout was just 64-66% in the WA seats, with no Liberal candidate. In Mayo and Longman, turnout was 84-86%, and in Braddon it was 90.4%.
Analyst Kevin Bonham has a detailed review of the polling at these byelections.