A Brief Analysis of the
2009 Palerang Council By-Election
Following from my analysis of the 2008 election count, here’s a brief run-down on the results of the March 2009 by-election. The final numbers, extracted from spreadsheets provided by the NSW Electoral Commission, were as follows:
|Polling Place||Anne Goonan||Richard Holding||Mark Horan||Formal||Informal||Total|
|% Formal Declaration||38.6%||28.2%||33.2%||100.0%||2.7%|
There were 9,513 residents on the electoral roll, making the turn out for the by-election 79.1%.
As the candidate who received the least number of primary votes, Mark Horan was excluded after the primary count.
Preference Distribution on exclusion of Mark Horan
|Anne Goonan||Richard Holding||Exhausted|
After the distribution of Mark Horan’s preferences, Anne Goonan was declared elected.
There are a couple of interesting observations to make from this result. First, as some predicted, Anne won the count in all of the western booths (with the exception of Captain’s Flat), supported by the rural residential population, while Mark won in the eastern booths, supported basically by the farming population. While he didn’t win in any booth, Richard ran a strong second almost everywhere, suggesting that his campaign was quite effective in gaining the vote from the broadly distributed Community First support base.
The other observation, the high number of ballots that exhausted during the preference distribution, is not, perhaps, that much of a surprise. It has been suggested that the instructions provided at voting booths were not very clear, and that many people may not even have realised that this was a preferential ballot. Whatever the reason, almost 60% of the voters who nominated Mark Horan as their first choice, provided no second preference. It is quite possible that many of these will have been people who simply didn’t care which of the other candidates were successful, if Mark wasn’t. As it was, however, if their votes had followed the same trend as those that did offer a second preference, they would not have changed the result.
It is also interesting to note that all candidates drew a respectable level of support from across the whole of Palerang. This might tempt one to suggest that any east/west ‘cultural rift’ is diminishing with time, as respective interest groups discover that they perhaps have more in common with some of their more distant neighbours than with those next door. If this is the case, it will certainly make for an interesting time as we prepare for a referendum on whether or not to introduce wards for future Council elections.