Is an ABC weatherman a celebrity? Is Joe Hockey in danger of losing his seat of North Sydney to Mike Bailey? Is yet another “conscripted celebrity” news story good for Team Rudd?
The answer to all three is no.
There’s nothing wrong with Mike Bailey running in a seat he can’t win. Somebody has to do it.
And there are probably some North Sydney folk who will vote Labor for the first time now it is represented by a comforting, familiar face they associate with their evening meat and three veg.
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But it is likely other voters will shift to the knockabout “good bloke to have a beer with” Workplace Relations Minister.
And making itself further vulnerable to ABC/chardonnay caricature is never good for the ALP at a wider level.
One theory has it that the seat is vulnerable because it and its state counterpart have been held by independents, most famously Ted Mack. This totally misunderstands the appeal of independents; in fact, Bailey would stand a better chance running as an independent.
On the other hand, as Charles Richardson pointed out yesterday, the seat of North Sydney has been moving towards Labor over the last decade. The graph shows Labor’s two party preferred votes in North Sydney, New South Wales and Australia at the last four elections.
The North Sydney bar (in red) has been growing, especially relative to the state and federal ones. This is not because of redistributions, but voter realignment.
For example, going into the 1998 election, Hockey’s margin was about 16 percent; now it is 10.
Perhaps most strikingly, while the national and state bars dropped in 2004, North Sydney continued to rise.
In 2007 we can expect it to move further upwards, especially if, as is likely, the other two jump substantially. But it is very hard to see it hitting 50 percent mark.
Maybe one day Labor will win North Sydney, but not this year.