Nov 27, 2017

Strange bedfellows: Liberal voters won Northcote for the Greens

Without a candidate of their own, Liberal voters turned up to contribute to the Greens swing in Northcote writes Charles Richardson.

Charles Richardson — Editor of The World is not Enough

Charles Richardson

Editor of The World is not Enough

There was some discussion in the media recently on the fact that results of the same-sex marriage plebiscite showed a gap between the opinions of Liberal Party voters and most of their representatives. Safe Liberal seats almost all returned big majorities for Yes, even when their MPs were strongly of the opposite opinion. In the most striking case, Tony Abbott’s electorate of Warringah voted 75% in favor of marriage equality.

There’s been less attention paid to the revelation of another gap between the official Liberal Party attitude and the views of its supporters on another issue, that of giving preferences to the Greens.

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17 thoughts on “Strange bedfellows: Liberal voters won Northcote for the Greens

  1. Xoanon

    The Liberal establishment’s problem is that it’s harder to scare well-educated voters with silly slurs about extremist Marxists etc; especially when Di Natale is quite obviously not terrifying to anyone other than Labor Party strategists.

  2. Teddy

    There is nothing “curious” or “strange” about close relationships between Greens and Liberal voters. I live in a suburb (inner west of Sydney) where both groups co-exist happily, and are basically identical. I certainly can’t tell them apart. They are wealthy enough to live in Sydney’s most affluent inner city and waterfront suburbs, and they have identical lifestyles and aspirations.

    My electorate of Balmain has had a Greens MP since 2011. At that election, the Liberals actually came first – but after multiple preference counts, the Greens inched into second place, and then collected Labor’s preferences.

    The Greens also do extremely well on the North Shore, Northern Beaches and Vaucluse – usually bating the Labor party. In both Abbots and Turnbull’s electorates, they regally come second I expect to seeing a lot more Lib/Grn correlation graphs from now on in Crikey, especially now that the DiNatale forces have won in NSW, and ousted Lee Rhiannon.

    1. CML

      Re your comment on Lee Rhiannon…I assume, therefore, that you are happy to endorse the ‘new’ candidate for the Senate in NSW?
      I ask this because her husband had a long series of tweets published recently, which are patently unacceptable on the question of ‘white people’ in the community. Assuming that said candidate agrees with her husband, isn’t this a view more allied in reverse (anti-white as opposed to anti-muslim) to that of the PHONies?????
      More evidence of right-wing tendencies in the Greens!!

      1. Teddy

        CML, I suspect you are referring to Dr Mehreen Faruqi’s son – Osman Faruqi, the journalist for Junkee, whose tweets have recently been in the news in connection to his defamation action against Mark Latham, not her husband. And I’m not sure why you would assume her views align with those of her husband, or any member of her family. But then you are making a weird assumption about me too, one that is totally wrong. I am not “endorsing” anyone.

        Dr Mehreen Faruqi, the NSW upper house MP who has now been pre-selected to replace Lee Rhiannon as senate candidate first has to get a senate quota in NSW, something that in NSW the Greens have not managed without the help of preferences. She probably will. Rhiannon and her allies in the NSW party has been retarding the Greens vote here for years.

        The point I was making is that Greens and Liberal voters are basically the same people. Unique electoral situations (like the Libs not standing) are a factor, but in general the Greens can only win seats where lots of rich boomers live (Prahran, Balmain, Newtown, Melbourne, Northcote), or where they retire to (around Byron Bay). Tell me I’m wrong…

        1. CML

          Where did the ‘son’ get his ideas from, if not influenced by family? Makes no difference…unless the Greens candidate comes out and denounces her son’s views, I think this reflects VERY BADLY on the Greens.
          I wouldn’t vote for anyone with raci+t family members!
          As for the NSW Greens…better the devil you know…and I don’t live in NSW, so this is just a general observation.
          Teddy…sorry if I have taken your former comments the wrong way…and also for the ‘husband’ rather than ‘son’ mistake. I’m not that interested in Greens shenanigans, but those tweets might just as well have come from an alleged terrorist suspect…no doubt someone will be keeping an eye on the ‘author’ of same, and rightly so!!

          1. MAC TEZ

            Oh come on CML,be honest. You being you,if you had to chose between voting for any kind of Greens candidate and an ALP candidate who had racist family members as well as being an axe-murdering,child molester …the ALP would still be getting your vote.

  3. Russell Bell

    At first glance of the results in inner city seats like South Brisbane and Maiwar in the Queensland election seems to show larger swings against the the LNP than the ALP that then go to the Greens. This seems to support Charles’s theory and also makes the ‘liberals on bikes’ description of the greens that some people use more accurate!

  4. CML

    This article agrees with what I have said many times on this blog…the Greens are becoming ‘right’ wing, and you can’t be progressive and conservative at the same time.
    That is an oxymoron!!!

    1. Stuart Johnson

      I don’t see the Greens going right wing at all, and a bunch of Liberal voters choosing to pick the best chance against Labor in an election in which the Liberals aren’t running is hardly evidence that they are. Some may, in the absence of their usual party just decide to vote based on certain issues, like the Great Forest National Park (remember when there used to be Liberals For Forests?)
      Furthermore, there is a tendency of the Greens to do well when there is no longer an incumbent Labor member, even at general elections when the Liberals do run (e.g. Melbourne), so clearly many Labor voters are changing to the Greens as well, and in a by-election like this it is wrong to assume that it is just the Liberal vote from the last election splitting between Labor and Green, there will be some Labor voters changing to Green, with their numbers covered by Liberal voters choosing to vote Labor in the absence of a Liberal candidate, so we don’t have exact numbers on how many erstwhile Liberal voters voted Green.

      1. Charles Richardson

        I’m not suggesting that the Greens are “becoming right wing”, for one thing because you’d first need to work out what that means. I certainly don’t think you can be “progressive and conservative at the same time”; I think the Greens are progressive, and I think a fair chunk of the Liberal voter base is as well. But then I don’t think there’s necessarily anything progressive about the trade unions.
        “… it is wrong to assume that it is just the Liberal vote from the last election splitting between Labor and Green” – indeed it is, and I didn’t say that. My point is that the correlation between the previous Liberal vote and the swing to the Greens suggests that there is more of a preference to Greens among Liberal voters than you would think from just listening to the Liberal leadership. The correlation doesn’t prove that, but I think it’s fairly strong evidence.

        1. Stuart Johnson

          Thanks for the reply Charles, in refuting the claim that the Greens were becoming right wing I was specifically taking issue with the comment above mine, not with your original article.

  5. AR

    If Libs vote Green it does not suggest the latter are tory – it means that torys are not completely braindead and are able to see that the reeking hulk of the LNP is an affront to Heaven.

  6. Bro Sheffield-Brotherton

    There are a series of qualitative speculations here with a graph throw =n in to make it look as if some causalities may have been identified. Since the by-election, it has been claimed by ALP entitled types that they lost Northcote despite running a brilliant campaign and because 70% of Greens voters are really closet Liberals anyway. But what show the detailed date show? The 2PP result in Northcote last week (without a Liberal running) is very similar to the result in the same booths in the 2016 Federal Election – yep surprise, surprise thing have changed quite a lot since 2014. Also in the 2016 Federal Election a higher proportion of Nationals voters preferenced Labor than did Greens voters preference the Liberals. these data sets are very large and “analysts” might do well to consult them and see what, if anything, might be drawn from them. News Corp narratives have not “universally taken hold” because they are in the main as implausible as they have long been, but moreover they are being expressed ever more shrilly by the 1-10% as the decades-old neoliberal model is being exposed for unfair chimera it is – and fewer people are falling for it.

    1. shea mcduff

      Very informative Bro.
      I checked the AEC and Vic EC booths for Northcote at the last 3 elections [federal, state, state by-election] and – guess what “the detailed data show” – you’re right! “As in: ” The 2PP result in Northcote last week (without a Liberal running) is very similar to the result in the same booths in the 2016 Federal Election” with a Liberal running. Contrary to the headline of this article the Libs were irrelevant to this latest result.

      1. Charles Richardson

        As any writer will tell you, we’re not responsible for the headlines. But in fact the federal data doesn’t change the picture. Go to this table for the 2PP swing to the Greens in Batman 2016 (it’s the last column, reverse the sign) and do the same thing I did in my graph: plot them against the strength of the Liberal primary vote. You’ll find the correlation disappears. Of course, strong Greens booths are still strong whether there’s a Liberal running or not, but my point is that there is a component of the swing that seems to be coming from Liberal voters.

        1. shea mcduff

          Try this instead.
          The first 5 booths that are common to both Northcote at the state level and Batman at the federal level gave the Greens the following % of primary votes in 2016:
          Alphington – ALP [Feeney] 341 votes equated to 27% of primaries in that booth: Greens 593 votes which equated to 46% of the primary for that booth.
          Alphington North -ALP 342 votes [31%] to Greens 394 votes [36%]
          Bell -ALP 502 votes [28%] to Greens 889 votes [49%]
          Croxton – ALP 300 votes [27%] to Greens 598 votes [55%]
          Northcote – ALP 415 votes [26%] to Greens 953 votes [54%]

          Now I stopped there last night cos it was taking a long time and unless there was a vastly different picture in the other booths common to Batman and Northcote at state level then Bro S-B’s comment that the detailed data showed similarity with the win at state level without the Libs.
          So just now I looked at the next 2 booths common to Northcote 2017 and Batman 2016.
          Fairfield -ALP 419 votes [26%] to Greens 818 votes [50%]
          Northcote North – ALP 352 votes [27%] to Greens 689 votes [52%]

          Yep, the detail shows that with or without the Libs running, Northcote booths are strongly Greens at federal and state level.

          1. Charles Richardson

            Yes, of course, that’s what I just said – strong Greens booths are strong, with or without a Liberal candidate. That’s not the point; what matters is the change in the Greens’ position vis-a-vis Labor, and the data shows that in the absence of a Liberal candidate, that correlated with the previous strength of the Liberal vote.

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