8.36pm. News report on ABC Online.
8.32pm. The last reporting booth, Avalon (the electorate’s second biggest), has added insult to injury – the only booth with a primary vote majority for McTaggart, his two-candidate vote was 65.6 per cent. His overall raw two-candidate vote is now up to 55.9 per cent, so it seems my calculations were doing their job.
8.30pm. Only the two-candidate result from Avalon still to come. I have McTaggart on 56.1 per cent, compared with a raw figure of 54.6 per cent.
8.23pm. I somehow failed to notice that the large (9.5 per cent) Avalon booth had yet to submit its results earlier. It’s the biggest booth in McTaggart’s Northern Ward and its result has further widened his lead.
8.15pm. Most of the two-party count is now in. The SEO has McTaggart with 54.4 per cent and Nicolaou on 45.6 per cent. Special votes evidently lean particularly in the Liberals’ favour because my projection has McTaggart on 53.0 per cent. Either way, the outcome is not in doubt. After earlier having laughed off Liberal talk of a primary vote below 40 per cent and a 46.5-53.5 defeat on two-candidate, I now promise never to disbelieve a politician again.
7.58pm. An ordinary night at the office for the Greens, whose supporters have evidently jumped on the Alex McTaggart bandwagon. Those who thought the Democrats had already hit rock bottom have been given cause to think again. Patricia Giles and Robert Dunn both polled disappointingly.
7.55pm. The last primary vote figures for the night are in, from Mona Vale (10.2 per cent) and Mona Vale Beach (3.4 per cent). Nicolaou at least led on the primary vote in these booths, but in both the Liberal vote was down 23.1 per cent.
7.50pm. Now to survey the damage. The Liberals did not do quite so badly outside of the Pittwater Council area – the lost about 15 per cent of the primary vote in Narrabean and 12.7 per cent in Terrey Hills. But within the council area their vote was down almost half, generally moving from the sixties to the upper thirties.
7.44pm. Well, I got one thing right – my preference estimates were all but perfect. Results from four booths show McTaggart getting 49.5 per cent (I gave him half), Nicolau getting 16.1 per cent (my guess was 16.6 per cent) and 34.4 per cent exhausting (33.3 per cent for me).
7.41pm. Another flurry of results leaves only two booths to be counted, one of which is Mona Vale, the electorate’s largest. But with McTaggart ahead on the primary vote, nothing can save the Liberals now.
7.22pm. Eight booths are in all of a sudden and it’s clear we have a boilover here – barring a miracle in the larger booths, McTaggart has won.
7.15pm. It might also be worth mentioning that the actual two-candidate vote at War Vetarans Home (616 votes) was 59.7 per cent for Nicolaou and 40.3 per cent for McTaggart.
7.11pm. Presumably the SEO is maintaining its habit of providing booth results in indigestible bursts. Allow me to while away the time with two small observations – a) the exhaustion rate is almost certain to be lower than the War Veterans Home reults suggest; b) the Scotland Island booth actually had an increase in turnout, from 198 to 219 voters, and dit not record a single informal vote.
7.00pm. There were 86 votes for the four minor candidates at War Veterans Home – of these 32 went to McTaggart, nine went to Nicolaou and 45 exhausted. A tiny sample, but if representative, it will mean that my two-party calculation flatters McTaggart. I will wait for another booth before I replace my estimates with the actual results.
6.41pm. Results from two quirky small booths are in. Scotland Island is particularly eccentric, having voted 47.7 per cent for the Greens in 2003. This time both their vote and the Liberal vote (from 30.1 per cent to 19.6 per cent) is way down. In the smaller War Veterans Home, the Liberal vote is down from 66.8 per cent to 53.6 per cent, enough to almost make it interesting if played out over the whole electorate. Also interesting to note that the booth is not in Pittwater Council.
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Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the Pittwater by-election. Providing my internet connection behaves, the site will provide updates every few minutes on the progress of the count as each booth result comes in. The first of these should be in a little after 6.30pm EST. The table above will provide raw figures for the primary vote along with a two-candidate preferred calculation which assumes that a) the primary vote swing for or (more likely) against the Liberal Party will be the same in uncounted booths as in those for which results are available, and b) that half of the preferences of the four minor candidates will go to independent Alex McTaggart, a sixth will go to Liberal candidate Paul Nicolaou and a third will exhaust.
The above map provides a rough idea of Pittwater’s council ward boundaries, which should shed some light on local variations in voting patterns. The electorate also includes populated areas of neighbouring Warringah Council around Terrey Hills (part of which is beyond the western limit of the map) and Narrabean. The map also includes the locations of polling booths and provides percentages figure indicating each booth’s share of the total vote at the 2003 State election. There will be one change in the booth arrangements for the by-election, with the Lagoon Street booth (located a short distance north of the Narrabean booth) replaced by Narrabean Beach (located further south). The percentage figure provided for Narrabean Beach is that for Lagoon Street, hence the asterisk.
Both McTaggart and Greens candidate Natalie Stevens represent the Pittwater Council’s Northern Ward, where the tickets they led respectively polled 25.7 per cent and 18.6 per cent of the vote at last year’s council election. Christian Democratic Party candidate Patricia Giles is a former mayor who represents Central Ward, where her ticket polled an impressive 49.2 per cent. The remaining candidates are independent Robert Dunn, another former mayor, and Democrats candidate Mario Nicotra.