Mulgrave by-election minus sixteen days

A field of ten candidates for Daniel Andrews’ old seat includes the independent who outpolled the Liberals last year.

Today was the day of the ballot paper draw for the Victorian state by-election for Daniel Andrews’ old seat of Mulgrave, to be held a fortnight from Saturday on November 18, an occasion I have marked with the publication of my by-election guide. Ten candidates have nominated, a substantial field by normal standards but not a match for the thirteen challengers Andrews attracted last November.

For what it’s worth, independent Ian Cook drew highest out of the fancied contenders at number three, followed by Liberal candidate Courtney Mann at five and Labor candidate Eden Foster at eight. This will be the first outing for the Liberal Democrats under their new name of Libertarians, and their candidate has drawn top position on the ballot paper. The party under its old name could count on a major spike in its vote if the ballot paper gave it greater prominence than the other Liberal party – we will see what happens this time.

This is Victoria’s third state electoral event since Labor’s re-election in November last year, following the supplementary election for Narracan in January (required due to the death of a candidate during the campaign period before the election) and the Warrandyte by-election in August, neither of which were contested by Labor. This time both Labor and Liberal are in the field, as is independent Ian Cook, who made it to the final preference count and slightly outpolled the Liberals on the primary vote.

Ignoring Jeff Kennett’s argument that the party should give Cook a clear run, the Liberals have preselected Courtney Mann, policy adviser to state leader John Pesutto. The Donald Trump-admiring candidate from 2022, Michael Piastrino, responded to Mann’s preselection by endorsing Ian Cook, his own favoured preselection contender having been overlooked. Whoever out of the two makes the final count will need a swing of 10% to 11% to defeat Labor, whose candidate is Eden Foster, clinical psychologist and mayor of Greater Dandenong.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

16 comments on “Mulgrave by-election minus sixteen days”

  1. Exciting times for the cookers (and the MSM)

    Just watch them carry on about the ALP being in mortal danger in this by-election.

    The MSM in Victoria reminds me of a broken clock. If they keep predicting the demise of the ALP eventually it will come true!

    My candidate will lose but 80% of her preferences will go to the eventual winner.

    The press will be orgasmic in their delight if the ALP candidate loses one of Dan’s votes – who you may remember won on primaries in 2022 – despite confident predictions he would lose his seat.

    Prediction: ALP 55/45 to Slug man in second. (It’s a by-election in a safe seat).

  2. It really is incredible how the the Victorian Liberals keep gaslighting themselves and their supporters into believing this seat is in any kind of danger of falling to another candidate.

  3. I concur with MABWM’s prediction. It’s a safe seat byelection in the government’s 3rd term and Dan’s personal vote is lost, there will be a swing against notwithstanding that there’s no sign of such a swing in the statewide polls. But it won’t be nearly enough to lose the seat.

  4. Easy Labor retain with a small swing against. Mulgrave won’t go Liberal unless there’s a fairly strong Liberal majority statewide, which I cannot imagine happening in the forseeable future.

  5. Given Dan Andrews’ marmite personality, by the time of the last election in 2022 was his personal vote net positive or net negative?

    I was just musing over the possibility of a swing to Lab at the B-E, although I suppose even an unwinding of a net negative personal vote would be countered by the normal loss of votes of the governing party at a B-E.

    Either way, I assume nothing major enough has happened since the 2022 election to think this won’t be a Lab hold?

    FWIW from my perch a long way away, I think Ian Cook’s time has been and gone, his personal ‘slugging’ of DA (pun intended) will no longer have the same impact without DA on the ballot. People will be starting to look to the future more in Mulgrave now and Cook will finish 3rd or 4th (IMHO).

  6. “Given Dan Andrews’ marmite personality, by the time of the last election in 2022 was his personal vote net positive or net negative?”

    Dan won three elections in a row. The last two were emphatic landslides. Those who loathed him were highly vocal. Yet his support across the electorate at large was overwhelming.

    Andrews as a negative is And always was an LNP fantasy.

    The rabid Murdoch papers have been baying for blood for a decade. Their problem is that people’s lived experience did not match what they were being told. I spent election day handing our for the Greens at a hostile booth. I was abused all day. So were the Labor volunteers. But the ALP won the booth quite well. The Green candidate got 15%.

    The libs are very noisy, but the rest of the electorate marched in and got the job done.

    The libs actually thought they were going to win. The polls never moved from 55/45 to Labor For 6 years.

    Libs and their supporters are stuck in their own amplified echo chamber. Long May they stay there.

    The Vic libs have been completely and utterly conquered by conservative fundamentalist preacher types. They are GAWN.

  7. MABWM

    Thanks for your general local intel – much of which I wouldn’t disagree from my more limited knowledge – but I was asking about Mulgrave specifically.

    In any case, none of what you say answers whether Lab would have done better or worse statewide with another candidate, just because they won a landslide doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have done with a different leader.

    Clearly DA was a marmite character. That presumably translates into him being a net positive in a good many seats and a net negative in a good many others.

    My question was which was he in his own seat and how that might help us predict the sort of % majority his successor might win at the BE.

    He had a 5.6% 2PP swing against him in 2022 in Mulgrave (and -8% on primary) – obviously a lot worse than Lab’s result statewide. But that doesn’t tell the full story and it was from a strong high water mark from the previous election.

    Is anyone able to answer my question re Mulgrave or is it just a ‘known unknown’ ?! 🙂

  8. Swing will be against Labor in Mulgrave. It’s a by election. It is safe to lodge a protest vote. But Labor will retain the seat comfortably on 2pp. The Main takeout is that the libs will claim the result as a win for them, whatever it is.

    They are cookers, one and all.

    The 2022 win was ‘cult leader’ Dan’s win all the way. The libs focus on him highlighted he was doing a decent job while they had gone full MAGA. We will never know of course, but I would say Dan was a net positive for the ALP. The majority looked at the cookers and thought they are just frothing at the mouth without espousing anything. Lived experience did not match the hyperbole.

  9. Does anyone else have the fantasy that Ian Cook actually wins, but then loses his Slug Gate trial and costs are awarded against him and he is declared bankrupt and must resign? Which would be just a few weeks after being elected.

  10. So if the theory is that Dan Andrews suppressed the Victorian Labor vote, imagine how badly (s) they would have done without him……

    TheLobs would want to hope he had a huge personal vote, because they are barely a presence in Parliament at the moment.

  11. My prediction for the by-election is that there will barely be any 2PP swing, maybe only 1-2%. Here’s what I think will happen:

    – Some of Ian Cook’s vote will actually go back to Labor. He basically appealed only to the anti-Dan crowd, most of which were Lib voters anyway but some of which were previous Labor voters who might return to the fold with Dan not on the ballot. These primary votes will go Cook -> ALP, won’t be much but maybe 2-3%.

    – This will be cancelled out by the expected by-election swing against a government, which would include any personal vote Dan had amongst swinging voters who weren’t among the anti-Dan cookers. This will probably be around 3-4% swing from Labor to Liberal.

    – There will be a huge primary vote swing from Ian Cook to the Liberals and other right-wing parties because he’s not relevant anymore. This could be around 10%.

    So basically on primary votes I think we’d be looking at maybe a -3% for Labor, -12% for Ian Cook, +13% for the Liberals, and in 2PP terms the needle will barely move. I predict around 59-41.

    But the Liberals will take that as a big “win” because of their big primary vote swing, even though it will really just be that the whole myth of “Only Ian Cook can beat Dan” will no longer be cannibalising their vote.

  12. Trent, my gut feeling is you are probably spot on with your analysis. 2 pp will likely be between the libs and Labor, but I desperately hope slug man puts the libs in third.

    The libs will claim the moral victory whatever happens. They are the Jonny bairstow’s of Australian politics.

    55/45 alp vs all comers. And the cookers and libs and nutters will go troppo with excitement.

    New poll today on Victorian voting intention in the Age shows …… no change. Still a danslide.

  13. Any swing against the ALP could be closer to 5% with the loss of a high profile local member and rising cost of living pressures.

  14. 55/45 is a swing of 5%!

    Two candidate preferred vote 2022
    Candidate Party % of preferred votes
    ANDREWS, Daniel Australian Labor Party – Victorian Branch 60.20%
    PIASTRINO, Michael Liberal 39.80%

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