Mulgrave by-election live

Live coverage of the count for Victoria’s Mulgrave state by-election.

Click here for full display of Mulgrave by-election results.

End of Saturday night

Labor candidate Eden Foster’s 40.1% primary vote, while more than 10% down on Daniel Andrews’ share in November 2022, is enough to ensure the only remaining point of interest is who finishes second. Liberal candidate Courtney Mann leads independent Ian Cook by 21.6% to 18.9%, leaving 19.5% from various other candidates to be distributed among the three during the preference count. To close the gap, Cook’s share of the latter needs to be 13.85% higher than Mann’s, whereas at the general election he did little better than equal it (29.6% to 29.2%, the rest going to Andrews), and there’s little reason to expect different this time.

Consequently, the 56.2-43.8 split in Labor’s favour on the indicative TCP count is of only academic interest, and will probably be pulled over the next few days and a fresh Labor-versus-Liberal count conducted. Based on my own preference estimates, I’m projecting Labor to win that one by 56.5-43.5, though it seems that’s at the high end of what’s generally expected. This gives Labor 25% of preferences from Ian Cook, 80% from the Greens, 83% from Victorian Socialists, 64% from Animal Justice, 30% of Libertarians and 25% from Family First, and splits the rest evenly. To pull off a freakish win, Mann would need 74% of all preferences.

Live commentary

11.35pm. We’ve got what I take to be our final numbers for the evening, which include a third batch of early votes that were very strong for Labor — so much so that they are now performing above par on early votes, in swing terms.

10.51pm. A big missing piece of the puzzle has been added with the second batch of early votes on TCP, which had hitherto been in the count only as primary vote. What was previously listed as a 27.2% swing against Labor on TCP now registers as 9.9%. They have nonetheless slightly boosted Ian Cook’s vote against Labor on the progressive TCP count, which is unlikely to be the one that applies at the final count. Still outstanding for this evening are one booth on both primary TCP, and another just on TCP.

10.23pm. Labor have claimed victory and Liberal have conceded defeat, although the Liberals at least say they expect to finish ahead of Cook.

10.19pm. The last two updates have brought three TCP booth results, which confirm what was already known.

9.51pm. The only new result in the latest update is a TCP result from the Brandon Park booth, which slightly improved Ian Cook’s position relative to Labor. Whether that becomes the operative count is still an open question, but Labor is clearly not in danger either way.

9.34pm. The latest update brings another election day booth primary vote result, which does nothing to change the situation.

9.21pm. The latest update brings one new election day booth on the primary vote, and it must have been a good result for Labor because it’s almost cancelled out the impact of my correction to the error that was selling the Liberals short on the TCP projection (it had been splitting preferences 50-50, whereas now it’s going about 58-42 to the Liberals).

9.17pm. I note that a big new batch of pre-polls got added on the primary vote in the previous update, and they confirmed my earlier suspicions — the swing against Labor on the primary vote is now 13.4%, whereas before it was well over 20%. The 27.2% TCP swing against Labor currently indicated on early votes can thus be expected to come down dramatically when these new votes are added to the count.

9.14pm. I’ve identified the error that was inflating Labor’s projected TCP against the Liberals. The next update, which should be along in a few minutes, should bring it down to about 55-45.

9.05pm. There are now seven booths in on the primary vote, and still only two for TCP (plus postal and early votes on both counts), and the situation appears to have settled in.

8.49pm. The regular once-every-15-minutes update brings another election day booth on the primary vote and the small number of absent votes (if you’re wondering how a by-election can have absent votes, these are in fact telephone-assisted votes), neither of which much changes the situation.

8.36pm. The latest update (they happen every 15 minutes) brings a fourth booth on the primary vote and a second on TCP, together with the batches of postals and early votes that have been added to the count, which have both. Ian Cook has fallen further behind the Liberal on the primary vote. The Labor-versus-Liberal and Labor-versus-Cook two-candidate results from the 2022 election were very similar, so presumably the 6.2% lead has on the Labor-versus-Cook count will be broadly indicative regardless of what happens. I still think my projection of 7.6% is probably flattering Labor a little, but in any case it seems they are going to win fairly comfortably despite a double-digit hit on the primary vote, about half of which is going to the Liberals.

8.23pm. There is now an election day booth in on TCP, together with the early and postal results. Cook remains 2.7% behind the Liberals, and I wouldn’t care to venture how much chance he has of closing the gap on the primary vote. My system has a method for projecting this that says it won’t happen, but I’m not entirely sure how much I trust it at this stage of its development. My preference estimates suggest Labor will win by about 8% if he drops out, but the size of the primary vote swings are making me think that’s flattering to Labor. I’ll now revisit my preference estimates.

8.07pm. The postal TCP votes are added and Ian Cook no longer leads on the TCP count, suggesting he’s unlikely to beat Labor even if he finishes second. One further booth has reported on the primary vote, and the primary vote gap between Cook and Liberal has narrowed from 3.4% to 2.9%. His primary vote is similar in both size and distribution to the election. Apart from early votes, Labor are down a bit over 10% and Liberal up a bit over 5% — but the early votes are strikingly worse for Labor elsewhere. It may be that this is because they are from one particular location that’s weak for Labor, and will come more in line with the rest of the result when further votes are added.

7.55pm. The first two election day booths have closed the gap between Ian Cook and the Liberal candidate, from nearly 10% to 3.4%. We also have a TCP result on the pre-polls, which were bad for Labor on the primary vote, but are nonetheless striking in having Cook well ahead. My probability estimate is still not giving him any chance of making the final count, but given the imbalance between election day and postal/early votes, it may not be reliable.

7.40pm. My results page conked out for a few minutes after the first upload, but I’ve patched it up now. As was the case in Warrandyte, we have the slightly confounding (from my perspective) fact that postals and pre-polls have reported before any of the election day booths. Labor is on 41.3% of the primary vote, and Ian Cook appears set to finish third with 17.1% to the Liberals’ 26.9%. My projection does not get the Liberals anywhere near closing the gap on preferences, and is close to calling it for Labor.

6pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the count for Victoria’s Mulgrave state by-election. Results are likely to be a bit slow in coming (and will only be updated every 15 minutes), given the field of ten candidates and the fact that all the booths are in urban areas. If the Warrandyte by-election in August is any guide, the first batch of results to come through may in fact be postals, which was something I had never previously encountered (and which my results system struggled with at first). The candidates chosen for the Victorian Electoral Commission for the indicative two-candidate preferred count are Labor’s Eden Foster and independent Ian Cook, so its results will be redundant if Cook performs below expectations and the Liberal candidate looks set to reach the final count instead. If my system calculates that this is likely, it will fall back on preference estimates to project a final result.

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.

99 comments on “Mulgrave by-election live”

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  1. Cook is a publicly seeker, and a policy portfolio purely based on revenge. Rarely is there such a poor candidate in a crucial electorate.

  2. Ian Cook an independent candidate is a cooker of the first order – hates Dan with a passion along with CMO Brett Sutton given the impact on his business following the Vic Gov and City of Dandenong investigation into the operations of his business. Knowing people at City of Dandenong they don’t muck around and take health and safety extremely seriously therefore cookers such as Cook are treated with the contempt they deserve.

  3. Cook is an anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist of the first water. Everyone is over these idiots who spend their minutes, hours, days, weeks conspiring about everything from contrails to traffic lights tracking your every movement and even library cards recording your reading habits and feeding that to the undergound control keepers under Victorian Parliament House.

    Get a life.


  4. Looking forward to the results….

    I grew up in the electorate. I don’t actually know any of the candidates. Do any of them live in the area?

  5. My predictions, based on little more than feelpinions and distant observations made very far away from Victoria:

    There will be a reasonable swing against Labor, both from the loss of Dan Andrews’ personal vote and the typical by-election effect – probably enough to take the result to preferences – but they will still win relatively comfortably. There will be a swing from Cook to the Liberals that sees them climb back into second-place. And no matter what the result ends up being, Sky News will champion it as a stunning victory for John Pesutto and incontrovertible proof that Dan Andrews’ popularity has plummeted since the last election and that Jacinta Allan has no hope of winning the next election.

  6. Shellbell:

    Urban electorate, densely populated booths. From my experiences scrutineering, over an hour and a half’s wait for the votes to be fully counted, recounted, and then called in by the returning officer is pretty normal.

  7. Heidi Murphy
    Mulgrave – now at 13% counted:
    Labor 39.6%
    Lib 22%
    Cook 18%
    Looking like a fairly typical bi-election.

  8. I can see the Herald Sun headline now:

    “Dan still has electorate fooled, even in retirement”

    Or maybe:

    “Mulgrave still too afraid not to vote Labor”

  9. Cook is cooked.

    The flogger has been flogged.

    LNP no doubt jumping for joy that they have made the final two.

    HeraldSun headline: Allen must resign after by-election fiasco.

  10. Why restrict media bias to only Murdoch’s trash?

    The media organisations headed by Costello and Stokes are just as bad

    In fact, which Australian media organisation is independent?

  11. Socratessays:
    Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 8:11 pm
    For ignorant interstate observers, what is Cook’s business?

  12. Ian Cook’s catering business was shut down by the Health Department and CHO after a client died of wisteria and then during an inspection they found a slug in his kitchen.

    He is a cooker and a nutter who has had his hour in the Sun. The Libs have championed him because they knew they couldn’t win.

    He released his own “exit poll” in the lead up to the 2022 state election which the Victorian MSM reported as if it were in some way reliable. The media in this state is terrible…. and the state LNP are completely in the thrall of bible thumping fundamentalists.

  13. Poo shooter is of the IPA and in a leadership contest with the bible thumpers with their God makes babies cohort – who do exist in pockets including in Mulgrave.

    They plaster their “Freedom” stickers around but never define “freedom”

  14. MABWM
    Ian Cook’s catering business was shut down by the Health Department and CHO after a client died of wisteria and then during an inspection they found a slug in his kitchen.

    I suspect the culprit was Listeria (a pathogenic bacteria), not Wisteria (a flowering plant).

  15. 38% primary vote for Labor in a “dead red” seat, is not good. If Cook can galvanise the “others” vote, and claw ahead of the Lib candidate, then he is in with a chance. Opinion pls WB when you have a moment.

  16. One hopes that the good common sense of the broader electorate statistically swamps the vicious juvenile political commentary on this site.

  17. @Nadia – it is over – 57/43 to Labor.

    The Independent Always Age is leading with:

    “Labor was taking a hit early in the count on Saturday night in a byelection to replace former premier Daniel Andrews in the seat of Mulgrave, pointing to a late and close result.”

    Is Peter Costello writing this stuff?

    Why do Journos just parrot stuff – are they incapable of analysis.

    Cook will finish third, embarrassingly close to the pathetic LNP vote.

    There is nothing close about it – there are just 10 candidates in a by-election.

  18. @charity – please cite the commentary you consider to be vicious?

    I am genuinely interested.

    It seems relatively concise and calm to me.

  19. @MABWM: Personally I think it is a useful wakeup call to the Greens to realise that many of their voters are just voting for them as the only left party available in many races, not because they are especially enamoured of what the Greens are doing, hence recent good results for other left minor parties cutting the Greens’ lunch although this actually doesn’t seem a particularly strong example perhaps because the Legalise Cannabis Party is not running.

  20. @Fubar – this election was over before they published the article. There is statistically nothing close about it. 14% is not close. It just isn’t.

    The Age has lost its way. They do “both sides” as if both sides of any argument have equal merit, when they just don’t.

    Ian Cook was never in this. It is a fiction maintained by the MSM to garner clicks. In the lead up to the last state election they reported Ian Cook’s self-serving “exit poll” as meritorious.

    I want my journalists to report facts – not biased gossip. That should not be too much to ask.

  21. 38% primary vote for Labor in a “dead red” seat, is not good. If Cook can galvanise the “others” vote, and claw ahead of the Lib candidate, then he is in with a chance. Opinion pls WB when you have a moment.

    Labor leads 56.2-43.8 on the Labor-versus-Cook TCP count the VEC is conducting, and I see no reason to think that will change much from here. If anything I would expect the gap to widen, given my theory that the current Early Voting result is from a particular bad area for Labor (and that independents tend not to have a good ground game on postals). Cook isn’t as doing well on preferences as he did at the general election, presumably because fewer of the minor candidates are anti-lockdown types.

  22. @Arky – you are 100% right. The vast majority of Green votes are frustrated Labor votes. It inflates the self-belief of the Greens.

    The ALP do a similar thing. They just presume they will mop up the left of centre vote without doing the hard yards. Case in point – the bullshit hysterical reaction to the illegal detention case this week. Of course you can’t keep people in indefinite detention if there is any such thing as the rule of law.

    We are the standard we walk past.

  23. michaelsays:
    Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 8:59 pm
    Labor will win easily, but they did crap in wheelers hill and the prepolls are increasing the swing against Labor.
    Wheelers Hill is Labor’s weakest area and is demographically different to the rest of Mulgrave.

  24. Thanks WB at 8.57PM.

    Great live blog by the way.

    I note that Wheelers Hill South hasn’t reported yet. This is the “blue rinse” liberal part of the seat, just north of the old V.F.L. Park on Wellington Road. My reckoning is that Liberal voters more solidly follow the recommended HTV (refer Melbourne 2010 Federal election), so if the “left” vote spray’s around and finds it’s way to Cook, and he ends up 2nd, then he will get the seat on Liberal preferences.

  25. Looks like the standard by-election effect to me. Dan Andrews was a popular and long-serving member who also happened to be the goddamn premier. Obviously a somewhat unknown new candidate is going to struggle to match the primary vote he had built up over twenty years as an MP.

  26. It is important to remember Mulgrave can be a pretty wild seat in terms of swings, given how close it is to the Liberal heartland of Eastern Melbourne. When Dan Andrews’s government was elected in 2014, he won the seat with only a 4.5% margin. And that was in from the 2010 margin, where Labor lost overall, and Dan won 58.5 to 41.5.

    It’s not a horrible swing for a government. Nor is it shocking results in terms of the primary, given the expanded field of candidates. But it was enough of the swing for the Australian and co to publish their ‘Labor primary plunges in Mulgrave by-election’ article. For Labor, it is a decent win as they quite comfortably held on. For the Liberals and the Cooker, they can say they gave Labor a run for their money.

    For us, a mostly predictable results that don’t really tell us anything, In my humble opinion anyway.

  27. @Nadia,

    There just isn’t enough vote to spray around to get Cook anywhere near wining the seat.

    It is a by-election in a safe seat. People can park their vote, but it always returns to one side of the other.

    Wheelers Hill is Liberal Party heartland, but it is a tiny portion of the electorate.

    The cooker thing was never actually a thing in Victoria, they just made the most noise.

    Did you know the anti-lockdown people still march down Bourke Street each Saturday at noon waving Trump flags?

  28. I mean this is looking like the exact result I predicted in the original thread for the by-election. Take standard safe seat by-election protest vote against the government, add a couple of percent for loss of Andrews personal vote, and bang here we are, something like a 6-
    7% 2PP swing in a seat where that doesn’t even get you close. And it is likely to then swing back the other way at the next state election. Yawn.

  29. This result is expected for a 9 year old government that’s politically peaked but is still solid but there’s enough in this result to suggest the eastern suburbs might be starting to swing back to the Liberals but expected after 9 years in opposition.

  30. Cook will soon be whinging about planted Silverfish on his ballot papers. A definite conspiracy between Dan, Local Government and the CHO.

  31. @Mexicanbeemer

    There is nothing in this result to suggest anything at all.

    It is a status quo election. Only we political tragics and the good burgers of Mulgrave even noticed there was an election on.

    A 4% swing against a 9 year old incumbent government in a meaningless by-election can not be used to justify anything at all.

    To quote Arky – it is a yawn result.

    The entertainment value will be in seeing how the various media outlets spin it.

  32. MAWBM

    Thanks for the opinion but it was irrelevant to my question to the person apparently claiming that no media is independent in Australia.

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