Preview and live commentary of today’s North West Central state by-election in Western Australia.
Click here for full North West Central by-election results updated live.
8pm. All the booths are in on the primary vote and now, in one great flood, on two-party preferred as well, and we also have 413 postals and 381 pre-polls (the latter on primary vote only as I type). Raw figures are as good as projections at this stage, and they show the Nationals winning by a margin of 8% to 9%. However, their primary vote has not improved, which you might say is despite the absence of a Labor candidate or because of the absence of Vince Catania. The Liberals can take a certain amount of heart from the fact that their primary vote is up from 7.9% to 25.8%, but again, that may just reflect the fact that a lot of conservative support was hitherto locked up with Catania. Similarly, the Greens are up from 4.1% to 14.3%, but with a 40.2% Labor vote last time up for grabs, that’s not necessarily a particularly outstanding result.
7.21pm. The veil has now been lifted on two-party numbers, for which we have results from four booths. They suggest a roughly 60-40 split in preferences between the Nationals and the Liberals, which is similar to what happened when they finished first and second in 2013. This means the Liberals have no chance of winning from second on the primary vote in a context where they have no chance of finishing first, hence the probability dial hitting 100% for the Nationals.
7.05pm. Now the Kalbarri booth is in, with an above-par result for the Nationals. My probability gauge keeps getting stuck for some reason — it’s still on 98.0% when it should be at pretty much 100%.
7.02pm. The Exmouth booth and, to a lesser extent, Carnarvon Woolshed have almost doubled the vote count, giving the Greens a boost at the expense of the Nationals. In two-party terms though the picture is as it was in that the Nationals are well ahead of the Liberals and I expect them to do better on preferences.
6.53pm. I think that problem will fix with the next update, so consider me just about calling it for the Nationals. I’d forgotten that the WAEC has a peculiarity of not reporting two-party numbers until it’s confident it’s picked the right candidates, which is why we’re not seeking any action yet on that score.
6.46pm. My probability reading is stuck on 72.5% for the Nationals when it should be 98.0%. Looking into it.
6.41pm. We’ve got a relatively big booth in Onslow Primary School — all of 151 votes. The big picture is that the Nationals are down a little on the primary vote while the Liberals are up around 20% on their single figure result; that the Nationals retain a handy primary vote lead in a context where they’re likely to do better than the Liberals on preferences; and that we still don’t have any two-party numbers.
6.40pm. There’s an issue in the WAEC’s data feed for the Coral Bay booth, which is missing the line that’s supposed to record the Liberal result.
6.35pm. A sixth booth in now — probably Meekatharra Shire Hall, because that’s the best one for the Nationals and the dial just moved in their favour.
6.32pm. Problem fixed. Five booths in now, one of them small and four of them tiny, and while my speculative preference estimates point to a Nationals winning margin of 5% to 6%, there are far too few votes for me to call it.
6.23pm. Now we’ve got two booths in, the follow-up being 102 votes from Carnarvon Community College. The Nationals are well down on last time, but still with just over 50% of the primary vote. There is a problem with my two-party projection though, which I’ll look into.
6.22pm. In any case, I can tentatively say that my results facility is working, and that it’s coming through with the goods quicker than the WAEC site.
6.20pm. We’ve got 11 votes in from Wiluna Remote Community School. Presumably the fact that none of them are for the Liberals explains why my projection is sticking with 50-50.
6pm. Polls have closed. Now to see if my live results page is going to work. Results should come in reasonably shortly given there are some very small booths involved, although twelve candidates on the ballot paper should slow things up a bit. The WAEC will provide updates at leisurely five minute intervals.
Today is the day of Western Australia’s state by-election for North West Central, resulting from the retirement of Nationals MP Vince Catania, which likely looms as a contest between the Nationals and Liberals in the absence of a Labor candidate, albeit that there are twelve candidates in all. My own perspective on the matter is laid out in my by-election guide. Note that a mere 7741 formal votes were cast in 2021: not only does the seat have markedly below average enrolment due to the “large district allowance” that applies to seats of more than 100,000 square kilometres, it also records unusually low turnout, which is sure to be lower still at a by-election.
My live results page can be found here, awaiting numbers that will start to come through from 6pm. Given that Antony Green has “tickets to the Swans versus Collingwood AFL match … so won’t be able to publish any results until I get home from the match”, I think I can get away with saying that my results facility and accompanying commentary will be the best available.
My results display will feature two-party swing figures working off a rather artificial set of Nationals-versus-Liberal numbers from last year based on the assumption that Labor and minor party preferences would, if distributed, have split between the two in the same proportion as in 2013, when Labor obligingly finished third. On this basis, the Liberals need a 20.5% swing to poach the swing from the Nationals, having polled but 7.9% at the March 2021 election compared with 39.7% for the Nationals (and 40.2% for Labor).
My guess would be that that’s not going to happen: homeless Labor voters are probably more likely to swing behind the Nationals candidate Merome Beard, proprietor of the Port Hotel, which is by some distance the best pub in Carnarvon (the one that was infamouly run by Wilson Tuckey back in the day). Should Liberal candidate Will Baston pull off an upset, the Nationals and Liberals will be deadlocked at three seats apiece in the Legislative Assembly, raising the question of whether Nationals leader Mia Davies will retain the status of Opposition Leader.