Sunday, September 07, 2008

Where we weigh the votes

The seat of Lyne has been held by the Country/National Party for the 59 years of its existence. The grip was so strong that psephologists quipped that votes weren’t counted, but weighed. In yesterday’s by-election Independent Rob Oakeshott took this conservative stronghold in traditional style, claiming a probable 75% of the preference adjusted vote.

The Nationals opted for a dirty negative campaign, an approach Oakeshott simply ignored. In fact, the whole thing was so low key it was difficult to be sure there was an historic election campaign underway. The truth is, there was nothing to campaign about. Voters apparently had mad their choice at the outset and held firm.

From the earliest results from smaller polling stations the trend held, with Oakeshott clearly holding a range around 64% of the primary vote. Rob says the result vindicates his decision to avoid any negative campaign, but I expect he could just as well gone on an ocean cruise for the duration.

One of the stats I’m looking forward to are the spending declarations. In our windy spring weather National’s flyers have been rattling around the streets for weeks, generally ignored by all. They spent a fortune on TV advertising, generally attacks on Oakeshott, who in return rented a bus and took the show on the road. The Nationals probably threw $500,000 at the campaign for a paltry 23%.

So congratulations are due to Rob Oakeshott, not just for winning a landslide but for being brave enough to recognise and reflect the wishes of most of the voters. Rob really does represent the sort of change voters everywhere are looking for.

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