Home > Uncategorized > The problem with the primary vote argument #vicvotes

The problem with the primary vote argument #vicvotes

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

In a preferential voting system, and a parliamentary democracy, two-party preferred votes and seats won are the only two meaningful measures of electoral success.  This is my consistent view, regardless of how favourable or otherwise such a stance makes my party look.  This is also the argument I used to deflect the view of James Campbell that, despite having lost by only two seats, Labor had suffered its worst loss on Saturday since 1955.

Now if Campbell had merely said “Labor’s lowest primary vote since 1955”, he would have made his point with just as much impact and not nearly as much fibbing.  Why do I say this?

It is very easily conceivable that the ALP could have won election with the exactly the same primary vote, right?  If preferences had flowed more generously in a handful of seats, such an outcome is not difficult to imagine.  If this had been the case, James Campbell would presumably not have argued that it was Labor’s worst defeat since 1995 based on primary votes, even though said vote would have been identical. But — and here’s the thing — if it truly is his view that primary votes are the key metric of electoral performance, his own logic would have compelled him to make such an preposterous argument.

This, to my mind, should put the bayonet to this spurious and selective use of primary vote figures to justify overheated punditry.

Labor’s primary vote was terrible, unforgivably so.  But it does not make an election that left the party with two fewer seats in the Lower House than the Coalition the worst since 1955, not by a long shot — any more than it qualifies as a landslide.

Nostril calming time.

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