The Liberal Party’s decision to field a byelection candidate who lived outside Wagga’s main population centre contributed to a 30 per cent swing, according to a voting booth analysis.
Charles Sturt University Associate Professor in political science Dominic O'Sullivan said some candidates were able to claim a home-ground advantage with voters who cast their votes on election day.
Liberal Julia Ham convincingly won the Tarcutta Hall and Tumut Public voting booth and came within a handful of votes of winning Tumut High.
Mrs Ham also won Adelong, Ladysmith, Lockhart, Mangoplah, Pleasant Hills, Talbingo, The Rock and Yerong Creek.
However, independent Joe McGirr was able to win major Wagga polling booths such as Kooringal, Lake Albert, North and South Wagga, Sturt Public, Turvey Park and Wagga Lutheran Primary.
Mr McGirr also won Joyes Hall, Uranquinty and the polling booth at Wagga Womens Bowls Club, based on a count of 85 per cent of the vote.
Labor’s Dan Hayes won the most votes at Ashmont, Batlow, Forest Hill, Glenfield Park, Mount Austin, Red Hill and Tumut High voting booths.
Independent Paul Funnell won two polling booths, one near his farm at Collingullie and another at Currawarna Community Centre.
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Professor O'Sullivan said while these candidates could count on their home ground advantage, the vast majority of votes to be won were in Wagga’s residential areas.
“What it shows is to be successful, candidates need to have a strong appeal across the electorate.
“Julia Ham, coming from a very small population centre, was perhaps at a disadvantage.
“Obviously, to win this seat in a close contest, somebody with strong connections in the City of Wagga would have had a bit of an advantage.”
Mrs Ham had downplayed her area of residence during the campaign, telling The Daily Advertiser that she lived at Kooringal as a child and was now “bang in the middle” of the Wagga electorate.
The Daily Advertiser columnist and former editor Graham Gorrel said Wagga districts mainly voted as they were expected to.
“I think if Julia Ham was going to poll anywhere well, it would be at Tumut,” he said.
“There was not much surprise (in McGirr winning major Wagga voting booths).”