One upside of the 2007 election was the failure of celebrity politics. Big names and big dollars were after Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth, yet there was a swing to him of 1.19%, against a NSW swing away from the government of 5.65%.
Across the harbour in Bennelong, Labor’s celebrity candidate Maxine McKew, though clearly with qualifications for the job beyond a long TV career, won with a swing of 5.38%, slightly below the NSW average. Perhaps a less-well-known Labor candidate wouldn’t have been able to get Labor over the line in Bennelong against a Prime Minister, but the celebrity factor isn’t obvious in the numbers.
Nor was a celebrity factor clearly showing for former TV weatherman Mike Bailey, running against Joe Hockey in North Sydney. His swing of 4.8% was also below the NSW state average.
In the South Australian seat of Boothby, Nicole Cornes probably did get a celebrity effect – far more publicity for her blunders than she might have received had she been more obscure. She did get a swing to Labor of 2.33%, but that was only just over a third of the overall South Australian swing.
Many voters probably do make their election decision for superficial reasons, but in 2007 their interest in celebrities did not seem to be among them.