With the Victorian Labor Opposition having retained the seat of Lyndhurst at yesterday’s by-election, conservative pundits have been quick to jump on the swing against Labor, with the primary vote decreasing by about 15%. But I feel too much can often be read in by-election results, particularly those where one major party is not running, as the Liberals chose to do yesterday. For one, many left leaning voters who would otherwise vote Labor might feel more free to vote for a fringe party, knowing the result is not in doubt. Indeed, except for Family First, there was no one party which could be clearly categorised as conservative or right wing, so it is only natural that the left wing vote be split. Furthermore, the Sex Party, which attracted 8.5% of the vote did not run in 2010, and may have drawn some more liberal minded voters away from Labor, as well as benefiting from its position at the top of the ballot paper. DLP candidate Geraldine Gonsalvez, who is locally popular for opposing toxic waste dumping in the area and a former councillor also attracted a significantly higher vote (11%), and it would be in my view mistaken to attribute this to dissatisfaction with state Labor, given the aforementioned likely reasons for her popularity. The real loser yesterday was the Liberal Party, which didn’t even test its support, likely fearing an adverse result, and which now is completely reliant on Geoff Shaw to pass legislation in the lower house.