Let's go back to this statement from the Green Senator, Sarah hyphen hyphen:
Despite a decisive swing to the conservative side of politics, the Greens still managed to increase their vote in both Houses, even if it is unlikely to result in extra seats. If preferences had flowed similarly to 2006, the Greens would have won the Lower House seats of Melbourne, Richmond and Brunswick.
2006 Green primary vote - 9890
2010 Green primary vote - 8020
Enrolments rose from 39,734 to 43,321 - an extra 3,587 voters, or 9% more. However, the Green primary vote dropped by 1870, or 18.9%.
The Labor vote crashed even harder, dropping from 15,891 primary votes to 10,823. In the 2006 election, Liberal preferences split 25% to Labor and 75% to the Greens. The decision to preference the Greens last clearly got Labor over the line - but I don't think the Greens should be saying that they "increased their vote". A drop in the primary vote of 18.9% is not an "increase".
2006 Green primary vote - 8704
2010 Green primary vote - 8880
They managed to find another 176 primary voters - an increase of 2%. Enrolments grew from 38,853 to 43,916 - an increase of 5063, or 13%. Of those extra 5063 voters, the Greens could only bag 176 - a measly 3%. It makes you wonder whether the GetUp campaigns to enrol young voters really have any impact. They might enrol, but do they bother to get out of bed and vote?
2006 Green primary vote - 7900
2010 Green primary vote - 7284
Once again, the Green primary vote went backwards, this time by 616 voters, or 7.8%.
Enrolments went from 38,941 to 42,025 - an increase of 3,084, or 7.9%.
So let's total up the gains and losses across these three key electorates:
Richmond = -616 primary votes
Melbourne = +176 primary votes
Brunswick = - 1870 primary votes
Total = the Greens shed 2310 primary votes.
In 2006, they got 26,494 primary votes across these three electorates.
In 2010, they got 24,184.
So they shed 2,310 primary voters at a time when 11,734 new voters were added to the rolls.
Whilst their share went up, that was because the Labor primary vote imploded. The actual number of people who voted Green went backwards quite badly. At future elections, the Labor vote is likely to pick up again. When that happens, the Green share will decline rapidly.
For instance, take Richmond.
In 2006, the Greens scored 24.68% of the primary vote.
In 2010, that rose to 26.48% - that has been touted as a major improvement.
However, the main change in this election was the Labor primary vote crashing from 14,855 in 2006 to 10,749 in 2010. The other parties went backwards as well.
The Greens share of 26.48% is calculated on a total vote of 28,539. This is well down on 2006, when 32,011 voted.
Imagine if all those Labor voters who failed to get out of bed had actually bothered to get out of bed - which will probably happen at the next election, or the one after that. The Labor vote will go back up to 15,000 or so, and the total number of votes will go to 32,000 or more. If the Green vote stays static - or goes backwards again - then their share of the primary vote will drop to 22% or lower.
At that point, the Greens will have to invent yet another measure of success.