That's another calendar year done for a site that's now a little over three years old. Federal elections and Tasmanian state elections are this site's biggest events, so with neither of these in 2015 it's no surprise traffic here was down 43% on 2014 and down about 10% on 2013. Still, with two state elections and the dumping of a sitting Prime Minister, the year was not exactly quiet.
The pattern for the year (the units are sessions per week) looks like this:
The two big spikes on the left are the Queensland and the New South Wales elections, and the Queensland one would have been bigger had my efforts not been limited by a major field trip. On the right, interest fell sharply once the Canning by-election was out of the way. The major difference between the Turnbull readings and even the quietest Abbott readings suggests to me that a lot of left-wing readers are more interested in reading about good polling for their side than bad.
This year I released 86 articles, of which 28 were federal Poll Roundups and 17 concerned the two big state elections. As usual I released almost everything I started, but left on the cutting-room floor so far were partly-written state articles entitled:
"Here We Go Again: Another Hopeless Tas Free Speech Debate"
"Lapoinya: Anatomy of a NIMBY Campaign"
"Poll Shaped Object Of The Day: Tobacco-Free Generation" and
"Delaney vs "Don't Mess With Marriage": Tasmania's Latest Free Speech Stoush"
The first was in January, I didn't get far on it, and I forget now what it was even about. The last was about 90% complete, but I was never quite sure what I wanted to say on the issue to justify the article's length, beyond the obvious points such as the IPA and various others having their legal facts wrong and the Catholic Bishops booklet in question being ridiculous. I was also undecided about whether or not an unkind and irrelevant joke about the plight of the Chelsea Football Club was admissable. (A similarly risky line about Bob Ellis' wrong predictions including the time of his own demise was left out of the published version of the Ehrlich Awards.) Anyway, if the Delaney complaint doesn't all just fizzle out in conciliation I'll be sure to give the "Don't Mess With Marriage" matter some attention.
In listing the site's top ten articles for the year I've decided to go purely with number of unique readers, since otherwise live-cover threads which a small number of readers incessantly bash refresh on are over-represented. Here's the year's top ten:
1. Canning By-Election: Prospects And Polls
Almost twice as popular as the second place article. This coverage of the Canning by-election not only dealt with the usual polling and campaign issues for this major federal by-election, but also historically analysed by-election behaviour as a function of whether it was a government seat, cause of vacancy and government polling. Tony Abbott's removal rendered most of the number-crunching irrelevant and required a hasty cleanup but the article's final prediction of the margin range was accurate anyway, the result landing more or less in the middle of it.
2. New South Wales Postcount: Lismore
A three-cornered state postcount with the Greens and at times Labor threatening the career of the Nationals' Thomas George, but a strong performance in non-ordinary votes saw George hold the seat.
3. New South Wales Postcount Thread
General postcount thread for the NSW state election, covering the seats of Gosford, The Entrance and East Hills (won by Labor, Labor and Liberal in that order) and the Legislative Council count (with the Animal Justice Party beating No Land Tax on preferences for the final seat.)
4. New South Wales: March Poll Roundup and Seat Modelling
My first thorough crunching attempt for the NSW state election. Not much really changed from thereon in; the election was fairly easy to model correctly (after learning the lessons of Queensland) and the Liberals' position improved slightly as the campaign continued.
5. Queensland: Ashgrove, Redcliffe and Other Snippets
A roundup of a number of issues in the psephology of the Queensland election, including analysis of the behaviour of "disrupted seats" (seats which have changed hands in a by-election during the term). It turned out that the Courier-Mail's "closer than you think" type reading of the election was right despite me panning it, but it was right for the wrong reasons (it was not uneven swing that did for the Newman government; it was the swing being greater than polls predicted.)
6. Queensland: Post-election wrap and postcount comments
Article started with a wrap entitled "What The Hell Was That?" after radical preference shifts confounded almost all expectations of the result, and then covered an unsurprising postcount in which basically every seat stayed with the election-night favourite.
7. Canning: The Anti-Climax Live (Plus Postcount)
On the night, and postcount, coverage of the epilogue to the end of Tony Abbott. If this live coverage had any fault, it placed too much weight on the likelihood that Abbott-era postals would show a greater swing than Turnbull-era voting. (The difference should have only been a few points based on national polling, and that would easily be lost in the noise of changed voting method choices.)
8. Greens Change Leaders And Replacing Milne As Senator
Thoroughly covered the retirement of former Greens Leader Christine Milne and the secretive process undertaken by the Tasmanian Greens which ended with her replacement as Senator by former state leader Nick McKim. (That said, we still don't know who their #2 Senate candidate is!) After the Greens got sloppy with their information security surrounding their "secret candidates", this article revealed their identities.
9. Liberal Spill And Poll Roundup: The Trouble With Political Jokes
... is that they become Prime Minister. This article covered polling and the big picture surrounding a spill motion against Tony Abbott in February. The article especially noted that based on history, the moving of such a motion was a strong signal Abbott was cactus irrespective of the result, and thus it turned out to be.
10. A Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite Is A Terrible Idea
As described; an early attack on a ridiculous notion that now appears to be government policy.
There were plenty of quirkier pieces that didn't make the top ten but that I greatly enjoyed writing , such as
Why Was A Press Release About Peter Slipper Deleted From The Liberal Party Website? and
If Ordering Dinner Was Like Senate Voting.
Some other stats
The busiest days of the year (in terms of visitor numbers) were March 31 and March 30 (NSW election), 1 Feb (Qld), 19 Sep (Canning), 31 Jan (Qld), 18 Aug (Slipper presser deletion), 2 May (Tas LegCo), 2 Feb (Qld), 28 Mar (NSW), and 21 May (Kim Booth resigns as Tas Greens leader plus I tip a bucket over Independent Australia).
The most popular pieces hailing (mostly) from a previous year were the Field Guide, the Ellis diss, the aggregate methods page, the bio page, and Is Campbell Newman Actually In Trouble? (Indeed he was.) The most clicked-on tags were: pseph, Greens, Tasmania, Senate Reform, silly greens, Legislative Council, Victoria, Bob Ellis, silly lefties and fishy polling.
The ten top-visiting countries (as defined by Google Analytics) were Australia, the USA, UK, NZ, China (new entry), Japan (new entry), Germany (+2), India (-3), France (new entry), and Canada (-3). 119 countries visited. 154 in all have now checked in, and with Iran joining the party the most populous countries never to rock up are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and North Korea. The least populated units to score hits have been Norfolk Island, Anguilla and Turks & Caicos Islands.
The order of most-visiting countries by head of population in the site's history (excluding very small countries) has barely changed from last year (though USA has moved into tenth), with Iceland staying third on the back of last year's chess politics coverage, despite recording zero hits in 2015. The order for 2015 was Australia, NZ, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Netherlands, Malta, UK, Fiji, USA and Denmark.
The most visiting cities were Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide, Launceston, New York (USA) and London (UK). This is the first time Sydney has topped the list and the lowest position so far for Hobart.
The leading search terms excluding versions of my name or the site name were a range of variations on the Canning theme, followed by "Bob Ellis", "Vivienne Gale", "Qld Election Pendulum" and the rest didn't much trouble the scorers. Among the wackier entries to rate a mention were:
"adverts from the huon valley council in the tasmanian mercury from the 21st october to 5th november 2014"
"age of ron christie hobart city council"
"blog on legislative here inphilippines"
"clive palmer sacks nephew"
"disaster polls increase"
"introduction in ignomedia at mobile phone towers"
"jacqui petrusma campain donation" [name of alleged donor suppressed]
"kevin preaches about mushrooms"
"mutant radiation meme"
"pics of galaxy prime ad the rate of the muble"
"polling sms the next photo model 2015 samarinda"
"polls - a little bit, quite a lot, a lot, loads"
"what would happen if eagles and owls became extinct to the tasmanian devil"
"would you shag jackie lambie"
"ghost spam is free from the politics, we dancing like the paralytics"
I hope most of these people found what they were looking for.
The biggest sources of hits for the year were Crikey blogs (mainly Pollbludger) (+1), Google (-1), Twitter (=), Tally Room (+1), Tasmanian Times (-1), Mark The Ballot (re-entry), The Australian blogs (mainly Mumble) (-1), The Conversation (=), Facebook (-3) and Bing (-1).
Thanks again to readers for their interest and support and to all who have encouraged the site. Thanks especially to those who've chipped in to the tin I half-heartedly rattle on the sidebar. In early 2014 I was only able to cover the Tasmanian election in such depth because donations saved me from running out of money, but I'm glad to advise this shouldn't be a problem again for a long time. These days the challenge is fitting in election coverage around fieldwork and overseas chess conferences.
Orders of the year
In 2016 I'm expecting to cover:
* Federal Election (extent of coverage will depend on work commitments and overseas travel)
* Tasmanian Legislative Council elections
* ACT Election (Hare-Clark, yeehah!)
* NT Election (grab the popcorn)
... and to continue the focus on Senate reform, or more likely the depressing lack thereof. I also have vague plans to do some multi-poll back-aggregation for some interesting terms of government in the past, probably starting with 1990-1993.