Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Poll Roundup: 2018 Year In Review

2PP Aggregate: 54.2 to Labor (last election preferences) (+0.2 since two weeks ago)
With One Nation adjustment: 53.6 to Labor
Labor would easily win election "held now"
Labor won all 66 public and three commissioned national polls released this year

With the release of this week's Ipsos and Essential polls, the polling year has probably come to an end.  If there are any late polls I will edit this piece and update it accordingly.

For a government that currently looks as stuffed as a Christmas turkey, the end of the year cannot come soon enough.  As the final poll of the year, Essential offered some respite having the government only six points behind (47-53) but this should be treated with some caution as there is an ongoing difference of opinion between Newspoll and Essential as to just how bad the Morrison government's situation is.  Since Scott Morrison became Prime Minister, Newspoll has had the Coalition primary on an average of just 35% and the Labor primary on 40%.  Essential, however, has had the Coalition primary only narrowly behind (on average 36.9-37.2).  On a 2PP basis Newspoll has had an average reading of just 45.25% for the Government, while Essential has had 46.6% - and this is even though Newspoll's preferencing method is more favourable to the Coalition's than Essential's.  Currently, with Newspoll and Essential coming out in different fortnights, my aggregate bobs around a bit depending on which one is out, rather than based on the Coalition making substantial gains or losses.  If this continues into the New Year I may apply corrections to both.

Since the previous poll roundup we have had:

* Newspoll at 55% 2PP for Labor twice, which I aggregated as 55.7 and 55.9 by last-election preferences after considering the primaries.

* Ipsos at 52% and 54%, which I aggregated at 52.4 and 54.4.

* Essential at 52%, 54% and 53%, which I aggregated at 52.3, 53.9 and 53.

* A commissioned ReachTEL by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition at 54%, which I didn't aggregate under current rules on polls commissioned by activist groups, though it would have made little difference if I did. 

The overall result is that the Coalition continues to fall away slightly from a post-coup best in the high 46s, and is currently on a possibly generous (because this isn't a Newspoll week) 45.8%.  Here's the smoothed tracking graph, which gets rid of the Newspoll-vs-Essential ups and downs:

Things are at least as bad now as in the worst weeks under Turnbull.  On the Newspoll front, the recording of three consecutive 45-55s marks a low not seen under either Abbott or Turnbull, and last seen in the last three polls (and at several other times) under Julia Gillard.  No PM in the Newspoll era has been re-elected after polling three consecutive 2PPs of 45 or worse, though the increased stability of Newspoll means this run is probably no worse than some survived by Howard in 2001 (and also, pre-Newspoll, Malcolm Fraser in 1979). 

Following the Victorian election there have been a number of federal seat ReachTELs:

* The Geelong Advertiser gave a rather weirdly reported poll of Corangamite that could be taken as suggesting a 48-52 result, but in fact that was based off calculations with some impossible preference flows (all Greens to Labor and all others and all soft ReachTEL "undecideds" to Liberal); last-election preferences come out at only around 41-59 to 42-58.

* The CFMMEU had the Liberals losing Higgins 47-53 and Kooyong 48-52.

* The Australia Institute had the Liberals clinging on in Boothby 51-49.

Seat polling is highly unreliable (with an effective margin of error on the 2PP of at least six points) and seems to be getting worse with every fresh test it has had this year.  In Wentworth, the NSW equivalent of Kooyong, every seat poll that asked about it had the Labor vs Liberal 2PP wrong by at least 8 points. 

I consider there to be a strong "kick them when they're down" aspect in the commissioning of union polls in Victorian seats with recriminations flowing from a dud state election result.  Of course, these polls are likely to get bad results right now.  The point of it seems to be to scare the government into thinking that the fire of potential seat loss (including in heartland seats) is everywhere, so it doesn't know which fires to put out and will waste resources shoring up safe seats, especially against unknown independents. 

Is This Government Cactus?

We now have a fairly clear pathway to an election around mid-May, though in theory the government might still change its mind and go earlier, or might collapse during the February session. 

Assuming a May election, after last week's Newspoll, my polling aggregate was such that no government had ever won from that far behind with that little time to go.  This was interpreted as me saying that I believed the government was "finished", but I wouldn't argue that just because recovery had never happened from a position meant that it could never happen.  Rather, I think a grim outlook for this government's chances of re-election arises from a combination of the bad polling, persistent chaos and the lack of any concrete reason to believe recovery is possible.  It's not a first-term government, it's not facing an unstable opposition or one with risky policies, polling hasn't been volatile except during the "spill" shock, and so on.  Recovery to an honourable loss (48.5-51.5 or so) is still quite possible given the history of federal voting intention leads often narrowing, but I wouldn't take that for granted either. 

As of this week, the Ipsos and Essential results have brought it back to about the same position as the Whitlam government at the same point in old Morgans in late 1973, but that's the only precedent of any sort for recovery on this time frame at the moment.  A downturn in Whitlam government polling in late 1973 and early 1974 coincides pretty well with an oil price embargo shock at the time.

The AFR reported that a government source as saying their tracking polls are showing it is not as bad in marginal seat tracking polls as the national 45-55 results seen in Newspoll.  There are two things to note here - firstly after almost every election, the party that has had a disappointing result suddenly finds that its tracking polls were rubbish.  Secondly, as Andrew Catsaras has put it "the swing has to be somewhere".  If there is a national swing of 5% but the swing in the marginals is only, say, 3%, then there will be bands of "safe" seats with 7% swings, and given that the standard deviation of seat swings is around 3%, this means that somewhere seats on 10% will fall.  Thirdly the narrative of the swing in the marginals being different to the swing everywhere else is one of the eternal tropes of pre-election speculation, but it only really worked like that in 1998,


Scott Morrison's personal ratings continue to be strong given the carnage, but we have to bear in mind that he is still new and still being given the benefit of the doubt.  In the previous Newspoll he achieved something not achieved by any PM since John Howard when his netsat moved from negative to positive in the same term as PM (-8 to +1, it has since gone back to -3).  Howard moved from negative to positive fifteen times, but none of Gillard, Abbott or Turnbull ever managed it at all, while Rudd only did so briefly after a few years out of the job.  Bill Shorten's Newspoll personal ratings remain fairly poor (lately at net -13 then -15) but he continues to do about ten points better than when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister, suggesting either a dividend for seeing off another PM or that the Coalition is too consumed with internal tensions to attack Shorten effectively.  Morrison recorded a surprisingly high Better PM lead in the previous Newspoll (46-34, the largest ever lead for a PM whose party trailed 45-55 or worse) but this has since come down to 44-36.  This is still high given the 2PP, but when you have a single-digit lead as Better PM, you are, in general, losing. 

Essential found that perceptions of Morrison had worsened slightly since September on all bar two of the questions asked, but still found him comparing favourably to Shorten on all attributes except "Out of touch with ordinary people" and "Narrow minded".  Essential last fortnight also found better personal ratings for Morrison (up four points to net +8) than Shorten (down two to net -8) and had Morrison ahead 40-29 as better PM (again, this indicator skews to incumbents).  And Ipsos had very similar figures with Morrison on net +8, Shorten net -9 and Morrison ahead 46-37 as better PM.

In terms of election issues Ipsos found a 43-44 support-oppose response to Labor's policy on negative gearing, which doesn't really tell us anything given Labor took similar policies to the last election and escaped any backlash for doing so.  My biggest point of surprise here is that 87% of voters supposedly know what negative gearing even is.  A 43-48 response on capital gains tax changes also doesn't tell us anything about whether the issue is a game-changer.  In general, the measurement of whether election issues will actually change people's votes in Australian polling is very primitive and unscientific. 


Now, on to the 2018 summary (click here for 2017).  For all the moaning in certain media circles about too many polls, the year saw just 66 national "public polls" released, down 27 on 2017, mainly because Essential switched to fortnightly.  In all we had 26 Essentials, 21 Newspolls, nine Ipsos, five ReachTELs and five Morgan-SMSs.  There were also at least three national activist-group commissioned ReachTELs. 

The story in 2PP terms is simple: Labor won the lot.  The best the Coalition managed was 49%, which happened ten times from four different pollsters, all of them while Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister, and six of them in July.  The worst under Turnbull was the 45 from Ipsos immediately prior to his demise.  Since Scott Morrison became PM, the best for the Coalition has been a pair of 48s from Ipsos and Essential in mid-November, and the worst were two 44s from Newspoll immediately after Turnbull was removed.  On average my aggregate was 47.3 under Turnbull (range 46.1 to 48.7), 45.6 under Morrison (range 43.9 to 46.7) and 46.7 for the year as a whole, exactly the same as in 2017. 

Prior to his removal, Malcolm Turnbull's average Newspoll netsat lifted to -15 with a best of -6 and a worst of -25. Scott Morrison has since averaged net 0.4 with a best of +7 and a worst of -8.  Bill Shorten averaged -20 with a best of -13 and worst of -25, but as already noted he has done better (with an average of -15.4) since the departure of Turnbull. 

On the Newspoll better Prime Minister front, Shorten trailed Turnbull in every poll on this skewed indicator by an average 10.9 points.  Shorten led against Morrison in Morrison's first poll but has not done so since, with an average deficit against Morrison of 7.3.


Again I note some current betting figures, for historic interest rather than because betting is necessarily predictive.  Labor is now a heavy favourite to win the next election, with some example odds including 1.14 vs 5.00, 1.10 vs 6.00, 1.14 vs 4.50 - quite a bit of variation there but implying an 80-85% perceived chance of Labor winning.  In practice, probably implying more because election odds are prone to "longshot bias".

Seat betting currently has the government losing Boothby (SA), Forde, Flynn, Petrie, Dickson (!) (Qld), Gilmore, Banks, Page and Reid (NSW), Corangamite, La Trobe and notionally Labor Dunkley (Vic), Hasluck and Pearce (WA), with ties in Dawson (Qld) and Swan (WA) and no market currently in Chisholm (Vic).  With Wentworth as good as tied, that suggests an expected result somewhere around 85 Labor, 60 Coalition and six crossbench, though I haven't taken close seats into account.  The presence of "Non Jane Caro Independent" at 2.80 in Warringah is also worth keeping an eye on.

In summary

The government has now been behind in polling for nearly two and a half years.  Assuming it is still behind when polling resumes, it will become the longest continually trailing government ever.  It has only been briefly competitive, most notably in July this year.  After the failure to win seats in the Super Saturday by-elections (and especially the disappointing swing in Longman), Malcolm Turnbull was removed a few weeks later without waiting for much more polling evidence.  However, the spill process was a mess that was bewildering to voters, and ended with the Prime Minister being removed and replaced by a compromise candidate who wasn't even the primary challenger.  Polling has not at any stage suggested that this circus was acceptable to voters. 

Some of the initial poll shock from the ousting of Turnbull faded over the next five weeks, but that plus any honeymoon effect for the new Prime Minister could only do so much before the loss of the Wentworth by-election kicked in.  The government has since then barely matched it with the worst points of the Turnbull era, and we will have to wait until February to see if there are any signs of it being able to improve ahead of the election.  A more common pattern in previous years has been for government polling to get worse when parliament resumes rather than better.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Victoria 2018: Final Lower House Results, Poll Performance and 2PP Pendulum

There is no single method of calculating 2PP for this election.  The following are examples of possible figures:
57.62% to Labor (Uniform swing applied to Richmond - probably fairest method)
57.89% to Labor (Richmond treated as 100% to Labor)
57.35% to Labor (Richmond excluded)

With two-party results for all Lower House seats now available it's time to wrap up my Victorian election coverage for 2018, on a high because at least that's the one house where I can talk about the results without constantly losing my temper at the system.  The article again includes a 2PP pendulum.  While this will be of less use for the future than the 2014 one was, given that there is a major redistribution coming, I think it is still useful for looking at the results, and especially at whether the Coalition was lucky not to lose even more seats than it did.

Final vote share results

The final primaries for the Lower House were Labor 42.86%, Coalition 35.19, Greens 10.71, Others 11.24.  As @sorceror43 notes, excluding Richmond, "Labor won 67.4% of all minor party prefs, slightly down from 69.8% in 2014. That's despite Greens share of all minors dropping from 57.8% in 2014 to 48.4%."  I have not attempted to measure shifts in the preferences of Greens and Others specifically yet, but suspect there was very little change.

There is unfortunately no unique way to calculate the statewide 2PP for this election because of the Liberals' ill-fated decision to not contest the district of Richmond.  Richmond is a very pro-Labor seat on a 2PP basis so removing Richmond from the results has the effect of downplaying the swing across other districts.  While official sources will probably need to give a 2PP percentage based on an actual vote tally, I think that applying the swing from all electorates other than Richmond to Richmond on a notional basis creates the fairest estimate of 57.62% to Labor, a swing after rounding of 5.63 points.  The average swing per seat was slightly lower at 5.47%, as a result of population distortions.  The standard deviation of seat swings on a 2PP basis was 3.84%.

As well as the estimates available by omitting Richmond or treating Richmond as 100% Labor, Antony Green has tweeted a further statewide estimate of 57.7% obtained by applying derived Greens flows from other seats to Richmond.  However this implies an 85.9% (+12.8%) estimated 2PP in Richmond, which is out of step for other comparable seats.  Another rough way to get a handle on the possible swing in Richmond (had the Liberals run a candidate is to look at the Upper House votes).  In the remaining Northern Metropolitan seats the average 2PP swing was 3.2%.  In Upper House primary vote swings, Richmond was 1.3 points worse for the Liberals and 2.6 points better for Labor than the Northcote average swing.  It was also 6 points worse for the Greens, much of which can be explained by switching to other left-wing parties, primarily Victorian Socialists.  On this basis I feel comfortable that the 2PP swing in Richmond would have been around the state swing had the Liberals actually contested.  Perhaps slightly higher if we assume that ALP voters in Richmond were disproportionately likely to switch to Victorian Socialists.

For the benefit of those who care about exact totals, I have the total of 2PP votes excluding Richmond as 1992934 - 1481896, with 44394 formal votes in Richmond. There is a 4750 vote discrepancy between this total and the rechecked primary vote total, which may be explained by errors in the quick counts for seats that did not require a full preference distribution being caught during rechecking of primaries, or it may also be explained by undetected errors (hopefully not mine!).  As we saw with several of the seats, differences in the number of formal votes between the quick 2PP throw and a full preference distribution can occur and are sometimes substantial.

(As a word of caution about VEC 2PPs for seats that don't go to a full preference throw, a data entry error affecting the margin in Eltham by about 1540 votes very narrowly missed out on making it into the final 2PP.)

Seat results, swings and personal votes

The graph below shows the relationship between the 2014 margin and the 2PP swing in each seat.  The winners of each seat are colour-coded (blue for Liberals, dark green for Nationals, red for Labor, grey for indies and you tell me for Greens).  The gap between the two thick black lines (marked "ALP Gains") is the area in which the 2PP status of seats changed hands.  Uniform swing has been applied in the case of Richmond.  Click for larger clearer version.

Labor obtained a 2PP swing in all bar six seats.  It won the 2PP vote in eleven seats where the 2PP vote was won by the Coalition in 2014.  However these eleven included Prahran (retained by the Greens) and Morwell (retained by Russell Northe as an independent after previously holding it as a National).  As well as losing nine seats to Labor and Morwell to Northe, the Coalition also lost Mildura to independent Ali Cupper.

As a general rule the Coalition vote held up best in rural seats, with no 2PP swing to speak of in most Nationals seats or in Liberal-held Benambra and Ripon.  The swing was modest in Ovens Valley (where the Nationals incumbent had had some unfriendly publicity) but Mildura was a massive 2PP outlier, not only falling to Cupper but also being Labor's largest 2PP swing of the election.

The Coalition saved four seats that would have fallen had the swing been uniform (Ripon, Eildon, Caulfield and Forest Hill) but also lost three on margins above the state swing (Box Hill, Nepean and Hawthorn).  They saved eight seats and lost four by 2PP margins below 2%, and saved twelve and lost six by less than 3%, so it could have easily been even worse.  The 59-29 2PP split of seats is exactly what my seat model (which took into account personal votes, population changes and the variability of seat swings) would have expected for the 2PP recorded.  While Labor fell seven seats short of the 2002 "Brackslide" off roughly the same 2PP, four of those were caused by the seats being occupied by crossbenchers.

In total, non-classic two-candidate results occurred in the six seats won by crossbenchers (Brunswick, Prahran, Melbourne, Morwell, Mildura and Shepparton), two seats won by Labor against the Greens (Richmond, Northcote), two seats won by Labor against independents (Pascoe Vale and Geelong) and one seat won by the Liberals against an independent (Benambra).  The seat of Preston had a 2CP preference throw between Labor and the Greens but it was not determined exhaustively whether the Greens were second in it (though based on the results it is likely they would have been).  In Footscray and Williamstown the Greens may have finished second had preferences been fully thrown, but they weren't.

The non-classic case that presented the biggest problems was Werribee, where independent Joe Garra certainly finished second, but because Tim Pallas had over 50% with two opponents remaining, preferences were never fully thrown.  This creates the weird situation that there is no official victory margin between the candidates finishing first and second.  The VEC had the option to realign the seat as they did for Pascoe Vale and Geelong, but chose not to do so.  Whether this is because they were not convinced Garra was going to be second, or because they saw the result as a foregone conclusion, remains unclear.  In the event that Garra runs again, we now do not know what 2CP swing he needs to unseat the incumbent, although the precedent of Preston suggests the VEC would conduct the quick 2CP count between Labor and Garra in this instance.  I don't think it's ideal that whether or not a challenger gets to know what they lost by depends on an opaque decision on whether or not the count is realigned and, while budget constraints doubtless are a factor, I think this should be looked at for the future.

As for Labor-Green seats, Labor lost ground and the seat in Brunswick (where its sitting member retired) and, compared to the last election, and also Northcote (which had been disrupted by the Greens winning a by-election, so recapturing the seat by any margin was a good result for Labor). In Prahran, Labor and Green primaries both improved by a similar amount and the Greens kept the seat.  That leaves Melbourne, where there was a small swing to Labor, and Richmond, where there was a larger one.  There was some theory - the logic behind which I never grasped - that Liberal voters in Richmond would be more likely to preference the Greens if the party didn't run at all rather than if it ran on an open ticket.  The Liberals may have been keen to try to get Kathleen Maltzahn into parliament because of the impact of her sex work views on the Greens party room.  But it failed.  The increase in the informal vote in Richmond was 2.22 points compared to 1.31 in Brunswick, 1.21 in Melbourne and 0.08 in Northcote.  It appears that some Liberal voters, rather than voting Green as their party seemed to want them to do, just didn't bother voting at all.

One might expect the huge size of the swing would swamp personal vote effects.  In fact this was yet another election that confirms in spades that personal votes are a theory and a fact.  Compared to the overall state swing of 5.62%:

* in the three seats where Labor had double sophomore effect on their side (defeated sitting MP at previous election), the swing was 11.06%
* in nine seats where Labor had a single sophomore boost (first term MP elected at previous election) the swing was 6.48%
* in in ten seats where Labor incumbents retired the average swing was 4.55%
* in seven seats where the Coalition had a single sophomore boost the average swing was 3.45%
* in five seats where the Coalition MP retired or switched to run as an independent the average swing was 7.00%.

We shouldn't take the first result too seriously as these seats were all part of the hitherto crucial "sandbelt", so regional factors could well be at play (which is a nice way to say things without trying to remember how many "l"s there are in "porkbarrel"). However, that can also be part of why new sitting MPs tend to do well.  And overall this is very strong evidence even ignoring the double-sophomore cases.  In noticing that the Coalition held up well in rural seats, we should bear in mind that they had assistance from personal vote effects in some of them.

Polling Accuracy

The lack of a single 2PP figure makes it a little difficult to compare 2PP polling with the actual vote.  While I have little doubt that ReachTEL would have treated the Coalition as running in all seats,  and suspect Morgan would have done the same, I have no idea what Galaxy would have done about the situation.  I am using 57.62% (Richmond treated as uniform swing) for now, but correspondence will be accepted if any pollster used a different measure and sends me detailed evidence of it. In any case it will make little difference.

The table below lists the state polls taken in November, with ReachTEL "undecided" reallocated and the two halves of Morgan's sample (for which they provided no overall result) merged.  The table also shows the expected preference flow to Labor based on the published 2PPs.  The accuracy scores are in two forms - average primary vote error (error (P)) and the average of the 2PP error and the primary vote error (error (2)).  The polls are ranked by error (2).  Closest to the pin before the poll, and any estimate within 1% before the poll, are highlighted in blue.

What to make of this?

1. Everyone had the Labor primary vote too low.

2. The polls mostly had the preference flow to Labor too low, whether as a result of respondent preferencing (ReachTEL and Morgan) or pollster assumptions or unlucky rounding (YouGov-Galaxy).  Pollsters would have been better off using last-election preferences with separate estimates for Greens and Others.

3. Compared with the 2014 results, the statewide polling wasn't very accurate.  But it did paint a picture (also consistent in YouGov's polls in September and October) that Labor was comfortably ahead and likely to win outright.  Nonetheless the average miss on the 2PP (3.5 points and all in the same direction) was pretty high.  The 2PP error on the final Newspoll wasn't unprecedented, but was the worst I've seen from the Newspoll brand at a state election for several years.

4. It seems only fair to include two ReachTELs (one activist-group commissioned, one media-commissioned) given that YouGov-Galaxy gets two bites of the cherry via the Galaxy and Newspoll brands.  But even we include only the Age ReachTEL and not the more accurate VNPA one (widely considered an unreliable outlier at the time) ReachTEL has outperformed YouGov-Galaxy in this instance.  This would have been more striking had ReachTEL used respondent preferences for the Age poll.  On the other hand, YouGov-Galaxy had superior tracking, showing solid margins in three polls in September and October while the sole ReachTEL in that period did not.

Why did polls miss the size of Labor's victory (the scale of which was hardly unprecedented at state level)?  One possibility is late swing.  There was ample evidence that votes cast at booths on the day swung more than votes cast in pre-polling, causing a bunch of Coalition seats that were projecting for 53-54% to Labor based on booth votes to come back to 50-50 or so by the end of all counting.  However, more evidence is needed on whether this was because voters switched their vote in the final days, or because more conservative voters became more likely to pre-poll upon the requirement to have a reason to do so being removed.  I have heard that internal polling in the sandbelt seats showed a surge to Labor late in the campaign, but many of the seats where large swings happened were never polled by anybody because nobody on either side expected them to fall.

I'm usually sceptical of late swing and a reason for scepticism about it at this election is the shortage of obvious reasons for it.  The big-picture battlegrounds were laid out well in advance and nothing really happened in the last weeks of the campaign, which became dominated by media coverage of candidate malfunctions and other things of little interest to voters.  There might however have been a bit of a Tasmania-style bandwagon effect in which voters, seeing that there was a risk of the Greens winning the balance of power and considering that the Liberals weren't much chop anyway, decided to lock in majority government.

If one wants to ignore possible campaign causes for the systematic error, then the familiar suspects of hedging and herding (playing safe) are difficult to ignore here, though there's no positive evidence of either.  As with the 2014 Victorian poll the final 2PPs were very close together, but in that case they were right and in this case way short of the mark.  However, with only a few pollsters in the field it's impossible to say that this is robust evidence of herding.

In advance of the election, I did note some degree of hunch that the 2PP result for Labor might be stronger than pollsters were predicting for various reasons, but I could not see any basis in the data for predicting a blowout on the scale of what occurred.  The pressure on pollsters to avoid large errors could be a factor here - if they predict a solid win and the result is a huge win, they still look pretty good to the public in general.  But if they predict a huge win and the margin is close, that's a different story.

Something I possibly should have looked at more closely in advance is the historic non-polling equations from my article What Kills State Governments: Age Or Canberra, which if applied to this election would have predicted the Andrews government to win 52 +/- 8 seats.  However I need to update those sometime for elections since that piece was written - Queensland 2015 in particular could affect them greatly.

Seat Polling Flops Again

The uselessness of seat polling is a common theme on this site and this election provided still more evidence of it.  From August on, I am aware of six Galaxy polls of seats that were expected to be 2PP seats, of which five had the right winner but the average 2PP error was 8.3 points with all the errors in the same direction; this even includes a 52-48 in Mordialloc a few weeks out (end result 62.9% to Labor).  When it comes to Labor vs Green seats there was one gem amid the garbage with Galaxy pretty much nailing Richmond (54-46 compared to actual 55.5) but two commissioned ReachTELs were both hopeless in Prahran.  One of them had Labor 5.8% of the Greens on primary votes (though it did nail the 2PP) while the other had the gap at 12.8%; it was actually 0.9% and the Greens won.

This repeats themes of failure from previous elections.  ReachTELs have never had much handle on inner city contests in areas with high Green votes, and the Galaxy pattern here tends to echo what happened at the 2016 federal election, with a picture of low swing and close 2PP results that then didn't eventuate.

Betting Doesn't Beat Polling

This election is a nice example of one where if betting added predictive value and could detect where polls were wrong, it could have shown it, but it didn't.  Betting overall was very consistent with the pattern in poll-based modelling, which was that Labor seemed likely to get a modest 2PP swing but have little to show for it in seat terms.  (The results are consistent with this being a fair read based off the 2PPs pollsters were getting, because Labor only gained one seat by a margin exceeding 4%). The markets on election day had consensus on a net Labor gain of two (excluding Melton), the same as my poll-based prediction, but the actual net gain was nine (even despite one of the expected gains, Ripon, not happening!)  The seat total market was offering $4 on its highest range of Labor-minus-Coalition seat tallies, yet Labor went more than a dozen seats above that mark.  Either the betting reflected bookies' modelling that was no better or worse than anyone else's who was reading the polls, or else any input from the markets didn't help.

2PP Pendulum (With A Few Extras)

Lastly, here's a 2PP pendulum with a few non-classic bells and whistles to fill up all the empty space for seats the Coalition didn't win.  It will become a lot less relevant after the redistribution, as a result of which the Coalition will probably drop a 2PP seat or two to Labor somewhere.  I'm not a big fan of 2CP pendulums in which margins against all comers are treated as the same, because the purpose of a pendulum shouldn't be just to show which seats are close and should be to show which seats would be picked up by a uniform swing from one party to another on a 2PP basis.  This does get messed around by non-classic contests but 2CP pendulums are easily misread.

For the seat of Werribee after looking at comparable seats (there aren't many) I have assumed a 78% preference flow from Liberal to Joe Garra.  It may be he would have done better than that but I would want to see evidence of it.  Andrew Wilkie in Denison 2010 achieved an 83% flow but he was running against a low-profile candidate rather than a state treasurer.

Click for larger clearer versions:

That's all I've got planned for Victoria for this year!  There is a Paypal button in the sidebar for anyone who wants to throw money (please only give if you can afford it).  I will soon be turning my attention to the murkier contest that is unfolding in the state north of the border ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Group Ticket Voting Wrecks 2018 Victorian Upper House Election

The buttons have been pressed on the Victorian upper house election.  In the end, none of the results were all that close, and all regions have been declared.  If anyone can find a legal basis for challenging the results, they will now have to do so in court.  On that, it would be nice if professional preference harvesting could be deemed to be a bribery offence under Section 151 (3) (d) but I  suspect that it doesn't work like that, and that that section is aimed at bribery connected with how-to-vote cards.  I can only assume what has happened is all legal, but history should record it as another upper house election that was trashed by Group Ticket voting. 

I should add that this post is not intended as an attack on the calibre of those elected to represent parties with small vote shares.  They may turn out to be excellent MPs.  Rather the point is that they were not elected by a proper electoral system and those elected on very small vote shares do not have a proper mandate.

The total seats won are as follows:

Labor 18, Liberal 10, National 1, Greens 1, Derryn Hinch Justice Party 3, Liberal Democrats 2, Transport Matters 1, Sustainable Australia 1, Shooters Fishers + Farmers 1, Animal Justice Party 1, Fiona Patten's Reason Party 1.

Labor should have a cushy time of it, being able to pass anything supported by all the DHJP MPs (assuming that they stay together as a party!) and having various routes for other legislation: left-wing through AJP, FPRP, Greens and maybe others; while also less green paths if needed on environmental matters through the Liberal Democrats and Shooters.  This is to be expected given the magnitude of their Lower House triumph, and it would be foolish to object to a party that won the Lower House so decisively having close to a working majority upstairs.  Nearly all Labor's Upper House wins came on raw quota, with just a couple where they needed a little hand up after polling most of what they needed to win.

Where the results of this election, as expected, go pearshape is in the results for the minor parties.  This election has doubled the representation for parties other than Labor, the Coalition and Greens from five seats to ten.  For the first time in Victoria we have seen parties able to preference-harvest their way to victory even from below 1% of the vote, "beating" parties with as much as fourteen and a half times their primary vote off the back of luck and backroom preference deals.

Below the line voting increased from 6.08% to 8.87%, but it had only minor impacts on the outcomes.  Compared to if all votes had been cast above the line for the same parties, there were only three changes.  The Liberals won in Northern Metro in a situation where the ABC calculator modelled them as losing by 1021 votes, a margin that even a trivial rate of below the line voting would have overturned.  In Eastern Victoria, a preference spiral involving the Aussie Battler Party (1.22%) fell over and the somewhat deserving Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (5.01%) retained the seat instead.  Finally in South-Eastern Metro, below the line votes altered which party spiralled to victory almost entirely relying on above-the-line votes, but not the fact of it happening.  Indeed,  Transport Matters (1.27%) were replaced by the even lowlier Liberal Democrats (0.84%).

The well-oiled LDP troll machine - well one of them at least - has been claiming that the LDP won the seat on below-the-line votes.  That's not true; had all votes been below the line the LDP would have been excluded in South-Eastern Metro at a very early stage. It's more accurate to say just that BTLs caused a rival party to lose it.  What is notable about David Limbrick's win is it is the first time the Liberal Democrats have won a seat at a GTV election without being assisted by the name confusion that continues to result (even with logos printed on ballot papers) when the party draws to the left of the Liberals on the ballot.

Results Compared To Vote Share

In the table below I compare the seats won by each party to the vote share each party achieved.  I use two indicators for this:

* share of the total state vote
* average share of the vote per region

This follows the same approach I used for analysing Senate voting reform.  The reason for it is the number of voters per region varies a fair bit (though nowhere near as much as in the Senate!) In this case using both figures doesn't make much difference, but I do it anyway.

The new Senate system provided a stunningly proportional result when weighted by state in 2016 (bearing in mind the Senate's state-based malapportionment.)  The 2018 Victorian Upper House election, however, produced severely disproportionate results:

(See a nicer table visualisation of these numbers thanks to @Gergyl.)

Proportionally by primary vote, the major parties got pretty close to what they deserved.  The Greens, however, got only one seat whereas four would have been proportional.  Only one smaller party that would have deserved a seat under a statewide proportional system by primary vote (Labour DLP) got nothing, while two that would not have done so (Sustainable Australia and Transport Matters) won seats, and two others (Liberal Democrats and DHJP) got a seat more than they deserved.

In analysing the Senate system I have pointed out that primary votes aren't the be-all-and-end-all of proportionality in Australia and that if a party (like One Nation in 2016) punches above its weight because the voters for likeminded micro-parties gave it lots of preferences, that's fine.  But in this case the Greens' underperformance doesn't have anything to do with what voters from other parties thought of them, and has everything to do with the deals done by other parties to exchange above the line preferences for pragmatic advantage.

The Fate Of The Greens

The Greens were not involved in the Glenn Druery preference deals to my knowledge, but still produced some rather odd preference orderings that may in cases have had something to do with trying to get Lower House preferences.  They also nearly cost Fiona Patten her seat by preferencing DHJP above her for reasons that remain unclear, though few Greens supporters would have chosen this order based on Senate distributions (in 2016, nearly six times more Victorian Green voters preferenced the Sex Party second as preferenced Hinch second).  To what extent the Greens were trying to play the preference game themselves is not too clear, but however hard they tried their attempts would have been doomed to failure.

The reason for this is that the Greens were an unpromising partner for smaller parties expecting to poll a low percent of the vote and seeking to swap preferences.  A smaller party would only get Greens preferences if it happened to snowball its way ahead of the Greens in the count.  But the Greens were excluded either late in the counts or not at all, meaning that the chance of a given party ever getting ahead of them to get their preferences would be slim.  A micro-party would be better off swapping its leading preferences with other micro-parties that it had higher chances of outlasting.  This became even more the case once there was already a group of micro-parties networking (through Druery). 

As a result, the Greens were disadvantaged by their expected vote being too high to make them a good partner for preference swapping, but generally not high enough to put them over the line on raw quotas.  In 2014 this hadn't counted against them in most seats - the smaller party mix in 2014 was more ideological and less tightly networked on preferences, and the combined vote for such parties was slightly lower (19.7%).  It's also worth noting that while the Greens got 12.5% of seats off 10.75% of primary votes in 2014, they did poorly relative to their primary vote in 2006 (7.5% off 10.58%) and 2010 (7.5% off 12.01%).

Some Labor partisans have been very keen to obfuscate about what has actually happened here.  Many have pointed to the Green vote dropping from what the Greens polled in 2014, as if that's the main cause of the result.  It's a part of the cause, but not the main part.  Firstly under a Senate-style system, the Greens would easily have won seats in North Metro, South Metro and East Metro.  In most of the remaining divisions they would have led various centre-to-right minor parties and they would have been likely to hold on to at least one of those leads (perhaps more but it's difficult to tell).  Secondly, had the Greens polled their 2014 vote again at this election, they would have still only won two seats (North and South Metro).  So a fair apportioning of the blame for the Greens' drop from five to one is one deserved seat loss based on actual drop in vote share, and three undeserved ones caused by Group Voting Tickets.

Greens sympathisers in turn have been keen to blame Labor for preferencing "Druery parties".  That doesn't seem to be a significant cause either, though not for want of trying on Labor's part.  Even in the case of the relatively close Sustainable Australia result, the Labor above-the-line vote was too reduced in value to change the outcome.  In many districts Labor preferences either weren't distributed while the Greens were in the count, or would not have saved them from their fate.

The major cause of the Greens' defeat was simply that the smaller parties had too many primary votes between them (22.1% statewide) and they more effectively exploited the Group Ticket Voting system to create artificial near-100% preference flows using #1 above-the-line votes.  These flows are fake because, as the Senate election showed, when voters are asked to choose preferences, their preferences tend to (i) scatter (ii) flow along ideological lines to a degree and (iii) favour well known parties over obscure ones.  For this reason, the argument that a quarter of the seats is a fair return for nearly a quarter of the votes does not hold up - it would if voters for all smaller parties preferred the other smaller parties to Labor, the Coalition and the Greens, but they do not.

Apologists for the indefensible argue that the Victorian system is OK because it allows the voter to escape from GTVs by voting 1-5 below the line.  It's true this is an improvement on the pre-2016 Senate system and that it better escapes the charge of discriminating against voters who want to order preferences their own ways.   But it creates a way in which a party can be systematically disadvantaged by getting several percent of the vote, in a way that a party getting less might not be, and this is unfair even if everybody voting 1 above the line for any other party knows exactly what they're doing and where their preference goes.  Which of course they don't.

Arbitrary Winners

Also, if the Victorian system was delivering seats to the smaller parties on merit, one would expect the highest-polling examples to win more often those further down the chain, and one would expect parties to win in districts where they actually did well.  But the first isn't the case at all, and the second isn't always either.  Ignoring all candidates elected on quota and also all major party candidates who later won, the winning smaller party (excludes Greens and Nats) candidates were variously 2nd (twice), 3rd, 4th (twice), 5th (twice), 7th, 10th and 12th out of all the parties (typically 18 in total) on primaries.  In the only case where one of these parties had the largest remainder by this method, it was out-snowballed by two others!  Thus the best performance outside the majors and the Greens (an impressive 7.85% for the Shooters in Northern Vic) came unfairly to nothing while we were treated to such complete absurdities as:

* Transport Matters (0.62%) beats Greens (9.01%) in Eastern Metro.

* Lib Dem (0.84% - the party's worst result in any region!) beats Liberal (12.3% over quota) in South-East Metro.

* Sustainable Australia (1.32%) beats Greens (13.46%) in South Metro.

Most of the smaller party wins were not so patently outrageous, but nonetheless wouldn't have happened had all voters chosen their own preferences.  Only a couple (Catherine Cumming (DHJP) in Western Metro and Jeff Bourman (Shooters) in Eastern Vic) were arguably wins on electoral merit.  Even those came unreasonably close to losing to parties on much lower vote shares.

A Fairer System?

I've previously pointed out that the parties in the previous parliament - yes even the Greens - are all to blame for this nonsense, since even those who supported reform failed to do enough to raise the issue and put pressure on the waverers.  It is understandable that Victoria's Electoral Matters committee chose to adopt a wait and see approach pending Senate reform, but there was ample time to refer the matter back and pass reform after concerns about Senate reform proved groundless in 2016.  By not doing so, the Victorian parliament has ignored the warnings of Antony Green and others that this day was coming, and has created a result that is not only incredibly silly but also should be seen as disquietingly unfair.  The system can not only systematically disadvantage a party that gets several percent in an environment in which the total micro-party vote is high, but is also self-entrenching because it keeps flooding the parliament with MPs who don't deserve to be there, who can't get re-elected without it, and who therefore mostly won't support reform.  As with systems with entrenched self-policing gerrymanders, the prospect for change appears bleak unless a need for bipartisan reform is accepted by both major parties.

Had this election been held under a Senate-style system, my rough estimate of the seats won would have been Labor 19, Coalition 14, Greens 4, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers 2, Hinch Justice 1.  The Shooters would probably benefit from the regional concentration of their vote, although one of their two seats would be uncertain anyway.  It is not that easy to eyeball results for seats where the Greens had a modest lead over smaller parties on primaries, and at some stage if it is useful and time permits I may run a simulation using Senate preference flows.  There's a case that such a result, while much fairer than the one that has occurred, would be a bit harsh on some of the stronger-polling smaller parties, and for those who agree, the ideal solution would be Senate-style reform augmented by having fewer regions with more members in each.  On the other hand, under such a system it's likely not as many micros would have run, and that this could have improved chances for the more substantially-supported smaller parties.  [EDIT: @sorceror43 has helpfully pointed out that 8 regions with 5 members is constitutionally entrenched in Victoria, so it would seem we are stuck with it.]

Overall though to prevent this from happening again, the overwhelming imperative must be to get rid of Group Ticket Voting, as has been done federally and in NSW and SA.  Whether the solution is exactly like the Senate system, more like NSW's, or something that encourages preferencing to a stronger degree than either, isn't such a major issue.  There is a small-scale Twitter campaign by a person unknown to me for "5 above or 5 below" in which the voter directs their preferences either above the line or below it with a minimum of 5 boxes in either case.  While a 1-5 below the line is likely to be less effective than 1-5 above, the slogan is an elegantly simple one for voters to follow, and I think the idea deserves thought.  At least subject to Senate-style ATL savings provisions.

Australia has a proud record of getting elections right.  We are the home of preferential voting, the first full federal election under which occurred 99 years ago tomorrow (with the first by-election 100 years ago on Friday).  In a world where some supposedly great but in fact badly flawed democracies are still in the nappies of first-past-the-post, we provide a shining light to places like Maine, which recently led the US by adopting preferential voting.  We should take our electoral leadership role seriously and get rid of the farce that is group ticket voting.

See Also

Tally Room - includes breakdowns based on primary vote under various methods for statewide proportional voting.

Inside Story Victorian election summary by Tim Colebatch (covers both houses)

William Bowe at Crikey

Adrian Beaumont

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Victorian Upper House 2018: Button Press Day


I've decided to bring the Victorian upper house count to the top with a new thread for the day on which all the buttons are pressed, and also for any possible recount news.  My coverage of the count was here.  The schedule is for buttons to be pressed for each division from 2:10 pm at ten minute intervals, in alphabetical order by region name.  However, buttons are being pressed faster than scheduled.  Declarations are scheduled for 6:00 but it is possible that some division will be close enough (either at the end or at a key exclusion point) for a recount to be requested, or that some other issue requiring a recount might be identified.  In 2006 there were two recounts, one because of a 6,000 vote transcription error.

Provisional results will be posted as soon as they are available. I am now reviewing the preference distributions.  There may be some delays in posting analysis (if the distributions are up by then!) as I will be out between 3:45-4:45 but will be online for some of that time.

For all the analysis on the above thread and elsewhere there are some seats that are going to the button in significant doubt.  There are others where what is going to happen appears to be clear but it is possible that all the modelling thrown at these counts might still be wrong and something unexpected will happen.  I should note that at this stage we only have party totals, and do not know if there might be an unusually significant below-the-line vote for any otherwise irrelevant candidate (though there is no reason to think that there is.)

Friday, November 30, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premiers Of The Last 40 Years: Round 2 Results And Runoffs

For the past few months the mostly hopelessly socialist heathen who come here to admire the colour scheme have been involved in the selection of best state premiers of the last 40 years.  This month saw the runoff stage for those states that were not resolved in round 1 by absolute majority, and also the start of the consolation prize round for Coalition premiers.

We are not yet ready to proceed to the grand final stage because some young chap called Andrews was involved in a real election and I feared this could contaminate the vote.  The Victorian runoff will be in February to get a little distance from this result and meanwhile we can continue eliminating Coalition premiers.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

2018 Victorian Postcount: Other Indie Challenges (Pascoe Vale, South-West Coast etc)

On this page - Pascoe Vale, South-West Coast, Geelong, Ovens Valley, Werribee, Mildura

Link to state tally and main postcount thread

Link to upper house coverage

I've already posted threads on the interesting post-counts in Morwell, Benambra and Melton.  There are more seats I could post threads of their own on but I shouldn't put too many on the front page!  This seat covers all remaining seats I am aware of where there are interesting issues involving independent candidates creating problems for either major party.  Often in election leadups this is spoken about as a factor but then most of the indie challenges fizzle.  In this case the Coalition's performance has been so bad that it has opened many doors to independents to either beat the Coalition on Labor preferences or beat Labor on Coalition preferences.  Suzanna Sheed has easily retained, Ali Cupper appears to have won Mildura (see below),  Russell Northe is in a fairly good looking position in Morwell, and there are a bunch of others who either can't be written off, or who can be written off but have come close.  Here we go then.  All seats will be updated from time to time unless I have already called them.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Melton

Melton (Labor vs probably Birchall (IND), 2014 ALP vs Lib (11.2))
2014-elected ALP member Don Nardella quit party, sat as independent and did not recontest
Assessment: It's complicated [update: fairly close to an upset but Labor has won.]

(Link to main postcount page and state summary)

Melton? What is this?

The Daniel Andrews Labor government has crushed the Coalition opposition in the state election, but it's had a bit of bother in a few seats from independents, and these create the only real threat to its 2014 seat collection apart from the fairly likely and widely expected loss of Brunswick to the Greens.

One that sticks out like a sore thumb on the 2PP swingometer is Melton, the former home of Deputy Speaker Don Nardella, who resigned from the party and declined to recontest his seat after being caught up in an expenses claim scandal.  In an election where the swings are a sea of red everywhere except a few safe rural Nationals seats, Melton has produced a 2PP swing to the Liberals of 7.2%.  Currently, the Liberals are getting 58% of all preferences in a safe Labor seat where last time they got 42.4%.  There is the in-theory prospect of a bizarre boilover in this seat, and while someone out there might have information to prove it won't happen, I don't.  Even if it doesn't happen, it is worth keeping an eye on in case such a contest happens again in the future.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Benambra

Benambra (Lib vs probably Hawkins (IND), 2014 Nat vs ALP (9.7%)
Current 2PP Lib vs ALP figure is irrelevant
Assessment: Probable Liberal retain (update: retained)

(Link to state tally and main postcount page)

The seat of Benambra has been held by conservatives for 141 years but is under siege from independents inspired by the Cathy McGowan victory in Indi.  Bill Tilley's primary has fallen well below 50% leaving him in the danger zone. Here are the current primaries:

Tilley (Lib) 40.29%
Tait (ALP) 17.61
Hawkins (IND) 16.77
O'Connor (IND) 12.91
Knight (Shooters) 8.97
Bardsley (Green) 3.44

Jacqui Hawkins is a McGowan staffer and Jenny O'Connor is a local mayor who was a Greens candidate for the federal seat of Indi.

The Green how-to-vote card preferences O'Connor then Hawkins.  The Shooters registered two cards, one of which preferences Tilley then Tait and the other preferences Tait then Tilley.  O'Connor registered an open preference card (as did Hawkins.) Labor's card preferenced O'Connor then Hawkins with Tilley last.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Morwell

Morwell (IND vs ALP, Ind Held, 2014 Nat vs ALP 1.8%)
Nat vs ALP two-party figure is irrelevant
Assessment: Northe (IND) wins subject to being 2nd after preferences which is overwhelmingly likely
(update: confirmed, Northe has won)

(Link to main postcount thread and tally)

This is the first of my indie-seat postcounts.  The 2018 Victorian state election has thrown up a very large number of seats where independents have some sort of chance in the postcount and are likely to finish in the top two.  The count in Morwell may be more straightforward than in Melton and Benambra but it is nonetheless still messy.  Perhaps not as messy, however, as many thought it might be.

Russell Northe held the seat narrowly in 2014 despite a monster swing to Labor.  He has been a very much embattled incumbent (including in the final days of the campaign when there was more adverse media coverage of debt issues) but also one who has received plenty of sympathy for his struggles with the unusual pressures of political life in this seat.  He's polled a primary of around 20%, which normally wouldn't be enough, but he may have been saved by the collapse in the Coalition vote.  Here's how the primaries currently line up:

2018 Victorian Postcount: Greens Vs Labor (Prahran, Brunswick, Melbourne)

Link to main postcount thread including state summary

This thread covers late counting in seats being contested between the Greens and Labor.  The Greens went into the election holding Melbourne, Northcote (which they won from Labor in a mid-term by-election) and Prahran (which they won in a ridiculously close three-cornered contest in 2014) and hoped to pick up Brunswick (ALP vacancy) and Richmond (where there is perennial opposition to their candidate Kathleen Maltzahn from sections of the left on account of her support for the Nordic model of criminalising paying for sex).

The Liberals tried to stoke the pot in Richmond by not running a candidate at all, the strategic point of which remains elusive.  Former Prime Minister Paul Keating waded in by accusing the Liberals of piking on the contest to try to dislodge Planning Minister Richard Wynne in order to assist Liberal-linked property developers, while Maltzahn issues were another distraction for the Greens in a campaign full of them.  In the end Wynne has won Richmond with a commanding swing in his favour, and Labor has also comfortably recaptured Northcote.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Summary And Classic Seats


Labor 55, Coalition 27, Green 3, IND 3

Seats covered on this page:

Links to other postcount threads (links to be added as completed):

Green vs Labor (Brunswick, Prahran)
Other indie challenges (Pascoe Vale, Mildura, South-West Coast, Geelong, Ovens Valley, Werribee)

Link to Upper House coverage

Victorian Upper House Live

Go to new button press thread for final results and discussion. 

Button presses to occur on Tuesday at 10-minute intervals commencing 2:10 pm.  Very close results (if any) could still be subject to recount beyond that.  ABC Calculator seat "results" (actually output of a flawed but useful model) are not final and some are not likely to be correct.

Warning: The North Metro count section has been rated Wonk Factor 5/5.  Some of the rest aren't too far behind.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Victoria 2018 Live

The starting line: Labor 46 Coalition 37 Green 3 Ind 2 (Melton treated as Labor)
Polls have closed
Seats apparently won (some at low levels of doubt) ALP 51 Coalition 24 Green 1 Ind 2
10 seats currently in significant doubt (that I know of)

Apparent Labor gains from Coalition (some still in some doubt): Bass, Mt Waverley, Ringwood, South Barwon, Burwood, Nepean, Box Hill

Coalition seats in doubt: Bayswater, Ripon, Hawthorn

Apparent ALP gain from Greens: Northcote

Apparent IND gain from Nat: Mildura

In doubt Coalition held vs Ind: Benambra, South-West Coast (likely hold but exclusion order issue)
In doubt IND held vs ALP: Morwell (Ind favoured)
In doubt ALP vs Ind: Melton
In some doubt ALP held vs Ind: Pascoe Vale (probable ALP hold)
In doubt Green held vs ALP: Prahran (ALP ahead)
In doubt ALP held vs Green: Brunswick 

Friday, November 23, 2018

2018 Victorian Final Polls

Galaxy 53-47 to Labor, ReachTEL 54-46 to Labor
Current primary vote aggregate ALP 40.7 L-NP 39.4 Green 11.0 Other 8.9
Polls could be underestimating Labor 2PP vote slightly and may be overstating Greens primary
Seat projection estimate ALP 48 L-NP 36 Green 3 IND 1

This post will update all polling news in the final 24 hours of the Victorian campaign.

If the latest polls are right, yesterday's token post about Lower House modelling might not be quite so token after all. What we've seen in the Herald Sun's YouGov-Galaxy (53-47 to Labor) and Fairfax's ReachTEL (54-46 to Labor) suggests that the net effect of the last few weeks of campaigning has been more or less zero.  The polling would not have to be wildly wrong for an unlucky distribution of seats to leave Labor short of a majority, but it would have to be very wrong indeed for the Coalition to win the election in any way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Token Post About Modelling The 2018 Victorian Lower House

Seat modelling on assumed 2PP of 53.4 to Labor currently gives estimate around ALP 47 Green 3-4 LNP 36 IND 1-2 
On current numbers Labor are very likely to win, but at some risk of doing so in minority
Contest badly lacks sufficient recent polling data so any modelling is unreliable

State opinion polling aint quite what it used to be.  At this stage of the 2014 Victorian state election, there had been twelve statewide voting intention polls by six different pollsters released in the previous two months.  This time it's four by either two or three (depending on how you treat Newspoll/Galaxy) and the most recent one was commissioned.  Over a million voters have voted already (including those whose votes are in the mail) and yet so far this month the only statewide poll we've had is a ReachTEL for the Victorian National Parks Association.  There may well be a flood of polling in the final days, but at this stage, those of us trying to predict what might occur have not a lot to work with.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Site colour change

From time to time I change the colour of this site, often partly or entirely for some reason connected with its content.  Examples of past colours adopted have been:

a shade of dark blue which was the subject of a ludicrous cease-and-desist letter from the Tasmanian Liberal director asking that an "independent liberal" candidate cease using the colour "Liberal Blue"
Orange, partly in amazement at Cathy McGowan's team finding 1000 votes under the proverbial table during the 2013 Indi count.
Purple, signifying neutrality between the major parties
The colour of Senate ballot papers, moving to a purely psephological colour as an expression of disgust with the federal parliament over anti-free speech provisions in the rushed-through same-sex marriage plebiscite safeguards bill.
Burnt orange, flying SA-BEST colours in protest against SA Labor and Liberal parties preferencing the Australian Conservatives.

The new colours (though I'm fiddling with the combination to try not to make it too hard on the eyes) are another protest, concerning the behaviour of nearly every party in or leading up to the current Victorian Legislative Council election.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Wentworthless: Another Epic Seat Poll Fail

The failures of seat polling have been a common subject on this site this year.  See Is Seat Polling Utterly Useless?, Why Is Seat Polling So Inaccurate and How Did The Super Saturday Seat Polls Go?

The recent Wentworth by-election was difficult to poll because of a late strategic-voting swing of probably a few to several points from Labor to the winner Kerryn Phelps.  All seven polls that polled a Liberal vs Phelps two-candidate preferred vote did actually get the right winner.  But that is all the good news that there is.  In so many other respects, the seat polls for the historic Wentworth by-election, perhaps the most polled seat in Australian history, were way wrong. And like other recent seat poll failures in such seats as Bass, Macarthur, Dobell, Lindsay and Longman, the failures were characterised not just by the polls being very wrong, but also by them tending to be wrong in the same direction.  The problems go beyond small sample size, and beyond even the tendency of seat polls to be less accurate than their sample sizes say they should be.  They point to systematic errors not random ones, and in this case, I suspect, to the oversampling of the politically engaged.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fear And Loathing With Victorian Upper House Preference Flows

Following the launch of Antony Green's Legislative Council calculator I've been playing around with some possible scenarios for the Victorian upper house group ticket flows.  Quite a few people are doing this and so there are a number of different estimates about what might happen out there.  What we know from the past is to expect the unexpected - we can say that it looks like preference harvesters will win several undeserved seats, but it's hard to say which ones they will be and who.  The whole exercise is incredibly sensitive to starting assumptions - one micro-party you've never heard of might get 1% instead of 0.5% and suddenly something completely different happens.  Snowballs from very low vote shares have a higher chance of crashing because of below-the-line votes, especially as voters for micro-parties, with the exception of the Liberal Democrats, are more likely to vote below the line.  In 2014 the BTL rate for most micros was in the range 8-22%.

At the last Victorian election, five candidates won seats as a result of preference-harvesting:

* In Eastern Victoria, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (2.44%) beat ALP-2 (8.68% over quota) and Green (8.23%)
* In Northern Metro, the Sex Party (2.87%) beat Labor-3 (7.06% over quota)
* In Northern Victoria, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (3.5%) beat L-NP-3 (7.84% over quota) and Greens (7.68%)
* In Western Metro, Democratic Labour Party (2.57%) beat ALP-3 (10.65% over quota) and L-NP-2 (6.90% over quota)
* In Western Victoria, Vote 1 Local Jobs (1.28%) beat Greens (9.19%)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Poll Roundup: Well That Wasn't Much Of A Honeymoon

2PP Aggregate: 54.8 to Labor (+0.8 since last week) by 2016 preferences
54.2 to Labor with One Nation adjustment
Labor would win election "held now" with a very large majority 

It's been a while since my last federal poll roundup.  At that time the Coalition's polling was recovering from the shock caused by the messy and (to the public) inexplicable coup that deposed Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, and it was too soon to read anything into what we were seeing.  Because the Coalition's polling was in recovery mode but the new Prime Minister was still in a polling honeymoon period it was a matter of waiting for things to settle down to get a feeling for how competitive the Coalition really was.

On my aggregate, the recovery from a post-coup low of 43.9% peaked at 46.7% after seven weeks, and since then things have been getting worse rather than better.  Furthermore, since the defeat in Wentworth, they have been getting worse faster, at least if this week's shocker Newspoll is anything to go by.  The Coalition's current position is worse than at any time with Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, and also worse than all but the worst few weeks under Tony Abbott.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premiers Of The Past 40 Years: Round 2

Two months ago I started a round of Best State Premier Not-A-Polls.  Winners from each state will eventually go through to an elimination-style final similar to my Best Prime Minister series.  Also the skew in this site's reader base (and that's probably not the only cause) led to Labor Premiers winning round 1 in every state, so I am starting a Best Non-Labor Premier/Chief Minister runoff as well.

As it has turned out six states have finished up with two-candidate runoffs.  The first named was the round 1 winner in every case except Queensland which was a tie.

NSW Neville Wran vs Bob Carr
Victoria Steve Bracks vs Daniel Andrews (postponed to January to reduce Vic election contamination)
Queensland Peter Beattie vs Wayne Goss
Western Australia Geoff Gallop vs Carmen Lawrence
Tasmania Jim Bacon vs Lara Giddings
ACT Katy Gallagher vs Jon Stanhope

All these runoffs will go for one month.  (Voting in the sidebar, closes 6 pm Nov 30.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2018 Hobart City Council Count (With Some Coverage Of Other Councils)

The number above appears at the top of my coverage to highlight the final informal vote rate for the Hobart City Council councillor count, as a result of absurdly strict formality requirements. Launceston (7.94%) and Clarence (7.24%) are not far behind.  

This level of informal vote as a result of absurd legislation is a farce, an insult to democracy, and a threat to the legitimacy of seats being decided by a handful of votes.  The informal rate was 100 times the final seat margin in Hobart.

I call on the state government and other parties in the Lower House to immediately and publicly commit to fixing this problem.  The current government did not create this problem, but the problem should have been fixed after the last election four years ago.

Coverage follows below.

Note added Saturday night: I will be mostly offline for the coming week (Nov 4-10) so comment clearance will be slow.

Introduction (from Tuesday)

Welcome to my live coverage thread for the Hobart City Council count, which will also have some comments on other councils when I find time to look at them.  My Hobart candidate guide and preview was here and has probably been viewed by about 20% of Hobart voters.  Updates will be added below the dotted lines; check back regularly through the week for comments.  These introductory comments will stay at the top, there are also some more detailed introductory comments at the bottom.

Friday, October 26, 2018

2018 Victorian State Election Intro

It's very close to the 2018 Victorian state election for me not to have written a thing yet about it!  Largely this has been because my analysis model needs polling to work, and (in common with other recent state elections) there's hardly been any of it.  Anyway, this is an opening offering on some general issues in trying to forecast this election

Let's start with the important bit.  If voting in the Legislative Council (upper house) in Victoria, vote below the line for candidates, not above the line for parties.  You only have to choose five candidates for a valid vote, though you will make your vote a lot more powerful if you number a lot more.  If you vote above the line, your vote will be at the mercy of your party's decisions about where to send your preferences, and they may well choose to send it to a party who you'd be totally opposed to.  Unfortunately, Victoria is one of the two remaining states that has not got rid of the Group Ticket voting system.  Keep control of your own vote and say no to preference-harvesting which can lead to unknown parties electing unaccountable candidates off tiny percentages of the vote.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ways To Improve Tasmanian Council Elections

On Tuesday I voted in the Hobart City Council elections.  (By the way, if you haven't voted yet, you might want to take your vote direct to your local council centre.) After following this election for months, including researching the candidates and writing a guide to the election it still took me 70 minutes to fill out my ballot papers, albeit with a little live tweeting of my thought processes on the way.  I'm not even convinced I did all that good a job of it, and suspect it would have taken me 3-4 hours to come up with a vote that was the best I could possibly do.  If it wasn't for the fact that there are always people who need putting near the bottom, I would have been wondering why I even bothered.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wentworth Live: Majority On The Line Again (Plus Post-Count)

WENTWORTH (Lib vs ALP 17.8%)
Dave Sharma (Lib) vs Kerryn Phelps (IND) (16 candidates total)

GAIN by Phelps (IND) - margin will exceed 51:49

Government to lose majority and seat held almost continuously since Federation.

The swings involved, while among the largest, are not an all-time record of any kind. (Not even if you discount Wills 1992)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Oh Yes We Do Have Strategic Voting In Australia (Sometimes)

On Wednesday Alex Turnbull, who has been campaigning for voters to evict the Liberal Party from his father's former seat of Wentworth, switched his support from Labor to independent Kerryn Phelps on strategic grounds.  Amusingly, Turnbull jnr justified his support by reference to a popular American text called "Gaming the Vote" by William Poundstone, and posted a colourful excerpt explaining how the squeezing out of a centrist candidate who finishes in third places can lead to "unpalatable, Wizard-or-Lizard dilemmas".  After Clinton-vs-Trump, or even the utter farce that has been the present term of Australian parliament, wizards and lizards are both sounding pretty good at the moment.

The idea here is very simple: if Kerryn Phelps makes the final two she is more likely to beat Dave Sharma (Lib) on preferences from Labor (which will include some votes originally for the Greens and minor candidates), than Tim Murray (Labor) is to beat Sharma on Phelps' preferences should he make the final two.  Phelps is (mostly) seen as the more centrist candidate in an electorate that has never elected a Labor MP.  There will be voters who want to send a protest vote against the Liberals for disposing of that other Turnbull or whatever other reason, but who cannot bring themselves to vote Labor.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Council Voting - Please Be Careful!

I've already made this point in my Hobart guide but I thought I should make it prominently in a separate post to cover all councils.  Please feel very free to share and spread widely.

A scourge of Tasmanian council elections is the high rate of informal voting.  Informal votes are votes that are returned but cannot be counted as they are not valid votes.  The main reason the informal voting rate is high is that voters make mistakes and the rules concerning this are stupid.  The reason the rules are stupid is that governments have failed to fix them.  The previous Labor/Greens government ignored warnings that bringing in all-in all-out elections would cause a high informal voting rate under the current system. The current Liberal government has so far done nothing to fix it.  The Local Government Act needs to be reformed to provide savings provisions for voters who make honest mistakes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

2018 FIDE (World Chess Federations) Elections Updates

8:15 am Georgian time

Greetings from Batumi!  This is a post to cover the goings on regarding the FIDE election, which I first posted about nearly three months ago (2018 World Chess Federation elections).  I hope to post updates through the election today but they may or may not be delayed a little by duties in connection with it, or issues with running my computer off its wayward battery.

Since my previous article, the attempt to impose greater strictness surrounding the tempting of delegates has fallen by the wayside (because it lacked statutory authority), but still the election has been austere compared to the cash-splash of 2014, especially on the Makropoulos side.  Unlike in 2014, a delegate is not bombarded with pamphlets at meetings for days before the election and there are few posters to be seen.  The Makropoulos and Dvorkovich camps have stalls at the Olympiad venue (and the Makropoulos camp accuses a member of the Dvorkovich camp of some scruffy behaviour related to this) while the Short camp has no physical presence beyond its various members.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Poll Roundup: The Current Polls Aren't All That Meaningful

2PP Aggregate: 54.2 to Labor (-0.6 since last week) by 2016 election preferences
53.6 to Labor with One Nation preference adjustment 
Labor would win election "held now" with a large majority
(scores and text, but not graph, updated for Essential)

This week Newspoll, which has so far produced the worst readings for the Coalition since Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison, came down two points on the two-party preferred vote from 56-44 to Labor to 54-46.  Taking into account the primary votes, the Coalition's gain was probably slightly greater.  Indeed this Newspoll had a slightly smaller gap (0.7 points) between the expected last-election preferences off the primaries and the published 2PP with Newspoll's adjustments of One Nation preferences than has usually been the case lately.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hobart City Council Elections Candidate Guide And Preview 2018

All candidates are directed to the note for candidates at the bottom of this page.

Introductory Waffle

With some rather expensive looking corflutes already cropping up in parts of the city, it's time to start my resource page for the 2018 Hobart City Council elections.  This guide (like my 2014 guide) includes a list of candidates who are running for the Council for the 2018-22 term.    The guide includes brief bio details and links, descriptions of candidates' past electoral form (where any) and an attempted assessment of prospects.  All sections will be updated regularly, but there will be lags of a few days at times between Sep 25 and Oct 7.

During the campaign period voters will get official statements by the candidates, with photos supplied by them.  The online version will include web links.  This piece was first published for the interest of those who don't want to wait for the candidate statements, but will stay up to present a less filtered view of candidate backgrounds.

Donations to cover even some of my time in writing this guide are very welcome - but not from candidates or their direct connections.  There's a PayPal button on the sidebar or you can email me for bank account details. Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to.

Note to all voters: please make sure your vote is valid.  Your vote for Councillor (Aldermen) must include the numbers 1 to 12 each once and once only.  If you skip or double any of these numbers, your vote won't count at all.  If you stop at 11, your vote won't count at all.  You can give further preferences beyond 12 if you wish and I strongly encourage doing this (a mistake beyond 12 will not make your vote informal).  If there are candidates you dislike then number all the boxes and put them at the bottom.  You will never help them beat candidates you have ranked higher by so doing.

A reader has prepared this simple voting order shuffler which also allows you to write notes about the candidates, in order to put them in your preferred order!

For some complex background to the voting patterns of existing councillors, see Hobart City Council Voting Patterns 2014-8. By way of a quick summary, while most councillors are technically independent, and even the party-endorsed candidates don't vote the same way as each other all the time, I've historically found that most councillors belong to two loose clusters of generally likeminded councillors.  I refer to these as the "greens" (who are typically The Greens) and the "blues" (who more often favour the interests of commerce and development when environmental conflicts arise).  Note that "blues" are not necessarily Liberals and sometimes have Labor connections.  However in the last term, those tendencies, while still there, have been weaker than they've ever been before.  Personality clashes on the blue side have continued, positions on both sides have moderated, while solidarity on the Green side has weakened to the point that for the first time in Hobart history a councillor first elected as a Green will run as an independent.  (On other Tasmanian councils this has been common.)

Alas I don't have time to do the same for every council.  I may post links to similar sites for other councils if they are sent to me. Please address any corrections or additions for such other council guides to the sites in question and not to me.  I cannot vouch for the bias or lack thereof, or the updating, of any such external links.

"Alderman" vs "Councillor"

The term "alderman" is equivalent to "councillor" in the case of Hobart City Council.  The term "alderman" is considered sexist and the current Council has supported switching to "councillor".   I have followed this by using "Councillor" throughout this guide.

Candidates for Lord Mayor and Deputy

The following are candidates for Lord Mayor and Deputy, all of whom are listed in the councillor guide.  A candidate cannot run for Mayor and Deputy, and the winner of each position needs to also be elected as a councillor to serve.

Lord Mayor (11 candidates)

Alexander, Darren
Briscoe, Jeff (incumbent councillor)
Christie, Ron (current Lord Mayor and incumbent councillor)
Denison, Tanya (incumbent councillor)
Dutta, Mike
Harvey, Bill (incumbent councillor)
Mallett, Robert
Reynolds, Anna (incumbent councillor)
Sexton, Peter (incumbent councillor)
Thomas, Damon (incumbent councillor)
Zucco, Marti (incumbent councillor)

Here is an accurate image of this year's mayoral field.

Deputy Lord Mayor (11 candidates)

Allardice, Robin
Behrakis, Simon
Bloomfield, Louise
Burnet, Helen (incumbent councillor)
Coats, Will
Merridew, Chris
Roffe, Richard
Sherlock, Zelinda
Stansfield, Philip
Taylor, Andy (Tubes)
Waldhoff, Martin

Incumbent Deputy Peter Sexton is running for Lord Mayor.

Declared Candidates for Councillor (36 for 12 vacancies)

The following are the candidates.   There are three vacancies, caused by Sue Hickey's resignation on moving to state parliament, and two retirements (see below).

I am trying to keep this section fairly neutral without it being totally boring. Some biases may sneak through (or be overcompensated for) but my main interest in this section is in providing a resource.  I should also note the ritual disclaimer that sometimes candidates get endorsed by my mother.

Each candidate's name, with a few exceptions where I haven't yet found a campaign page, is a link to what seems to be the main page or a campaign page or other web presence for that candidate.

Ticket/team webpages are listed in the Tickets/teams section below.

Alexander, Darren - IT entrepreneur (Autech Software and Beetle Black Media), Brand Tasmania and Business events board member, Launceston councillor and 2014 mayoral candidate now returned to Hobart. Other links: candidacy announcement, linkedin, press release

Allardice, Robin - accountant (profile), director of Bentley's Chartered Accountants Tasmania, involved with private school boards and foundations, self-professed "introvert". Other links: personal Facebook pagelinkedin

Behrakis, Simon - recent state Liberal candidate (Denison and Hobart), Eric Abetz staffer, parliamentary researcher, economist, assistant manager Salamanca Fresh, culture warrior.  Other links: linkedin, candidacy announcement, Twitter

Bloomfield, Louise - accountant, small business owner (Bloomfield & Associates), President of business networking groups, guest lecturer on business integrity, Porsche racer.  Other links: Twitter, Your Hobart page

Briscoe, Jeff  incumbent councillor, college teacher of maths, computing and chemistry (see student reviews here!), credit union director.  Other links:  TwitterlinkedinZoominfocandidacy announcement,

Burnet, Helen (Tasmanian Greens)  -  incumbent councillor and former Deputy Lord Mayor, frequent Greens state candidate, Podiatrist at Royal Hobart Hospital, volunteer on range of non-profit boards.  Other links: Twitter

Christie, Ron - incumbent councillor, elected Deputy Lord Mayor at last two elections and promoted to Lord Mayor on Hickey's resignation, former radio and TV host, marketer and Eisteddfod president. Other links: Twitter (quiet lately), candidacy announcement

Coats, Will - advisor to Legislative Council Leader for the Government Leonie Hiscutt, former Young Liberal State President + life member Uni Liberal Club, information systems graduate, has worked in IT for Mystate and RACT, executive director of a hair style products company Other links: linkedin

Corr, Brian - President of Hobart Not Highrise (lobby group re building heights), Vice-President Newtown Community Association, former WA local councillor and ALP state candidate, plum endorsement

Denison, Tanyaincumbent councillor, business owner, first female CEO of the Civil Contractors Federation and mining engineer. 2013 federal Liberal candidate for Denison (including Hobart council area).  Preselected #3 for 2019 Liberal Senate ticket.  Other links: linkedin, candidacy announcement

Dutta, Mike - proprietor of Macquarie Street Foodstore cafe/restaurant, former teacher, lawyer and Minister of Religion. Other links: candidacy announcement (father of Sherlock)

Dut, Salpha - member of local South Sudanese community

Ewin, Holly (endorsed by Tasmanian Greens but quit party 20 October) - florist, early childhood educator, student, activist (including recently on gender and reproductive rights issues), lives on a boat, Greens candidate for Franklin at state election

Frame, Nigel - State director + Senate candidate for Australian Conservatives, radiation therapist Royal Hobart Hospital for c. 25 years, studying ancient history/cosmology, state chess champion 2005, five times state lightning chess champion*.  Other links: Conservatives website, Facebook

Harvey, Bill (Tasmanian Greens) - incumbent councillor, English teacher, frequent Greens state candidate, formerly involved in Malaysian/Chinese business college and boutique wine delivery, director Hobart Cat Centre.   Other links: Facebook, Twitter, linkedin

Irwin, Fiona - university administrator, formerly worked in Labor and Liberal ministerial offices and State Government community services. Other links: linkedin

Mallett, Robert - "entrepreneur, small business owner, communication trainer and association manager" (The Front Man), former public servant, Small Business Council Executive Officer, 2014 state Liberal candidate for Denison

McCallum, Stephen (Labor) - Young Labor member, consultant, former electorate officer for Lisa Singh and United Voice administrator. Other links: linkedin

Merridew, Chris - former National Trust councillor, motor industry consultant (car sales Performance Automobiles), advocate for keeping Treasury Building in public hands (see recent op ed and coverage). Other links: Op ed re bus interchange and candidacy announcement

Ngor, Atak - recent media graduate, involvements in investment management and electricity retail startups, youth advisory committee member, SBS film and directing placements.  Other links: linkedin

Peelman, Ben - violin teacher and events promoter who has worked in several other businesses, advises me he has "worked in every field council operates in, except rubbish - and I'll get round to that too." Other links: main site page

Reynolds, Anna - incumbent councillor, former Greens Denison and Senate candidate, CEO for Multicultural Council of Tasmania, former Greens advisor and climate change organiser.   Other links: Twitter, linkedin, vimeo, Facebook

Roffe, Richard - Doctor, previously supported Ron Christie's push for purchase of Sydney monorail.  Other claims to fame include having a defibrillator stolen.  Other links: linkedin

Sexton, Peterincumbent councillor and current Deputy Lord Mayor (elected by Council on Christie's elevation), G.P., Cricket Australia medico, Clinical Associate Professor (UTAS), Honorary Consul (Estonia), former medical administrator  Other link: linkedin

Schofield, Cat - Director of Nursing, Mental Health Services.  Formerly Strategic Nurse Co-ordinator DPAC.  Other link: linkedin

Sherlock, Zelinda - recent State Labor candidate for Denison, teacher of English for refugee students, former lecturer, PhD candidate.  Other links: TwitterLHG page, coverage (daughter of Dutta)

Siena, Kasha - President of Salamanca Market Stallholders Association, market stallholder, "small business owner" with "long history of running a business", involved in tourism awards, family left Poland to escape communism in 1980s.

Stanaway, Glen - Regional Manager for Australian Sailing, has also worked as a draftsman and in software development.  Other links: linkedin

Stansfield, Philip - disability support worker, has worked as State Government lawyer and policy officer and also electorate officer and ministerial adviser (for David Crean), ALP member. Other links: Facebook, candidacy announcement

Tang, Yongbei - editor of Chinese News Tasmania, Multicultural Council of Tasmania treasurer, SBS correspondent, recently in debate about Greens comments on Chinese influence.  Other links: linkedin,Twitter, response to stacking claims

Taylor, Andy "Tubes" - Co-owner/director of Johnno's Home Made, quiz host, sports commentator and former CUB visitors centre manager.  Other links: Twitter, candidacy announcement

Taylor, Rebecca (Tasmanian Greens) - "Parent, athlete, social worker, and coach" (sporting involvements in roller derby) and former Council employee for 11 years.

Thomas, Damon - incumbent councillor, Lord Mayor 2011-2014, business consultant, Adjunct Professor (UTAS),  Korean consul. Formerly: Crown Solicitor, Ombudsman, CEO of Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  Other links:  linkedinTwitter

Waldhoff, Martin - real estate consultant at Elders Brown + Banks, also tallow producer (see article) and former life sciences student, army reservist and small businessman in various fields.  Other links: Twitter, Your Hobart page

Vogel, Stefan - Glaciologist and Antarctic scientist, has worked "over the course of 34 years in the Manufacturing Industry, Tourism, Education, Leadership Training and Academia from Europe via Antarctica and the USA to Australia." Other links: linkedin

Zucco, Marti - veteran incumbent councillor, businessman, veteran restaurateur, frequent candidate for state and federal politics, one-man political popcorn generator. Other links: Twitter, Your Hobart page

Text is mine but thanks to my mother Pru Bonham for assistance with candidate-spotting.

Note that Denison's preselection to the #3 position on the Liberal Senate ticket does not preclude her from standing and indeed that following the precedent of the Steve Martin case she could potentially be a councillor (even Mayor) and Senator at the same time.  However she has stated she would resign from Council if elected to the Senate.

(* Frame is in fact my most frequently played opponent in long-time control rated games in Tasmanian chess - we have played 55 times, the last in 2012.  He has not been active in competition in recent years.)

Retiring Councillors

Phil Cocker (Greens) and Eva Ruzicka have retired from the Council.  Ruzicka was first elected 1999 and was elected Deputy Lord Mayor three times.  Cocker was first elected in 2005.  Retirements of one councillor from then green side and one from more or less the centre mean that the balance of Council could shift substantially if new left-leaning candidates are not elected.  However I suspect at least one will be.

Teams/Tickets (etc)

In last election's guide I expressed some bemusement at the appearance of Ron Christie's "Hobart's Home Team" grouping, a six-candidate ticket that eventually elected only Christie (though Mao Ding missed out by 3.6 votes), and that cluttered the ballot for Deputy Mayor to no useful effect.  Following this latest failed attempt to generate useful preference flows by running grouped candidates (something which has a long history of not working well outside the Greens), roll round 2018 and ... almost everyone is doing it!

Strictly speaking, although these groups are often called "tickets" they do not tend to recommend a regimented order of candidates and should really be considered as teams.  Of this year's batch the Liveable Hobart Group appears to be running the most like a party, with detailed announcements of policy promises.  Your Hobart also has a substantial list of policies but seems to be less formalised.  Elected Green candidates are not bound by party solidarity and fairly often do not vote together.

Candidates involved in groups at this year's election are:

Tasmanian Greens - Harvey, Burnet, Ewin, Taylor.

Liveable Hobart Group - Thomas, Allardice, Sherlock, Irwin, Siena.

Your Hobart - Zucco, Bloomfield, Waldhoff.

Also, the following candidates are campaigning together to some degree:

Briscoe/Stansfield - Briscoe (Lord Mayor) and Stansfield (Deputy) are announced running mates.

Mallett/Coats - Mallett has endorsed Coats. I am unsure if Behrakis is also involved.

Reynolds/Corr - Corr endorses Reynolds in at least one of her videos.

Also Dutta's posters are authorised by Sherlock, but Dutta is not a member of the Liveable Hobart Group.

We have also seen an (as far as I know) unprecedented decision by the Liberal Party to recommend certain candidates to its membership, although there are no candidates running as endorsed Liberals in the usual fashion.  That said it was sometimes clear in the past that the party supported some pre-existing ticket or other.  Those recommended are Denison, Mallett, Behrakis, Bloomfield, Coats, MerridewVogel, and Waldhoff (the last of whom was initially not included for reasons unknown to me). It is unknown to me whether this is an ordered ranking.

Form Guide

This section includes a summary of past election performances (where any known) including histories of any known party or quasi-party involvements, and also assessments of past voting patterns.  This one is again in reverse alphabetical order.  Many new candidates have no previous known electoral form, but this section isn't about saying that more or less electoral form is good.  It is mainly for the purpose of saying how people have gone in the past for those interested in trying to guess how they'll go in the future.

Note that for the 2014 election the number of seats elected at a time was increased from (usually) six to twelve, resulting in large drops in the primary votes for several incumbent councillors.

Zucco, Marti - First elected to Council in 1992, Zucco's record is of always being re-elected comfortably without ever having polled quota and sometimes struggling to gather preferences.  Missed out for Deputy in 2011 when beaten by Ron Christie by six votes at key exclusion point; not competitive in other leadership tilts.  In 2014, elected fifth as a Councillor, but also finished only fifth for Deputy Mayor.  Independent candidate for Legislative Council a few times (best 25% in Newdegate 1993).  Unsuccessfully sought preselection for Liberal Party for 2010 state election, attempt squelched by pro-Elise Archer forces, quit party.  Palmer United Party candidate for Franklin 2013 federal election polling very respectable 6.1%.  Involved in dispute with Jacqui Lambie, quit party and ran as independent for Denison polling 788 votes (more than any Denison PUP candidate).  My assessments have consistently shown Zucco to be one of the most hardline pro-commerce ("blue") councillors on council.

Thomas, Damon -  First elected to Council in 2009 polling 8.7% of the councillor vote and finishing fourth after preferences.  Then won Lord Mayor at first attempt defeating Helen Burnet narrowly on preferences with 51.5% two-candidate preferred.  Defeated by Sue Hickey 52.5-47.5 in 2014; polled second on Councillor ballot with 16.3% (over two quotas).  My assessments have generally shown Thomas as a fairly moderate member of the pro-commerce ("blue") grouping on council.

Stansfield, Philip - Contested 2014 election, polled 432 votes (10th on primaries) but slipped to 16th after preferences.

Siena, Kasha - Contested 2014 election on Christie ticket, polled 64 primaries and was second excluded.

Sherlock, Zelinda - Labor candidate for Denison (2018 state election). Polled 1998 votes.

Sexton, Peter - First elected to Council in 1999 on a recount after John Freeman temporarily resigned.  Third elected in 2005 and 2009, each time with relatively modest primary votes (6.6% and 5.5%) but very high shares of preferences from other candidates.  This continued in 2014 when he polled a mere 384 primaries (equal sixteenth) but was elected 8th after preferences from other incumbents.  Competitive for Deputy Mayor in 2005 (beaten 46:54 by Eva Ruzicka) and 2009 (beaten by Helen Burnet by 77 votes.) Disappointing 18.6% (fourth) in field of four for Lord Mayor in 2011 and fourth for Deputy Mayor in 2014. Elevated to Deputy Mayor after Ron Christie became Lord Mayor as a result of a 6-5 vote of councillors.  My assessments have generally shown Sexton to be a moderate member of the pro-commerce ("blue") councillors grouping, but in the current term I've classified him as a blue-leaning centrist.

Roffe, Richard - Member of Christie ticket in 2014, polling 180 votes.

Reynolds, Anna - Drew the short straw as Greens candidate running against Andrew Wilkie in 2013 federal election.  This was always a hiding to nothing since Wilkie agrees with the Greens on many issues dear to their supporters, but would probably still have expected more than 7.9% . Polled an impressive 571 primaries for Council in 2014, unseating fellow Green Harvey. Also polled 1433 below the line votes as Greens #3 for Senate 2016.  Although elected as a Green, Reynolds has voted more like a green-leaning independent on Council, and has not voted with any other councillor more than 67% of the time on contested motions.

Peelman, Ben - Candidate in 2011, polled 145 votes and was second excluded.

Merridew, Chris - Has reportedly run for Council previously without success, I believe over 30 years ago.

Mallett, Robert - Liberal candidate for Denison 2014, polled 2080 votes.

Harvey, Bill - Elected to Council at the third attempt in 2007, polling over 600 primaries and performing strongly on preferences.  In 2011 (as lead candidate in that year's slate) the strongest-polling Green, getting more than half the Green ticket vote and being easily re-elected.  Shock defeat by fellow Green Reynolds in 2014, attributed in some circles to his moderate voting record.  Topped the Deputy Lord Mayor primary count in both 2011 and 2014 as the sole Green but beaten 46:54 and 45.1:54.9 by Christie after preferences each time.  Ran as a heavily promoted second candidate for the Greens in Denison at the 2013 state election, and seemed an outside chance to get elected based on some polling, but ultimately Green vote was not that high and he polled 1614 votes. I have consistently assessed Harvey as a lighter shade of green than Burnet and Cocker and in the current term this difference became more pronounced.

Ewin, Holly - Greens support candidate for Franklin at 2018 state election polling 909 votes.

Dutta, Michael - Dutta contested the 1996 election as a minor candidate on the Valentine/Bonham-led Hobart Community Team, polling 270 votes (1.5%). Much more competitive in 2014 when he polled 467 votes (ninth on primaries) but as with many non-incumbents did poorly on preferences and finished 17th.

Denison, Tanya -  Endorsed Federal Liberal candidate for Denison at 2013 federal election, in a race in which the Liberals were very late announcing a candidate after a previous candidate failed due diligence at the last moment (there was also speculation they were deliberately helping Andrew Wilkie to win.)  Polled third on primaries with 23.2%. Polled 408 primaries for Hobart 2014 and was elected 11th after outlasting Mao Ding at a critical point by 3.6 votes.  Denison has displayed a strongly "blue" voting pattern on council as would be expected.

Corr, Brian - Elected second in ward to Joondalup (WA) council in 2006.  Re-elected unopposed 2007 and overwhelmingly against one opponent in 2011.  Labor candidate for state seat of Kingsley (WA)  in 2013 but there was a 2PP swing of 10.2% to the Liberal incumbent in the seat (just a few points larger than average in the context of an overall 5.4% swing to the Barnett Government plus a sophomore surge for his opponent).

Christie, Ron - Elected to Council for a two-year term in 1999, defeated 2000, fifth elected in 2002. Almost defeated in 2007, surviving a fight with fellow incumbents Lyn Archer and Eric Hayes by nine votes after reportedly clearing his desk in the belief that he had lost.  In 2011 he created some surprise (and some embarrassment for this psephologist) when he polled much more strongly than before, being third elected as councillor and winning DLM over Zucco by six votes at the crucial exclusion. In 2014 ran at the head of a "Hobart's Home Team" ticket and retained his Deputy position easily. Polled a very weak councillor primary (just 455 votes) but was elected 4th on a strong flow of preferences from mayoral contenders Hickey and Thomas.  For a while Christie was one of the most hardline and at times even quirkily extreme members of the "blue" cluster of pro-commerce councillors. However from about 2012 his voting behaviour changed and he is now more moderate than, say, Denison and Zucco.

Burnet, Helen - Helen Burnet has a long history of strong electoral performance for the Greens. She came within about 200 votes of beating the party's endorsed ticket-leader to a seat at her first attempt in 2002, then was easily elected in 2005 with 14.6%, which rose to 19.2% in 2009.  After a competitive loss to Ruzicka for the Deputy Lord Mayor position in 2007, Burnet defeated Peter Sexton by 76 votes to win it in 2009, to date the Greens' only leadership position victory in Hobart.  Burnet ran for Lord Mayor in 2011 losing narrowly to Damon Thomas with 48.5% two-candidate preferred.  She also polled over 3000 primaries as #2 Denison Green candidate in the 2010 state election, but was narrowly excluded behind Andrew Wilkie in the cut-up (with Wilkie nearly winning on her preferences).  Burnet contested the Greens' process to replace retiring Senator Bob Brown, but they preselected Peter Whish-Wilson instead.  Preselected #2 on the Greens' 2013 Senate ticket behind Whish-Wilson but the Greens did not manage even one quota in their own right.  In 2014 Burnet was third elected with 12.4% (1.6 quotas) as a Councillor but was third for Lord Mayor.  Also again Denison Green support candidate at the 2018 state election but less successful than in 2010, as were the Greens in general. I have consistently assessed Burnet as one of the two greenest councillors alongside Cocker.

Briscoe, Jeff - Narrowly elected as councillor in 1994 and consistently increased his primary vote at every election from then until 2011 (when he topped the councillor poll with well over a quota.)  However in 2014 he polled only 502 councillor votes and was elected sixth. Ran for Lord Mayor three times unsuccessfully (polling in the 20-30% range each time, two of those against Rob Valentine) and was third on the   Briscoe was initially elected on a ticket linked to local residents' groups and progress associations but soon switched to the "blue" side of Council.  I've generally assessed him as a member of the "blue" cluster, though not very predictably and with a strong green tinge on certain issues such as the cable car. Briscoe contested the Legislative Council seat of Hobart for the Greens in 1994 (polling 23%) but a falling-out with the party over preselection order saw him quit the ticket and run as an independent for Denison (state) in 1996, polling 551 votes.  He later joined the Liberal Party and contested Franklin for it in 2002 polling just 787 votes.  He was a supporter of Sherlock's (ALP) campaign in 2018 and has been supported at this election by Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey (who ran with him in 2014) but I am unsure if he is associated with any party.

Behrakis, Simon - Liberal Candidate for Denison (state) in 2018, polling 2317 votes.  Then stood for Legislative Council seat of Hobart, finishing third with 19%.

Alexander, Darren - One of four mayoral candidates for Launceston in 2014, finished fourth with 15.2% and elected eighth out of 12 councillors with a councillor primary of 1100 (0.64 quotas).


1. Proposed Mount Wellington Cable Car: Previous cable car proposals were major features of the 1988 and 1994 elections, but the current proposal is much more detailed and high-profile.  However it is struggling to find a viable departure point after the Cascade Brewery declined it access to land and the Council recently in a 7-4 vote did likewise.  (Those voting not to allow the cable car to use any council land were Burnet, Cocker, Harvey, Reynolds, Briscoe, Ruzicka and Christie while in favour of at least allowing a flora and fauna survey of a proposed site prior to a decision were Zucco, Thomas, Sexton and Denison.)  The proponent hopes to have another go should the election greatly change the composition of Council (past elections where cable cars were a big deal didn't.)

My summary of (known to me) candidate positions on the cable car is HERE - (By clicking on the link you agree not to recirculate the list in any way or to link directly to it - all links should be to this article)   This will be updated frequently as more information appears.  Note that laws covering Council voting can cause Councillors to be barred from voting on issues if they appear to have prejudged them based on public comments.  However, the scope of this prohibition is vague.  For this reason some candidates are more reticent than others to openly support or oppose the proposed project, even in principle.

I have comprehensive coverage of polling on this issue going back several years and in a scientific capacity I recently covered some incorrect environmental claims being made about one proposed road site.  While the cable car is popular statewide, it is much less so in the Hobart area.  In my own suburb of South Hobart, opposition is massive, with No Cable Car signs on a substantial proportion of houses.

2. Leadership: The city has in past enjoyed long periods of stability under popular mayors such as Doone Kennedy and Rob Valentine. The last 5-6 years have been pretty messy and, ideological differences aside, Council has often presented to the public as a divided group of competing egos, an image somewhat at odds with the hard work councillors do on issues behind closed doors.  In Ron Christie's term the role of the Lord Mayor has become particularly contentious because of a number of outspoken mayoral statements on issues such as confronting art at the Dark Mofo festival, "mass tourism" and a proposal to co-name Hobart "nipaluna".  Both the content of these statements and whether or not they were made on behalf of the Council have been debated. In the leadup to the election, with almost everyone running for Mayor, the every-councillor-for-themselves vibe has grown stronger and it remains to be seen how the winner of this mayoral election will get the Council's public image back on track - if they can.

3. Building Heights: With the city's tourism boom (see below) have come some proposals for large hotels, especially from Fragrance Group.  I haven't been paying a great degree of attention to this one except for laughing when my old foes at the Confrontation Trust got sprung for indicating building size via dodgy mockups of Trump Tower, but I expect to see a fair bit of debate about this issue. Currently caps are proposed with a maximum of 60 metres, lower in several areas, but these caps have run into opposition both from councillors who think this is too high to those who don't support them at all.

4. Tourism and Housing Affordability: The issues of tourism and housing affordability are connected because increased tourism increases the market for Air BnB which appears to reduce rental availability.  The city therefore has both a tourism boom and an affordable housing shortage at the same time.  Christie in particular has sounded warnings about "mass tourism" but has struggled to establish a consistent position on the issue (and has run into a lot of flak from tourism advocates who suggest he is risking damaging the market when the focus should be on remedying downsides.)

5. Traffic: While Hobart is a small place compared to mainland cities, its geography, geology and environmental values have resulted in its traffic flows depending on a small number of major roads.  Severe traffic congestion has been increasingly common in recent years.

6. Alleged Chinese Influence: The candidacy of Yongbei Tang has been highly controversial with various attempts to link her candidacy to the Chinese Communist Party through, for instance, her recent roles on various Chinese diasporal groups (see here, here, etc).  This comes against a backdrop of recent concerns about Chinese involvement in Tasmanian politics, particularly by the parliamentary Greens and parts of the independent left off the back of Clive Hamilton's "Silent Invasion" book.  These concerns have been criticised as allegedly xenophobic, not only by the government and pro-China commentators but also by others such as Greg Barns, and as "racist speculation" by Greens council candidate Holly Ewin. On the other hand, ten unnamed persons stated to be members of the Tasmanian Chinese community have criticised Tang and compared her unfavourably with Chinese candidates from the last election.  In general the debate has been more heat than light, and apart from its crossings of partisan boundaries it's been difficult to distinguish from "debates" spawned by right-wing xenophobes.

7. Dark Mofo Funding - The winter music and arts festival Dark Mofo is a tourism success but pulls no punches with its exploration of contentious issues - last year the use of a bull carcass for an artistic performance, this year the presence of inverted crosses on the Hobart waterfront.  Christie came out against funding the festival, to fairly widespread condemnation, after receiving a large number of emails from religious campaigners. He has revived the issue to a similar response during the campaign.

Other issues may be added.

Campaigning Issues

This section deals with contentious aspects of campaigning.  It's notable that size restrictions on signage have been removed, resulting in billboard-size advertising for some candidates.

1. Alleged Roll Stacking (Again): Rinse and repeat as this issue was also on the list in 2014.  The allegation is that candidates are using the General Managers' Roll to sign up international students (especially Chinese) to vote for them.  This can be done because temporary residents who are not citizens can register to vote.  There were rumours that thousands of international students had been signed up but when the roll closed it turned out to contain 662 representatives of corporate bodies, 665 non-resident property owners and 589 non-citizens, suggesting that the issue had been a bit overblown.  Nonetheless the vagueness of rules and the fact that this process is under Council control continue to raise concerns.  Non-citizen voting is not the only issue here as double-voting for corporate representatives continues to be just as big a factor.  Moreover, there are questions around the rules there too based on a case reported by Monte Bovill on Twitter of a student society managing to register someone to vote by this method, which on the surface of it sounds absurd.

The whole issue of GM rolls needs serious review - but the time to review electoral issues (which in this case would require making noise to attract attention from the state government) is during the quiet times between elections, not the noisy time in the leadup when everything is politicised and it is too late for legislative changes anyway.

There has been some support for compulsory voting as a remedy to this issue.  If the GM roll is a problem then it remains one that should be addressed even if it is diluted by increasing the voter pool, so I suspect this is just an argument of convenience for those who want to introduce compulsory voting anyway.

2. Donation Disclosure (Again): Encouraging candidates to voluntarily disclose donations they had received was a fairly big deal in 2014 but this year not so much.  However, there is a new rule that requires sitting councillors (note: not all candidates) to disclose donations exceeding $50 value within 14 days.  On 13 Oct, Reynolds wrote a Facebook page alleging she was "the only Hobart Alderman/Councillor" following the rules, on the grounds that "Given the amount of billboards and advertising around, it's hard to believe that nobody else has received any donations."  The issue also received publicity on ABC TV news.  Reynolds' post promoted various angry responses from other candidates, especially Zucco, including claims by some incumbents that they were paying for their own ads, and also some comments suggesting some donations might have been received that were still inside the 14-day window.


For the first time ever a poll of the Hobart Lord Mayor race has been released.  The poll was conducted by EMRS and I understand it to originate from the tourism industry (my source for this claim is outside that industry).  The poll should be treated with extreme caution for the following reasons:

* the apparently implausibly high rate of voters not intending not to vote.   It appears that there were 2680 connected calls with only 20% (548) of those intending to vote, however this seems to have included a high refusal rate (respondents who hung up more or less immediately when called).  In any case, those willing to respond to the survey appear to be unrepresentative of all eventual voters, given that 51.7% voted in 2014, and that never changes much from year to year.
* of those intending to vote, 42% are undecided, meaning that these voters could break differently to those who have an intention.
* the effective sample size of just over 300 voters with an intention is trivially small.
* difficulties with seat polling in Australia recently suggest that a sample of 300 may as well be a sample of 50.
* there is little previous experience to compare such results against, though I have heard one was also done for Glenorchy at a previous election with some success.
* Australian pollsters are generally inexperienced at polling voluntary vote elections, and their results in polling the same-sex marriage "survey" were pretty ordinary.

I have seen a slightly more detailed version of the results of the primary vote question.  Of those intending to vote and able to name a candidate, 26% named Reynolds, 14% Thomas, 13% Harvey, 11% Zucco, 10% Briscoe, 8% Christie, 6% Mallett, 4% Dutta, 3% Sexton, 3% Denison and 2% Alexander.  The version I've seen also shows the age breakdown for the 18-34 group, which shows that intending voters in this bracket are less likely (22/52 cf 297/496 for rest of sample) to know who they are voting for; young voters who do have a view skewed heavily to the left candidates.  What I've seen also suggests no age weighting was applied at least to that group, a tricky issue given that voting rates vary sharply by age; I would have weighted by past voting rates for age groups.

A further report says the most commonly cited issues (voters can cite more than one) among intending voters were:

* 43% cable car (22% against, 11% for, 10% neutral)
* 25% traffic congestion/roadworks
* 18% development / planning
* 15% leadership
* 14% controlling building heights

Prospects: Lord Mayor

I like to have a go at crystal-ball gazing for these elections, but there are always surprises.  Do not treat the following as reliable!  There's a Not-A-Poll in the sidebar if you want to offer your own view on the mayoralty.

A mayoral race with so many candidates (and optional preferential voting for Lord Mayor) is messy to predict. As the campaign progresses we may get a better idea of who's making an effort and who isn't, and of those who are making an effort, who is making a good one.

The obvious starting point is that the councillor-level support for Thomas in 2014 was much stronger than for any of his rivals.  This looks to have been partly because of the degree of focus on the mayoral race.  None of his rivals this time contested the mayoralty last time, and many of their primary votes appeared to suffer from not doing so.  However Thomas did secure almost five times as many primaries as the best of his incumbent challengers, and I doubt that him being Mayor at the time alone explains that.  He also outpolled Briscoe and Sexton for Lord Mayor in 2011.  Unless voters turn away from him or towards someone else specific in droves, he would seem to have the profile to possibly get his old job back.

On the left, Harvey and Reynolds are likely to secure high primaries but Harvey especially will struggle on preferences (as he did in the past Deputy counts).  Given that Harvey couldn't win Deputy and lost his Councillor seat last time, and with the competition from Reynolds, I don't see him winning Lord Mayor, although I expect he will poll one of the higher primary votes.  Greens-turned-independents often do well in council elections, and the federal MP for the seat containing Hobart, Andrew Wilkie, is one such.  It appears that Reynolds, who campaigned vigorously in the early stages and has nabbed several former Greens sign sites, is the real left contender.   I think the large, mostly male field also advantages Reynolds.  Dutta also has at least some left-wing positions but didn't get elected as a councillor last time.

Christie won Deputy Lord Mayor handily last time and has the added profile of being Lord Mayor, but has also faced widespread ridicule in the role.  He may have more sympathy than is obvious from media bubbles both mainstream and social, but I suspect he has burned off too many stakeholders to win.  (Yes, "silent-majority" religious types will like his stance on Dark Mofo, but Hobart doesn't have all that many of those.)

Sexton, Briscoe and Zucco have only made up the numbers in their recent leadership tilts except for Zucco's near miss for Deputy in 2011.  Zucco may poll a decent primary vote compared to others though.  Briscoe does have the assistance of the cable car debate for preferences if he can get over both Harvey and Reynolds but I don't think he will do that.

Denison has a higher profile as a result of the Senate preselection but was not very high profile before that, and is not even near being Sue Hickey, who won the mayoralty narrowly last time.  The prospect of Denison resigning the position if elected to the Senate may also count against her mayoral bid.

Of the non-incumbents, Mallett seemed like a dark horse because of his existing profile and business links, but my early doubts about his effort level have been reinforced by not having a candidate statement included.  Alexander didn't have much impact as a mayoral candidate in Launceston and has only recently relocated.  Dutta was not elected as a councillor last time.  So I see little chance of a Mayor being elected from off council, frustrations with the current council notwithstanding.

The most likely scenario for the count in my view is that one candidate from the left (probably Reynolds) makes the final two.  If that candidate can lead on primaries then the question is how large their lead is and whether they can hold off the snowballing of preferences between conservative candidates.  Optional preferencing gives the left candidates better chances than if preferencing was compulsory, and if none of the "blues" can get a decent primary vote (as in the poll) then it may be a case of too many cooks spoiling their broth.  My tip for the final two is Thomas vs Reynolds but this could easily be incorrect.

Prospects: Deputy Mayor

Almost every continuing incumbent has run for Mayor at least in order to try to shore up their councillor seat, leaving Burnet as the only incumbent to run for Deputy.  Burnet has won the position in the past but the Greens brand is struggling, so despite her very strong electoral record it's no certainty she will win it again, though I think she's a serious chance.  At this early stage, Sherlock and Behrakis are the most obvious threats based on their state election profiles and visible evidence of campaigning but we'll see how they go converting that to Council votes.  In a possible contest between Burnet, Sherlock and Behrakis, Sherlock will do well on preferences from whoever is excluded if she makes the final two.

In the event that Burnet doesn't win, it will be interesting to see whether whoever beats her actually manages to secure the position by winning their councillor seat, as most of the candidates are no certainties to get across the line, especially with so many councillor candidates running for Mayor.

Prospects: Councillor

We have 9 incumbents contesting 12 positions.  Historically this is good odds for all the incumbents being returned but given the level of competition on the "blue" side this is far from a certainty. Two I don't have any doubt about because they easily got quota last time are Thomas and Burnet.

Based on regression from the results last time the sort of vote needed for a 50-50 chance of winning was just under 400 votes for an incumbent and about 520 votes for an off-Council candidate.  Sue Hickey scored nearly 20% of the vote last time and isn't a candidate this time.  If her voters switch to whoever they put 2 last time then the base for many of the non-green incumbents rises to about 700-950 votes, very probably enough to win.  However I believe the off-Council competition on the "blue" side in particular is much stronger this time than last time, so I am not sure the incumbents will get all these Hickey votes back.

Endorsed Greens won three seats last time, which became four on countback after Suzy Cooper resigned.  With Cocker apparently not standing and Reynolds running as an indie I give the endorsed Greens little chance of winning three again.  We'll need to keep an eye on the campaign to see if either of the new Greens candidates might pose any threat to Harvey.

Reynolds' Councillor vote is difficult to predict but I think the scale of her mayoral attempt and the general tendency of greens-turned-indies to do well will stand her in good stead and that she will significantly and probably greatly increase her vote compared to 2014.

On to the non-Green side.  In order of election last time they were Thomas, daylight second, Christie, Zucco, Briscoe, Sexton and Denison.  All these are running for Lord Mayor but with 11 candidates running for Lord Mayor that probably won't be the boost it was last time. Denison scraped in at her first attempt but has had more time to build a profile based on Council issues, and I doubt her party will allow their #3 Senate pick to lose her council seat, so I expect her to be returned.  Of the rest Christie's fate is hard to predict because he has been high-profile but has had terrible press, so I could credit anything from being one of the first few in to losing altogether (as usual in such cases I'll plump for something in the middle).  Zucco and Briscoe should both be returned (with slightly more of a question over the latter because he lost more of his vote in 2014, but he has been very high-profile over the cable car). Sexton seems more marginal because of his modest performance last time and a relative lack of profile through the term until recently.

Of the off-Council candidates I can't identify any sure-fire winners, but a large number are decent chances.  At least three of them must win to fill the expected vacancies but I wouldn't be surprised to see four.  Mallett, Sherlock and Behrakis all have profile as past state major party candidates (as well as other connections) to be serious contenders.  As noted above I am unsure about Mallett's effort level.  Some others who could be in the mix based on past performance or ability to stand out (plus in cases endorsements, though it's unclear how much difference endorsements make) include Dutta, Stansfield, Bloomfield and Corr.  A Chinese-background candidate very nearly won last time and Tang is a more prominent candidate than him (and has been given massive free publicity by her opponents) so should be given a chance too.  Alexander is an unknown quantity in Hobart but effectively disrupted politics as usual in Launceston.  Thomas could poll a high enough councillor vote to drag any of his running mates in with him assuming even a modest level of preferencing within his ticket, though I suspect that even if Thomas's vote is huge a lot of it will still flow to incumbents rather than his team.  The LHG grouping is very prominent in early signage displays (as is Behrakis.) Labor previously failed to get into HCC with an endorsed candidate but obtained large swings in inner-city Hobart at the recent state election so I will be interested to see how McCallum goes.   Coats is making a significant effort and seems to be campaigning strongly towards the end of the campaign.  Merridew has a lot of signs up and ads  Taylor is an offbeat candidate with a large social media following though not a lot of obvious campaign activity.  And so on.

Note For Candidates

Most candidates are sensible but there are always a few who seem to think that because I am voluntarily covering the election they are running in that makes me their slave.  Almost as annoying are those who think that if they fail to put information somewhere where I'd find it, that's my fault.  

Any candidate may contact me once to have their main link changed (this is the link that the candidate's name goes to, if I can find one) and/or links added, or to supply extra bio information (which I will use or not use at my discretion, and I will not include your whole CV or go beyond a few lines per candidate).  Requests that blame me for not unearthing information, or are in any way disrespectful or threatening will result in that candidate getting no links at all!  Feel free to whinge about alleged bias (etc) in comments though.

Anyone may of course advise me of any clear factual errors or clearly misleading content and I will fix these, but please do not stretch the concept of factual error to include differences of opinion or interpretation.  

Any comments about this guide that I become aware of by any means including indirect hearsay are on the public record, especially if stated otherwise.  In the past there have not only been threats but also blatant attempts to "get at" my coverage by commenting about it to people likely to pass comments on to me, and this sort of thing will not be tolerated.