Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hobart Building Heights Elector Poll

On Monday the Tasmanian Electoral Commission released the results of a voluntary postal elector poll about building heights in the Hobart City portion of Greater Hobart.  This non-binding elector poll has been something of an oddity with a lot of commentary making various claims about it so I thought I'd say a few things about it too.

The turnout

The elector poll attracted a response rate of 42.39%.  This compares to the response rate of 61.94% at the 2018 Hobart City Council election, however that was a record high turnout for Hobart, which had never been above 55.5% before.

I have found data for fourteen previous elector polls going back to the mid-1990s, of which six were held concurrently with council elections and eight were held separately.  Of the eight held separately, I have comparable data for six, and of these turnouts ranged from 83% to 109% of the previous election's turnout for that council (in many cases I have had to use raw turnout figures as I cannot find enrolment data at the time of the poll).  So this elector poll at 68% of the municipality's previous turnout has the lowest comparative turnout rate - and this would be so even without Hobart's 2018 turnout spike.  Issues in comparable elector polls included amalgamation, a proposed major pulp mill, whether to move a council's administration, whether to change a council's name, the location of a waste disposal site and options for a lawn cemetery.  To complete the set, other issues that have been canvassed in elector polls have included water supply and pricing options (including whether fluoride should be added), and the boundaries of a municipality.  It's notable that one of the three pulp mill polls occurred in Hobart, about 200 km away from the pulp mill site.

This is the second elector poll this year, following one for Tasman council (amalgamation) at which turnout exceeded that for the regular election.  Of course when elector polls are held at the same time as a council election the turnouts are closely connected.  Prior to these two there had been no elector polls that I could find this decade.

The survey design

Elector polls are expensive, with this one estimated to have cost around $180,000.  Probably the biggest issue I have with the elector poll system is that despite this expense for the councils - an expense that can be foisted on them based on a petition of 1000 or 5% of voters (whichever is the lesser) - there is nothing in place to ensure that the question design is fair.  As a result, the outcomes of elector polls will often be subject to competing spin.

In this case the questions were:

Principal Question

Q: Should the Council support the building height limits and other recommendations made by its planning officers?

Further Questions

Q: Would you prefer the building height limit in Height Area 1 to be lower than 60 metres?

Q: Would you prefer the planning schemes remain unchanged?

The voting papers were accompanied by material to explain the issue to voters and more extensive material was also available online.  The material explained that under the current planning scheme buildings over 30 metres high are refused unless they meet certain criteria, in which case they can be accepted.  However, this has implied a potential open slather for developers to build skyscrapers provided the criteria are met.  Concern about proposed skyscrapers considered out of character for the city led to Council commissioning a report on building height options, following which the Council's planning officers made recommendations to Council concerning absolute maximum heights for particular areas.  These were then not immediately accepted by the current Council, which commissioned a report to consider the impacts of the proposals.

The issue I have with the Principal Question is that it smuggles in an argument for one of the sides.  The elector poll was about support or otherwise for building height limits.  The argument smuggled in is that the height limits being proposed were supported by the Council's planning officers.  This is a potentially persuasive argument from authority (these people are professionals, so it may be assumed that they probably know what they are doing) in favour of the proposal.   Although the question is factual, it presents evidence for one side and not the other.  Imagine if the question had been:

Should the Council introduce proposed mandatory building height limits that would remove its discretion to approve buildings any higher than the proposed limits, without further consideration of social, environmental and economic impacts?

This question also would have been factual but would have been loaded.  It would have led the respondent to consider arguments against: that the decision might be inflexible or might be premature.  What would have been wrong with just:

Q Should the Council support the proposed building height limits and related proposals?

... (or similar) without saying who the recommendations were by, which after all is stated in the accompanying material?

Having said this, I see worse in commissioned issues polling on a regular basis, and I suspect that the impact of the question wording on the outcome wasn't massive.  But a high spend on an elector poll with debatable wording is a worse outcome for everyone than if the wording had been clearly neutral and fair.

How voters voted

The data from the TEC count includes cross-tabulation of results of the second and third questions based on how a voter voted on the principle question.  However it doesn't include figures showing the popularity of combined three-question responses, so we can't say how many voters voted No-No-No or Yes-Yes-Yes.  I haven't so far found a way to extract these (even approximately to within, say, a few hundred) from the results but if anyone comes up with one let me know.

The headline figure is the 77% Yes response to the principle question.  Of those voting No to the first question, virtually half voted Yes to the second question, signifying that they opposed the recommendation because they thought the height limits should be even lower, so on the surface at least 88.4% of voters either supported the proposal they were asked about, or wanted lower limits in area 1.  The No-No vote to the first two questions (11.4%) was low, although that would seem to be the only way one could vote (if voting at all) if one wanted to allow much higher buildings in Hobart.
As a result the group initiating the poll, Hobart Not Highrise, is claiming the result as a very big win.  Opponents are continuing to point out that most voters didn't actually vote, and are also claiming that voters were confused by the complexity of the poll.  It's very likely that most voters who would vote in a council election, however, did vote.

Overall, 76.4% said yes to a lower height limit in Area 1 and 29.4% said yes to leaving the planning schemes unchanged.

Were voters confused?

Aside from a fairly high level of anecdotal reporting of confusion (often linked to voters deciding not to vote), I've also seen a couple of arguments regarding the results being contradictory.

The first is that a voter who voted yes to the first and second questions (58.2% of respondents) is contradicting themselves, because they say they support the recommendations but also say that they want the height limit lower than in the recommendations.  I don't think these voters are necessarily confused  - it has to do with how different people think about saying they "support" something. Someone can say they support a proposal because they mostly agree with it, think it is the best of the options on the table, and think it would be a great improvement, but that ideally they'd go a bit further.

The second is that a voter who voted yes to the first and third questions (17.2% of respondents) is contradicting themselves.  This objection only covers a small portion of respondents, but I think it's a more compelling one as concerns those respondents.  The supplied material spells out pretty clearly that what is proposed is a substantial departure from the existing planning scheme.  It's difficult to see how a person who has understood the issue supports the proposed height limits and supports the current planning scheme remaining unchanged.  This highlights a common problem with issues polling - if respondents are fed a number of propositions that intuitively sound good, some may say yes to all of them even though they are contradicting themselves in the process.  In this case, both questions speak to a conservative approach - to not change Hobart's skyline by filling it with skyscrapers, and to leave an existing approach in place.

It's also notable that the informal vote on all questions was extremely low.  This doesn't suggest that there were voters who were consciously confused by some of the questions but not others.

Organisation level of campaigns

Hobart Not Highrise has been campaigning on this issue for some time and issued a leaflet on it, delivery of which included No Junk Mail letterboxes.  In contrast while there were cases of a No vote to the principal question being advocated (including by the Property Council's Brian Wightman, who advocated No-No-No in a Mercury op ed published midway through the campaign) there wasn't much of an organised campaign.  Prominent opponents of HNH generally disapproved both of HNH's position and of the massive spend on the elector poll in the first place, so some simply boycotted the poll.  At the same time there wasn't any kind of high-profile organised boycott movement either.  There was a statement of arguments against the poll, but it wasn't stated who had written it, and the official information didn't include a link to a No case as such, perhaps because there wasn't one to link to.

The elector poll system

The current review of the Local Government Act proposes scrapping the elector poll system since elector polls are expensive and since information about the state of public opinion can be obtained in many other ways.  It is true that none of these ways will see as large a level of interaction as an elector poll, but even the large sample size of an elector poll is inconclusive when question design is debatable, when an issue is specialised and technical and if most voters still don't vote.  Councils may see the need to conduct elector polls on issues like amalgamation, but the ability of small proportions of the voter base to initiate them is a recipe for abuse of process (I would class the Hobart elector poll on the pulp mill as an example of this).  There is also the potential for elector polls to be initiated on the sorts of social issues that it is better not to have public votes on (such as Hobart's current spat about gender-inclusivity).  If the system of public petitions for elector polls is to be retained the number of signatures to initiate a poll should be greatly increased.

Interaction with affordable housing

Pro-development forces in the city have tried to draw a link between allowing high-rise buildings and fixing the city's affordable housing crisis.  Some have alleged that there's a mindset more interested in keeping Hobart as a picturesque heritage town than in whether people of all incomes and backgrounds can actually still afford to live in it as it becomes more popular both with new residents and with holidaymakers occupying Air BnBs.  Opponents however have questioned whether high-rise apartment living and hotels are solutions to the problem or whether they are just building more housing/accommodation for the wealthy with no useful flow-on to those in need.  Although affordable housing was mentioned briefly in the "against" case sent out to voters, the result is completely unclear regarding what residents actually think about affordable housing - whether they think the look of the city is more important, or whether they just don't think the issues are related.

As usual, I may add more comments later.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Tasmanian Local Government Reform Proposals (2019)

The Tasmanian Government has been conducting a detailed review of local government legislation in the state, including electoral rules.  This week this took a major step forward with the release of the Reform Directions Paper.  This outlines a series of possible changes that, based on further feedback, may then appear in the government's draft legislation.  Many of the suggested changes are excellent, in particular reducing the number of boxes a voter must number on the councillor ballot for a valid vote.

My main reason for writing this article is to raise major concerns about some of the proposed options for electing mayors.  The paper gives four possible options for mayors, one of these being the status quo (the mayor is elected directly, anyone enrolled in the council area can run for mayor, the mayor must be elected as a councillor to serve as mayor).  While the status quo has some issues, I don't like any of the three alternatives much, and two of them are especially unsound.  I am writing this article mainly to provide detailed reasons as to why these options are bad, and I encourage anyone who wants to to use these arguments in their submissions, or add others.  While I'm doing this I may as well comment quickly on other aspects of the paper.

There's plenty of time to send a submission with submissions not due until 30 September.  For some reason the official closing time for submissions is 5 pm.  

Monday, July 1, 2019

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premier/Chief Minister Of The Last 40 Years: Final Round 1

A loooong time ago when the world was young and innocent I started a runoff series to select this site's choice as best state Premier or Chief Minister of every state and territory in the last 40 years.  The plan was to then run a final with all the state and territory winners together.  Ultimately and unsurprisingly with the left-wing skew of readers on this and other psephology sites, Labor leaders won every round convincingly, so I also ran a runoff to get a token Liberal into the final as well.  Earlier this year I got too busy with all the elections going on to run new rounds when each month started, so I have waited until the elections were over before starting the final.

Our contestants and their histories in this contest are:

NSW - Neville Wran, Premier 1976-1986.  Topped the NSW group first round with 37.8% and thrashed Bob Carr 152-50 in the runoff.

Victoria - Daniel Andrews, Premier 2014-present.  The only current Premier to win a state, Andrews polled second in the Victorian group first round with 25.3%, but with a landslide election victory under his belt, defeated Steve Bracks 158-102 in the runoff (which was postponed in an attempt to reduce contamination from the state election.)

Queensland - Wayne Goss, Premier 1989-1996.  Tied with Peter Beattie on 29.3% in the Queensland group first round then cleaned up Beattie 122-73 in the runoff

Western Australia - Geoff Gallop, Premier 2001-2006.  Gallop won the WA first round narrowly with 32.5%.  The first runoff against Carmen Lawrence was tied 97-97 and I hadn't made a rule for ties so there was a second runoff, which Gallop won 75-71.

South Australia - Don Dunstan, Premier 1967-1968, 1970-1979. Smacked it out of the park with 57.4% in the SA group first round.

Tasmania - Jim Bacon, Premier 1998-2004. Polled 37.3% in the Tasmanian group first round and defeated Lara Giddings 105-84 in the runoff.

ACT - Katy Gallagher, Chief Minister 2011-2014. Polled 40.3% in the ACT group first round and defeated Jon Stanhope 119-52 in the runoff.

NT - Clare Martin, Chief Minister 2001-2007.  The only other leader to win in the first round, with 57.6% in the NT first round (none of the others even managed double figures!)

And the Coalition wildcard is Nick Greiner, NSW Premier 1988-1992, who eventually won a long series of Coalition eliminations, defeating Kate Carnell (ACT), who I had been suspecting would win the Coalition series when I started it, 58-38 in the final.

I've decided not to add any more wildcards.

The rules for the final runoffs are:

* The last candidate in each round is eliminated.
* Any candidate failing to poll 8% in a round is eliminated.
* Ties are resolved in favour of the last leader on primaries at a previous stage at which there wasn't a tie, and failing that in favour of the candidate least recently in office.
* Any candidate who could not mathematically win or tie from their position in a preferential election is eliminated.

Spruiking is, as always, welcome in comments.  Voting for round 1 is open til the end of August.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

What Might 2PP Voting Intention Have Really Looked Like In The Last Federal Term?

The 2016-2019 parliament saw Australia's worst failure of national opinion polling since the early 1980s, a failure that was not just a combination of normal errors and a reasonably close election.  Aggregated polling had the Coalition behind for the entire term, at no stage better than 49% two-party preferred, and yet the Coalition won with 51.53% of the two-party preferred vote.

The view that the polls were in fact right all along but voters changed their minds at the last moment (either on election day, or on whatever day each elector voted) fails every test of evidence that it can be put to.  The difference between voting intention for voters voting before election day and on election day is similar to past elections, and if anything slightly stronger for the Coalition.  There was no evidence in polling of change in voting intention through the final weeks, as would have been expected as voters who had already voted reported back their behaviour if the polls were at all times accurately capturing the intentions of the person being polled.  Also if those who had already voted had shifted towards the Coalition as they made their final decisions while those who had yet to vote were yet to do so, there would have been polling gaps of several points between those who had already voted and those yet to do so; this was not the case in the released evidence either.  

Friday, June 28, 2019

Most Tasmanian Senate Votes Were Unique

Over the last week or so I've been looking at some statistics relating to the uniqueness (or not) of Senate votes in Tasmania, and some other aspects of Tasmanian Senate voting.  At the moment I'm only doing this for Tasmania, but it can be extended to other states if anyone else wants to do so.  This article has been rated 4/5 on the Wonk Factor scale - it is obviously out and out wonkcore but the maths is not as tricky as in some of the stuff on this site.

All Senate votes are scanned by optical character recognition and the scans are verified by human data operators.  The AEC publishes files of all formal Senate preference votes that can be used by outside observers to verify that the AEC is getting the right results and computing the count correctly.  This year's formatting of these files is a lot more user-friendly than in 2016.  On downloading the files one can find all the numbers recorded as entered in the system for any vote recorded as formal.  Sometimes this includes both above the line preferences and below the line preferences (if both are formal, below the line takes precedence, an issue I will come to later on.)
One minor change is that ticks and crosses are no longer indicated by special characters, an aspect that was the source of some confusion among the easily confused at the last election.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Senate Reform Performance Review 2019

The results of this year's half-Senate election are all in so it is time to observe how our new Senate system performed at its first half-Senate test.  Australian Senate voting was reformed in the leadup to the 2016 election to abolish Group Ticket voting and the preference-harvesting exploits it had become prone to, and give voters more flexibility in directing their own preferences either above or below the line.  In the leadup to that election, many false predictions about Senate reform were made and were then discredited by the results.  I reviewed how the new system went back then: Part 1, Part 2.  Some of the predictions that were made by opponents of Senate reform concerned the results of half-Senate elections specifically, so now we've had one, it's a good time to check in on those, as well as on how this election compared to 2019.  One unexpected issue with the new system has surfaced, concerning above the line boxes for non-party groups, but it is one that should be easily fixed.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Seat Betting As Bad As Anything Else At Predicting The 2019 Federal Election

Advance Summary

1. Seat betting markets, sometimes believed to be highly predictive, did not escape the general failure of poll and betting based predictions at the 2019 federal election.

2. Indeed, seat betting markets were significantly worse predictors of the result than the national polls through the election leadup, and only converged with polling-based models to reach a prediction that was as inaccurate as the national polls at the end.

3. Seat betting predicted fourteen seats incorrectly, but all of its errors in Labor vs Coalition contests, in common with most other predictive methods, were in the same direction.

4. Seat betting markets did vary from a national poll-based outlook in several seats, but their forecasts in such cases were about as often misses as hits.

5. This is the third federal election in a row at which seat betting has failed to show that it is a useful predictor of classic (Labor vs Coalition) seat-by-seat results in comparison with simpler methods.  


With all House of Representatives seats now declared, it's time for a regular post-election feature on this site, a review of how seat-by-seat betting fared as a predictive method.  I have been interested in this subject over the years mainly to see whether seat betting contained any superior insight that might be useful in predicting elections.  In 2013 the answer was a resounding no, in 2016 it was a resounding meh, and surely if seat betting could show that it knew something that other sources of information didn't, 2019 would be the year! Even if seat betting wasn't a very good predictor, if it was not as bad as polling or headline betting this year, that would be something in its favour.

2019 saw the first failure in the headline betting markets since 1993, but it was a much bigger failure than that.  In 1993 Labor were at least given some sort of realistic chance by the bookies, and ended up somewhere in the $2-$3 range (I don't have the exact numbers).  This year the Coalition were $7.00 to Labor's $1.10 half an hour before polls closed - just an implied 14% chance -  and Sportsbet had already besmirched itself in more ways than one by paying out early (which I think should be banned when it comes to election betting, but that's another story).  The view that "the money never lies" has been remarkably immune to evidence over the years, but surely this will be the end of it for a while.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Senate 2019: Button Press Thread


Just starting a thread that will cover the button presses in the remaining Senate races including any interesting information from the distributions of preferences as they come to hand.  I haven't been putting myself in the loop concerning when exactly the button presses will occur, save that Tasmania's will be tomorrow at 10:30 am (open to scrutineers, of which I'm not one this year) with the declaration of the poll on Friday at the same time.  The ACT count is also ready to go (to be delcared on Friday afternoon) and the remaining counts are getting close to completion with relatively few unapportioned or uncounted votes still showing.  The NT button has already been pressed, which did nothing because both major party #1 candidates had a quota.  William Bowe has some comments on NT preferences.

Jim Molan's Senate Result In Historic Context

There is a lot of discussion surrounding Senator Jim Molan's below the line vote in the NSW Senate race.  Misleading arguments about it are being weaponised by some of those who would like to see Molan appointed to the Sinodinos casual vacancy, but there is also a risk that amid all this appreciation of the scale of Molan's result could be lost.

To start with, Molan absolutely is not going to win and has never even looked remotely like being in contention during counting.   But his result is still very significant - in the state in which getting a high below-the-line vote is most difficult (because of historically low below the line rates and also the sheer scale required for an individual campaign), Molan has so far polled just over 130,000 votes (2.8%).  His share should rise slightly based on remaining unapportioned votes but won't be significantly above 3%, if it even reaches that.  

Saturday, June 1, 2019

How Can Australian Polling Disclosure And Reporting Be Improved?

Australian national opinion polling has just suffered its worst failure in result terms since 1980 and its worst failure in margin terms since 1984.  This was not just an "average polling error", at least not by the standards of the last 30+ years.  The questions remain: what caused it and what can be done (if anything) to stop it happening again.

A major problem with answering these questions is that Australian pollsters have not been telling us nearly enough about what they do.  As Murray Goot has noted, this has been a very long-standing problem.

In general, Australian pollsters have taken an approach that is secretive, poorly documented, and contrary to scientific method.   One notable example of this was Galaxy (it looks like correctly) changing the preference allocation for One Nation in late 2017, and not revealing they had done this for five months (in which time The Australian kept wrongly telling its readers Newspoll preferences were based on the 2016 election.)  But more generally, even very basic details about how pollsters do their work are elusive unless you are on very good terms with the right people.  Some polls also have statistically unlikely properties (such as not bouncing around as much as their sample size suggests they should, either in poll to poll swing terms or in seat-polling swing terms) that they have never explained. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Oh No, This Wasn't Just An "Average Polling Error"

As previously noted, Australian opinion polling has just experienced its first clear predictive failure, in pick-the-winner terms, in a federal election since 1980.  Every campaign poll by four different pollsters (one of them polling under two different brands) had the Labor Opposition ahead of the Liberal-National Coalition (as it had been for the entire term), and yet the Coalition has won an outright majority.  Moreover, polls in the final weeks were extremely clustered, with 17 consecutive polls (plus an exit poll) landing in the 51% to 52% two-party preferred range after rounding, a result that is vanishingly unlikely by chance.  No pollster has yet made any remotely useful contribution to explaining this clustering - those who have even commented have generally said they didn't do it and it must have been somebody else.

The general reaction has been dismay at this unusual level of pollster error in a nation where national polls have a proud record of accuracy.  The Ninefax press, as I call them (SMH/The Age), have even announced that they now have no contract with their pollster, Ipsos, or with any other pollster.  (This may just be for show, since in the past Fairfax often took long breaks in polling after elections.)  News Corp is, for now, standing by Newspoll.  The Association of Market and Social Research Associations has announced a review, although this may be of little value as its only member who is involved is Ipsos. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

2019 Queensland Senate: Who Will Be Last When The Music Stops?

2019 Queensland Senate

Outgoing Senators: 2 LNP 2 ALP 1 Green, Fraser Anning

Seats won: 2 LNP (Paul Scarr, Susan Macdonald), 1 Labor (Nina Green)

Four-way fight for three seats with one to lose: Gerard Rennick (LNP), Chris Ketter (Labor), Malcolm Roberts (One Nation), Larissa Waters (Green)

Rennick and Roberts are overwhelmingly likely to win; Waters is most likely to win final seat
Final result won't be known for certain until the button is pressed

Warning - Senate races are complex! This article has been rated Wonk Factor 4/5.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Gladstone Rises Up: An Error In The 2013 Tasmanian Senate Count

There's apparently not all that much going on in the 2019 election postcount, where the only major dramas left at present appear to be which (probably) left party loses in the Queensland Senate and whether anyone can possibly avoid a recount in Macquarie.  When I compare it to 2016, I'm quite surprised at how busy I'm not.

This means I have time to post something curious I've been meaning to post for some time.  As is well known, the 2013 Senate count was not the Australian Electoral Commission's finest hour.  In Western Australia, the original count had a tipping point between two candidates, neither of whom could win, but the resolution of which determined the final two seats. The loss of 1370 ballot papers meant that it could not be determined who had won, and as a result the entire 2013 WA Senate election had to be voided and rerun in 2014.  This resulted in the resignations of the Electoral Commissioner and the Electoral Officer for Western Australia and major changes to the way ballot papers are handled.  The farce also contributed to the death of Group Ticket Voting at federal level. Under the system we have now the tipping point would have been irrelevant and the lost ballots may well not have affected the outcome.  Many other issues with the AEC's culture were identified in a review and many positive changes have been made.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

2019 Federal Election Postcount: Mallee

MALLEE (Nat vs ALP - 19.8%)

Webster (Nat) has won after the seat remained a Nats vs ALP seat by 386 votes.  It is unknown and will perhaps never be known what would have been the Nat-Lib result had Labor been eliminated in third.  (I expect Webster would still have won, but am awaiting the preference distribution.)

In the election leadup I had my eyes on the Victorian seat of Mallee as the most likely to deliver an absolute mess in the postcount.  On election night it seemed to be a bit of a fizzer because none of the independents made 10% in their own right, making it clear that the Coalition was headed for victory.  However the Mallee count has thrown up some interesting complications, and there is a theory doing the rounds that the Liberal candidate Serge Petrovich might be able to defeat Webster if he can make the final two.  I am unconvinced about this theory, firstly because I'm doubting he will make the final two, and secondly because even if he does a rather strong preference flow is needed to get him over the line. I don't think that will happen, Labor HTV card notwithstanding, but in the meantime there's a possibility Mallee will create electoral history.  Never (thanks to Malcolm Baalman for this) has a candidate who finished fourth or worse on primaries in a federal seat reached the final two, and it is possible that this could yet happen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Miracle Is Over: The 2019 Australian Federal Election Poll Fail

Nice 2PP.  Shame it's for the other side ...

"I have always believed in miracles" said re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison very late on Saturday night.  But many (not all) of us who study national Australian polls and use them to try to forecast elections have believed in a miracle for one election too many.  The reason we believed in this miracle was that it kept delivering.  While polls failed to forecast Brexit, Trump and two UK elections in a row (among other high profile failures) Australian national polls continued to churn out highly accurate final results.  The two-party preferred results in final Newspolls from 2007 to 2016 are an example of this: 52 (result 52.7), 50.2 (result 50.1), 54 (result 53.5), 50.5 (result 50.4).  

Predicting federal elections pretty accurately has long been as simple as aggregating the polls, adjusting for obvious house effects and personal votes, applying probability models (not just the simple pendulum) and off you go; you generally won't be more than 5-6 seats wrong on the totals.  While overseas observers like Nate Silver pour scorn on our little polling failure as a modest example of the genre and blast our media for failing to anticipate it, they do so apparently unfamiliar with just how good our national polling has been since the mid-1980s compared to polling overseas.  As a predictor of final results, the aggregation of at least the final polls has survived the decline of landlines, volatile campaigns following leadership changes or major events, suspected preferencing shifts that frequently barely appeared, herding with the finish line in sight, and come up trumps many elections in a row.  This has been put down to many things, not least that compulsory voting makes polling easier by removing the problem of trying to work out who will actually vote (another possibility is the quality of our public demographic data).  But perhaps it was just lucky.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

2019 Senate Postcount: Main Thread

Carry-Over from 2016 Senate: Coalition 16 Labor 13 Green 3 CA 2 AC 1 PHON 1
Expected 2019: Coalition 19 Labor 13-14 Green 5-6 PHON 1 Lambie 1

Currently Coalition is likely to hold 35 seats and need two of Centre Alliance, One Nation and (Bernardi+Lambie) to pass bills.

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Welcome to my main 2019 Senate postcount thread.  This will contain outlooks for each state which I will update.  I may move any state that I do any very complex modelling on to a different thread.  In the case of Tasmania, this is only likely to happen if Lisa Singh's below the line vote starts projecting to such a level as to create a serious contest between her and Catryna Bilyk.

Some states will receive much higher detail level than others on account of the competitiveness of races.  Where races appear uncompetitive I won't be posting frequent updates.

2019 House of Reps Postcount

Coalition has won the election, almost certainly with a small majority

Apparently won Coalition 77 Labor 68 Green 1 CA 1 KAP 1 IND 3. 

Seats Assumed Won By Coalition From Labor: Longman, Herbert, Bass, Braddon, Lindsay
Seats Assumed Won By Labor From Coalition: Gilmore, Corangamite, Dunkley
Seat Assumed Won By IND From Coalition: Warringah
Seat Assumed Won By Coalition From IND: Wentworth 

Seats that were being covered but now assumed won: Boothby and Chisholm (Coalition retains), Lilley, Cowan  (Labor retains), Bass (Liberal gain), Macquarie (ALP retain)

This is the main thread for the 2019 House of Reps postcount.  A few days ago I expected I would be unrolling separate threads to unravel three-cornered contests in Melbourne, a complete mess in Mallee and so on, but at this stage none of that has happened.  I have done a quick thread for Mallee though as there's some interest in it.  There is a weird situation in Hunter, where One Nation are currently two points short of beating the Nationals into second, but I don't see any reason to think they can get into second, let alone win if they do.  Indeed the Nationals' margin in second should increase.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

2019 Federal: Late Night Live Commentary

Coalition has won the election - small majority likely but perhaps a minority

Apparently won Coalition 74 Labor 64 Green 1 CA 1 KAP 1 IND 3

Seats Assumed Won By Coalition From Labor: Longman, Herbert, Bass, Braddon, Lindsay
Seats Assumed Won By Labor From Coalition: Gilmore, Corangamite, Dunkley
Seat Assumed Won By IND From Coalition: Warringah

Seats currently in doubt (projection = AEC projection)

Eden-Monaro (ALP) - Labor leading on projection
Boothby (Lib) - Liberal leading narrowly on projection
Chisholm (Lib) - Liberal leading narrowly on projection
Cowan (ALP) - Labor leading on projection 
Lilley (ALP) - Labor leading narrowly on projection
Macquarie (ALP) - way too close to call on current projection
Wentworth (IND) - Sharma (Lib) currently well ahead and expected to win

If all current leads hold Coalition will win 77 seats, Labor 67, KAP 1, CA 1, Greens 1, IND 3, with one unclear.


Election night arrangements and election watching tips (2019)

Donations welcome!

If you find my coverage useful please consider donating to support the large amount of time I spend working on this site.  Donations can be made by the Paypal button in the sidebar or email me via the address in my profile for my account details.  Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to do so.


My coverage tonight and to come

I will be doing live blogging for the Mercury from 6 pm.  The link to the live coverage is here.  The link to the tweet that links to the live coverage is here.  I am not sure yet how long the coverage will go or whether I will need to take any breaks to write articles.  There is an email address on the live coverage for people to ask me questions during the coverage.

I will probably not be checking emails, tweets or for comments on this site regularly during this time, and I ask journalists not from the Mercury not to call me until the live blog has finished.  However if you have interesting scrutineering samples from Tasmania - especially of the rate of below-the-line voting for Lisa Singh in a Senate booth (please say which booth!) - you're extremely welcome to SMS them to me (0421428775) or email them to me (  I probably won't be able to reply immediately.

The live blog is paywalled and I don't know if there will be a paywall free link or not. Subscription options are available starting from $12.  (In a kind of reverse Antony Green situation, a public media source did try to poach me for this election but negotiations collapsed from the point where I mentioned the concept of being paid.)

Election Eve: Final Newspoll and Seat Betting Roundup

2PP Aggregate (Final): 51.6 to Labor (Last-election preferences)
(51.3 with One Nation adjustment)
Seat projection assuming polls are accurate 79 Labor 66 Coalition 6 Others

The final Newspoll marks the end of my poll aggregation for this term (barring any late offers) though in the last few weeks, I really needn't have bothered.  Aggregation is most useful when polls are bouncing around, when they have marked house effect differences relative to each other or when there is something happening that is causing voter intention to move.  In the last few weeks, almost nothing has happened and seventeen consecutive polls have landed their 2PPs somewhere in the range 51-52.  There's really nothing for an aggregate to do!

Friday, May 17, 2019

A few election notes (especially re Tasmania)

Just a few quick notes on a number of things, mainly to bring links to various articles to the top.

Election night coverage

On election night I am very pleased to say I will again be live blogging for The Mercury, starting from 6 pm and probably going til about 11 or maybe later, except for any time when I may or may not need to stop blogging and write a quick article for them.  The link will be posted here when known.  It is possible the coverage will be paywalled; if so there are various subscription offers starting from $12, or it may be there will be a paywall-free link.  Once that has been finished, after a brief break I will relocate to home and then continue on here for a while.


Some links to recent items on my site that may be useful:

How To Make Best Use Of Your 2019 Senate Vote

Tasmanian House of Reps Seats

Tasmanian Senate Guide

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rolling Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: The Final Days

2PP Aggregate 51.5 to Labor (by last-election preferences) (-0.3 since last week)
51.1 with One Nation adjustment
Current seat projection approx Labor 79 Coalition 66 others 6 assuming polls accurate.

The end, it seems, is nigh.  If the (ludicrously herded) national polls are right, the Morrison government would need a huge amount of luck to survive a swing of somewhere around 1.3-2.3%, at an election at which it can afford perhaps two net seat losses.  If the polls on the whole are just modestly wrong in one direction, the Government's chances of survival improve greatly, but the other direction leads to a decisive loss.  The most likely path to survival is a Donald Trump style path - a combination of a modest national polling error and a fair amount of luck with the local breakdowns, but if it happens in this case, after everything, it will be very surreal.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

New South Wales 2019: Final Lower House Results And Poll Accuracy

Amid the gearing up for the federal election, the finalisation of the NSW election figures has been largely ignored.  For whatever reason it took a few weeks longer than last time to get to the final 2PP, which is necessary for assessing which polls performed the best among other things.  Though in this case, comparing polls is hardly worth the bother.

Vote Share, 2PP and Preference Change

The primary votes were 41.58% Coalition, 33.31% Labor, 9.57% Green and 15.54% Others (including 3.46% Shooters, Fishers and Farmers with the rest led by 1.53% Sustainable Australia, 1.52% Keep Sydney Open and 1.51% Animal Justice.) The 2PP was 52.02% to the Coalition, a 2.3% swing away from their 2015 result.

The overall two-party preference flow barely changed at all, with 33.0% of preferences flowing to Labor (-0.6%), 14.0% to Coalition (-0.8%) and 53.0% exhausting (+1.4%).  But overall what happened here was that the flow of Greens preferences strengthened, but this was cancelled out by the Greens' share of all non-major voting falling from just over 50% to just 38%.  In those seats in which Greens candidates were excluded, the preferences distributed at that stage flowed 51% to Labor with just 9% to Coalition and the rest exhausting.  The stronger flow in Lismore, 72%, was among the highest and was crucial to winning the seat, while East Hills would have been extremely close had Labor managed to match the state swing there.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: The Polls Are Getting Closer (To Each Other)

2PP Aggregate 51.8 to Labor (2016 preferences) (-0.1 since last week)
51.4 to Labor (with One Nation preference adjustment)
Current seat projection assuming polls are accurate c. 80 Labor 65 Coalition 6 crossbench (+/- lots!)
Polls appear to be "herded" which can increase risk of error

Time for another instalment of the week in polling and seat betting, delayed slightly by an interstate trip.  As of last week the United Australia Party were going through a bit of a purple patch, polling 5% in Newspoll and above their 2013 result in a bunch of seat polls.  This hasn't lasted; all their poll results this week have been in the 3-4% range, and in three WA YouGov-Galaxy seat polls they did worse than their 2013 results (in one case much worse; the other two only very slightly.)

This week's action in the minor party primaries came from the Greens who polled 14% in Ipsos, 11 in Morgan, 12 in Essential and 9 in Newspoll.  Ipsos (especially) and Morgan have form for exaggerating the Green vote and Essential's reading of the Green vote lately has been quite volatile, but even so the party doesn't seem to be in too bad shape, with the issues mix at this election helping it (that is an understatement.) That said, the Greens have finally struck the candidate problems that have hitherto affected everybody else.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Legislative Council 2019: Nelson, Pembroke and Montgomery Live And Post-Count

Montgomery: CALLED 8:30 pm Hiscutt (Lib) retains
Nelson: CALLED 4:45 pm Tues Webb (IND) defeats Street on preferences by a large margin
Pembroke: CALLED 8:37 pm Siejka (ALP) retains

Donations welcome!

If you find my coverage useful please consider donating to support the large amount of time I spend working on this site.  Donations can be made by the Paypal button in the sidebar or email me via the address in my profile for my account details.  Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to do so.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Disendorsed, Resigned Or Withdrawn Candidates at the 2019 Federal Election

Scoreboard (will be updated as needed)

Since calling of election (includes since close of nominations):

Liberal 10
National 1
Labor 4
Green 2
One Nation 1
United Australia 9*
Independent 6

(* based on UAP website listing as of April 11)


Senate Voting: Another Poor Article By Richard Denniss

It's a shame to have to be distracted from more important things (like counting all the candidate malfunctions this election) in order to deal with an article by Richard Denniss in the Guardian.  I wasn't going to do this, having already done so on Twitter, but unfortunately an email has been seen by me suggesting that a voter took it seriously.  I can scarcely believe this is so, and wonder if I should refer the email to the AFP as a hoax, but the thought of people being Wrong on the Internet about this needs addressing.  Rant warning applies.

To start with, let's declare on Richard's behalf what he failed to admit in his latest article.  Richard Denniss is a former sceptic of Senate voting reform who defended the coercive, corrupted and dangerous Group Ticket Voting system.  In that system, abolished prior to the 2016 election (but still extant in the WA and Victorian upper houses) voters' preferences were being sent they knew not where, and parties could be elected off tiny vote shares based on a weighted lottery of preference deals and effectively random events.  In defence of this old system,  Denniss, of the left-wing Australia Institute, made the ludicrous claim that "the vast majority of Australian voters trust parties to allocate preferences and opt to vote above the line."  Really, Australian voters trust political parties when politicians are among the least trusted occupations?  (OK, the link is only Morgan, but with effect sizes that large, even Morgan can be trusted here!)  We saw exactly how much Australian voters really trusted parties in 2016 when only about 30% of Coalition above-the-line voters, 14% of Labor ATL voters, and 10% of Green ATL voters (and single figures for most minor parties) followed their party's Senate how-to-vote card.  In Tasmania, voters didn't even trust the Labor Party to pick its own candidates properly, and overturned its preselection.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Poll Roundup: Make Newspoll Preferences Great Again!

2PP Aggregate: 51.9% to Labor (last election preferences) (-0.5 since last week)
51.6% with One Nation adjustment
Labor is still winning, but at present polls imply only a modest majority (c. 80 seats) 
Betting markets don't think it's that close

I didn't put out a Poll Roundup last week because there were no major polls.  This week there is a lot more to discuss, starting with United Australia.

UAP Surge - Is It Real?  

After languishing at around 1% in those polls that included them until not long ago, Clive Palmer's United Australia Party has made major inroads in polling in the last month, helped by problems for One Nation, which is not running in every seat anyway.  At the current level, team yellow (unless you're in Tasmania where there are two team yellows) isn't threatening to win Reps seats, but it looks very competitive for the Queensland Senate at least.  That said, media are overplaying the value of the very useful Coalition preferences there, since the Coalition might not get that much over two quotas given the added competition from UAP, and only 30% or so of its voters will follow the card anyway.  The surge is being linked to Newspoll switching to including UAP as a distinct option in its results, which is being interpreted as the party being added to the readout (something which has been thought to overestimate minor party votes).

Sunday, April 28, 2019

How To Make Best Use Of Your 2019 Senate Vote

This piece is written to provide advice on the best way voters can use their vote most effectively at this year's Senate election.  It's a new version of the article I wrote in 2016, that takes account of the experience of that election and since, including with Section 44.  Many regular readers of the site will already be aware of many of the points below.  I hope the main part of the post will also be useful, however, for those who want to know what advice to give less politically engaged (or more easily confused) voters.  I will vote below the line and number every square, and I'm sure many other readers will too (at least in the smaller states!), but not everyone is up for that.

Under the system introduced in 2016, voters determine where their preferences go - there is no longer any "group ticket voting" in which if you vote for one party, your preference also goes to another.  Voters have great flexibility - they can vote above the line (in which case they are asked to number at least six boxes) or below the line (in which case they are asked to number at least twelve).  Voters who vote below the line are no longer forced to number all the boxes.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tasmania Senate 2019: Prospects and Guide

Likely 2 Liberal 2 Labor 1 Green + last seat depending on Lambie's performance
If Lambie vote falters then Labor, Liberal, perhaps someone else could win the final seat

Donations welcome!

If you find my coverage useful please consider donating to support the large amount of time I spend working on this site.  Donations can be made by the Paypal button in the sidebar or email me via the address in my profile for my account details.  Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to do so.

Tasmania's list of Senate candidates has been released. There are 44 candidates in 16 groups including 4 ungrouped (two of them party candidates), a gratifying decline from the 58 in 21 groups plus ungrouped last time (see my 2016 guide).  Looks like some people are finally getting the message that the new Senate system does not reward parties that cannot get even 1% of the vote!

This piece gives some basic information and views about the parties and lead candidates, and some general background to the contest.  The party candidate section, in places, represents my own opinions of the candidates and parties.  There are always a few obnoxious candidates on the Tasmanian ballot and I have no hesitation in warning voters about these people.  There are also some parties that may not be what they seem.   More content will be added in as time permits, so it may be worth checking back before voting to see if I've added any more details about candidates.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: Ellis Impersonator Edition

2PP Aggregate 52.5 to Labor (unchanged)
On most recent polling Labor would win a majority if election held now, with around 83 seats.

There have not been many polls in this week of an Easter-fragmented campaign, and the one national poll that has come out hasn't changed the national picture all that much (except for One Nation).  Essential will be polling over Easter (more likely to work for an online than a phone pollster), Newspoll probably won't, and we'll have to see what else we might get.  It's been a scrappy start to the campaign with both major parties losing candidates from uncompetitive seats (after some dumpings foreshadowed tonight, the Coalition will have lost six!), and gaffes by both sides including some troubles for Bill Shorten on superannuation policy and climate change policy costs, while Scott Morrison can get away from any question he doesn't like by just declaring it to be "bubble stuff".  I don't know if anyone's paying attention to any of this at the moment out there in voter-land.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

NSW Legislative Council 2019: Button Press Day

Button press from 11 am Monday

Won off raw quotas: Coalition 7 ALP 6 Green 2 PHON 1 SFF 1
Coalition will win 8th seat

Labor 7, One Nation 2, CDP, LDP, AJP, KSO for final 3 seats

Labor very likely to win seat, One Nation likely but not so clear, CDP/LDP/AJP who knows, KSO remote chance only


The result will be added here once known.  The count is expected to take a gruelling 45 minutes to one hour.  See for updates and doubtless other #nswvotes sources.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Tasmanian House Of Representatives Seats Guide (2019)

Donations welcome!

If you find my coverage useful please consider donating to support the large amount of time I spend working on this site.  Donations can be made by the Paypal button in the sidebar or email me via the address in my profile for my account details.  Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to do so.

This article gives a fairly detailed discussion of the five Tasmanian House of Representatives seats, which will be updated and edited as needed up til election day.

Two seats (Clark and Franklin) are generally not considered to be in play at this election.  Three (Bass, Braddon and Lyons) are Labor marginals that the Liberals won from Labor in 2013 and Labor won back in 2016.  These could change back again if the Liberals can pick up swings of 1.5 to 5.3%.  Current national polling as I start this article (12 April) points to about a 3% swing to Labor.  If it stays like that, then it is likely few if any Labor seats will fall to the Coalition nationwide.  But should the campaign close up, then Tasmanian seats may come into play.  On the other hand, in 2010 there was a large 2PP swing to Labor in Tasmania even against the backdrop of a national swing against the party.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Poll Roundup: Well-Received Budget Yields A Kitten-Sized Bounce (Maybe)

2PP Aggregate: 52.5 to Labor (2016 preferences) (-0.5 in a week)
(51.9 with One Nation adjustment)
Labor would win election "held now", with seat tally around the low 80s

Equal best polling position for Coalition under Morrison so far
Budget reception among the best ever in some regards, but not all
Weak evidence that there may have been a "Budget bounce" of around half a point, but impossible to confirm


The 2019 Budget has been delivered with the election expected to be called sometime in the next week.  This year's budget was in most ways well-received, although the voters have not bought the Government's attacks on the ability of the Opposition to deliver the same thing.  There was remarkably little polling in the leadup to the Budget, so it's hard to say for sure if we have seen that rare creature the Budget bounce or not, but if we have seen it, it's probably only a little one.  We can't yet reliably conclude that the modest move to the government this week is caused by the Budget at all as opposed to other factors.  As it isn't statistically significant, it may even just be random noise.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Fraser Anning, How-To-Vote Cards And Bad Electoral Reform Proposals

Senator Fraser Anning has not endeared himself to most of Australian politics in his short Senate career.  Elected on a special count as a replacement for One Nation's Malcolm Roberts, he left One Nation amid mutual distrust very soon after his arrival.  He then joined Katter's Australian Party before being kicked out of that for being too extreme.  His scorecard includes use of the term "final solution" in his maiden speech, blaming the Christchurch massacre on the fact that Muslims were allowed to migrate to New Zealand (huh?) and proudly attending neo-Nazi rallies.

I've seen a lot of discussion about Anning and how he got into the Senate, and I've noticed two trends that I think need to be dealt with.  One is that a commentator, hellbent on preventing any future Annings from getting into the Senate, comes up with an electoral or parliamentary reform proposal that would either have prevented Anning getting into the Senate the way he did, or else at least allowed for his expulsion as soon as they got there.  Then, because they've found something that would get rid of future Annings, they promote this idea without thinking through any greater problems it might cause.  The second, though I haven't seen so much of it just yet, is that a commentator who already has some electoral reform proposal they want to support, looks for some way they can argue for it by making a point about Fraser Anning.

Legislative Council 2019: Montgomery

Montgomery (Lib vs IND 5.49% - pre-redistribution margin)
Incumbent: Leonie Hiscutt (Liberal)

Welcome to the third of my three Legislative Council guide pages this year.  The one for the most interesting-looking contest, the Nelson vacancy, has been doing business for some time, and Pembroke was posted a few days back.  I will be updating my voting patterns assessment as well but am waiting for the upcoming session to complete in view of the lack of data in the last 12 months so far, so I expect to do that update in the third week of April. [EDIT: I ran out of time to do this before the election!]

And there will be live coverage here of all three seats on the night of the election,  Saturday May 4th.

This piece will be edited through the campaign from time to time for updates, campaign information, added candidates and changed assessments.

(Note: candidates may contact me once only to request a change to the link their name goes to, or additional links which will be added, or not, at my discretion.  No other changes will be made on request except to correct clear factual errors.  Candidates are welcome to comment in the comment section. Differences in the length of different candidate sections reflect differences in amount of available/(in my view) interesting material.)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Legislative Council 2019: Pembroke

PEMBROKE (ALP vs Lib 7.45% - pre-redistribution by-election margin)
Incumbent: Jo Siejka (ALP)

Welcome to the second of my three Legislative Council guide pages this year.  The one for the most interesting-looking contest, the Nelson vacancy, has been doing business for some time, and the guide for Montgomery is now up too.  I will be updating my voting patterns assessment as well but am waiting for the upcoming session to complete in view of the lack of data in the last 12 months so far, so I expect to do that update in the third week of April. [EDIT: I ran out of time to do this before the election!]

And there will be live coverage here of all three seats on the night of the election, expected to be Saturday May 4th.

This piece will be edited through the campaign from time to time for updates, campaign information, added candidates and changed assessments.

(Note: candidates may contact me once only to request a change to the link their name goes to, or additional links which will be added, or not, at my discretion.  No other changes will be made on request except to correct clear factual errors.  Candidates are welcome to comment in the comment section. Differences in the length of different candidate sections reflect differences in amount of available/(in my view) interesting material.)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

2019 New South Wales Postcount: Legislative Council

Legislative Council NSW Summary:

Seats assumed won based on incomplete count Coalition 8 Labor 6 Green 2 One Nation 1 Shooters Fishers and Farmers 1

(2015 results and continuing MLCs were Coalition 9 Labor 7 Green 2 Shooters 1 Christian Dems 1 Animal Justice 1).

Summary of contest:

Close multi-party contest for remaining three seats.  Count is extremely complex.  The ABC website has been projecting seats as won directly off the check count and this is very unreliable.

Labor (#7) and One Nation (#2) currently appear well placed for two of these seats after preferences, though One Nation is vulnerable to leakage.

A preference race will occur between four parties for the final seat: Christian Democrats (now leading), Liberal Democrats, Animal Justice, Keep Sydney Open.   Keep Sydney Open appears to be struggling to catch Animal Justice.  Animal Justice appear to have at least realistic prospects of beating the other two after preferences.

Sustainable Australia was competitive earlier in the count but its primary vote does not appear to be sufficient.

2019 New South Wales Postcount: Lismore

(Link to main postcount thread)

LISMORE (2015 margin Nat 2.9% vs Green 2CP, Nat 0.2% vs Country Labor 2PP)

Key questions:

1. Who will be second after preferences between Janelle Saffin (Country Labor) and Sue Higginson (Greens)

Outlook: Very likely to be Saffin and assumed to be so given that both Nats and Greens have conceded.

2. If Saffin is second after preferences, who wins between Saffin (Country Labor) and Austin Curtin (Nationals)?

Outlook: Saffin

3. If Higginson is second after preferences, who wins between Higginson (Green) and Curtin (Nationals)?

Outlook: Probably Curtin, but there are no direct data on this

Overall outlook: Saffin (Country Labor) strongly expected to win

2019 New South Wales Wrap And Lower House Postcount

The Berejilklian Government has been returned with a very small majority

Expected final result Coalition 48 Labor 36 Green 3 Ind 3 SF+F 3 

Seats changing hands
Barwon (Nat to SF+F)
Murray (Nat to SF+F)
Coogee (Liberal to Labor)
Lismore (Nat to ALP)  link to Lismore thread


This thread will give some summary remarks about the NSW Lower House count (which may be updated if necessary) and will also follow the postcount in a few undecided seats where only two candidates are in contention.  Lismore has thrown up another three-cornered contest that is of special interest and it will get its own thread.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

2019 NSW Election Live Comments


Coalition has won the election - probably with a small majority 

Apparent wins Coalition 45 Labor 35 Green 3 Ind 3 SF+F 3, 4 in doubt
(Apparent wins are not necessarily all confirmed)

Apparent seat changes:

Barwon (Nat to SF+F) - but need to wait for Broken Hill booths
Murray (Nat to SF+F)
Coogee (Liberal to Labor)

In serious doubt:

Lismore (Nat vs Green vs ALP - long postcount ahead)
Dubbo (Nat vs IND - close)

In some doubt:

East Hills (Liberal leading Labor)
Upper Hunter (Liberal leading Labor)

Assumed won but at low doubt levels: 
Wollondilly (Liberal vs IND - no 2CP count available)
Penrith (Liberal leading Labor)

Commentary appears below the double line with latest comments scrolling to the top - refresh frequently for new comments once count starts.  Comment clearance during commentary will be slow and comments may not be replied to until very late.

Friday, March 22, 2019

NSW 2019: Final Day Roundup

SUMMARY: Polls imply likely Coalition victory, but if so, majority status is still touch and go.

This thread will cover anything I think is of interest re Saturday's election, starting with a pre-Newspoll look at where things might stand (but there is some weird stuff going on, so who knows) and followed up with anything I want to add once Newspoll (or any other late polls) come out.  I'll be working in the afternoon, so don't expect updates between about 11 am - 6 pm.

There will be live coverage here on election night from 6:00 pm and going through til very late, and the live thread may be started earlier in the day if there is anything of special interest going on.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Poll Roundup: Medevac Fails To Shift The Dial

2PP Aggregate: 53.4 to Labor (+0.4 since last week)
52.9% with One Nation adjustment
Labor would easily win election "held now" with about 90 seats.

In the wake of the Coalition's 50th consecutive Newspoll 2PP loss, here's another roundup of the state of federal polling, and I also include some comments about the state of seat betting, which I track in the approach to each federal election.

A few weeks back, just after the last roundup, there was a lot of hot air about a possible "Tampa moment" for the Coalition in the form of a close Ipsos poll immediately following the passing of "medevac" legislation by Labor and the crossbench.  Since that Ipsos 51-49 (with the Coalition lucky to get 49 on the published primaries anyway) we've seen Newspoll at 53-47 and 54-46, Essential at 52-48 and 53-47 and a commissioned ReachTEL at 53-47.  There was also a Queensland-only YouGov-Galaxy with a 6.1% swing to Labor in that state.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Token Post About Modelling The 2019 NSW Lower House Election

Recent state polling suggests a hung parliament (approx 44 Coalition 41 ALP 3 Green 3-4 Ind 1-2 Shooters) - but there's hardly been any of it!

Update Monday 11/3: Polls over the long weekend (a uComms/ReachTEL at 51-49 to Labor and a Newspoll at 50-50) have been completely consistent with the assessments below.  

Rinse and repeat ... another state election is only weeks away and there's been virtually no public polling.  At this stage in the 2015 election cycle there had been five statewide polls, but so far this year there have been just two.  Perhaps they will come thick and fast in the next two weeks, but I have so little hope of that that I think the best I can do is write an article complaining about the lack of polling in the hope that my article becomes out of date as soon as possible.

Anyway, to briefly poke my head through a gap in what is often a very busy few weeks of the year for me (the dreaded "AGM season"), I thought I'd post some comments about where things might be at if the very limited public polling we've seen this year is anywhere near accurate - which it may not be.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Another One's Gone: Rene Hidding Resignation And Replacement

Just another post to cover off on another Hare-Clark recount coming up for the Tasmanian House Of Assembly.

Former Opposition Leader Rene Hidding has resigned from parliament in dramatic circumstances. This comes days after Matthew Denholm in The Australian published reports that an unnamed woman had made historic sexual abuse claims and various related claims against an unnamed man (who could be identified by elimination, based on the details provided, as being Hidding).  Hidding has very strongly denied the accusations and has counter-claimed that his accuser has fabricated the claims in order to cause him damage as part of a family dispute.  He also says he intends to seek redress against The Australian, though the article did report that he had denied all aspects of the allegations.

Whatever the truth of these matters (a subject on which I have no information) Rene Hidding is entitled to be presumed innocent.  Having to fight these accusations is obviously a major distraction, and he was expected to retire from politics at the end of this term if not before anyway.  The claims also have a political dimension because Denholm reported the accuser as having claimed to have reported the matter to police in 2014, but Denholm also said the police had no record of this.  For much of 2014, the Police Minister was Rene Hidding - so had he remained in parliament it is likely the Opposition would have hammered the government about this aspect of the claims, and conspiracy theories would have flourished. [Update: The woman involved now says she first contacted police in 2013, when Labor's David O'Byrne was Police Minister.]

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Legislative Council 2019: Nelson

I've decided to start my 2019 guide to the Legislative Council division of Nelson early this year.  Firstly, I need to clear some decks for other things ahead of a very busy period ahead.  Secondly there is great interest in the contest already, and thirdly I don't have to wait until the final pre-election sittings to tell you anything about the voting patterns of the incumbent, since (i) the incumbent is the current President and doesn't vote (ii) the incumbent is retiring.  I will be updating my Legislative Council voting patterns assessment (last edition here) but for the time being there's not much to add, as there were only eight contested votes in all of 2018. [EDIT: I ran out of time to do this before the election!]

 I will also have pages for the other two seats, Montgomery and Pembroke, some time not later than early April.  And there will be live coverage here of all three seats on the night of the election, on Saturday May 4th, and through the inevitable postcount.

This piece will be edited through the campaign from time to time for updates, campaign information, added candidates and changed assessments.

Other guides are linked here:


Friday, February 15, 2019

Poll Roundup: Mixed Start To Year For Struggling Government

(17/2: Ipsos update added at the bottom. Also, Not-A-Poll added in sidebar: predict the next Newspoll 2PP)

2PP Aggregate: 53.7% to Labor (last-election preferences) (-0.4 since end of polling season last year)
53.2% to Labor with One Nation adjustment
Labor would easily win election "held now"
Government is now Australia's longest continually-trailing government in polling ever

Time for another roundup of the federal polling picture in the lead-up to an election expected to be held in mid to late May.  At the end of last year the Coalition's polling had been going slowly downhill after the initial recovery from the shock caused by the messy removal of former PM Turnbull.  Early this year there were some early signs things might be improving, but a bad Essential poll this week has somewhat muddied the waters.  In this article I'll just be discussing voting intention and leadership ratings as it is long enough without covering more.

This week has been a dramatic week in parliament and we still have to see how that plays out.  However, a change to laws affecting medical treatment of people on Manus Island and Nauru is not the same thing as an incident like the Tampa, the 2002 Bali bombings and the 9/11 attacks - all of which produced substantial poll movements.  The law change may lead to a major incident (perhaps orchestrated) which could affect polling, but here is how things stand for the time being.

Monday, February 11, 2019

How Federal Crossbenchers Gain Seats

I expect to release another Poll Roundup later this week, but have decided to put out something else I have been working on for a while first.

This is another post about general historical trends in federal elections concerning crossbench wins (see also Independents Seldom Replace Other Independents). Recently on Twitter, Peter Brent noted that the crossbenchers who had gained seats at the last few federal elections had all done so either by winning vacant seats or by defeating unpopular incumbents.

I looked at this theme more broadly and thought it was worth posting some expanded results going further back.  In federal elections, House of Representatives seats are won and lost between Labor and the Coalition frequently, and if a seat is close and the swing is on, then a personal vote only goes so far.  Incumbents who have had trouble-free terms are quite often victims of a national swing to the other side. However, they are rarely defeated by anyone else.

Adam Brooks' Resignation And Replacement

A very quick post to cover off on the mechanics of the countback to replace Adam Brooks, who has resigned as a Liberal Member for Braddon, effective tomorrow.  There has been speculation Brooks might resign soon for months, so I've already looked at the numbers for this in the past.

In Hare-Clark, casual vacancies are filled by what is confusingly called a recount (I often call it "countback") of the votes the sitting MP had when they were elected.  If the sitting MP had more than a quota at the time of their election, the last parcel of votes they received is modified in value to bring them down to a quota.  If they had less than a quota, the preferences of the last losing candidate(s) can be thrown to attempt to bring them to quota.

Whether an unsuccessful candidate got close to being elected the first time around or not is irrelevant to this process.  All that matters are the votes (including preferences) held by the resigning member.  Thus, for instance, if Rosalie Woodruff were to resign in Franklin, she would be replaced by another Green, and not by Nic Street who she very narrowly defeated for the final seat.

Adam Brooks was originally elected after polling 10004 primary votes (the quota was 10718) and receiving enough votes on Jeremy Rockliff's surplus to cross the line.  The 1 Rockliff 2 Brooks votes (2635 of them) will make up the remaining 714 votes for the recount.

The original scrutiny sheet tell us which unsuccessful candidate about 426 of those 714 votes will go to, if all unsuccessful candidates recontested.  Joan Rylah would get 61%, Felix Ellis would get 30% and no other candidate would get more than 2% by themselves.  (If no candidate gets 50% of the initial votes in a recount, then there is a distribution of preferences as in a single-seat election, but I'm not expecting that to be the case here).

The original scrutiny sheet doesn't contain any direct information on where the remaining 10292 votes go (these are mostly 1 Brooks with a few 1 Rockliff 2 Brooks 3 Jaensch, Dow or Broad).  Party scrutineers may have this information.  However we do know that not only did Rylah outperform Ellis by about two to one on the known 1 Rockliff 2 Brooks votes, but also that Rylah outperformed Ellis 3436-1842 on primaries, 1196-523 on Rockliff preferences, and 675-470 on the preferences of all remaining candidates.  Based on this it would be a massive surprise if Ellis outperformed Rylah on the preferences of Adam Brooks.  Rylah as a sitting MP was simply the much higher profile candidate.

Had Rylah not nominated for the recount but Ellis had, Ellis would have won.  Had neither recontested, he government would have had the never-used option of requesting a single-member by-election rather than allowing their seat to go to another party.  (I do hope I live to see one of those someday!)

This doesn't look like being an interesting recount but I just thought I should put the details of how it works out there anyway.  And one note of interest - if Rylah resumes her career, the Tasmanian parliament will have a majority of female MPs, with 14/25 in the House of Assembly and 7/15 in the Legislative Council, at least until May.  In May, one male MLC is retiring and two female MLCs are defending their seats.

Update Feb 25: The recount is on today.  I expect the winner to be known by the end of the day unless it is unexpectedly close between Rylah and Ellis.  Ellis had to resign his job with Senator Colbeck to contest the vacancy, but I expect this is a temporary Commonwealth requirement and he can be reappointed.

Update: Rylah wins with 53.6% to 37.2%.  We now have another recount coming following the shock resignation of Rene Hidding; this will be won by John Tucker assuming he contests.

Friday, February 1, 2019

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

Just a quick update post for this site's gradual quest to find a reader's pick for the title of Best State Premier Of The Last 40 Years.  We are getting closer to starting the rounds for the state winners, but there's still a little bit more voting to go.

Over the last few months there was a very close WA runoff after the previous runoff was tied between Geoff Gallop and Carmen Lawrence.  In the end Gallop has defeated Lawrence 75-71 and advances to the winners' rounds.

Voting is now open in the sidebar - for two months - on the deferred Victorian runoff between Steve Bracks and Daniel Andrews (the only incumbent Premier still in the contest).  Voting for this runoff was deferred to try to get a little clear air from the Victorian state election.  As Andrews now has a victory on a similar scale to Bracks' wins under his belt, it will be interesting to see how this goes.

Voting is also continuing in the consolation prize for the best non-Labor Premier that I have offered in view of the left-wing skew of this site's readerbase.  In the second round of this runoff held during December, the following were the results:


Total Votes: 134

Hodgman (who was the only current Premier still in that one) is eliminated, leaving four.  Voting will run for one month and then there will be another round in March if required.  The winner will be wild-carded into the final alongside all that Labor mob, to give the righties somebody to vote for. 

Update Feb 28: Greiner has won the next round too, but didn't quite make 50%. 


Total Votes: 120

Joh is eliminated leaving Greiner, Carnell and Kennett.