Saturday, August 1, 2020

Legislative Council 2020: Huon and Rosevears Live And Post-Count

Huon: CALLED (1 am Sunday) Seidel (ALP) gain from Robert Armstrong (IND)
Rosevears: Palmer (LIB) defeated Finlay (IND) by 260 votes.

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Live comments (scrolls to top)
All updates are unofficial, check the TEC site for official figures

Wrap: Well that was a rollercoaster with some rather weird preference flows, the independence of the Upper House dying hard in the strong flows to Finlay off Gale and (given his conservatism) Fry, but then not so much as enough Labor preferences went to Palmer to save her just when that was looking unlikely.  Another very near miss for Janie Finlay who would have beaten any other candidate.  In Huon, Bastian Seidel has enjoyed a massive victory that will boost Labor's stocks greatly.

Thanks all for the interest in the coverage; it's been a long road but these were fascinating contests.  In 2021 we have Windermere, where three-term incumbent Ivan Dean is widely expected to retire but hasn't committed either way in public.  We have Labor's safe seat of Derwent, where President Craig Farrell attracted only token opposition and won big in 2015, and also Mike Gaffney's seat of Mersey (ditto).

6:10: Seidel has won 57.3-42.7.  The scrutineering figures sent to me on the night were of the highest quality and enabled me to project a big win for him on the night.  The preferences of Harriss flowed around 2-1 to Armstrong but he was way too far behind.

With the election of Palmer, I note some gender records.  The number of women in the Council rises to an all-time high of nine (60%); only 22 women have served in the chamber in history, including these nine.  Worryingly for the embattled males, half of the remaining six are up for election next year.  The number of males in the two houses combined drops to an all time low of 15, but this will return to 16 next week.

4:15: The TEC has confirmed Seidel is the winner.  Presumably based on a partial distribution.

3:15: PALMER BY 260. Not close enough for a recount I would think.  The closest LegCo margin since Lin Thorp won Rumney by 65 votes in 1999.  The flow of preferences ex Greene was 72.28% to Finlay, 24.24% to Palmer, and the rest to exhaust.  Preference flow is often weak in these elections in the absence of HTV cards.

2:40: Seidel has received 69% of Caruana's preferences and is still 2% from crossing the line, which he will easily do on the Harriss exclusion.

1:15: Now even Fry's preferences have split to Finlay! (Albeit only slightly).  So it comes to this: Greene has 14.36% to throw and Palmer leads by 8.04%.  Assuming zero exhaust, Finlay needs 78% of Greene's votes to win.  In neighbouring Launceston in 2011 Labor preferences split 72.4% to Rosemary Armitage, but those were preferences of a male Labor candidate flowing to a female Indpendent against a male Liberal; in this case everyone involved is female.

12:50: Debbie Armstrong excluded in Huon and as expected about 40% of her flow went to Robert Armstrong.  Caruana is next out and holds 19.18% with Seidel having 15.31% to go.  If Seidel gets 79.8% of the Caruana preferences the election is over immediately and we do not get a 2-candidate result.  Probably he will fall just short of this.

12:09: Davenport throw done in Rosevears and these split Finlay 631 Fry 240 Greene 784 Palmer 139, so only 7.7% went direct to Palmer.  Much of the leftiness of these votes is probably bottled up in those that went to Greene, many of which will eventually go to Finlay.  So for now Palmer leads by 8.29% with 10.14% from Fry and 12.92% from Greene to go, and needs .3595 votes per vote (around 68-32, maybe a bit higher allowing for exhaust) of the rest.  The relatively high flow from Davenport to Fry has actually improved the percentage that Palmer needs off Fry to 54% if the Labor votes split 85-15, but has also diluted the Fry pool with these Davenport-Fry votes that presumably won't help Palmer much.

12:05: The first throw in Huon, of the Shooters' Garrick Cameron's preferences, slightly favoured Armstrong and Harris over Seidel.  Seidel leads by 12.37% with 46.25% to throw, but that includes the extremely favourable Green preferences.  I expect Debbie Armstrong's preferences to be quite good for Robert Armstrong because of the family connection, and then will come the Caruana throw, as Harriss has now moved into third.

11:16: Split of Gale's preferences: Davenport 81 Finlay 302 Fry 171 Greene 95 Palmer 112.  That's a very strong start for Finlay!  Gap closes to 10.44% with 26.44% to throw.  That bring's Finlay's required gain rate down slightly to .3949 votes per vote, still needing about 70% flow, but also increases the proportion of the remainder that is Green and Labor votes.  I have no scrutineering data on Rosevears but have to think Finlay's chances have just gone up considerably.  Notably if she now gets 85% of Labor and Green preferences, Palmer will need the Fry votes to flow to her something like 60:40 to win.

Next up is Davenport (Greens) but David Fry after him will be the big one.

11:15: Primary count also done in Huon where Seidel leads by 12.54%.

Tuesday 11:00: Primaries are finished in Rosevears and Palmer's starting lead over Finlay is 11.28% with 28.24% to throw.  Finlay must gain at .3995 votes per vote to win, which is the equivalent of a 70-30 flow assuming no exhaust.  In practice with a few percent exhaust, the asking rate will be just over 70% of those thrown.  First to go will be Vivienne Gale whose preferences are quite hard to predict.

Tuesday 11th Aug 10:40: Today's the day; postals closed at 10 am.  I am not scrutineering and don't have word about the exact timing of the preference distributions but if last year is any guide final primaries will be up soon and then the distributions will commence.  I expect they'd take most of the day.

Wednesday Huon postals have been updated, narrowing the gap by a further 0.05%.  Turnout has now reached 85.08% in Huon (cf 85.17% in 2014) and 84.12% in Rosevears (cf 81.32%).  Increased candidate numbers are probably a factor in Rosevears.  At the least, the pandemic has not negatively affected turnout.

Tuesday 4:00 Rosevears postals have been added and rechecks completed and whatever slim hope Finlay may or may not have has increased slightly with the gap closing from 11.4% to 11.24%.  The TEC also informs me that about 700 postals will be counted in Huon tomorrow.  For Rosevears, 10542 of a possible 11416 postals have now arrived, but several will never arrive because they won't have been sent in the first place.

Tuesday 12:30 Finlay in interview here (starts 1:10:45) has described winning as "possible but super unlikely"; based on comments from her scrutineers it seems she is expecting to close the gap on preferences (this is also my expectation) but probably not by enough.  I have also now seen a Liberal press release that was "cautiously optimistic" Palmer would win.

Tuesday 10:40: TEC have informed me that about 800 postals will be counted in Rosevears with results uploaded late this afternoon.  This probably won't resolve the matter but it may push the needle one way or the other.

Monday 6:30: A trivial number of out-of-division and provisional votes were added today doing nothing to the gap in Rosevears and taking 0.02% of Seidel's lead in Huon.  No further action is expected til next Tuesday and absent of detailed scrutineering figures I won't be calling Rosevears in the meantime.

Monday 9:30 am:  While we wait for more numbers, or any useful indication re Rosevears, I should note the preference flow at last year's Nelson election.  When Vica Bayley (left-wing independent) was excluded, 76% of his votes went to Meg Webb (ditto) with 11.8% going to Nic Street (Liberal) and 12.2% exhausting.  The exhaust rate in this case will be much lower, maybe something like 2%.  Of preferences that did flow, Webb got 86.6%.  This sort of flow is why, if there turns out to be no net flow from David Fry to Palmer, it might (for all I know) be still just possible for Finlay to get there on the Labor and Greens preferences.  Especially if she might benefit from the few votes remaining to be counted (some of those expected today) or from any corrections in checking.   That said I am sceptical that the flow to Palmer will be quite as weak as the flow to Street.

Sunday 5pm: Labor has publicly claimed victory in Huon following the postals.

Sunday 2pm: The second lot of postals is in for Huon and whereas the first lot was favourable for Armstrong and unfavourable for Caruana, this lot have actually helped Seidel extend his lead to 12.6%, with Caruana remaining in third.  Meanwhile in Rosevears the second lot of postals have boosted Palmer's lead to 11.4%.  Finlay would now need 85% of Greens and Labor preferences if no votes exhausted and the Fry and Gale votes split evenly - this is verging on impossible, but maybe the few votes to be counted on Monday will bring the asking rate down just a little.

1 am Huon called I have been sent some very detailed scrutineering samples from Huon that include a sample of around 450 preferences from the candidates who will be excluded, assuming that Robert Armstrong finishes second.  These come from a range of booths including prepoll.  The overwhelming feature is that 70% of Caruana's votes go direct to Seidel.  The rest includes some friendly flows for Armstrong but also a heck of a lot of splatter.  I have crunched these via a couple of methods and these project Seidel with a final result of around 58-59% 2CP (ie his lead increases) even after accounting for expected dropoff in the Green vote.  Note that about 19% of the vote does not reach either Seidel or Armstrong by #2 in this sample but Seidel has enough that he needs virtually none of that.  The projection could turn out to be generous but the sample would need to have several standard deviations of error to make a difference.  It is now clear to me that Seidel will win so this seat has been called.  Labor wins Huon for the first time since 1942.

End of night wrap: Twilight Of The Closet Liberals?

Well that's been interesting!  We finish the night with Jo Palmer (Liberal) and Bastian Seidel (Labor) holding leads of 10.59% and 12.35% respectively, leads that will change little on remaining counting.  In both cases, there is a case that preferences could be adverse overall, though leads of this size are almost never shut down in these elections.  I firmly expect both leaders to win pretty comfortably, but there's not enough evidence for me to absolutely write off the pursuers Janie Finlay (Ind) and Robert Armstrong (Ind, incumbent) in the absence of detailed scrutineering of preference flows.

This is a mixed bag result for most of the candidate types.  The Liberals appear to have won Rosevears, which will be very encouraging for them, but not with the kind of massive margin that would make an early election look like a lay-down, or that even tells us that there is any COVID-19 boost above what would have happened anyway.  Labor has recorded a stellar result in Huon (which they last won in the 1940s!) but a remarkably weak one in Rosevears, continuing the north-vs-south "two Tasmanias" trend apparent in last year's results.  The Greens appeared to be doing well in Huon in early counting but have faded on postals and may end up dropping to fourth; their Rosevears result has been similarly nondescript.  The leading left independent has done at least fairly well, but probably not well enough.  

The one force that has done really badly here is conservative independents.  They've polled nothing much in Rosevears with their voters flocking to Jo Palmer, and in Huon the incumbent seems to have been defeated by Labor in a contest he was generally expected to win easily.  Assuming things pan out as they are, party representation, already at an all-time high, will increase from 6/15 to 8/15, a majority for the first time ever (5 Labor, 3 Liberal).  Ivan Dean will be the last very conservative independent remaining, and he will retire (or presumably lose if he runs again) next year.  Once upon a time the place was chock full of such people!  

Looking at some booth patterns in Huon, Seidel has done extremely well on Bruny Island (where he works) but also in the booths surrounding Huonville - Franklin, Glen Huon, Judbury, Ranelagh and Mountain River.  Armstrong has failed to match his 2014 primary especially in the old timber booths (Dover, Geeveston, Huonville) where it seems a share of his vote has transferred to the young contender Harriss.  

I'll be back tomorrow when the next lot of postals are added.

9:30 Huon postals are in and Seidel got 33% of those.  Robert Armstrong is now second and should have Harriss covered on preferences now, so the final two should be Seidel vs Armstrong.  

Currently Seidel leads 31.38-19.03.  If we assume the postals to come are the same as the postals so far in number and flow, Seidel will lead 31.8-20.2 with Caruana on 16.1.  That would leave Armstrong needing about 62% of preferences, perhaps slightly higher given the exhaust factor.  The Caruana preferences are obviously adverse, the remaining 32% of preferences are potentially OK for Armstrong given that the candidates are two right-wingers and a relative with the same surname.   Let's say the Caruana prefs split 75-25 to Labor.  In that case Armstrong would need 74% of the rest, ignoring exhaustion.  That's a very steep hill but without detailed scrutineering figures I'm not prepared to say that's completely impossible either.  

9:10 Huon prepolls are in  - Seidel got 34% of them, Robert Armstrong is back into third and I expect him now to make the final two.  

9:00 Postals are in in Rosevears.  They split 42.4% to Palmer, 30.9% to Finlay, improving Palmer's lead to 10.59%.  If we project this also happening over the remaining postals it could go out to 11%, but maybe those will be weaker or provisionals and out-of-divisions will pare it back.  So the picture probably won't change greatly now that we have seen the first pile of parcels do so little.  

On current numbers if we assume all preferences flow 1-6 then Finlay needs 69% of preferences to win.  Some won't flow all the way, so it might be more like 71%.  Of the preferences, nearly 60% are Labor-Greens and the remainder are Fry and Gale.  Let's take what I think is the most pessimistic assumption, that Fry and Gale's split evenly (I would expect Fry's to flow strongly to Palmer).   In that case, Finlay would need about 83% of the Labor and Green preferences.  That's very hard given Palmer's profile, but is this absolutely open and shut? Still thinking about it.  

8:32 The prepoll has arrived in Rosevears.  This improved Finlay's position slightly.  Palmer leads by 10.2%.

8:20 I have been sent very large scrutineering samples of prepolls and postals in which Seidel is getting 40% and 36% respectively (Armstrong 23% of postals).  Waiting for the official numbers but it looks more and more like Seidel has taken Huon!  Also, preference flow from Caruana to Seidel is said to be good.  

8:08 On preferences I'd expect Caruana to be overtaken by either Robert Armstrong or Harriss, so the final two will most likely be Seidel vs one of those.  At the moment whichever conservative it is is too far back; they need the postals and prepolls to be very different to the booth votes, to knock Seidel back down to 25 or so to have a chance of beating him.  

8:03 Rosevears booth totals (all standard booths in)

Palmer 40.89%
Finlay 30.24%
Greene 8.88%
Fry 8.71%
Davenport 8.37%
Gale 2.91%

7:47 Huon booth totals (all standard booths in)

Seidel 30.05%
Caruana 19.98%
Harriss 16.6%
R Armstrong 16.37%
Cameron 9.02%
D Armstrong 8.09%

7:45 I was somewhat dismissive in my intro of parties taking a majority in the Upper House and the left and right swapping seats but we are currently on course for both those things! Meanwhile, another good booth for Palmer, narrowly winning West Launceston (slightly to my surprise).  

7:40 Seidel wins Blackmans Bay with Caruana second and Robert Armstrong now falling to fourth on primaries.  One would think if Seidel could win Blackmans Bay with 34% of the vote - more than the state vote in this booth - he should be OK on postals.  

7:35 Robert Armstrong falls back towards Harriss again.  All booths are in in Huon except the conservative Blackmans Bay booth (which won't help Seidel) and then we'll be waiting for the prepolls and postals to see how we stand going into tomorrow.  The 

7:30 We have two booths to go in Rosevears - West Launceston which should be good for Finlay and Riverside which will be a Palmer bonanza.  It looks a lot like Jo Palmer will win but I'm not going to definitively call it until I see those 5K of postals.  I'm also a bit wary about whether David Fry's preferences will help her as much as I was thinking beforehand.  

7:27 And Palmer's train has just arrived in Rosevears.  She wins Riverside West and Legana hugely and has now jumped to the 40% in my projection.  This is looking very good for Jo Palmer now.

7:25 Armstrong is putting some distance into Harriss after a strong booth at Dover, and if prepolls and postals are good for him he has good prospects of passing Caruana.  But beating Seidel from significantly behind - if it comes to that - won't be easy given the size of the Greens vote.

7:22 Caruana is topping most of the usual very Green booths - Kettering, Sandfly, Woodbridge, Middleton (but not the Bruny Island booths where Seidel has connections) and Seidel has topped every other booth so far.  The conservatives are yet to top a single booth.

7:18 Finlay wins Trevallyn, a very Green booth, but not by that much.  Finlay is now slightly in the lead but there are some more  Liberal booths to come where this is likely to turn around and my projection says Palmer should go into the lead.  (It's giving her 40% which may be generous.)

7:12 Finlay wins Gravelly Beach narrowly but that was a huge booth for Finch, so my projection now has Finlay falling behind on primary vote (it has Palmer ahead 39-33, which wouldn't be a rock solid lead but might be enough; the actual current figures are 37.3-36.1).  An improvement for Palmer there.

7:08 Booths continue to flow in in Huon but the pattern hasn't changed a lot - Seidel continues to lead Caruana by 11 points (that margin's fairly stable) with Robert Armstrong clinging to third over Harriss.  If it stops now Seidel very probably wins, so the incumbent will need a big pickup on the postals.  

7:03 Robert Armstrong back ahead of Harriss now, but not by much.  Probably he will get more preferences from Debbie Armstrong than Harriss will.

7:00 Robert Armstrong has a further problem on the booth votes so far - he's trailing Harriss.  But Seidel continues to hold a double digit lead, which if it survives til the end of the night will be challenging to catch.  The postals and how different they are to the booth votes (or not) is looming large in this one too.

6:55 Finlay wins Beauty Point and Sidmouth.  At the moment Finlay is ahead but not by enough that you would bet on it surviving after postals.  The 5000 postals later tonight is already looming large in this one. Everyone besides Finlay and Palmer is polling nothing to speak of, single figures at present.

6:52 Caruana has won the Woodbridge booth, which a Green candidate would be expected to do.  Labor has dropped to 30% on my projection now with the Greens projecting to 20% and R Armstrong to the upper teens.  Note that preferences from minor right-wing candidates will favour the incumbent but he'd want the combined Labor/Green vote to drop a lot from the current 54%.

6:49 In Rosevears all the early action is for Palmer and Finlay, with Palmer ahead so far.  Off the first two booths both candidates are projecting to about 38%, treat that with extreme caution because of the high size of the postal/prepoll vote and the possibility that those voting in booths are unrepresentative.  

6:47 A terrible start for the incumbent!  He is doing worse than in 2014 when he polled 20% on primaries.  In these early booths Labor is projecting to 34% and the Greens to 20% - let's see how that holds up or doesn't.

6:45 We have early numbers in Huon and Robert Armstrong has not started well, on only 15% with Seidel on 36%!  However some of these are Greenish booths.  Entering into spreadsheet now.

6:20: Because the more projections the better, note that in addition to what I'm doing, Poll Bludger will be doing a 2PP projection for Rosevears.  Preferences are semi-optional (must vote 1-3); there will be a small rate of exhaust that for fields of this size will probably not make much difference.  

6 pm: TEC results pages are up - Huon Rosevears.  Nothing to see yet on either. Note for anyone doing booth matching that quite a lot of small booths are not being used at this election.  Rosevears in particular has only 13 booths.  The TEC does not separate prepolls by division in the public figures.  There are no mobile booths or Agfest booths this election.


Intro (Saturday 1 pm)

Finally we are here!  Welcome to my live and post-count coverage of the repeatedly delayed Huon and Rosevears Legislative Council elections.  You can see my seat previews here:


and also my latest assessment of voting patterns in the Legislative Council.    It's been a long and winding road of delays and process changes to get to that point (which I wrote about here and here) but finally the votes have all been cast (probably more than half of them before the day) and we are ready to see some actual numbers.

The left-wing majority in the Legislative Council isn't on the line tonight, though the independent majority is; wins for party candidates in both seats would see more than half the Council in party hands for the first time ever.  However that is considered fairly unlikely.  The elections are significant for the balance of the Council, which will become closer if retiring incumbent Kerry Finch is replaced by a right-wing candidate in Rosevears, or less close if Robert Armstrong is defeated by the left in Huon.   (Or both these things could in theory happen and they could cancel out, though that seems even more unlikely.)

Beyond that, the more significant seat is Rosevears as a test for how the government is travelling.  We know that the Premier, Peter Gutwein, is extremely popular, but we don't know to what extent, if any, this translates to voting intention.  Complicating the assessment, the Liberal candidate Jo Palmer has a very high profile in Rosevears and was expected to win anyway.  Palmer however has a significant opponent in high-profile independent Launceston councillor Janie Finlay.  An easy win for the Liberals will fuel the now widespread speculation of an early state election, while a defeat or an inconclusive win might put it to bed for good. 

Labor also faces significant tests tonight, and a difficult challenge in holding its vote at a reasonable level given competition from independents and the strength of the Green vote in Huon.  The party seems to be struggling greatly for both oxygen and coherence as the government's response to COVID-19 dominates everything and would want to at least make the final two in one of tonight's contests.

How this works

Comments will start soon after 6 pm (slowly at first around dinner!) and will go through til counting finishes (usually about 9-ish but I suspect later tonight) with a wrapup posted sometime after that.  Refresh frequently after 6:30-ish to see the most recent comments - at the height of counting on average there will probably be a new comment every 5-10 minutes or so.

Comments will continue over coming days as the post-counting unfolds.  The level of comments will probably depend on how close the seats are.

The count will be unusual, with turnouts way down in the booths and a very high rate of postal voting.  Almost 10000 postals have been taken in each seat, as well as significant numbers of prepolls.

The TEC aims to count all within-division prepolls tonight.  As concerns postals, they aim to count 5000 in each division tonight and the remainder on hand (approx 4750 Rosevears and 4500 Huon) tomorrow with figures in the afternoon.  Remaining postals (probably only a few hundred in my view) will be counted on Tuesday August 11.  Provisionals and out-of-divisions will be counted on Monday Aug 3.

I expect both seats to go to preferences given the strength of the fields.  However, whether they do so as live contests or as foregone conclusions remains to be seen.   Preferences will not be counted tonight, and if there is a close race it may not be resolved until around August 11-12.

When I consider there is no realistic doubt about the fate of a seat the magic word CALLED will appear in the header.  Until then it will contain a brief summary of how the count is going in each seat, which may at times be out of date.

Early in the night I'll be trying to do some rough projections for each seat, but as the numbers settle down I'll largely stop doing this.  Especially it will be hard to predict how the postals will match the booth votes (one would think more closely than usual).  Once the first lot of postals are counted it should be possible to project final primaries by assuming they will be similar - but there might be some time-based differences that mean there are differences.

The following projections will be attempted:

* In Huon, I will be projecting the Labor and Green votes off the 2018 state election.  I will be running two projections for Robert Armstrong, one off his vote at the 2014 Huon election, and one off the Liberal vote at the 2018 state election.  I expect the former to be inaccurate as he was competing against the Liberals and the 2014 election had a lot of variation in voting patterns based on where different candidates live.

* In Rosevears, I will be projecting the Labor and Green votes off the 2018 state election.  I will be running two projections for Jo Palmer, one off the Liberal vote in Rosevears 2014 and one off the Liberal state vote in 2018.  I will also project David Fry off the latter but will only report those numbers if he is doing well.  I will be projecting Janie Finlay off Kerry Finch's vote in Rosevears 2014 (I don't expect that to be very accurate).  For the Finlay projection for new booths I will be using a regression of the Finch vote off the 2014 state results.


  1. If the second half of postals are as bad for the Greens as the first half, Caruana will fall back to fourth. I'd thought postals might have been better for the Greens with a bigger cross section of the community voting that way, but I guess not.

    1. O'Connor will deliver a catastrophic vote for the Greens if she remains leader at the next state election. I don't sense energy, constructive positive policies to inspire, no sense of direction or even purpose. Those problems from the top have fed into these results. Some people are natural leaders and some are not. I really think you need a clear sense of purpose and connection with the people if you want to be successful leading a party like the Greens. Here's a plan: O'Connor makes the wise decision to resign from parliament 6 months before the next election. A lower candidate takes her place on count back so Burnett can stay on Council. Vica Bailey announces intention to run and is endorsed as lead candidate for Clark ticket. Bailey to lead the Greens from outside the parliament in the lead up to the election. Maybe this injection of change and style could save the Tasmanian Greens from oblivion in 2022.

    2. I don't think O'Connor standing down is likely. I'd say it's more likely that Woodruff loses her top spot on tge ticket to Caruana.