Saturday, October 31, 2020

Queensland 2020 Live


Seats expected to change hands:

Whitsunday (NQF loss, probably to LNP)
South Brisbane (ALP loss to Greens)
Caloundra (LNP trailing ALP)
Pumicestone (LNP trailing ALP)

Incumbents struggling:

Bundaberg (LNP trailing ALP)
Hervey Bay (LNP trailing ALP)
Nicklin (LNP slightly trailing ALP)

Labor appear likely to beat Greens in Cooper and McConnel as difficult for Greens to bridge gap to second, but will look at this in more detail on Sunday.


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Labor has been re-elected in Queensland with a primary vote swing to it, currently running at over 5%.  Probably there has been a swing from One Nation to both majors, but also a swing from the LNP to Labor.  There will be a 2PP swing in Labor's favour, with estimates of 2-2.5% doing the rounds.  It looks like being a rather bigger win than polls predicted.  

In seat terms Labor has lost only South Brisbane, with McConnel still in some doubt.  Labor has lost nothing to the LNP, not even in the northern seats where it was considered at risk.  Gains have been few too, with the LNP saving most of the first line of targets but having some unexpected losses or close shaves on higher margins.  Overall, Labor should increase its majority.  

There are fewer seats in doubt than 2017, and the collapse of the One Nation vote has seen the fascinating four-cornered contests that created such interest in post-counting then disappear, replaced by 2PP affairs.   The week ahead will probably be a quieter one than usual.

The election overall highlights the historic pattern that it is hard for any party to win state elections while in government federally.  Unless very old or very troubled, opposite-party governments seldom lose, and Annastacia Palaszczuk's had the assistance of a global pandemic.  Palaszczuk's government has managed the pandemic in a sometimes harsh but highly effective manner in keeping the state safe, and was able to show up the LNP as flakey on the issue.  

Existing crossbenchers elected at the last election as such romped back in, but potential new ones found the going difficult, with only one (Amy McMahon) having succeeded at this point. 

I'll be back tomorrow sometime with a postcount thread. 


12:13 Looks like the LNP have only just held onto Currumbin.  

11:26 Oh hai, Bundaberg has just appeared in the projected ALP win list so whatever was in the ABC projection just had a dramatic overwrite.  (The answer here turns out to be ... Legalise Cannabis preferences! They have 5.5% to the Greens' 2.6%.  Also, the One Nation flow has probably moderated,)

11:00 Pace of comments will slow over the next hour or so, then I'll post a wrap just after midnight.  Still a few seats where the count is very very slow and need to see some more figures from those. In case the ABC switches off the projection, note that Labor are currently ahead in the Bundaberg live count but projected to finish way behind.

10:24 66% counted in Cooper now (probably it for the night) and the Greens have dropped to 2% behind the LNP.  Out-of-electorate prepolls may help them, absents will help them, postals won't, and there are a lot of postals still to come in Cooper.  Difficult to catch up.  Likewise in McConnel, 2.6% behind with 62% counted, though some hope on preferences there.  Greenslopes is now completely out of the question.

9:57 Just lost a bunch of my recent comments by having too many of the same window open.  So anyway, the missing preferences have arrived.  Labor has had a big boost in many electorates and is now clearly winning.  Labor is not close to losing seats to anyone but the Greens, and may only lose one seat to them as the Greens have dropped to third in Cooper and McConnel.  It is very hard to see how Labor don't win a majority.  

9:22 Still in the lull awaiting prepolls and postals.  Still the case that Labor are not projecting behind in any seat where they are competing with the LNP, though Townsville is very close.  The LNP seem to have lost two seats to Labor and are trailing in two of their own, Coomera and Hervey Bay.  

The ABC has raised an issue that all preferences for divisions after Mulgrave are missing from the ECQ feed!  Close-ish seats we should reserve a bit of judgement about til we see real preference flows include: Mundingburra, Nicklin, Redlands, Thuringowa, Townsville, Whitsunday.

9:08 In McConnel an important factor could yet be the 2% held by the Legalise Cannabis candidate - I'd expect that to flow pretty well to the Greens, though it will be counter-acted to a degree by One Nation.  It is going to be challenging for the Greens to catch the LNP.

8:57 In Greenslopes the Greens are polling strongly and are almost second.  However I expect them to drop back on non-day votes, so it will be hard for them to make the final two.  

8:30 Stephen Andrew is not completely home yet - he needs to stay ahead of the LNP, but should be able to do that comfortably.  

8:24 Amanda Stoker relaying favourable figures for the LNP in Clayfield where they have been struggling in early counting.

8:20 In Coomera the 2PP swings by booth are wildly uneven.  The LNP is ahead on votes counted; the ABC projection says 50-50.  In Oodgeroo, Claire Richardson is not currently getting into second.

8:15 Labor in front on projection in Redcliffe (finally).  Still very few seats projected to change hands.   Cynthia Liu also now well ahead on projection so I've removed Cook from the Complicated Seat list (which is now empty)

8:10 Nick Dametto (KAP) is smashing it in Hinchinbrook with a 20+% swing.  

7:52 Greens drop to third in McConnel after a big dump of postals, but this now means postals are rampantly over-represented in the McConnel count and the Greens may well come back later in the count - the swings suggest the LNP may yet fall back to third.  Too early to write that one off.  Also, an enormous swing in Cooper (which I rubbished as a prospect yesterday!) on booth votes - so far, Labor down 11%, Greens up 11%, LNP down 7%.  If that holds across the remaining votes the Greens could win the seat, but let's see if it can.

7:48 Very few seats are being projected by ABC to a non-incumbent now,  LNP back ahead in Burleigh and Coomera.  We're now into the infamous pre-prepoll lull, and we still don't really know a lot.

7:45 Greens still doing very well in swing terms in McConnel - again wait for prepolls and postals but at the moment on track to win.  

7:40 Oddly, Yvette D'Ath (Labor Attorney-General) currently projecting just behind in Redcliffe, but that's starting to normalise.  Labor is at the moment projecting ahead in LNP seats Burleigh, Caloundra, Chatsworth, Clayfield, Coomera, Hervey Bay.  Townsville is bouncing back and forth.  This is a slow count night because so few votes are being counted in the booths and we don't know if the current pattern will hold in terms of swings in prepoll.  

7:35 ABC projecting Labor ahead in Buderim (!) and Burleigh off single booths.  A long way to go but indicative of the problems for the LNP on the Sunshine Coast.  Again, need prepolls.  

7:33 Labor off to a very good start in Pumicestone.  

7:26 Labor now ahead on projection in Barron River.  At the moment things look good for Labor overall but that's only off booth projections and we will need to see if this carries through to prepolls, or if the booth votes are unusually skewed.  

7:25 Cook is tonight's first inclusion in the Complicated Seat list!

7:15 Unfortunately only some seats are working on the PollBludger feed, which is fantastic when it works.  

7:12 Another very good booth for the Greens in McConnel, but need to see what happens with prepolls and postals here.  

7:11 Thuringowa looks like being a 2PP contest so far.  

7:03 Several booths in in South Brisbane.  Some have very large primary vote swings from Labor to Green which would be game over for Jackie Trad. No 2PP counts there but with 7% counted Trad is currently well behind on primaries and unless the pattern on prepolls/postals is very different then Trad will be gone by a substantial margin.

7:00 So much according to script so far - Labor struggling in Barron River and Mundingburra though there has been improvement in Townsville.

6:56  In Cook, KAP are ahead on votes assigned to preferences, but this seat has a massive variation in votes across it because Labor gets 80-90% in some booths.  Give this one time to settle down, but it is interesting.

6:55 Michael Berkman well clear of Labor in second in Maiwar and off to a very good start.

6:53 Early swings to Labor on the southern-ish coasts: Bundaberg, Caloundra, Currumbin - along the lines of the YouGov state poll but is this a vote timing issue or real?  We'll find out later,

6:49 A few percent in in Burdekin and at this stage it is looking like a 2PP contest.  It is also looking healthy for the LNP. 

6:46 Stephen Andrew in Mirani is at this very early stage holding off the One Nation tanking seen elsewhere.  Let's see how this goes but I did mention before the election that crossbencher incumbents often outperform their party swing by a large margin.

6:44 LNP projecting narrowly ahead off very little counted between Townsville.  A  big swing to the LNP is showing in Bonney but that seems to be because of a booth that did not exist before.

6:39 The early swings are much as if One Nation's voters had gone to whichever major party they preferenced last time - not much sign of something that will turn into an overall swing so far.

6:37 Back now, just scanning the horizons ...

6:25 Delayed dinner break  - 15 mins or so.  

6:23 Continually seeing One Nation getting smashed in tiny booths.  

6:21 Large swing to the Greens in a tiny booth in McConnel but this is only 66 votes counted.  

6:17 A few teensy booths in and they are showing swings to Labor and against One Nation but these are booths where scarcely anybody voted.

6:00 No advance word of the existence of an exit poll as yet.  Not sure if there is one.


Intro (4:55 Queensland time)

Welcome to my live coverage of the 2020 Queensland election count.  Comments will start from 6:00 Queensland time, but apart from covering the exit poll (assuming there is at least one) don't expect to see too much before about 6:30 (I'll be having dinner).  My final comments on the polling for this election were here.  

Through the night I'll be posting live comments in the space above, which will scroll from the top, and the header will keep track of things in a summary sense, though early on there won't be much to summarise.  A familiar feature of Queensland elections is the Complicated Seat pile where I put seats where the order of exclusion isn't clear; there tend to be several of these.  

At the end of the night I will aim to post a wrapup post and then tomorrow I will start a post-count thread devoted to the seats that remain in significant doubt.   Seats will be gradually unrolled on the post-count page through the day tomorrow as time permits.  All assessments are provisional until seats are clearly noted as called.

The breakdown of votes is likely to be: prepolls around 38%, postals around 21%, on the day maybe 30%.  About a quarter of the prepolls are out-of-electorate prepolls and these will not be counted tonight.  Hopefully most postals will be counted tonight - the ECQ has cleared almost 400,000, which I estimate to be about 55% of those that will come back at all, leaving maybe 9% of enrolment in subsequent postals.  There's the potential that if the ECQ does well in counting votes tonight, most 2PP seats will be clearcut at the end of the night, while seats with exclusion order issues or needing realignment will take longer.  I expect the changing voting method patterns to wreak some havoc with projections based on differences between on the day, prepoll and postal in the past and a number of seats may get projected wrongly in the process until (and maybe even after) prepolls and postals have been counted in particular seats.  So early assessments will be cautious.  

There is expected to be a decline in the number of seats where One Nation make the final two, but we'll have to see if that transpires or not.  

I intend these comments as a complementary service to the ABC broadcast, one that aims to spot messy seat possibilities and unusual scenarios faster than they can.   Note that the ABC estimates preference flows where there is no two-candidate figure, so sometimes seats are being given away based on estimates that are not real numbers (they are usually better at documenting this on their website recently than has been the case in the past).  I am hoping the Poll Bludger results facility (see comments here) works because finding individual booth data during counting on the night is often difficult. 

I may or may not have time to clear comments submitted to this site tonight.  I also won't be on Twitter all that much but will try to drop in there now and then. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Queensland 2020: Rolling Final Days Roundup

I'll be covering the Queensland election here on election night and in detail throughout the postcount, though on some days I may be busy with other things during the day.  

Another Queensland election count is a day and a bit away and there's a distinct lack of data for the usual polling aggregation/modelling type game, so I've decided to start a rolling roundup article which will cover a number of possible themes.  When new polls appear - assuming they do - new sections covering them will be posted at the top of the article. I also have a new article in The Guardian.  I should clarify that I didn't speak to any of the nameless insiders personally, and was going off other media reports.  There were reports since I filed that one that unnamed Labor insiders were more confident yesterday because internal polls had supposedly shown an uptick following one of those debates that nobody much watches.  This narrative was gleefully and even gullibly snapped up by Sky, perhaps because it was useful for attacking Gladys Berejiklian.  The NSW Premier will doubtless be scapegoated in the event of an LNP loss even if there is nothing special in the early/late voting history to justify such a charge.

Final Newspoll

The final Newspoll gives Labor a 51.5-48.5 lead off primaries of Labor 37 LNP 36 Greens 11 One Nation 10 leaving 6 for the rest (I predict it will be more!).  The leader ratings are also largely unchanged: Palaszczuk 62-33, Frecklington 35-48 and Palaszczuk leads 56-30 (see older ratings below).

For the record this is my seat model's attempt to project what a 51.5% statewide 2PP as adjusted for regional swings in the first YouGov poll might look like (I have also added a small volume of seat poll juice to the formulas):

(Click for larger version).  The model gives an estimate of the probability of the current holding side winning the 2PP - not necessarily the seat in cases like McConnel, Oodgeroo, and any ON/KAP threat seat - on the assumption that the 2PP is 51.5.  This is not a prediction that this will happen, because the polls might be wrong.  The model will also be blind in particular seats, and some of these probabilities could therefore be silly.  For instance it currently treats Bundaberg as regional, but there's a view that Bundaberg should be treated as an extension of the Gold/Sunshine Coasts, and Labor might then win it back.  The projection for 2PP wins in seats not won by crossbenchers in 2017 comes out to ALP 49 LNP 38.  Labor being likely to lose South Brisbane to the Greens is also a projection well backed by objective data (whether it happens or not) so that takes Labor back to 48 seats.  They could lose to other crossbench challenges too (eg McConnel, KAP/ON seats) but this is also a risk for the LNP.  It's extremely difficult to get the LNP to a majority off the Newspoll 2PP, so they need Newspoll to be wrong - even an LNP minority would need about an extra 5-6 2PP wins over the projection. 

If the Greens and KAP (or One Nation) both fire it becomes less likely Labor would win a majority off this 2PP, but off a slightly higher one they still might.  

It's possible that a status-quo 2PP (if it happens) see only a handful of seat changes as in 2017, but it could see more variation in seat swings and more seats changing hands in both directions.  


(earlier text below)

Polls: Too Few, Too Old

As I write there have been only three statewide public polls (a YouGov, a Newspoll and a Morgan SMS) and the youngest data in these is already two weeks old.  The statewide polling picture all those days ago was next to zero swing - maybe a fractional swing to Labor.  It's well within the range of recent Australian state polling errors that that any final aggregated estimate could be wrong by a couple of points either way; it's plausible (but less likely) it could be wrong by more than 3 points, a la Victoria 2018.  We don't have a recent precedent for a 4 point 2PP error, but those aren't impossible either.  The current YouGov polls are experimental (but it seems like a promising experiment) and the record of Morgan SMS is not that flash.  Let's see if we get a stronger signal between now and polling day, but at least for Labor, for now, there's no evidence of a statewide swing against it.

All regional data except Morgan's (which is obviously nonsense, since it has the Greens primary and the Labor 2PP higher in regional Queensland) backs in the ideas that:

* Labor could lose seats in the north

* Labor could gain seats in the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, where it currently holds very little

* There might be some swing to the LNP in Brisbane, but it probably won't do much if there is

* The One Nation vote is down, but that might be a little or it might be a lot

* Labor could lose seats in Brisbane to the Greens

Nearly all the public evidence supporting these claims comes from one pollster.  If the LNP holds the coasts and the inner city and gains seats in the north, it can win.  If Labor holds the north and gains seats elsewhere, it can win comfortably.  Or something completely different might happen.  

See this previous article for modelling on the basis that the picture in statewide polling so far is broadly correct - which of course may not be the case.

Labor Is Killing It On Non-Vote Polling

Despite the close voting intention polls, Labor is doing extremely well on poll questions other than voting intentions.  Recent leadership readings have included:

Palaszczuk Satisfaction/Approval: 63-33 (Newspoll), 62-28 (Essential), 57-27 (YouGov), 63-33 (earlier Newspoll)

Frecklington Satisfaction/Approval: 37-44 (Newspoll), 29-32 (YouGov)

Preferred/Better Premier (skews to incumbents, for Prime Ministers by c. 15 points) Palaszczuk leads 56-32 (Newspoll), 48-22 (YouGov)

Better at managing economic recovery and jobs (exact question and answer options not seen): Palaszczuk/Labor leads 40-27 (YouGov)

Better to manage economy: Palaszczuk leads 50-26 (Ipsos)

A disclaimer should be noted with the Ipsos figure - this is an online Ipsos poll format that is untested for voting intentions at any election.  However if you told me only these numbers and not the voting intentions - I would say the election was almost certainly already over.  And I'd only add the "almost" because of one historic Queensland exception ...

The Ghosts Of Goss and Churchill

In 1995 Labor under Wayne Goss initially won the election by one seat, but had their win in Mundingburra overturned in the courts, then lost the 1996 by-election and office (albeit not for long). 

During the campaign, Goss had led Opposition Leader Rob Borbidge in Newspoll 61-22 then 57-24, and his personal ratings were high (albeit slipping at the end), 60-32 then 54-38.  Borbidge's ratings were nothing special (his final rating was slightly negative, 37-42).  But the Coalition was competitive on primary votes, with the last two Newspolls getting 45% for Labor to 45.5% for the combined Coalition parties.

On election day the Labor vote was 2.1 points lower than the Newspolls had it, and the Coalition vote 3.5 votes higher.  Labor lost the 2PP so heavily (53.3% to Coalition) that they were lucky to even make it as far as Mundingburra.  So there is a precedent (albeit a lonely one, hospital-pass Premiers excluded) for a Premier to not exactly win an election while being very popular.  But it only goes so far, because of federal drag (Labor was in office federally).  

Another argument that's reportedly being run (mainly by Labor insiders afflicted by either pre-election nerves or pre-emptive expectation management) is that Queensland 2020 is a bit like UK 1945.  That is, Labor has won the war with COVID and won it so well and for so long that nobody still cares about it, voters think the state is safe whatever happens, and they look to who will run the state best in what they expect to be a COVID-free future whoever is in government.  In this regard, the LNP project more enthusiasm and excitement (even if some of it is about schemes that are probably daft and that won't actually be funded beyond study level in their first term anyway) and have also made a play for the hip pocket with their $300 car rego rebate scheme.  And pre-COVID, Labor was showing quite a lot of wear and tear.  

One Nation Preferences

At the last election, One Nation preferenced the LNP in considerably more seats than Labor, though annoyingly I can't relocate any records of exactly which ones they were.  At this election One Nation is not preferencing either major party (despite getting LNP preferences on a platter) and is instead issuing double-sided preference cards; Katters Australian Party is doing the same.  Notably on One Nation's website the version with the LNP candidate ahead is given first in all bar three seats, the exceptions being Mundingburra (where the LNP candidate has had social media issues), Stretton (where the LNP candidate has been accused, not entirely accurately, of excessive pro-China propaganda), and Scenic Rim (not sure what the background is there).  

Any shifting in One Nation preferences could harm Labor in seats where it benefited from being preferenced by One Nation last time, most notably Aspley and Redlands. But the two-sided card could help Labor in seats where it did really badly on ON preferences last time, including Townsville, Mansfield, Barron River, Cairns and Pumicestone.  This would have less than 1% impact on the 2PP per seat in most cases, but some of these seats could be very close.

Black Swan Watch: The KAPslide!

 I will be watching the performance and preferences of the Katters Australian Party on election night with a lot of interest.  In 2017 KAP upstaged One Nation by winning three seats.  The seats it holds are Traeger, Hill and Hinchinbrook, and they together cover pretty much the footprint of Bob Katter's federal seat of Kennedy.  Nick Dametto won Hinchinbrook by beating Labor into third by 2%, using Labor preferences to overtake One Nation and then using One Nation preferences to beat the LNP. The last two steps were relatively comfortable so a crash in the One Nation vote wouldn't necessarily cause Dametto any problems.  The question is whether this winning from third model might be replicable in other seats, especially if the One Nation vote declines but the KAP vote doesn't.  Some to watch are:

* Cook, where KAP missed third place by 0.5% last time; probably Cynthia Liu picks up a personal vote here but if there is a swing against Labor counteracting it then winning from third might be doable.

* Mundingburra, where KAP missed third by 2.35% last time and nobody was near 50% (that said, the Newspoll suggests polarisation towards the majors that would give KAP no chance).

* Thuringowa, where KAP missed third by 3.6% last time and the highest primary vote was a feeble 32.2%.  The party almost won this seat in 2012.

* Burdekin, which neighbours Kennedy and where primary votes were split quite evenly between Labor, the LNP and One Nation in 2017 with KAP not running.  The KAP candidate is Sam Cox, the 2012-2015 LNP MP for Thuringowa.  

* Whitsunday, where they are the second favourite in seat betting though I can't quite see the logic here, since they only got 9.5% last time.  With the former LNP member Jason Costigan now running with his own party and nobody exceeding 32.2% last time, this seat could be very messy.

It may be that polarisation towards major parties means nothing happens here, but if that polarisation doesn't happen to the extent expected and votes shift from One Nation to KAP, watch out!  There's potential for the party to win lots of seats from 2-3% of the state vote.  


Almost any election these days seems to have this script somewhere - the local high-profile moderate independent (socially liberal and environmentally concerned) who threatens the otherwise safe conservative - think Zali Steggall in Warringah, but don't forget this plan was tried in many other seats around the nation and Warringah was the only one it worked in.  In this case there's an added incentive via a proposed port development that is apparently much hated - which has the incumbent, the LNP's Mark Robinson, suddenly scurring to find some environmental cred.  Oodgeroo is a good target for an indie because there are reasonably large Green and Labor votes to serve as stepladders from third place on primaries if necessary (though Claire Richardson might well outpoll Labor here) and the LNP vote only needs to be knocked down from 52.4% to, say, 44% and game on.  There have been reports that some kind of poll for Richardson's campaign has her ahead 51-49 but no details of methods, sample size, pollster etc to scrutinise (some reference to an "exit poll" that may or may not be the same finding); in any case commissioned polls tend to favour their sponsors.  There have also been reports that the LNP think it is under control.  

There is some thought that the pandemic situation makes it hard for independents, but I'm not sure that is true - a vaguely comparable indie almost won the Tasmanian Legislative Council seat of Rosevears against a rampantly popular state government, for example, though there were plenty of factors in the indie's favour there too.  What does create difficulty is that the performance of indies on postals and prepolls tends to be poor, and there will be a lot of those vote types in this case.  

There has been less attention regarding Margaret Keech in Macalister, a former Labor MP attempting to unseat Labor in a seat where an independent was also a threat in 2017.

Die GrĂ¼nen

Everybody knows the Greens are the world champions (among parties with any actual support, anyway) when it comes to chalking up their wins before the event. Unfortunately a spectacular result in the ACT has done nothing to deter this tendency and their supporters have recently got bored with declaring incipient victories in South Brisbane and McConnel, and set their sights on Cooper.  Cooper is vacant following the retirement of Kate Jones who will take a considerable personal vote with her, but the Greens start 15% behind the LNP and 20% behind Labor, so this seems very ambitious.  A Newspoll seat poll suggested Jackie Trad is in massive trouble in South Brisbane (but it's a seat poll, and via experimental methods at that, so not conclusive) but there has been no fresh public evidence re McConnel or Maiwar.  Trad fits the profile of a troubled incumbent (the sort most likely to lose to crossbenchers at federal elections) but at state level an incumbent need not be troubled to lose to the Greens; they can just be a victim of shifting demographics and inner-city intensification of the Green vote.  


Betting is not necessarily predictive and indeed is often completely wrong, but I like to keep an eye on it to see how well or badly it actually does.  On the headline, Labor has been firming rapidly in recent weeks after taking a very long time to be favourite at all, and is now favourite by 1.20 vs 4.00, an implied 77% chance of winning.   Labor is also given an implied 57% chance of winning in its own right.  The former would be overconfident if based on polling alone, but not if based on historic probabilities.  If Labor do win outright, the question about these markets will be what took them so long (for the second election in a row).

The seat betting has quite a guarded view of Labor's chances.  Incumbents are favourite in all seats except:

* Barron River, Keppel and Townsville, expected to switch from Labor to LNP.
* Pumicestone and Currumbin, expected to switch from LNP to Labor
* McConnel and South Brisbane, expected to switch from Labor to Greens
* Burdekin, an LNP seat that is a tie between LNP and KAP
* Whitsunday, the North Queensland First seat (Costigan) where the LNP are favourites but at longer than $2

(Labor are also favourites but at longer than $2 in their own seat of Thuringowa)

If all these played out, Labor would be put into minority but would be able to choose between the Greens and KAP, primarily, for support, or to operate as a minority government on the assumption that the Greens will never put the LNP in.  There isn't much of an imbalance in seats that the markets have serious doubt about (one, incidentally, is Oodgeroo where Richardson is very nearly favourite), so there seems to be some discrepancy between this seat betting and the majority government odds.  

Election Night

I hope election night won't be a repeat of the shambles of the by-election web displays earlier this year.  Things to watch will include a vote mix with prepolls in the high 30s as a percentage of turnout, postals probably in the low 20s, on the day voting perhaps in the low 30s.  It will be difficult to project seats early in the night and some seats will have high out-of-electorate prepoll rates that may require counting into subsequent days before too much is known about them. Differences between on-the-day voting and postals may weaken compared to the past (especially as the postal count goes on) and we should be careful especially of projections that don't include actual postal counts.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Post-Budget Federal Polling Roundup

I haven't done a federal polling roundup for a long time, because most of the time at present we are only getting Newspoll.  However, last week saw the quarterly batch release of Essential's new poll results and there is actually enough information out there to make it worth sneaking in a general if slightly dated polling review in the small window of spare time I have between the ACT and Queensland election counts.  My previous comments about federal polling (or mostly, the Australian's lousy coverage thereof) were here.

This year we saw very little of a common polling trope in previous years - fevered speculation about whether the government of the day would get a "Budget bounce".  Actual budget bounces are rare, but the extremely well-received 2019 Budget not only saw an immediate lift of about 0.6% in aggregated polling for the Coalition, but also either coincided with or kickstarted a longer recovery that continued through the campaign.  We now know that all that polling was wrong, but we don't know if it was wrong by the same amount all along.  In any case, 2019 was another example of the strongest evidence (such as it was, since it could be coincidence rather than causation) for the Budgets that most help government polling usually occurring in a Coalition government's election year.  

Newspoll recently recorded a 51% 2PP for the government before the Budget and a 52% after it, which people unfamiliar with the idea of random statistical noise may have taken as evidence of another Budget bounce.  However, the evidence from Essential weakens if not completely negates the evidence for the bounce, depending on how Essential is interpreted.

Essential has released seven new readings over the previous three months (including four consecutive recent weekly readings), of which six have the Coalition ahead, with the Coalition behind in one sample in early September.  The late September sample was extremely strong for the Coalition and this complicates any attempt to assess the impact of the Budget on aggregated polling (or, at least, any attempt that uses that sample.)

As noted in my initial review of Essential's rather unusual "2PP Plus" method of presenting two-party results, Essential now uses a variant of respondent preferencing.  Respondent preferencing generally makes two-party results bouncier, and there's no reason to think it makes them more accurate.  The following graph compares Essential's released readings so far (as converted to standard 2PPs by redistributing "undecided") with last-election estimates from the released primary vote figures:

Using last-election preferences, the Coalition wasn't behind in the 7 September sample, was not as far ahead in the 28 September sample, and isn't ahead in the most recent sample.  On average, Essential's respondent preferences are returning 2PP+ results that are 0.4% friendlier to the Coalition than if they used last-election preferences, and if that is actually true even despite the presumed between-election subsiding of the United Australia Party vote, then Labor has a big problem.  The track record of respondent preferences is that such things are often not true.  

In the previous article about Essential's new methods, I pointed to an apparent house effect of their recent polling compared with Newspoll.  Here's an updated version of the graph comparing each Newspoll's reading with the closest comparable Essential reading (as converted to a standard 2PP):

For the four Newspolls added, the average difference I previously noted hasn't been apparent.  Not all the Essential readings are included here but in any case the average of readings for the two in the last three months has been more or less identical: a Coalition 2PP of  pretty much the same as the 2019 election (51.2%).  Even assuming that these polls are accurate, this means very little looking ahead; the government will have different challenges as the rivers of free money run dry when Jobkeeper ends, and what the government's polling will look like in 12 months is not something I'd care to predict.

I am not currently running a federal polling aggregate because at most times there is only Newspoll to process.  However, I've crunched some numbers for the last few weeks using similar assumptions to those I used in past aggregates, and once Essential is included the evidence for a budget bounce disappears; I get a shift of 0.1% to Coalition (though that is still better than the historic average trend, which is that governments go slightly backwards post-Budget).  


There has been little to see on the leadership front in recent Newspolls, with Scott Morrison continuing to enjoy high net satisfaction (most recently at +34) and a larger lead as Better Prime Minister than the house effect for that indicator (most recently 57-28).  There might be some room in Labor for concern about Anthony Albanese's declining personal rating, which has fallen fifteen points from +11 in late April to -4 (39-43) now.  If it falls too much further, it will start to look a bit Bill Shorteny.  Any time that goes by without Morrison's rating going sharply downwards is probably good news for the Coalition, because it means that as far as voters are concerned he's not seriously stuffing up - but we have also seen that Australian voters are giving leaders a lot of latitude in these difficult times.  

Newspoll Budget Polling

The 2020 Budget (see tables here) was, again, well received, though not so much as its predecessor.  The two major Newspoll indicators of budget reception are what voters think of the Budget's impact on the economy, and what voters think of its impact on them personally.  Here is my updated graph of these, showing where 2020 fits in, and also labelling various other Budgets that are recent or of note:

Red dots are Labor Budgets and blue dots are Coalition.  This was one of only seven Budgets that voters have considered good for them personally - all seven delivered by Coalition governments in the years 2004-7 and 2018-20.  

Where the government did especially well was on the question of whether the opposition would have delivered a better Budget.  It had a net lead of 49-33 (No-Yes) on this score, which is the largest for a government since 2009 (when the Rudd government was, for a while, very popular).  This may play into the widespread perception that the federal Labor Opposition is just useless, but I think that's premature.  These are very difficult times for Oppositions generally, and we have seen conservative Oppositions beaten convincingly at elections in the NT and the ACT and thrashed completely senseless in New Zealand, and polling pretty awful leader ratings in Victoria and especially WA.  So maybe we should cut Labor some slack here, though I'm sure a lot of my readers on both the left and the right would prefer not to!

Is Frydenberg More Popular Than Andrews?

And now we turn to something, well, completely ridiculous.  The Australian, yes, the national premium broadsheet, published (October 20) the following claim:

"Political observers have noted he [Frydenberg] is a popular figure in his home state, winning 48,928 first-preference votes in his seat of ­Kooyong at the 2019 federal ­election while [Daniel] Andrews ­received 19,649 votes in his state electorate."

It's really difficult to describe the astonishing cluelessness of this comment without using severely ableist language.  For starters, Andrews' state electorate of Mulgrave only had 40588 enrolled voters in 2018, meaning that Andrews would only have needed 120.55% of all enrolled Mulgravians to vote 1 for him in order to match the Treasurer's tally.  So it should have been obvious that if you are going to use a candidate's primary vote as a measure of personal popularity (which is a bad idea anyway) then you should be looking at percentages, not raw primary votes.  And on this score, Andrews polled 56.7% to Frydenberg's 49.4%.

That's still an obviously silly comparison too, because Andrews' result was achieved in the context of a landslide election win for his party, while Frydenberg's came in a reasonably close federal poll.  But even ignoring that, the idea of using votes received in an election as an indicator of popularity is a foolish one because it is easier to get a high personal primary vote in some seats than in others, and in some electoral circumstances than others.  

Josh Frydenberg's primary vote percentage in 2019 was in fact the Liberal Party's worst in Kooyong since the party's inception, and ditto for his two-party preferred result.  But that's not a reflection on him either - it's a reflection that the issue mix in 2019 was bad for the Liberals in rich inner-city seats.  Sensing this, the Greens, Labor and various third party groups threw the proverbial kitchen sink at at least making Kooyong competitive enough that the Liberals would be forced to divert massive resources into sandbagging it - which they did, but still won the election anyway.  Frydenberg's result compared poorly, for an incumbent, with a demographic model, but that might be down to the profile of his Green opponent, Julian Burnside.  

Ultimately the best way to measure Frydenberg's popularity and compare it to Andrews would be to simply get YouGov to ask a Newspoll approval question for the Treasurer.  It's possible he'd do very well; he's delivered two well-regarded Budgets and has few political enemies compared to some on the right of the party.  Instead, the article as published went with a silly tactic of presenting any evidence, however irrelevant, rather than the writer just admitting he had nothing.

Nasty Seat Polls For Labor - Sort-Of

Another piece of media silliness came from Nine News on 18 October - and it's even earned a place in my hall of shame for ratioed tweets, with a fitting ratio of 6.66.  The report announced "polls revealed he'd [PM Morrison] win in a landslide, if votes were cast tonight".  At least for once the "private research" was described as "given", rather than leaked, but it hardly supported the claim.  Rather, this is two seat polls by Redbridge, who have produced a large volume of interesting research but have not yet attempted any publicly testable election forecasts that I'm aware of, and apparently these polls show 10%-ish swings against Labor in Macquarie and Dobell.  That's two seats, not 151, and you don't use seat polling (with its poor Australian track record) to measure the national mood (not even after the 2019 polling failure).  It's unlikely but not impossible that two seats would show swings of this size while there was more or less no swing nationwide (as Newspoll and Essential have had it) - double-digit 2PP swings did occur in a few seats at the federal election.  Sloppily, these results have been reported by Nine without full primary figures or sample size results.  

The Council Arrives

Finally, it is pleasing to report the formation of the Australian Polling Council, by YouGov (which also administers Newspoll), Essential, uComms, Ipsos, Lonergan, Telereach and JWS.  They've pretty much collected the full set there, except for Morgan.  Hopefully the start of an improvement in Australian poll transparency and reporting, which cannot come soon enough!

I may update this article with notes on the next Newspoll if there is anything of note to see there.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

ACT 2020 Final Results Review: How Did The Greens Win Six Seats?

The ACT election is over and the Labor-Green government has been returned.  Predictions that the Liberals would get even remotely close - based in many cases on unsound analysis - have been squelched, with the Liberal Party dropping to nine seats out of 25, the party's second-lowest seat share since Hare-Clark was adopted for the 1995 election.  

In an election that saw relatively minor vote swings (2.9% against the Liberals and 3.2% to the Greens) the most striking result was the Greens' spectacular seat haul, taking two seats apiece from the major parties to go from two to six seats out of 25.  They thereby won 24% of the seats off 13.5% of the vote, a feat that requires some explanation.  This is, by a very small margin in percentage terms, their highest seat share in ACT history.  By comparison in 2010 the party won just five seats with 21.6% of the primary vote in Tasmania's 25-seat Hare-Clark system, which also has five divisions with five seats in each.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

2020 ACT Election Live And Post-Count

ACT Election 2020

Labor-Green government has been returned

Final result Labor 10 Liberal 9 Greens 6


DISCLAIMER - all assessments are provisional except where stated as definitive calls.  Hare-Clark elections are very complex.


9:30 Final distributions are up - barring any kind of challenge (which is unlikely) it's all over.

In Brindabella Davis (Green) defeats Werner-Gibbings (ALP) by 82 votes, with Wall 110 ahead of the cutoff point.

In Ginninderra Ramsay is out by 166 votes.

In Kurrajong the Greens get two by 407 votes.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Queensland Poll Drought Is Finally Over

Note added 16 Oct: The Newspoll just out is virtually identical to the YouGov poll below so I have nothing to add to this article on its behalf, save that it is not just one poll saying this now, but two by the same company, and with much less time remaining.  It should be noted though that the Greens primary is down 1% on the YouGov poll, which makes the 52-48 2PP off those primaries rather than 51-49 seem more tenuous, especially with the information that the UAP is polling something in the Others tray.  


YouGov 2PP 52-48 to Labor

Projected seat result if this poll is accurate: ALP win, but majority status touch and go (approx ALP 48-9 LNP 37 KAP 3 Green 2-3 ON 1 Ind 1 - almost no net change from 2017)

Over three months since the last, and less than four weeks til polls close, we finally have another public voting intention poll for the 2020 Queensland election.  Finally, for a week at least, I will be able to scan social media in search of polling data in some peace without the Violent Femmes singing "WHY CAN'T I GET JUST ONE POLL?" or the Angels responding "AM I EVER GONNA SEE A POLL AGAIN?" in my head.  The release of a rather large statewide YouGov sample that has Labor leading 52-48 finally gives me something to apply a statewide poll model to so I can talk about modelling and this election.  Though in comparison to 2017, there's really nowhere near as much to say.