Friday, August 12, 2022

Legislative Council 2022: Pembroke By-Election

PEMBROKE (ALP vs Lib 8.65%)
Retiring Incumbent: Jo Siejka (ALP)

This is my guide page for the 2022 Legislative Council by-election in Pembroke.  I will be covering the by-election count live on the night of Saturday 10 September.  If time permits I may also update my analysis of Legislative Council voting patterns before the day.

Earlier this year Huon, which Labor had won in 2020, had its own by-election and was won by independent Dean Harriss.  This shifted the numbers in the Council to four Labor, four Liberal and seven independents.  Of the seven independents, four are recognisably left-wing to varying degrees, while three are either known, or in Harriss's case expected, to be somewhat right of centre.  

Both the Council's left majority, which has existed since Siejka won Pembroke in the 2017 by-election, and the combined major party majority, which has existed since 2020, are at risk in this by-election.  While the current left majority is not realised on anywhere near every issue, it would be a great result for the government if a non-left candidate won the seat.  

The winner will serve until May 2025.

Seat Profile

Pembroke (see map) is a small suburban seat that falls entirely within the City of Clarence on Hobart's eastern shore.  The electorate extends from Tranmere in the south to Geilston Bay in the north.  At the 2021 state election, the Liberals polled 42.6% in on-the-day booth voting at Pembroke booths, Labor 36.1%, Greens 16.9%.  After adjusting for postal and prepoll booths, a reasonable estimate is 44% Liberal, 35.5% Labor, 16.3% Green, making Pembroke slightly more Liberal and slightly less Green than the division of Franklin overall.  

The two most distinctive booths in Pembroke are Warrane (blue-collar and strong for Labor) and Tranmere (wealthy and strong for the Liberals).  There was a swing to the Greens from both major parties in 2021, with the Greens polling 23% at Montagu Bay and around 20% at Bellerive and the Lindisfarne booths, but in Mornington they managed only 9.5%.

Pembroke is a swing seat that has been held by both major parties back and forth in the last 30 years, with a brief independent interruption.  In general the major parties have taken it in turns to hold Pembroke comfortably, suggesting that the personal appeal of specific major party candidates (Peter McKay and Vanessa Goodwin for the Liberals, Allison Ritchie and Jo Siejka for Labor) has had a lot to do with it.  

Four of the last five Pembroke MLCs have resigned during a term, meaning that this is Pembroke's fourth by-election since 1999 (in which time the remaining seats combined have had just two).  Pembroke is unsurprisingly the all-time leader in by-elections with eight.  Pembroke has also had more female MLCs than any other division (four in a row - two divisions, Derwent and Huon are still yet to elect their first.)

At federal level Pembroke is very strongly pro-Labor (see comments).  

Retiring Incumbent

Jo Siejka (ALP) has resigned mid-term to move interstate for family reasons.  Siejka's husband is an engineer specialising in skyscrapers, of which Tasmania has a notable lack.  

Siejka was herself elected in a by-election caused by the resignation of the late Vanessa Goodwin for health reasons.  This by-election was a three-cornered contest between Liberal James Walker, Siejka and local mayor Doug Chipman.  Siejka led on primaries with 32.4% of the vote in a field of seven.  The Liberals managed to just stay ahead of Chipman but the extraordinary age and lifestyle based attacks they had mounted on the independent ex-Liberal Mayor came home to roost as Chipman's preferences broke slightly in favour of Siejka.  In 2019 gym owner Kristy Johnson (not to be confused with Kristie Johnston) was the Liberal candidate and Siejka was re-elected with a swing to her and a two-party vote of 58.65%.

While generally low-profile outside her electorate, Siejka's convincing re-election despite a slightly adverse redistribution showed among other things that she was a popular local member.  Siejka most recently held shadow ministries for Disability, Ageing, Youth and Community Services and Development.

Candidates (5)

Differences in the length of candidate sections reflect differences in the amount of information available to me at the time of writing, and I hope to expand some sections and add more links as candidates advertise themselves later.  

Luke Edmunds (Twitter, councillor page) is the endorsed Labor candidate.  Edmunds is a first-term Clarence City Councillor, having been elected in ninth place with 4.2% of the primary vote in 2018.  Edmunds was a staffer for Labor leader Rebecca White at the time but was elected as an independent candidate.  In his Council campaign he focused on basic council issues including investment in playgrounds, more frequent recycling and improving footpaths.  Edmunds lives in the electorate and has highlighted his status as a renter in his advertising.  Edmunds' former Twitter account @ledmunds21 was a longstanding #politas presence but appears to have been deleted since early July.  

Gregory Brown (Facebook, candidacy announcement) is the endorsed Liberal candidate.  Brown owns and operates a sheep and cattle farm at Sandford and is a former barman, licensee and raceday controller.  He lives within the electorate. Brown states he was a Labor voter until about 2000.  Brown's candidacy was announced only on August 10 and I expect to add more information when I can find it.  It has been reported that he is related to Labor Senator Carol Brown.

Deborah Brewer (Facebook) is the endorsed Greens candidate.  Brewer ran in the 2019 Nelson election where the Greens finished fifth with 11.1%, their vote being much affected by competition from likeminded independents Vica Bayley, Richard Griggs and the eventual winner Meg Webb.    She was also a minor Greens candidate for Franklin in 2014.  Brewer has a background in social work and education and in 2019 completed a PhD described by the Mercury as "looking at youth-at-risk and ensuring young people have opportunities in education."  She has worked as a social worker in East Timor (as a volunteer), the Northern Territory  for the Defence Department and Christmas Island and is a long-term teacher at TasTAFE. Brewer now lives at Lindisfarne, within the electorate.

Hans Willink (linkedin, Twitter, candidacy announcement) is the lone independent candidate. Willink is among Tasmania's most prolific serial candidates, having run once for Senate (for the Science Party), twice for Legislative Council, twice for House of Assembly (including as a Liberal back in 1996) and six times for Clarence Council (missing the final seat by a modest 120 votes in 2014). He contested Pembroke in 2017 but ran last with 2.3% and ducked the 2019 contest saying "the more people get to know me, the less they appear to like me."  

Willink, in the distant past a Liberal branch president, aroused the ire of the Liberal Party with his "Independent liberal" signs in Nelson 2013, resulting in a heavy-handed letter where the party tried to claim it owned the colour "Liberal Blue".  His "Like Wilkie? Try Willink" campaign for Denison 2014 also got a frosty reception from the more famous independent.  Willink is an IT consultant and former army bomb disposal officer who has also worked for the police, the public service and the HEC, and as an advisor for Tony Mulder. He was also Tasmania's first ever Uber driver.  As at the previous election, Willink lived at Acton Park, just outside the electorate. 

Carlo di Falco (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) (announcement) is from Forcett in the adjacent electorate of Rumney and also ran for Pembroke in 2017 (3.1%) and 2019 (3.7%), and in several other elections for the party.  He is a target shooter, hunter and gun collector.  A previous bio said he had "been involved in the State National Service Rifle discipline for 6 years hosting a National event in the position of discipline chair in 2013." He has written op eds in the Mercury arguing against gun control and to raise concerns about restrictions being placed on gun owners because of thefts.  He has also appeared on Tasmania Talks.

At the previous election, di Falco has flagged support for "proscribed" (I think he meant prescribed) burnoffs in the wilderness World Heritage Area, strengthening whistleblower legislation and increasing funding for the Ombudsman and Integrity Commission. He also flagged an intention to work for better mental and preventative health services, and to better represent "rural voters".  (There are no rural voters in Pembroke, except possibly the Liberal candidate.)


Both major parties have been struggling lately with the Liberals facing an alarming exodus of MPs since the state election while Labor has had administrators appointed to resolve factional and campaign problems.  It is surprising this hasn't attracted more independent runners, with only Willink so far running on the issue of upper house independence.

Issues mentioned by various candidates on the campaign trail so far have included health, cost of living, housing, climate change, infrastructure, poker machines and public transport including the Derwent River ferry.  The latter is interesting since this is the first election at which the very long-mooted ferry has actually existed, following a successful trial. Cost of living and health are the two issues most raised by candidates.  Concerning the latter, parts of Pembroke have a high proportion of retirees.

Most of the mentions of specific issues I have seen from candidates so far have been in very general terms so hopefully we will get more specifics later - of course everyone wants more health services and the cost of living to go down, but how do they propose to accomplish it.  

Power Prices: One exception to the lack of detail has been power prices - Edmunds has stated that if elected he will seek an inquiry into a recent 11.8% increase in power prices, which Labor links to Tasmania's involvement in the National Energy Market and a lack of price capping.  The Liberals claim Labor is scaremongering about power prices, citing previous falls.  However the Liberals have frequently supported delinking from the NEM in the past, eg in 2018 Guy Barnett saying "we are now in a position where between now and mid-July or mid-2021 we want to delinking to occur."  (See detailed discussion here.)


Labor got the jump on the Liberals in ground campaigning for Pembroke and were able to enjoy more than a week with nobody else running; they were also able to use MPs to campaign given that the lower house was prorogued because of an unrelated lower house vacancy.  This situation resulted in smoking press releases at twenty paces (serve by Dean Winterreturn by Nic Street).

The election comes at a time when many voters would have switched off politics following the federal election, but it will also be competing for attention with the upcoming council poll.  Because Pembroke is the core of the Clarence council area it often attracts a council-like style of campaigning and is often a magnet for Clarence Council aspirants.  


I would not take too much notice of Labor's large margin on paper.  The seat's recent history doesn't have that much to do with the to and fro of lower house voting patterns or previous results and seems to be more about specific candidates.  Edmunds' established profile as a councillor, albeit a first-term one, may be more of a factor and thus plus his headstart in campaigning suggests the Liberals' claim of underdog status has some merit in a generally low-profile contest.

Mostly Labor has performed strongly in Legislative Council elections in the south in recent years.  The loss of Huon this year was an exception, but it took an excellent candidate to win that seat in the first place.

The Greens don't have much of a track record in this seat, polling below 10% in 2017 when they last ran, but this is the first time for a long time they've had a candidate who lives in the electorate (Pembrokers view candidates from the other side of the Derwent River in about the same way as Western Australians view starlings.) The party did enjoy swings in the seat at the federal election, on top of good LegCo results earlier this year, and might benefit from the Labor vacancy, general anti-major-party sentiment and having the only female candidate.  All the same I'd be a bit surprised if they got into the 20s; even mid-teens would be respectable.  Willink and di Falco will probably do a little better than in the past given the smaller field and Willink being the only independent but neither is likely to break double figures.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

2022 World Chess Federation Elections


Updates will follow here through Sunday (note for Australian audiences: Chennai time is four and a half hours behind Australia).  Times in Chennai time.

10am: The General Assembly is underway with at last count 155 voters present (98 needed) but no electoral business has happened yet as there are several reports to get through.  Unsurprisingly the wifi is overloaded which may limit updates, though I also have another connection which is not great either.

10:33 The election process is now starting.

10:40 The nominated scrutineers have been appointed. The three tickets are present and are about to start their 15 minute presentations.

The order of the presentations is Baryshpolets, Kouatly, Dvorkovich.

11:00 The Baryshpolets/Nielsen presentation was speeches by both consisting almost entirely of fiery attacks on Dvorkovich over Ukraine and Russia.

11:15 After a very entertaining presentation including endorsements from Chris Gayle and Usain Bolt, the Kouatly/Wilkinson ticket has withdrawn citing insufficient support.

11:55 Voting is underway.

12:50 Votes are being counted.

1:15 Result has been announced as being ten minutes away. 

194 delegates 179 voters 1 informal 5 abstentions. Dvorkovich wins by a massive margin 157-16.

2:45 Voting for Vice-Presidents is about to start.

VP Round 1: A bit of chaos here - Xie Jun (China) won in the first round with 113 votes as did Sheikh Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Mualla with 89, but there is a lot of comment re Georgios Makropoulos having been declared elected on the first ballot with 80 votes, seemingly short of the quota of 89.  The rules are being explained as allowing a candidate to be elected with less than the quota because both genders were represented in the first three. Weird rules if that's correct.  And it is: here are the rules:

22.8   To assure gender balance inside FIDE Council, the election of these four Vice Presidents shall take place in two rounds. With the first vote, the General Assembly shall elect three (3) Vice Presidents, among all candidates. With the second vote, the General Assembly shall elect one (1) Vice President. If the candidates elected in the first round are all of the same gender, only candidates of the opposite gender can be voted in the second round. However, if the most voted candidate from the opposite gender received at least 50% of the valid votes in the first round, this candidate will be considered directly elected without the second vote. Only the candidates who participated in the first round are eligible for the second round. If among the candidates in the second round there is only one representative of the gender not represented after the first round of elections, this candidate will be considered directly elected without a second vote. If after the first round of elections there are both genders represented among Vice-Presidents, representatives of both genders may participate in the second round of elections. However, if the fourth most voted candidate received at least 50% of the valid votes in the first round, this candidate will be considered directly elected without a second vote.

5:45 Michael Khordakovsky (USA) elected on the second ballot with 67/171. Full totals not yet available but he won easily.

7:06 The final contested election, a four way first past the post ballot for a casual vacancy on the Ethics Commission, has commenced.  (Edit: won by Pedro Dominguez (DOM).)


Intro Post

Greetings from Chennai, India, or more specifically from the Leela Palace Hotel, venue of this year's FIDE Congress.  I've covered chess politics as a sideline on this website over the years and while I haven't had the time to do the sort of lead-in coverage as in 2014 and 2018, nonetheless I here provide some backdrop to the elections to be held today.  I am attending these elections in my capacity as the Australian Chess Federation's delegate to FIDE (the world chess federation).  I will be posting live updates here and on my Twitter feed as things happen.  

This year's election is ostensibly the one and only re-election bid for President Arkady Dvorkovich, who defeated incumbent Georgios Makropolous 103-78 in Batumi four years and another world ago.  FIDE introduced term limits in 2018 so unless that changes Dvorkovich only serve one more term.  In general Dvorkovich's term has been successful: despite the obstacles to over the board chess during the pandemic, the game is thriving.  FIDE's financial position has improved considerably, the financial and in cases bureaucratic burden on Federations has eased, and FIDE is no longer dogged by the scandals, financial problems and eccentricities of the Ilyumzhinov era.  True, there is the curious situation that the World Champion Magnus Carlsen has got bored of defending his title (which will now become uncoupled from any claim to confirm who the world's strongest player is), after being given a rather short deadline to confirm (or, as he did, deny) his interest in defending it.

Pawn To Ukraine Four?

Under normal circumstances, even normal global pandemic circumstances, President Dvorkovich would be re-elected unopposed.  But he has just a little problem - he is Russian.  Not only that but he is a former senior Russian politician - a one-time Deputy President under Dmitry Medvedev among other things.  The matter of how FIDE should respond to the invasion of one of the world's great chessplaying nations, Ukraine, by one of the greatest, Russia, has been the main issue defining this year's election.

As with other sports, chess has had to deal with the question of how to sanction Russia for invading Ukraine.  The current solution is to ban Russian and Belorussian teams, thus neither of these are competing at this year's Chess Olympiad being held nearby, but to allow individuals to participate under the FIDE flag.  With the obvious exception of former World Championship contender Sergey Karjakin, whose outspoken social media support for Putin's war saw him suspended for bringing chess into disrepute, a lot of leading Russian players are opposed to Russia's actions.  Despite this there is a view that says that all Russian players should be banned whatever their viewpoint, and also that FIDE cannot be led by a Russian (whatever his views) at this time - whether because it makes FIDE too conflicted, because it makes FIDE a tool of Russian propaganda, or because of any risk that FIDE could again be a target of investment sanctions.  

Comments by Dvorkovich opposing the war and sympathising with Ukrainian civilians have been widely reported, and have led to a lot of support in the chess community and some denunciations in Russia.  Not everyone is impressed though.  Some opponents however have focused on less well publicised and now deleted comments about the same time that (they claim deliberately) echo Russia's bogus "denazification" pretext and that definitely appear to criticise companies that have boycotted Russia over the war.

The Russia issue (mostly) drew a number of prospective opponents, but at no stage was the opposition especially co-ordinated.  At one stage there were so many known and rumoured rival tickets that when the Dvorkovich camp issued a rather pained email to scotch baseless rumours that it was encouraging another ticket to run as a fallback mock opposition and denounce those involved in this ticket, it was impossible for me to have any idea which particular known or rumoured rival ticket they were referring to.

Anyway the field of opponents has narrowed.  Four opposing tickets sought to nominate.  A ticket in the first instance names an intending President and Vice President, and needs a nominator from each of the four FIDE continents.  The intending ticket of Enyonam Sewa Fumey (Togo)/Stuart Fancy (PNG) fell at the hurdle of being unable to secure a European nominator, a fate which contained a dose of symbolism since its platform was anti-Eurocentric.  The ticket of Inalbek Cheripov (Belgium)/ Lewis Ncube (Zambia) was scratched a few days ago citing the lead candidate's health - Cheripov, originally from Chechnya, is not a well known figure in the chess world but Ncube is a very experienced African chess politician.  

Two rival tickets are still standing (insert relevant disclaimer, as deals are sometimes done leading to withdrawals).  The first announced was the #FightForChess ticket of US-resident Ukrainian Grandmaster Andrii Baryshpolets (who must be one of the youngest candidates to have run for FIDE President) and prominent Danish grandmaster, coach and chess personality Peter Heine Nielsen (best known as second to World Champions Anand and Carlsen).

The second is the, as far as I know, nameless ticket of current Deputy President Bachar Kouatly (France), a grandmaster, and former French champion .  His running mate is Ian Wilkinson from Jamaica, an Honorary Vice-President of FIDE and a senior lawyer and QC who sits on FIDE's Constitutional Commission.  Both have been Presidents of their respective Federations.  Kouatly is a veteran of FIDE politics and was nearly elected President in the mid-1990s.  Kouatly was part of Dvorkovich's 2018 team (as was Fumey) but decided to run especially over the Russia issue.  Australia acted as one of the formal nominators for this ticket.

Both these tickets have been campaigning for votes in person, but I've seen no physical ground campaign from either beyond that - no campaign stands, advertised functions, banners etc.   The only conventional large scale campaign has been the #SayChess campaign headed by Dvorkovich and former World Champion (and Chennai local) Viswanathan Anand.  It has a stand strategically placed at the entry to one of the hotel's major dining halls and has hosted a reception and a cocktail party.  ("Say Chess" is an obvious pun on "Say Cheese" but might also be translated as an attempt to shift the focus to the game and away from geopolitics.)

The relatively low key nature of the Presidential campaign (with neither challenger bothering my inbox in a month!) is in some contrast to the fight for four elected Vice-President positions, with (at last count) thirteen candidates - Makropoulos the one whose fate is, I guess, the most interesting for the psephology of FIDE.  

On a technical level, many changes have been brought in to attempt to speed up what in the past have been farcically slow elections, including increasing the number of Delegates voting at a time and even the extraordinary suggestion that Delegates might try attending the General Assembly on time!  

All voting is first past the post with runoffs (and the ability to cast up to as many votes as there are vacancies for elections for multiple positions).  One interesting twist is that voters can specifically vote "abstain", and if they do so then their vote does not contribute towards the baseline for clearing 50% and avoiding a runoff, but informal votes (blank, too many numbered, disallowed markings, marks outside the square, signed votes etc) do contribute towards the baseline.  The Vice-President ballot also has an affirmative action component to ensure at least one female candidate wins (if not on the first ballot then eventually).  Also on the card are elections for the Constitutional Commission and the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission.  The latter is effectively FIDE's internal law court.  Together with the Verification Commission (which is the General Assembly's own chosen audit service) these are the only commissions that are elected, not appointed.  The Verification Commission's election cycle has now been uncoupled from that of the Presidency.

Another novelty is that this year there will be centrally nominated "scrutineers" (election counters, what Australia calls "scrutineers" are called "observers" in FIDE) who the Assembly can accept or reject.  This is better for the neutrality of the counting process but at the cost of probably being unable to use the election of scrutineers as a proxy for the Presidential election.

I could write much more about these elections but I do have to get up in about six hours to vote in them. Updates to follow!  

Monday, July 25, 2022

Jacquie Petrusma Resignation And Recount

Updates Aug 15: Today's the day - nominations close at noon; I expect we'll know the result today (parliament resumes tomorrow).  Updates will be posted in this section.

Update: Candidates contesting the recount are Enders and Young (Lib), Brumby (ALP), Cordover (Green) and Flannery (ungrouped).  The latter three have no chance whatsoever.  Having only two Liberals contesting should mean the count is much faster with a majority on first preferences for either Enders or Young likely (unless it's very close).  Even if it is very close it will not then take long to distribute the other candidates.

Update: That was quick, and a slightly surprising result too: Dean Young wins.  Young defeated Enders 51.1% to 46.5% with negligible numbers for the others.  That is a bullet dodged for the government which would not have been wanting Enders on board.  


Before I could even whip out a guide for the upcoming Pembroke by-election prompted by the resignation of Labor's Jo Siejka we have yet another resignation from the Tasmanian Parliament, this time from the lower house.  It has been announced that Jacquie Petrusma is resigning from her Franklin seat for personal and family reasons. I don't have to cover off on the usual speculation about ministries as Felix Ellis is the big winner, landing a collection of portfolios reported as including police, fire, emergency management, resources, skills, training and workforce growth.  That leaves who is contesting, the outcome of the recount and whether it will muck around with the sitting of parliament.

Petrusma is the fourth minister to leave the ministry this term (following Sarah Courtney, Peter Gutwein and Jane Howlett MLC) and the fourth Liberal MP to leave the parliament (following Courtney, Gutwein and technically Adam Brooks, who resigned his seat as soon as he was elected to it.)  Four is the most government MPs to resign from the House of Assembly in one term since the 1972-6 term, which saw six Labor resignations.  

Petrusma first came to Tasmanian electoral notice in the 2004 Tasmanian Senate race where, as a Family First candidate, she at times threatened to defeat Christine Milne under the now discredited Group Ticket Voting system.  She later joined the Liberal Party and defeated Tony Mulder in a within-party race for one Franklin seat in 2010, and was re-elected in 2014, 2018 and 2021.  In 2021 she conveniently topped the poll with over a quota in her own right.  

Hare-Clark recounts consist only of the votes that elected the departing member, so how many primary votes a candidate got in the recount and how close they came to being elected has no direct bearing on the result.  Except in highly unusual circumstances (and this is not one of them) these recounts always elect a member of the same party as the vacating member.  The contenders are therefore whoever contests out of former Huon Valley Mayor Bec Enders, newsagent and 2019 federal candidate Dean Young and Clarence City Councillor and podiatrist James Walker.  Walker was a late replacement in the 2021 Franklin campaign after original candidate Dean Ewington was found to have criticised the government's COVID management. 

At this stage Young has confirmed he intends to contest.  Comment re the others' decisions to contest or not contest will be added when known

Because Petrusma was elected on primary votes, the recount consists solely of her primary votes, and there is information from her surplus about where many of them will go.  What is known of the distribution is as follows:

38.12% 1 Petrusma 2 Street
22.89% 1 Petrusma 2 Enders
18.73% 1 Petrusma 2 Young
13.74% 1 Petrusma 2 Walker
6.52% 1 Petrusma 2 for various non-Liberal candidates

The votes that are 1 Petrusma 2 Street will be thrown to the next available candidate, in most cases being a Liberal.  All the non-Liberal candidates contesting the recount will poll trivial primary vote tallies and be quickly eliminated.  If all the Liberals contest then the one in third place (most likely Walker) will be excluded and their preferences distributed.

Assuming the final two are Enders and Young, Enders starts with a 4.16% lead over Young with 58.38% to throw, meaning he needs something like a 54-46 split on the remaining votes after accounting for exhaust.  There isn't any particular reason to think he would get this so I expect that if Enders does run then she probably wins (but absent of very detailed scrutineering, we'll need to see the recount to be sure as surprises can happen).  Likewise, if Enders doesn't run Young has a lead of nearly 5% and would seem likely to win.  

Recounts can play havoc with the resumption of Parliament and I am awaiting news on what will happen here.  Premier Rockliff has been reported as saying he didn't think the resumption would be affected, but I can't see how this is so (unless Petrusma delays her resignation til late August).  In 2019 the Electoral Act was amended to increase the time for candidate consents to be returned from ten to fourteen days (on account of slow postal services).  This means that even if the notice is published on Tuesday 26 July, the recount could not be held before Tuesday 9 August, the scheduled day for resumption.  The recount takes all day.  The government has so far been reluctant to resume Parliament in similar circumstances lest the non-government MPs use numbers on the floor to embarrass it.   I suspect we will see a delay.  

Bec Enders might not be the most popular MP in the Huon if elected, and would be a target for opposition and crossbench MPs.  Enders was elected Mayor of the Huon Valley Council in 2018 and was initially a very popular Mayor as she set about cleaning up what had been one of the state's more shambolic councils.  However, from late 2021 the council became involved in a new scandal after it was revealed the director of the consultancy firm involved in the recruitment process for a new General Manager was in fact the partner of the person eventually appointed.  The council itself was cleared of any wrongdoing.  Enders resigned as Mayor and from the council in March 2022, at which time she and three other councillors were facing a code of conduct complaint over the issue.  (The complaint against Enders specifically was never ruled on because of her resignation.)

More comments will be added as information comes to hand.  Depending on the timing of the recount, I may or may not be able to post comments on it at the time it is counted.  

(Note: re Pembroke, I expect that to be in September to November, maybe earlier in the piece rather than later.)

Update: Recount set for August 15, so that's one week of scheduled parliamentary sittings under a cloud.   I should be available to cover it.

Update (2 August): As expected parliament will be prorogued for a week (without affecting the number of sitting days). 

Update (3 August): It's been reported today that Bec Enders and Dean Young are contesting the recount while James Walker is not.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Federal Election 2022: Pollster Performance Review

In 2019 the Australian polling industry had a disaster after decades of reliability - every final poll had the wrong two-party winner, the final polls were bizarrely clustered around the same wrong result, many final polls were individually wrong by more than their claimed margins and the lack of transparency in the industry was such that it was difficult to understand just why it had happened.

Fortunately 2022 has not been a repeat.  The fallout from 2019 saw a great increase in polling transparency, especially via the formation of the Australian Polling Council (though unfortunately not all pollsters have been on board with that) and also more diversity in polling approaches.  No one poll has ended up nailing the remarkable results of this year's election, but collectively, federal polling has bounced back and done well.   This is especially so on two-party-preferred results, where a simple average of the 2PP figures released in the final polls is pretty much a bullseye. The primary vote results were a little less impressive.

Here I discuss polling in several categories.  Overall YouGov (which does Newspoll) made the most useful contributions to forecasting the result, Redbridge's performance in publicly known niche polling during the campaign was very good, and Resolve Strategic's final poll was a useful counterpoint to Newspoll.  The other major polls were so-so on the whole, and many minor pollsters were wildly inaccurate.

Final Polls

Pollsters are judged a lot by final polls, but final polls are only a single poll (so there's a degree of luck involved as to whether it's a good one), and final polls are taken at the time when there is the most data around for any pollster who might be tempted to herd their results in some way to base such herding on.  However, the final poll stage is the only stage where, at least in theory, there's an objective reality to measure the poll against.  A poll taken a few days out from election day should have a good handle on how people will vote, even more so now that so many people have already voted by that point.  Any attempt to determine the accuracy of polls taken well before election day requires much more debatable assumptions.

It's also important to note that often which poll comes out as the most successful depends on how you choose to measure it.  A few comments going into the following table:

1. In previous years I have used root mean square error (RMSQ) as my measure of the accuracy of final polls.  However, I have found that absolute error is almost universally used in other sources' assessments, possibly because the maths is easier.  The difference is that RMSQ punishes a small number of larger errors more than a larger number of small errors.  In an absolute error estimate, being out on four parties' votes by 1% each is the same as getting two dead right and getting two wrong by 2%, but RMSQ says that the former is better.  For this year's tables I give both figures; I think there are arguments for either.  

2. 2PP remains the main way in which Australian elections can be and should be best predicted overall (for now), and while 2PP is partly a modelling exercise as well as a polling exercise, it is a service that most pollsters provide and that those that do not provide should (as it is important for interpretation).  I consider 2PP estimates to be a very important part of Australian polling accuracy, so as well as giving one set of figures for primary vote error, I also give (and prefer) another in which primary vote error and 2PP error are weighted equally.  

3. At this election Essential did not publish net figures with undecided voters removed.  This means that rather than providing an estimate of how voters would vote at the time the poll was taken, the poll was providing an estimate of how 93% of voters would vote while providing no estimate for the remaining 7%.  To compare the accuracy of this poll with other polls it's necessary to convert it by redistributing the undecided, which I've done in the standard way.

4. I've included the YouGov MRP figures in the table for comparison, although it was not a final poll, but a difficulty here is that it published seat by seat projections but not totals.  The primary figures given were not published and were obtained after the election but are virtually identical (three differences of 0.1%) to figures calculated by Ethan of Armarium Interreta from the published primaries before the election.  Had YouGov published totals it may well have rounded them to whole numbers.  In any case as it didn't publish any totals I have avoided directly including it in the main list of final polls; likewise for Resolve I have included only the rounded totals that were published and not totals to one decimal place that were published post-election.  

5. I've also included some irregular polling attempts by ANUpoll, KORE and the Australia Institute Dynata "exit poll", showing how badly these compared with the regular pollsters.  2PPs were not published for any of these but all would have seen massive 2PP wins for Labor, which didn't occur.  Normally I don't include exit polls unless they are released within an hour or so of polls closing, but in this case I've made an exception, as what on earth is the use of drawing conclusions about how people voted (as The Australia Institute did) from an exit poll sample that was obviously garbage.  (There was also an ANUpoll post-exit poll that was even less representative than the ANUpoll in the table, which didn't stop all manner of conclusions being drawn from it).  I wouldn't have included KORE at all given the age of the poll except that they said that "the vote is largely settled".

6. Some pollsters published multiple 2PP estimates for their final poll.  For Resolve I have used their respondent preferences estimate (51) not their last-election estimate (52) as the FAQ published by the client made it very clear that the former was to be regarded as the primary method and there was no indication otherwise.  Ipsos published two different last-election estimates (53 and 54) and a respondent estimate (49-40 = 55-45) while making it clear 53 was to be preferred.  For Morgan, they clearly switched to using a last-election estimate (53) rather than a respondent preferences estimate (56.5) just prior to the election. This appeared to be a case of method-herding to avoid a big error as their stated rationale for doing so ("We believe that as the election draws closer and early voting has now begun – starting yesterday – it is more accurate to estimate a two-party preferred result based on the voting pattern of the most recent Federal Election in 2019.") made the opposite of any sense at all.  Surely if respondent preferencing was ever going to work and last-election preferences fail, that would happen closer to the election not further out from it.  

7. Some assessments of polling error single out errors that were outside the pollster's claimed margin of error.  This, comparatively, rewards polls with large claimed margins of error (eg those with smaller sample sizes or heavier weighting), but I think what is most important is how accurate a poll was, not how accurate it was compared to how accurate a (often primitive) margin of error model claimed it to be.  Therefore I haven't done this.

Here's the table, sorted by a 50-50 weighting of average absolute primary vote error and absolute 2PP error (AVE2).  Figures within 1% are shown in blue, figures 3% out or more are shown in red, and readings that were closest to the mark for the five final polls are shown in bold.  The "pref" figure is the implied share of preferences going to Labor after accounting for contests with two Coalition candidates. The four error figures are shown at the right (in all cases the lower the score the better).  As noted above I consider the AVE2 and RMSQ2 figures the best indicators since they include the 2PP. Ind/Others figures shown in italics are for polls that included ON and/or UAP under this heading.

While Newspoll has narrowly topped the table on the indicator used for sorting, Resolve has outperformed it (in two cases slightly) on all the other three (albeit two of which I regard as less important), so a case can be made for either as the best final poll as published prior to my cutoff time of 8am on polling day.  

The case for Newspoll is that it was closer on published 2PP (noting that Resolve also published a last-election estimate of 52), and only very slightly less accurate on absolute error on primary vote.  The case for Resolve is that its primary vote estimates were slightly more accurate overall and in particular it avoided Newspoll's significant 3.4% error on the ALP primary vote (which is picked up by the RMSQ columns).  Resolve also got the gap between the major party primaries right (an indicator far more relevant to overseas elections under first past the post, but with some predictive value in Australia since major party primary shifts are the main cause of 2PP changes).  Both these polls clearly outperformed the other final polls, but neither was as accurate as the best polls in 2013 or 2016, when each would have been about midfield on the table.  However, this was a more complicated election to poll, and polling has got harder since 2013 at least.

Resolve's post-election-published primaries to one decimal place would have made it clearly the most accurate of the final polls if published before election day.  That said, perhaps if Newspoll's primaries to one decimal place were also published, this wouldn't still be true.  

Morgan would have been a contender had it not had a stubbornly low UAP vote of 1% and continually overestimated the vote for Independents.  I believe the latter came from having Independent on the readout everywhere.  When Resolve started offering voters only the options available in their division, its previous problem with overestimating the IND vote went away.

Essential's result was not great.  Because of the way Essential handled the undecided vote, one might say that the undecided voters all voted for Greens and teals so the poll was closer than it looked, but it still had the Labor primary vote too high even if no undecided voters voted Labor.  (Plus undecided voters don't usually vote Green all that much).  Essential had systematic issues with underestimating the vote for Independents and Others.

All the final polls were outperformed by the YouGov MRP on both indicators that include the 2PP.  This applies irrespective of what set of figures are used for the MRP, including those rounded to whole numbers.

Overall, the five final polls collectively more or less nailed the 2PP as a result of two moderate errors cancelling out: they overestimated the primaries for either Labor (everyone except Resolve) or the Greens (Resolve) but they also - irrespective of the method used for the headline 2PP - underestimated the 2PP preference flow to Labor.  

A notable feature of the 2022 polling was the age of the final polls.  Based on field dates the final poll data had an average age of 6.4 days as of election day, compared to 3.2 days in 2016 and 4.8 days in 2019.  The trajectory of polling as election day approached is consistent with there having been some late swing against Labor.  The pattern of the swing to Labor being higher in votes cast before the day is also consistent with late swing, but it can also be explained at least partly by more voters using postal voting and hence the postal voter pool becoming less conservative.  Late swing might therefore be a genuine factor in these not-so-final final polls overestimating Labor's primary, but I doubt it's the full story, and it needs more investigation.

Winners: YouGov/Newspoll and Resolve

2PP Tracking

As noted, final polls are not everything.  It is also useful to try to get a handle on whether polls accurately portrayed the state of voting intention in the leadup to the election or whether a poll that had either skewed to one side or bounced around like a frog in a sock got lucky, or did something different, with its final reading.  And in this case, some polls did do something different:  Morgan switched its 2PP method, Resolve started publishing 2PPs and Resolve also beefed up its final poll with a phone component (having published in advance it would do so).  Also, some polls altered their methods as candidate lists became available.  Who most likely had an accurate handle on what was going on in the several weeks leading up to the election?

This is a challenging question to answer because it is very hard to answer it without subjecting a poll to some sort of judgement by a jury of its peers and/or itself.  If one poll consistently told a story that other polls did not agree with, and that story ended up being the result, then was that poll right all along with the others herding to it at the end, or was that poll wrong?  Also, a poll moving around is a good thing if (as in 2013) voting intention is clearly moving around during the campaign.  

I suspect you'll find more sophisticated analysis of the tracking question elsewhere (looking at where the dots come out on Mark The Ballot's aggregation graphs is often interesting.)  For my own attempt, I looked at released 2PPs in polls since the start of March and took as a starting point that the average of the final week 2PPs more or less nailed it.  I found provisional house effects for the individual pollsters in the leadup based on the assumption that on average the polls had been right when taken, but split Morgan's 2PP polls into those that used respondent preferences as a headline and those that used last-election preferences. I then "corrected" each individual poll for these apparent house effects.  I found that the scarcity of polls in March meant that the first usable week of data for tracking comparisons was that through to 2 April.  

For each poll I compared the released 2PP (or derived for those polls with no released 2PP) to the average of the "corrected" polls by other pollsters released in that week.  On this basis I estimated an average lean for each poll relative to what other polls found to be going on at the time (as adjusted for their house effects) and I also found the standard deviation (the lower the better) for the errors implied by this method.

The following were the results:

This is a rubbery method but its results are very consistent with my impression of the polls during the election leadup.  Morgan and Ipsos produced at times implausibly strong readings for Labor and Morgan was also too volatile.  Essential generally seemed asleep even when other polls suggested the Coalition was having an especially bad time of it (this is probably because of its use of party ID as a weighting).  This leaves Newspoll and Resolve, neither of which had any skew to speak of but Newspoll was generally steady while Resolve tended to swing from disastrous to fairly benign results for the Coalition.  Only one Newspoll in early April was flagged by this method as any sort of outlier, but this may well have been because the Morgan and Resolve polls in the same week were laying it on a bit thick for Labor (even in the former's case by Morgan's standards).  When I expand the comparison to include the previous week's polls, Newspoll's SD drops further to 0.7 while Resolve's increases to 1.7.  All up I consider that Newspoll had the best 2PP tracking.

I have not tried to analyse primary vote tracking but I think that various pollsters had persistent skews there, eg Newspoll overestimating Labor, Resolve overestimating first Independents then the Greens, Morgan overestimating independents, and Essential overestimating majors and underestimating independents/others.  I should add that while Essential has scrubbed up fairly poorly from an accuracy perspective, by doing something different it did provide a cautionary note against landslide scenarios seen in many other polls.  It is better to do something different even if it's not a very successful experiment than to herd.  

Winner: YouGov/Newspoll

Individual Seat Polling

Seat polling has been under the pump in Australia for a long time.  In 2013, seat polls skewed severely to the Coalition.  In 2016 they skewed to the Coalition to a lesser degree and were also under-dispersed (less variable compared to the previous election than they should have been).  In 2019 they skewed to Labor, though YouGov had a high strike rate in seats where it picked a winner.  They were also poor at some high profile by-elections, such as Longman and Wentworth in 2018. 

At this election there was not a great amount of seat polling seen, especially with YouGov largely switching to its MRP model instead, covered below (the MRP was a nationwide poll, but the results for specific seats are a poll-based model influenced by other seats, and shouldn't be treated as polls of that seat).  What was seen was often commissioned polling, reported in insufficient detail.  Multiple seat polls were seen during the campaign proper by three pollsters: Redbridge (mostly of teal seats for Climate 200), uComms, and Utting Research.  There was also a series of 2PP results released via media for something calling itself the Industry Association, but it was never to my knowledge determined who the pollster was.

For many of the seat polls released there was no released 2PP or 2CP figure so I have had to estimate my own off the (sometimes incomplete) primary votes.  In some cases the poll itself contained enough data for a respondent preferences estimate, in others I have used estimated preference flows.  

In the following table I give the number and percentage of polls for which each pollster or source had the right party winning, and an "ease" figure to indicate whether the seats should have been easy to get right given the eventual margin.  The "ease" figure is the theoretical average strike rate given a poll with an average error of 4%, but it ignores sources of error such as having the wrong party in the 2CP (which happened in one poll in the sample.)  The skew figure is the average extent to which the poll skewed to the non-Coalition side (minus equals skew to Coalition) and the error figure is the average raw error.  Where multiple results were recorded by the same pollster, only the last is included.

Congratulations are here due to Redbridge because while their polls taken just prior to the campaign did not scrub up so well (including pointing to Labor's potential demise in Greenway, which Labor won 61.5-38.5) the five results that surfaced during the campaign (Wentworth, North Sydney, Goldstein, Parramatta and incomplete details for Kooyong) all had the right winner and were also outstanding on the implied 2PP margins.  The Industry Association results of unknown polling source also had a perfect score but were more erratic on average (though still pretty good by seat poll standards).  uComms was erratic and skewed to the left, while the final batch of Utting polls showed a shift back to Coalition that proved to be entirely an illusion.  (An earlier batch had been more accurate.)  That said Utting Research did accurately predict Kate Chaney's narrow win in Curtin.

Once offs during the campaign include Compass Polling of North Sydney (wrong winner and way off except for nailing that TNL's Victor Kline would receive 0.8%), Community Engagement of North Sydney (an early poll and hard to tell who would have won based on it), an escaped YouGov of Pearce (right winner, well off on the margin), an early-campaign Laidlaw poll of Fowler (wrong winner but at least showing Dai Le had potential).  There was also a brace of incomplete 2CPs given to Peter van Onselen that proved to be internal polls from long before they were taken; all four had the right winner but these overestimated the Coalition by 2.4% on average.  And there were all the usual rumours about vague results from internal polling that I have not covered here.  

Winner: Redbridge

Pollster Forecast Models

The totals for the YouGov MRP have been discussed above.  The MRP (which predicted 80 seats to Labor, 63 to the Coalition and 8 for the crossbench) was especially interesting as an attempt to improve on the problems of seat polling by using small samples in each seat but then scaling each sample to the results of seats that were comparable, hence giving each seat a larger effective sample size in an attempt to smooth out the bumps.

In the seats won by major parties, the MRP was very successful, predicting 131 of 135 seats correctly (the only incorrect predictions being Lindsay, Bass, Tangney and Hasluck, two on each side).  In seats which the MRP predicted to finish as two-party contests, the average 2PP skew was 0.3% to Coalition and the average raw error was 3.3%.  There was, however, a significant 2PP skew in WA where the MRP underestimated the Labor charge by 4.7%. 

It has, over time, been very difficult for any model to reliably do better than getting about 10 marginal seats wrong so (allowing for a few marginals becoming non-classics) to only get four wrong is an exceptional result.  On the other hand the MRP did less well with non-classic seats, missing the three Green gains in Queensland (although projecting the LNP would lose Brisbane) and missing four of the six teal gains and Dai Le's win in Fowler.  The latter was down to seat-specific factors hence not predictable by the MRP's methods.  In the case of Brisbane it is not clear if the error lay with the poll or the interpretation of the numbers in terms of the Greens getting from third into second on minor party preferences. 

Overall the MRP's projection of 80 seats to Labor also had benefits because although pretty much every poll suggested Labor was either on track to a majority or capable of winning a majority, commentators at this election were exceptionally prone to make stuff up about what the polling meant if true.  To have a major pollster put out an actual forecast of the results, not just a set of numbers that mass media commentators would then misinterpret or simply ignore while churning out a preconceived narrative, had its uses.  

The only other loosely poll-based projection forecast model by a pollster I'm aware of was by KORE, which did have a predictive success in that its "Effective Vote" table was very close to the actual seat tally, at 81-54-16 (Labor-Coalition-Other) compared to the result of 77-58-16.  The major party seat results being anywhere near right here was, however, a result of two very large errors cancelling out.  The actual "effective vote" (a tally of 3CP votes recorded by each party and others) was 45.6 for each major party and 9.2 for others, nothing like KORE's 54-35.7-10.3 to Labor which would have resulted in an enormous seatslide.  But also the relationship between "effective vote" and seat share is nowhere near proportional - a small advantage could convert into a big seat margin.  In this case Labor got a big seat margin with no effective vote advantage, largely because the Coalition racked up useless 3CP votes in 13 mostly close seats that it lost while Labor only made the 3CP while losing in three, two of them lopsided.

Winner: YouGov (essentially unopposed but the MRP was good)

Senate Polling

Senate polling has a history of being even worse than seat polling.  There were not many attempts this year and those that there were were mostly showing their age by election day, so I consider everything from the start of March.

The Australia Institute issued Dynata polling for every State except Tasmania.  The four-sample poll underestimated the Coalition in every State by an average of 3.5% and overestimated Labor in every state by 6.0%, equivalent to a nearly 5% 2PP error and hence wildly inaccurate. It was fairly accurate on the Greens vote (0.6% under), overestimated One Nation in every state except Queensland, but by less than in 2019 (1.2% over), overestimated UAP slightly (0.6% over), underestimated Liberal Democrats in every state (1.4% over), overestimated Nick Xenophon in SA (3% over) while getting Rex Patrick right, and underestimated parties not listed in every state and by an average of 3.6%.  This wasn't an age of data thing as the final sample had even greater errors on Labor and unlisted parties.

Results were seen of two Redbridge polls for the ACT Senate.  The last of these correctly predicted David Pocock's victory, getting the votes for the Liberals, Pocock and the Greens almost exactly right but having Labor 6.3 points too low, Kim Rubenstein 1.6 too high and UAP 3.8 too high (overestimating the UAP vote is a common feature of Redbridge polls).  On these numbers Pocock would have won less comfortably as preferences that flowed to him strongly in the election would have split between him and Labor, but he still would have won.  A Community Engagement poll from late March had Pocock much too low, as did Redbridge at the same time, but it's likely Pocock built up steam as the campaign went on, so these polls may have been accurate when taken.

A Lonergan Senate poll of SA, of unknown commissioning source and dates, was incompletely reported by the Advertiser on 18 May.  The results as reported (with Labor on 34 and Liberals on 23, and it being unclear what was done with undecided) proved way off as it was the Liberals who ended up with 34 and Labor on 32.3.  Finally a uComms of Braddon, Tasmania in March overestimated Labor by 8%, and underestimated the Liberals by 3.6% and parties not listed in the readout by about 5%.

Winner:  It's a low, low bar for this one but Redbridge again

I intend in a separate article some time later to review the major polling story of this cycle, being the formation of the Australian Polling Council and the increased disclosure efforts by many pollsters, and to review how the attempt to improve transparency in polling panned out and where it can go from here.   

Friday, July 22, 2022

2022 House Of Reps Figures Finalised

Yesterday the 2022 House of Representatives figures were added to the archive of election results, making lots of the usual preference flow goodies available. Although all the preference throws had been completed and uploaded in rough form some time ago, the final figures importantly include the two-party preference flows by party and two-candidate preference flows by party per seat.  As well as this piece I will also be putting out a full analysis of polling accuracy, I expect within the next few days.

Some of the ground that I normally cover in this article was already covered in Two Party Swing Decided This Election (Plus Pendulum).  That article showed that Labor won the election on normal two-party swing in classic Labor vs Coalition seat contests, with changes in the seat share for the major parties pretty much exactly matching historic patterns, and that the groundbreaking defeats for the Coalition at the hands of six new teal independents and two Greens were nonetheless a sideshow in terms of explaining how the election was won.  

The article also noted:

* that Labor would have won the election under any system (contrary to the nonsense of the "3 in 10 voters" Sky right disinfo crowd who are wrongly claiming the Coalition would have won under first past the post - a different system would have seen different voter behaviour)

* that the view that Labor's primary vote was greatly damaged by strategic voting for teal independents is incorrect

* that Labor's win was assisted by gaining higher swings in Coalition seats on any margin and in marginal Labor seats, while in very safe Labor seats the swing was weaker to zero

Preference Shifting and Card Impacts

The official 2PP is 52.13% to Labor and 47.87% to the Coalition, a 3.66% swing to Labor. (There was an unlikely 2PP flow in a booth in North Sydney which if changed would have made the 2PP 52.14, but no changes have been made there; I do not know if the 2PP flow was rechecked.)

The 2019 election saw an unusual if modest preference shift in the Coalition's favour - the largest to the Coalition since the 1950s - but Labor still received more preferences than the Coalition in that year.  This election largely reversed the 2019 shift, with Labor's 2PP coming in 0.99 points higher than would have been expected based on the primary votes and the 2019 flows by party from Greens, UAP, One Nation, independent and others.  2022 therefore follows 1990, 2013 and 2019 as uncommon examples of such a preference shift in the last 40 years.  It will be interesting to see if 2019 was an anomaly or if 2025 sees a shift back to the Coalition again.  

The change in flow has happened across the board rather than a sharp shift from any one source:

* Greens 85.66% to Labor (+3.45% and a record high)

* One Nation 35.70% to Labor (+0.92)

* United Australia 38.14% to Labor (+3.28)

* Independent 63.77% to Labor (+4.37)

* all others 45.33% to Labor (+0.63)

The 2PP loss on three-cornered contests from the Coalition side was 0.03%.  

So for polls that break out all of these, the formula for Labor's 2PP by 2022 election preferences will be:

2PP = Labor + .8566*Green +.3570*ON +.3814*UAP +.6377*IND +.4533*Others + 0.03

The following are flows to Labor for some combined categories pollsters may employ:

* Others including IND 54.73

* Others including UAP 42.11

* Others including IND and UAP 50.01

* Others including ON and UAP 39.86

* Others including IND, ON and UAP (all non-Greens) 46.37

* Green+IND+ON+UAP+Others (all non-majors) 61.54

After splitting to the Coalition over Labor in every classic seat in 2019, One Nation preferences did the same again, except in Gorton where Brendan O'Connor got a 53.71% share.  The strongest split from One Nation to Coalition was 81.91% to Darren Chester (Gippsland).   One Nation voters also preferred Rebekah Sharkie to the Coalition in Mayo, and preferred independents to the Coalition in Calare, Groom, Wentworth, Wannon and Indi.  

I have records of five seats in which preferences were distributed between the major parties and One Nation recommended a preference to Labor on its how to vote card (Bass, Cook, Franklin, Lyons, Sturt).  In these the average flow of One Nation preferences to Labor was 7.8% higher than average, suggesting that the cards had not much impact.  

United Australia voters preferred Labor to the Coalition in ten classic seats (up from four) with Spence (59.65 to Labor) heading the list; the rest were Greenway, Forrest, Blaxland, Scullin, Canning, Macarthur, Swan, Ballarat and Jagajaga.  The strongest UAP to Coalition flow was 81.52% again to that popular MP, Darren Chester in Gippsland.  UAP voters also preferred Rebekha Sharkie in Mayo to the Coalition, and preferred independents to the Coalition in North Sydney, Cowper, Indi and Groom.

I have records of four seats outside WA that finished as 2PPs where UAP recommended a preference to Labor (Banks, Cook, Dickson, Maranoa).  In these the average flow of UAP preferences to Labor was a mere 4.9% stronger than overall. For Western Australia I saw but did not confirm reports that the UAP pursued an anti-incumbent strategy on their cards.  The preference flows suggest they indeed did this with a 65.0% flow to Coalition in Labor seats but a 53.7% flow to Coalition in Coalition seats (a modest difference of 11.3%).  Again, the evidence is that minor party how to vote cards don't make a lot of difference.  

The weakest 2PP flow involving the Greens was 71.95% to Labor in Parkes.  There were weaker 2CP splits off the Greens in three non-classic seats - Kennedy 64.21 to Katter vs LNP, Clark (where the Greens issued an open card) 66.52 to Wilkie vs Labor and Fowler 64.47 to Labor vs Dai Le.

Flows from the Coalition to Labor over Greens in the Labor vs Greens 2CP seats ranged from 58.65 (Canberra) to 73.33 (Wills) with an average of 65.6%.

In the semi-optional-preferencing Senate, there were far greater shifts in the 2PP preferencing behaviour of UAP voters (shift from Coalition to exhaust) in particular, and overall Labor won the Senate 2PP 52.93-47.07, 0.8% higher than its win in the Reps despite optional preferencing systems having a reputation for not helping the trailing party.  I will probably explore this in more detail but any idea that the Coalition would have done much better under optional preferential voting (which JSCEM recommended but the previous government didn't pursue) is delusional. It's possible they would have lost more heavily in seat terms as UAP voters especially would have exhausted their preferences rather than reluctantly preferencing the Coalition (a la Queensland 2015, where OPV saw a huge preferencing shift in Labor's favour against a disliked LNP government.) 

Non-Classic Seats

There were 27 non-classic seats at this election (up from 15).  These are seats where the final pairing wasn't Coalition vs Labor:

ALP vs Green (6): Grayndler, Cooper, Wills, Canberra*, Melbourne, Sydney*

Coalition vs Green (3): Brisbane*, Griffith*, Ryan*

Labor vs IND (2): Clark, Fowler*

Coalition vs IND (14): Indi, Warringah, Wentworth, Kooyong, North Sydney*, Mackellar*, Curtin*, Goldstein*, Calare*, Groom*, Nicholls*, Bradfield*, Cowper, Wannon*

Coalition vs Centre Alliance (1): Mayo

Coalition vs KAP (1): Kennedy

Those marked * were not non-classics last time.  Three seats moved from non-classic to classic status (Maranoa, Farrer, New England).  Melbourne and Kooyong both shifted from one non-classic status to another while Cowper had a different independent in the 2CP to 2019.

Labor 2PP winners failed to finish in the top two in Brisbane, Griffith, Ryan and Mayo.  In the first three of these Labor were also probably the Condorcet winners (the candidate, if there is one, who would win head-to-head against any other candidate), based on the Coalition to Labor flows recorded elsewhere.  I may discuss this in more detail sometime too.

As explained way back in 2013 I like to explore Labor-vs-Coalition 2PP splits for those voters who preferred the "non-classic" candidate to the majors, as this reveals what sort of voters a potential crossbencher might be beholden to.  Sometimes this can be done exactly for the voters who put the non-classic candidate first, rather than just for those who put them above the majors.  I understand from Antony Green that this year the AEC was in a position to extract exact splits for every seat, which would save me a lot of work, but I've not yet seen those published.  Here's a table showing 2PP preference flows from the non-classic contender to Labor in the non-classic seats:

The "To ALP" column shows the percentage of the 3CP voters for the non-classic contender that put Labor ahead of the Coalition.  In some cases the figure for the primary votes for the non-classic contender is also available, and this is shown in brackets. The %primary figure shows how much of the non-classic contender's 3CP vote is their primary vote (the higher this is, the more accurate the "To ALP" figure is likely to be as an estimate of the 2PP split of their primary votes.)

Overall this table shows that those who voted for independents, or preferenced them at 3CP level, generally strongly preferred Labor to the Coalition.  The exceptions were Groom (where most of Suzie Holt's 3CP votes were primary votes for other candidates), Fowler (where Dai Le's campaign attracted mostly voters who preferred the Liberals in this instance, though possibly in disgust with Labor's preselection or by following a Dai Le how to vote card) and Nicholls.  In most cases, teal independent voters or preferencers preferred Labor to the Coalition about 70-30, which isn't surprising.  Rebekha Sharkie's voters were more Coalition-friendly than last time, but this probably reflects her taking more votes from a struggling Liberal candidate.

Strongest preference flows

The following are the strongest preference flows I could find evidence of, whether those preferences were distributed or not. Estimated flows shown in bold:

93.8 Tim Hollo (Green) to Alicia Payne (Labor), Canberra
93.2 Adam Bandt (Green) to Keir Paterson (Labor), Melbourne (NB Bandt was elected)
93.1 Sarah Jefford (Green) to Peter Khalil (Labor), Wills
92.9 Liz Chase (Green) to Kate Thwaites (Labor), Jagajaga
92.2 Vivian Harris (Green) to Kirsty McBain (Labor), Eden-Monaro
92.2 Tony Hickey (Green) to Susan Templeman (Labor), Macquarie
91.6 Cate Sinclair (Green) to Lisa Chesters (Labor), Bendigo
91.3 Chetan Sahai (Green) to Tanya Plibersek (Labor), Sydney
91.2 Charlotte McCabe (Green) to Sharon Claydon (Labor), Newcastle
90.8 Jade Darko (Green) to Julie Collins (Labor), Franklin
90.7 Rachael Jacobs (Green)  to Anthony Albanese (Labor), Grayndler
90.6 Sam Wainwright (Socialist Alliance) to Josh Wilson (Labor), Fremantle

The highest flow to a losing candidate was 90.2% Greens to Labor in Deakin.  The flows in bold are likely to be slight underestimates, so it is not clear (pending further data, which may emerge) whether the Greens to Labor flows in Wills and Melbourne might have been stronger than Canberra.

Winning (or not) from behind and on minor party preferences

Sixteen seats (up four from 2016) were won by a candidate who didn't lead on primaries.  Labor won Gilmore, Lyons, Bennelong, Higgins, Robertson, Tangney and Boothby, overtaking the Liberals on Greens preferences.  The Greens overtook the LNP on Labor preferences in Ryan and Brisbane, in the latter coming from third on primaries (by 11 votes) in the first case of a candidate winning from third since Andrew Wilkie, Denison 2010.  Independent Dai Le passed Labor on Liberal preferences in Fowler, and new teal independents passed the Liberals on left preferences in Kooyong, Curtin, North Sydney, Goldstein, Wentworth and Mackellar.

In Labor's closest win, Gilmore, Labor needed an above-average 86.4% of Greens preferences to win but got 88.0% and won anyway.  Lyons (Labor needed 79.1%, got 87.1%), Lingiari (needed 68%, got 76.6%) and Bennelong (needed 74.8%, got 83.4%) were all close enough that it's likely that Labor owed these four seats specifically to the Greens' decision to recommend preferences to Labor on how to vote cards.  

In the Coalition's closest win, Deakin, Labor needed 91.5% so a very strong 90.2% was not quite enough.  Other seats where an impossible 100% Greens to Labor flow would have won Labor the seat had it occurred were Sturt (needed 90.6, got 87.9), Moore (needed 87.6, got 82.9), Menzies (needed 91.4, got 86.6), and Casey (needed 95.4, got 84.0).  In all these cases Labor needed figures that were above the national average and that were unrealistic in the seats in question.  On the ALP side of that ledger, independents Nicolette Boele (Bradfield) and Caz Heise (Cowper) could in theory have won with a 100% flow of Labor preferences, but their target percentages of Labor preferences (94.1% and 98.9% respectively) weren't realistic.  Preferences never flow 100% and it is pointless to reproach any party or its voters for this.  

There were also three seats (an unusually low number) where Labor led on primaries but would have lost with an even split of Greens voter preferences.  These were Lingiari, McEwen and Richmond, making a total of ten seats (down from fifteen) where Labor would not have won had Greens preferences split evenly.  The Greens also depended on Labor preferences favouring them in two of their four wins (Brisbane and Ryan), as well as on minor party preferences favouring them at the 3CP stage to get them into second in Brisbane.

Post 2019 there was much fuss for the next three years about United Australia preferences supposedly delivering the Coalition victory (which was false as there was only one seat, Bass, where an even split of 2019 UAP voter preferences would have made a difference).  In this case, because the Coalition has lost, nobody seems to care how many seats the UAP did or didn't save it.  In fact, there were two seats where had a specific right-wing party's preferences split 50-50, the Liberals would have lost: Deakin (any one of LDP, UAP or One Nation) and Menzies (Liberal Democrats only).  There were also other seats where some combination of multiple right-wing party votes (generally UAP plus One Nation) splitting 50-50 would have caused the Coalition to lose - Sturt, Moore, Casey.

As for the independents, unsurprisingly all the new indies needed some help from one side of politics or other and were always going to get it, but the extent of their reliance on preferences varied from seat to seat:

* As well as needing Liberal preferences to win from behind, Dai Le (Fowler) would also have lost had both UAP and One Nation voter preferences split evenly.

* Kate Chaney (Curtin) won because both Labor and Green voter preferences favoured her over the Liberals and would have lost had either not done so.

* Zoe Daniel (Goldstein) would not have won had Labor voters split their preferences evenly, and would also not have won had both Green voters and either DHJP or Sustainable Australia voters done so.

* Kylea Tink (North Sydney) also needed Labor preferences to win, and would have also lost if Greens voters and (voters for TNL, IMOP or both UAP and Sustainable Australia) not preferred her to the Liberals.

* Sophie Scamps (Mackellar) would still have won had only voters who voted 1 Labor split their preferences evenly, but would have lost had both Labor and either Greens or TNL voters done so.  (Scamps came from second on the final Labor exclusion but Labor was carrying preferences from other candidates.)

* Monique Ryan (Kooyong) and Allegra Spender (Wentworth) would still have won if either Labor or Greens voters had split their preferences evenly, but not both.  This is the same as for Rebekha Sharkie in 2019.

The crossbenchers elected in 2019 all won so easily that an even split of preferences from all the parties whose voters favoured them would not have stopped them winning.

Preference flows and tactical voting

Tactical voting arguments were attempted at this election by supporters of teal independents, and also to a much lower degree by a small number of Labor supporters attempting to defend Queensland seats from the Greens.  The tactical voting argument for putting a teal independent ahead of Labor was that Labor voter preferences would favour the teal independent more strongly than teal independent voter preferences would favour Labor, and therefore the teal independent (if second) might win in a case where Labor lost.  

The 3CP flow from urban teal independents to Labor was 70.5%, compared to 78.6% the other way.  (Kooyong, uniquely, had a stronger 3CP flow from the winning independent to Labor than vice versa.) However perhaps the narrowness of this gap speaks to some degree to the success of the tactical voting argument in converting intending Labor voters to teal voters.  Also, the argument only really applies to a hypothetical situation where Labor and the teal have about the same 3CP vote.  In a case like Kooyong, if teal voters who preferenced Labor shifted to Labor, this would reduce the remaining teal to Labor flow and increase the Labor to teal flow, so the strategic voting argument would then say that it is better to vote teal anyway.  

The correct test of whether it is better to vote teal if voting tactically is therefore not the preference flows between the parties but the actual 2PP.  On this the teal argument was vindicated because in all fifteen cases where Labor was excluded, Labor's 2PP was lower than the teal or teal-ish candidate's 2CP.  Furthermore, in nine seats teal-ish candidates won the 2CP and the seat but Labor lost the 2PP.  

In the three Brisbane area seats won by the Greens, the Greens to Labor 3CP flow was in the low 86s while the Labor to Greens 2CP flows were 81 in Griffith, 81.6 in Ryan, 83.1 in Brisbane.  In Ryan, however, the Greens were so far ahead of Labor that their 2CP exceeded the Labor 2PP.  In the other two, Labor's 2PP was above the Greens 2CP, so had the LNP been closer to retaining these seats, there is a very narrow range (0.67% in Brisbane, 0.61% in Griffith) in which Labor would have won but not the Greens.  This is the opposite to the general pattern in previous cases federally and in other compulsory preferencing states.  Overall, Labor and Greens preference flows to each other are more or less interchangeable but there will be rare cases where one would win but the other wouldn't (the only practical case being the Greens' win in Prahran 2014.)

Other sections may be added to this piece if I notice anything worth adding, or if there are any interesting requests that are practical to add here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Spurious Linking Of "One Vote, One Value" With Territory Senator Numbers

After each election comes a new season in which the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters receives submissions and considers proposals for changes to electoral law.  This JSCEM season has special significance because as well as a change of government in the lower house, there has been a serious shift to the left in the Senate.  Any ALP legislation that is supported by the Greens and ACT Senator David Pocock will have the numbers to pass.

There have been several media articles commenting about this, though it is not always clear to what extent the articles are reporting on what Labor wants, and to what extent they are reporting on what other actors would like Labor to do.  A common theme in these articles (here's the latest) is that a proposal for more ACT and NT Senators appears in the context of a discussion of "one vote, one value" (a principle to which Labor's policy platform included a general commitment without any specifics.)  The linkage of the issue to "one vote, one value" is spurious.  From a pure one vote, one value perspective, the proposal looks like an attempt to rig the Senate to favour the left.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Two-Party Swing Decided This Election (Plus Pendulum)

We're now just over a month out from a remarkable House of Representatives election.  There's been a lot of attention on the seat gains by six teal independents and three Greens, and a lot of claims that the old two-party preferred model for elections is broken.  Not the case.  Labor won this election on classic two-party swing, largely because the Coalition's primary vote crashed and Labor's (modest as it was) didn't.  The teal gains were a major story of the election and are a big headache for the Coalition going forward, but they are not where the election was won and lost.  

There is a fair amount of nonsense from some fringe supporters of the losing side about Labor's low primary vote, with claims that it is wrong that a party not voted for by two-thirds of the country should govern.  The problem is that both sides had very low primary votes (the Coalition's being lower than, for instance, Labor's primary when it lost heavily under Mark Latham in 2004) and somebody has to win.  Labor was the clearly preferred choice between the two major parties, and would have won this election easily under any single-seat system, including optional preferential voting and first past the post, though in the latter case tactical voting would have given it a much higher (but much less sincere) primary vote.  Those complaining about Labor winning a majority off such a low primary vote should embrace proportional representation or shut up.  (I may write a detailed article about this sometime.)  

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Senate Reform Performance Review And Senate Notes 2022

The results of this year's half-Senate election are all in so it's time to observe how our still relatively new Senate system performed at its second half-Senate test.  For previous assessments see 2016 part one, 2016 part two and 2019 (single article).  I have changed the title mainly so I am at liberty to add pointless fluff about candidates who finished last.  On the agenda for this issue are: proportionality, blocked Senates, how dreadful this election would have been under Group Ticket Voting, winning vote shares (with a focus on Babet and Pocock), preferencing impacts, just-voting-1, exhaust, informals, below the lines, How to Vote cards, blank above the line boxes, and a special schadenfreude section at the bottom.

Senate voting was reformed in 2016 to remove the problems caused by preference harvesting under the old Group Ticket Voting system, under which Senators were being elected off very low vote shares as a result of networked preference deals and a system that coerced voters into sending their preferences to parties they did not support.  This was not only discriminatory and wrong, but also a threat to the integrity of the electoral system because of the ease with which minor issues could cause a count to collapse.  A great many alarmist predictions were made by defenders of the (no longer defensible) GTV system, and most of those have been debunked already.  However in 2022 there are two new opportunities to test predictions about the new system.  Firstly it is the first time we have had a Senate composed entirely of half-Senate election results.  Secondly, it is the first time Labor has come to power in the House of Representatives under the new system.  


As previously noted, the 2016 DD was amazingly proportional, even though Senate elections will not necessarily be so because of state-based malapportionment.  It's harder for half-Senate elections to be proportional because of the "district magnitude" issue of only having six seats elected per state (which makes life hard for parties that only get a few percent of the vote, so how did 2022 scrub up?

Firstly the simple national votes to seats conversion (though this is a silly yardstick because of malapportionment and the territories only having two seats each):

As usual all the big three parties have outperformed their vote share, as a result of those parties that are too small to win seats being excluded and their preferences being distributed.  However this time it is Labor that has done better relative to its vote share than the Coalition and Greens.  

My yardstick for proportionality for the state contests is to look at the number of state seats won compared to the average vote per state.  Here are the results on that indicator:

On a state basis, the relative advantage to the big parties is about the same as each other.  This is largely not because of state malapportionment.  It's because Labor won two seats to one from the two Territories despite its edge in the ACT being worth only 0.16% of the national primary vote.

Every party that averaged 1/36th of the primary vote per state won in a state, except for Legalise Cannabis which had too even a spread of votes across the state and had poorer preference flows compared to One Nation (and in Victoria's case UAP).  The left vote is more concentrated among Labor and the Greens while the right vote is more dispersed, so what the left micro-parties miss out on is also Labor and the Greens' gain.  One Nation was again, however, not fully rewarded for its vote and preference share, because of its habit of not quite getting over the line outside Queensland.  At this election One Nation was within 0.5% of winning instead of the UAP in Victoria, a close seventh in WA, and also seventh in NSW and SA (by modest margins) and Tasmania (distantly). In Tasmania it would have won had the Jacqui Lambie Network not contested.

Had this election been a double dissolution, I estimate the result would have been Coalition 28 Labor 26 Green 12 One Nation 5 Legalise Cannabis 2 UAP 1 JLN 1 and Pocock.  Legalise Cannabis would have won in Victoria (very narrowly) on my estimates as well as Queensland.  One Nation would have been over-represented and UAP under-represented because One Nation outpolled UAP in five states to one.  Labor and the Greens would have had no more seats from this double dissolution than from the combined 2019 and 2022 half-Senates, but would have had more potential helpers.  

Fear of a blocked Senate

For the purposes of this section I refer to Labor and the Greens collectively as "the left", to the dismay of the most partisan supporters of either. The Coalition, One Nation and UAP are considered to be "the right".

As noted in 2019, hacks within the ALP who were opposing Senate reform in 2016 raised the fear that Senate reform would lead to the Senate that will not flush, where the right always won half the seats at half-Senate elections making it impossible for the left to ever govern.  No modern simulation has ever supported this concern, but simulations are not full substitutes for an actual case of Labor coming to power.  And now that that has happened it turns out of course that Sam Dastyari's concern about blocks of three right Senators "forever preventing a progressive Senate" was absolute nonsense.  Considering Jacqui Lambie Network as neither left nor right (it's not near consistently either, though it is more left than it used to be) the right has failed to win three seats in Tasmania in either 2019 or 2022.  It also won only two in Western Australia in 2022, cancelling out four in Queensland in 2019.  But the right also dropped a seat in the ACT for the first time this year, leaving it three seats short of the ability to block.  Even if I count David Pocock as centre rather than left (we'll see ...) a 38-35-3 Senate is hardly bad for Labor as a total of an election it lost 48.5-51.5 in the Reps and one where it won the Reps by about 52.1-47.9.  

The concern about blocking is in fact more acute for the Coalition.  At the 2022 election the left won 19 of 36 state seats, one up on what the Coalition won in 2019.  To prevent a left block (even assuming either that Pocock can be worked with or he loses) the Coalition, if it wins in 2025, would need to hold the left to two seats in two states.  It did so in Queensland in 2019 (and was not that far away from doing so in 2022) and since the rise of the Greens has generally had a strong enough vote to hold the left to two in Queensland under the current system if it wins the election overall.  However, the only other recent cases where the left would have been held to two were SA in 2013 and 2016 with the now collapsed Xenophon empire at its peak. So if the Coalition wins the next election by a less than stellar margin, it could be facing an incredibly unpleasant Senate and might need to go to a DD as soon as it can manage it.  But DDs are generally fair under this system (the Coalition would have had a quite bearable DD result in 2019 had it needed a DD then) so if it comes to that, that's nothing to be afraid of.  An obstructed government is at liberty to urgently seek a more fine-grained Senate result provided it is willing to submit itself to the judgement of the voters at the same time.  

Overall I think results under the current Senate system continue to very slightly favour the left, and will probably continue to do so until more of the right minor parties get their act together and form a merged flank movement to rival the Greens.  At this election especially, many of the right parties campaigned on more or less identical anti-mandates platforms, and One Nation and UAP have been fishing in much the same pond for a few elections now.

What could this election have looked like under Group Ticket Voting? 

The horror, the horror ... the Coalition would have been assured of twelve state seats, Labor of ten, the Greens of three (unlike 2019 when they would not have been guaranteed any) but that leaves eleven seats still unaccounted for that might have gone anywhere depending on who did what deals.  If Labor and the Greens swapped preferences that would have probably guaranteed another four between them (probably one Labor, two Greens and one to either) but they may not have actually done that.  Several seats would be won by right minors or random micros, and the high vote shares of One Nation and UAP could have resulted in them each winning many seats or none.   It is impossible to say which micros would have won other than that those with principles when it came to preferencing would be disadvantaged.  In the ACT, because Group Ticket Voting results in near-100% preference flows, there would not be such a clear strategic argument for voting for David Pocock, and it would also be more difficult for Pocock to run a teal-style independent campaign since he would have to distribute group preferences (though perhaps he could submit multiple tickets that would keep everyone happy).  

(As an aside about Group Ticket Voting I am already getting people asking me which micros I think will win in Victoria.  Please note that my standard answer to this question will be along the lines of "No I do not have next week's Powerball numbers.")

Winning Vote Shares, Babet and Pocock

Of the 36 state seats, 23 (up one) were won on raw quotas, again in one case (Tasmania) complicated by some of the votes being held down the ticket, delaying the second candidate crossing the line.  There were ten state tickets that had between .5 of a quota and a whole quota (either as primary vote or remainder after surpluses), all of these winning.  The overlap zone ran from .2807 Q to .4658 Q and within this zone there were three wins (Labor in WA .4187, Liberal in SA .3749, UAP in Victoria .2807) and four losses (LNP Queensland .4658, Legalise Cannabis Queensland .3760, UAP Queensland .2934, One Nation NSW .2889).  Additionally, One Nation in SA had a losing vote that was lower than UAP's in Victoria by 0.0000066 quotas.  All of the wins in the overlap zone were off lower quota shares than any of the 2019 wins, but this had to happen because there were only 33 contenders with either a full quota or more than half a quota, compared with 37 in 2019.  In all states, the primary vote winners ended up winning, though not without having their leads eaten into in some cases.

Ralph Babet's victory in Victoria off a vote share otherwise barely sufficient for getting his deposit back was a case where everyone had such a low share of a quota that somebody had to win.  However, had preferencing behaviour from 2019 persisted Babet would have lost, as the 2019-model UAP was a crawler on preferences in comparison to the Coalition, Labor, Greens and One Nation.  What changed here was the preference flow between the minor right parties.  

There was a national trend at this election that flows between One Nation and the UAP, in both directions, were much stronger than in 2019.  In most states the Liberal Democrats did not join in this party, but in Victoria they did.  The 3CP preference split in Victoria between Coalition, Labor and UAP off above-the-line Liberal Democrat preferences shifted from 41.67/15.52/16.08 to 30.76/13.76/43.82.  The split on One Nation preferences in Victoria shifted from 25.44/17.90/29.56 to 16.61/12.12/55.70.  

The Liberal Democrat vote in Victoria, at 2.42%, was also remarkably high.  In the Liberal Democrats' narrowly failed High Court challenge to party names rules, much was made of the history of the party performing more strongly when it draws to the left of the Liberal ticket than to the right - such that every vote share the party had polled when drawing to the left was higher than every vote share polled when drawing to the right, with the minor exception of the 2014 WA re-run.  At this election, probably assisted by having high-profile candidates in Queensland and Victoria, the LDP had a slightly higher average (2.34 vs 2.01) in the states where it drew on the right, its average when drawing on the right being more than twice its previous average when doing so.  

Including as a result of the high LDP vote, Victoria had a combined swing to One Nation, UAP and LDP of over 3%, whereas the average for other states was just over zero, with none above 1.3%.  To a small degree this is attributable to the disappearance of the deregistered Democratic Labour Party and to reduced support for Hinch Justice.  But this still leaves Victoria as the best state for these parties combined, although the swing against the Coalition in Victoria was not unusual.

In my view the combination of a strong LDP vote in Victoria and strengthened preference flows between all of LDP, ON and UAP is consistent with the idea that Victorian minority frustrations over lockdowns, pandemic management and vaccines helped power the UAP (or if it was not them, it would have been One Nation) to victory.  Indeed the strong LDP vote and the strong preference flow from LDP to UAP meant the UAP did not even need the shift in One Nation preferences in Victoria to win; it would have won anyway.

David Pocock (ACT) was the only winner to have come from behind on preferences to win.  With the ACT's low exhaust rate and with Labor helpfully polling almost exactly one quota this took on the character of a single-seat contest in which preference flows from the Greens (80.7-12.1 to Pocock over Seselja) and Kim Rubenstein's ticket (85.8-11.0 !) were every bit as fatal to Zed Seselja's chances as was generally expected; Pocock was simply much too close to Seselja on primaries.  It turns out that only Pocock could have won it; if his ticket is excluded from the count, Seselja defeats the Greens. Pocock voters overwhelmingly preferenced Labor or the Greens, suggesting that that is where he drew most of his support from, but he also took enough votes from the Liberals that neither of the other parties would have taken to knock Seselja way below quota and ensure his defeat.

Preferencing Impact

While ACT was the only case of a winner coming from behind on preferences, there was potential for it to happen elsewhere and a number of reasonably close results.  Four states saw some sort of three-way race (not necessarily competitive) between Labor, the Coalition and either One Nation or the UAP.  In Queensland this was for the final two seats and in SA, WA and Victoria it was for a single seat.  In all these cases the right-wing minor party outperformed both majors and Labor outperformed the Coalition:

Victoria UAP .3601 quotas gained/ Coalition .2445 / Labor .3496

SA One Nation .3257 / Liberal .2932 / Labor .2981

WA One Nation .3663 / Liberal .2385 / Labor .293

Queensland One Nation .4779 / LNP .2458 / Labor .2539

These flows saw Labor overtake and eliminate the Coalition in Victoria and One Nation overtake Labor and finish fifth in Queensland.  (The Coalition would have lost anyway in Victoria even had they got over Labor, by about 1.2%).  

In NSW Labor was eliminated before UAP and Legalise Cannabis, and here again One Nation did better on preferences than the Coalition, gaining a total of .4051 quotas through the count to the Coalition's .2904, but it was not enough as the Coalition's lead was too big.

Notably in WA Liberal preferences were no use to One Nation in their attempt to beat Labor (in fact One Nation actually went backwards on the Liberal transfer).  But this was not because Liberal voters favoured Labor over One Nation (Liberal ATL voters favoured One Nation albeit insufficiently, 34.4-28.4).  It was because slightly more than half of the Liberal transfer was votes received by the Liberals from other parties during the exclusion, and those votes favoured Labor.

In Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie Network increased its margin over One Nation through the count.  Tasmanians were very determined to elect a fourth party - had JLN not run, One Nation would have claimed the seat instead (unlike in 2019) and had neither run, Legalise Cannabis would have beaten Eric Abetz for the final spot!


If a voter numbers just one box above the line their vote, while contrary to the instructions, is saved by the savings provisions and counts for the party they have chosen only. Here are the percentages of just-1 votes at this election (percentages are the share of just-1s out of all votes, whether ATL or BTL):

Just-1s fell in every state except South Australia, which had recently had a state election with optional preferential voting in its upper house.  The change is starkest in NSW, which had such an election just before the 2019 election.  In five races (ACT, NT, NSW, Vic, Qld) the rate was the lowest to one decimal place so far under the new system.  In the ACT, however, the Liberal rate did not fall at all, because the Liberals issued a just-1 how to vote card (which nearly all their voters ignored.)

It is very clear that just voting 1 isn't much of a thing, and that despite early speculation that it would grow as a protest movement, it hasn't caught on because it is a stupid form of protest.  

The gong for the lowest percentage of just-1s was this time won by Canberra (0.71%) ahead of Ryan (0.76%) and usual suspects Franklin (0.82%) and Clark (0.84%). However Ryan has a far higher ATL rate than the ACT and Tasmania divisions so again easily has the lowest percentage of all ATLs as just-1s.  


The more dispersed voting at this election seems to have lead to an increased exhaust rate, but the increase is not enormous (nationally, effective exhaust rose from 4.8% to 5.7% after being 5.1% in the 2016 double dissolution).  Exhaust increased sharply in South Australia (up from 2.3% to 6.6%) and Western Australia (up from 2.0% to 5.7%) and also increased in ACT (0.1% to 1.8%), NT (0 to 0.5%), Queensland (3.9 to 4.4), Tasmania (1.9 to 3.4) and NSW (5.6 to 6.3).  It fell, from a high base, in Victoria (7.0% to 6.9%).  

Informal Votes

Surprisingly, informal voting fell in the House of Reps at this election, even with an increased number of candidates and especially a big rise in divisions with 8 or more candidates (which has tended to cause increased informality through confusion with the Senate system in the past).  Informals also fell in the Senate, down 0.39% to just 3.42%, with the informal rate falling in every state and territory.  I suspect that between these two results, the rate of deliberate informal voting at this election may have been lower than normal.

Below the lines

At this election the below the line rate fell in six races, and in five of these (NSW, Vic, WA, SA, Tas) it fell to its lowest level under the new system.  The NSW reduction was because there were no significant BTL-based candidates in NSW in 2022, unlike 2019 when Jim Molan was a significant BTL candidate.  The only really significant BTL campaign anywhere was for Eric Abetz in Tasmania, but the 2019 baseline for Tasmania included a more successful BTL campaign for Lisa Singh, as well as a few minor cases.  Many minor candidate factors contributed to the slight rise in Queensland (which recorded its highest rate under the new system, as did NT).

Of Abetz's 4.27%, a relatively high 86.4% stayed within the ticket (slightly more going to #2 Wendy Askew than #1 Jonno Duniam) and the rest sprayed all over the place.

How To Vote Cards

In general, Senate how to vote cards are little followed, the main exception being the major parties.  However even for the major parties they seem considerably less followed than for Reps how-to-vote cards, which probably have follow rates about 40%.  

Measuring how well how to vote cards are followed is often difficult because of local variants and undocumented changes.  I am documenting some of the variants here, the ABC has documented others that I will add.  For well-known parties the variants are often obvious, but for lesser-known parties they can be hard to spot.  Especially at this election I suspected there were undocumented variants for the spuriously so-called "Informed Medical Options Party".

Here is my best effort at estimating the rates at which cards were reproduced exactly (1-6 in order issued unless noted otherwise) for each party in each state:

The numbers are the proportion of above the line votes for the party that copied the card (or one of the cards where there were variants).  This in general slightly overestimates how many of the party's voters as a whole copied the card, but the overestimates become larger in the states with high BTL rates (Tasmania and ACT) and for certain parties (especially the Greens).  

The low rate for the Liberals in the ACT is because they issued a just-vote-1 card which was good for formality under the savings provisions but inconsistent with the instructions.  Otherwise the Coalition ranged from the mid-20s to low 30s, Labor from the mid-teens to mid-20s, Greens from the high single figures to mid-teens, and most other parties were negligible.  However the UAP had similar follow rates to the Greens and both the UAP and LDP had higher than normal follow rates in Victoria.  

Obscure micro-parties had negligible follow rates, though I think the ABC's diligent archiving of how to vote cards may have discouraged repeats of the wonderful past cases where some cards had no perfect follows at all.  I salute in particular the Citizens Party NT card copied by precisely four voters (all in Solomon) and the WA Cameron Tinley (unregistered No Mandatory Vaccination) 1-17 above the line HTV which was copied all the way by 13 hardy souls.  12 of them stopped at that point while one voter completed the full set by numbering the remaining parties (Citizens Party, Socialist Alliance, Liberal, Labor, Greens in that order).  

Blank Box Of Death

Something very noticeable in 2019 was that candidates who ran with blank above the line boxes (grouped candidates not endorsed by registered parties) not only did poorly on primary votes but did appallingly on preference flows, to an extent that defied mere political logic - suggesting that voters are confused by blank ATL boxes and reluctant to place preferences in them.  Examples in 2019 were Anthony Pesec (ACT), Craig Garland (Tas) and Hetty Johnston (Queensland).  I recommended to JSCEM that something be done about this issue (how hard is it to just put the two candidates' surnames above the line, for instance?) but there wasn't any interest.

I don't have much sympathy with this election's victim of the curse of the blank box, former Senator Nick Xenophon, who ran at the last minute and could very easily have registered a front party had he acted sooner, or perhaps reclaimed the Centre Alliance brand.  But again, the evidence is remarkable.  Only 7.9% of all above the line voters included Xenophon's group in their top 6, a score exceeding only that of DPDA, Citizens Party and an obscure blank-box group.  Only 8.6% numbered the blank box at all.  (Bob Day's blank box did nearly twice as well as this, but it was included on a large number of how-to-vote cards).  Below the line it was a whole 'nother world: Xenophon was the fourth most commonly included (just over 30%) in BTL voters' top six candidates, and over half the BTL voters numbered him somewhere.  Running a blank box was either a big mistake by Xenophon or a sign that he wasn't serious about winning anyway - given the low score and indifferent preference performance the Liberals got over the line with here there is every chance that had he run with a registered party he would have been a Senator again.


I add a section for my favourite aspect of Senate electoral performance: failure in all its forms.  

Australia's lowest-scoring Senate candidate was Drew Pavlou Democratic Alliance WA #2 Amina Yarmuhammad (12 votes) but that was nowhere near the lowest vote in percentage-of-a-state terms.  That wooden spoon went narrowly to Jason Wardle (#2 candidate for Group Y, Vic) whose 0.00065% (25 votes) was nonetheless the highest such low score since the first election with above the line boxes in 1984.  

The lowest scoring groups were generally obscure non-party groups with Group Y in Vic (Peter Byrne/Jason Wardle) again the worst of the lot on a mere 0.03% (and yes that's with an above the line box, albeit a blank one).  The lowest scoring named parties with a box were the Socialist Alliance in NSW, Australian Progressives in Victoria and ACT, TNL in Queensland, Federal ICAC Now in WA, DPDA in South Australia, Federation Party in Tasmania and Citizens Party in the NT.  

Generally the performances of newly registered parties, outside the ACT front parties for David Pocock and Kim Rubenstein, were poor.  Only the Indigenous-Aboriginal Party in Queensland and the Local Party in Tasmania broke 1%, and the latter's performance was generally still viewed as quite ordinary as the party had been somewhat hyped and was supported by unions, Climate 200 and (for some of its candidates at least) Andrew Wilkie and Sue Hickey.   Most of the other new parties did not break 0.5% and especially the much-vaunted (by themselves) TNL bombed out with 0.14% in Queensland and 0.19% in New South Wales.  But plenty of established parties wasted their deposits too, with none of the following scoring 1% in any state race: Democrats, Federation, Progressives, Citizens, Fusion, IMOP, Reason, Seniors United, Socialist Alliance, Sustainable Australia, Nationals (SA), Victorian Socialists.  

The phenomenon of who voters below-the-line put last on their ballots (among the tiny minority who bother voting all the way) is also a source of much fun after Eric Abetz's prodigious efforts in 2016 when he scored around eight or nine times more last places than anyone else on the ballot.  In 2019 this category was a clean sweep for the deservedly reviled Fraser Anning's Conservative Nationalists, but this year we saw quite a range of last place getting talent.  The most commonly last-placed candidates by voters numbering every box validly below the line were:

NSW: Kevin Loughrey (UAP 6)
Vic: Stuart Huxham (ON 2)
Qld: Rebecca Haley (Green 6)
WA: Rob Forster (UAP 2)
SA: Alan Watchman (ON 2)
Tas: Eric Abetz (Lib 3)
ACT: Zed Seselja (Lib 1)
NT: Raj Rajwin (Ungrouped UAP)

Most of these candidates happened to be the last-named candidate on a ticket that was the race's least popular ticket, and Rajwin may have just been a victim of voters donkeying remaining squares.  The NSW and WA last place races were very close with the bottom Coalition and Greens candidates just missing out; the bottom Coalition candidate in Victoria wasn't far off the pace either.  However the efforts of Abetz and Seselja stand out here.  Niche Tasmanian voters gave Abetz a BTL sendoff with 6022 valid last places (39.6% of all valid lasts, 5.15 times his nearest rival) while Seselja was not far behind with 4995 valid lasts (35.3%, 2.76 times the next closest).  This tally does not include a small number of voters who left the last box for these candidates blank.  

So ends a fascinating Senate contest (and, for now, the careers of a number of Senators with I think eight of them given the flick by voters and another one running for the House of Reps and losing).  I may add other sections to this review but I think that's more than enough for now.

Huge thanks to David Barry for his Senate Preference Explorer ( and Andrew Conway for his ConcreteSTV Server, which allows simulations of outcomes with candidates removed or rules changed (  Responsibility for any errors in using these fine tools is mine.