Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Not-A-Poll Reset: Perrottet Defeated

 Chris Minns will be sworn in as the 47th Premier of New South Wales on Tuesday after decisively defeating Dominic Perrottet's Coalition.  It was a thumping win for Labor on a two-party basis, especially given the disadvantage of optional preferencing, but it seems a difficult pendulum has seen Labor unexpectedly pull up just short of a majority.  It's therefore time to reset this site's next-leader-to-go Not-A-Poll, which includes the Premiers, Chief Ministers, Prime Minister and federal Opposition Leader.   Voting in the sidebar is open.

Perrottet was the fourth Premier in a twelve-year government and ruled for just under one and a half years.  Expected to be an arch-conservative, he reinvented himself remarkably quickly.  He governed and campaigned with great energy, and was quite popular except for a mediocre reading in the final Newspoll, but no New South Wales government lasts that long without its share of scandals.  In the end the time factor, internal instability and probably a failure to deliver pay rises in the face of inflation cost him, as did his party's record on privatisation.  

Perrottet was the overwhelming pick on this site as the next leader to depart with nearly 70% of the vote.

It will be interesting to see what voters make of the new round though I suspect plenty of readers will vote for Peter Dutton as the obvious baddie in the field alone.

If nobody is rolled, Fyles, Barr and Palaszczuk have elections coming up scheduled for late 2024, while the federal election and Tasmanian election would both fall in the first half of 2025 if those governments went full term.  Dutton has a big by-election test next weekend and first-term opposition leaders don't always get to be around for more than two years, though he has no obvious leadership opponent at this stage.  There are also a few leaders who have been there for a while and might potentially retire during this term.   

Sunday, March 26, 2023

2023 New South Wales Postcount: Legislative Council

Current live count leaders

ALP 8 Coalition 7 Greens 2 One Nation 1 Legalise Cannabis 1 Liberal Democrats 1 Shooters 1 (Coalition well ahead of Animal Justice for final seat and may overtake others)


ALP 8 Coalition 6 Greens 2 One Nation 1 Legalise Cannabis 1 Liberal Democrats 1 Shooters 1.  1 in doubt: Coalition vs Animal Justice for final seat but Coalition appears well placed.

Summary of contest:

Early live count suggests a contest between Animal Justice and Coalition-7 for final seat with Animal Justice ahead, but Coalition may improve as count becomes less focused on on-the-day votes.  Possibly Liberal Democrats could fall back and become at risk, or others such as Greens-3 and ON-2 might come into play.  Count is at an early and unrepresentative stage.  All figures and projections must be treated with high caution at this time.

This page is classified Wonk Factor 5/5. Beware!


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Wednesday night: With a more realistic sample of BTLs I have started to use the BTL percentages for the tickets that did not run last time; these are high so far in the case of Group A (Shelton), Elizabeth Farrelly Independents and Group U (Bosi).  Currently in my model I have the Coalition on 6.618 quotas and Animal Justice 0.462 compared to the ABC's 6.70 vs 0.46.  At some stage I may try to estimate what Animal Justice could reasonably expect to gain on Coalition off available preferences, but at this stage it is nothing much because the Labor and Green surpluses have all but disappeared.  

Wednesday: The check count commences!  From the first 3378 formal votes the BTL-only candidates have a combined nine votes between them (0.27%), which would damage the Coalition by about .015 quotas compared to estimates that ignore these candidates.  The Coalition is still strengthening and is on 6.70 quotas, effectively about 6.64 quotas after what I will now be calling double BTL adjustment.  As the check count becomes more advanced I will refine previous BTL adjustments for the parties, but too early for that just yet.

Tuesday late night: The Coalition continues to improve, now to 6.67 quotas on the ABC, which I make as 6.59 after BTL adjustment (the Animal Justice figure hardly changes).  Hopefully at some stage we will get an insight into the BTL vote for candidates without ATL boxes.  

Tuesday 2 pm:  The sharp swing in the postcount for the lower house that happened yesterday has had a predictable ripple upstairs.  The Coalition ticket has shot up to 6.60 quotas on the ABC tally, which I make as 6.51 after below-the-line adjustment, leading Animal Justice on 0.47.  I put One Nation on 1.30 and still well off the pace; other movements are minor.  If the button was pressed right away Animal Justice might well still beat the Coalition on preferences off these numbers, but they would not want the Coalition to keep improving.  45.9% counted.

Intro (Sunday afternoon)

Welcome to this year's thread about the NSW Legislative Council postcount; I hope it won't be as long as 2019's.  We are still at an extremely early stage and while it may look like there is only a fight between Animal Justice and the Coalition for the final seat, there is a lot that can still change.

This year things are slightly simpler because above the line votes for all 15 groups with above the line boxes are being counted, removing the need to compare between counted and uncounted groups, which was a massive complication in 2019.  What we have at the moment is a count of above the line votes for these groups, plus counts for blank informal ballots and "others".  Others includes non-blank informals, but also includes below-the-line votes.  

This is the first trick to be aware of because past experience is that some parties have higher below the line rates than others, and hence will be underrepresented in the current count.  I deal with this by applying a multiplier to each party's current total.  The current multipliers I have (from 2019) are:

Shooters Fishers and Farmers 1.037
Greens 1.040
Animal Justice 1.036
Labor 1.019
Coalition 1.013
Liberal Democrats 1.034
One Nation 1.065
Socialist Alliance 1.097
Sustainable Australia 1.044

The rest are new.  For now I've put Legalise Cannabis on 1.030 and everyone else on 1.040; it is unlikely to matter.

These multipliers are important because the major parties have probably not received as many votes as the ABC count implies, while One Nation has probably received more.  So while the ABC has the Coalition on 6.43 quotas and One Nation on 1.23, after adjusting for BTLs that is more likely to be something like 6.36 and 1.28 respectively, ie the Coalition is not that far ahead of One Nation.

I currently have the following quota estimates for the live count:

Labor 8.10 quotas, Coalition 6.36, Greens 2.24, One Nation 1.28, Legalise Cannabis 0.87, Liberal Democrats 0.74, Shooters 0.68, Animal Justice 0.47, various others 1.26  (A quota is 1/22nd, ie 4.545%)

I am ignoring here a scatter of below the line votes that will be for the six BTL-only tickets and also for ungrouped candidates, though I may adjust for these if evidence appears that they are significant.  At the moment I suspect they total less than 1% between them.

Currently Labor would win eight seats on raw quotas, Coalition six, Greens 2 and One Nation 1, leaving four to be filled by remainders and preferences.  These would presently go to Legalise Cannabis, Liberal Democrats, Shooters and most likely Animal Justice, with the Coalition closest to beating AJP.  Labor would dearly like Animal Justice to win the seat as this would create a left majority of Labor, Greens, AJP and Legalise Cannabis and mean they only had to work across the aisle with Shooters and so on when one of the others got picky.  If the left wins only 11 seats then that's a deadlocked upper house if one regards the Shooters as right.  The Shooters and Labor are often chummy but getting the Shooters to see eye to eye with their tribal adversary Animal Justice in a case where you need both can be difficult.   However, the deadlock could also be resolved by making someone from the "right" side President.

The live count is not very advanced though.  At this stage only 36.5% of enrolment has been counted.  The current count is heavily composed of booth votes, and when more postcount votes are added it is likely to get better for the Coalition, and all else being equal would make them much more competitive for a seventh seat (if their vote goes up by 1%, that's .22 of a quota).  The count is also far more advanced in some divisions than others.  At this stage I don't have a time-efficient way of processing the individual count pages into a single spreadsheet to model off that. [EDIT: I have just been sent one so more insights coming soon.]

In 2019 as of Tuesday the Liberal Democrats were on 0.65 quotas in projection but this soon crashed to below 0.6 and they ended the count with only 0.48 and lost.  This may have been connected to the early inclusion of iVote and Sydney Town Hall votes (iVote is not being used in this election) but there were also general patterns involving slow counting in seats outside the inner city and some specific complications involving the way votes were thrown in 2019.  So a question here is whether there is any risk of the Liberal Democrats coming down from 0.74 quotas (at a significantly earlier stage of the count) to something where Animal Justice and the Coalition (or even someone else) both overtake them.  There's reason to suspect the crunch effect might not be so bad this time so it will be interesting to see if they remain competitive.  (The Lib Dems had a less than ideal leadup with a massive faction fight including a failed attempt to remove lead candidate John Ruddick.)

During this week I may have time to look at this count in more detail, especially later this week.  I also welcome comments from other modellers and links to data scraping of the seat by seat results.  Once again, it disappoints me that the NSWEC does not make presenting data in a fashion that can be readily used without IT expertise a priority.

UPDATE: Thanks to a very helpful colleague (come for the spreadsheet, stay for the beautiful colour maps further down) I have the votes processed thus far by division and I have run a simple average on them to compare with the ABC's tallies (this is not accounting for different numbers of formal votes likely to arrive in different seats, but that is extremely unlikely to matter).  I find the following average percentages per electorate out of all the ATL votes that have been counted so far, with the ABC's total percentages in brackets:

Labor 37.4 (37.1), Coalition 28.8 (29.2), Greens 9.7 (10.0). One Nation 5.7 (5.6), Legalise Cannabis 4.0 (4.0), Liberal Democrats 3.3 (3.3),  Shooters 3.2 (3.1), Animal Justice 2.2 (2.1).  

This suggests that ignoring the issue of skew by vote type, the count at the moment is a balanced sample on a geographic basis, so a very large amount has to change based on vote type to unsettle the large leads of the first 20 apparent seats over 22nd position.  

If there is a contest between Animal Justice and Coalition for the final seat then AJP currently look like having a juicy supply of Green preferences while Coalition may not have too many friends in this count.  So I think the Coalition ticket would need to be well ahead.  

2023 New South Wales Postcount: Coalition vs Independent Seats

( Link to classic seats and Kiama thread and seat tally)

Covered on this page: Pittwater, Willoughby, Wollondilly

Pittwater (Now assumed Liberal win vs IND)

Willoughby (Now assumed Liberal win vs IND)

Wollondilly (IND expected to defeat Liberal)


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This thread will follow the NSW state election postcount for lower house seats that are close between the Coalition and independents.  

Overall the independent vote at this election is running quite high, currently at 8.8% though that may come down.  The independents elected as such or as Shooters last election have all retained (mostly with large swings) and Michael Regan has easily won Wakehurst.  Ex-Liberal independent Gareth Ward is struggling in Kiama.  

For all the talk about teal independents having flopped again I think their performance has been okay given OPV and funding caps, but most have clearly been defeated.  In Manly and North Shore they are clearly second but too far behind, in Lane Cove Victoria Davidson is too far behind even if she does get into second.  Regan could be considered teal-adjacent but does not seem to have used teal branding, which is also the case for Larissa Penn in Willougby.  

This thread examines the remaining independent contests in Pittwater, Willoughby and Wollondilly.  A general factor is that independents have a history of performing poorly in postcounting of pretty much any kind.  However where the same independent made the top two in the seat last time, it is easier to account for this through projections.

Pittwater (Lib vs ALP 22.4%)

Pittwater is vacant following the retirement of minister Rob Stokes and has attracted a prominent teal campaign for candidate Jacqui Scruby.  With 57.6% counted Scruby has a precarious 27-vote 2CP lead over Rory Amon (Liberal).  However, Bilgola Plateau Public and Newport EVC booths are not yet counted to 2CP and when they are I would expect them to put Scruby about 450 votes ahead (about 51-49).  There is so far a very strong gain rate for Scruby of about .41 votes per preference.  One of the remaining PPVs is Narrabeen which looks favourable for Scruby who won adjacent booths, and her performance on prepolls and postals so far has been OK.  More caution is needed than for a two-party seat but at the moment Scruby looks to be well placed.

Monday 10:00 Amon has done very well at Pittwater EM Office prepoll and now has 50.5%.  The problem of INDs doing badly on absents could rear its head here; if Amon continues to get good prepoll booths like that one he may become safe.

Tuesday 1:30 Amon now 50.8% and I'm assuming he is home.

Willoughby (Lib vs ALP 20.7%, Lib vs IND 3.3% at by-election)

Larissa Penn, a pre-teal local independent who uses purple branding but seems politically teal-adjacent, gave the Liberals a fright in the by-election for Willoughby following Gladys Berejiklian's resignation.  She is currently trailing Tim James by just under 400 votes (50.7 2CP), and Poll Bludger projects 50.4 to James.  53.7% of turnout is in and there are no outstanding 2CPs.  The remaining prepoll locations don't look scary for James and at the moment I don't see anything to suggest he will not hold.  

Monday 2:05 James has jumped out to a 51.8-48.2 lead with 70.7% counted; I don't see that being overturned so I am now assuming he has retained and will not be following the seat anymore barring something unusual happening.

Wollondilly (Lib vs ALP 14.2%, Lib vs IND 6%)

Another example of how tealish independents who say they're not teals are as common as goths who say they're not goths, Judy Hannan is a former Liberal way back in the 2000s and a former local mayor who was somewhat competitive as an indie in 2019.  Gladys Berejiklian tried to bring Hannan back into the Liberal Party but the concept was rebuffed by local preselectors and it seems the rebuff was unwise.  Hannan is running just 6.5% behind the Liberals' Nathaniel Smith on primaries and is leading 51.7-48.3 after preferences with 50.6% counted.  I expect her 702 vote lead to grow by a few dozen when three uncounted booths reach the 2CP stage and then it's just a question of how she goes on postcount votes.  There is a case that this can still end up close as in 2019 Hannan polled 46% 2CP in on the day booths but ended up on 44.5; this year she polled 52.1% in the booths, and the postcount will be larger.  It looks like a tall order to quite get all of her current margin back though, but let's at least see some prepolls.  The Liberal primary in this seat is not that high and they're probably suffering badly from One Nation votes exhausting here.

Monday 2 pm: Antony Green is reporting that Hannan has done well in the Wollondilly EM Office prepoll but numbers from it have not yet appeared.

Monday 3 pm: Antony has also found what looks like a transposition of preferences error in the Mittagong Public booth which when fixed will add nearly 300 to Hannan's lead.  It looks like she will get another 1000 out of Wollondilly EM Office prepoll and it therefore appears that she has won the seat.

2023 New South Wales Postcount: Classic Seats And Kiama

Labor has won the election but appears to have unexpectedly fallen just short of majority




Coalition to Labor: Camden, East Hills, Heathcote,  Monaro, South Coast, Penrith, Parramatta, Riverstone

Liberal to IND: Wakehurst, Wollondilly


Coalition trailing Labor:  Ryde 


Coalition vs Labor: Holsworthy (Liberal very likely), Terrigal (Liberal likely)


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As at midnight Saturday I have ceased the live thread and switched to this first postcount thread which will deal with the Labor vs Coalition contests (plus Kiama) that will determine whether Labor has a majority and if so the size of it.  A separate thread will follow on the Coalition vs Independent contests in Pittwater, Willoughby and Wollondilly, another on the Legislative Council, and hopefully by the time I've done those the contest in Balmain will have quietly gone away.

As I start this thread nine classic seats and Kiama are in doubt but the Coalition isn't likely to be caught in Upper Hunter and Winston Hills.  So here we go with the other eight (I will add Upper Hunter and Winston Hills if they get closer):  Seats will be progressively added through the day as time permits. 

Seats will be updated over coming weeks (sparsely as I am very busy) and once I am no longer following a seat it will be moved to the bottom of the page.  

A general comment re prepoll and postal patterns - as of Monday 27th midday, the average swing to Labor in prepolls counted to 2PP was 1.6% below the swing in booth votes for the same seats, but the average swing in postals was 1.6% higher (and this could be an underestimate because early postals tend to be more conservative than late postals).  This may help the Liberals outperform projections, but not much.

Also regarding the current counts - they are not the final counts, and will be subject to data entry and a final count, which can in cases make hundreds of votes of difference even in the absence of obvious errors.  

Holsworthy (Liberal 6.0%)

Holsworthy is a vacancy following the deselection of Melanie Gibbons (who after various misadventures ended up running as the token Liberal candidate for Kiama). Gibbons was defeated for preselection by Tina Ayyad but at the moment it looks like the loss of a two-term incumbent's personal vote could be a problem (assuming Gibbons had one).  

In the live count Ayyad leads Labor's Mick Maroney 11638 to 11272 but the live count does not include 2PPs for Menai Primary or Menai EVC while two small booths Liverpool Public and Bangor Scout Hall are missing completely.  In 2019 prepolls in Holsworthy favoured Labor and if they match the booth swing this, plus a higher swing to Labor so far in postals than in booth voting, should be enough to carry Labor to victory (Poll Bludger has 51-49).  Holsworthy has been heavily redistributed with an almost complete overturn of prepoll centre names so I would like to see more prepoll action to confirm the projection.  

Monday 3:45 In view of the prepoll action elsewhere I don't have any trust in this seat repeating its 2019 behaviour and have put it back to simply in doubt.

Monday 9:00 A large prepoll Wattle Grove is in on primaries and will do virtually nothing on 2PP, but Labor needs to be doing better than nothing at the moment so I think Ayyad might now be favourite here.

Tuesday 3:00 Labor has made a small gain in Casula prepoll but again insufficient.  There is also a report they will not gain enough in the other prepoll.

Tuesday 7:00 And indeed they haven't.  

Ryde (Liberal 8.9%)

Ryde was very much on my radar because in 2011 when Victor Dominello first won it it flipped from a Labor-leaning seat relative to the state average to a Coalition-leaning one, and I thought that without him there was a risk it could swing back.  Lyndal Howison (ALP) leads Jordan Lane (Liberal) 16676 to 16264 (50.6%) and this is projected to increase.  As with Oatley this is a nice neat seat with all 2PPs available and 57.9% counted.  Howison is getting the swings required in the booth votes and postals, but not in the Ryde EVC prepoll, however the "Ryde" booths had a slightly smaller swing than overall.  Prepolls were nothing special in 2019 and at the least at this stage I don't see anything to suggest the current lead would be overturned.

Monday 2:00 A very weak 3% swing in the big Eastwood EVC prepoll has put Labor back to a 50.1-49.9 lead and a 50.7% projection.  

Monday 5:00 A rare bright spot in prepolls for Labor with a 137 vote gain from Macquarie Park EVC.

Tuesday morning: The issue with this seat is that although 2000 postals have been counted there are still a very large number to come.  16.1% of Ryde voters applied for a postal, which is about 10000 voters.  Even assuming, say, 20% didn't vote postally, that's still about 6000 to come of which 4000 will make the 2PP count, and if they keep breaking 55-45 that's 400 votes.  But I suspect they won't, because late postals tend to weaken.  The key issue here is what the Epping prepoll does.  If it breaks relatively evenly Labor should still hang on.

Tuesday 11:30 Epping prepoll did nothing which helps Labor.

Terrigal (Liberal 12.3%)

Terrigal?  What is this seat? I only know this seat exists because I've been there.  Actually I did see a bit of hopeful murmering on social media about this seat prior to the election but for whatever reasons it has delivered a monster swing that sees Sam Boughton (Labor) rather surprised to be leading two-term incumbent Adam Croch (Lib) by 736 votes (51.3% 2PP).  Boughton is a physiotherapist and surfer; this may be another example of ALP doctor power.  Thus far Boughton is hitting the swing required with 1.8% to spare in booth voting, and is a bit below the mark in the prepoll counted so far.  The Gosford EVC prepoll is not yet included and is likely to be helpful for Boughton.  Postals will be very unhelpful but if they are anywhere near the electorate swing then they will not get near erasing the current gap and so I concur with the Poll Bludger prediction that the gap will close a bit but not that much (51-49).  It looks very likely Labor has indeed won this seat.  

Monday midday: First postals were a little below the booth swing and have cut the margin to 594.

Monday 3:30 Crouch has actually taken a 40 vote lead off the two Terrigal prepolls but don't adjust your set yet.  If the other prepolls have the same swing then Boughton will gain in the Gosford prepoll and he will also gain heavily on absents and to some degree on provisionals, good for several hundred votes or so.  Pollbludger still projects 51-49; postals could make it closer than that.  

4:45 Crouch ahead by 87 now after unexpectedly winning the Gosford prepoll which had a far lower swing than the other prepolls.  Closer and closer and closer!

5:45 The poor swing in the Gosford prepoll was actually predictable as there was a Gosford booth that also didn't do much, while a second booth with Gosford in the name was actually well inside Terrigal.  The booths near Woy Woy had much larger swings but the connectivity of Terrigal is such that "near" is a term used with caution.  

10:35 I have had a go at my own projection as some of the PB ones (eg Oatley) appear to be clearly incorrect.  It seems the massive increase in postals could be the biggest issue here.  Terrigal had 11% of enrolment apply for a postal, after only about 3% voted this way in 2019.  So far postals have broken very strongly to the Liberals, and while they will weaken as the count goes on, the great increase in them is a problem for Labor, who will be hard pressed to remain where they are.

Tuesday 2:40 Woy Woy prepoll has slightly favoured Crouch who Antony Green reports to be tracking for about 200 ahead with it added.  That's probably not enough to cover absents and provisionals but the thousands of postals to come will render it irrelevant.  

---------seats no longer being covered --------------------------

Drummoyne (Liberal, 13.6%)

Drummoyne attracted a little bit of attention in the leadup as the sort of bolter seat that might fall if the swing was really on, based especially on the ICAC-enforced retirement of John Sidoti and controversy surrounding his replacement with his own staffer Stephanie Di Pasqua (who has been on leave since January while campaigning.)  With 47.1% counted Di Pasqua is ahead 51.8-48.2.  Abbotsford Public, Canada Bay, Concord and Strathfield North Public have no 2PP and Russel Lea Infants has no figures.  There is a 20.6% 2PP swing to Labor on postals! No prepolls have yet been seen.  Normally when Liberals are well ahead those leads tend to survive even if projected to be very close (PB has 50.5 as a projection, I think ABC's was higher before being switched off) but this is still a very incomplete count.  I have it as a likely Liberal retain for now.

1 am Tuesday: Di Pasqua up 51.6-48.4 and retains.

Goulburn (Liberal 3.1%)

Goulburn hasn't been won by Labor since the early 1960s, though that's partly because it didn't exist in the Bob Carr years.  Wendy Tuckerman was first elected in 2019 and sophomore effect has probably assisted her in keeping down the swing.

With 51.2% counted Labor's Michael Pilbrow trails 11255-11066 but both the ABC and Poll Bludger project him to win with 50.7% 2PP (edit: ABC projection now off).  2PP figures are missing for five ordinary booths including two that were quite strong for Labor.  One prepoll (Crookwell) has been counted.  Once the missing 2PPs are added I project them to knock Tuckerman's lead down to about fifty.  The swing in booth votes is 4.7% to Labor which is more than enough if extended to other forms of voting, but a significant issue here is the large "Goulburn EM Office" prepoll.  The on the day booths with "Goulburn" in their name have all swung to Liberals and if this also happens in the prepoll that could alone be enough to overturn the projections.  I think there's a long way to go in this one.  

Monday 3 pm:  Still waiting for the "Goulburn" prepoll which will be a big deal here but all the missing 2CPs are added and Tuckerman is currently ahead 12766-12683.  

Monday 4:30:  Said prepoll has arrived and replicated the booth swing to Liberals in that area and now Tuckerman is 306 ahead and should hold (in fact, projecting to increase).

Tuesday 5:15: Labor gained in the Yass prepoll but dropped back further in the Bowral one and it's 50.5 with absents, provisionals and more postals to come so I am assuming now that Tuckerman retains.

Kiama (Liberal 12.0%, IND occupied)

In the election's most bizarre contest, former Liberal Gareth Ward was suspended from parliament while facing very serious sexual assault charges which he denies.  He decided to recontest as an independent and the Liberals were left in a quandary and ended up running more or less dead against him for the sake of having a candidate.  However with Liberal voters exhausting their votes, a large general swing to Labor and an incumbent who is obviously difficult to vote for, the ingredients are all there for a potential surprise win to Labor and at the moment this is a serious chance.  Labor's Katelin McInerney leads Ward 8486-7864.  Not yet added are 2CPs for Bomaderry and Illaroo Road or anything for Albion Park Public.  Also very few prepolls are in the count which is only at 41.3% counted.  Crucially there are no 2CPs for the large pile of postals counted, in which Ward has a 48.6-29.1% primary vote lead (postals were very strong for him in 2019 also).  Once the currently missing 2CPs are included I project Ward about 200 ahead.  However I expect Labor to beat Ward by several hundred votes in the Albion Park EVC which was a bad prepoll for Ward last time and it's doubtful the remaining prepolls and so on would break enough to him to overturn it.  The very low percentage counted suggests caution still required here but looking reasonably good for Labor.  

Monday 2:15 Albion Park EVC has indeed stretched Labor's lead which is now 52.1-47.9 (973 votes) with 53.8% counted.

Monday 4:30 Ward has now pegged the lead back to 51.1-48.9 after not doing quite as badly as expected in Albion Park EVC and then largely erasing the damage in the Kiama prepoll.  Now the Poll Bludger projection has Ward slightly ahead.  

Monday 11:00 I am now projecting that Gareth Ward retains.  He is only 100 behind after including the missing 2CPs for one booth and postals, and the Nowra prepoll is coming which was extremely strong for him last time.  He should gain at least 650 out of that, probably more.

Tuesday midday: Nowra prepoll as expected.  Gareth Ward will be returned.  Concerning the charges he is facing, some of them are serious enough that if convicted he could lose the seat, but only after either an appeal fails or he chooses not to appeal.  This would then result in a by-election.  Meanwhile he may well be re-suspended.

Miranda (Liberal 14.4%)

When the swing is really on the election is given away by 7:30 and then you spend the rest of the night talking about seats on nobody's radar.  What on earth is Miranda in the sleepy old Shire doing in a postcount thread?  Well, it might have something to do with Eleni Petinos being sacked from the ministry in 2022 following bullying and office practices complaints (Petinos denies the allegations but also apologised if she had offended anyone).  In any case Petinos currently trails Labor's Simon Earle 10727 to 10877.  However we do not yet have 2PP counts for Frank Vickery Village, Kareela Public, Miranda North Public or Sylvania EVC and once these are added Petinos should be about 700 ahead.  Postals have not been included at all yet and at the moment it seems very likely Petinos will retain.

Monday 2:00 Postals have put Petinos ahead.

Tuesday 6:30: Petinos now up 51.1-48.9 and the Sylvania EVC prepoll is still not counted to 2PP so that would appear to be that for that one.  

Oatley (Liberal 6.8%)

Compared to some of the messy counts doing the rounds Oatley is a thing of beauty with 61.7% counted, every booth done to primary and 2PP and some prepolls and postals done as well.  Liberal incumbent Mark Coure has a 16179 to 15925 edge over Labor's Ash Ambihaipahar (Ash is short for Ashvini) but every vote type counted so far shows a swing above the target.  Poll Bludger is projecting 50.5 to Labor and an important point here could be absents.  Last election absents were about 8% worse for Coure than other votes and if that is still the case they alone could be worth a 400-vote reversal from Coure's current slim lead.  As with a number of seats where the margin has been messed around by the redistribution caution is advised until we see more prepolls, and because a narrow lead is projected for a candidate who's currently behind.

Monday 3:10 Coure has done very well in the Mortdale EVC prepoll, consistent with a general pattern of Labor not matching booth swings on prepoll, and is now projecting to stay ahead (he is 254 votes up at the moment but will be 900 or so ahead once Mortdale is added).  It now looks like Coure has a good chance to survive.

Monday 10:00 And with Coure 910 ahead and no signficant prepolls remaining I am now confident that Coure has retained.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

2023 NSW Election Day Live

Labor has won the election -  very probably in majority

NSW Legislative Assembly 93 seats (Majority 47)
2019 RESULT L-NP 48 ALP 36 Green 3 SFF 3 IND 3
GOING INTO ELECTION (Occupied/Notional) L-NP 46 ALP 37 Green 3 IND 7



APPARENTLY CHANGING SEATS (some not absolutely confirmed):

Coalition to Labor: Camden, East Hills, Heathcote,  Monaro, South Coast, Penrith, Parramatta, Riverstone

Liberal to IND: Wakehurst


Coalition trailing Labor:  Ryde (ALP likely), Terrigal (ALP likely), Goulburn, Holsworthy (ALP likely), Oatley

IND trailing Labor: Kiama


Coalition vs Labor: Drummoyne (Liberal likely), Miranda (Liberal likely), Winston Hills (Liberal likely), Upper Hunter (Liberal likely)

Coalition vs IND: Pittwater, Willoughby, Wollondilly

Green vs Labor: Balmain (Greens ahead)


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Live Comments

Comments will appear here scrolling to the top.  Press refresh for the latest comments.  At the height of counting comments will appear about every 5-10 minutes. 

11:35 End of night wrap: We end the night with Labor on the edge of a majority, and perhaps a more than tiny one, but there is a lot of counting to go to be sure they are over that line.  That Labor are still fighting to nail down a majority off a 2PP of 55-45 confirms what a brutal pendulum they faced, but wins in Monaro and South Coast way up the pendulum appear to have cancelled out the expected failures in Upper Hunter (still in minor doubt) and Tweed.  The Greens have had a scare in Balmain but look to have survived it while their two incumbents have picked up swings as Green incumbents do.  The sitting Independents have all retained comfortably except for Gareth Ward who is trailing narrowly in Kiama.  Michael Regan has won Wakehurst and independent challenges are yet to be firmly disposed of in three other seats.   The much hyped swing to One Nation barely happened and the party is not yet in a winning position for its widely expected second Legislative Council seat.

We have seen this movie before.  The media, independents and Greens bang on prior to the election about what they are going to do in a minority government and the major party voters run for the hills and vote for whichever major party they think is most likely to win.  The pendulum for Labor is so hard that it is still not clear the voters have run far enough, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: the one rule of hung parliament club is that you must not talk about hung parliament club until the polls have closed.  

The other movie we have seen too many times before is the media embarrassing themselves by hyping a result as close even when polling is strongly showing one side ahead.  Even media that do not have commercial imperatives to do it seem to fall for this trap.  

I will now start rolling out postcount coverage - probably some of the classic seats tonight and some other seats and the Legislative Council tomorrow.  [Edit: nope, postcount threads all tomorrow]

11:05 Legislative Council: The count is very incomplete but if the current live count was it then Labor would get 8 seats, Coalition 6, Greens 2 with one each for One Nation (a poor result if it stays where it is), Shooters, Legalise Cannabis, Animal Justice and Liberal Democrats.  In 2019 Liberal Democrats looked very good early and fell over as more votes were counted.  The good news for them this time is that at this stage there are not obvious competitors, with nobody else appearing to be on more than about a quarter of a quota, so if they drop back as much as last time they should still be elected. I am yet to examine the question of BTLs and who they might assist.  [Edit: A seventh Coalition seat at the expense of AJP or LDP if they fall back is also possible, though would not be likely on current numbers]

10:37 I currently have Labor on 45 firm, just about home but not quite in Ryde and Terrigal, well placed in Holsworthy and Kiama and ahead but shakier in Goulburn and Oatley.  I don't think they're that likely to get anything beyond these.  

10:16 Greens continuing to improve in Balmain, projecting to the mid-51s now.  

9:50 Another lull there (whoops!)  Seeing a few of the in-doubt seats eg Winston Hills shift back a bit towards the Coalition.  I'm still not absolutely certain Labor has a majority but it does seem extremely likely.

9:10 Interestingly the preference flow in Willoughby to Larissa Penn is remarkably strong.  It's too early to call that seat at this stage.  In Wollondilly the flow to Judith Hannan is much weaker, otherwise she would be home.  

9:05 The Greens are improving in Balmain, the swing is making it marginal and I think some of the early preference counts were unrepresentative.  But it's not in the bag yet.  

9:02 Yes this thing is still on!  Suddenly found I hadn't posted any comments for 50 minutes while checking and editing the top of the page.  I now have Labor 46 firm, 4 likely of which 2 very likely, 5 more possible of which 2 unlikely, while I wait for whatever other numbers are coming.

8:13 I now have Labor 44 firm, strong in Winston Hills and Ryde and ahead in four others.   

8:06 Balmain is very close so far with the Greens projecting only very narrowly ahead.  Labor's effort to try to win this seat is being vindicated whether they get it or not.

8:02 I'm struggling to believe the ABC projection for Lane Cove and I think it has an error.  Pollbludger is projecting it as a hold.

7:59 Labor majority chances increasing - they are currently projecting ahead in about 

7:47 ABC is calling of all things Lane Cove for Labor, I think this is premature but this seat is on 14.7% so the fact it is in play shows how bad it is for the Coalition.

7:44 Life in Wollondilly too where independent Judy Hannan who was competitive at the last election has a swing to her in early counting.

7:39 Helen Dalton has picked up in Murray and is now on track to retain.  In the teal seats Jacqui Scruby is not too far behind in Pittwater and Larissa Penn not too far behind in Willoughby though really Regan is the only one looking strong so far.

7:36 Labor projected to win Monaro by PollBludger.

7:26 Brief dinner break there.  Labor are clearly on track for victory but majority or not is tenuous as a number of these seats are surprise inclusions that may fall over.  The 2PP projection is tracking up to what Newspoll had.  One of the seats in trouble is ... Epping!

7:14 Huge swings to Janelle Saffin (ALP) in Lismore and retains.

7:09 In Kiama the Liberals have bombed.  Pollbludger is projecting Gareth Ward narrowly ahead in very early counting.  In Barwon Roy Butler (IND ex SFF) is off to a good start.

7:04 There are enormous swings in Miranda (14.4% and on nobody much's radar) in early booths.  Maybe some geographic effect?  Very odd.

7:02 Bad start for teals in North Shore and Vaucluse, not competitive so far.  Wakehurst however is quite different with Michael Regan leading on primaries after two booths.  

6:58 An overall picture at the moment is that Labor isn't yet tracking for a primary vote as high as some polls had (the majors seem to be both tracking to the mid-30s) but Labor is getting huge swings in early booths in a lot of places.

6:50 Helen Dalton (IND, Murray) is on a small margin and with projected swings against in the first two booths combined so the Nats are off to a competitive start there.

6:48 Looking at the early projections on Pollbludger there are now quite a lot of Coalition seats where in the early numbers Labor projects ahead.  Many of these will fall over with more counting but the trend in small booths is not great for the Coalition.  

6:43 Big swing to Labor on primary vote (+12.6%) in first booth in a key seat Goulburn.

6:38 Substantial primary vote swing (c. 8%) to Philip Donato (IND ex SFF) in two booths in Orange.  Substantial sample; I can assume off that Donato will retain.  Also big swing to Nats in first booth in Dubbo which had a big indie challenge in 2019 but doesn't this time.  

6:30 First numbers in Balmain but a trivial number in an unmatched Sydney booth.  Also first sample in Lismore with Labor 1 primary vote ahead is from an unmatched booth.  A c. 9% swing on primary gap to Michael Holland (Labor) in Bega in the first booth (noting I am comparing to the 2019 election where Labor lost by 6.9%), so that is a decent start for Labor there.  A good start for the Nationals in the first Monaro booth too.

6:23 And we're off with a swing to the Greens that I'd expect would flow through to Labor on the 2PP off a trivial sample in the Bondi Presbyterian booth in Coogee!  (ABC doesn't agree.)  Also something in Clarence.  Again, worth noting that votes in booths are often way down on last time and on-the-day booths may be less representative.

6:12 No votes up yet, last time first votes appeared around 6:25

6:00 Pollbludger is currently showing what appears to be test data.

5:45 A note that I have seen no new polls and no exit polls today.  The final 2PP offerings from the major pollsters were therefore, in order of appearance, Morgan 53.5, Resolve 52.5, Freshwater 53 and Newspoll 54.5.  It will take a long time for the 2PP to settle down at this election.  For results tracking note that the Poll Bludger service is superb provided it works; also here's the NSWEC VTR.


Intro (3 pm)

Welcome to my live comments on the NSW state election.  As usual my comments will aim to complement, and perhaps now and then correct, the ABC's coverage which many readers will be watching, and especially to keep an eye on a number of seats of interest (mostly of the non-classic variety).   Comments will start from 6 pm, or earlier if there is anything to report.  (The 2019 election was so long ago that it actually had exit polling!)

Election night in NSW is shorter than federal because of a 10:30 pm stop time for OHS reasons.  The NSWEC will include postals in tonight's count in 38 key districts, a nicely chosen selection.  Prepolls will be counted on the night for some centres and not others and there will be no fresh counting on Sunday.   Prepoll/postal voting has again increased at this election despite the demise of iVote and despite prepoll lasting for only one week.  

I will select various seats to follow in the post-counting threads which will be unrolled either very late tonight or tomorrow.  Clearly classic-2PP seats (Coalition vs Labor) will probably be covered on a single thread, which may also include counts where the top two are obvious with other threads for interesting seats.  

I'll be especially keeping an early eye on the many non-classic suspects, especially Barwon and Murray which tend to get results very early and also the numerous teal challenge seats and Kiama.  

There are bound to be seats where the NSWEC will select the wrong two candidates for its 2CP estimates on the night and the seat will need to be realigned later.  Fortunately the ABC has improved its performance in noting when its projections in these cases are estimates and not real votes, but this is always something to be cautious of.  

Regarding the Legislative Council the NSWEC will produce a more satisfactory early count than last time when only selected parties were broken out; there will still be some distortion from the initial quarantining of below the line votes, but the major distortion will be where the votes are coming from.  I probably won't look at it until late at night; my focus tonight will be mainly on the lower house.  

My summaries of late polling can be seen in my Final Days Rolling Roundup.  A late-breaking Newspoll with Labor just in expected majority territory has scattered the pigeons on betting markets though they still have a Labor minority as favourite.  My own seat model's estimate if the polls are accurate has Labor with a very real chance of majority but on average just a little bit short.   Despite the usual hype about a razor-wire contest the polling has never been all that close, nor does the little seat polling that has been seen suggest anything unusual, and if the polls are accurate then the question is whether Labor can manage a majority despite a sizeable crossbench and a very difficult pendulum.

The Coalition's best (but very slim) hope is a significant error in the polling average plus some luck or good management with the swing distribution.  This election has been quite well polled at state level but the less said about the transparency practices of most of the pollsters involved the better.  The exception of course has been YouGov/Newspoll.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

NSW Lower House 2023: Final Days Rolling Poll Roundup

 NSW Aggregate: 53.7 to Labor (+0.3 since March)
Median result if polls accurate is Labor government, not clear if minority or majority (approx 46 seats)


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Friday Newspoll Update: BOOM!

A big result in the final Newspoll (19-23 March) which has come out with Labor ahead 54.5-45.5, off primaries of Labor 38 Coalition 35 Greens 11 others 16.  After that it seems very highly unlikely that the Coalition wins in any fashion.  It's also very significant in the majority-or-not stakes; in my model 54.5 actually is good for a median of 47 seats and a one-seat majority.  My aggregate is still short of that, but something I am lacking is any poll with regional data or data by seat type that might suggest whether Labor might cut a swathe through the 6-10% range Sydney seats.  

Chris Minns leads as Better Premier 41-39 (William Bowe says it's the first lead for Labor since losing government in 2011) and the poll finds Minns with a net rating of +14 while Perrottet surprisingly falls to net -3.

Original article

We're into the final days of the NSW campaign and after a cluster of polls in late February there was nothing useful statewide until the final week polls started.  This thread will follow the major final week polls and also cover all the local polls (many of them disreputable) that I'm aware of.  The aggregated estimate at the top will be changed as new polls are added.

So far this week we have had possibly final (or perhaps not) offerings from Morgan, Resolve and Freshwater.  These have landed in a narrow band with 2PPs of 53.5, 52.5 and 53 to Labor, which is very similar ground to the late February cluster so there's not much more to explain at present about what that should do.  My seat model's median projection if the 2PP is around 53 remains at 44-45 Labor seats (45 is just ahead of 44), which would be a comfortable Labor minority government with options of working with either the Greens or independents.  However, it's well within the model's potential for error that a 53% 2PP would lead to a small Labor majority, or that it could lead to both majors having about, say, 41 seats and the crossbench deciding the winner.

It's also still possible that the polls are wrong and that we could see a 2PP of, say, 56 to Labor, which is most likely a majority if not necessarily a large one, or, say, 50-50, which would be likely to result in the Coalition having the most seats though even then not necessarily forming government.  A Coalition majority is at rightly long odds since it appears to require both a very good distribution of seat swing and a significant polling failure.  

I weight the Resolve (14-19 Mar) and Freshwater (Mar 19-21) polls higher than the Morgan (Mar 10-14), partly for recency and partly because Morgan's sample size was small among other Morgan foibles, but my aggregate after the first three polls is 53.0 not 52.9 because after reviewing detailed by-party 2PP breakdowns for 2019 recently published by Antony Green my estimates of some of the 2PPs for the February batch increased, causing me to revise my estimate of where things stood at that time from 53.0 to Labor to 53.4 to Labor.  

Resolve's primary votes were 38-38 with Greens 8 (remarkably low), IND 8 and Others 8.  I have examined whether 8% for independents could be plausible and I think it is ambitious but not impossible.  Independents polled 4.8% last time including nine who polled more than 15%, three of whom won.  At this election there are again significant independents in seven of those nine seats plus about another eleven with potential for independents to poll very well, though not all those independents will do so.  Importantly those independents include four incumbents (three ex-Shooters and Gareth Ward) who were not independents last time.   The 2PP was not directly published but implied to be 52.5 to Labor based on comments that it was a 4.5% swing.  

Freshwater has a similar picture with 37-37 for the majors, the Greens on 10 and IND/others the same as Resolve on 16.  (The AFR said both majors were on 33 in its article but that does not add up.)  The 2PP was 53-47 (that's not especially generous to Labor; my last-election estimate is 52.9).  It is interesting that Resolve's 2PP did not change despite Labor dropping 2% on primary votes and more transparency regarding preference allocation would be useful in explaining this.

Morgan also had the majors tied but on 34-34, with the Greens on 13, One Nation on 2 (now confined to seats they are actually running in) and independents and others on 17.  This continues a pattern of Morgan having low primary votes for the majors.

Others, which will at least include the final Newspoll (I am not sure there will be anything else), will be added as they arrive.

Seat Polling

I mentioned a Pittwater seat poll by Freshwater (52-48 to Liberal vs IND) in the previous article. Others I am aware of are:

* A much-criticised Climate 200 Community Engagement poll of North Shore, supposed to show a 2PP of 50.7 to Liberal vs Independent, but there is no explanation of how the 2PP was calculated and 50.7 is not credible off the very incompletely reported primaries which suggest more like 55-45.  Community Engagement is a non-transparent pollster which does not have a demonstrated record of successful predictions at elections.  It's helpful that there was a very teal-like contest in North Shore in 2019 where it can be seen that the independent local mayor. Carolyn Corrigan, gained at .26 votes per preference.  See for instance the Twitter thread by Yuan (Joseph) Lin that bolts down why the supposed flow to teal independent contender Helen Conway in Climate 200 's poll is implausible based on what we have seen before.

* Another Climate 200 poll of Pittwater with Liberal 34.3 Scruby (IND) 28.5 Labor 11.2 Green 6.4 and the rest others or "won't vote" and the teal candidate Jacqui Scruby ahead 50.7-49.3.  This is presumably also Community Engagement and details are again inadequate.  No polling methods details for these polls have been found.  Incidentally the North Shore poll supposedly had 7% not voting, which seems unlikely unless non-citizens are included, since electors who don't vote are generally hard for pollsters to find.

* An inadequately reported Freshwater seat poll of Riverstone.   The AFR, whose reporting of polls has been a rolling embarrassment to a supposedly upmarket paper, didn't see fit to tell us sampling dates, polling method, 2PP method or sample size.  Labor led 54-46 but that was with One Nation polling 7%.  One Nation aren't running, which would help the Coalition by cutting down on loss of potential preferences to voters voting 1 One Nation and stopping.

* Redbridge polls of Penrith and Parramatta, claiming to show Labor trailing 49-51 and leading 54-46 but Redbridge are not very good at estimating 2PPs; I get Labor ahead about 51-49 and 57-43.  Both polls had very high One Nation votes (15% in Penrith, 13% in Parramatta) - high votes for One Nation and UAP are a common feature of Redbridge polls.  By comparison in 2019 One Nation got 7.2% in Penrith and less than 4% in the upper house in Parramatta.  

* An IPA poll by a hitherto unknown to me outlet called Insightfully and covering Dubbo, Bathurst, Orange and Upper Hunter and purporting to show very high votes for non-majors based off robopoll samples of less than 300 per seat.  However the poll was taken before candidates were announced and there simply aren't non-major candidates capable of getting 55% in Dubbo (where there is no independent running this time) or 44% in Bathurst (where the only independent was banned from Lithgow Council for five years.)  As such while the Upper Hunter numbers were good for the Nationals incumbent, it's hard to take any notice of this one.

* Some non-transparent nonsense on Sky about a poll by an unstated pollster for an unstated industry group supposed to show a 16% swing against Matt Kean on primaries in Hornsby with One Nation getting 15% (and that's raw with 5% undecided).  Kean was still winning 58-42 but nobody is taking the claimed One Nation vote seriously. (They got 4.5% there last time.)

* A further batch of industry group polling on Sky (edited into the article) has further problems.  Again there's no detail on pollster name, polling method, sample date (with one exception), sample size, 2PP method or the sponsor (though the sponsor of the first three seems to be an energy industry source that detests Matt Kean and might well have used skewed questions against him, since it's unlikely enough voters would have a view on Kean either way for some of the ratings given).  We have:

- Leppington a supposed 52-48 to Labor off Labor 40, Liberal 32, One Nation 16, Greens 7 others 6.  With the high propensity of One Nation voters to exhaust, this 2PP is unlikely; I would expect 56-44 by statewide preferences though probably a little lower in this seat.  (It is credible there will be a high One Nation vote in Leppington).

- Goulburn a plausible 53-47 to Labor off Labor 35 Liberal 33 Shooters 13 Greens 9 One Nation (not running) 5 others 4.  The combined Shooters and One Nation vote here is about what it was last time.  

- Wakehurst a supposed 50-50 off primaries of Liberal 41 Regan (IND) 37 Labor 11 Greens 3 others 8.  Very hard to credit that Michael Regan would have any trouble getting a gain rate of well above the .18 votes/preference needed to tie off these numbers.  If these primaries are real Regan will win, but hard to believe the Liberal primary has gone down that much.

- North Shore a supposed 54-46 to Helen Conway off primaries of Liberal 34 IND 28 Green 12 according to narration (but 20 according to graphic) Labor 7 others 6 and who knows what the other 13 are.  It seems suspicious that Labor would be down through the teal challenge but the Greens not at all and for that reason alone it's hard to believe that one.

- and the big one Kiama which is actually a fairly fresh sample taken March 13 - this might be useful information but we'll see.  Ward (IND) 40, Labor 33, Lib 11, Green 8, other 7 and 53-47 to Ward (that seems about right since most of the Lib votes will exhaust and the Green votes may not split that strongly).  

North Shore and Kiama may be separate batches.  There's no evidence to indicate any of these should be reliable and they may be being put about by motivated actors.  


The Resolve poll showed both leaders are very popular by recent standards with both on net +20 approval and Perrottet ahead 40-34 as preferred Premier (a modest and generally not sufficient lead as this skews to incumbents).  Morgan had Minns ahead of Perrottet 52-48 among those who bothered to return the SMS on that question, which about 15% didn't.  Essential has Perrottet ahead 36-33 but appears to have wimped out on voting intentions despite having a sample of 708, and Freshwater has Perrottet ahead 46-40.  


Betting odds are not reliably predictive but it is interesting to keep an eye on how they go.  Markets on result type currently imply Labor is about an 82% chance of winning with a 30% chance of a majority and a 52% chance of minority, to the Coalition with a 14% chance of minority and 4% chance of majority.  Seat betting markets have been jammed on 42 Labor wins for ages and are now quite confident about Labor keeping Bega and gaining Heathcote, East Hills, Parramatta and Penrith with a little more doubt about Riverstone.  In serious doubt on the Coalition side are Winston Hills, Ryde, Camden, Goulburn, Upper Hunter, Holsworthy and Tweed vs Labor and North Short, Pittwater, Wakehurst and Willougby vs teals.  Two INDs are seen as in significant danger but still favourites - Gareth Ward in Kiama (vs both majors) and Helen Dalton in Murray.

The overall favourites tally is Labor 42 Coalition 41 Green 3 IND 7 (which I think would be a Labor government) but after adjusting for close seats a more realistic read of what the seat markets expect is Labor 44 Coalition 38 Greens 3 with IND 7 or 8.  So the seat markets, the overall markets and the statewide polling are all pretty much consistent with each other.

Updates will follow with at least Newspoll to come.  At this stage on the night I will have the usual live blog-style coverage here, with the usual rollout of close seats and the Legislative Council count during Sunday.  

Updates: Wednesday

A fresh batch of Sky "industry group" polling comments have been added to the seat poll section above.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Insane In The Balmain: Does Labor Really Need To Win This Seat?


A Labor flier from Balmain (source)

The district of Balmain (Green 10.0% vs ALP) would normally be of little interest at this NSW election given that it is on a large margin and the Greens have so far never lost a single seat electorate that they won at a previous general election.  What makes Labor think Balmain is worth taking a tilt at is the retirement of 12-year incumbent Jamie Parker, the first Green at state or federal level to retire from a single-seat electorate.  

One of the reasons the Greens have 14 wins from 14 attempts at defending state or federal single-member seats won at a general election (by-elections and multi-member seats are different stories) is that there tend to be oversize swings to them in subsequent elections.  For a first defence at state and federal levels the average swing is 2.9% on primary vote and 4.0% on two candidate preferred.  For a second and later defences it is 3.0% and 4.8% per election.  (The 2CP figures are affected in varying directions by Liberal preference recommendation changes, and a 2CP swing is not always available).  The obvious explanation for this is demographics, but another possible explanation is that sitting Greens may receive unusually high personal votes.  And if they receive them when they defend their seats, maybe they also lose them when they retire?  

(Upper House results could be used to get an idea of whether this really is a personal vote effect as opposed to a demographic one.  I haven't tried, the point for this article being that the seat has attracted interest because of the retirement.)

Labor have been targeting Balmain with signs reading "Vote Green Risk Perrottet" (which sounds like an instruction to do both of those things) and fliers like the one above.

"This election will be incredibly close - to kick out the Liberals, Labor must win the seat of Balmain.

A vote for the Greens in Balmain risks returning the Liberals to power."

So, is there any merit to these claims?

What is the claimed risk?

One of the problems with voting scare campaigns like this is that they do not say exactly how the risk functions, and hence may mislead voters into thinking a risk exists that doesn't.  This particular flier might be read by various voters as meaning any of the following:

1. A vote for the Greens, even if Labor is preferenced, could assist the Coalition to win Balmain.

2. If the Greens retain Balmain they will not support Labor into government but will instead act in some way that assists the Liberals to remain in office.

3. If the Greens retain Balmain and fully support Labor then the fact that they have won Balmain will still result in Labor not forming government because of impacts on the decisions of other crossbenchers.

Meaning 1 is absolutely false as concerns Balmain (only the Greens and Labor are competitive) but there are a surprisingly large number of voters who don't understand preferential voting and don't realise that an excluded vote flows at full value, and some of these might be misled by such fliers.   (Incidentally meaning 1 is potentially true in Lismore, where there is a strategic voting issue surrounding Labor flows to Greens being weaker than Green flows to Labor in that seat).  

A further example backed off to "it could be impossible" for Labor to win without Balmain, before a third that spuriously raised the prospect of One Nation, who are unlikely to win any lower house seats.  I've seen a message from Labor candidate Philippa Scott that shows the intended meaning is in fact meaning 3, but meaning 2 is also worth looking at.  

Will this election be incredibly close?

It is common for politicians, parties and media to claim that elections will be incredibly close and that every vote matters whether this is actually true or not.   Some elections are very close, but a claim that a given election will be incredibly close in advance is overconfident.  Nobody can consistently forecast elections with that sort of confidence level, and elections that appear to be on a knife-edge often turn out to be not that close, or vice versa.  

The last 15 Australian state and federal (as distinct from territory) elections in a row have produced majority governments.  Twelve of those saw significant media speculation about a possible, probable or in cases supposedly inevitable hung parliament, but none of those hung parliaments happened.  At present it actually appears more likely than not (on aggregated poll-based modelling) that one will happen here, but that is no guarantee that it will.  For instance Labor's lead could increase, or Labor could get a favourable seat distribution and win a majority off its current aggregated polling (around 53% 2PP).  (A Coalition majority requires heroic assumptions but still can't be declared impossible on public evidence as at the time I send this either.)

More significantly, there are hung parliaments and hung parliaments.  The range of possible no-majority outcomes includes those where the winner is unclear on the night and negotations continue for weeks with government eventually being formed by a single seat, but it also includes plenty of outcomes where one side is very close to a majority, or at least in Labor's case needs the support of only one other component (the Greens) to get there.  As such the probability that Balmain is even capable of deciding the government is quite low; even if there is no majority, the effective margin will probably be more than one seat.  

Could Balmain make the difference?

Let's say that the numbers are such that the remaining 92 seats have not already ensured the result without considering Balmain.  There are a couple of possible scenarios where Balmain matters:

1. Balmain determines whether or not Labor is the most electorally successful party and some crossbencher ultimately bases their decision on which side to support or not on this.

By most electorally successful here I mean most seats, with two-party preferred as a possible tiebreaker.  So for this section to be activated, Labor would have to either lose the seat tally in a situation where a crossbencher would have chosen them had they tied it, or would have to tie the seat tally with the crossbencher choosing the Coalition.  For the latter case, this would almost certainly mean the crossbencher would be ignoring the 2PP vote.  

Labor figures here have made hay from both Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper stating that they would take into account most seats and "popular vote" (in Australia understood as 2PP) in making their decision.  However Greenwich and Piper have both flagged several other issues as key to their decision and so the chance of their decision being determined by electoral success is not that high. 

2. Balmain determines whether or not Labor can find a compatible group of crossbenchers to support it into government

The second scenario here is that Labor has enough crossbenchers willing to support it into government, except that some of them will not work with each other.  To give an artificial example, 44 Coalition, 42 Labor, 2 Green, 5 IND, where all of the independents prefer to work with Labor but three will only do so if they don't have to work with the Greens.  Here Labor can form government supported by the independents, but if the numbers are switched to 41 Labor, 3 Greens, they now can't.

This scenario might make sense if there was talk about establishing a coalition, but there isn't - all that is envisaged from Labor's side is confidence and supply from crossbenchers, not that those crossbenchers will work together on policy.  That alone makes this less likely to be an issue, but it's also unlikely that there will be that many crossbenchers who are Green-averse enough to make support from the Greens a dealbreaker.  

What would the Greens do in a non-majority situation?

The Greens recently launched a hung parliament strategy in a desperate attempt to frighten voters into running for the hills and electing a majority government.  Well that's how it always seems to me anyway - these displays of hubris from the party where it declares the election result in advance and starts trying to push Labor around before the votes are cast always strike me as unwise.  

Be that as it may, what the Greens said was that they would not support Perrottet's Coalition (some thought that left the door slightly open to supporting one led by Matt Kean) but that their support for Labor would be conditional on <insert long list here>.

Generally it would be expected that the Greens would find some way to support Labor into government and boast to their supporters that they had put Labor on notice on certain policies and perhaps extracted concessions on others (despite Labor's "no deals" pledge, tacit deals are very easy).  They've strongly hinted, but haven't outright guaranteed, that it would be something like that.

As the incumbent, Perrottet is entitled to remain in office until the parliament passes a no-confidence vote against him.  At this stage the Greens have not stated they would definitely vote in favour of such a vote, only that they would not vote against it, but this may be an unintended omission.  (At the federal election they had a clear position to throw the Morrison government out.)  The Greens have also not said they will necessarily vote Labor into office.  In theory if the Greens' position was to vote against confidence in Perrottet but abstain on confidece in Minns, a situation could arise where there were the potential numbers for a no-confidence vote in Perrottet, but not for Minns to survive a no-confidence vote himself, meaning that the former vote could be seen by other crossbenchers as pointless.  So it is possible to come up with a far-fetched scenario in which the Greens refusing to grant confidence to Minns could keep Perrottet in power, but it's an artificial idea that I don't think anyone really expects will happen.  Sooner or later the deal will be done, even if there is no deal.

Detractors of the Greens like to point to them supporting the Tasmanian Rundle Liberal government between 1996 and 1998, in order to imply they might do the same here (despite them ruling it out).  However, the situation of the Greens supporting the Liberals in Tasmania only arose because Labor refused to consider forming a minority government, meaning that the only choices were a Liberal minority or a second election.  In that parliament the Greens provided only the most minimal support on supply and confidence and frequently voted against the government they were supporting.   The Greens have supported Labor into government or to remain in government every time they had a chance to do so.


The flier's claim that Labor must win Balmain is unlikely to be correct and the flier's lack of precision makes it potentially misleading.  That said, this article has identified three scenarios in which Labor not winning Balmain could cost it government.  Each relies on a combination of two individually unlikely things happening together, so the overall chance that failure to win Balmain will cost Labor the election is remote.

Of course, should this occur, then every other seat Labor failed to win will have cost it the election too.  And some of those would almost certainly be a lot closer than Balmain.  

Thursday, March 9, 2023

NSW 2023 Legislative Council Preview And Advice On Effective Voting

The release of today's ballot order is a good time for a quick post about the NSW Legislative Council contest for 2023.

NSW uses a single statewide electorate with half-in half-out (21 seats) at each election.   Voting is overwhelmingly above the line, and preferencing is fully optional.  A below the line option is available but requires filling at least 15 boxes.  Voters for parties that don't have an above the line box, or for ungrouped candidates, need to vote this way.   See my voter advice section for advice on effective voting below.

The quota for election is 1/22nd or about 4.545%.  The major tickets (Liberal/National and Labor) always win several seats each on filled quotas, the more successful minor parties win a few this way, and there is then a race involving the next candidates in line for the parties that have won full quotas and the lead candidates for parties that have polled less than a quota.  This race typically fills about the final four seats, and the preferences of excluded parties have some impact here and can help some parties to jump over others if their contests are very close.  A party that has well over half a quota on primaries in these races typically wins, those that have well under half a quota lose, and the grey zone is around 0.4-0.6 quotas (1.8-2.7%) - however it varies a little from election to election.

The use of a very proportional system means the major parties are not close to a majority and the question is what sort of house they have to work with.  The 2019 slate was 8 Coalition, 7 Labor, 2 Greens, 2 One Nation, 1 Shooters and 1 Animal Justice.  This is a very close to balanced slate and means that even if there is a lopsided result in 2023 there won't be a very lopsided Legislative Council.  

At the ballot draw today it was revealed that, ludicrously, six out of the 21 tickets are not running enough candidates (15) to qualify for an above the line box and are therefore completely wasting their time and electoral resources as they will not be elected.  In 2015 and 2019 there were only two and one such tickets respectively.  The following is the order of the ballot (left to right):

Group A (Lyle Shelton)
pointless group B (No ATL Box) Craig Kelly
Animal Justice Party
pointless group  E (No ATL Box) Milan Maximovich
Socialist Alliance
pointless group  G (No ATL Box) Silvana Nile / Fred Nile
Elizabeth Farrelly Independents
Liberal Democrats
pointless group  K (No ATL Box) Oscar Grenfell
Public Education Party
(spuriously so-called) Informed Medical Options Party
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
Legalise Cannabis
pointless group P (No ATL Box) Danny Lim
One Nation
Sustainable Australia
pointless group T (No ATL Box) Milton Caine
Group U (Riccardo Bosi)

Thus while there are eight tickets running that are not registered party tickets, only two of these (Shelton and Bosi) will have above the line boxes.  This will produce a messy gappy ballot paper and something should be done about this next time.  The Shelton and Bosi columns will just be headed "Group A" and "Group U".

The following are my rough and moderately snarky assessments of how the 15 horses with ATL boxes might go:

Coalition: In the years 2007-2015 the Coalition typically polled about 3% below its lower house vote in the Legislative Council but in 2019 this jumped to 6.76%, largely as a result of competition from One Nation.  Currently the Coalition is polling around the mid-30s on average for the lower house.  I suspect the difference between its votes in the two houses this time around will be lower, partly because soft voters are more likely to vote for someone else in the lower house and partly because of the disappearance of the Christian Democrats as a competitor.  An upper house vote of around 30% (6.6 quotas) would probably be good for seven seats but if there is a blowout against the Coalition from current polling it might be the Coalition would only get six.  On the other hand, if the higher estimates of the Coalition's primary are correct and the Coalition manages to close the gap on Labor and to reduce losses to other parties, there is still some chance of eight.  

Labor:  In 2007 Labor polled about the same in both houses but in years since it has increasingly tended to poll better in the lower house, the gap reaching 3.6% in 2019.  With the addition of Legalise Cannabis to the ballot I doubt this will go down.  The party is currently mostly polling in the high 30s on which basis I would expect an Upper House vote of about 33.5.  That would be good for seven seats and a realistic chance of an eighth.  I think Labor would have to underperform current polling badly in the lower house to not be good for seven.

Greens: The Greens have historically more or less matched their lower house vote in the upper house, though they did exceed their lower house vote by almost 1% in 2011.  They too could be affected by increased competition from Legalise Cannabis in the upper house, but on the other hand their lower house polling is likely to be being slightly suppressed by teal independents.  The Greens are still polling well for the lower house (on average around 11%) which suggests they are a lock for two seats and a reasonable chance for a third, but their lower house polling should be watched for any softening that would suggest a third is difficult.

One Nation: One Nation narrowly won two seats in 2019 off 6.9% of the vote.  This is generally expected to increase or at worst stay level, on the back of dissatisfaction with the government and problems in the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.  However there is not a great amount of polling evidence - one Morgan has had them on 8% for the lower house (which will be wrong as they are only contesting 17 seats).  There was a breathless media report about the party getting "an average of a 3-4 point increase in the primary vote in basically every single seat west of Parramatta." in Liberal internal polling but even a swing of that size across the whole state would probably not be good for a third seat, which would require a state vote of at least 11%.  I expect One Nation to again win two seats.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers: In happier days the Shooters had a great election in 2019 and won their seat with quota off 5.5% of the vote, boosted by the western backlash against the Nationals that saw them win three seats downstairs.  However the three MLAs have all quit the party (one over policy disagreements then two over the leader using violent language about the one who had left, and the party subsequently not removing him).  There's a general view that said leader, Robert Borsak, will struggle to retain his seat, but I will point out that the party probably needs to lose more than half its 2019 vote before it does so.  We will see.

Animal Justice Party: The AJP won seats in 2015 and 2019 off rather low primary vote shares, just below 2% in both cases, benefiting from left-wing voters being better at filling out preferences than righties.  Its first ever MLC Mark Pearson is retiring (possibly an enforced casualty of the great 2017 snapper scandal) and there is some feeling it will struggle because of competition from Legalise Cannabis.  On the other hand, the party enjoyed a 1.1% swing to it at the Senate election and may well win if it can match the vote it recorded there.  

Legalise Cannabis:  Legalise Cannabis are controversially recycling former Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham as their lead candidate.  This may cost them some votes on the left but the end of their support base that tosses up between them and One Nation won't be bothered at all.  The party polled 2.6% at the Senate election in the state and would probably win if it could replicate that, since that is 0.57 quotas.

Liberal Democrats: The Liberal Democrats profit from voter confusion when they draw to the left of the Liberal ticket but have a lousy ballot draw here in primary vote terms drawing directly on the Liberal ticket's right.  In 2019 they polled 2.18% with former Senator David Leyonhjelm as lead candidate but that wasn't enough (despite Leyonhjelm prematurely claiming victory and the ABC website prematurely calling the seat for him.)   They are hence capable of polling thereabouts but have a history of crawling on preferences, and few obvious preference sources in this lot.  One scenario where they might get lucky is if they manage to roughly hold their vote and the Liberal/National ticket has about 0.3 of a quota spare.  If the L/NP ticket is eliminated before the LDP then being adjacent to them on the ballot paper could prove very handy indeed.  

Sustainable Australia: This controversial party (anti-immigration on purportedly environmental grounds but often and not entirely without reason accused of xenophobia) was not too far off the pace in 2019 when it polled 1.46% (0.32 quotas).  It would probably have to lift substantially to get in the frame and it may not help that there will be competition for the "anti-overdevelopment" (or if you prefer, blatant NIMBY) vote from Elizabeth Farrelly.  The party has run candidates almost everywhere in the lower house, this being a ramp-up of a strategy it also tried in 2019 which is supposed to increase its upper house vote.

Shelton: Former spuriously so-called "Australian Christian Lobby" director Lyle Shelton is running an independent ticket linked to the rebirth of the Family First brandname.  Family First polled 2% in the Victorian election but Shelton will not have the asset of having the Family First name, a magnet for very clueless voters, on the ballot paper.  What he will have is pole position on the grid, which gives him the donkey vote.  The donkey vote does not seem to be worth that much in these contests though, eg Nell Brown's unrelated Group A polled only 0.68% including it plus her genuine votes in 2007.   A further difficulty is that having a group name on an ATL box makes it hard to attract preference flows compared to having a ticket name.  Shelton may poll substantially off the back of the demise of an ATL Christian Democrats or Conservatives option but I suspect a lot of those voters will just vote Liberal.  One to keep an eye on in early counting.

Elizabeth Farrelly Independents: The nearest thing to a teal-style campaign, with a high-profile lead candidate but also a figure of fun for online pundits, especially after failing to declare she was a registered Labor candidate for council elections that she didn't contest.  Farrelly polled 9.8% in the Strathfield by-election but that was in a field of six not a field of 15 groups.  Will probably poll negligibly west of the Red Rooster line and anywhere much outside Sydney so would have to do it all in the inner city seats.  At least has a party name above the line after taking over the Keep Sydney Open registration.  Another one I'll keep an eye on as early in the night as I can, though the pundit consensus is nope.

Public Education Party: This is a rebadge of Reason in a registration sense but more a case of Reason giving away its registration to what was the Fairer Education Party, whatever that was.  A single issue party that seems not to be very high profile and that I don't think should much trouble the scorers.

Bosi: There has been some online interest in the prospects of Riccardo Bosi, leader of the unregistered AustraliaOne extreme right nationalist conspiracist party.  As with Shelton Bosi has a box but not a party name, so even if he manages to poll something non-negligible he'll struggle for preferences, not that anyone much in this lot will send preferences his way anyway.  Will probably generate a lot more hot air than votes.  

IMOP: I should bloody well hope not.

Socialist Alliance: No.

Overall balance

The 2019 result can be taken as 11-10 right-left if counting the Shooters as right.  If current polling is correct and Labor is on track to win the 2PP vote then there's a good prospect of the left winning at least 11, since in that case Labor should get at least seven and the Greens at least two, with Labor, the Greens, Legalise Cannabis and Animal Justice likely to have enough between them for two more.

A 11-10 left-right split would leave an incoming Labor government with a finely balanced upper house and having to work with the Shooters (for instance) to get bills passed.  If Labor does really well a 12-9 upper house result, giving the left a majority, is possible as it's conceivable three of the left's four main chances would then get up.  

If the Coalition wins the election overall it could well be doing so off a weaker voting position than in 2019 and that might well come with an adverse split upstairs leading to a Legislative Council where it had to work with Animal Justice or Legalise Cannabis, for example.  The current government has been quite good at working with crossbenchers with different political views downstairs and would surely take such a situation if offered it right now.  

Effective Voting Advice

If voting above the line, you can just vote 1 for your preferred party and stop, but you shouldn't.  If your party says to vote 1 and stop, you should question its intelligence.  If you do vote 1 and stop, once your party has had all its candidates excluded or elected, your vote plays no further role and cannot help other parties you might like or consider OK beat parties you dislike.

Ranking the 15 parties with above the line boxes from 1-15 is not that hard and if you have the time I recommend doing it.  If you don't, at least make sure you rank (in order of preference) all the parties you like, followed by all the parties you think are overall OK.  If you don't think you know enough about a party, I suggest demote it below parties you do feel you know enough about, or leave it out.  

For the vast majority of voters in NSW, voting below the line in the upper house is pointless and far more bother than it's worth.  I suggest only voting below the line if you, for instance:

* wish to vote for or preference an ungrouped candidate or a candidate without an above the line box (bear in mind they are simply not going to win)

* wish to re-order your preferred party's ticket (bear in mind this is not even remotely likely to affect the results)

* wish to jump around between candidates from different parties, for instance based on their social issue positions

* have a burning desire to put someone last (this too, will make you feel good if you have the time but your vote's very unlikely to get anywhere near there)

* have way too much time on your hands and are up to no good tactically (warning: that section is for advanced players only and the NSW system is slightly different) but don't want to even tactically vote 1 for, say, Socialist Alliance. 

The important thing about the NSW system is that, like the Senate system and unlike the Victorian system, your vote only goes where you send it.  There are no group ticket preferences and even if your party has put out a how to vote card suggesting preferences to someone else, it's your decision who your preference flows to.  (The counting process is complicated in NSW by archaic random elements, but in terms of the impact your vote on average has it may as well be the same as the Senate.)