Saturday, December 15, 2018

Victoria 2018: Final Lower House Results, Poll Performance and 2PP Pendulum

There is no single method of calculating 2PP for this election.  The following are examples of possible figures:
57.62% to Labor (Uniform swing applied to Richmond - probably fairest method)
57.89% to Labor (Richmond treated as 100% to Labor)
57.35% to Labor (Richmond excluded)

With two-party results for all Lower House seats now available it's time to wrap up my Victorian election coverage for 2018, on a high because at least that's the one house where I can talk about the results without constantly losing my temper at the system.  The article again includes a 2PP pendulum.  While this will be of less use for the future than the 2014 one was, given that there is a major redistribution coming, I think it is still useful for looking at the results, and especially at whether the Coalition was lucky not to lose even more seats than it did.

Final vote share results

The final primaries for the Lower House were Labor 42.86%, Coalition 35.19, Greens 10.71, Others 11.24.  As @sorceror43 notes, excluding Richmond, "Labor won 67.4% of all minor party prefs, slightly down from 69.8% in 2014. That's despite Greens share of all minors dropping from 57.8% in 2014 to 48.4%."  I have not attempted to measure shifts in the preferences of Greens and Others specifically yet, but suspect there was very little change.

There is unfortunately no unique way to calculate the statewide 2PP for this election because of the Liberals' ill-fated decision to not contest the district of Richmond.  Richmond is a very pro-Labor seat on a 2PP basis so removing Richmond from the results has the effect of downplaying the swing across other districts.  While official sources will probably need to give a 2PP percentage based on an actual vote tally, I think that applying the swing from all electorates other than Richmond to Richmond on a notional basis creates the fairest estimate of 57.62% to Labor, a swing after rounding of 5.63 points.  The average swing per seat was slightly lower at 5.47%, as a result of population distortions.  The standard deviation of seat swings on a 2PP basis was 3.84%.

As well as the estimates available by omitting Richmond or treating Richmond as 100% Labor, Antony Green has tweeted a further statewide estimate of 57.7% obtained by applying derived Greens flows from other seats to Richmond.  However this implies an 85.9% (+12.8%) estimated 2PP in Richmond, which is out of step for other comparable seats.  Another rough way to get a handle on the possible swing in Richmond (had the Liberals run a candidate is to look at the Upper House votes).  In the remaining Northern Metropolitan seats the average 2PP swing was 3.2%.  In Upper House primary vote swings, Richmond was 1.3 points worse for the Liberals and 2.6 points better for Labor than the Northcote average swing.  It was also 6 points worse for the Greens, much of which can be explained by switching to other left-wing parties, primarily Victorian Socialists.  On this basis I feel comfortable that the 2PP swing in Richmond would have been around the state swing had the Liberals actually contested.  Perhaps slightly higher if we assume that ALP voters in Richmond were disproportionately likely to switch to Victorian Socialists.

For the benefit of those who care about exact totals, I have the total of 2PP votes excluding Richmond as 1992934 - 1481896, with 44394 formal votes in Richmond. There is a 4750 vote discrepancy between this total and the rechecked primary vote total, which may be explained by errors in the check counts for seats that did not require a full preference distribution being caught during rechecking of primaries, or it may also be explained by undetected errors (hopefully not mine!).  As we saw with several of the seats, differences in the number of formal votes between the quick 2PP throw and a full preference distribution can occur and are sometimes substantial. 

(As a word of caution about VEC 2PPs for seats that don't go to a full preference throw, a data entry error affecting the margin in Eltham by about 1540 votes very narrowly missed out on making it into the final 2PP.)

Seat results, swings and personal votes

The graph below shows the relationship between the 2014 margin and the 2PP swing in each seat.  The winners of each seat are colour-coded (blue for Liberals, dark green for Nationals, red for Labor, grey for indies and you tell me for Greens).  The gap between the two thick black lines (marked "ALP Gains") is the area in which the 2PP status of seats changed hands.  Uniform swing has been applied in the case of Richmond.  Click for larger clearer version.

Labor obtained a 2PP swing in all bar six seats.  It won the 2PP vote in eleven seats where the 2PP vote was won by the Coalition in 2014.  However these eleven included Prahran (retained by the Greens) and Morwell (retained by Russell Northe as an independent after previously holding it as a National).  As well as losing nine seats to Labor and Morwell to Northe, the Coalition also lost Mildura to independent Ali Cupper.

As a general rule the Coalition vote held up best in rural seats, with no 2PP swing to speak of in most Nationals seats or in Liberal-held Benambra and Ripon.  The swing was modest in Ovens Valley (where the Nationals incumbent had had some unfriendly publicity) but Mildura was a massive 2PP outlier, not only falling to Cupper but also being Labor's largest 2PP swing of the election.

The Coalition saved four seats that would have fallen had the swing been uniform (Ripon, Eildon, Caulfield and Forest Hill) but also lost three on margins above the state swing (Box Hill, Nepean and Hawthorn).  They saved eight seats and lost four by 2PP margins below 2%, and saved twelve and lost six by less than 3%, so it could have easily been even worse.  The 59-29 2PP split of seats is exactly what my seat model (which took into account personal votes, population changes and the variability of seat swings) would have expected for the 2PP recorded.  While Labor fell seven seats short of the 2002 "Brackslide" off roughly the same 2PP, four of those were caused by the seats being occupied by crossbenchers.

In total, non-classic two-candidate results occurred in the six seats won by crossbenchers (Brunswick, Prahran, Melbourne, Morwell, Mildura and Shepparton), two seats won by Labor against the Greens (Richmond, Northcote), two seats won by Labor against independents (Pascoe Vale and Geelong) and one seat won by the Liberals against an independent (Benambra).  The seat of Preston had a 2CP preference throw between Labor and the Greens but it was not determined exhaustively whether the Greens were second in it (though based on the results it is likely they would have been).  In Footscray and Williamstown the Greens may have finished second had preferences been fully thrown, but they weren't.

The non-classic case that presented the biggest problems was Werribee, where independent Joe Garra certainly finished second, but because Tim Pallas had over 50% with two opponents remaining, preferences were never fully thrown.  This creates the weird situation that there is no official victory margin between the candidates finishing first and second.  The VEC had the option to realign the seat as they did for Pascoe Vale and Geelong, but chose not to do so.  Whether this is because they were not convinced Garra was going to be second, or because they saw the result as a foregone conclusion, remains unclear.  In the event that Garra runs again, we now do not know what 2CP swing he needs to unseat the incumbent, although the precedent of Preston suggests the VEC would conduct the quick 2CP count between Labor and Garra in this instance.  I don't think it's ideal that whether or not a challenger gets to know what they lost by depends on an opaque decision on whether or not the count is realigned and, while budget constraints doubtless are a factor, I think this should be looked at for the future.

As for Labor-Green seats, Labor lost ground and the seat in Brunswick (where its sitting member retired) and, compared to the last election, and also Northcote (which had been disrupted by the Greens winning a by-election, so recapturing the seat by any margin was a good result for Labor). In Prahran, Labor and Green primaries both improved by a similar amount and the Greens kept the seat.  That leaves Melbourne, where there was a small swing to Labor, and Richmond, where there was a larger one.  There was some theory - the logic behind which I never grasped - that Liberal voters in Richmond would be more likely to preference the Greens if the party didn't run at all rather than if it ran on an open ticket.  The Liberals may have been keen to try to get Kathleen Maltzahn into parliament because of the impact of her sex work views on the Greens party room.  But it failed.  The increase in the informal vote in Richmond was 2.22 points compared to 1.31 in Brunswick, 1.21 in Melbourne and 0.08 in Northcote.  It appears that some Liberal voters, rather than voting Green as their party seemed to want them to do, just didn't bother voting at all.

One might expect the huge size of the swing would swamp personal vote effects.  In fact this was yet another election that confirms in spades that personal votes are a theory and a fact.  Compared to the overall state swing of 5.62%:

* in the three seats where Labor had double sophomore effect on their side (defeated sitting MP at previous election), the swing was 11.06%
* in nine seats where Labor had a single sophomore boost (first term MP elected at previous election) the swing was 6.48%
* in in ten seats where Labor incumbents retired the average swing was 4.55%
* in seven seats where the Coalition had a single sophomore boost the average swing was 3.45%
* in five seats where the Coalition MP retired or switched to run as an independent the average swing was 7.00%.

We shouldn't take the first result too seriously as these seats were all part of the hitherto crucial "sandbelt", so regional factors could well be at play (which is a nice way to say things without trying to remember how many "l"s there are in "porkbarrel"). However, that can also be part of why new sitting MPs tend to do well.  And overall this is very strong evidence even ignoring the double-sophomore cases.  In noticing that the Coalition held up well in rural seats, we should bear in mind that they had assistance from personal vote effects in some of them.

Polling Accuracy

The lack of a single 2PP figure makes it a little difficult to compare 2PP polling with the actual vote.  While I have little doubt that ReachTEL would have treated the Coalition as running in all seats,  and suspect Morgan would have done the same, I have no idea what Galaxy would have done about the situation.  I am using 57.62% (Richmond treated as uniform swing) for now, but correspondence will be accepted if any pollster used a different measure and sends me detailed evidence of it. In any case it will make little difference.

The table below lists the state polls taken in November, with ReachTEL "undecided" reallocated and the two halves of Morgan's sample (for which they provided no overall result) merged.  The table also shows the expected preference flow to Labor based on the published 2PPs.  The accuracy scores are in two forms - average primary vote error (error (P)) and the average of the 2PP error and the primary vote error (error (2)).  The polls are ranked by error (2).  Closest to the pin before the poll, and any estimate within 1% before the poll, are highlighted in blue.

What to make of this?

1. Everyone had the Labor primary vote too low.

2. The polls mostly had the preference flow to Labor too low, whether as a result of respondent preferencing (ReachTEL and Morgan) or pollster assumptions or unlucky rounding (YouGov-Galaxy).  Pollsters would have been better off using last-election preferences with separate estimates for Greens and Others.

3. Compared with the 2014 results, the statewide polling wasn't very accurate.  But it did paint a picture (also consistent in YouGov's polls in September and October) that Labor was comfortably ahead and likely to win outright.  Nonetheless the average miss on the 2PP (3.5 points and all in the same direction) was pretty high.  The 2PP error on the final Newspoll wasn't unprecedented, but was the worst I've seen from the Newspoll brand at a state election for several years.

4. It seems only fair to include two ReachTELs (one activist-group commissioned, one media-commissioned) given that YouGov-Galaxy gets two bites of the cherry via the Galaxy and Newspoll brands.  But even we include only the Age ReachTEL and not the more accurate VNPA one (widely considered an unreliable outlier at the time) ReachTEL has outperformed YouGov-Galaxy in this instance.  This would have been more striking had ReachTEL used respondent preferences for the Age poll.  On the other hand, YouGov-Galaxy had superior tracking, showing solid margins in three polls in September and October while the sole ReachTEL in that period did not.

Why did polls miss the size of Labor's victory (the scale of which was hardly unprecedented at state level)?  One possibility is late swing.  There was ample evidence that votes cast at booths on the day swung more than votes cast in pre-polling, causing a bunch of Coalition seats that were projecting for 53-54% to Labor based on booth votes to come back to 50-50 or so by the end of all counting.  However, more evidence is needed on whether this was because voters switched their vote in the final days, or because more conservative voters became more likely to pre-poll upon the requirement to have a reason to do so being removed.  I have heard that internal polling in the sandbelt seats showed a surge to Labor late in the campaign, but many of the seats where large swings happened were never polled by anybody because nobody on either side expected them to fall.

I'm usually sceptical of late swing and a reason for scepticism about it at this election is the shortage of obvious reasons for it.  The big-picture battlegrounds were laid out well in advance and nothing really happened in the last weeks of the campaign, which became dominated by media coverage of candidate malfunctions and other things of little interest to voters.  There might however have been a bit of a Tasmania-style bandwagon effect in which voters, seeing that there was a risk of the Greens winning the balance of power and considering that the Liberals weren't much chop anyway, decided to lock in majority government.

If one wants to ignore possible campaign causes for the systematic error, then the familiar suspects of hedging and herding (playing safe) are difficult to ignore here, though there's no positive evidence of either.  As with the 2014 Victorian poll the final 2PPs were very close together, but in that case they were right and in this case way short of the mark.  However, with only a few pollsters in the field it's impossible to say that this is robust evidence of herding.

In advance of the election, I did note some degree of hunch that the 2PP result for Labor might be stronger than pollsters were predicting for various reasons, but I could not see any basis in the data for predicting a blowout on the scale of what occurred.  The pressure on pollsters to avoid large errors could be a factor here - if they predict a solid win and the result is a huge win, they still look pretty good to the public in general.  But if they predict a huge win and the margin is close, that's a different story.

Something I possibly should have looked at more closely in advance is the historic non-polling equations from my article What Kills State Governments: Age Or Canberra, which if applied to this election would have predicted the Andrews government to win 52 +/- 8 seats.  However I need to update those sometime for elections since that piece was written - Queensland 2015 in particular could affect them greatly.

Seat Polling Flops Again

The uselessness of seat polling is a common theme on this site and this election provided still more evidence of it.  From August on, I am aware of six Galaxy polls of seats that were expected to be 2PP seats, of which five had the right winner but the average 2PP error was 8.3 points with all the errors in the same direction; this even includes a 52-48 in Mordialloc a few weeks out (end result 62.9% to Labor).  When it comes to Labor vs Green seats there was one gem amid the garbage with Galaxy pretty much nailing Richmond (54-46 compared to actual 55.5) but two commissioned ReachTELs were both hopeless in Prahran.  One of them had Labor 5.8% of the Greens on primary votes (though it did nail the 2PP) while the other had the gap at 12.8%; it was actually 0.9% and the Greens won.

This repeats themes of failure from previous elections.  ReachTELs have never had much handle on inner city contests in areas with high Green votes, and the Galaxy pattern here tends to echo what happened at the 2016 federal election, with a picture of low swing and close 2PP results that then didn't eventuate.

Betting Doesn't Beat Polling

This election is a nice example of one where if betting added predictive value and could detect where polls were wrong, it could have shown it, but it didn't.  Betting overall was very consistent with the pattern in poll-based modelling, which was that Labor seemed likely to get a modest 2PP swing but have little to show for it in seat terms.  (The results are consistent with this being a fair read based off the 2PPs pollsters were getting, because Labor only gained one seat by a margin exceeding 4%). The markets on election day had consensus on a net Labor gain of two (excluding Melton), the same as my poll-based prediction, but the actual net gain was nine (even despite one of the expected gains, Ripon, not happening!)  The seat total market was offering $4 on its highest range of Labor-minus-Coalition seat tallies, yet Labor went more than a dozen seats above that mark.  Either the betting reflected bookies' modelling that was no better or worse than anyone else's who was reading the polls, or else any input from the markets didn't help.

2PP Pendulum (With A Few Extras)

Lastly, here's a 2PP pendulum with a few non-classic bells and whistles to fill up all the empty space for seats the Coalition didn't win.  It will become a lot less relevant after the redistribution, as a result of which the Coalition will probably drop a 2PP seat or two to Labor somewhere.  I'm not a big fan of 2CP pendulums in which margins against all comers are treated as the same, because the purpose of a pendulum shouldn't be just to show which seats are close and should be to show which seats would be picked up by a uniform swing from one party to another on a 2PP basis.  This does get messed around by non-classic contests but 2CP pendulums are easily misread.

For the seat of Werribee after looking at comparable seats (there aren't many) I have assumed a 78% preference flow from Liberal to Joe Garra.  It may be he would have done better than that but I would want to see evidence of it.  Andrew Wilkie in Denison 2010 achieved an 83% flow but he was running against a low-profile candidate rather than a state treasurer.

Click for larger clearer versions:

That's all I've got planned for Victoria for this year!  There is a Paypal button in the sidebar for anyone who wants to throw money (please only give if you can afford it).  I will soon be turning my attention to the murkier contest that is unfolding in the state north of the border ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Group Ticket Voting Wrecks 2018 Victorian Upper House Election

The buttons have been pressed on the Victorian upper house election.  In the end, none of the results were all that close, and all regions have been declared.  If anyone can find a legal basis for challenging the results, they will now have to do so in court.  On that, it would be nice if professional preference harvesting could be deemed to be a bribery offence under Section 151 (3) (d) but I  suspect that it doesn't work like that, and that that section is aimed at bribery connected with how-to-vote cards.  I can only assume what has happened is all legal, but history should record it as another upper house election that was trashed by Group Ticket voting. 

I should add that this post is not intended as an attack on the calibre of those elected to represent parties with small vote shares.  They may turn out to be excellent MPs.  Rather the point is that they were not elected by a proper electoral system and those elected on very small vote shares do not have a proper mandate.

The total seats won are as follows:

Labor 18, Liberal 10, National 1, Greens 1, Derryn Hinch Justice Party 3, Liberal Democrats 2, Transport Matters 1, Sustainable Australia 1, Shooters Fishers + Farmers 1, Animal Justice Party 1, Fiona Patten's Reason Party 1.

Labor should have a cushy time of it, being able to pass anything supported by all the DHJP MPs (assuming that they stay together as a party!) and having various routes for other legislation: left-wing through AJP, FPRP, Greens and maybe others; while also less green paths if needed on environmental matters through the Liberal Democrats and Shooters.  This is to be expected given the magnitude of their Lower House triumph, and it would be foolish to object to a party that won the Lower House so decisively having close to a working majority upstairs.  Nearly all Labor's Upper House wins came on raw quota, with just a couple where they needed a little hand up after polling most of what they needed to win.

Where the results of this election, as expected, go pearshape is in the results for the minor parties.  This election has doubled the representation for parties other than Labor, the Coalition and Greens from five seats to ten.  For the first time in Victoria we have seen parties able to preference-harvest their way to victory even from below 1% of the vote, "beating" parties with as much as fourteen and a half times their primary vote off the back of luck and backroom preference deals.

Below the line voting increased from 6.08% to 8.87%, but it had only minor impacts on the outcomes.  Compared to if all votes had been cast above the line for the same parties, there were only three changes.  The Liberals won in Northern Metro in a situation where the ABC calculator modelled them as losing by 1021 votes, a margin that even a trivial rate of below the line voting would have overturned.  In Eastern Victoria, a preference spiral involving the Aussie Battler Party (1.22%) fell over and the somewhat deserving Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (5.01%) retained the seat instead.  Finally in South-Eastern Metro, below the line votes altered which party spiralled to victory almost entirely relying on above-the-line votes, but not the fact of it happening.  Indeed,  Transport Matters (1.27%) were replaced by the even lowlier Liberal Democrats (0.84%).

The well-oiled LDP troll machine - well one of them at least - has been claiming that the LDP won the seat on below-the-line votes.  That's not true; had all votes been below the line the LDP would have been excluded in South-Eastern Metro at a very early stage. It's more accurate to say just that BTLs caused a rival party to lose it.  What is notable about David Limbrick's win is it is the first time the Liberal Democrats have won a seat at a GTV election without being assisted by the name confusion that continues to result (even with logos printed on ballot papers) when the party draws to the left of the Liberals on the ballot.

Results Compared To Vote Share

In the table below I compare the seats won by each party to the vote share each party achieved.  I use two indicators for this:

* share of the total state vote
* average share of the vote per region

This follows the same approach I used for analysing Senate voting reform.  The reason for it is the number of voters per region varies a fair bit (though nowhere near as much as in the Senate!) In this case using both figures doesn't make much difference, but I do it anyway.

The new Senate system provided a stunningly proportional result when weighted by state in 2016 (bearing in mind the Senate's state-based malapportionment.)  The 2018 Victorian Upper House election, however, produced severely disproportionate results:

(See a nicer table visualisation of these numbers thanks to @Gergyl.)

Proportionally by primary vote, the major parties got pretty close to what they deserved.  The Greens, however, got only one seat whereas four would have been proportional.  Only one smaller party that would have deserved a seat under a statewide proportional system by primary vote (Labour DLP) got nothing, while two that would not have done so (Sustainable Australia and Transport Matters) won seats, and two others (Liberal Democrats and DHJP) got a seat more than they deserved.

In analysing the Senate system I have pointed out that primary votes aren't the be-all-and-end-all of proportionality in Australia and that if a party (like One Nation in 2016) punches above its weight because the voters for likeminded micro-parties gave it lots of preferences, that's fine.  But in this case the Greens' underperformance doesn't have anything to do with what voters from other parties thought of them, and has everything to do with the deals done by other parties to exchange above the line preferences for pragmatic advantage.

The Fate Of The Greens

The Greens were not involved in the Glenn Druery preference deals to my knowledge, but still produced some rather odd preference orderings that may in cases have had something to do with trying to get Lower House preferences.  They also nearly cost Fiona Patten her seat by preferencing DHJP above her for reasons that remain unclear, though few Greens supporters would have chosen this order based on Senate distributions (in 2016, nearly six times more Victorian Green voters preferenced the Sex Party second as preferenced Hinch second).  To what extent the Greens were trying to play the preference game themselves is not too clear, but however hard they tried their attempts would have been doomed to failure.

The reason for this is that the Greens were an unpromising partner for smaller parties expecting to poll a low percent of the vote and seeking to swap preferences.  A smaller party would only get Greens preferences if it happened to snowball its way ahead of the Greens in the count.  But the Greens were excluded either late in the counts or not at all, meaning that the chance of a given party ever getting ahead of them to get their preferences would be slim.  A micro-party would be better off swapping its leading preferences with other micro-parties that it had higher chances of outlasting.  This became even more the case once there was already a group of micro-parties networking (through Druery). 

As a result, the Greens were disadvantaged by their expected vote being too high to make them a good partner for preference swapping, but generally not high enough to put them over the line on raw quotas.  In 2014 this hadn't counted against them in most seats - the smaller party mix in 2014 was more ideological and less tightly networked on preferences, and the combined vote for such parties was slightly lower (19.7%).  It's also worth noting that while the Greens got 12.5% of seats off 10.75% of primary votes in 2014, they did poorly relative to their primary vote in 2006 (7.5% off 10.58%) and 2010 (7.5% off 12.01%).

Some Labor partisans have been very keen to obfuscate about what has actually happened here.  Many have pointed to the Green vote dropping from what the Greens polled in 2014, as if that's the main cause of the result.  It's a part of the cause, but not the main part.  Firstly under a Senate-style system, the Greens would easily have won seats in North Metro, South Metro and East Metro.  In most of the remaining divisions they would have led various centre-to-right minor parties and they would have been likely to hold on to at least one of those leads (perhaps more but it's difficult to tell).  Secondly, had the Greens polled their 2014 vote again at this election, they would have still only won two seats (North and South Metro).  So a fair apportioning of the blame for the Greens' drop from five to one is one deserved seat loss based on actual drop in vote share, and three undeserved ones caused by Group Voting Tickets.

Greens sympathisers in turn have been keen to blame Labor for preferencing "Druery parties".  That doesn't seem to be a significant cause either, though not for want of trying on Labor's part.  Even in the case of the relatively close Sustainable Australia result, the Labor above-the-line vote was too reduced in value to change the outcome.  In many districts Labor preferences either weren't distributed while the Greens were in the count, or would not have saved them from their fate.

The major cause of the Greens' defeat was simply that the smaller parties had too many primary votes between them (22.1% statewide) and they more effectively exploited the Group Ticket Voting system to create artificial near-100% preference flows using #1 above-the-line votes.  These flows are fake because, as the Senate election showed, when voters are asked to choose preferences, their preferences tend to (i) scatter (ii) flow along ideological lines to a degree and (iii) favour well known parties over obscure ones.  For this reason, the argument that a quarter of the seats is a fair return for nearly a quarter of the votes does not hold up - it would if voters for all smaller parties preferred the other smaller parties to Labor, the Coalition and the Greens, but they do not.

Apologists for the indefensible argue that the Victorian system is OK because it allows the voter to escape from GTVs by voting 1-5 below the line.  It's true this is an improvement on the pre-2016 Senate system and that it better escapes the charge of discriminating against voters who want to order preferences their own ways.   But it creates a way in which a party can be systematically disadvantaged by getting several percent of the vote, in a way that a party getting less might not be, and this is unfair even if everybody voting 1 above the line for any other party knows exactly what they're doing and where their preference goes.  Which of course they don't.

Arbitrary Winners

Also, if the Victorian system was delivering seats to the smaller parties on merit, one would expect the highest-polling examples to win more often those further down the chain, and one would expect parties to win in districts where they actually did well.  But the first isn't the case at all, and the second isn't always either.  Ignoring all candidates elected on quota and also all major party candidates who later won, the winning smaller party (excludes Greens and Nats) candidates were variously 2nd (twice), 3rd, 4th (twice), 5th (twice), 7th, 10th and 12th out of all the parties (typically 18 in total) on primaries.  In the only case where one of these parties had the largest remainder by this method, it was out-snowballed by two others!  Thus the best performance outside the majors and the Greens (an impressive 7.85% for the Shooters in Northern Vic) came unfairly to nothing while we were treated to such complete absurdities as:

* Transport Matters (0.62%) beats Greens (9.01%) in Eastern Metro.

* Lib Dem (0.84% - the party's worst result in any region!) beats Liberal (12.3% over quota) in South-East Metro.

* Sustainable Australia (1.32%) beats Greens (13.46%) in South Metro.

Most of the smaller party wins were not so patently outrageous, but nonetheless wouldn't have happened had all voters chosen their own preferences.  Only a couple (Catherine Cumming (DHJP) in Western Metro and Jeff Bourman (Shooters) in Eastern Vic) were arguably wins on electoral merit.  Even those came unreasonably close to losing to parties on much lower vote shares.

A Fairer System?

I've previously pointed out that the parties in the previous parliament - yes even the Greens - are all to blame for this nonsense, since even those who supported reform failed to do enough to raise the issue and put pressure on the waverers.  It is understandable that Victoria's Electoral Matters committee chose to adopt a wait and see approach pending Senate reform, but there was ample time to refer the matter back and pass reform after concerns about Senate reform proved groundless in 2016.  By not doing so, the Victorian parliament has ignored the warnings of Antony Green and others that this day was coming, and has created a result that is not only incredibly silly but also should be seen as disquietingly unfair.  The system can not only systematically disadvantage a party that gets several percent in an environment in which the total micro-party vote is high, but is also self-entrenching because it keeps flooding the parliament with MPs who don't deserve to be there, who can't get re-elected without it, and who therefore mostly won't support reform.  As with systems with entrenched self-policing gerrymanders, the prospect for change appears bleak unless a need for bipartisan reform is accepted by both major parties.

Had this election been held under a Senate-style system, my rough estimate of the seats won would have been Labor 19, Coalition 14, Greens 4, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers 2, Hinch Justice 1.  The Shooters would probably benefit from the regional concentration of their vote, although one of their two seats would be uncertain anyway.  It is not that easy to eyeball results for seats where the Greens had a modest lead over smaller parties on primaries, and at some stage if it is useful and time permits I may run a simulation using Senate preference flows.  There's a case that such a result, while much fairer than the one that has occurred, would be a bit harsh on some of the stronger-polling smaller parties, and for those who agree, the ideal solution would be Senate-style reform augmented by having fewer regions with more members in each.  On the other hand, under such a system it's likely not as many micros would have run, and that this could have improved chances for the more substantially-supported smaller parties.  [EDIT: @sorceror43 has helpfully pointed out that 8 regions with 5 members is constitutionally entrenched in Victoria, so it would seem we are stuck with it.]

Overall though to prevent this from happening again, the overwhelming imperative must be to get rid of Group Ticket Voting, as has been done federally and in NSW and SA.  Whether the solution is exactly like the Senate system, more like NSW's, or something that encourages preferencing to a stronger degree than either, isn't such a major issue.  There is a small-scale Twitter campaign by a person unknown to me for "5 above or 5 below" in which the voter directs their preferences either above the line or below it with a minimum of 5 boxes in either case.  While a 1-5 below the line is likely to be less effective than 1-5 above, the slogan is an elegantly simple one for voters to follow, and I think the idea deserves thought.  At least subject to Senate-style ATL savings provisions.

Australia has a proud record of getting elections right.  We are the home of preferential voting, the first full federal election under which occurred 99 years ago tomorrow (with the first by-election 100 years ago on Friday).  In a world where some supposedly great but in fact badly flawed democracies are still in the nappies of first-past-the-post, we provide a shining light to places like Maine, which recently led the US by adopting preferential voting.  We should take our electoral leadership role seriously and get rid of the farce that is group ticket voting.

See Also

Tally Room - includes breakdowns based on primary vote under various methods for statewide proportional voting.

Inside Story Victorian election summary by Tim Colebatch (covers both houses)

William Bowe at Crikey

Adrian Beaumont

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Victorian Upper House 2018: Button Press Day


I've decided to bring the Victorian upper house count to the top with a new thread for the day on which all the buttons are pressed, and also for any possible recount news.  My coverage of the count was here.  The schedule is for buttons to be pressed for each division from 2:10 pm at ten minute intervals, in alphabetical order by region name.  However, buttons are being pressed faster than scheduled.  Declarations are scheduled for 6:00 but it is possible that some division will be close enough (either at the end or at a key exclusion point) for a recount to be requested, or that some other issue requiring a recount might be identified.  In 2006 there were two recounts, one because of a 6,000 vote transcription error.

Provisional results will be posted as soon as they are available. I am now reviewing the preference distributions.  There may be some delays in posting analysis (if the distributions are up by then!) as I will be out between 3:45-4:45 but will be online for some of that time.

For all the analysis on the above thread and elsewhere there are some seats that are going to the button in significant doubt.  There are others where what is going to happen appears to be clear but it is possible that all the modelling thrown at these counts might still be wrong and something unexpected will happen.  I should note that at this stage we only have party totals, and do not know if there might be an unusually significant below-the-line vote for any otherwise irrelevant candidate (though there is no reason to think that there is.)

Friday, November 30, 2018

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

For the past few months the mostly hopelessly socialist heathen who come here to admire the colour scheme have been involved in the selection of best state premiers of the last 40 years.  This month saw the runoff stage for those states that were not resolved in round 1 by absolute majority, and also the start of the consolation prize round for Coalition premiers.

We are not yet ready to proceed to the grand final stage because some young chap called Andrews was involved in a real election and I feared this could contaminate the vote.  The Victorian runoff will be in February to get a little distance from this result and meanwhile we can continue eliminating Coalition premiers.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

2018 Victorian Postcount: Other Indie Challenges (Pascoe Vale, South-West Coast etc)

On this page - Pascoe Vale, South-West Coast, Geelong, Ovens Valley, Werribee, Mildura

Link to state tally and main postcount thread

Link to upper house coverage

I've already posted threads on the interesting post-counts in Morwell, Benambra and Melton.  There are more seats I could post threads of their own on but I shouldn't put too many on the front page!  This seat covers all remaining seats I am aware of where there are interesting issues involving independent candidates creating problems for either major party.  Often in election leadups this is spoken about as a factor but then most of the indie challenges fizzle.  In this case the Coalition's performance has been so bad that it has opened many doors to independents to either beat the Coalition on Labor preferences or beat Labor on Coalition preferences.  Suzanna Sheed has easily retained, Ali Cupper appears to have won Mildura (see below),  Russell Northe is in a fairly good looking position in Morwell, and there are a bunch of others who either can't be written off, or who can be written off but have come close.  Here we go then.  All seats will be updated from time to time unless I have already called them.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Melton

Melton (Labor vs probably Birchall (IND), 2014 ALP vs Lib (11.2))
2014-elected ALP member Don Nardella quit party, sat as independent and did not recontest
Assessment: It's complicated [update: fairly close to an upset but Labor has won.]

(Link to main postcount page and state summary)

Melton? What is this?

The Daniel Andrews Labor government has crushed the Coalition opposition in the state election, but it's had a bit of bother in a few seats from independents, and these create the only real threat to its 2014 seat collection apart from the fairly likely and widely expected loss of Brunswick to the Greens.

One that sticks out like a sore thumb on the 2PP swingometer is Melton, the former home of Deputy Speaker Don Nardella, who resigned from the party and declined to recontest his seat after being caught up in an expenses claim scandal.  In an election where the swings are a sea of red everywhere except a few safe rural Nationals seats, Melton has produced a 2PP swing to the Liberals of 7.2%.  Currently, the Liberals are getting 58% of all preferences in a safe Labor seat where last time they got 42.4%.  There is the in-theory prospect of a bizarre boilover in this seat, and while someone out there might have information to prove it won't happen, I don't.  Even if it doesn't happen, it is worth keeping an eye on in case such a contest happens again in the future.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Benambra

Benambra (Lib vs probably Hawkins (IND), 2014 Nat vs ALP (9.7%)
Current 2PP Lib vs ALP figure is irrelevant
Assessment: Probable Liberal retain (update: retained)

(Link to state tally and main postcount page)

The seat of Benambra has been held by conservatives for 141 years but is under siege from independents inspired by the Cathy McGowan victory in Indi.  Bill Tilley's primary has fallen well below 50% leaving him in the danger zone. Here are the current primaries:

Tilley (Lib) 40.29%
Tait (ALP) 17.61
Hawkins (IND) 16.77
O'Connor (IND) 12.91
Knight (Shooters) 8.97
Bardsley (Green) 3.44

Jacqui Hawkins is a McGowan staffer and Jenny O'Connor is a local mayor who was a Greens candidate for the federal seat of Indi.

The Green how-to-vote card preferences O'Connor then Hawkins.  The Shooters registered two cards, one of which preferences Tilley then Tait and the other preferences Tait then Tilley.  O'Connor registered an open preference card (as did Hawkins.) Labor's card preferenced O'Connor then Hawkins with Tilley last.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Morwell

Morwell (IND vs ALP, Ind Held, 2014 Nat vs ALP 1.8%)
Nat vs ALP two-party figure is irrelevant
Assessment: Northe (IND) wins subject to being 2nd after preferences which is overwhelmingly likely
(update: confirmed, Northe has won)

(Link to main postcount thread and tally)

This is the first of my indie-seat postcounts.  The 2018 Victorian state election has thrown up a very large number of seats where independents have some sort of chance in the postcount and are likely to finish in the top two.  The count in Morwell may be more straightforward than in Melton and Benambra but it is nonetheless still messy.  Perhaps not as messy, however, as many thought it might be.

Russell Northe held the seat narrowly in 2014 despite a monster swing to Labor.  He has been a very much embattled incumbent (including in the final days of the campaign when there was more adverse media coverage of debt issues) but also one who has received plenty of sympathy for his struggles with the unusual pressures of political life in this seat.  He's polled a primary of around 20%, which normally wouldn't be enough, but he may have been saved by the collapse in the Coalition vote.  Here's how the primaries currently line up:

2018 Victorian Postcount: Greens Vs Labor (Prahran, Brunswick, Melbourne)

Link to main postcount thread including state summary

This thread covers late counting in seats being contested between the Greens and Labor.  The Greens went into the election holding Melbourne, Northcote (which they won from Labor in a mid-term by-election) and Prahran (which they won in a ridiculously close three-cornered contest in 2014) and hoped to pick up Brunswick (ALP vacancy) and Richmond (where there is perennial opposition to their candidate Kathleen Maltzahn from sections of the left on account of her support for the Nordic model of criminalising paying for sex).

The Liberals tried to stoke the pot in Richmond by not running a candidate at all, the strategic point of which remains elusive.  Former Prime Minister Paul Keating waded in by accusing the Liberals of piking on the contest to try to dislodge Planning Minister Richard Wynne in order to assist Liberal-linked property developers, while Maltzahn issues were another distraction for the Greens in a campaign full of them.  In the end Wynne has won Richmond with a commanding swing in his favour, and Labor has also comfortably recaptured Northcote.