Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Lidia Thorpe Quits The Greens

Good to be back from the longest posting hiatus in this site's history so far.  I have been working on a couple of other pieces during what little time I have had to spare during another round of having months of my life expended by moving house, but I thought I should first make some quick comments about Senator Lidia Thorpe quitting the Greens, largely over differences concerning the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament.  The Greens support the Voice but Thorpe considers the Voice to be tokenism and supports a treaty first.  This week's Newspoll showed that Greens supporters overwhelmingly support the Voice (at least for now) and further highlighted that Thorpe's position is a lonely one within the party.  

Thorpe's defection to the crossbench changes the balance of the Senate significantly.  Previously Labor and the Greens held 38 seats, meaning their easiest way to pass bills was to obtain the support of David Pocock.  The next easiest route involved the two Lambie Network Senators.  Now with Labor and the Greens down to 37 they need two votes out of Pocock, Thorpe, Ralph Babet (UAP), the two Lambie Network senators and the two One Nation senators.  They also need one of these votes to block motions.  While Thorpe will remain a safe vote on climate change related matters, there may be other issues where she is not, especially if she uses her power to horse-trade for her goals.  This means the Lambie Network senators may increase their own power since there may be times when it is easier to work with them than Pocock and Thorpe.  (Voice-related issues will probably not be those times - Lambie is quite sceptical of the ability of the Voice to deliver change on the ground.)

What can we do about party hopping?

Thorpe is hardly the first Senator to get elected on a party ticket then leave less than a year into a six-year term.  Thorpe's case has strong parallels with that of Cory Bernardi, who was somehow reselected for the SA Liberal ticket in 2016 despite it already being clear that he was a flight risk, and who then quit the party in February 2017.  However in Thorpe's case, while it was already clear pre-election that she was at times a liability, she had not to my knowledge openly canvassed quitting the party.

Thorpe's defection has sparked outrage on social media, and with good reason as she is now in the Senate (where most voters intentionally rank parties rather than candidates) for the rest of her term with no mandate to vote differently to the remaining Greens.  This has led to widespread suggestions that such defections should be banned.

The main problem with such suggestions is that if renegade MPs face loss of their seat if they leave the party, then they can choose not to formally leave their party but can vote as if they had left anyway.  So the question then is whether their party can expel them with the same effect.  If their party cannot expel them and hence cause them to be kicked out of the parliament, then a rule prohibiting MPs from quitting the party they were elected has no real effect.  However, if an expelled MP is removed from Parliament with their seat filled as a casual vacancy, then that gives parties great power over their MPs.  An MP who does not toe the party line or who even campaigns for below-the-line votes could be expelled from the party and as a consequence lose their seat.  

The example of Tasmanian Labor Senator Lisa Singh is relevant here.  Singh was dumped to a normally hopeless position on the 2016 Tasmanian Labor Senate ticket as a result of lack of factional support coupled with a particularly silly implementation of the Hare-Clark system for preselections.  A groundswell of support for Singh, coupled with Tasmanian voters having a high tendency to vote below the line, saw Singh elected entirely on below the line votes and preferences, overturning Labor's intended preselection.  If parties could cause MPs to lose their seat, there would be nothing to prevent Labor from responding to such a result by expelling Singh and creating a casual vacancy so their intended Senator could take his seat instead.  Probably they would not do that, but it shows the extra level of power parties would develop over their Senators in particular.

New Zealand has a long history of sometimes troubled attempts to ban party-hopping (known there as waka-jumping), but it is easier to do in New Zealand because NZ retains the expulsion power.  In Australia, the expulsion power was abolished in 1987.  At the least, reviving the expulsion power - assuming this could be done simply by legislation - would trigger debate about its potential for misuse in other cases.  

Ultimately, these issues often come down to failures of personnel management and/or preselection.  As noted the preselection flags may have been less red in Thorpe's case than Bernardi's, but was making Thorpe the party's deputy Senate leader wise in view of a pre-election history of scrapes?  And was making her the party's First Nations issues spokeswoman ever going to end well when her views were at odds with the party?  Concerning the first point, Thorpe was preselected via member ballot (winning overwhelmingly) so this is a risk of member ballots.  

(See also my earlier article re Fraser Anning for similar comments.)

Thorpe's Popularity?

I have seen a fair few assertions that Thorpe is a particularly popular Senator, but the electoral evidence doesn't really support this.  Thorpe polled a below-the-line vote of 1.05% in 2022, easily the highest in Victoria, but this largely reflects the high propensity of Greens voters to vote below the line.  Indeed, 80% of Thorpe's below the line votes followed the Greens ticket 1-4.  The share of the Green vote that was 1 BTL for Thorpe (7.6%) was little above that for new SA Senator Barbara Pocock (7.4%) and relatively new WA Senator Dorinda Cox (6.7%) and was below the figures for the previous Victorian Green ticket leaders (Richard di Natale 9.7% and Janet Rice 11.7%).  It was also below the average for all Green ticket leaders since 2016 (9.2%, albeit boosted by some very high scores by Sarah Hanson-Young).  

It might also be argued that Thorpe brought voters to the party who voted above the line for it.  While there might be tentative support for this in Victoria having the highest Senate swing to the Greens (3.23% cf national 2.47%) and the highest discrepancy between Reps and Senate swings (1.48% cf national 0.62%), neither of these differences is particularly large, and the greater Reps/Senate discrepancy is explainable by teal independents competing with the Greens in the Reps in Victoria (and also in NSW where there was also a large discrepancy).  Overall there isn't evidence of Thorpe having an especially large personal following of a sort likely to make her any kind of electoral threat as an independent at this stage.  

Thorpe's Future

Barring a double dissolution (which one might argue her actions have made a very very tiny bit more likely) Thorpe will not face voters again until 2028.  By that time, the current Voice-related tensions may be ancient history.  If Thorpe contests at all, she would presumably register a front party name or join an existing party, because even grouped independents perform dismally under the new Senate system because of poor preference flows.  (I won't assume the Parliament will actually fix this by allowing for fair above the line box labels.)  As with Anning, Thorpe will be able to centrally nominate candidates for her party if she starts one.  I believe there should be tighter controls on central nomination than allowing any renegade Senator who starts their own party to run candidates everywhere.

I may add further comments later.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 Site Review

 This post presents site data for 2022.  The activity graph tells the story of the year (the units are unique pageviews per week). Click on the site review tab for previous years.

The four noticeable spikes here are the South Australian election, the federal election, the Tasmanian council elections and the Victorian state election.  2022 has seen the most traffic to this site in its history, beating the previous busiest year, 2018, by 35%.  The week after federal election night had nearly 80,000 unique pageviews, which was 2.41 times the previous highest!

In 2022 I released 94 articles (+25 from 2021) including this one.  Predictably the main themes were the federal election (26), the Victorian state election (13), Tasmanian Legislative Council (6), Tasmanian local council elections (5) and South Australia (5).

Not many b-sides from this album

Usually each year I list exotic titles of pieces that were left on the cutting room floor.  This year there weren't many - pretty much everything I found in the drafts section made it into public view in some form.  One Poll Roundup intended for May 5 didn't get finished til May 11; its original title was "The Narrowing Falls Asleep Edition".  Some material from a unpublished rant entitled "Accept Labor's Mandate, Embrace PR Or Go Home" found its way into the published piece Two-Party Swing Decided This Election (Plus Pendulum)  (PR=proportional representation).

Top of the pops

As measured by unique pageviews, the following were the most visited pages:

1. 2022 House of Reps Summary Page And Vanilla Postcounts

The most visited article on this site ever, finally beating an over-stuffed 2014 Tasmanian election guide that should have been split into multiple pages. This covered eight close classic-2PP contests on the way to a narrow Labor majority. The article included graphs where I detected counting errors (later fixed of course) in both Lyons and Gilmore, the latter a very significant one in the context of a very close count.

2. 2022 House of Reps Postcount: Macnamara

The third most visited article in site history, this followed an insanely close three-candidate cutoff point involving Labor, Liberals and Greens in the division of Macnamara. Labor's Josh Burns had to avoid being last at the cutoff to win; if he was last the Greens would win. It was very, very close but Burns survived.

3. Victoria 2022 Legislative Council Live

The fourth most visited article in site history, this followed and projected the unresolved Victorian upper house contests under the insanely complex (nah scrub the "complex" and just put "insane") Group Ticket Voting system. There was a lot of interest in the contest between Reason's Fiona Patten and Labour DLP's Adem Somyurek, which Somyurek won easily, but there were also some much closer races that went to the button in doubt.

4. 2022 House of Reps Postcount: Brisbane

The sixth most visited article in site history. This followed the post-count in Brisbane, which had a similar script to Macnamara except that in this case the Greens surged in late counting to such a point that it was clear well before the end that Labor's lead on primary votes was insufficient. There was a fair amount of misunderstanding of what was going on in this one, especially from people who couldn't compute how the Greens would do better on right micro preferences than Labor in a three-way split (even though the same thing happened in 2019.)

5. 2022 Senate Postcounts: Main Thread

The seventh most visited article in site history. This followed the post-counting for the Senate contests where there was a close race in Victoria (won by the United Australia Party) and interest in ACT (Pocock easily ousting Zed Seselja) and Queensland (Pauline Hanson surviving at the expense of Amanda Stoker), among others.

6. 2022 Hobart Council Count

The tenth most visited article in site history (yes six of the top ten were from this year). This followed the Hobart Council election count where the existing left leadership of Anna Reynolds and Helen Burnet were returned though Reynolds came under strong challenge from John Kelly. At councillor level the election was a bloodbath with three right or right-ish and one left councillors losing and five new councillors elected. There was also an elector poll but I brushed that one aside off a mere 210 vote sample.

7. Hobart City Council Elections Candidate Guide And Preview 2022

Guide for the above, covering the biggest-scale and most contentious election in Hobart's history, and also the first with compulsory voting. Way too many candidates.

8. Victorian 2022 Postcount: Northcote and Preston

Followed two Labor vs Greens seats in the Victorian state election. The Greens on paper should have won Northcote easily but somehow didn't, and also delighted the crowd by conceding the seat then making what appeared to be unconcede-y noises.

In Preston the interest was in local independent Gaetano Greco who seemed a chance to make the 2CP, but in the end he didn't (and would have lost by lots of he had.)

9. Victoria 2022 Live

Live coverage thread for Victoria as the Andrews government belied the hung parliament hype by absorbing a modest swing against it without net seat losses 

10. 2022 House of Reps Postcount: Richmond

Federal post-count thread for a seat that didn't get much attention from other sources, where the Greens were again a three-cornered threat of sorts based on chances of closing in on a mess of minor party preferences. While Richmond didn't fall this time, it's getting closer and an extra 1.27% Labor to Greens 3CP swing would have done it.

Some other stats

The ten biggest days of the year for site visits were May 22, 25, 24, 23, 30, 26, 27 (Federal election), Nov 27 (Victoria), May 29 (federal) and Oct 26 (Tasmanian councils). The first five all beat any previous day in site history.

The most popular pieces started or written in any previous year were Party Registration Crackdown Tracker (a 2021-started article that saw much of its action this year), the even more increasingly outdated bio page, the 2021 Tasmanian state guide (which had a big bounce around the federal election presumably from Google searching for overlapping candidates), A Record Begging To Be Broken: Labor's Low Winning 1990 Primary (Oh poor primary vote pundits, I told them and they would not listen ...) and  the Field Guide to opinion pollsters.

The ten most clicked tags were pseph, silly greens, 2022 federal, Hare-Clark, Legislative Council, debunkings, Victoria, Victoria 2022, Grand Gerry and wonk factor. 

The top ten visiting countries were Australia, USA, UK, Canada (+1), New Zealand (-1), Netherlands (+3), Ireland (new), France (re-entry), Singapore (-2) and Germany (-4). 155 "Google countries" visited in 2021 and 173 have visited in total.  There is some tendency for records to drop out that have been made before. This year saw first-time visits from Antarctica (!), Burkina Faso, Congo - Kinshasa, Cuba, Montenegro, and Namibia, so the most populous countries never to visit are now North Korea, Niger, Chad and Guinea.

The top ten cities this year were Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, Canberra (+1), Perth (-1), Adelaide (+1), Launceston (-1),  Gold Coast (+1) and Central Coast (new).

The top ten hit sources were: Twitter (by lots), Google, Facebook, Poll Bludger, Reddit (+2),  duckduckgo (-1), Bing (-1), Tally Room (re-entry), The Conversation (+1) and Blogger (-1).  Ignoring search engines the next three were The New Daily, Mark the Ballot and Crikey. 

Orders of the year

2023 looks like the quietest year on here for some time and I suspect that in the second half especially I will be keeping this site ticking over but focusing much more on other work. 

The biggest known event for 2023 is the New South Wales election in March. In this contest Labor seems entitled to some kind of favouritism for now, off a big polling lead and up against a third-term government onto its fourth Premier. But federal drag may help the Coalition, and it's NSW where the stain of past corruption is never too far away. See my preview article here.

Tasmania will get Legislative Council elections in May.  Historically left but lately centrish independent Ruth Forrest will be seeking a fourth term in Murchison against anyone brave (or foolish?) enough to try their luck, Labor's Sarah Lovell has her first defence of Rumney against the Liberals and presumably others, and I don't know yet whether centre-right independent Rosemary Armitage will seek a third term in Launceston (where she fairly narrowly retained in 2017).

There will also be the Voice referendum.

I feel that the nation would benefit greatly from by-elections in the divisions of Cook and Fadden, but we will see if the incumbents agree.

Happy New Year to all readers and thankyou all for your interest and support!  An extra special thanks to those of you who've donated to support my efforts. Some time during 2023 I hope to recover from the spare time deficit disaster that was 2022 and thank you all individually.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

2022 Federal Polling Year In Review

2PP average for year 54.9 to Labor.
Labor led on 2PP in all 87 polls released this year.

At the end of each year I release an annual review of federal polling. See the 2021 edition here and/or click the annual poll review tab for articles back to 2014.

I'll start by saying this was a great year for polling generally with a good industry result in the federal election (after a famous failure in 2019), a very good result for final polls in the Victorian state election, and YouGov/Newspoll performing very well in South Australia.

How many polls?

Once again the business of counting how many polls there have been is complicated by Morgan's habit of often releasing only the 2PP from a poll sample.  In all I count 87 readings, the most since 2017, from what I consider to be mainline pollsters: 

* 12 Newspolls before the election and four after.  The dramatic slowing in release of Newspoll post-election makes me suspect YouGov had a contract for sixteen (the same number as 2021).

* Six Resolves before the election and five after, however only two of the pre-election polls and none since had a pollster-derived 2PP (I've calculated last-election preferences for those that didn't)

* 14 Morgans before the election and 30 Morgan readings post-election, however nearly all the Morgans since the election have been 2PP only.

* Nine Essential readings before the election and two afterwards.

* Four Ipsos polls before the election

* One Freshwater Strategy poll this month

There may be more pre-election Morgan readings that I missed. I have not included Dynata (lobby group poll) or anything from KORE (panel survey with numerous red flags) or ANUPoll (wildly inaccurate with incomplete data).

2PP Voting Intention

The story of published 2PPs is a simple one: Labor won them all.  It also won every 2PP that I derived from published primaries, noting that the Resolve polls are mostly missing from the former data set and the Morgan polls are mostly missing from the latter.

Morgan made a significant method-shift two polls out from the election, ditching respondent preferencing (which skews to Labor) in favour of last-election preferencing.  I have not always replicated these so it would be good to see the full series of primary figures.

Prior to the election the closest Labor leads in published 2PPs were a couple of 1-point leads in Essential's "2PP+" measure in February and April (effectively 50.5-49.5).  The widest was a 58 from Morgan in March.  I got the same April Essential as the closest by last-election preferences (51-49) and the same March Morgan as least close (57.1). It turned out that last-election preferences were actually underestimating Labor by about 1%.

During the pre-election phase Newspoll averaged 54.0, Resolve (by last-election preferences where no 2PP published) 53.3, Essential 51.8, Morgan 55.9, Ipsos 54.9.  Essential's low leads for Labor could have been a result of use of Party ID weighting (past weak supporters of parties that are on the nose at a given time may be less likely to identify as such, meaning strong supporters might get over-weighted), while Morgan's large leads were probably partly caused by using respondent preferences.  

An estimated aggregate of published 2PPs pre-election (weighting the average for each pollster to weight those that polled in more months higher) is 53.9 to Labor. (The election result was 52.13.)

Post-election the averages are 55.8 for Newspoll, 59.1 (!) for Resolve by last-election preferences, 54 for Essential, 54.1 for Morgan (the use of last-election preferences making a big difference) and 54 in the single Freshwater. The lowest and highest released 2PPs were a 52 from Morgan in late August and a perhaps tinsel-distorted 58.5 from Morgan in its last December reading. However I get three of the Resolve polls even higher than that, peaking at 61.3 in August. Similarly high Resolve implied 2PPs have been seen in state polling, albeit less consistently than federal. 

Slightly lower 2PPs can be obtained by lumping Resolve's "independent" and "other" readings (there is some case for doing this since Resolve's overestimate of the "Independent" vote would fall mainly in seats where the preferences of independents would probably break more weakly to Labor than elsewhere if they did run.)

As a weighted average I get 55.6 for the post-election period, and all up 54.9 to Labor for the year. That's the best year for either side since Labor averaged 56.0 in 2009 (not that that did them much good), and indeed I place it fifth in the Newspoll era with only the Coalition in 1996 and Labor in 2007-9 higher (Coalition 2011 is very close.)

Here's an aggregation of pollster-released 2PPs per month, adjusted for apparent house effects including a shifting house effect for Morgan when its 2PP method changed:

The December reading may be inflated by the house effect correction for Morgan (for all I know said pollster may have changed some of its methods again) but Bludgertrack is also showing a (albeit milder) uptick in non-Morgan polls in December.


In the first five months Scott Morrison's Newspoll net satisfaction rates were generally lower than even the -8 he finished last year on. He averaged net -12.6 with a range of -7 (late April) to -19 (late Jan). Anthony Albanese averaged net -5.3 with a range of -14 (mid-April) to +2 (mid-March). In mid to late April Morrison was at times the better rating leader but it didn't last. 

On the skewed (to incumbents) Better Prime Minister indicator Morrison led by an insufficient average of 3.3 points, with ten leads and two ties.

Since the election we've seen lopsided leader polling with Albanese averaging net +31.5, Dutton net -7 and Albanese having an average 33.8 point Better Prime Minister lead. This is only based on four Newspolls but very similar patterns have been seen from other polls that canvass leadership ratings.


I mention betting odds in these annual roundups for interest although they are not reliably predictive. There is currently a sizeable (6.4%) arbitrage between two major bookies, one of whom has an implied 68% chance of Labor winning the next election and the other 79%.

Can Labor Avoid The First-Term Curse?

Recently first term federal government have reliably been re-elected, but their results have been underwhelming.  A history of swings against such government has some Opposition-boosters hopeful that an average-sized swing would at least see Labor lose the 2PP.  However, I don't trust this reasoning. 2PPs tend not to correlate from one election to the next so it should not be expected that the swing from a 52.13% 2PP would be as big on average as the swings from more lopsided wins. Also, just because there hasn't been a swing to a new government for many decades doesn't mean such a thing cannot happen. (Changes of government are rare, so we don't know that much about their properties.)

While the Albanese Labor honeymoon has been smaller than the Rudd one, it has so far been enduring (unlike that for the Abbott government which lasted only a few months.) Predictively, that doesn't mean a thing, but several of the recent governments that have had large honeymoons have complicated their first re-election attempts. Labor in 2010 removed their own Prime Minister for reasons they still struggle to explain, the Coalition in 1998 had to carry the burden of the "never ever" GST, and Hawke in 1984 was disadvantaged by a long and personally rocky and underwhelming campaign and perhaps informal voting. The last sophomore PM to get it all more or less right was Malcolm Fraser, who won by lots, albeit with a swing against his government.

It is easy to write off oppositions at times like this. Next year we'll see if the Coalition can make the inroads that it couldn't make in 2022.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

NSW 2023 Lower House Preview: Is Dom Doomed?

It's an almost annual tradition on this site to release something every Christmas Day. Click the Xmas tag for previous examples. As there is considerable interest in the NSW election I've decided, as in 2019, to go with the NSW leadup.  It helps that there has been a larger volume of lead-up polling in the last few months of 2022 than in 2018. Hopefully this continues during February and the early to mid campaign.

State and territory conservative governments haven't had a great run of it in elections in the last several years.  Of those that were either in power when Tony Abbott's Coalition won the 2013 federal election or came to power not long after, four (Queensland, Victoria, NT and South Australia) were kicked out after a single term and one (Western Australia) lasted two terms before being drubbed (with the remains of it obliterated four years later).  We are left with the almost twelve year old Perrottet-led Coalition in NSW, on to its fourth Premier, and the almost nine year old Rockliff Liberal Government in Tasmania, on to its third.  Both benefited at their most recent re-elections from weak Labor opposition, but the current NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns seems to be a sharper customer so far than his predecessors.  

Meanwhile while Dominic Perrottet has so far sought to lead with surprising energy, enthusiasm and a sense of the problems that his government faces, the NSW Liberal Party continues to be blighted by preselection-related and factional infighting.  Candidate chaos is not necessarily an obstacle to victory (the Morrison government won in 2019 despite having to drop or disendorse 11 candidates along the way) but headlines such as the Premier's recent attempt to improve gender equity in the upper house being overridden are not helpful.  

In 2019 what was then Gladys Berejiklian's second-term Coalition government seemed in danger of at least losing its majority but clung to a three-seat majority in an election where hardly any seats changed hands.  The Coalition won 48 seats, Labor 36, and Greens, independents and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers three each.  

A lot has changed since then.  All the Shooters became independents, as did Liberals John Sidoti (ICAC investigation, now suspended from parliament) and Gareth Ward (criminal charges, also suspended).  Liberal Andrew Constance left Bega prior to a very narrowly failed attempt to win the federal seat of Gilmore, and Labor's Michael Holland snapped it up at a by-election.  Labor's Tania Mihailuk became another independent after unproven corruption allegations she made under privilege against preselected upper house candidate Khal Asfour were not appreciated by the party.  Mihailuk herself is facing accusations of bullying, which she denies, and is also involved in a two-in-one-doesn't-go situation with MP for Lakemba Jihad Dib, who will contest the redrawn Bankstown.  The starting line for the election in terms of currently occupied or notional new seats is Coalition 45 seats Labor 36 Greens 3 and independents 9 (two currently suspended) but Sidoti is retiring at the election and Ward will either not contest or presumably be heavily defeated.  (NB since writing this article I've had feedback suggesting Ward can be competitive despite the charges as he has been a very popular local MP in the past and the Liberals have no candidate as yet.)

Despite ending the term narrowly in minority, Dominic Perrottet's government has not been at any actual risk of falling during the current term.

General state election history and this election

I have found on this site that the two biggest killers of state governments are age and federal drag.  State governments are boosted if they are of the opposite party to the federal government of the day. This may be partly because voters like having different parties in charge at different levels (thinking same-party governments will be too compliant with Canberra's wishes) but it also seems that voters use state elections to give federal governments of the same party a kicking unless those federal governments are very popular, and that more and more voters do this the longer the state government persists.

Fortunately for Perrottet's regime, the Morrison federal government was booted in May this year, so federal drag no longer affects it.  However time is not its friend; governments that have been around this long are likely to lose seats compared to the previous election (eg SA 2014) even when they are not federally dragged.  

I take the modern condition of Australian state politics as starting from 1989, the end of the last of the ageless state governments of the second half of the 20th century.  Updated for Victoria my current simple starting regression for the fate of state governments (ignoring polling) is:

government seat share change = -0.042-0.0136*age+0.153*different +/- .104

where "different" is 1 if the federal and state governments are different parties and 0 if they're the same.  The Perrottet Government is so old that the regression predicts it to probably lose seat share even with federal drag on its side, with a median projection of -.052 of the parliament (5 seats) and a 50% chance of a result between a 15 seat loss and a 5 seat gain.  

It also may not help that the Albanese federal government continues to cruise in the polls. Historically there's been no evidence that the popularity of an opposite-party federal government matters, but it would be hardly surprising if it did.  (The popularity of same-party federal governments matters a lot, as seen in Victoria, so I use a more complex formula in those cases).  

What are the targets for victory?

As usual I have established a 2PP conditional probability model that factors in seat-specific effects such as personal votes.  I expect I'll post some outputs of this during the campaign. I treat Heathcote as a Liberal seat with a margin of -1.7% rather than a Labor seat, and I also treat Bega as a Liberal seat based on the previous election, but apply a hefty penalty (currently 6% though I am going to fine-tune this later) because it is a "disrupted seat".  Disrupted seats won by other parties at mid-term by-elections tend to produce results somewhere between the last election result and the by-election result.  

The 2PP model includes Kiama, Bankstown and Drummoyne as major party seats but does not include the nine seats won by the crossbench at the last election.  On the assumption that there are no gains or losses from those nine seats (discussed further below) I get the following:

* On average the Coalition needs 51.8% 2PP (-0.2%) for a better than even chance of a majority.  Almost any swing to Labor, all else being equal, means the Coalition is likely to lose its majority.  This results from personal vote effects (including leadership change) for Labor in close seats, but the Coalition having some very close, disrupted (Bega) or adversely redistributed seats that lack any personal vote protection.

* On average the Coalition needs 49% 2PP (-3.0%) for a median result with more seats than Labor, while Labor needs the Coalition to fall to 48.2% (-3.8% and 51.8% to Labor) for a median result where it has more seats.

* On average the Coalition needs to fall to 45.6% 2PP (-6.4%, 54.4% to Labor) before Labor has a more than even chance of a majority. This results from a shortage of marginal Coalition seats.

What is noticeable here is that the range of swings projected to produce a hung parliament is remarkably wide - any swing to Labor that isn't very large appears a good chance to do it.  But hung parliaments have a track record of not happening lately (fifteen state and federal majorities in a row, with twelve of the campaigns featuring various levels of media speculation about a hung parliament being likely.)  So that still needs to be treated with caution.  

These estimates assume swings vary by personal vote and by effectively random factors, but have not included any possible systematic regional variation or one side outperforming the other in marginal seats compared to what would be expected for their 2PP.  In NSW 2019, Victoria 2022 (a remarkable case) and the 2019 federal election, the incumbent governments did especially well at sandbagging their own marginal seats, while in the 2022 federal election the Labor opposition did this.   If time permits, sometime before the state election I will run a model that assumes that the sort of realignment seen in Victoria (with Labor doing well in inner city seats and the Coalition holding up better in outer suburbs) also applies here and see what difference that makes.  

Crossbench issues

While the above model assumes the crossbench will stay the same (excluding mid-term defections) it's far from certain this will be so.  Two of the ex-Shooters independents (Helen Dalton in Murray and Roy Butler in the vast seat of Barwon) are on relatively small margins and the Nationals will be hoping the turmoil in the Shooters, if nothing else, helps them to recover both those seats.  

The most obvious downside risk for the Coalition is losses to teal independents.  Although teals wiped out in the Victorian election, NSW provides two ingredients important to their federal success: seats where Labor is completely uncompetitive, and a Liberal government to protest against. However, optional preferencing makes it harder for independents to win from well behind compared to federally.  A good illustration of this was the Willoughby by-election, at which independent Larissa Penn fell well short after preferences off an only slightly larger primary vote gap to that which Kylea Tink easily overturned in the federal contest for North Sydney.  Teal campaigns will also be subject to NSW disclosure and spending requirements.

Identified tealoid candidates include Joeline Hackman (Manly), Jacqui Scruby (Pittwater), Karen Freyer (Vaucluse), Victoria Davidson (Lane Cove), and Helen Conway (North Shore).  Wakehurst may also attract a tral candidate and Simon Holmes à Court
 has said there is no limit to the number of teals Climate 200 might support.  (This list will be edited to add more as announced.)

NSW also has a long tradition of rural independent success.  Dubbo was a close 2CP vs independent last time (2.0%) and there's been a recent curve-ball with the defection of federal Calare MHR Andrew Gee to the crossbench.  I am not sure the latter will actually hurt the Nationals.  Another seat that was vaguely close was Wollondilly (5.5%, 6.0% post-redistribution according to Antony Green).  It, like Dubbo, was a vacancy in 2019, but it is also interesting in view of a high One Nation vote and a recent trend of One Nation voters preferring indies over major parties.

There is a trend at recent elections for the media to hype pretty much any independent who is running without requiring any empirical evidence that the candidate has any prospects of success.  This was especially apparent in Victoria, where no fewer than five much vaunted independents failed to make double figures. 

As concerns the Greens, one seat of interest is Lismore.  This was won by former federal MP Janelle Saffin in 2019 but Saffin only beat the Greens on 3CP by 361 votes.  According to Antony Green the primary votes shift in the Greens' favour compared to Labor by 1.0% - this is actually enough after preferences to make Lismore notionally Green.  Saffin as a first-term incumbent would be expected to get an incumbency boost, but Saffin already had a massive profile in the region and given the swings seen in the federal contest for Richmond there is a case for Labor to be nervous.  The other reasonably close seat is Ballina where on 2019 figures a 3.9% 3CP Greens to Labor shift would have seen Labor make the final two; I suspect that such a swing is unlikely.  There is some interest in Balmain as the first ever case where a Green incumbent in a single-seat state or federal division has retired; the 10% buffer suggests the Greens should not have trouble holding it but the margin will be worth a look.

A challenge at this election is predicting what various crossbenchers might do if there was a hung parliament.  I would expect the Greens to support a Labor government irrespective of seat totals.  Independents Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper seem more left than right, but might in theory support (or at least not vote out) a Coalition government especially if the alternative was unworkable and the Coalition was near a majority.  Joe McGirr is socially conservative but his positions on other issues suggest he isn't a lock to support the Coalition.  The ex-Shooters independents would be safer electorally backing the Coalition but might also be motivated by which side could deliver more on issues of concern.  It's also important to bear in mind that crossbenchers don't have to make a choice either way; in theory a minority government can persist without guarantees of supply and confidence if there is not the will to vote it out.

Recent polling

There have been rather a lot of polls in the last four months.  In brief summary:

* Multi-mode Morgan samples in September, October and November with 2PPs of 53, 57 and 52 to Labor respectively (major party primaries 34-34, 36.5-32 to Labor and 37-35 to Coalition).

* Newspoll in September with 54-46 to Labor (major party primaries 40-35 to Labor)

* Freshwater Strategy in October with 54-46 to Labor (major party primaries 37-36 to Labor; this 2PP seems a little generous to me, my last-election estimate for the published primaries is 52.8)

* Resolve Strategic polls in September and October. The first gave Labor a 43-30 primary vote lead and I estimated this as a 60-40 2PP (an obvious outlier) and the second had a 38-35 primary vote lead, which I estimated at 54.5 2PP for Labor.

* Incomplete details of a small Essential sample in September with the Coalition ahead 36.4-32 on what I assume to have been raw primary vote; a very rubbery 2PP estimate off the incomplete numbers reported is 50.5 to Coalition.

A simple average of all the above is about 54-46 to Labor, which if repeated would only give Labor a close to even chance of a majority on my numbers.  There was also, unfortunately, a mid-November report of a Nov 8-10 unnamed industry group poll by an unnamed pollster using unstated methods, which the Australian claimed to have been "leaked" (meaning that the sponsor gave the poll to them for free).  This had the same primary vote lead for Labor (40-35) as the September Newspoll.  This level of opaque poll reporting by The Australian is completely unsatisfactory and I see no reason why such behaviour should be allowed.

Both "teal independents" and One Nation are scoring highly in polls that ask about them. The Greens are currently running at a slight increase on 2019. However, it is not clear One Nation are running in any significant number of lower house seats as yet, and teals will only run in a small minority. There may be lots of spare votes around here, but polls are also prone to underestimate the votes that obscure micro-parties get between them when a lot of them run.

Overall, for the time being the Coalition on aggregate is in a losing or at best struggling position and it will probably need substantial improvement (perhaps on the order of 3-4% 2PP) over the next few months if the government is to survive in any form. There are, however, plenty of precedents for such recoveries. The Berejiklian government was behind about 49-51 in late 2018 and finished up winning 52-48. The Palaszczuk Labor government in Queensland was down about 48.5-51.5 in mid-2020 and won 53.2-46.8 in October. (Both these races had a lot less polling at the same stage.)

The only seat-specific polling I have seen was some proof-of-concept style Redbridge polling in possible teal target seats where respondents were primed with statements about federal teal independents then asked how they would vote if a similar candidate ran in their state division.  This was taken in late September and early October.  These polls were flawed in that the preferencing question did not allow the respondent the option of exhausting their preferences.  The track record from the federal election was that even the "prompted" version of these polls tended to have the Coalition primary too low, but did not necessarily overestimate the teal independent.  The numbers in the poll suggest that the right teal campaign might win Manly, North Shore, Pittwater and would be at least competitive in Wakehurst and Oxley, with Lane Cove the only seat where support appeared too low.  

Leadership polling continues to show pretty good results for both leaders - for instance Perrottet was net +6 and Minns net +15 in Newspoll; they were net +2 and net +11 in Freshwater.  They are more or less swapping the lead as Better Premier, which is not greatly surprising given that that indicator skews to incumbents but the incumbent's party is so far behind.  Not much should be read into this as there is plenty of history of Premiers who take over near the end of a government's life polling well.

That's all for this preview unless I think of anything else to add. Secular season's greetings and Happy New Year to all readers.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Victorian Upper House 2022: It's Still Not Real Democracy But It Is Funny

Legislative Council 2022: ALP 15 L-NP 14 GRN 4 LCV 2 AJP 1 SFF 1 PHON 1 LDP 1 LDLP 1

The buttons have been pressed on the Victorian Legislative Council election for 2022.  This election yet again employed the long-discredited Group Ticket Voting system even though the same system wrecked the 2018 election . Nearly all members of the 2018-22 parliament, and most of the parties contesting the 2022 election, did nothing about the fact that at least eight of the 40 MLCs in the parliament were not there on electoral merit.  

And so, this garbage system in which parties beat other parties with several times their vote and win regional seats they would not have won in any other system on the earth continued.  That said, the 2022 results aren't nearly so bad as last time.  Yet again, there have been many individually incorrect results (including one which focuses attention on yet another undemocratic junk feature of Australia's worst electoral system) but all the same,  the overall balance of this parliament is remarkably representative.  There have also been hilarious doses of karma.  Parties that supported preference harvesting or did nothing about it have in many cases been hoist on their own petard while several parties that opposed Group Ticket Voting have had success.  Glenn Druery's "alliance" has not been nearly as successful this election after a campaign in which Druery got stung not just once but twice. While its members did get three seats between them, they may well have won one of those anyway.  Nearly all the randoms who got in at the last election lost, and both major parties lost a seat they should have won as a price of their inaction on the problem.

Victoria 2022: Lower House Results, Poll Performance And Pendulum Tilt

 LABOR 56 (+1) COALITION 28* (+1*) GREENS 4 (+1) IND 0 (-3)

(Changes are compared to last election)
(* Assuming Narracan is retained)
Current 2PP excluding Narracan 55.00 to ALP 
Projected 2PP treating Narracan as uniform swing 54.83 to ALP
Current 2PP swing accounting for 2PP-uncontested seats 2.70% to Coalition

Following the fast release of 2PP results for every seat it's time to do my usual wrapup of the Victorian lower house election.  The election isn't actually over yet, because of the supplementary election in Narracan to be held early in the new year (and in case there are any further minor changes to the figures), but I think it's best to put it out now with the obligatory cautions.  Throughout this article any use of an asterisk (*) means "subject to Narracan".

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Mid-Term Queensland Polling, And The Misreporting Thereof

Just a reminder before I start this one that tomorrow is Button Press Day in Victoria and the action can be followed on the thread below this one.  It's not really democracy but it can still be fun!  I am working on some wrap-up material for the Victorian lower house too, but am being held up by some unclarities regarding 2PP issues (mainly an apparent error in the seat of Pascoe Vale.)

Yesterday Queensland was treated to not one but two state voting intention polls, but also, alas, to some of the worst poll reporting I have seen.  In the recent Victorian state election the Herald-Sun engaged in absurd poll-spinning and stairs-fall-truthing only to embarrass itself completely as the eight-year old Andrews government returned with a slightly increased majority (the oldest state government to do so since 1986).  The Courier-Mail, which has kept playing the same silly game although the side it barracks for has won just one and a half of the last twelve elections, also seems determined not to learn. 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Victoria Legislative Council 2022: Button Press Day

Update (Wednesday night) All regions have been declared.  Bernie Finn unsuccessfully sought a recount, apparently solely on account of the margin of 210 votes, which was rejected.  He claims there is precedent for granting a recount but the 2006 cases involved provisional margins of 76 and 114 votes at key points (though the latter did see a 205 vote shift which changed the winner!)  There is no automatic recount margin and I would expect the VEC to be wanting to see some evidence of actual error (from scrutineering or results issues) before granting a recount.  Finn can petition the matter to the Court of Disputed Returns but they would want to see evidence of actual errors too.


Outcome ALP 15 L-NP 14 GRN 4 LCV 2 AJP 1 SFF 1 PHON 1 LDP 1 LDLP 1

This thread will follow and, where interesting dissect, the final results from the Victorian Legislative Council count as the proverbial buttons are pressed to finalise results on Wednesday.  If vote totals change before then, analysis will continue to be posted on the existing live thread (which includes projections of seat outcomes and totals).  Any fresh detailed analysis of the impending button presses that I find time to do will also be posted there and the outlook summaries on this page will be edited.   For a guide to what to expect see my 2018 Button Press Day thread.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Poll-Shaped Object Fails To Prove Opposition To Proposed Hobart Stadium

There is quite a deal of noise currently about a poll supposed to show opposition to a proposed new AFL stadium in Hobart.  Anecdotally, the concept is opposed by many northerners on the usual parochial grounds and by lefties (I'm suspecting it is not just lefties) who think the money should be spent on social priorities. It might be no surprise to find nobody much liked it then, but does the poll provide any actual evidence of this? I was one of those who was surveyed in this poll and I was not impressed.  

The poll has been hyped as a "leaked poll", which means that the source commissioning it gave it to journalists for free.  It was a robopoll of mobile and landline phones commissioned by Tasmanian Labor and conducted by Community Engagement, who are not at this stage an Australian Polling Council member and are hence not subject to public disclosure requirements.