Saturday, June 25, 2022

Two-Party Swing Decided This Election (Plus Pendulum)

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

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

Incidentally, a widespread theory that Labor's low primary was a result of strategic voting for teal independents is also false.  There only were about 17 seats with new teal independents (depending on definition) and these had an average primary vote swing against Labor of 5.2%, meaning there was still a 0.2% primary vote swing against Labor on average in the rest.  Labor's failure to increase its primary vote despite the Coalition's primary vote losses would have had more to do with Labor losing votes to the Greens and One Nation (the latter purely on account of One Nation contesting nearly every seat).  

The national two-party preferred vote currently sits at 52.13 to Labor, a swing of 3.66%.  However, this isn't necessarily final, eg there appears to be an error in the 2PP count in North Sydney, which if fixed would put them up to 52.14.  There will probably be other minor corrections.  What is certainly final is the declared seat count.  Labor (77) gained ten seats from the Coalition but lost Griffith to the Greens and Fowler to independent Dai Le.  The Coalition (58) regained Hughes from defector Craig Kelly (UAP) but lost ten seats to Labor, two to the Greens and six to teal independents.  

In the two seats the Coalition lost to the Greens, they also lost the two-party preferred vote to Labor.  Bearing in mind that Labor to Greens and Greens to Labor preference flows are similar to each other, this means the Coalition lost these seats on two-party swing anyway, irrespective of which out of Labor and the Greens made the final two.  So two-party swing cost the Coalition twelve seats, alone putting it back to 64 seats and out of government without considering the six losses to teal independents.   The Coalition would still have had serious problems had no seats changed hands between the majors (could it possibly have governed with, say, 68 seats to Labor's 67 and the same crossbench?) but the crossbench losses were only by themselves the difference between winning and a mess, while the 2PP losses by themselves turned winning into losing.  

2PP swings largely result from changes in the major party primary vote, and this election was no different, though it will be one of the four elections in the last 40 years to see a moderate shift in preferencing behaviour by voters for established minor parties (cancelling out the moderate shift to the Coalition in 2019).  The overall components of the 2PP swing at this election were (on current figures) differences in primary vote swing between the major parties 2.49%, preference shifting in Labor's favour 0.99% and other factors such as changes in the minor party vote share breakdown or the impact of three-cornered contests 0.18%.

Labor won a majority despite a low primary vote because it is in the nature of our system that a moderate advantage on two-party preferred turns into a convincing advantage on seat share (convincing enough).  This was not understood by such commentators as Chris Uhlmann, who claimed (following a Newspoll with Labor on 36%) that "neither [major party] can form government in their own right from there." Such commentaries relied heavily on media tropes about major parties needing certain votes to win because that was what they had won from in the past, and ignored evidence (as published here, though even I would not have credited a Labor majority off 32.6% as likely) that those historic records were irrelevant.  Labor has won a majority with a primary vote 3.4 points lower than that from which Uhlmann maintained that Labor winning a majority was impossible.  

How Labor Beat The Bear Pendulum

On the classic pre-election pendulum, a swing of 3.66% was projected to net Labor eight 2PP gains, still easily enough to win the election in some form.  Historically that would be a rather meagre return for such a swing because there were unusually few Coalition seats on lower margins.  And given that four seats where Labor won the 2PP were gains for the crossbench, it would seem the swing should only have been good for 73 Labor seats.  But Labor won 77 anyway - how did they do this?

One reason for this is simply probability: a uniform swing of 3.66% would have resulted in six Labor wins by less than 3% 2PP and fourteen Coalition wins in the same range.  But seat swings are never uniform, and simply by treating them as able to vary randomly it would be expected that Labor would get more like eight wins in this range. (They in fact got nine, as well as two above this range, but missed one of the two below, Bass.)

There is more, because Labor also secured a favourable distribution of swings.  In existing Coalition 2PP seats, the average 2PP swing to Labor was 4.29%, with no real relationship with the seat's existing margin.  But in existing Labor 2PP seats, not only was the average lower at 2.73%, but the more marginal the seat, the better Labor did.  The regression for average swings in existing Labor seats was roughly:

swing = 5.27% -0.28*pre-election margin

A third factor assisting Labor was the relatively high variation between 2PP seat swings - a standard deviation of 4.25%.  This made it more likely that seats that were projected as narrow Coalition retains based on uniform swing would fall.

Given the national swing, Labor would have been expected by my seat model (which takes into account random variation) to win the 2PP in 79 of the 145 2019-election major party seats, gaining about eleven and losing about one.  However because of the other advantages mentioned above, Labor in fact became the 2PP winner in twelve of these seats and lost no 2PPs in its own seats.  That is then 81 of those 145 that Labor could have won had it been the 2CP winner, but it was knocked out in third in three of those by the Greens, and lost the 2CP to Dai Le in Fowler, for a total of 77.  (Labor also made a meaningless 2PP gain in Mayo, and had two existing unoccupied 2PP seats in Melbourne and Clark, so overall Labor won the 2PP in 84 seats to 67.)  

Here's a colour-coded graph (click for a larger version):

The blue dotted line is the regression line for Coalition 2PP seats and the red dotted line is the regression line for Labor 2PP seats.  Seats are colour-coded by winning party: red for Labor, blue for Coalition, Green for you'll never guess, teal for "Voices Of" style independents, grey for other indies, orange for Centre Alliance and a sort of pinkish dark red colour for Bob Katter who is hiding behind a bunch of Coalition dots anyway.  

Left of the vertical axis in the top left quadrant are thirteen Labor 2PP gains (ten wins, two Green wins and Mayo).  Just right of the vertical axis in the bottom right quadrant would be the Coalition's 2PP gains but that part of the graph is empty - there weren't any.  (The red dots near to what would be the losing zone are Gilmore, Lyons and Lingiari.  The grey dot that marks the biggest 2PP swing against Labor is Fowler).

Here's the 2019 version.  In 2019 there was a uniform swing to the Coalition in Labor seats, but in the Coalition's own marginals, the Coalition had a swing to it, while in the Coalition's safe seats there was a swing to Labor.  2022 was nothing like as spectacular, but it is still clear that Labor benefited from a helpful swing distribution, getting higher swings in marginal seats and also second-tier Coalition seats than in their own safe seats.

2PP Swing Still A Good Predictor

Before the election I wrote this piece about how 2PP had continued to be a fine predictor of seat share swings even as the crossbench expanded and how a substantial 2PP win for Labor would mean that Labor won the election.  So how did this go with the crossbench jumping remarkably from six seats to sixteen?

The answer is it still went pretty well.  The relationship between 2PP swing and seat share changes is as healthy as ever, though the relationship between 2PP and overall seat share is beginning to struggle. Here's one of the graphs from the previous piece with the 2022 result super-imposed:

The red star is 2022.  It is almost exactly on the line of best fit (which hasn't been recalculated): the Coalition's share of the major party seats has fallen from 53.1% to 43% and that 10.1% seat share swing is almost exactly the 10.4% that was expected for the 2PP swing against it. Now here's the other one (this time I've used a blue star, because this one is colour-coded by party.)

The growing crossbench meant the government did finish up several seats short of the historic projection (again, regression line not recalculated), showing that this (slightly weaker anyway) relationship is weakening to a degree as the crossbench expands.  Even so, it's still not an enormous outlier.  I would expect governments to continue to underperform compared to the trend line on this one for the forseeable future, but still, this graph correctly predicts that for the 2PP recorded, the government wasn't going to survive.

If the major party primary vote continues to decline, the number of crossbench seats is likely to increase, and majority government will become harder and harder to win.  

Another thing to point out here concerns state breakdowns.  I often see claims that the national 2PP is not a reliable guide because there are uneven swings between states.  At this election one state (Western Australia) recorded the biggest difference in 2PP swings from the national 2PP swing in any mainland state since 1943 (though there was a very similar difference the opposite way in WA in 1972).  It makes little difference; unless a state is unusually packed with marginals then what goes up in one state comes down somewhere else.  Labor made three gains above national swing in WA but failed to make two below it in Tasmania.


I've decided to post my own provisional post-election pendulum here, mainly out of dissatisfaction with the way pendulums are being done by almost everyone, including even their inventor (note the positioning of Mayo and Warringah).  I routinely see pendulums with classic 2PP margins mixed in with close Labor vs Green and Coalition vs IND margins irrespective of whether those seats were close on a 2PP basis and even irrespective of whether there will in future even be any independent, let alone the same one, contesting.  This approach to pendulums, treating them as basically just a list of how close seats were, causes confusion and compromises the original purpose.  The purpose of the pendulum is to give a simple model of how many seats will fall for a given uniform 2PP swing.   Sometimes this model is erroneous because of systematically uneven swings, natural swing variation between seats, new non-classic winners or losers and personal vote effects.  However, it's not a bad starting point.  

Why on earth do we see, for instance, the seat of Northcote included on Victorian state pendulums as if it is at all meaningful or useful to put a seat that was Labor vs Green 1.7% but Labor vs Coalition 33.2% in the middle of a pack of Labor/Coalition marginals?  Yes, it's a seat Labor could very easily lose, but the axis on which it would be lost is completely different to the one that will determine surrounding seats on the pendulum.  And also, identifying seats Labor might lose to the Greens is a complicated exercise involving both 2CP and 3CP seats - at this federal election Griffith just appeared on pendulums as ALP 2.9%, suggesting no risk of it falling to anyone in an election with a substantial  swing to Labor.  

Throwing Labor-Greens seats and seats with independents in with classic 2PP marginals leads to confused commentary about how many seats will fall on given swings and I've seen this far too often in media reporting.  I end up making my own versions before each election because the versions available online are mostly  unusable.  I think 2PP pendulums should be noting significant 2CP and 3CP results, but should not let themselves be governed by them.

These are the rules for my own pendulum that follows:

* If the seat was won by a major party, it is ranked by 2PP, whether the major parties were the final two or not.

* If the seat was won by a major party, but finished as a non-classic seat (one or the other major party did not make the 2CP) then the 2CP margin is noted.

* If the seat was not won by a major party, then it is excluded from the 2PP section of the pendulum, the reason being that that the 2PP can only again determine the winner if the seat winner falls out of the top two.  In the case of a crossbencher elected at the previous federal election as such, this hasn't happened since three cases of it happening in 1998, and it hasn't happened at state level since 2013 (indeed there hasn't been a loss by a crossbencher elected at the previous election as such in their own seat since 2014). However the 2PP is still noted.  

* I also note the 3CP swing required to change the result (this applies the same way as 2PP swing, ie how many voters would need to move from one candidate to the other) in cases where the 3CP loser would have won the seat had they made the top two.  And I note it in some other cases where the 3CP was relevant to the seat's marginality:

- S3CP (stands for survival three candidate preferred) - refers to the swing-terms 3CP margin for the winner over another candidate who would have narrowly lost the 2CP had they reached it

- L3CP (stands for losing three candidate preferred) - refers to the swing-terms 3CP margin for the 2CP loser over another candidate who would have narrowly lost the 2CP had they reached it.  It may seem speculative to note such seats at all, but I want to keep an eye on potential future Ryans and Brisbanes.  

There were no cases this election where a candidate who would have won the 2CP was narrowly squeezed out of the 3CP by a candidate who went on to lose.  

My cutoff for inclusion of 3CPs is my estimate being at or under the AEC's marginal seat limit (6%).  I should note here the unusual case of Forrest.  The 3CP Labor over Green margin in Forrest is 5.7%, and Forrest is now 2PP-marginal (oh strange new world ...) but I do not believe Forrest was 2CP-marginal between the Liberals and the Greens given the latter's low primary.

Here we go then!  This pendulum is provisional pending final results (a corrected version will be edited in when all results are final), and I have unofficially anticipated the 2PP correction for North Sydney.  

One thing that is interesting here (and another mirror image of 2019) is the asymmetry in marginals.  Labor has twelve seats under 5% compared to the Coalition's nineteen.  If this survives the next redistribution intact, it will make life even more difficult for the Opposition, which unless it can retake some seats from the teals or Greens would need a 54.15% 2PP to retake majority government with a uniform swing (51.2 to become the largest party.)  If the Opposition retakes all its crossbench losses, it needs 51.2% for a majority.  

I will have other comments about the results - especially polling accuracy - when the party preferencing breakdowns are known and all figures are absolutely final.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Senate Reform Performance Review And Senate Notes 2022

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear of a blocked Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winning Vote Shares, Babet and Pocock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preferencing Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Informal Votes

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

Below the lines

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

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

How To Vote Cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blank Box Of Death

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

2022 Senate Button Press Thread

This thread will follow the Senate button presses as they occur, with details of the results and timing etc.  As I start this thread the button has been pressed in ACT with Katy Gallagher and David Pocock winning as expected.  The distribution of preferences is expected shortly. 

States will be added to this thread as they reach zero unapportioned votes, which is a sign that the button press is imminent.  Until then any further assessments for states will continue to be posted on the Senate postcount thread.  Based on 2019 I was expecting the button presses to occur around June 21 but some races have been significantly faster this time.


The button has been pressed and the winners as widely called are 1. Katy Gallagher (ALP) 2. David Pocock (David Pocock), with Zed Seselja (Liberal) defeated.  Detail on the distribution later today.

The distribution is here.  Pocock as expected won very easily, defeating Seselja by 7.76% (22133 votes) having caught up to within 1235 before the final Green exclusion (from around 10000 behind after accounting for support candidate votes).  The exhaust rate was higher than usual for the ACT because of the structure of the count, reaching 1.75%. (4986 votes).

Friday, June 10, 2022

EMRS: Another New Premier Gets No Polling Bounce

EMRS (Tasmania): Liberal 39 (-2) Labor 30 (-1) Greens 13 (+1) Others 18 (+2) including IND 15

Independent vote is likely to be inflated at this stage
Poll suggests Liberals largest party with Greens and/or Independents holding balance of power if election "held now"

A new EMRS poll has been released, the first since Jeremy Rockliff replaced Peter Gutwein as Premier after Gutwein resigned in April.

I want to go straight to the interpretation in EMRS's media release, which states that this is a strong response to the change of Premier.  That is not an interpretation I entirely agree with.  Yes, former Premier Gutwein enjoyed stratospheric popularity and his government generally polled very well during his tenure, but that was not the case in the March poll that forms the baseline for this assessment.  The March poll was the government's weakest in raw primary vote terms since EMRS changed its polling methods in late 2019.  While it did not directly poll Gutwein's approval, the shrinking of his Better Premier lead also suggested the pandemic gloss had come off after the reopening of the state over summer.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Tasmanian Local Government (Elections) Amendment Bill 2022

Some quick comments, which will be updated with comments on the debate (if any) surrounding the Local Government (Elections) Amendment Bill 2022, which is on the notice paper for introduction into the House of Assembly very soon.

Council elections are due to be held in October this year.  This Bill would make the following changes:

(i) making voting compulsory

(ii) reducing the number of boxes a voter must number correctly for a valid vote from up to 12 (varying by council) to 5 (votes with errors in numbers beyond 5 will be formal under savings provisions.)

Of these, (ii) is a critical and necessary change to the voting system, whether or not (i) is passed.  If (i) were to be passed in the absence of (ii), it is likely (ii) would become even worse.  I've always been ambivalent at best about compulsory voting in council elections but I would greatly prefer to see this Bill as it is passed than to not see (ii) passed; I also think the case for compulsory voting is better now than it has been in the past.  

Monday, May 30, 2022

Not-A-Poll Reset 4 For 2022: Morrison Defeated

With the announcement that Peter Dutton has been elected unopposed as Opposition Leader, it's time to reset this site's Not-A-Poll for the next leader to depart.  Scott Morrison resigned as Prime Minister after his government was defeated.  The defeat was probably a fairly narrow one in 2PP terms, but in seat share terms it was a disaster, with the Coalition crashing to its worst seat share in the history of the Liberal Party (very slightly worse than 1946 and 1983).  

Morrison's "miracle" win in 2019 gave him a reputation as a great marketer but the 2022 election showed both that this wasn't the case and that he had made himself and his party far less marketable.  Such was the extent of this that even a relatively gaffe-riddled campaign by Anthony Albanese and Labor's difficulties in inspiring primary voting enthusiasm from the left couldn't save him (in part because the gaffes were not about anything that voters cared about).  Morrison joins Andrew Fisher, Joseph Cook, Robert Menzies, Ben Chifley, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd as leaders who won their first elections as leaders but lost their second. Keating is the most similar since he also took office as PM mid-term through a leadership contest (albeit a more straightforward one) and won an apparently unlikely victory, before being dumped in round two.  Recent PMs who have lost have tended to leave politics soon into their terms; at this stage Morrison intends to stick around but that may not be so welcome in his party.

Anthony Albanese joins Fisher, Cook, Joseph Lyons, Malcolm Fraser sort-of but technically not, Bob Hawke and Rudd as winners from Opposition at their first election as party leader.  But Albanese is the first of these to have served a whole term as Opposition Leader before winning - all the rest took over the job at some stage during the term.

These are the results of the recent (very brief) voting round.

Unsurprisingly Morrison was the crowd tip as the next leader to go, after four cases in which he was heavily backed but not the first to go.  Given that Peter Dutton is likely to last a while in the absence of an obvious rival (unless things go badly enough for Labor for even Morrison to be viable again), it will be interesting to see who voters in this round tip and whether they will be correct.  Only Daniel Andrews (this November) and Dominic Perrottet (next March) have elections coming up anytime soon.  Andrews no longer has the tailwind of a Liberal federal government, which could make the Victorian election more interesting, while Perrottet is no longer disadvantaged by Canberra factors but is the fourth leader of a government that will be 12 years old.  No one else currently looks at risk of being ousted, so the most likely scenario for other leaders would be retirement. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Tasmanian Government Agrees To Increase Size Of Parliament

This Wednesday there was a surprise in Tasmanian parliament with the Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, announcing that his Government would introduce a Bill later this year to restore the House of Assembly to 35 seats.  

Unlike most states and the federal parliament, Tasmania has an "upside down" system with the House of Assembly (lower house) elected by the Hare-Clark system of (more or less) proportional representation, while the Legislative Council (upper house) has single-member seats, elected on a rotating basis.  Tasmania has used Hare-Clark statewide since 1909, always with five electorates that match the state's five federal seats.  

The state elected six members per division from 1909 to 1956, but the death knell of that system was sounded in 1955 when the election that year produced a 15-15 Liberal-Labor tie.  An unsatisfactory system in which the loser of the primary vote (in this case the Liberals) provided the Speaker in order to enable the winner to govern was tested to its limits when Labor's Carrol Bramich defected to the Liberals, giving the Liberals a floor majority.  The Cosgrove Labor government secured a dissolution (aided by the Liberals having let the House adjourn rather than using their numbers to take control of it as they might in theory have) but the result again was 15-15.  From this point on, the state used 35 seats.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

2022 Senate Postcounts: Main Thread

RESULT:  Labor 15, Coalition 15, Green 6, One Nation 1, JLN 1, Pocock 1, UAP 1 

2019 SENATE CONTINUING: Labor 11, Coalition 17, Green 6, One Nation 1, JLN 1 

NEW SENATE: Labor 26, Coalition 32, Green 12, One Nation 2, JLN 2, Pocock 1

Once unapportioned in a state gets to zero, coverage moves to the button press thread. Totals above are updated as confirmed.


Welcome to my main thread for postcounts for the Senate.  This page will include a summary and updates for each state/territory but over time depending on how the races go and how much time I have I may break out the more complex and unclear races (which currently appears to be Victoria and South Australia) into their own threads.  Some states will receive much higher detail level than others on account of the competitiveness of races.  Where races appear uncompetitive I won't be posting frequent updates.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

2022 House of Reps Summary Page And Vanilla Postcounts



Seats apparently changing (not all completely confirmed):

COALTION TO LABOR: Reid, Robertson, Chisholm, Higgins, Boothby, Pearce, Swan, Hasluck, Tangney, Bennelong
COALITION TO INDEPENDENTS: Wentworth, Mackellar, North Sydney, Curtin, Goldstein, Kooyong