Sunday, December 3, 2023

2PP Federal Polling Aggregate Relaunched

Introduction (December 2023)

In recent weeks I've relaunched the 2PP aggregate on the sidebar that was a feature here between mid-2013 and the 2019 federal election.  The aim of the aggregate is to present a frequently updated figure for what the current polls should be taken as saying collectively about the state of the two-party preferred contest.  This is never a prediction or a statement that the polls are right, it is just putting a number on where they're at.  A couple of things encouraged me to do this and the first one was a desire to have an up-to-date figure readily available to media now that things are actually happening (my 52.9 estimate from this article was being quoted after my estimate had fallen below 52.)  

The second is that following the Newspoll 50-50 last week, I am starting to see some usual suspects on social media pretend that the media interest in the Newspoll is voided by Morgan then coming out with 52.5-47.5.   The reality is that Morgan is a pretty bouncy poll from week to week, it had the Coalition just ahead on its 2PP the week before and Newspoll has a stronger track record.  So the commentators are right to take the Newspoll as the strongest yet signal of a return to competitive polling, but it doesn't mean that Labor is doomed or even that Labor would lose an election "held now".   (Even based off the Newspoll, Labor would probably lose just five or so seats to the Coalition and one or two to the Greens.)  John Howard's government trailed for much of the second half of its first term but was still re-elected despite backflipping on a previous promise to "never, ever" introduce a GST.  The first Whitlam government was also re-elected after a term of mostly weak polling.  

Someone is bound to ask what is the point of doing a 2PP aggregate at all, but I would again reply that despite the recent crossbench gains, the 2PP contest remains the main thing that decides federal elections, including 2022.  Perhaps in the future the major party votes will continue to decline and we will eventually reach a point where 2PP is close to useless, but we're not even nearly there yet.  

I've put up some earlier aggregation graphs at various points of this term but this is the first time I have gone through the polling data to this point and done something similar to my previous aggregates.  

The following are the basic rules of this aggregate.

1. Inclusion: Polls are included if they are released unilaterally or commissioned by established media.  Polls commissioned by political parties and lobby and industry groups are ignored.  To be included polls must release primary votes for at least Labor, the Coalition, the Greens and enough information to determine the total for others.  Polls considered by me to be junk polls are excluded.  Thus far the following have done polls that have been included: Newspoll (Pyxis and previously YouGov Newspolls treated as the same poll), YouGov (non-Newspoll), Roy Morgan, Resolve Strategic, Essential, Freshwater Strategy, Redbridge. Others may be added.  

2. Anti-Swamping: Only the two most recent independent samples by any pollster are included.  

3. Preference Methods: This is a last-election preferences aggregate.  I estimate a two-party preferred vote off every poll based on how preferences flowed in 2022, because previous election preferences are historically more reliable than respondent preferences.  If strong evidence emerges based on electoral events or party-specific preference polling that last-election preferences are unreliable, an adjusted figure may also be issued.  (A possible example of this is that One Nation preference flows to Coalition could increase because One Nation voters may like Peter Dutton.)  Where a pollster is known to use previous-election preferences (eg Newspoll) then I'll constrain my estimate to round to the same thing as theirs.  

4. Recency Weighting: A polling week commences on Saturday (this day has been chosen based on recent release days for various polls).  Unless decided otherwise (eg if a poll is released too slowly or has an unusually long in-field period), polls released in a given week are weighted 5, those from the previous week 3, those from the week before that 2 and those from the week before that 1.  

During the final three weeks before the next election, polls meeting certain age criteria will be weighted 8 or 10; I am still deciding what the rules for that for the next election will be.  

5. Track Record Weighting: Polls are weighted for track record at elections and other ballots (including the Voice referendum and the Marriage Law Postal Survey).  On the principle that it is better to have something of this kind and not nothing, the weightings are based on average relative position in final poll "league tables" published on this site, in cases where at least four different pollsters released final polls at an election.  The principle of the weightings is that a poll that is always the most accurate is weighted at 1.5 while a poll that is always the least accurate (excluding junk polls) is weighted 0.5.  Polls with fewer than five elections are capped at a maximum weighting of 1.1 for one election, 1.2 for two etc.  Events since 2020 are weighted double and subjective calls are made on which current pollster to count past results to in cases of major staff movement and ownership changes etc.  (eg the current YouGov series does not include YouGov polls from the YouGov Newspoll era, they are counted as Newspoll.)

(By the way I considered using some measure of average error in final polls instead, but the issue with that is that some elections seem harder to poll correctly than others.)

6. Apparent House Effect Adjustment: Poll 2PPs are adjusted if their converted 2PPs display strong differences to the consensus of other polls, and to polls that have a historic record of not displaying substantial 2PP skew at elections (eg Newspoll).  These adjustments are muted when the number of polls by the pollster is less than five.  A house effect may be applied either temporarily or continually depending on the evidence.  The striking divergence of Resolve from other polls since the election has been noted various times on this site.  

7. Activation: The aggregate is not active when the number of polls in it falls below three; during this time readings are interpolated based on the start and end point of the break period.  

8. Restart event: If the Prime Minister changes then the aggregate is halted with all old data disregarded going forwards and the aggregate restarts when there are three new polls.  This also happens at each election.

9. Retrospectiveness: During this term there have been a large number of cases (mostly Morgan) where data have become available long after a poll was taken (in some cases this has involved previously completely unreleased polls being published, in other cases just more precise breakdowns).  As at its start time in December 2023 the aggregate has included all this data retrospectively, but going forward any new retro-data won't necessarily be added. Likewise while the accuracy weightings for the 2022-3 period include electoral events that have happened since some of the polls, going forward accuracy weighting changes following further events (if any qualify) will not be back-applied.

Morgan 2022 break 

The aggregate is rather light on for polls and Morgan-heavy for the period up to the start of December 2022, from which point Essential resumed and Newspoll became more common.  While Labor maintained generally honeymoon-level polling from the election until the start of September 2023, the mostly back-released Morgan numbers suggest it was initially not that strong a honeymoon.  However, there is a sudden snap in Morgan in the second week of December 2022, at which point the Coalition loses 4% to minor parties and doesn't get it back.  

It looks like Morgan must have changed something in their methods around this time, and their Coalition primaries prior to that (as high at times as 40%) look much too high.  But there is also weak evidence from Resolve and Essential (but not Newspoll) that supports a surge to the government around this time, for no obvious reason although there is a historic pattern that governments tend to do well at the end of the year.  I found compelling evidence to apply a 1.2% correction in Labor's favour for all Morgans up to the first week of December 2022, but not clear enough evidence to apply any correction after that (unless I want to turn it into a Newspoll-centred aggregate, which I don't).  

Other aggregates

There are a few other aggregates around that have been running for a while, generally more advanced statistically than mine (which is a "simple math" version designed for me to be able to calculate manually as required), but with different assumptions.  

The Bludger Track aggregate includes Morgan in its data tabs, but I believe doesn't actually aggregate Morgan, which probably explains why its take for late 2022 is pretty much stable at 56 to Labor without the summer 2022-3 peak that I and Mark The Ballot both get.  

Mark the Ballot uses the 2PPs provided by the pollsters themselves, and currently has a closer race than I have as a result.  There have been some odd numbers out of pollsters using respondent preferences, including one Morgan that had the Coalition in front on 2PP off primaries that were better for Labor than the 2022 election.

Wikipedia uses pollster-provided 2PPs where available and estimates where not, but I don't believe it assumes any house effects.  

I will add notes to this article on any significant further methods decisions, but unlike in previous terms I am not going to log every minor change.   

Thursday, November 30, 2023

EMRS Says Tasmanian Labor's Getting Nowhere

EMRS: Liberal 39 (+1) Labor 29 (-3) Green 12 (-2) IND/Other 19 (+3)
Election "held now" would be some kind of hung parliament, but further improvement for the government would put it in contention for winning outright
Jeremy Rockliff increases slim Better Premier lead

In 2021 Tasmanian Labor had a poor election result.  Blighted by infighting and candidate disasters and facing a supremely popular Premier riding a COVID management surge, the party managed only 28.2% and lost a seat in Clark to an independent.  Two and a half years on the Premier is gone, and the "moat" phase of the pandemic that boosted his party has gone.  Also gone are two backbenchers who defected to the crossbench, three other Ministers who quit the parliament, another Minister from the Cabinet, and Adam Brooks after some number of minutes as a returned MP.  The government itself was almost gone two months ago when a crisis involving the resignation of then Attorney-General Elise Archer could have sent it to a snap election.  It remains at the mercy of two indies who at times say some very strange things.  These are hard times to govern in without this chaos.  The government is almost a decade old and has spent much of the year lurching from one crisis or shambles to the next and under pressure over a range of unpopular policies, including the now-shelved fire levy.  So where is the Opposition in this feast of opportunity?  According to the latest EMRS poll it's on ... 29%.  Pretty much back to where it started.  

A few caveats are needed before I get too carried away with what I expect to be the consensus that Tassie Labor just isn't banging the rocks together despite often effectively criticising the government's performance on specific issues.  Firstly, the government is likely to be benefiting, or at least the Opposition suffering, from federal drag.  State governments are more likely to do better at elections when the opposing party is in Canberra than when it isn't, and state oppositions are more likely to suffer likewise.  There's no accounting for the Victorian Liberals here (this is only a tendency) but I suspect federal drag isn't helping Tasmanian Labor, especially now the Albanese Government's honeymoon has worn off.  Voters are of course pessimistic at the moment and concerned about cost of living, but they know that's both a state and federal issue.  

Secondly I would expect that EMRS is polling a deflated Labor vote compared to what would occur in an election held right now.  The record high EMRS others vote of 19% (17% independent) is likely to include a high measure of vote-parking and wishful thinking.  I think the way in which EMRS uses an open-ended voting question and then only offers fallback choices of Liberal/Labor/Green/IND/unstated other party might affect the very high support for independents.  

Thirdly, while EMRS does have a rather good track record in state election polling (even when, as in 2021, its final poll was well before the election) it would be useful to see more transparency and in particular a clear statement, released with every poll, of what weightings it is using in its state polls and what is the effective sample size.  It will also be interesting to see closer to the election whether they start breaking out fourth parties that are clearly running, to see if some of the supposed "independent" vote is really for those.  And finally, sample size - with only 911 decided respondents we can't even really be all that sure that the government's lead has increased since the last poll; then again it might have increased by more than that.  We just don't get a lot of polls to go on here.

But there is a recurring problem with Tasmanian Labor and that is that it has, for the last few years, been far too easy pickings for critics left, right and anywhere who assert that it stands for nothing other than hoping it will someday get elected by default.  

An Example Of The Labor Problem

A current example of this is Labor's position on the proposed Macquarie Point stadium.  It's not the most important issue for voters at the moment, but one article gives a vintage example of the sorts of knots Labor is tying itself in.   The party says it is strongly against the stadium but voted to approve submitting it to the amended Project of State Significance process, after which it will come back to the Parliament for a final decision (assuming that process is ever completed).  Depending on the numbers in future parliaments, Labor's decision to vote to send the stadium to the POSS process could result in the stadium being approved without whatever comes out of the process being known at any election. So if you are so sure the stadium is a disaster, why would you risk that?  Ah, because the (bound to be expensive itself) POSS process will make it easy for voters to see how terrible the stadium will be!  

But Labor claims to know the stadium will be awful anyway. So if they're so certain, surely they could make it easy for the voters to see this too by, er, telling them.  (Leaving aside that the voters already supposedly know it and hence don't need to be told by POSS, Labor or anyone). The only way this position can be even semi-logically defended is by assuming that Labor needs an independent process to lay out for voters how bad the stadium is because they are not capable of communicating obvious concepts themselves.  

What's really going on here is that Labor is terrified of being wedged. If the Opposition actually gets into government and the POSS process ever completes, can those who don't want the stadium be sure it will really vote against it under a perhaps different leader and in different economic circumstances?  Who knows?  

Labor has also recently dodged taking a stand backed by actual votes when it came to amending the government's electoral law reforms and also when it came to the government's recent Bill for presumptive sentencing for child sex offenders.  There was a more defensible argument in both these cases (it is better to have some electoral reforms than risk having none and presumptive sentencing is not the same as the mandatory sentencing Labor has blocked in the past) but again the calls rang out that state Labor is flipflop central.

Potential Seats

Which is all fine strategically if the government is dead anyway, but that's not yet completely clear.  In this poll the government has opened up a 10% primary vote lead, similar to where it was in mid-2022.  What might this mean in seat terms is hard to say with a fifth of the electorate supposedly intending to vote for unstated independents or others, but here's a starting point for the 35-seat parliament.  

On what is basically its 2021 election vote, Labor would win 10 seats with good prospects of third seats in Franklin and Lyons, depending on the distribution of vote shares.  The Liberals would probably get four in Bass and Braddon and three in Lyons, 2-3 in Franklin and presumably 2 in Clark (left-wing as Clark is, it's hard to credit a 1-6 right-left result).  So 15 or 16.  The Greens actually aren't assured of any gains at all on a lacklustre 12% but would have a fair chance of picking up Bass or Lyons depending on who else was in the mix, and some shot at a second in Clark unless there was a second strong Independent.  Kristie Johnston would presumably be re-elected.  From a baseline of 15-10-2-1 there are about seven seats that would be loose, and none of the "big three" would get a lot of those; new crossbenchers (which could include some of the existing defections/ejections from the major parties) would probably get a few.  If Labor ended up forming a government in an election that looked like this poll at all, it would probably be some kind of rainbow coalition with a lot of moving parts. The Liberals might be able to govern in some kind of minority, depending on who got elected on the crossbench.  

But there is also a history of bandwagons at times appearing for the party that looks like it can form majority government.  This was most starkly seen in the leadup to 2018 where in late 2017 an EMRS poll had the major parties tied; there were then strategic internal polling claims showing an increasing Liberal lead and a few months later the Liberals retained office topping the primary vote by 17.6%.  The evidence is not entirely conclusive because the two elections that show the strongest suggestion of a bandwagon effect (2006 and 2018) are also the two that saw the biggest third-party spending controversies.  

To its credit, Labor is getting organised for the next election early and next month it intends to release a full slate of candidates; several preselection aspirants have featured in the media already.  While its confidence in an early 2024 election may or may not be well placed (the opposition has predicted elections that did not occur several times before) having a full slate ready to go will give some impression of organisation and allow time for profile building, and for liabilities to be identified and replaced.  (Oh and to find out which aspirants have approvingly retweeted the Bob Brown Foundation.)  There have been several announcements by Labor candidates intending to seek preselection for the Lower House already, including the long-awaited move by Josh Willie MLC to contest Clark.  (I expect that he will bolt in.)

Absent of a seat breakdown there is not much to add re this poll, save that the Better Premier indicator saw Jeremy Rockliff's slender lead over Rebecca White grow from 42-39 to 42-35, with Undecided gaining four.  I never know quite what to make of EMRS Better Premier polls not showing the same skew as the same question everywhere else, but this is also consistent with the damage from earlier this year being gradually repaired.  

Update: David O'Byrne Deselected

A piece of the puzzle has fallen into place with confirmation that National Labor has rebuffed David O'Byrne's bid for reselection for Franklin, meaning he cannot run as a Labor candidate.  He will therefore either run as an independent (resulting in expulsion from the party) or retire.  O'Byrne running as an independent would at least have a realistic chance of re-election and is widely expected to win if he runs.  

Update: ALP Candidate List

Labor has released a list of 30 preselected candidates but there is not a lot of obvious firepower.  (Derwent Valley Mayor Michelle Dracoulis is perhaps the highest profile new addition).  Hobart Councillor Ryan Posselt has not at this stage been selected, but it is unknown to me why or if this is a final decision.  (Update: seems he is still being vetted.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

JSCEM's Strange Case For Extra Territory Senators

Yesterday saw the release of the final version of the Joint Standing Committee into Electoral Matters report into the 2022 election.  Following the somewhat lightweight and culture-war afflicted 2019 report it was good to see a return to substance, but that is not to say that everything is wonderful.  There are various welcome aspects of JSCEM's findings and proposals that I may comment on later but for now I wanted to deal with JSCEM's recommendation to increase the number of Senators for the ACT and Northern Territory from two to four apiece.  (I'm also considering a longer article about the current push for "truth in electoral advertising" laws, and the extent to which that movement is being fanned by naive support arising from the Voice failure and the rise of Donald Trump style candidates.)

Increasing the number of Territory Senators can be done by legislation and could in theory very well happen before the next election, while an increase in the House of Representatives is likely to be a second-term project for the Albanese Government, assuming that it gets a second term.   As the support of Labor, the Greens and David Pocock for expansion appears highly likely, the Government would only, for instance, need the support of either Lidia Thorpe or the Lambie Network (or even someone to abstain or be away) to pass the change.  In theory an expansion could be challenged in the High Court but the prospects for any challenge would seem dim.  The Constitution allows the Parliament to create Territory representation on whatever terms it likes and so long as there's some reasonable argument rather than it just being an out-and-out stack, it's hard to see on what basis the Court could say no. 

I've sometimes been thought (including by JSCEM via a footnote) to be opposed to more Territory Senators but it's more correct to say I am cautious about it. The current Senate accidentally maintains a good left-right balance depending on the will of voters of the day and I'm wary of anything that might disturb that and skew the Senate.  At the same time I think there are some sound arguments in favour of more Territory Senators.  What I am opposed to here is bad arguments for reform and this debate has been awash with them.  I first raised this here just after last year's election.  JSCEM in its majority comments has at least correctly grasped that increasing Territory Senators has nothing to do with - and cuts against - "one vote one value", but in the process it has misrepresented those who have worked to make that point, and made some findings that are not entirely factual.  

The JSCEM proposal and past results

JSCEM has proposed that the ACT and Northern Territory each receive four Senators and that the Senators be elected for three year terms.  This would mean Senate elections with a quota of 20% after preferences, though minor parties could sometimes win seats on primary votes in, say, the low teens.  This proposal is something of a relief as there was some speculation that the major parties might seek to expand Territory Senators to four but switch them to six-year terms thus retaining the current two-seat elections (except in a double dissolution).  That would not have addressed one of the best reasons for having more Territory Senators in the first place (what I call the "impoverished representation" argument resulting from only electing two Senators at a time) and could have led to 4-0 left-right shutouts in the ACT.  

As I note in the previous article, a four-seat ACT (all in all out) would have returned 3 left and 1 right Senators consistently if it had existed at all elections from 2007 onwards; before that it would have been a mix of 2 Labor 2 Liberal and 2 Labor 1 Liberal 1 Democrat results.  For 2022 the non-Labor left Senator would have been David Pocock instead of the Greens, but Pocock's presence is itself largely a product of the two-seat system.  For the Northern Territory it's 2 Labor 2 CLP all the way except that in 2022 Labor's second seat would have fallen to the Greens.

However it's entirely possible that the lower quota for the NT would lead to new entries into Territory Senate elections, though the 1500 member requirement for new parties might make it hard for Territory-specific parties or independent-centred front parties to get going.

JSCEM's arguments and my comments

A term of reference for the JSCEM enquiry was "proportional representation of the states and territories in the Parliament, in the context of the democratic principle of 'one vote, one value'."

Technically the terms of reference for JSCEM come from outside it, from the Special Minister of State (Don Farrell) but this seems to be a case where the wording has caused problems in terms of the committee being able to (with a straight face) make the finding that the government wants.  

Hence JSCEM launches into a disucssion of how "While proportional representation and one vote, one value are often discussed together in Australia, they do not mean the same thing."  Which is of course true, but the problem is that submitters have been asked to discuss one in the context of the other.  It also doesn't help that the term of reference is ambiguous, since it can refer to how proportionally the states and territories are represented relative to each other (malapportionment), but also to whether a given state's voters are represented more or less proportionally within that state (district magnitude).  This is especially relevant to Territory Senators, because adding more of them per election means the voters of each territory get to vote in a more internally proportional election, but also become more overrepresented compared to the average voter.

JSCEM accepts the fact that "one vote one value" cannot justify increasing Territory Senator numbers and argues that it is irrelevant.  "The Australian Senate is elected using a type of proportional representation in which a whole state or territory is the electorate, but is intentionally structured to prevent one vote, one value across Australia"  "It is not possible to apply the principle of one vote, one value to the Senate because all the original states were given the same number of Senators as a compromise to bring smaller states into the Federation at the time the Constitution was framed."

As someone who thinks one vote, one value is a core democratic principle, I will apply it to analyse whatever systems I like and if I encounter a system that has been designed to frustrate it I will simply mark that system down.  Saying that we can't take into account the further degradation of one vote, one value when changes are proposed to the Senate is confusing a historic fact with a value.  

JSCEM goes on to present a pretty coherent argument for more Territory Senators, which can be summarised as follows:

* The intent of the Constitution is that big states be protected from being dominated by small states

* It is arbitrary to provide this protection to small states and not to Territories

* Territories especially need protection because they are at risk of having their laws overruled by the Commonwealth

I would say this argument is valid if one believes that it is intrinsically good that "small States" (which actually means less populous states) receive equal representation to large ones, but if one doesn't believe that one can ignore it.   One can also hold - as plenty enough of the Founding Fathers did - that it is a necessary evil entered into to secure Federation that the small States are equally represented, and that if it isn't necessary to increase malapportionment, then it isn't arbitrary to say no.  

1973 And All That

Where things get deeply weird is in committee comment 1.102:

"The Committee is of the view that the discussion about territory representation in the Senate based on population statistics is based on the assumption that the intent of the Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 was to grant territory representation based on population, and that this assumption sits at odds with the Senate’s role. State representation in the Senate is not based on population, and it is unconvincing to argue that territory representation in the Senate should be."

I'd like to know who wrote this comment.

The idea that anyone was basing their use of population statistics on what the 1973 legislation intended falls as far as I'm aware in the "said no one, ever" category.  It's very obvious that the broad intent of the 1973 legislation was to grant Territories some representation in the Senate rather than none.  The 1973 legislation clearly didn't intend that that representation be granted based on then present day population, because if it did both the NT with 0.7% of Australia's population at the time and the ACT with 1.3% of Australia's population would have got only one Senator each.  (Labor did then, as it happens, use future population as an argument for giving the Territories Senators at all, and here its projections proved to be way off, expecting more people in both Territories by the mid-1990s to 2000 than those Territories actually have in 2023.)

In fact the use of population statistics by those concerned about the arguments being made has come about because the government, having been elected with a mandate for "one vote, one value" but none for more Territory Senators, sent JSCEM a reference that linked the two concepts and invited people to comment in that context.  At the same time, advocates for more Territory Senators were presenting cherrypicked comparisons with Tasmania to push the false claim that the Territories are under-represented at present. Furthermore, some people actually just really care about one vote, one value.

Some perspective here about the impact of terms of reference on what people put in their submissions would be good, instead of gaslighting and strawmanning submitters who addressed the terms of reference in good faith with the fiction quoted in bold above.  

JSCEM also approvingly quotes Senator Pocock as saying the following:

"Rather than considering what baseline level of representation for the Territories should be in comparison to the existing small States, a political decision was made in 1975 [sic -KB] granting the two major Territories two Senators each. The number of Senators had no real basis but was a political decision that effectively gave both major parties two additional Senators (one from each Territory) … The debate did not seek to answer the question: what is a baseline level of democracy that is appropriate for small (non-Original State) jurisdictions?"

Yes and no.  I've started reading the 1973 debates (I may add more on them later!) and the then Whitlam government did in fact discuss why it had opted for two Senators per territory rather than one.  It was stated that the reason for this was to provide for Territory representation in the Senate without the vagaries of single seat results in small populations affecting the power balance of the Senate.  It should be noted also that this was not a major party deal; the Coalition largely opposed the push and blocked it in the Senate causing it to become one of the triggers for the 1974 double dissolution; it was then passed through the joint sitting.  I quote from Fred Daly's second reading speech:

Two senators are suggested because it would be proper to have an even number representing the Territories. If only one senator alone represented a Territory, almost certainly the one party would be represented for long periods. It is probable that both senators would belong to the same party. It would appear then to be more democratic to have an even number elected each time for each Territory thus following the pattern of the major parties providing that each would have a representative in the Senate

Thus there clearly was a principled basis for the choice of two at the time.  Whether there was any basis for the choice not to go beyond two other than that going beyond two would have been playing with obvious fire (even two was only accepted 4-3 by the High Court as it was) is less clear.

The summoning of the 1973 ghost is all the more strange because the Parliament has since considered and addressed via legislation the question of when the Territories should be considered to deserve more Senators, but the existence of the standing legislation has been ignored in the current debate.  This was done by the Hawke government in its Electoral and Referendum Amendment Act 1989, the Act providing that:

when either the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory becomes entitled to six or more House of Representatives members, that Territory shall be represented in the Senate by one senator for every two members; 

In proposing this the Hawke Government argued

The Joint Standing Committee [on Electoral Reform - KB] examined this issue, following concern that it would be possible for a government with a majority in both Houses to increase the representation of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory out of proportion to their populations. The Government has accepted the Committee's conclusion that fixed formulae for the representation of Territories should be prescribed.  

But, if the JSCEM proposal is accepted as it stands, not any more.

The truth of the matter is that the same charge Senator Pocock levels against the 1973 legislation (that it was a political decision without systematic basis) can be also levelled against JSCEM's recommendation for four Senators per Territory.  Because if neither an area's population nor the fact that the Territories were not in the original deal justifies restricting their numbers, on what basis is the ACT to be given only four Senators to Tasmania's twelve, and not twelve itself?  Indeed, given the Territories' vulnerability, perhaps the Territories should be given sixteen?

JSCEM even argues that "The Committee considers that territory representation should reflect the intent of the Constitution such that territory representation should be considered on a similar basis to the representation of the smaller states in the Senate. " then follows that with "Consequently, the Committee recommends that the representation of the territories in the Senate be increased to four Senators, elected for a period of three years."  In what mathematical system is four Senators similar to twelve?  How is this consequent?  Labor here is open to the charge that it really wants to go so far as will prevent a 1 Pocock 1 Liberal 0 Labor result should Pocock become even more popular, but not much further. 

Senator Pocock, indeed, prefers a principled formula-related approach and proposes six Territory Senators with six year terms, a proposal that could however greatly benefit the left in the Northern Territory.


As noted at the top I am not necessarily against increasing Territory Senate representation.  I think that there is a valid argument that all Australians should ideally have access to a quality proportional voting experience in the Senate, and that this is a principle that should be weighted carefully alongside one vote, one value.  One might call it one vote, one quality.  A district magnitude of two is not a proper Senate electoral contest and expansion to four at a time would give the Territories more reliable access to a quality voting experience and to diverse representation.  If the expansion is passed, it may well distort the Senate, but it will also have meaningful benefits.  

However I think there should be rigorous debate about this proposal, and I consider that much of what we are being offered in defence of the proposed expansion is an insult to legitimate beliefs that "one vote, one value" matters.  It's not the first such insult we've seen lately, with the current Government expecting those who wanted an Indigenous Voice to Parliament to endorse it while the leading model on the table was severely malapportioned. 

More comments are likely to be added later.  

Friday, November 17, 2023

Mulgrave By-Election 2023: Prospects And Live Commentary

Mulgrave (Vic, ALP vs IND 10.8, ALP vs Lib 10.2)
Vacancy for resignation of Daniel Andrews (ALP)

ALP Retain (Called 9:40 pm)

Final 2PP swing was 5.5% but Liberals unexpectedly finished third after preferences!  

Large (just over 10%) primary swing against Labor, but going to left as well as right. 

Normal by-election 2PP swing result for vacating Premier, but finishing third is embarrassing for Liberals.

Updates (scrolling to top)

Tuesday 27th The final result is in - the Liberals did finish third! The preferences from the Libertarian candidate with the donkey vote on board (but not at all just for that reason) flowed exceptionally strongly to Cook (61% vs 11% to Liberals) putting him close enough to just overtake Mann on Green preferences at the end by 158 votes. However the Liberal 2PP (45.33) is still much higher than the Ian Cook 2CP (43.51).  

7:20 Sunday The VEC will not realign the preferences before the preference distribution so we'll be waiting for postals to get the final margin and the expected confirmation that the Liberals were second, probably in a bit over a week.

2CP Confusion (Sunday)

There is a fair amount of confusion about who is second - this is coming partly from inept media (that would be you Sky News) and also from pro-Labor posters who of course want to say that the Liberals finished third.  Unclear communication on the ABC and VEC websites isn't helping.  But Courtney Mann (Lib) is second on primaries and is likely to stay second after preferences.  The preference throw that determines who is second has not been done.  All we have is numbers based on what will happen between Labor and Cook if Cook is second, which he almost certainly is not.  

The VEC prior to the close of polling pre-selects two candidates to throw votes to for information purposes on election night, as this usually helps in knowing who will win a seat faster.  Typically, but not necessarily, they are the two who the VEC expects to be the top two.  From time to time the VEC's expectations are wrong and a candidate who they expect to make the top two doesn't.  This happened in this seat in reverse last year where the VEC initially did the two-candidate throw as Labor vs Liberal but in fact Cook came second both on primaries and after preferences.  (A distribution confirming the latter emerged months later).  

The fact that various 'results' showing Cook in second are circulating means absolutely nothing.  Cook is currently third on primaries and, if the flows from 2022 are any guide, will most likely stay there (though flows to him may be better this time on account of him getting preferences on all donkey votes).  

Hopefully the VEC will, sooner rather than later, make an announcement regarding this and realign the count to Labor vs Liberal.  However even if it does, who is actually second will only be determined for sure when preferences are thrown next week after all postal votes are received (unless the VEC decides to do a 3CP throw for information, which is rare.)

Live Commentary

Scrolling to the top. Refresh now and then for new comments.

11:45 When the last booth finally arrived, it didn't do anything much as the primary vote swing against Labor was at the high end, so Labor finishes the night with 40.1% to 21.6%.

11:00 Liberal MP James Newbury has claimed they will get a 2PP swing of 7-8%.  (The higher end of that at least seems somewhat optimistic.)

10:30 Wrapup: What Sauce Would You Like On Your Nothingburger?

Life's too short to wait into a fifth hour for Springvale Central booth to appear in the VEC list, so a few summary comments on the assumption that it will just help Labor a little bit based on its past leanings.  What we have seen here is, at present, near enough nothing.  The 2PP swing currently looks like it will land more or less exactly where it normally does when a Premier on this sort of seat margin vacates, and not much over the average swing for a government vacancy.  Labor's result is clearly decent as they have ticked the box of having clearly won on the night, but given that we don't have a 2PP count, there will be more focus than usual on the 10.5% primary vote swing.  That swing is not as big a deal as it could have been, because only half of it has gone to the Liberals/Cook and the rest has scattered among the minor parties, including Victorian Socialists, Greens etc.  

For the Liberals it remains to be seen if this is an indifferent, fairly good or perhaps slightly bad result, and there is still some small risk that they could finish third after preferences (which would be rather humiliating, though I think it's very unlikely).  It's hardly a stirring triumph though, to replace an obviously bad general election candidate yet only pick up a primary vote swing of about 4% in a by-election for a vacating Premier.  So I think Labor might be somewhat the happier of the major parties tonight and a few Liberals might be asking why they turned the rock over.  For Ian Cook the result is a missed opportunity that compares poorly with some other second-try independents and suggests his appeal was too limited to take advantage of a by-election.  

Overall, with by-elections being as variable as they are, there will be the usual spin from all sides but little of it will be convincing - a run-of-the-mill result in a by-election for a vacating Premier, and not a useful portent of anything whatsoever.  

9:47 I am satisfied Labor has won based on the latest figures with one booth to come that I expect to be a good one for them.   It will take a while to know the margin and to know who is second for sure, as that has closed up in recent counting.

9:34 Another big chunk of prepolls in and now the prepoll swing has moderated to 9% against Labor and a few percent each to the Liberals and Cook.  

9:17 The Liberals have conceded but said they expect to finish second.  

9:12 Brandon Park in and more of the same - Labor down 12.2, Liberals up 7.3, Cook down 2.6.  I'm expecting Labor to win this seat, but it can be close; 53-47 is possible if the flow to Liberals is about the same as that to Cook, and it could be closer than that (or it could go the other way).  It will be a while before we get a realignment and a 2PP swing.

8:56 Wheelers Hill South in (this is the most right-leaning booth) and Labor down 13.9 with Liberals up 9.7 but Cook down 2.4 and again a fair scatter to minor candidates.  Liberals now need 68.6% in the live count.  

8:50 A huge batch of prepolls now in and they've normalised somewhat to a 13.4% swing against Labor with the Liberals picking up 8.2% - this will moderate further assuming more are to be added.  

8:44 Booth 5 Heatherhill is in and there's a 10.4% primary vote swing against Labor but Cook and the Liberals are just swapping votes here with nearly 7% for the Libertarian and Victorian Socialists.    

8:31 A big booth Gladeswood (over 2000 votes) just reported.  Labor down 10.8, Liberals up 7, Cook down 5.  Still no cause for concern here; this is one of the weakest booths for Labor in the seat.  Also for Northvale only a 55.6% preference flow to Cook.  It looks increasingly like Labor have at least beaten Cook.  It's worth keeping an eye on what the Liberals need if they are second - currently 69.3% of preferences (they got 72% last time but would seem to be hard pressed repeating that.)

8:22 A very strong performance by Foster on preferences at Springvale North getting 55% of them meaning that there is no 2CP swing in the booth!  That is a good sign for Labor - if Cook is not getting a big swing after preferences the Liberals probably won't get enough either.  

8:05 An encouraging sign for Labor vs Cook at least in the postals, because Cook is only getting 60.3% of preferences there, muting the primary vote swing back to a 4.4% 2CP swing overall.  What is happening here is that some of the swing away from Labor is going left to Vic Socialists and Greens and presumably weakening the preference flow against them.  This should also apply to the flow vs the Liberals, so for the moment Labor's position overall seems alright, but they would not want to weaken much more.  The three day booths in so far have similar patterns, between 12% and 17% off Labor, 5% to Liberals, Cook nothing much.  

7:46 Northvale in and a big swing against Labor (14%) but mostly going to tiddlers with the Liberals getting a little bit.  Springvale North also a big swing against Labor (c. 17%) and the Liberals getting half of it.  So far it looks like the Liberals are likely to be second on primaries, and Labor's primary is so far looking low enough that they could be in for a nervous wait here.  

7:30 A small sample of prepolls also went in: Liberals doing very well on these indeed if numbers are right (about 47% to 26%!) but not clear where they're from because VEC doesn't segregate prepoll booths, these may settle down later.  [UPDATE: They were nursing home/hospital votes which also explains the strong flow to Cook.]

7:27 Simon Love of Sky News reports presumably from scrutineers that "First early figures in: 
3000 postals counted - Lib 24.2 (up 6 pts) ALP 43.6 (down 10 pts) Cook 16.5 (status quo)"  These would be early-received postals and later-received postals will probably be better for Labor and weaker for Liberals.  

7:20 Exciting news here - the VEC have switched from updates every 15 minutes as in Warrandyte to updates every 10!  That's the only excitement, there was nothing in the 7:20 update.

6:45 I have seen an insufficiently blurred image from counting that satisfies me that Ian Cook has got at least one vote!

6:15 The VEC will be doing a notional two-candidate count between Labor and Cook, so if the Liberals are second then it will be a while before we get a realigned 2PP count.  This doesn't necessarily mean the VEC thinks Cook is more likely to be second, just that the Labor vs Cook count will be the most informative.  But given Cook was second last time, hardly unreasonable!

6:00 pm Ze polls have closed. With only 10 booths I'm not expecting any booth votes til at least 7, we may even get postals first.  

Pre-By-Election Article

Welcome to a quick preview and live thread for the Mulgrave by-election in Victoria.  This is the second time this year that both major parties have fronted up for a by-election caused by a mid-term resignation of a sitting Premier.  In case that doesn't sound like much, prior to this year that hadn't happened in any State since 2008, and had only happened ten times that I can find since 1970.  (This is the first year in that time with two of them!) Often when a Premier quits the seat they vacate is such a safe one that Oppositions don't risk embarrassment by contesting.  

There are many odd features of the Mulgrave contest and while the general buzz around it is much weaker than for Rockingham I think it's worth covering even if it turns out to be a fizzer.  I'll have some live comments scrolling to the top tomorrow night.  

2PP swings when Premiers vacate

As mentioned above a 2PP contest in a seat for a mid-term vacating Premier is a relatively rare event.  Victoria hasn't had a case since 1981 (the Liberal Party did not contest when Steve Bracks quit) and half the cases since 1970 where a 2PP swing is available or can be estimated have been in Western Australia.

For the record here is a table of those I found (there is no 2PP estimate available for Barambah 1988).  In every case there was at least probably a 2PP swing to the opposition (though in the case of Kew 1981 this is not beyond doubt because of undistributed Democrat preferences).  

Notes: Swing figure is swing to Opposition at the by-election (italics are estimates, Nedlands 1982 estimate was by Malcolm Mackerras).  St 2PP is the Government state 2PP at the previous election. Seat 2PP is the Government 2PP in the vacating Premier's seat at the previous election, shown in italics where the oppisition didn't make the 2CP.  (Incidentally there have also been three Northern Territory cases, with swings to oppositions of 7.0%, 9.2% and 16.9%.)

There is a significant relationship between the previous Seat 2PP and the swing to opposition but I wouldn't read much into that because of the small sample and the fact that most of the by-elections were outside Victoria:

By historic standards it isn't that likely that a government would lose the 2PP in a seat held by a former Premier on a margin around 10%, but it is possible. (Kew 1981 was a near miss on a similar margin).  Whether the 2PP decides the outcome in Mulgrave's case remains to be seen.  Blue dots are Coalition Premiers and red dots are Labor ones, for what it's worth.  The relationship between the previous state election 2PP and the swing to the Opposition in the by-election is weaker and in fact not statistically significant.

Andrews, an unusual Premier

The average 2PP swing when Premiers depart in the by-elections shown above was 10.9%, just over what the Liberals need to win the 2PP here and well above the 5% or so one would normally expect for a government vacancy (there is not enough recent Vic data to do a Vic-specific estimate here).  However this includes Premiers who were popular and long-serving and others who had not been there for long at all.  Andrews is for sure a major Premier, in the job for almost nine years.  However Andrews had the unusual property that while more voters in general approved of him than disapproved, those who disapproved tended to disapprove very strongly.

There isn't anything like the evidence of a building net personal vote for Andrews over time in Mulgrave as there was for McGowan in Rockingham (in fact, after adjusting for redistributions Mulgrave wasn't any better for Labor relative to the state average at the end of Andrews' career than after his first term as an MP).  I've also tried to use Legislative Council vote differences to estimate a personal vote, but here it doesn't seem that Andrews' 2022 result was anything special compared to other Labor incumbents in nearby seats.  Most likely having Ian Cook run against him with something of a folk-hero image in some media damaged Andrews' result in 2022, and also the seat may be simply becoming a bit less Labor-y over time.  So I don't think Mulgrave is starting from an obviously inflated baseline of the sort I'd normally expect for a departing major Premier.

This said there may still exist plenty of voters who will not vote for Labor without a candidate of Andrews' prominence, but will they be cancelled out by voters who specifically disliked Andrews returning to the fold now that he's gone?  

Three-cornered contest

Mulgrave was much hyped at the previous election because of the unusual candidacy of Ian Cook, a local catering company owner whose business was temporarily shut down following a listeria outbreak that killed a hospital patient. The case gave rise to "slug gate", a colourful conspiracy theory (of some interest to me as a professional malacologist) that a slug had been planted in Cook's building to fuel the case for shutting it down. (Cook recently had a pyrrhic victory in court in which the shutdown was ruled procedurally unfair but he was paid no compensation.)

Cook (Independent) did not get near defeating Daniel Andrews, but he did finish second.  Surprisingly, the final indicative distributions revealed his two-candidate preferred vote of 39.2% was weaker than the Liberals' 39.8%, despite the Liberal candidate Michael Piastrino at most times seeming more like an escapee from one of the more excitable "freedom parties" than a mainstream candidate.   Although I would have thought Piastrino's campaign would have driven off anyone who could even passingly stand Andrews, 20% of the preferences with Piastrino at his exclusion still flowed to the Premier.  

Opinions vary as to whether Cook might greatly boost his vote in a by-election with no significance for forming government (and perhaps be a serious contender this time), or whether he will suffer from not having Andrews or Brett Sutton to rail against anymore and from a more respectable Liberal alternative.  

The Mulgrave 2022 count produced many conspiracy theories, and continues to be the subject of false claims that polling showed Daniel Andrews would lose (see B1 in my disinfo register).

New major party candidates

Cook is a constant but the major party candidates have changed. The new Labor candidate is Greater Dandenong mayor (for the past year) and psychologist Eden Foster.  Foster's council area includes the southern half of Mulgrave and her own ward overlaps a small part of it. Foster is only a first-term councillor and the use of the ward system coupled with round-table elections means there's not a lot on the record about her electoral appeal, but she's presumably done something right to get the big job unopposed.  

The Liberal candidate is long-term Liberal policy advisor Courtney Mann, who also self-describes as an educator but thus far I have found no further information re that.  Mann was the candidate against Andrews in Mulgrave way back in 2010; at that election the swing in Mulgrave (7.3% 2PP) was just above the state average of 6%.

Aside from the majors and Cook, the remainder are not likely to much disturb the scorers: a Libertarian, Animal Justice, Victorian Socialists, Sustainable Australia, Family First, Greens (their 7th worst seat in the state last year) and a minor indie who didn't clear 1% in 2022. 


All things being equal governments will do better in by-elections when they are polling well at state level than when they are polling badly.  The only state poll since Jacinta Allan became Premier was by Resolve Strategic and suggested that Labor would very easily win an election "held now" but some caution should be attached to the figures because of the federal tendency of Resolve to be way better for Labor than other pollsters.  At least there is no sign that the government is trailing.  

No seat-specific polls have been seen.  The Herald-Sun has printed noises about Labor polling supposed to show a swing from them to Cook, but said outlet is yet to print a full page apology for giving credence to Cook campaign street team exit poll rubbish that suggested Cook was winning last time (wrong by a mere 18%).  

Federal drag factors might have some influence.  The Albanese government has been sliding in the polls (it is still ahead but down to 52.3 in my aggregate now) and has had a bad week with news of released detainees some of whom had serious criminal records breaking in the last few days.  

Other factors

The ballot draw is less favourable for Labor than in 2022 when Andrews drew top of the ballot; the difference between first out of 14 and eighth out of ten could be worth as much as 1%.

Antony Green has drawn attention to low prepoll and postal returns in what could be a sign of a poor turnout, or a high on the day vote, or both.  If there is a high on the day vote they might struggle to find booths, with only 10 of the 20 booths from 2022 on offer to voters.  Most of the temporarily abolished booths were small but it's notable that in them Labor won the 2PP 62.3-37.7, compared to 57.5-42.5 at the booths that have been retained.  This means that all else being equal, Labor's swing in the booths overall will underperform its swings in the individual booths by about 1.8% - a trap for unwary players if there's a contest.  Especially, Brandon Park booth could pick up less Labor-friendly voters from Waverley Meadows, while Gladeswood booth could move towards Labor relatively in the absence of Waverley Park.

Federal drag is possibly a factor.  The Albanese Government has come back to about its previous election result in polling in recent weeks, and the last few days have been torrid for it with coverage of released detainees (some with serious criminal records).  


I like to set benchmarks for what should be considered a good result for the major parties to guard against the tendency of parties to engage in spin post the by-election.  But this one is quite tricky ...

For Labor, firstly they want to win the seat - a loss to either challenger is bad (worse if it's to the Liberals).  But ideally they would want to have clearly won on the night, even if Cook gets vaguely close.  If it's called for them by the end of Saturday that is at least decent.  A good result would be that with a 2PP of 55 or better vs the Liberals.  (The 2CP against Cook is irrelevant so long as they beat him.)

For the Liberals, to at least get a substantial 2PP swing would be some kind of foreward progress, and to finish second and get the margin under 55-45 would be good and should take a lot of pressure off John Pesutto if it occurs.  Finishing third again isn't necessarily bad, but it depends on whether the reason for that is that Cook has done better than 2022.  In particular the Liberals would feel it had been a worthwhile exercise if their preferences helped Cook to win or nearly so.  What would be really bad for the Liberals would be a repeat of 2022 (or similar) - an outcome in which neither they nor Cook make much headway and Foster wins quickly and easily.  The Liberals did very well in the absence of Labor in the Warrandyte by-election but Opposition Leader John Pesutto may still be only one shocker away from being shown the door.  A bad Liberal performance here would be seen as a bad sign for their hopes of winning outer suburban seats in 2026 with an "inner city wet" type leader.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Poll Roundup: This Is The Way The Honeymoon Ended

 2PP Aggregated Estimate: 52.9 To ALP (-1.4 since mid-August)

ALP would still win election "held now", probably with increased majority

Time for another federal voting intention poll roundup as there have been several noteable results in recent weeks.  In a previous edition I reported that while the end of the Albanese Government's polling honeymoon had been declared by many hasty false prophets, we weren't quite there yet ... but we could be soon.  My standard for the honeymoon phase still existing had been a 54-46 estimated aggregated polling lead for the government, but in the event of the government falling slightly below that level I would want to see at least a month of evidence that that was the case.  (It is somewhat like how a single quarter of negative growth does not count as a recession).  

Anyway I can now report that on my estimates the rear-vision window shows that it's been two months.  The Albanese Government's polling honeymoon ended not with a bang but with a gradual slip into the twilight zone of not-quite-enough-ahead in early September.  There were several individual poll results better than 54-46 since then but on a weekly rolling basis I have had Labor in the 53s ever since.  Furthermore following this week's Newspoll the Government dipped just below an aggregated (and Newspoll!) 53% for the first time.  

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Voice Referendum: Turnout and Informal Votes

I haven't seen any other articles on these subjects so some coverage of turnout and informal votes in the Voice referendum.  

The most important thing to know about Voice turnout is that it was a lot higher than many people said it was going to be.  It indeed managed to just beat the 2022 House of Representatives turnout, but this is no great miracle alone given that the 2022 election was COVID-blighted.  What makes it more impressive was that it was acheived against the backdrop of an enrolment drive that made the roll more complete than ever before, putting more voters on the roll who had a relatively low chance of voting.  Another factor that makes the near-90% turnout commendable is that six years ago there was a mass voting type exercise that was voluntary, and there was some potential for confusion about whether voting in the referendum was required.

Just a disclaimer before I get much further: when I post graphs with low r-squared values (percentage of variation explained) I come across a few readers for whom a little knowledge of statistics is a dangerous thing and who will, sometimes irately, insist that anything below r-squared equals 0.3 or so is worthless.  In fact electoral statistics are very messy and even r-squared values of a few percent can be statistically significant if there are enough data points.  The important thing with such values is to be especially cautious about assuming causation since the causes of such patterns are often to be found elsewhere.  For instance, in the 1999 Republic referendum, seats with high Yes votes had low turnout, but that isn't because high support for Yes in an area caused people to not vote, it is mainly because inner city seats that tended naturally to vote Yes also have high numbers of transient young voters (who themselves would be likely to vote Yes if they voted at all).  

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Voice Referendum Polling Accuracy

The 2023 Voice referendum was a triumph for Australian (and in one case UK) opinion polling.  With all votes counted apart from a few dozen that may or may not exist, here is my assessment of the accuracy of the final polls, and of the polling overall.  

Before I start a few words about the late count: firstly the Yes vote rebounded after the first night of counting from projecting to the low 39s to finishing up at very nearly 40 (39.94 pending any late corrections, which would appear unlikely at this stage).  The main causes of this were: a strong performance by Yes on absents, a relatively strong performance on out-of-division prepolls (which were intermediate between absents and in-division prepolls) and both these forms of votes being substantially more common than in 2022 (29% and 22% more common respectively).  The latter also pushed the turnout up from the initial mid-to-high 80s range to more or less 90%, with it finishing at 89.92% (up 0.1% on the 2022 Reps election, but also up over 400,000 voters because of increased enrolment).   That said because it is harder to get one's vote rejected over enrolment issues, a better comparison might be the 2022 Senate turnout of 90.47%, on which turnout was slightly down.  

34 divisions voted Yes, including all in doubt after the night except for No's closest victory in Hotham, and 117 voted No.  Tasmania pipped NSW for second highest state Yes vote by 0.02%.

The polls overall

The Voice referendum was among the most heavily polled electoral events in Australian history, and the single most diversely polled with at least 22 different pollsters releasing some kind of result on the Voice since the 2022 federal election.  The polling was characterised by a refreshing lack of herding and saw a range of approaches taken in terms of headline figures (these could be broken broadly into one-pass, two-pass and forced choice approaches).  The major national polls towards the end were in general exclusively online, the main variation being that DemosAU used device engagement whereas the others employed panel polling.  This lack of method diversity turned out not to be a problem.  

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Will The Spirit Of Hare-Clark Be Killed By Farce?

Update: As of 9 November the Legislative Council has fixed the issue reporting in this article by changing per-candidate funding to per-party/group funding.  


Watch out which candidate you vote for next Tasmanian state election.  Your vote could cost the party you voted for $17,000.  That's if the Liberal Government's current electoral public funding model is passed through Parliament with the help of the Labor Opposition.

Of all the bizarre things that have happened in the current Tasmanian Parliament this is among the strangest. We are here not by design but by accident, largely because former Attorney-General Elise Archer was given (and relied upon instead of checking) incorrect advice on a technical point about elections in the ACT.  It may be that the Rockliff Government has no real intention of progressing electoral reforms inherited from Archer, or that an election intervenes before they can come into place.  But if the Government does go ahead and  the Electoral Disclosure and Funding Bill 2022 (No. 25) comes into force with Labor support, then that will create a public funding model that will distort the competition between candidates within the same party.  It will also unfairly advantage some parties over others, and expose voters to tactical dilemmas best left to defective voting systems like first-past-the-post.  This will be the worst reform in the 126 year history of Hare-Clark, the first change that is completely contrary to the spirit of the system.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Voice Referendum: Twilight Of The Poll Deniers

The Indigenous Voice to Parliament Referendum this weekend became the 37th out of 45 referendums to be defeated at the polls, the 12th to lose in every State and probably the 10th to finish below 40%.  This was a very richly and diversely polled event.  A full assessment of poll accuracy will be posted when all the votes are counted (ignore all gloating from pollsters claiming they were the best until that time) but one thing is very clear.  The online polling denial movement which was so abundant that I had to write an article about its tropes has been discredited.  Despite all its spurious claims as to why polls would favour No, they have on average slightly overestimated Yes.  

Polling accuracy and polling denial are not the most important things about this referendum, but they are key subjects of this website so I'll of course keep commenting about them.  I will also comment about many of the other things below and perhaps in a later article.  My overall view is that this should never have been a mid-term referendum, and even if held with an election needed to be far better executed.  I only hope that from the seemingly pointless grief and trauma caused, the unnecessary divisions created and the uncomfortable facts exposed, there will be an unexpected positive response and good will somehow come.  Meanwhile while we are used to Trumpy behaviour from sectors of the Australian right and saw as much of it here as we expected, this referendum has exposed far too much likewise in parts of "the left" (I broadly include parts of Labor's Twitter support base.)

(I was intending to use new "chilli warnings" to alert readers about especially ranty sections of this article but in the end this part hasn't come out much rantier than normal.  Maybe next time.)