Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Submission on Proposed Changes to Local Government Elections in Tasmania

 This is an old article that has been updated.  For the update scroll to the bottom.

You can see what this is all about over here.  Thought I would post my submission publicly just for the interest of anyone who might want to read it.  I believe it's pretty self-explanatory in conjunction with the discussion paper available at the link.  Might wish it was more deluxe and polished but I just don't have the time!  I have not canvassed all the issues raised in the discussion paper; eg my submission does not canvass whether or not Tasmania needs "Get Clover" laws.

For anyone else wishing to make a submission (especially for the hordes out there just wanting to cancel out mine!), you've got about 24 hours as I write.  Good luck!

[Site update: I've hopefully removed the prove-you're-not-a-bot thing that I believe was previously required for comments.  Any other usability feedback is welcome and can be emailed .]

[Note to later readers: apologies for the poor paragraphing in this piece; it's a strange formatting issue with just this article that I haven't yet been able to repair.]

Dear Local Government Office,
I am writing to provide comments on some of the contents of the Discussion Paper on proposed changes to Local Government in Tasmania (http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/lgsem/proposed_changes_to_local_government_electoral_arrangements).

I am writing as an interested member of the public with no electoral or employment connection to any council. I have experience relevant to the conduct of Tasmanian local government elections as a scrutineer at all Hobart City Council distributions of preferences since 1988. Also I am known as one of the state’s most experienced psephologists, for instance through my articles published on the website Tasmanian Times. (I have recently moved to my own website.) I have written many articles statistically analysing local government elections and council voting patterns, as well as conducting live commentary on council elections, and have been involved in many council election campaigns.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Newspoll Provides More Evidence That The Abbott Elastic Has Snapped

NOTE ADDED LATER: This is an old article - if you are looking for the current Newspoll because this one comes up when you Google for Newspoll, you won't find it here! Sorry!  For my analysis of the post-spill Newspoll of late March 2013 see here.

 Advance summary:

1. The current Newspoll strongly confirms the pattern observed in a previous piece that the relationship between Tony Abbott's approval ratings and two-party polling is shifting. 

2. There is also some evidence that Labor's polling is better than it should be given its own leader's current ratings.

3.This is all consistent with either the view that Abbott's leadership is not impacting on Labor as much as it once did, or else the view that the impact of Abbott on Labor's standing was exaggerated by many in the first place.

 I won't normally make a habit of flooding this site with posts whenever a federal pollster releases a poll, but I will comment on individual polls when I think the results are significant, especially in the context of an ongoing theme, the interplay between 2PP and leader ratings.

In last week's article about Opposition Leader approval ratings and party standing I noted that an inverse connection between Tony Abbott's popularity and the Coalition's standing in the polls, which has existed throughout the Abbott leadership, has now started showing signs of wear and tear.  The Opposition's lead has been shrinking without Tony Abbott's ratings improving.  The suspicion advanced in my article (not for the first time either) is that most of Labor's troubles have been self-inflicted and that Abbott is not only fairly irrelevant to Labor's 2PP but perhaps even dragging the Coalition's down.

Here is a revised version of my graph of the relationship between net satisfaction for Tony Abbott and the Coalition's 2PP since the last election.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Abbott Factor: Opposition Leader Ratings And Party Standing

Advance summary of this article:

1. The popularity of federal Opposition Leaders has been argued to be irrelevant because it does not seem to have a relationship to two-party polling in data since 1986.

2. However that appearance is misleading because (i) new Opposition Leaders taking over in weak party positions tend to have good personal ratings (ii) the patterns during Tony Abbott's tenure have been different to those before he was installed.

3. Excluding Abbott, there is a relationship between the ratings of established Opposition Leaders about whom the voters have clear views, and the Opposition's polling.

4. Although this relationship is gentle and usually drowned out by noise, it is capable of changing the result of a reasonably close election.

5. During Abbott's tenure, the relationship has reversed - the worse his ratings, the bigger the Opposition's lead, and this relationship has been strong until recently.  However, it is probably mainly the Government, not Abbott, driving this pattern.

6. The Opposition's lead appears to now be shrinking without Abbott's popularity greatly improving.

7. If that trend continues and the next election is close, Abbott's unpopularity could well cause the Coalition to lose.

8. Consistent with the above, no lastingly unpopular Opposition Leader has led their party to a federal election victory in Australia since 1950.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Getting Ginninderraed: Another For the Hare-Clark Textbooks

 [UPDATE 25 Oct, 11:30 pm At the time this piece was written, there was still some realistic doubt in my notoriously call-shy mind about whether the event described herein would happen, although it was looking very likely.  It now appears a certainty; I've even taken down the question mark.]

Hare-Clark junkies (we're a rare and tragic breed) like to talk about classic election counts as if they were great sporting fixtures, rare vintages of wine, exotic and peculiar animals, model trains  ... you get the drift.  That is, when we can even find any others of our own pathetically small order to share our monastic secrets with.

The Hare-Clark system, on the surface one of the simpler models of quota-proportional multi-candidate election without party tickets (yes, that sounds really simple, doesn't it?), has thrown up some real beauties in Tasmania.  I don't think anyone following it would forget Kim Booth's save in Bass in 2006, when he defied expectations of most observers to scrape home from well behind by 136 votes off massive Labor leakages prompting now-Greens-MHA Cassy O'Connor to declare "Bless the intricate beauty of Hare Clark!".  But that one was only a two-horse race and nowhere near as odd as the mess in Denison 2010 in which two Liberals, a Green and Andrew Wilkie contested a four-candidate race - eventually won by Liberal Elise Archer after she jumped over a ticketmate just before she would have been cut out, and then got just enough preferences from the Greens ahead of Wilkie to defeat the latter. 

Now, in the ACT seat of Ginninderra, a new chapter in the history of Hare-Clark strangeness could be being written- one that should it happen the way it now looks like it should, will be used as an example for decades of the need to be so terribly cautious when trying to predict Hare-Clark results from raw party totals or electorate polls.  Even if it doesn't happen, the near miss will be quite instructive.

Tales from the TT Departure Lounge I: The "Umpire's Verdict"

I don't intend to devote all that many threads to the things going down on TT in response to my departure.  Further thoughts may be posted in comments to this one.   I strongly believe my departure is permanent, but there are negotiations going on that may enable excerpts from my future articles and alerts about live blogging (which, once I master it, will hopefully become live-means-live) to appear on the site down the track.  Just without the author of course; if you want to ask him questions you'll have to do so over here, or wherever I am at the time.

My original brief announcement that I was leaving can be seen here, with comments.  As full an announcement of my reasons as I could manage before making a failed attempt to get significant sleep before work today can be seen here and comments on that entry have very wisely been closed.   Strangely, single quotation marks have appeared around the title of my piece that were not there in the otherwise apparently unaltered submitted version; I'll take it as some gremlin paying accidental homage to Bob Dylan's ' "Love&Theft" ' and pass on by. 

I'd like to thank those who've posted intelligent and thoughtful comments whether they agreed with me or not ( two thoughtful comments for every braindead troll in the first 12 posts is not too bad).

I'd like to take up just one thing that interests me in all this so far; the metaphor of the "umpire's decision" used in Bob Hawkins' generally friendly post #4.


This is the probably temporary home of former Tasmanian Times psephologist Dr Kevin Bonham, who has quit the site as a psephologist and regular commenter over a moderation dispute after coming close to doing so several times before.  More advanced things will follow in the future, probably on different sites when I've had more time to explore, in the areas of psephology and discussion of Tasmanian and Australian politics and public life.  There might even be formatting or pictures someday!

People wishing to contact me by email about all this may do so at k_bonham@tassie.net.au

A Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/kevinbonham will keep those on said service up to date with my movements, new articles and significant pseph releases.

You can also subscribe to this site via email at the bottom right of screen (scroll right down).

Comments are moderated for the time being and guest posting is hopefully disallowed.

My standards for moderation will become clearer over time but for starters, no block capitals, no strawmanning, no Godwin's Law violations, no defo, no plagiarism except of the Sisters of Mercy, no misquoting (do not use quote marks when paraphrasing), general swim between the flags sort of stuff.

Oh, and of course, some attempt to stay on topic, as rather loosely construed, may be required from time to time.

You're welcome.