Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 site review

This site started in October 2012 after I left Tasmanian Times*.    This is my second "annual" list of the most popular articles of the year and other stats trivia, but obviously the first one to cover a full year ... and what a year in Australian elections and poll-watching it has been!  

For the first half of the year I was using the Stats function in Blogger to keep track of site activity.  However, the Stats function has a number of drawbacks.  Not only is it very prone to hits from automated, non-authentic traffic (including pulses of up to 300 hits at a time), but there is a thing called vampirestat that swamps your post visit stats as a claimed source of site visits.  Sites where articles are frequently edited (as mine are to add updates) seem to be unusually prone to getting their site stats clogged by vampirestat.  

Another drawback with the Blogger Stats function is that it actually misses (or loses) genuine hits.  In late July I started using Google Analytics.  I'd read before that because Google Analytics does a better job of not counting non-genuine traffic, it tends to return lower hit totals (to the dismay of some blog-owners' egos).  But in my case the totals returned by Analytics have been substantially higher, even if only counting unique user hits.

In future I expect to only use Google Analytics for tracking site stats.
The ten most popular articles this year (sorted by number of visits) have been:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Unpopular State Premiers Have Dire Historic Fates

An updated version of this article is available: see Unpopular State Premiers Still Have Dire Historic Fates (2020)

Today's post is brought to you by the letters C and B and the magic number -20.  Newspoll finally released the first state polling for Western Australia of any reputable kind since Colin Barnett emphatically won a second term in the state election way back in March.  Given the magnitude of Barnett's victory earlier this year, with an 8.8% swing and a net gain of seven seats (plus two for the Nationals), it might be expected the Barnett government would still be on cloud nine nine months later.  But no, the poll (taken between October and December) shows the government with a feeble 51-49 lead.  It also shows Colin Barnett with very bad personal ratings (34% approve, 54% disapprove) and that Labor's Mark McGowan is now rated better premier by six points, 43-37.

There has been speculation recently that Barnett is on the skids, but some of it has seemed, in theory, questionable.  For instance, should anyone really care  that Standard and Poors has downgraded WA's credit rating when that agency has a recent history of predictive failure?  And if the answer is really Troy Buswell, one would hope that the question was pretty stupid.  Now, however, we have something concrete: Colin Barnett is not well liked.  It came as some surprise to me to find that his -20 is in fact the worst netsat by a WA Premier in the admittedly spotty and discontinuous 27-year history of Newspoll ratings.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Legislative Council Voting Patterns Revised (2010-2013)

Advance Summary

1. This article presents a revised analysis of voting patterns in the Legislative Council (the upper house of Tasmanian Parliament) based on contested divisions since the last Lower House election in 2010.

2. Although there is a degree of independence in Legislative Council voting, the Council now has a clearly defined "left wing" consisting of Craig Farrell (Labor), and independents Mike Gaffney, Ruth Forrest, Kerry Finch and Rob Valentine.

3. Excluding Tony Mulder (who is unpredictable) and Adriana Taylor (typically left on social issues, right on "moral issues"), the remaining MLCs can be considered to lean to the right to varying degrees.

4.Despite this, there is a great diversity of positions on the "right" side of the Council and a lack of strong clustering in voting patterns there.

5. Only one MLC, Rob Valentine, occupies a position to the left of the sole endorsed Labor representative.

6. As a result of the high percentage of contentious high-profile issues in the last year, differences between the various "centre-right" MLCs and Liberal Party positions have become clearer.

7. The result is that the revised analysis now shows most of the conservative MLCs to be between Liberal and Labor positions, albeit closer to the Liberals, rather than to the right of the Liberals as appeared to be the case based on the more limited data available last year.

8. The perception that the Council is a plaything of the Liberal Party on major issues generally is not supported by this analysis.  Indeed Liberal positions have been defeated on most divisions in the past year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Abbott Fastest Ever To Lose Poll Lead

Note: updates after Monday 16 Dec may or may not be slow for a while - other commitments.

 Advance Summary:

1. Following the recent Newspoll, the new Abbott Government has lost the two-party preferred polling lead.

2. This does not necessarily mean the government would lose an election if one was held now.

3. The Abbott Government has lost the 2PP polling lead much faster than any other new government elected from Opposition in federal polling history.

4. Tony Abbott has also recorded negative personal ratings much faster than any new PM elected from Opposition in federal polling history.

5. While polling taken at this stage has very little if any predictive value, governments that have lost the lead very early in their terms have a historically greater risk of defeat at the next election.

6. Bill Shorten's polling as Opposition Leader appears good, but is nothing unusual by the standards of other Opposition Leaders at the same stages of their careers.

7. Furthermore the strength or otherwise of an Opposition Leader's personal polling after only two months in the job has no relationship with their success at later elections.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Federal 2PP Aggregate Methods (44th Parliament)

This post describes the revised aggregation methods used to produce the two-party preferred aggregate (unofficially nicknamed "Aggedor") that appears in the sidebar of this site.  Although slightly more detailed than the version used before the 2013 election (which predicted the election 2PP of 53.5 as accurately as possible, albeit with quite some luck) or the transitional model used in the months after the election, it is nonetheless designed to be mathematically simple and computable quickly by hand at any time.  I've also tried to increase the proportion of the model that is objectively defined, though there will still be subjective judgement calls from time to time.

The aggregate is essentially a weighted average of two-party preferred polling derived from all recent polls that are considered of sufficient standard.  2PP figures from each poll (see "The 2PP score that is used" below) are multiplied by various weightings based on their recency, accuracy and other issues, and then the sum of the multiplied poll scores is divided by the sum of the weightings.

Pollsters Included:

Polls by the following pollsters are included when available: Galaxy, Newspoll, Nielsen, ReachTEL, Morgan, Essential, AMR, Ipsos.  Other pollsters may be added subject to their completion of three polls of national 2PP voting intention by the same methods, and adequate methods documentation.  Even if a poll is by an included pollster, the poll is not included if it is an "internal poll" (defined as a poll commissioned by a political party, union, business or lobby group).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

EMRS: Another Shocker for Labor

EMRS: Lib 49 ALP 22 Grn 19 PUP 5 Ind 4 Others 1
Interpretation (provisional): Lib 49.5 ALP 26.5 Grn 16 PUP 5 Ind/Others 3
Outcome of this poll if election held now: Liberal Majority Government (13-14 seats, possibly 14-7-4) 
State polling aggregate: Liberal 13 Labor 8 Green 4

A new EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intentions has been released and it's a pretty similar story to what we've been seeing in state polling for the whole of the last three years.  But at least it's the first one to explicitly canvass support levels for the Palmer United Party (PUP).

Every single poll since the start of 2011 has pointed to a Liberal majority government if an election was held now, and this one is no different. There has been variation between polls in the strength of the Liberals' lead and the division of the punishment between the minority government parties but not one of these polls has yet pointed to another hung parliament. Even when these polls are tweaked to adjust them for the well-established anti-Labor pro-Green skew of EMRS and the apparent anti-Labor pro-Liberal skew of ReachTEL (at least in its local-level federal polling) it makes no difference; all roads point to 13 seats, at least.  You can see the tracking for the headline rates on the EMRS website here but bear in mind the red and green lines are likely to be much further apart in reality than shown.

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Federal Election: Best And Worst Pollsters

Ideally I would have written this article a few weeks after the election, while debates about the quality of polling before the election were still fresh in everyone's minds.  It seems a world away now but earlier this year there were actually plenty of people arguing that the day of the landline was done, that online and mobile polling were the way to go and that Palmer and Katter supporters would preference Labor in droves thus making the election much, much closer than all those pesky polls said.

But now ...

This was, in general, a pretty good election for the pollsters (most of them anyway) and a bad election for those who wanted to outguess them.  

For basic information about the different polls and their methods, and a lot of general stuff about polling methods and debate surrounding them, you may find the recently updated Field Guide To Australian Opinion Polls useful. 

I'll consider pollster quality in three categories:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2013 Federal Election Results Finalised ... Finally!

The AEC has finally released the 2PP results for the various non-classic divisions at the 2013 election and hence the final 2PP result nationally.  Results can be seen here.

The final 2PP result is 53.49% to the Coalition and 46.51% to the ALP.  This is lower than projections based on expected results in the non-classic divisions (something like 53.6 to 53.7 was considered most likely).  It's probable that a reason for the difference from what was expected was that more National Party votes were distributed in three-corner contests than in 2010, especially because of the loss of O'Connor to the Liberals.  Nationals votes leak more to Labor ahead of the Liberals (24.6%) than Liberal votes leak to Labor ahead of the Nationals (9.2%).  In the case of O'Connor, this produces a swing "to" Labor in the 2PP result, caused solely by the Liberals rather than the Nationals winning the seat. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Paul Harriss To Contest Franklin

A grenade has been tossed into the already explosive race for Franklin at next year's Tasmanian state election with the announcement that Paul Harriss MLC will (if preselected) resign his Upper House seat and run for Franklin for the Liberals.

The Electorate

Generally the signs from polling have been that the Liberals are on track to win three seats at least in each of Bass, Braddon and Lyons, are likely to only win two in Denison and may win either two or three in Franklin.  What makes Franklin so tight is that if the Liberals do win three seats they will need to unseat at least one of Premier Lara Giddings,  David O'Byrne or Greens Leader Nick McKim.  Yet my interpretation of recent polling is that the Liberals are running at very close to the support level needed to dislodge one of these three.

The difficulty for the Liberals in Franklin is leakage.  Will Hodgman polled 1.90 quotas in his own right out of a party total of 2.47 in 2010.  He may well poll even more this time around.  I will be surprised if any of Jacquie Petrusma, Paul Harriss or Bernadette Black poll close to a quota.  If two of them are going to win then they will be doing so from Will Hodgman's surplus, plus the votes of the unsuccessful Liberal candidates.  Between them the two potential Liberal winners might well be needing well over a quota in preferences to win.  This compares with McKim, Giddings and O'Byrne, who between them will poll nearly all the votes for their tickets, with probably very little opportunity for leakage.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Early Abbott Era Polling Roundup

(Note: an update has been added at the bottom following the surprising first Nielsen result and other signs of narrowing in late November.  Another has been added for the release of official 2PP preferences.)

We are now just over two months into the lifespan of the first Abbott government and it is time for a brief summary of its polling history so far, and that of its leader. 

The following polls have been published since the 2013 election: nine Essentials (one of them including a week of pre-election data), four Morgans, two Newspolls and one and a half ReachTELs.  (The half ReachTEL was a poll of NSW and Victorian voters only, that canvassed voting intention along with Shorten-vs-Albanese ALP leader polling.)

Two-party preferred

Compiling a meaningful two-party preferred picture from this polling has not been easy, for the following reasons:

* The performance of Essential and Morgan in the period between the return of Kevin Rudd and the 2013 election.  Essential tracked in a contrary manner to other pollsters (below them for Labor after Rudd returned but then above them for Labor as the election drew closer).  Morgan (using preferences modelled by the last election) initially tracked favourably for Labor but once the election was called tracked neutrally.

* A method change by Morgan to drop online surveying from their most recent survey. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

ReachTEL: Giddings' Northern Problem

ReachTEL (State): Lib 49.2 ALP 23.2 Grn 14.8 Other 6.2 Undecided 6.6
Interpretation: Lib 48.2 ALP 29.4 Green 15.9 Other 6.6
Outcome based on this poll: Liberal Majority Win (13-8-4 or 14-7-4)
Caution: PUP not named in poll; PUP support level unclear.

New aggregate: 13 Liberal 8 Labor 4 Green

Another Mercury/ReachTEL poll is out (see David Killick's report here), with the Saturday release canvassing voting intention and preferred premier scores.  There will also be some questions rating the state government's performance on various issues.  You probably don't need me to tell you what the results of those look like. 

The poll comes as the Labor-Green government, which has to go to an election by June next year, is plagued by rumours of infighting, although these result mainly from the actions of renegade backbench lifer Brenton Best.  It might have been thought this situation would send the Labor vote to new lows, but in fact it has made very little difference.  Compared to the last ReachTEL in August the Liberals are down 1.9 points, Labor down 1.2, the Greens steady, and the winners are Other (+2) and undecided. The impression is that the latest internal tensions are not driving Labor's vote much lower because it was probably scraping along the bottom anyway.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

When Is The Next State Election Due? (And Other Stories)

 When Is The Next State Election Due?

This is the kind of subject matter you're normally much more likely to find on Antony Green's site than mine, but this time I just couldn't resist!  Today's State Leader's Address by Opposition Leader Will Hodgman contained the following comment:

"And the next election - due in just 138 days - will be the most important election in a generation for our state.  Because the decision that Tasmanians make in March, will define our state's future for the next generation."

The concept of an election being "due" or "overdue" got a lot of running in the leadup to the 2013 federal election, based on the possibility that Kevin Rudd would seriously run down the clock by going into October or even November in search of time to re-establish himself.  Given the confused nature of the campaign Rudd and Labor eventually ran, and especially the lack of a developed quality control mechanism for policy announcements, he might have done better had he done so.  In the end, the 2013 federal election was held a few weeks after the government's third anniversary, which was not unusual.  As Antony Green notes, 13 of 43 federal parliaments went beyond three years.  Governments that went more than a month over their three years typically did so because they were likely to lose anyway and either hoped something might save them or just felt like extending their tenure.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Senate Reform: Change This System, But To What?

As noted at the top of the previous post, the pace of new material will be slow for the next few weeks because of work commitments, but there will still be new posts from time to time. Aggregate, Fairfax and WA Senate updates may also be a bit slow - I'll be aiming for daily, in the evenings (when there is actually anything to report), but don't guarantee to meet that target.

The Senate post-count isn't over yet as we've barely started the laborious WA Senate recount, which may well be followed by a court case depending on the margins and the outcome.  News on that process will be posted here.  But the results are final enough to make some observations on what the elections told us about the faults of the current Senate electoral system.  There will be a standard Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters review of the election and this is likely to pave the way for a process leading to reform including opportunities for public submissions and hearings.  Now is a good time for those interested in reform to be discussing ideas and priorities for alternatives to the current system.

In my view, the overwhelming priority is the abolition of group-ticket voting.  The various alternatives have their strengths and weaknesses, but all of them pale into insignificance compared to the importance of having preferences directed (or perhaps in cases exhausted) through the actions (or inactions) of voters, rather than by preference deals between parties.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2PP aggregate restarted: transitional arrangements

Transitional phase closed (Dec 10): This article is no longer current as new 2PP estimate methods have been released.


There has been a small trickle of federal polling under the new Abbott government, all of it so far from Essential (three polls that did not include any pre-election data) and Morgan Multi-Mode (two polls).

I'm restarting my 2PP aggregate in the sidebar, but these early readings will be extremely rough,  because of the paucity of polling and the lack of precise 2013 preferencing data.  Essential have been using 2010 preference data while Morgan's calculations stated to be based on 2013 election data look extremely dubious to me given their primary results.

The methods for the aggregate I started early this year can be found here.  The aggregate was experimental and underwent a lot of mostly minor changes through the year; the aim was to create a simple aggregate method, capable of quick hand calculation where needed, that would reasonably accurately capture the national 2PP based on a range of polls at any given time.  As the aggregate's final projection of 53.5% 2PP to Coalition proved very close to the final outcome I will be retaining the basic method.  However some small changes will be made.  Most of these will not be determined until I have seen the final preference flows by party from the 2013 election, and conducted a detailed review of all polls.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WA Senate Squeaker

Original Provisional Result: Pratt (ALP) and Wang (PUP) defeat Ludlam (Green) and Dropulich (Sports) by 14 votes at key exclusion.

Recount: Recount of above the line and informal votes granted Oct 10.  Recount ran from Oct 17 to Nov 1.  Various corrections were made but 1370 votes were lost, could not be rechecked, and were excluded from the recount.

Declared Result: Ludlam (Green) and Dropulich (Sports) declared winners by 12 votes at key exclusion.

But There's A Problem: The lost votes would have advantaged Pratt (ALP) and Wang (PUP) by 13 votes, meaning that if there were no errors in the counting of those votes, Pratt (ALP) and Wang (PUP) could have won by one vote.  

Where to from here? Outcome referred to Court of Disputed Returns by AEC requesting that election be ruled void.  Petitions also filed by Zhenya Wang (PUP) and Simon Mead (ALP state secretary).  The arguments for voiding the election were accepted and the election was ruled void, triggering a full WA Senate by-election to be held on April 5 under the existing system.

Updates to this post appear with the newest at the bottom.

Democracy in action! Screenshot of the critical point of the preference distribution.

Just a post to explain what is going on with the Western Australian Senate count to those not already aware of it.  The button was pressed today on the most exciting of the eight Senate post-counts.

Through the complex process of modelling the outcome undertaken by Truth Seeker, Antony Green and others, one point of the long list of exclusions of minor candidates became increasingly crucial and incredibly close.  That point concerned which of the Shooters and Fishers and the Australian Christians was excluded first.  Neither of these parties had the slightest chance of winning, but because of their different group voting ticket preferences, which one was excluded first would have a great impact on the outcome.  If the Australian Christians were excluded, this would then lead to the exclusion of the Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich, and this would in turn result in Labor's Louise Pratt and Palmer United Party's Zhenya Wang getting the final two seats.  If the Shooters and Fishers were excluded, this would then lead to Dropulich winning on a preference snowball and taking the Greens' Scott Ludlam with him.

The Shooters and Fishers had a lead on the ABC Calculator, but it assumes all votes are above the line votes, and ignores the impact of below the line votes that do not follow the script.  If only reliably "locked in" votes (ticket votes and a share of votes from a party's second and subsequent candidates) were included then the Christians had a wafer-thin lead.  But modelling by Truth Seeker here suggested that the Shooters and Fishers were slightly more likely than not to do just well enough on below-the-lines from other parties to beat the Christians at this point.  The final Truth Seeker projected margin was 54 votes to S+F, but with a large degree of uncertainty, such that "Is this significantly different to zero? No."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Labor And The Greens Shall Not Complain About Family First

(Update 1 Oct: Bob Day has been elected as expected.)

You'll see a lot of this sort of thing in the next six years if, as expected, Family First's Bob Day gets up in South Australia:

For those who don't know, Helen Polley is a Labor Senator for Tasmania, albeit a very "socially conservative" one.   Now, I have no problem with the proposition that there may be some real nutters in the seemingly soft and fuzzy Family First fold.  My open question then to Senator Polley is this:

If Day and Fielding are indeed so bad, why did your party preference both of them?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tasmanian Senate Seat Goes To The Button - Lambie (PUP) Wins

(Admin note to commenters: I have just done a cleanout of duplicate comments (where people submitted multiple copies of a comment).  If you get an email saying your comment was deleted, please don't feel rejected! One comment from a few months back was rejected for being off-topic but there will be a thread on the matter it relates to soon.)

This is the thread where I will post the result and details of the preference distribution that determines the last Tasmanian Senate seat.  The thread that has been following the late Senate count and attempting to model the outcome has been extremely popular but has also become far too long and I want to keep the analysis of (i) the known result, once it is known (ii) any recount action that might be necessary, separate.

My thanks to the AEC for their very quick provision of preference distribution information.


On Wednesday at about 10 am the AEC's computer system will be commanded to perform a complete distribution of preferences for the Tasmanian Senate.  Liberal Senators Richard Colbeck and David Bushby, Labor Senators Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk and Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson will be re-elected.  Unless all modellers modelling this count have somehow missed something surprising and important, Labor Senator Lin Thorp will lose her seat, which will go to one of Palmer United Party candidate Jacqui Lambie, Liberal candidate Sally Chandler or Sex Party candidate Robbie Swan.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Too Much Information: The Mixed Performance of Seat Betting Markets At The Federal Election

Advance Summary

1. Seat betting markets, considered by some to be highly predictive, returned an indifferent final result at the 2013 federal election, overpredicting the number of Labor losses by at least seven and predicting fourteen seats incorrectly.

2. Better results were achieved not only by local/state projections based on polling data but also could have been achieved by a simple reading of the national polls.

3. Seat betting markets in the final week most likely misread the election because of an overload of contradictory data.  They placed too much emphasis on local-level polling and internal polling rumours and too little on national polling.

4. Prior to the final week of the campaign, however, seat betting markets performed well in projecting an uncertain situation that was difficult to model.

5. Seat betting markets were most accurate immediately following the return of Kevin Rudd.  However this probably reflects on the modelling skills of bookmakers rather than punters.

6. Modellers wanting to know what seat totals betting markets expect should look at direct seat total markets rather than attempting to derive that information via complex and uncertain processes from seat betting markets.

7. Final direct seat total markets were very accurate.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

EMRS: Liberals Cruising, Giddings Polls Bad Preferred Premier Score

(Note re Tas Senate: you can follow updates here.  The count is not finished, the ABC Calculator is not reliable, and the seat is too close to call.)

EMRS September: Lib 52 ALP 28 Green 15 Ind 5 Other 1
Interpretation: Lib 51 ALP 30 Green 13 Ind/Others 6
Outcome (if election was held now): Liberal Majority Government (most likely 14-8-3, or 14-9-2)

The September EMRS poll of Tasmanian voting intentions has been released, based on interviews conducted earlier this week.  The results show what every other Tasmanian poll by any company since the start of 2011 has shown, which is that the Liberal Party is on track for majority government.  (The trendline for EMRS can be seen here.)

The headline figures are Liberal 52, ALP 28, Green 15, Ind 5 Other 1.  They are not significantly different from the May EMRS results, with the Liberals a couple of points lower.  EMRS results have a history of favouring the Greens and underestimating Labor, because of the way EMRS distributes the undecided vote.  Past election results have shown that on polling day the Greens only get about their raw EMRS vote rate, and not their share of the huge EMRS undecided vote.  However at the last election, the EMRS projection of the Liberal vote was very accurate.

The poll is quite similar to an August ReachTEL which showed the Liberals on 54% (after removal of undecided), Labor 25.8, Green 15.6 and Others 4.4.  However, the federal election showed that ReachTEL polling overestimated the Liberal vote and underestimated the Labor vote at federal level, by about four and a half points.  An analysis of the ReachTEL poll on the assumption that the same was true at state level (which it may not be) projected votes of 49.2% Liberal, 28.7% Labor, 13.4% Green and 8.7% Other. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Modelling the Tasmanian State Election off the Federal Election

Note Re Tas Senate Counting: An erroneous claim was published today (18 Sep) on Tasmanian Times that the Sex Party has won the last Tasmanian seat.  This is untrue (at this stage) - the count is still going, and the Sex Party would not win on current figures - the ABC Calculator is a rough model only.  Senate count intricacies can be followed in the post below.


Advance Summary

1. Claims have been made that the result of the federal election, if repeated at the state election, would produce a hung parliament with the Palmer United Party holding the balance of power.

2. These claims are incorrect.  If the federal election results were repeated at the state election, the result would be a Liberal majority government with 13 seats.

3. The claims are also irrelevant as the Liberal Party has been tracking at a much higher level in state polling than in federal polls taken by the same pollster at the same time, and it is necessary to adjust for this.

4. A model based off the federal election results but with appropriate correction for state/federal polling differences projects a Liberal majority government with 13-14 Liberal, 8-10 Labor and 2-3 Green seats.  It does not at this stage project any seats for other parties.

5.  Despite this, the Palmer United Party has laid a strong base in Tasmania with its result in the Tasmanian election.  If it can keep its act together up to the state poll then it is capable of increasing its vote share and winning seats.

6. A very large increase in PUP vote share would be necessary on current polling to prevent the Liberals winning majority government.  It seems that actually the party most threatened if PUP performs competitively could be the Greens.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2013 Federal Election Late Counting: Tasmania Senate

Tasmania Senate: Current Assessment
2 Labor, 2 Liberal, 1 Green certain
Final seat between PUP, Liberal, Sex Party
Current assessment: All three parties have realistic chances.  There is no clear favourite, but PUP are in my view narrowly the best placed. 

The AEC currently expects to declare the result (subject to challenges) at 2 pm Thursday.  The button is expected to be pressed on Wednesday 10 am. 

Final Result Thread: Final result and analysis will be posted on the new thread here.

NB A report published on Tasmanian Times (18 Sep) claiming the Sex Party has won was a bad case of premature ejaculation.  Counting has not finished, the button has not been pressed yet and the ABC Calculator is not an exact model of what happens when it does. TT has since acknowledged the unclarities in the situation.


I have added this summary (which will be edited as needed) because this article is getting very long and very complex.  What follows below is my full analysis of the current Tasmanian Senate late count, some of which is highly technical in nature.  The current situation is that three different parties - first Palmer United, then the Liberals, then the Sex Party, have been shown as leading on the ABC Senate Calculator at various points.  However the calculator assumes all votes are above-the-line ticket votes, and in practice preferences flow slightly more weakly than the model expects, especially if a party has lots of below-the-line votes.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013 Federal Election Late Counting - House Of Reps

This post will follow late counting in the House of Representatives. The Current State of Play will always appear at the top of the screen, followed by Fairfax updates, some general comments from the early history of this article, and the newest non-Fairfax updates at the top of the section below that.

Current State Of Play (This will be changed when status changes)

Last updated 31 Oct (Fairfax)

Election result is 90 Coalition 55 Labor 5 Other (2 Ind 1 Green 1 KAP 1 PUP)

Fairfax: What Happens Now, and Past Close Finishes

31 Oct: It's over! (At least to the point the bookies pay out at; it remains to be seen if the LNP want to risk antagonising the PUP leader by taking this to Disputed Returns.) Clive Palmer will be declared the winner of Fairfax by 53 votes at the end of a massive struggle over an electorate that was not deemed worthy of a single published seat poll.

That officially concludes this thread, which has been the most visited thread on the site so far.  Thankyou all for your interest.

2013 Federal Election Late Night Wrap

This is my quick late night summary of where we stand after a more interesting election night than I was actually expecting!  The Coalition has won the election decisively, but it has been a middling win in 2PP terms and only a moderately heavy one in seat terms.  Note that the exact 2PP vote will change from now to the final tally in late counting and may end up being slightly more Coalition-friendly than what we have now.  It was not the rout that many were expecting following the 54:46 Newspoll and Nielsen and the astonishing seat betting plunge in the final days.

As usual a number of seats are in doubt and we will have to see how late counting goes in these to see exactly where Labor finishes up.  Currently 11 specific seats are gone (Bass, Corangamite, LaTrobe, Deakin, Braddon, Robertson, Page, Hindmarsh, Lindsay, Banks and Lyons).  Labor trails but is within striking distance in Dobell, Eden-Monaro, Reid and Petrie.  Labor leads but is not yet home and hosed in Barton, Capricornia, McEwen, Lingiari and Parramatta.  In 52 of its own seats Labor leads by more than 51:49, and indeed the first seat up from there is Coalition-held Solomon (NT), where Labor's internal poll that had them narrowly winning doesn't seem to have actually been far out.  So at the moment it looks like a loss of around 15 seats, but we will need to wait to see how late counting pans out and whether these close seats tend to fall on one side of the ledger or the other.  Usually they'll split fairly evenly.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Election night arrangements and election-watching hints

 Home now (midnightish): Late night wrap coming in next c. 2 hrs.

Over here folks:  http://www.themercury.com.au/news/special-features/federal-election-2013-analysis/story-fnji1hk4-1226711813183

I had hoped to post some more things here in advance of election night but unfortunately I have run out of time and need to work on some spreadsheets for this evening and also find some time to relax a bit in advance of tonight.  Therefore this is just a quick post to detail what will be going on here tonight and tomorrow.  The short answer is: perhaps not much!

Tonight I am very pleased to say I will be live-blogging at the Hobart Mercury at their website themercury.com.au.  The direct link will be posted here when known. At the moment I expect to start around 6:30 and to keep going for maybe four hours.  I will also be involved with writing an article for them tonight (or doing an interview for an article; not sure which yet) so I may not be back on here tonight at all.  If I am there will be a new late-night counting extra thread up.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Saturday (Final!) Federal Election Projection Model and Seat Betting Roundup

Note: I will be at themercury.com.au on election night.  A pointer to the coverage will be here.

COALITION WINS ELECTION (probability >99%)
(This is an approximate projection only.)

Finally the time is reached for pollsters to release their final polls, modellers to release final projections and politicians to make final attempts to woo the "undecided vote" (which is usually, in real terms, a lot smaller than a lot of people think.)

Late And Final Polls

Essential was first of the regular pollsters to release what seems to be its final result, a 52:48 based on 1035 interviews from Sep 1-4.  If the result for Labor is benign or even an improvement compared to current polling by other sources, Essential will look very good, but if election day is a rout then there will be questions asked about going too early, using a smallish sample and the pollster's trending behaviour relative to others. Galaxy has released what seems to be a pretty safe 53:47, again showing statistical properties more akin to an aggregate than a poll; most likely if they're wrong at all it won't be by much (I am unsure if that's their final offer.)  ReachTEL is providing useful daily tracking and finals from Newspoll, Nielsen and others will arrive later today.  Morgan has released a multi-mode with respondent preferences at 53.5:46.5 (54:46 by last election); they will have a final poll tonight. (Update: this turned out to be just extra data for 54.5: 46.5)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: All Disastrous Things Edition (September 3)

Election Night Update: I will be providing live commentary at The Mercury on election night from 6:30-ish til late.  An exact link will be posted on the night.

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 3 September): 53.1 TO COALITION (+0.8 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 54 (-5.5: Brand, Lilley, Parramatta, Kingsford-Smith, Lyons and Lingiari all to Coalition)
Seat Total Market: Labor 57 seats (-4) (This figure is probably slightly skewed by longshot bias.)

This is week ten in a regular weekly series in the leadup to the federal election.  Week nine was here and through it you can click back to the previous weeks.  Or just click the "betting" label at the bottom.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.  

This Week's Polls

The weekend's national polls were as follows:

* Galaxy 53-47 to the Coalition
* Newspoll 54-46
* Essential 52-48, including the information that this week's sample was 53:47
* Morgan multi-mode 52.5:47.5
* AMR (online panel poll similar to Essential) 53:47

Also late last week ReachTEL released a 53:47 and Morgan released a 54:46 (special multi-mode via combined internet and phone sampling).

Saturday, August 31, 2013

If You Care About Gay Rights, Vote Below The Line In The Tas Senate

And no, I don't just mean same-sex marriage.  This goes way beyond just that.

If you care about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights even to the smallest degree, and are considering your vote in the Tasmanian Senate, then I have the following strong advice:

Vote below the line and direct your own preferences

If you absolutely must vote above the line, consider doing so for the Pirate Party or the Sex Party, but only if you broadly support their policies and are happy with their preference allocations (which you may or may not be, depending on your politics). I should caution here that the Sex Party direct their preferences first to the Country Alliance, who are an unknown quantity (to me) on sexual rights issues. [Update: you can see their vague and socially-conservative comments on same-sex marriage here.] The Pirate Party is only a suitable choice for an above-the-line vote if you do not mind your preferences going directly to the Greens. Many people, of course, do mind this, but quite a few readers won't.

If you want help voting below the line, see the bottom of this article.  (If you're short of time and don't need me to explain the reasons for my advice, feel free to skip to that bit right away.)

Why am I suggesting voting below the line, even though this means numbering 54 boxes instead of one?  Because a vote above the line for any party except the two mentioned above could potentially help elect anti-gay-rights extremist Peter Madden of the Family First Party - who has a very strong above-the-line ticket flow - ahead of at least one of Labor, Liberal, or the Greens.  Yes, even if you vote Labor or Green above the line in the Tasmanian Senate, it is possible for your vote to elect Peter Madden.  If you vote below the line you can put him 51, 52, 53 or 54, and still support your chosen party.  Let's forget all the silly sparring between the big three about how a vote for Labor is a vote for the Greens or whatever - the bigger problem is that a vote for any of them above the line is potentially a vote, or part of a vote, for Peter Madden.  A vote for almost anyone above the line in Tasmania is potentially a vote for him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: New Dawn Fades Edition (August 27)

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 27 August): 52.3 TO COALITION (+0.3 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 59.5 seats (-1.5, Eden-Monaro, Brand becomes tossup)
Seat Total Market: Labor 61 seats (-2) (This figure is probably slightly skewed by longshot bias.)

This is week nine in a regular weekly series in the leadup to the federal election.  Week eight was here and through it you can click back to the previous weeks.  Or just click the "betting" label at the bottom.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

This Week's Polls

It was a relatively quiet weekend for polling compared to the previous week's six-poll deluge.  Nielsen and Newspoll both returned 53-47 to the Coalition.  Roy Morgan returned 52.5-47.5 by last-election preferences.  Essential returned a second consecutive 50-50, but this one was off the back of a two-point fall in the ALP primary and a three-point rise in the Greens primary. My aggregate has gone to 52.3.  At the moment, it has one of the more benign readings for Labor doing the rounds - aggregates that benchmark solely off the last election are about a point worse, and those that handle sample size issues in a more sophisticated way, or weight heavily for accuracy of particular polls, are also showing slightly worse readings for Labor.  An aggregate of all the aggregators listed in Poll Bludger's excellent review of the state of things here comes out to 52.85.  My Newspoll rolling average, which I use heavily in historical modelling, is at 53.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

ReachTEL (State): The Same Story Told Many Times

ReachTEL (Tas State): Lib 51.1 ALP 24.4 Green 14.7 Other 4.2 Undecided 5.6
Interpretation: Lib 53 ALP 27 Green 16 Other 4
Outcome based on this poll "if election was held now": Liberal Majority Win (14-7-4 or 15-7-3)
Projection based on all polling: 14-7-4

This article concerns Tasmanian state polling.  For the Tasmanian federal poll from the same polling run see ReachTEL Says Tas Labor Still Losing Three.

A new State ReachTEL is out and it's another sad story for the Labor-Green minority government's re-election prospects, or even for anyone who believes that the prospect of a close election encourages accountability by both sides to the electorate.  It's a very happy story, of course, if you're a diehard Tasmanian Liberal. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

ReachTEL Says Tas Labor Still Losing Three

REACHTEL: Bass Liberal 58.4:41.6, Braddon Liberal 56.6:43.4, Lyons Liberal 55.8:44.2, Franklin Labor 50.6:49.4, Denison Wilkie 45.5, Lib 24, ALP 18.7

Approx State 2PP 52:48 to Coalition 

(State analysis will be published on Sunday and some updates on age/gender stuff on Monday).

A new Mercury/ReachTEL poll has been released.   To summarise, the poll results, if reasonably accurate, would result in Labor losing three of its four House of Representatives seats and probably barely saving the fourth.  They would also result in Labor losing its third Senate seat, probably to the Liberals. (See Prospects for the Tasmanian Senate Race)

There are two things that can overturn this picture.  The first is a major turnaround in the national situation to a position in which Labor wins the election - which looks highly unlikely.  The second is that ReachTEL federal polling in one or more of the seats is consistently faulty - a view for which there is no convincing public evidence, but we must remember that this company has not been tested at a federal election in Tasmania before.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: Ghost of '75 Edition (20 August - Updates Added)

TASMANIAN POLLING COMING: Check here on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9 am and there will be extensive commentary on state and federal results.  ReachTEL are in the field tonight and I was even polled! Questions are federal voting intention, preferred PM, issue importance, state voting intention, and rate the performance of the state government.

(Apologies to Tas Times readers looking for that stuff; I send the wrong link!  Correct link goes here)


2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 20 August): 52.0 TO COALITION (+0.5 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 61 seats (-2, Forde and Moreton)
Seat Total Market: Labor 63 seats (-2) (This figure is probably slightly skewed by longshot bias.)

In this issue:
* Newspoll to a place no-one has won from.
* Is Essential just a Poll-Shaped Object?
* Robopolls: confessional for homophobes #
* Why Rudd Is Not The Electorate's Dumped Ex-Girlfriend
* Non-zero estimate of Labor's chances!
* Ghosts of 93 ... and 75.
* ALP not favourites in any Coalition seat.
* Betting Market Debate: Do Punters Just Dawdle Like Sheep?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tasmanian Federal Candidates Announced And Ballot Draws

The Australian Electoral Commission has announced the Tasmanian candidates for the House of Representatives election.  As part of a record total of candidates nationwide, Tasmanians will choose between 35 candidates for the five House of Representative seats and 54 candidates for the Tasmanian Senate.  There are stats on overall candidate numbers around the nation from Antony Green here.

The Senate total of 54 candidates smashes the previous state record of 32 set in 1998.  Even historic double-dissolution elections (where major parties need to run six or seven candidates) have not produced anything like this.

The House of Representatives ballots will include ten candidates for Denison, seven for Franklin, six for Lyons, seven for Bass and five for Braddon.  A total of thirteen parties are "contesting" House of Reps seats in the state, though in most cases I use that term extremely loosely.  Labor, the Liberals, the Greens and the Palmer United Party are contesting all Tasmanian seats, the Rise Up Australia Party and Family First are contesting four and three respectively, and the rest are all lone entries.  A rumoured Katter's Australian Party run for Denison did not eventuate.  Only one Independent (not counting the so-called "Australian Independents", who are actually a party) is contesting the House of Assembly, and that is the Denison sitting member, Andrew Wilkie.  A single independent, Andrew Roberts, is contesting the Senate.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Anti-Wilkie Denison Billboard Stoush

What's all this about, then?

Denison independent Andrew Wilkie has taken exception to a billboard that shows him shaking hands with Tony Abbott, next to a slogan "IF ANDREW WILKIE WINS DENISON,  {big space} TONY ABBOTT IS ONE VOTE CLOSER TO BECOMING PRIME MINISTER" and above a slogan "VOTE WILKIE = GET ABBOTT".  See photo here.  Wilkie has claimed the billboard to be defamatory and misleading (here).  ALP national secretary George Wright replies here.

What does the billboard actually mean?

A billboard has a received meaning that goes beyond just the literal meaning of the words.  In this case, a handshake implies a deal, and the billboard therefore alleges that Andrew Wilkie either would deal with Tony Abbott, or has already dealt with Tony Abbott, in a way that could cause Abbott to become Prime Minister.   Lin Thorp's claim that there is no intent to imply a deal is irrelevant even if it is true, which it probably isn't.  The implication exists whether it is intended or not.

Is it true based on Wilkie's own statements that Wilkie winning Denison instead of Labor could cause Abbott to become Prime Minister?

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: Scruff Of The Neck Edition (August 13)

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 13 August): 51.5 TO COALITION (+0.7 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 63 seats (-2, Forde to Labor; Banks, Reid, Brisbane to Coalition)
Seat Total Market: Labor 65 seats (-2) (This figure may be slightly skewed by longshot bias; see below.)

This is week seven in a regular weekly series in the leadup to the federal election.  Week six was here and through it you can click back to the previous weeks.  Or just click the "betting" label at the bottom.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

Things aren't looking too good for the Government after a few weeks of apparent competitiveness.  The polls say they're losing at the moment, the punters strongly think they'll lose, the voters think they'll lose and the modellers think they'll lose.   Still left expecting a Labor victory are really just the true believers, the Abbott-haters (and not even all of those), the Sawford formula devotees and Peter Brent.  There's a general perception that the Coalition now has this election by the scruff of the neck, that the first month of the Rudd comeback polling was partly bounce and that the government won't be going up from here and may indeed be going down further. Is it really quite that hopeless for Labor?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Field Guide To Australian Opinion Pollsters

As of September 2016 this is an archived old edition that is no longer being updated.  For the 45th Parliament (2016-) edition go here.


There are a lot of polls about in Australia these days.  But how do they all work, which ones have runs on the board and which ones can you trust the most? 

With an increased number of pollsters now polling in Australia, it's been suggested that an article describing what is known of each pollster and its strengths and weaknesses might be useful to many people.  So I thought I'd put one up, and edit it over time as the need arises.  (Now edited post-2013 election.  Last major edit 30 Nov 2013. Last minor edits 21 June 2016.)

The gold standard for success for an opinion pollster is that its polls at election time get the result as close to right as possible.  However, many of the new pollsters are little-tested against actual elections, and getting a specific election right is a combination of skill and luck.  In elections where there is a swing on the last day or two of the campaign, a pollster that is actually not polling correctly may have its errors cancelled out by the swing, and hence record a lucky hit.  There is more to being a good pollster than just getting it right at election time - a good pollster should also provide useful data between elections and do so using well-designed questions that are easy to interpret.  And a pollster should also present their data in a way that makes sense and isn't misleading or confusing.

Bob Ellis: Embarrassment To The Left

Bob Ellis is the Unskewed Polls of Australian politics.

A digression: once, I used to feel some sympathy for Ellis.  Some may recall Bob Ellis cost his publishers $277,000 with basically a single multiply false sentence in the book "Goodbye Jerusalem", which defamed Tony Abbott, his wife, and Tanya and Peter Costello.   When the full facts about Tony Abbott's abandoned "son" came to light, I thought that the discrepancy between Abbott's former personal life and Abbott's religious-morality attitudes as a Howard Government minister said far more to Abbott's detriment than any scuttlebutt falsely claiming he was sexually seduced into the Liberal Party ever could.  There are some small things in that case that might have gone down differently had Abbott's full biography been known when it was heard. 

However, the sympathy I had for Ellis from that has been wiped away many times over by his recent series of comically bad attacks on mainstream opinion polling in Australia.  Quite aside from his the defamatory and tinfoil-hat nature of much of his work, a big problem with Ellis's comments is that what he writes about opinion polls is riddled with easily avoidable factual errors.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: Five Weeks To Go (August 6)

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 6 August): 50.8 TO COALITION (+0.7 since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 65 seats (no net change, Reid and Forde become tossups)
Seat Total Market: Labor 67 seats (-1)

In this issue:
* Bad weekend of polling for the Government
* Rudd just not that popular
* Strange views of Green voters on asylum seeker issues
* Seat poll of Melbourne is suspicious
* A small 2PP shift can mean a lot

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch July 30 - Includes History of Seat Transfer By Swing

 Note added 5 Aug: I see there's a lot of people coming here today, could be something to do with something that happened yesterday.  I watched it on ABC News 24 and thought it was the slowest form of motorsport with the longest pitstops I'd ever seen!

Yes, OK, the election's been called. There will be new material here (the usual weekly roundup and seat betting stuff plus some stuff on projecting results five weeks out) sometime overnight or, if things go slowly, tomorrow late morning.  

There could even be a Wirrah!


2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 30 July): 50.2 TO COALITION (effectively +0.1 since last week - slight method change)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 65 seats (+2, Banks and Reid)
Seat Total Market: Labor 68 seats (+2)

This is week five in a regular weekly series in the leadup to the federal election.  Week four was here and through it you can click back to the previous weeks.  Or just click the "betting" label at the bottom.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

Monday, July 29, 2013

ReachTEL (State): The North Remembers

Yesterday's article Tas Federal BaByLon Still Falling? covered the Sunday Examiner's large sample-size ReachTEL of Bass, Braddon and Lyons, three at-risk federal electorates.  The poll showed Labor trailing in all but within striking distance in Bass and Lyons.  This poll challenged a widespread view that the return of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister had fixed things in the state and that Labor would now retain most or all of its seats here.

The Examiner also asked a state voting intention question - just primaries and nothing else.  Below are the results with undecided voters removed, with the June results of the Mercury statewide ReachTEL shown in gray, and the swing from the June poll shown as well.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

ReachTEL - Tas Federal BaByLon Still Falling?

ReachTEL: Bass 54-46 to Coalition, Braddon 56.8-43.2, Lyons 54.4-45.6

This week's Sunday Examiner contained details of a fresh ReachTEL of the northern Tasmanian federal seats of Bass, Braddon and Lyons.  The sample sizes (Bass 626, Braddon 617, Lyons 659) are extremely large for Tasmanian seat polling and possibly the largest Tasmanian seat polls ever undertaken. A previous large statewide federal ReachTEL taken in early June shortly before the replacement of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard showed Labor being thrashed in all these seats, despite Lyons being held by Labor's Dick Adams on a margin of 12.3%.  In the case of Bass, this repeated a result from the start of the year.  The strength of the Lyons result was quite surprising, and in some circles disbelieved.

The return of Kevin Rudd to the Prime Ministership was expected to create a lift in Labor's fortunes, as it has everywhere else, but there were reasons to suspect this might be muted in Tasmania and that Bass and Braddon at least were still in trouble.  Primarily, the massive swing against Labor at federal level under Gillard (probably running at around 14% considering data from a range of polls) was being boosted by the delicate state of the Tasmanian economy and dissatisfaction with the state Labor-Green government.  The margins shown in the previous ReachTEL were very large, and even taking sample size and the apparently slightly Coalition-leaning nature of ReachTEL federal results into account, it seemed unlikely that a change at the top alone would fix the problems.

An early online taster article provided details of the new ReachTEL as follows:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch July 23

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 23 July): 50.3 TO COALITION (+0.3 SINCE LAST WEEK)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 63 seats (no change)
Seat Total Market: Labor 66 seats (-2)

This is week four in a regular weekly series in the leadup to the federal election.  Week three was here and through it you can click back to the previous weeks.  Or just click the "betting" label at the bottom.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

This Week's Polls

So far this week we have had three polls: a 52-48 to Labor (by last election preferences) from Morgan Multi-Mode, a 52-48 to Coalition from Newspoll, and a  51-49 (It is alive! It moves!) to Coalition from Essential. The last represented Essential's best reading for Labor since February 2011.

Aggregators out so far (Mark the Ballot, Pottinger) have shown not much overall movement as a result of this and project the most likely outcome as a very narrow Coalition win (in MTB's case if an election was held now, in Pottinger's assuming Aug 31 as the date).  I suspect Bludgertrack will show similar, or perhaps a little more to the Coalition. 

My interpretation is that Labor would probably very narrowly lose an election held right now.  I say this not because of the 2PP picture but because the state picture is not lining up well enough - Labor is increasingly struggling to get the swing required for substantial gains in Queensland, but is apparently still in trouble in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.  However, there is plenty of time for this to change.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch July 16

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 16 July): 50.0 TIED (+0.2 for ALP since last week)
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 63 seats (+2 this week - Lingiari, Brisbane)
Seat Total Market: Labor 68 seats (+2)

This is instalment three in what seems to be becoming a regular weekly series in the leadup to the election.  The first Seat Betting Watch is here and last week's Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch is here.  As stated before, the aim of this exercise is not to claim that seat betting markets have predictive value, but to test whether they do, and to see which of the markets and the aggregated polls see the ultimate outcome of the election first.

This Week's Polls

As well as the 51-49 to Labor from AMR late last week, we've now had a 50-50 from Nielsen, a 52-48 to the Coalition from Essential and a 51.5-48.5 to Labor by last-election preferences from Morgan Multi-Mode.  (I did cop an "AGGGGHHH!!!!" and a "stupid" on Twitter for continuing to prefer last-election preferences to respondent-allocated but I'll believe KAP voters have turned into lefties only when data show they have.)

The net impact of these on my aggregate has been small and I currently have the two parties dead level on two-party-preferred vote share.  Essential and Morgan don't seem to be behaving the same way compared to other pollsters as they did before Rudd was reinstalled, and Mark the Ballot has a nice wrap of what a pain in the neck this all is for modellers here. (Also see the comment by Julian King on that article.)  Fortunately, the probably false assumption that neither has a significant house effect results in them largely cancelling each other out in my very simple model, but it's a bigger problem for those who take Morgan's large sample size into account.  It may turn out that either of these pollsters has struck it lucky and all the rest are too high or too low, but I'll keep assuming that that isn't the case.  Something to keep an eye on here is that Rudd is doing very well with young voters, and young voters are the most difficult to sample accurately for conventional polls, even with scaling.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Spot Of Bother About Quolls

(This article is a pseph-free-zone, but you can always vote in my Not-A-Poll to the right on how many federal Tasmanian seats Labor will winFor those more interested in polls than quolls, I aim to post poll roundup very late on Monday night.)

 The species photographed above is the eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus).  It's very cute.  It comes in two colours (tan and black) and, if you believe some people, our limited supply is very nearly gone.  If you believe others, its numbers are just on the bouncy side. 

The species featured on 7:30 Tasmania this Friday with a lengthy headline report concerning the decision by Environment Minister Brian Wightman to reject an application to list the species as Endangered on the Tasmanian Threatened Species List, even after approval was recommended by the Scientific Advisory Committee.   For the time being, you can see the main report here and a following interview with wildlife biologist Nick Mooney here.  These may not stay up for all that long.

Friday, July 12, 2013

New Not-A-Poll Added: Tas Labor Seats At The Federal Election

I've added this site's third ever Not-A-Poll.  The first was to obtain reader feedback on the use of jump breaks in articles (it went to preferences!) and the second was Best Tasmanian Premier of the Last 30 Years.  This one (in the sidebar on the right) asks interested readers to pick how many Tasmanian seats you think Labor will win at this year's federal election.  Once I know the election date it will be set to close at midnight the day before.  I believe that even after you have voted you can change your vote. At least, I can.  (Maybe you need to be logged in.)

Here's a quick form guide thus far.  (Or if it's really all too hard, just roll a six-sided die and subtract one; you'll have a one in six chance of getting it right!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch - July 9-10

2PP Aggregate (Tuesday 9 July): 50.2 (-0.2 since last week) for Coalition 
Individual Seat Betting: Labor favourites in 61 seats (+3 - Page, Eden-Monaro, Moreton)
Seat Total Market: Labor 65 seats (+7)

Last week I introduced a Seat Betting Favourites Watch series in which I intend to monitor the performance of seat betting markets in predicting results for specific seats in an election that is difficult to model.  The reinstatement of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister has resulted in a massive poll jump for a government that was clearly doomed under ex-PM Gillard, and nobody really knows whether the bounce will amplify before it declines.  It is a good test for whether the markets can out-predict the polls at a time when the polls have good reason to be suspect as predictors, or merely follow them.  I am personally sceptical of the reliability of betting as a predictive method.

This Week's Polls

This week we've had three national polls so far.  Essential Report showed no change on last-week's one-week-sample 52-48 to Coalition.  Newspoll was up one point for Labor to 50-50 and Morgan produced a generally dismissed headline figure of 54.5-45.5 to Labor.  As is sometimes the case Morgan's use of respondent-allocated preferences was creating an out-of-whack result, and when preferences were allocated following the more reliable last-election model, the result was 52.5-47.5 to Labor.

Taken together these polls are slightly better for Labor than the post-change polls of the last two weeks and my own rough aggregate has moved from 50.4 to 50.2 for the Coalition.  Mark the Ballot has Labor 50.5-49.5 ahead and a Bludgertrack update is expected tomorrow. (Update: Bludgettrack is at 50.5 for Labor as well.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Seat Betting Favourites Watch - July 3

This is a series that may run on here sporadically from now til the federal election, the date of which is now unknown but considered most likely to be in either late August or late October. At this stage I'm thinking of posting an update in a fresh article weekly around the middle of the week, but the posting time will vary according to my other commitments.  Also it may well be that someone else starts covering the same thing better, in which case I may just link to them and leave them to it.

Following the first week of Rudd-return polling, six polls by five companies have shown Labor somewhere in the range of 48-51% two-party preferred, with five of the six showing the government just behind.  Seat models point to a very close election if the an election was proverbially "held today".  The re-fired Bludgertrack projects 74-73-3 (ALP first), Mark the Ballot gives a uniform swing (or lack thereof) at 73-75-2 and Pollytics reports "My election simulation produces a similar result 76 seats to the ALP vs. 72 to the Coalition, with 2 Independents." (This is not the same as the 77-71-2 simulation I questioned as a slightly unsound extrapolation from its given data at the bottom of my previous post, and I assume it incorporates more data.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rudd Replaces Gillard

"Being prime minister isn't a job you have a shot at and then you come back again if you think you've learned a lesson" - Gary Gray, Feb 20 2012.

Indeed not, Mr Gray.  The last egomaniac to pull that little trick off lasted only seventeen years the second time around.

This post discusses various polling history and projection aspects of the replacement of Julia Gillard with Kevin Rudd.  Of course, this major event has rendered a lot of poll-based projections that were premised on the idea of a Gillard prime ministership at the election void, and all over Australia psephologists are scurrying like spiders to repair their webs.

Historical Aspects

Kevin Rudd is the fourth Australian Prime Minister to recapture the role after losing it, after Deakin (twice), Fisher  (twice) and Menzies.  Fisher and Deakin played musical chairs in an era before majority governments were the norm (though Fisher later lost an election outright before winning the next one outright).  Menzies lost the support of his party and resigned, then led his party back from opposition.  Rudd is the first departed PM to return to the post without an intervening change of government.

Even at state level, the recapture of the top job (as opposed to the Opposition top job) is rare in the modern world.  It was common in the chaotic nineteenth and early 20th century state parliaments, such that NSW has had three five-time Premiers.   Since the 1950s, however, only Eric Reece in Tasmania (1972, recovering government against a short-term Liberal minority that collapsed during its term) and Don Dunstan in South Australia (1970, ditto).  So Rudd is the first leader at state or federal level for 41 years to lose his job and recover it, and has done so in difficult and unusual circumstances (albeit with a huge assist from the hung-parliament situation and the generally hapless self-marketing and trust problems of his successor's regime.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nothing To See Here, Just The Future Of Free Speech In Tasmania

(Update 27 Sep: This has been resolved now, see updates at bottom of article)

Today, or at least in the next few days, the Legislative Council may determine the future of free speech in Tasmania when the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2012, passed on party lines by Labor and the Greens late last year, finally makes it to the top of the pile.

Of particular concern is the proposed amendment to Section 17.  This amendment, which ostensibly deters bullying and redresses inconsistent aspects of existing legislation, would make it an offence to ridicule, insult, offend or humiliate (as well as "intimidate", which I have no problems with) someone on the basis of their political or religious beliefs, affiliations or activities, assuming that the person doing the offending (etc) could have reasonably known their comments might offend (etc).  There is not even any caveat to protect comments of such a sort if they are public acts done in good faith for the public interest.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mayhem in the Marginals 3: Mayhem Everywhere

Advance Summary
1. A new multi-seat poll by JWS Research again provides seat loss projections for Labor that are above what is expected based on national polling and the assumption of uniform swing.  The poll projects losses of 32-35 seats, while national polling points to a loss of around 26.

2. State-of-seat issues may have some influence on this difference, but it is unclear whether the main finding of about six expected extra seat losses is sound, or whether it may result from the polling method having a slight house effect.

3. The pollster's claim that "marginality analysis" adds another three expected seat losses for Labor is unsound as it is based on false assumptions that seats within a given bracket would swing uniformly.  

4. In particular, the firm projects the loss of five Labor seats within the 6-9% bracket by very small margins.  In practice, it is more likely that some of those seats would fall and some not.

5. The poll's findings that voters do not want Kevin Rudd to challenge for the Labor leadership do not demonstrate whether voters want Kevin Rudd to become Labor leader, because the question design is flawed and too restrictive.

6. The poll's core finding that seat losses will be worse than modelled by a "uniform swing" (national pendulum), or by assumptions of uniform swing at state level, is consistent with results from other polling sources.

7. However all of the polling sources producing this finding are open to a similar range of reservations.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

ReachTEL - State Labor Back To The Lifeboats

ReachTEL (Tas State): Lib 52.5 ALP 19.7 Green 15.6 Other 6 Undecided 6.3
Interpretation: Lib 57 ALP 22 Green 17 Other 4 (Other perhaps higher)
Outcome based on this poll "if election was held now": Liberal Victory (c. 15 seats)
Projection based on all polling: 14-8-3

We have reached a useful milestone in Tasmanian polling since, for the first time since the last state election, EMRS has competition from another poll that is commissioned by the media and that is not merely an internal poll released by the party.  Historically it has been a long time since we have seen public polling by someone other than EMRS, apart from during an election campaign.  Indeed, the Mercury-commissioned ReachTEL is to my knowledge the largest poll of state voting intention ever conducted in Tasmania.

These are the headline figures, which I'll discuss after a small but important diversion:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Federal Labor Getting Smashed All Over Tasmania

 UPDATE 27/6: With the replacement of Julia Gillard by Kevin Rudd the polling in this article becomes (unfortunately) largely obsolete and we will have to wait for fresh polling to see how Labor is travelling in the Tasmanian seats under the new leader.  My view as hinted at before is that because the factors affecting Labor's vote in Tasmania are in large part local, it's possible the contribution of the Ruddstoration to Labor's fortunes will be smaller than elsewhere.

My brief take on the likely prospects under Rudd (without any specific polling):

Bass and Braddon: Labor is still struggling in these seats but now should have some practical chance of holding instead of none.

Franklin: I favour Labor to retain. 

Lyons: The work I did on ReachTEL's record in the Queensland election makes me a bit more cautious about trying to project the seat based on polling under an old leader that showed an apparently extreme swing.  I think this seat would have been lost under Gillard, and still may fall, but new polling is needed before the risk can again be declared severe.

Denison: Andrew Wilkie remains entitled to strong favouritism assuming no adverse preferencing decisions, but if the Labor primary now lifts then the risk to him from adverse preferencing decisions by other parties will increase.  By no means over.

 Federal Labor Getting Smashed All Over Tasmania

...being the sequel to "Federal Labor Getting Smashed In Bass".

The monster Mercury-commissioned ReachTEL, which I believe to be the largest opinion poll in Tasmanian history, is out!  I saw the results on Friday afternoon but under embargo conditions.  The survey includes federal and state polling for each electorate and statewide.  Today I am releasing my federal comments and tomorrow my analysis of the state results.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Prospects for the Tasmanian Senate Race

Note: This is a pre-election article.  Of all the wild scenarios entered into below, the one that never came into consideration was that one of the apparent micro-parties would poll seven percent!  This is what has happened with the last-week rise of Palmer United.  A post-count thread dealing with the Tasmanian Senate spot will be added soon.

Updated Summary 24 August:

* While Julia Gillard was Prime Minister, an outcome of 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green for the Tasmanian Senate was overwhelmingly likely.  This is still the most likely outcome, but at times since the return of Kevin Rudd, other outcomes have seemed reasonably plausible.

* Polling since the return of Kevin Rudd has suggested the Green vote is softening and a Green seat is no longer guaranteed (though in my view likely).

* A very good above-the-line preference allocation for Family First gives them a chance of taking the third Liberal seat should the Liberals fail to poll three quotas (42.8%) in their own right.  Some other micro-parties are also in remote contention. 

* With declining national polling the chance of Labor retaining three Senate seats in Tasmania appears to be very low.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Newspoll Upfront Exclusion Rates Since 2002

Advance Summary

1.  Some observers think that the proportion of voters who are indicated by Newspoll as "uncommitted" or "refused" gives Labor a much greater chance in the upcoming federal election, because the Government may attract a late swing from undecided voters.

2. The view that there is generally a late swing to an incumbent Government is false.

3. The view that there is usually a late swing to the party that is trailing is true, but it is not clear whether this is because there is a genuine "narrowing" effect, or whether this is because the Coalition tends to outperform its polling and the Coalition has often been the trailing party.

4. It is possible (and logical) that there is a link between increases in the Newspoll exclusion rate and poor polling for Labor, suggesting that when the party is performing poorly more of its voters become "uncommitted".  However, the evidence on this is inconclusive.

5. While it is plausible that undecided voters will move back to the Government and improve its result by, say, two points, this is also something that may not happen at all.

6. The issue of uncommitted and refused rates is only relevant to the margin of an overwhelmingly likely Coalition win (assuming no Labor leadership change).  There is nothing to suggest it is capable of turning the election.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How Common Is A Five-Point Swing In Under Four Months?

Advance Summary

1. The Gillard government now probably needs a swing back in public opinion of around 5% in three and a half months to win the federal election. [Update:  After Monday's polls, it's even more than that.]

2. A recent article by Simon Jackman draws attention to swings of this magnitude, from one election to the next, being rare events that mainly (not exclusively!) accompany changes of power.

3. It is not correct to infer that swings of this size in a much shorter period are even less probable, because in fact 5-point swings within 16 weeks are commoner than 5-point swings between elections.

4. However, 5-point swings in shorter time periods typically result from temporary factors - leadership and event bounces, honeymoon effects, policy mistakes that are corrected, bad patches etc.  

5. Fast swings that have occurred in the leadup to elections have usually washed out of the system partly or entirely by election day.

6. The past history of quick 5-point swings in polling provides no sound basis for belief that even an extreme event such as the S11 attacks or leadership change would save the Government now.  (This does not mean it is impossible, just that there is no precedent.)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Brenton Best Crosses the Floor!

I was going to write a pretty standard number-crunchy thing about prospects for the Tasmanian Senate, given that the Greens have just polled below a Senate quota in state-level polling on the EMRS headline rate for the first time in a very long time.  (In short, this is some cause for concern, but probably not a major one at present).
However that can wait a bit because on Thursday we saw something very unusual in Tasmanian politics, when Labor backbench lifer Brenton Best crossed the floor to vote with a Liberal motion of no-confidence in Corrections Minister (and Greens Leader) Nick McKim.  It was not just a once-off, with an unrepentant Best on Friday repeating his critique of Nick McKim and extending it to the whole Labor-Green coalition. 

While I wasn't watching live at the time, it's quite clear from the footage and also even from the bare bones Votes and Proceedings that there was a party keen for Mr Best to have his say, and it wasn't his own:

Monday, May 20, 2013

EMRS - Greens hit new low

EMRS: Lib 54 (-1) Labor 28 (+5) Green 14 (-4) Ind 4 (+1)
Interpretation: Lib 53 Labor 33 Green 11 Ind 3
Outcome: Comfortable Liberal Majority Win (Approx 14 seats)

The May 2013 EMRS poll has been released and the trend graph for the headline figures is here.  The headline figures have a history of overestimating Green support so there is a possibility that this poll is pointing to an even worse result for the party than indicated.

During the last polling period the Tasmanian forestry peace deal passed parliament and the party split on this major legislation on the floor of the House of Assembly, with four members voting in favour of the version returned by the Legislative Council and Bass Green MHA Kim Booth, long the least Labor-friendly and forestry-friendly of the five, voting against.

The poll shows the Liberal vote largely unaltered from the soaring levels of the last two polls, but what is interesting here is that the Labor vote is up to its highest headline level since November 2010 (not that 28% is any great triumph) while the Green headline rate is the lowest of this term in office, at 14%.  The core Green vote, counting only firmly supportive voters, is shown at a ridiculously low 9%.  I cannot remember it being this low for a very long time and suspect it would be necessary to go back to the earliest EMRS readings from the late 1990s to find a similar figure. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Julia Gillard: Same-Sex Marriage Enemy #1

Advance Summary

1. This article addresses comments recently made by Prime Minister Julia Gillard concerning the Coalition's unclear statements on whether it will allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.

2. Gillard's comments are misleading in that she takes credit for ensuring a conscience vote on the issue, when in fact she did so in order to avoid all Labor MPs being required to vote for same-sex marriage legislation.

3. For this reason, Gillard's actions removed any chance of same-sex marriage passing last year.

4. Claims that a conscience vote for both sides is the determining factor in a successful push for same-sex marriage are misleading.  Comparisons with New Zealand and the UK show that in those cases, the personal support of leaders on both sides, and the overwhelming support of the main centre-left party, were essential.

5. Gillard's own statements on her reasons for opposing same-sex marriage do not stand up to scrutiny.

6. As I find both Gillard's claimed reasons and several other proposed explanations unconvincing, I suspect her motive is connected to internal ALP power plays.

7. Gillard's criticism of the Coalition on this issue, while warranted in isolation, is hypocritical.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Abbott Factor Revisited: Abbott's Ratings and Labor's Decline

 Advance summary:

1. This article covers changes in the relationship between Tony Abbott's net satisfaction rating and Labor's two-party preferred status.

2. Until September 2012 both Abbott's standing and Labor's tended to decline at the same time, although this did not always happen.

3. In late 2012 there was a period in which Abbott's standing declined while Labor's improved, which has now reversed.

4. There is currently very little evidence that Tony Abbott's unpopularity is a significant barrier to the Coalition winning the next federal election.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

LegCo Live Comments And Post-Poll Discussion

Pembroke: CALLED: Vanessa Goodwin (Lib) re-elected on first preferences
Nelson: CALLED: Jim Wilkinson re-elected
Montgomery: CALLED: Leonie Hiscutt (Lib) elected

The live comments appear below and updates are being added from the top.  To see TEC results pages go here Thanks to all for the interest on Saturday night; at one stage had nearly 2000 hits including close to 1000 link clicks-in (so not just the same five people obsessively hitting refresh) in three hours.   This is what the hit spike (figures are hits per hour) looked like: