Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 site review

That's just about the end of the second full year since this site started; so it's time for the annual stats review.  Obviously with a Tasmanian state election to cover this has been an even bigger year than last year, with about a 58% increase in site traffic.

In my 2013 annual review I noted that in late July 2013 I switched from Blogger Stats to Google Analytics to keep track of site activity.  Just as well, as early this year Blogger Stats started getting swamped by bot hits to the point that it would often rack up several hundred overseas hits a day even when there had been nothing new posted for a week.

This year I released 86 articles of which 19 concerned the Tasmanian state election and 17 were federal polling roundups.  As usual I finished almost everything I started - but I never got around to doing a final wrap for the Tas state election.  Also languishing incompletely in the Drafts vault thus far are:

* a full debunking of some ludicrous social-science rubbish re Tasmanian Devils unwisely published by The Conversation (I gave it plenty in the comments section; also see a rebuttal from scientists working on the species.)

* a critique of a Bob Brown Foundation skew-poll about the proposed revocation of part of the World Heritage Area (had this not come in the heat of the state campaign, or had the revocation had a snowflake's chance of success, I may have finished writing up that one.)

* a glossary of all the big words used on here.

In compiling the list of top ten articles for the year I had a decision to make.  Some articles get lots of hits from visitors refreshing for live coverage or revisiting for updates.  At the same time, an article that gets lots of repeat visits often does so because it is a long article with updates that could have been split into multiple posts if I felt like it.  When in doubt, aggregate, so ...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Victoria: Final Results, Poll Performance And 2PP Post-Election Pendulum

With results well and truly finalised here's a final wrap-up of various matters from the Victorian election.  This article includes a 2PP pendulum.  I've decided to publish one as a complement to Antony's 2PP pendulum here and I've done so for a reason.  In coverage of the Queensland election it's been common to see estimates of seat gains that are read off non-2PP pendulums, without considering who the seat contests are between.  I can't stop people wrongly concluding that a smallish swing to the Liberals will win them Richmond and Brunswick, but at least it won't be my fault.

I already covered a number of big-picture issues about the Victorian result in my day-after wrap.  This article covers all those aspects that depend on the final results.

Final vote share results

The final primaries for the Lower House were Coalition 41.99%, Labor 38.10, Green 11.48, Others 8.43.  By 2013 election preferences, this would have been a 2PP result of only about 50.7% to Labor, but the 2PP result ended up being 52%. (Officially, 51.99% - that 0.01 will matter a lot to some of those who betted on the 2PP range).

Many pollsters (including the final Newspoll, ReachTEL and Galaxy) got the 2PP more or less spot on (52) by last-election preferences in their final poll.  However as with the 2013 federal election this was a case of errors cancelling out: they had the Coalition primary too low but the preference flow to Labor strengthened markedly.  In all Labor went from getting about 64% of all third-party preferences to about 69.5%. (Ipsos respondents said they would gave Labor about 75%).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Poll Reporting Unfair To Hockey

A few knives are out for Treasurer Joe Hockey, who is repeatedly rated one of the government's poorest performers, and whose political fate seems very much tied to a Budget that received the second-worst ratings in the past 29 years. Hockey this week announced revised forecasts with deficits over the next four years nearly two and a half times what was expected little over half a year ago.  Not just his economic competence and consistency (given that in Opposition he railed against Labor's supposed debt addiction but seems powerless to escape it himself any time soon) but also perceptions of the Treasurer as a surly communicator are coming into the spotlight.  Admittedly, he has had a difficult time with many savings measures being blocked by the random rabble of crossbench Senators, but most Senates of times past would have done the same thing.

It may seem difficult to argue then that Hockey deserves much sympathy at all, or that any pain he experiences in the role is anything but self-inflicted.  But today I've got to do it.  This report in the Australian by Troy Bramston declares Hockey is regarded by the public as "the worst Treasurer of the last 40 years".  The poll on which the article is based shows absolutely no such finding.  The sensationalised and fallacious reporting of the poll is quite surprising - Bramston, unlike some at said paper, is far from a serial offender for this sort of thing. It is in no way the pollster's fault - rather it is just a case where a journalist uses a poll to say something it doesn't actually say. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Poll Roundup: 2014 Year Review

2PP aggregate: 53.7 to ALP (+0.3 since last week)
ALP would easily win election "held now"

We're just about at the end of the federal polling season, an end which for the government can't possibly come soon enough.  If last year's polling is any guide, we may get one more ReachTEL at the end of this week and then that would likely be it until Morgan and Essential started up again in mid-January with the rest following a few weeks later. I thought I'd summarise some stats about this polling year, but first a quick look at this week's polls so far.

I should note first that a significant event this week - the Martin Place siege - could affect voting intention to some degree, and that incident was not reflected in any of this week's polling.  The past history of this government is that its polling improves temporarily and modestly when national security is in the spotlight.  Because of the scarcity of polls over the holiday season there may not be a lot to look at by way of evidence, and it remains to be seen whether this disturbing incident will be perceived as a terror issue as much as a run-of-the-mill failure of the domestic justice system. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Poll Roundup: One Year Behind

2PP Poll Aggregate: 53.4 to ALP (+0.4 in a week)
ALP would easily win election "held now"
Coalition has trailed on smoothed aggregate for one year

Usually this would be an "off week" for the poll roundup series as it is not a Newspoll week, but the presence of Ipsos and Galaxy justifies squeezing in an article amid all the postcount chaos going down in Prahran and Fisher.  Another reason for putting something up now is that this week the Abbott federal government celebrates an unwanted anniversary.  It is one year since it lost the 2PP polling lead to the Labor opposition. 

Aggregates have now and then fleetingly shown the government back in front or nearly so.  My own showed it leading narrowly (50.3%) for a single week in mid-February, and Bludger Track has produced a weekly reading of exactly 50:50 three times (mid-Feb, early April, early October).  But when any kind of smoothing is applied to weekly figures to tone down the effects of the odd stray inaccurate poll, these blips have disappeared.  Both the smoothed version of Bludger Track and my own more primitive smoothed version now show the Coalition to have been behind for one year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fisher, State By-Elections and Federal Drag

Nat Cook (ALP) provisionally won, defeating Dan Woodyatt (Ind) by 226 votes at the critical exclusion point then Heidi Harris (Lib) by 23 votes.  This is currently being recounted, with Cook defeating Woodyatt by 219 in the recount and defeating Harris by nine votes. Cook will now take her seat and Labor will have an outright majority.

The win may well be challenged in the Court of Disputed Returns.  In this case Labor will hold the seat until such time as the court decides the case.  The court could confirm the win, order a by-election or declare the Liberals to have won the seat.  

Postcount Introduction

This article follows late counting in the South Australian Fisher by-election.  As at the close of counting on the night this seemed like a very likely win for the ALP who had a 52.1% two-party preferred lead against the Liberals.  Even with a very large percentage of prepolls such leads are very rarely caught.  Although there was still some threat from the independent Dan Woodyatt, I thought I should place the at that stage apparently likely ALP win in its historic context.  That was the theme of the original article. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Poll Roundup: "Deeply Unpopular By December"

2PP Aggregate: 53.1 to Labor (unchanged in two weeks)
Labor would easily win federal election "held now"

This week's federal poll roundup title is brought to you by an AFR article entitled Abbott on the nose in regions. The article was published in mid-April, just before the Budget, at a time when the government had recorded a 48% 2PP in a Nielsen poll (remember those?) and was just starting to head south from a borderline winnable 49:51 position it had been locked in for five months.  The final paragraph of the article was:

"Those who are aware of the severity of some of the budget decisions that have been made, are warning that the [polling] situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The Coalition is bracing to be "deeply unpopular by December" said one source."

It's December now!  So how did that prediction go?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Victorian Election Postcount: Lower House

Seat Total ALP 47 L-NP 38 Green 2 Ind 1
(Green win of Prahran subject to recount)

This post (work in progress) will follow the remaining Lower House seats that are of interest.  In all of them the lead is currently substantial and I do not expect any of the leads to be overturned on late counting, but maybe one or two will.  The most interesting seat is the three-cornered contest in Prahran which has its own post (Postcount: Prahran).

Note that Pollbludger has some figures on number of remaining votes.

In the other seats there is probably a perception that large leads on Saturday night could be pulled down on post-poll counting given the vast number of prepolls and the tendency for postal voting to favour the conservatives.  The flaw in this logic is that many of the postals are already counted so on average the postcounts should be more similar to the main game than usual.  But we are already seeing some surprising differences to 2010, and also that the differences are varying by seat.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Victorian Election Postcount: Prahran

(Correct prediction posted to . Notice date.)


UNDECIDED SEAT: Prahran (Lib, 4.7%) 
SUMMARY: Contest between Clem Newton-Brown (Lib) and either Neil Pharaoh (ALP) or Sam Hibbins (Green)
RESULT:  Hibbins (Green) wins seat - awaiting formal declaration

This article followed the post-count in the undecided seat of Prahran, won by the Greens (subject to official confirmation) on preferences from third on primaries after eleven days of counting, including a recount.

The original (after reworking) article appears at the bottom of the post with updates scrolling to the top.  However, there was a surprise in the prepoll count - Labor did much better than projected on within electorate prepolls, which I'm told they targeted heavily - so much of the original modelling for questions 1 and 2 soon became irrelevant.  The modelling for question 3 turned out to be slightly pessimistic for the Greens compared to the reality.

The results of the three key questions, after recounting, are being reported unofficially as:

1. Does Pharaoh stay ahead of Hibbins?  Hibbins knocked out Pharaoh by 31 votes.

2. If the final count is Newton-Brown vs Pharaoh, who wins? Newton-Brown led by 25 based on the quick throw.  This margin remains to be confirmed (and is presently irrelevant.)

3. If the final count is Newton-Brown vs Hibbins, who wins?  Hibbins has won by 277 votes thus apparently winning the seat.

Assuming these results are now officially confirmed, Hibbins has won the seat for now.  It is possible that there will be a court challenge, but even if there is one Hibbins will be able to sit in parliament until such time as a court might decide otherwise.

The result is a major success for the Greens, who have unseated a Liberal in a single-seat electorate for the first time in any Australian state or federally, who have won both lower house seats they targeted, and who will hold more than one seat in an Australian parliament elected under a single-seat system for the first time.  Indeed, they have only previously won four seats in single-seat elections (one of them twice) and two of those wins were in by-elections.

Victorian Election Wrap: Federal Drag Strikes Again

Expected seat tally: ALP 47 L-NP 38 Green 1 Ind 1 (1 unclear)
Unclear seat: Prahran (Lib vs ALP vs Green)
Seats in minor doubt: Morwell (Nat leading ALP), South Barwon (Lib leading ALP), Bentleigh, Frankston (ALP leading Lib), Brunswick (ALP leading Green by large margin), Melbourne (Green leading ALP), Shepparton (Ind leading Nat by large margin)

Note: Following this article more serious doubts developed about Melbourne because of changes in vote totals (counting errors most likely).   The seat is now close but if 2010 patterns of non-booth voting are repeated the Greens will still win.  I've also put Shepparton in the "minor doubt" category because of the unusual nature of the campaign and the slim possibility the Independent candidate (now leading with 53.5%) will do very poorly on non ordinary votes.

I have a separate thread on Prahran.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Victorian Election Live Election Day Thread


(Seats included in tally with very low levels of doubt: Bentleigh,  Frankston (ALP),  Morwell (L-NP), Melbourne (Grn))
Seriously unclear seats (1):
Prahran (three-cornered, depending on exclusion order)

Labor has won the election
Summary last changed 12:45 pm

Victorian Election: Final Aggregate And Seat Model

 Live analysis here on a new thread from 6 pm on election night. 

2PP Aggregate using 2010 preferences: 51.7 to Labor
Polls point to highly likely but not certain ALP victory, general picture of modest swing and minimal to low seat turnover
Seat Projection: ALP 47 Coalition 41
(A very small number of these seats may be won by Greens or independents, but there is not enough objective evidence to back such wins.)

Going into the main voting day for the Victorian election, I have to say it's a bit different to elections I've devoted major modelling efforts to on this site (the 2013 federal election and this year's Tasmanian state election) in that there is still some room for doubt about who will win.  Although Labor has led in almost every poll in the last year and a bit, including 15 or 16 (depends how you count 'em) of the 17 polls released in the last six weeks, their lead is not much, and sitting-member effects left over from the last election make the deck a slightly unfriendly one.

The polls suggest that probably Labor will get home with a seat tally in the high 40s, but other still-plausible scenarios (in decreasing order of likelihood) are a fairly comfortable Labor win with around 50 seats (just maybe if the polls have herded a few more), a scraped and very lucky Coalition win, or some kind of tied or otherwise hung parliament.  Anything else (eg a Coalition win where they win the 2PP as well, or a really lopsided Labor win) would be a serious surprise.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Victorian Poll Roundup: Endless 52-48 Edition

2PP aggregate: 51.8 (-1.4) to ALP by last-election preferences (52.6 expected preferences)
Current seat projection based on aggregate: 48-40 to Labor

This is probably the second-last of my posts on Victorian polling prior to the main day of polling for the election on Saturday.  I will be out on a field trip in the day on Friday.  Another post is expected either overnight Friday or Saturday morning - once I am satisified we have the results of all the major polls we're going to get.   Then it will be on to the live coverage on Saturday night from 6 pm.  I cannot promise you fancy graphics or dancing swing charts but I hope my live blogging will be of some interest.

(Speaking of things of some interest concerning Victorian elections, a plug for Adam Carr's page on early Victorian elections 1851-1864!)

This week's polling

Lately we've had new state polls from Morgan (twice), Essential and Galaxy.  The first Morgan SMS poll taken from 21-24 Nov and with a sample size of 1152 produced a 52:48 2PP off primaries of 39.5 to the Coalition, 33.5 to Labor, 17.5 to the Greens and 9.5 to others.  This series had favoured the Greens by an average of at least five points compared to other pollsters (indeed 17.5 was its lowest reading for them so far), so it was hard to tell whether this result signified that trend waning slightly, or that it was actually a not so good sample for the party.  The series also clearly skews against the ALP compared to other pollsters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

EMRS: Liberals Fall To Four-Year Low

EMRS: Liberal 42 (-4 since September) Labor 31 (-2) Green 19 (+3) Ind 6 (+3) PUP 2 (+1)
Interpretation: Liberal 43 Labor 34 Green 17 PUP 2 Others 4
Likely outcome based on this poll "if election held now":  Hung parliament (12-9-4) with slim chance of Liberal majority (13-9-3)
New aggregate of all polls: Likely Liberal majority government (13-9-3)

A new quarterly EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intentions has been released.  See also the excellent trend tracker on the EMRS site.  This poll continues a downward trend in this pollster's readings noted in my previous EMRS article (Closest Gap In Four Years) and sees the polled gap between the major parties close further and the Liberal vote at its lowest level since November 2010.  It's a rather poor poll for the new Hodgman government that suggests it has significantly lost support since winning office just eight months ago.  If this poll is to be relied on, the government would be in danger of losing its freshly minted majority in an election proverbially held now.  The next election is not until 2018 so there is not too much for opponents to get excited about yet.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Comments On The Lambie/PUP Split

This is what Jacqui Lambie's Facebook page looked like before she joined PUP (image: @AutumnalMonk)
In recent weeks the always edgy relationship between the Palmer "United" Party and its Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has spiralled out of control.  Lambie is now effectively an independent.  The party no longer has any influence on her Senate votes, she no longer has any influence on its Senate votes (and is currently banned from the party room), and there at present appears little prospect she'll be preselected for it again (if PUP even exists in 2019 or whenever else Lambie's seat next comes up.) Her photo has been removed from PUP's website, she has removed its branding from hers, and Lambie and party founder Clive Palmer are insulting each other publicly with no discernable restraint.  PUP is a strange party so one would not be too firm in predicting anything here, but this sure looks like an ex-relationship. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Poll Roundup: G20 No Help To Government

2PP Aggregate: 53.1 to ALP (+0.8 since last week, +2.1 in five weeks, highest in four months)
ALP would easily win election "held right now"

A fairly quick update as I have a lot of other work to do, which may sometime over the weekend or so include putting this piece of pseudo-scientific garbage in its place.  This week the federal government hosted the G20 meeting in Brisbane.  This would have been expected to at least allow the government to dominate the media cycle and demonstrate its international credibility.  However, things haven't been that simple.  Climate change was seen to dominate the agenda (probably to a greater extent than it actually did), and the isolation of Vladimir Putin by various Anglosphere leaders was still an anticlimax compared to the threatened "shirtfronting".  Even when Australia signed a generally well-received (if probably not well understood) free trade agreement with China, the Prime Minister still ran into Parrot problems.

But doubtless the worst moment of the conference for the Coalition was the PM's widely slammed address in which he was seen as not only rabbiting on to world leaders about irrelevant domestic issues, but also doing so in a way that whinged about the known unpopularity of government measures such as GP co-payments.  It was a free hit for the Opposition and it was duly and effectively taken.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Victorian Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: Sandbelt Edition

2PP aggregate of recent Victorian state polling:  ALP leads 53.2-46.8
"Nowcast" seat estimate based on this 2PP: ALP 49 Coalition 39

It's taken a while for enough polling to build up to justify another Victorian pre-election roundup to follow last fortnight's, but that point has been reached with the belated release of results for the Fairfax-Ipsos poll taken last weekend.  Why it has taken the Age until Friday to get this data out there is anyone's guess, but at least we have it now.

If you followed the media comments about the unreliable mutterings of both parties about internal polling and the like, you'd have seen claims from both sides that things have tightened up through this week.  These claims always need to be treated with caution, since the side in the lead has an incentive to make them to discourage complacency, while the side trailing has an incentive to make them to discourage despair.   They might turn out to be true, but with no data fresher than Monday, we'll need to wait for more polling to be sure.

Based on where things stood early this week, there would have to be a lot of improvement to make a serious difference to the picture of a very likely change of government.  At that stage the gap was, if anything, widening slightly, but the broader picture is a lack of any major change for quite a while. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Poll Roundup: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

2PP Aggregate: 52.2 to ALP (+0.2 since last week, +1.2 in three weeks, highest in twelve weeks)
ALP would probably narrowly win election "held now" outright

Four weeks ago I declared the Abbott government's budget blowout "over", their aggregate position having come back to 49% 2PP, which was about where it had been back in April.  It had taken almost half a year to get back to that point, but assuming that the Coalition was now going to poll competitively for a while, it was easy to believe that they were on the track to re-election.

What's happened since may bring just a little smile to ALP supporters, since no sooner did the government finally get back to effective parity than its ratings turned around and started heading down again.  As the Abbott government approaches the first anniversary of losing the lead, this small shift back adds a little more interest to the question of when and under what circumstances they might actually get it back.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Victorian State Election: Late October Polls And Seat Model

2PP aggregate of recent Victorian state polling:  ALP leads 52.6-47.4
"Nowcast" seat estimate based on this 2PP: ALP 48 Coalition 40

After a week buried deep in the Hobart City Council count I've finally found time to get stuck into the Victorian state election.  This thread starts with a roundup of recent polling, then goes into the early version of a seat-probability model similar to my one that picked 93% of seats correctly at the 2013 federal election.  The federal election version was whipped up very quickly in the shadows of the post; I have much more time to work on this one so it will probably do much worse.

The new polls

Six polls have been released in the last week or so, by a range of methods.  Two of them have had suspiciously high Green votes.  For the Morgan SMS poll it also had a suspiciously high Green vote in late September, so I'll assume this is systematic.  The Ipsos poll is the first of its kind, and their federal poll published today hasn't shown any skew to the Greens, so I'm assuming for now that their methods are no more prone to green skew than the four more established pollsters.  Anyway in aggregating these six polls at the bottom I've pinged the Greens 0.9 of a point in every poll except Morgan SMS, for which I've applied a very lenient deduction of four.  For more information on this decision see my new blog header.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hobart City Council Count (Includes Some Coverage Of Other Councils)

Wrapup (Saturday Nov 1):  

With the pressing of the final button in Launceston a few hours ago it's pretty much time to bring a close to my coverage of the Hobart and other Tasmanian local government elections and turn my attention to the deluge of Victorian and other state polls that I've neglected while this has been on.   If there are any post-count resignations then I will put up separate threads for the recounts to fill them.

Interest levels have been tremendous with both this page and the Hobart guide logging nearly 8,000 pageviews so far, each from nearly 3,000 unique visitors. Unique pageviews on Tuesday and Wednesday were at levels comparable to the busiest days of the federal election campaign.  I think this all says something against the idea that people are not interested in local government.  I'd like to thank readers for their interest, especially those who threw in a few hundred dollars in donations between them, which I definitely felt like I'd earned after 13 hours working more or less flat out on Tuesday.  It would be great to provide this level of coverage for more councils in 2018, but to do that there need to be more of me!

So what have we found out, especially from Hobart but also from the other results?

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Would Happen If Jacqui Lambie Resigned From The Senate?

This piece is brought to you by the Department of Absurd Hypotheticals, but there are a couple of reasons for it.

Firstly, as the Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania now seems to be embarrassing her country, her state and (to the limited extent possible) herself and her party on a more or less weekly basis, quite a few voters wish she would quit.  Lambie has recently called for the resignation of Defence Minister David Johnston, and a natural response for many was to call for Lambie to get out of politics instead.  

It's no more at this stage than wishful thinking.  Lambie comes from a difficult financial background and a likely six years as a Senator will set her up nicely for the rest of her life.  There are also some issues she seems to care about (for better or worse, varying by case) and she probably thinks she can make a difference to them in her role.  So I definitely don't think she's going anywhere - though whether she stays under the PUP umbrella remains to be seen. 

However, those who are thinking of calling for Lambie to quit the office to which she is so unsuited may want to know: if she did resign from the Senate, what would happen?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Poll Roundup: Three Polls Have Small Swing Back To Labor

2PP Aggregate: 51.6 to ALP (+0.6 in a week, reversing chances two weeks ago)
ALP would probably just win election "held now"

Somewhat against the recent run of play, this week's new polls have all seen modest improvements in federal Labor's position.  It did seem as results crept ever closer to 50:50 that soon we might see a crossover into slim Coalition leads, but it hasn't happened this week - another reminder that in polling, "momentum" is an elusive quantity.

This fortnight's polls

This week's new crop started with Morgan which turned in almost identical figures to last fortnight. A half-point primary shift from the Coalition to Labor was mirrored in the last-election 2PP result, with Labor's position improving from 51.5 to 52.  (The respondent-allocated 2PP, which I largely ignore, came down from 53 to 52 causing the company to describe the gap as the "narrowest in six months").  As Morgan's current methods have skewed to Labor by about 1.5 points during this term on average, this was equivalent to about a 50.5 from anyone else.

The first Newspoll in four weeks (thanks to a public holiday weekend in several states and a desire to release at the start of a new parliamentary sitting week) surprised with a headline result of 53:47 to Labor.  The primaries (Coalition 38 Labor 36 Green 14 Others 14) would normally imply a 2PP of about 52.3 to Labor so it's likely the actual 2PP was something not much above 52.5 and has been rounded up for Labor (yet again!).  As per the standards announced in the smash hit post Wonk Central: What Do We Do With The Poll Rounding Problem? I've treated this result as 52.6 to Labor for aggregation purposes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

State Liberal Conference Attacks Hare-Clark System

 Advance Summary:

1. Recently the Tasmanian state Liberal conference passed a motion calling for investigation into alternatives to the Hare-Clark system.

2. The limited evidence available suggests that the arguments advanced for change were based on false attacks on the accuracy of the system and inapplicable analogies with the grossly defective Senate system.

3. In fact the problem some Liberals have with Hare-Clark is that as a converter of vote share to seats it is too accurate for their liking, and by being so increases the chance of minority government.

4. Minority parliaments in Tasmania are often unstable because of the inverted nature of Tasmania's two-house system, compared to other states in which the proportional system tends to be used in the upper house.

5. Claims that the government needs to strike in this term on this issue are far-fetched given both the size of the government's buffer and the fact that the last major electoral system change was bipartisan and happened in a hung parliament.

6. Indeed a switch to single-member seats in the current environment would not improve the government's chances of retaining its majority in 2018, and would actually increase the chance of it losing outright.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Poll Roundup: Budget Blowout Over

2PP Aggregate: 51.0 to ALP (-0.5 in one week, -0.9 in three weeks)
Chances would be roughly equal in election "held now"

It's taken twenty-four weeks, an air disaster, "combat operations" and various backdowns but national polling has finally returned to where it was before advance reports of an unpopular Budget caused a blowout that at times was worth close to four points in Labor's favour. 

This should not cause very much comfort for the Coalition, since "where it was" in April wasn't by any means  good; based on current figures an election "held now" would be a tossup.  But the view about from hopeful ALP supporters during the initial stage of the Budget backlash - that this was a basically uncompetitive government that was always going to trail badly from that point on - turns out to have been incorrect.  With it goes one of the main scenarios under which this government would have been heading for defeat in 2016.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Recent Polling In Four States

NOTE re Vic polling (28 Oct): Three new Vic polls have appeared in recent days: a 52-48 to Labor from Galaxy, 53-47 from ReachTEL, 52.5-47.5 (with a much too high Green vote) from Morgan SMS.  However Fairfax Ipsos and apparently Newspoll are in the field so we may as well collect the full set.  I am busy with Hobart Council for a few days but will have detailed coverage of Victoria shortly.

This could be a dull week in federal polling, but fortunately new state polling has been released in four states.  The last article on polling from states other than Tasmania was Recent Victorian and Queensland Polling, over a month ago.  This one will cover what has come out since, and updates will be added for anything else that surfaces in the next few weeks.  Beyond that we will be getting seriously close to the Victorian election and polls should become more common.

Immediately after this article was written a Morgan poll including data from all states was released.  Comments about it appear at the bottom.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wonk Central: What Do We Do With The Poll Rounding Problem?

This supplement to this week's Poll Roundup concerns recent results comparisons between my poll aggregate and BludgerTrack, and explains a small methods change I've brought in to my aggregate this week, and also how the hell Newspoll might have got a 51 to Labor 2PP off this week's primaries.  I was firmly expecting this to be the least read article on this site all year (but 24 hours after release it is beating the main roundup), and it's the only one I've ever published with a jump break included from the start. Click on the "Read more>>" below the warning sign (if you didn't arrive here via a direct link) to read on if you dare.

(Image lambied from a widespread internet meme of unknown (to me) origin, example here)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Poll Roundup: Terror Focus Improves Abbott's Ratings

2PP Aggregate: 51.5 to Labor (-0.4 on last week, very little change in past five weeks)
Election "held now" would be very close 

This will be one of my longer fortnightly roundups, there is quite a lot to get through!  I've decided to split the mass into two halves; this is the main part and the really wonky stuff (about aggregate methods, rounding, Newspoll black magic and such) is being split off into a separate Wonk Central supplement and released to mass critical excitement later tonight.  I've made a small methods change to my aggregate, that will rarely if ever make more than 0.3 of a point difference and often make none at all. The change is documented on the methods page and all will be explained soon.

This week has seen a ramping up of anti-terrorist rhetoric and action centred on perceived threats from Islamist extremists connected to everybody's least favourite Sunni jihadists ISIL.  Massive terror raids resulted in the arrest of a man accused (and entitled at this stage to the presumption of innocence) of conspiring to order the execution of a random non-believer, plus a few other charges.  Security alert levels have been raised, military actions prepared, and a range of other measures (some of them contentious from a civil liberties viewpoint) introduced.  There's even been some rhetoric from the PM about how Australians would have to sacrifice freedom for security, although polls this week suggest voters think we're sacrificing both, and like it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jacqui Lambie And The British Thug Far Right

Recently Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie, shared an anti-burqa image first posted by a group called Britain First on her Facebook page.  The widely reposted image showed a woman dressed in a burqa and pointing a gun.  It was accompanied by the words "Terror attack level: Severe - an attack is highly likely" and "For security reasons it's now time to ban the burqa".  The text clearly showed the intention behind posting the image "Do you agree the burqa is a security risk?"  Much attention has been given to Lambie's use of the image but not so much to the group who originally supplied it.

The Photo

The first problem, as reported by many outlets (ABC,, is that the woman dressed in a burka and pointing the gun, portrayed by the posted image as a terrorist security risk, was in fact a leading policewoman from Afghanistan, Malalai Kakar (1967-2008), who was assassinated by the Taliban.  An image of a woman who fought for women's rights in a country that always desperately needs such people has been ripped off without the original photographer's consent or even attribution of the source, to make an implied claim that burqa-wearing women are a security hazard to the west, a view that neither the photographer nor subject (whatever their views on the burqa) would have shared.  To make matters worse, Lambie has since said that she knew the back-story before reposting the image.

Jacqui Lambie is a former soldier who says that putting your life on the line for your country is a great thing.  Here, in pursuit of an anti-burqa agenda, she demeans the memory of a very brave woman who died doing exactly that and was killed by much the same enemy Lambie rails against - the Taliban, a group whose attitudes are such a big part of the "burqa problem" in the first place.  This is not about Lambie's view that the burqa should be banned, but is about her way of expressing it. It's hard to tell whether Lambie is too stubborn, too determined to create sensation at any cost, or too malignantly clueless to understand this.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hobart City Council Elections Candidate Guide and Preview 2014

This election is now being counted - go here for counting commentary.

Introductory Waffle

I hope this piece will be a useful resource for readers in the Hobart (Tasmania) area.  Along similar lines to my state election and Legislative Council candidate guides, this guide is intended as a list of candidates running for Hobart City Council in 2014.  It includes a description of their past electoral form (if any known) and an assessment of prospects.  Obviously there is far more known form for the incumbents.  For this reason I've decided to split the guide into three sections - firstly the candidate list, then the form guide, then an assessment of prospects.  All these will be updated regularly.

During the campaign period voters have received official statements by the candidates, with photos supplied by them.  An online version includes web links.  This piece was initially published for the interest of those who didn't want to wait for the candidate statements, but I hope it will still be useful in presenting a less filtered view of candidate backgrounds.

If there is one suggestion I would send to voters, it is to not just automatically vote for all the same old names. By all means if you think an incumbent is doing a good job, vote for them.  But some voters just pick all the names they've heard of whether they have any good impression of that person's performance or not, and this makes it a little bit harder for new entries than it should be. 

This year we have a new election system with all sitting aldermen (except John Freeman, who has retired) facing the people at once and hence a much lower quota but also a much more competitive election.  We're also electing a Mayor and Deputy for the next four years instead of two.  These changes will mean the election is harder to predict, and I aim to post a lot about the counting when it happens.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Polling on the Mt Wellington Cable Car Proposal

The only cable car I expect to be going up any time soon - Fjellheisen, Tromso, Norway (image: Franklin Henderson)

This article is updated with new cable car polls and claimed polls as they arrive.  

Advance Summary (2014)

1. A new poll - the first to examine the issue credibly - shows statewide figures of 59% support 24% opposition for the proposed Mt Wellington cable car project.

2. Although these figures represent strong support statewide, they are weaker than those claimed for the proposal on the basis of a previous opt-in survey and a previous commissioned poll.

3. The likely main reason for weaker support in this poll is that it did not use a one-sided preamble likely to have skewed the poll results.

4. While the poll shows support in all electorates, opinion is most divided in Denison.

5. Modelling taking into account differences in party support across Denison suggests that within the crucial Hobart municipal area, public sentiment on the proposal is likely to be very closely divided.

6. On this basis while the project is generally welcomed statewide as a potential job creator and tourism opportunity, it will continue to encounter significant opposition in the area in which it is to be built.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

ReachTEL: Liberals With Solid Lead

ReachTEL (Tas State) Lib 48.1 ALP 28.7 Green 16 PUP 3.7 Other 3.4
Interpretation Lib 49.2 ALP 32.2 Green 13 PUP 2.7 Other 3
Outcome if election held now based on this poll: Liberal Majority (approx 14-8-3)
Current state "nowcast" aggregate of all polling: Liberal 14 Labor 9 Green 2

Since the Hodgman government's emphatic majority victory six months ago, two Tasmanian state polls have been seen.  The first EMRS (No Honeymoon For Liberals) showed very little difference to the election result, while the second (Closest Gap In Four Years) was underwhelming for the Liberals, though it still showed them in majority-winning territory.

Now a new ReachTEL robopoll published in today's Sunday Tasmanian, with a sample size larger than the two EMRS polls combined, provides some further evidence that Labor support is rebuilding, while suggesting the second EMRS could have been an outlier.  The poll is rosier for the Government than the second EMRS - on basic voting intentions - and suggests that much of the ALP rebuild is coming at the expense of Palmer United.  The poll also provides fairly good results for the Government's first Budget, but an indifferent response on job creation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Poll Roundup: One Year On / The Magic Of Newspoll Rounding

2PP Aggregate: 51.7 to ALP (+0.1 since last week after no change in previous week)

The Government's First Year In Polling

This week's polling marks the end of the Abbott Government's first year in power.  In summary, the Government has spent most of that year behind in the polls.  Of the seven first-term governments for which polling exists, it is the first to spend most of its first year trailing in the 2PP vote, and only the second known to have been behind at all.  However, it ends its first year in arguably better shape than the Whitlam government did.  At the end of its first year the Whitlam government trailed 43-50 on primaries (equivalent to about 46:54 2PP) in a single Morgan poll, and while there was probably a bit of bouncing in that particular poll, it had been behind for a couple of months prior to that too.  Less than six months later, Whitlam's government went to an early election and was returned.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hobart City Council Voting Patterns 2011-2014

Advance Summary

1. Traditionally, the Hobart City Council is loosely divided between "pro-development" aldermen and aldermen who stress environmental issues and/or the interests of impacted residents. 

2. The current term of Council was expected to be dominated by the "pro-development" grouping which I refer to as the "blues".

3. The first half of the current Council term supported this expectation, with seven aldermen displaying a blue voting pattern and an eighth displaying a tendency to support them.

4. An ordering of aldermen from "greenest" to "bluest" up til the end of 2012 was: Cocker, Burnet, Harvey, Ruzicka, Foley, Freeman, Thomas, Sexton, Hickey, Briscoe, Zucco, Christie.

5. In the 2013-4 half of this term of Council voting behaviour changed, with both the Green and the blue voting clusters becoming much less cohesive, so that it is not even accurate to classify some aldermen as still in the blue cluster.

6. An especially notable shift in this period was that both Jeff Briscoe and Ron Christie moved away from the "blues" and became much more Green-friendly than before, while John Freeman became more hardline.

7. An ordering of aldermen from "greenest" to "bluest" since the start of 2013 is: Cocker, Burnet, Harvey, Ruzicka, Foley, Christie, Briscoe, Sexton, Hickey, Thomas, Freeman, Zucco.

8. Some of these changes are explained by changes in the issues mix, but by no means all.  Positioning for the upcoming Mayoral contest may explain some of the others.

(This article is long and some bits are technical.  However the really scary stuff has been shuttled off to a PDF link buried in the dark recesses of Tasmanian Times.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

EMRS: Closest Gap For Four Years

EMRS: Liberal 46 ALP 33 Green 16 PUP 1 Ind/Other 4
Interpretation: Liberal 46.5 ALP 35.5 Green 14 Others including PUP 4
Likely outcome based on this poll "if election held now": Liberal majority win (approx 13-10-2)
Note: If swing distributed unevenly, these figures could produce hung parliament (12-10-3).
New aggregate of all Tas polling: 13-9-3

A new EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intention has been released today.  On the headline rate the Liberals are down three to 46 (a 5% swing since the election), Labor are up eight to 33 (up six points on the election), the Greens are down five to 16 from a highly suspicious reading of 21 in the last poll (but still up two on the election) and it doesn't look like Jacqui Lambie's recent antics have produced any joy for Palmer United, with the party polling only 1%.

EMRS has a long history of producing results that overpredict the Green vote and underpredict Labor's, so it is possible that the improvement in Labor's position is even greater than shown and the Greens have not made any real gains since the election.  However, while my "interpretation" score sees the Liberals down five points since the election and the ALP up eight, if such a swing was anything like evenly distributed then the Government would cede only two seats to Labor (one in Braddon and one in Franklin) and retain government with a one seat majority (about 13-10-2 with Labor also taking a seat in Bass from the Greens).  However if such a swing was disproportionately focused in Lyons, and went more to the Greens than Labor, then a 12-10-3 hung parliament would also be quite possible on these figures (as would a range of other figures in these sorts of ballparks).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Senate Preferencing Reform: Reply To Electoral Reform Australia

Advance Summary 

(Note: This article has had content added at the bottom, and one wording correction, following further debate.)

1. Electoral Reform Australia, the NSW branch of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia, has recently sharply criticised various psephologists and lawyers for their input into Australian Senate reform.

2. Some of these criticisms are invalid in that they suggest that psephologists did not provide reasons for proposals when in fact sound justifications were - in some cases - presented.

3. The critique proposes a version of full optional preferential voting (without above the line boxes) and a method of dealing with exhaust that is used, for instance, in NSW, the ACT and Ireland.

4. However the jurisdictions in which that method of dealing with exhausting votes is used differ from the group's Senate reform proposals in various ways, including (i) in NSW, having a very low BTL voting rate (ii) in the ACT, instructing voters to number a certain number of squares (iii) in the ACT and Ireland, having a long history of use of Hare-Clark in that system, as well as small enrolment sizes per electorate.

5. Criticising alternative reform proposals as "just plain wrong" when they are defensible is an unhelpful distraction from the consensus among serious electoral observers that exhaustive group ticket preferencing must go, and that any of a wide range of alternatives (including ERA's, despite its risks) would be better than it.

Warning: the rest of this article is long, and probably about Wonk Factor 3 4 out of 5. 

Update 3/9: ERA have now responded to this article.  Their response and my comments appear at the bottom of this piece.  And a very short comment was added on 4/9.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Poll Roundup: Sympathy For Shorten, But Not Votes

2PP Aggregate: 51.6 to Labor (-0.3 since late last week, -2.1 in six weeks)
Labor would probably still just win election "held right now"

Four federal polls have come in in the last few days, and the overall picture is more of the steady drift back to the Coalition that kicked off in mid-July following the MH-17 air disaster.

Two polls, ReachTEL and Newspoll, have put out 51:49s to Labor.  Both had 52s in their previous surveys though in the case of ReachTEL the previous survey must have been very close to rounding to 51 as well.  These two are the first polls by anyone other than  Essential to have it this close since mid-April.  ReachTEL got there via a slight rise in the Coalition primary at the expense of the Others column (especially Palmer United) while in Newspoll there was a two-point shift from the Labor-friendly Greens to the nonspecific Others.  As Newspoll continues not separating results for Palmer United, we do not know which Others those were.

Morgan encountered no 2PP change (still at 54:46 based on last election preferences, which equates to about 52.5:47.5 accounting for house effect) but concurred with ReachTEL in finding a drop in primary support for the Palmer United Party following various rants against China by Clive Palmer and Jacqui Lambie.  Finally, Essential remained at 52:48.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Recent Victorian and Queensland Polling

This week is officially a "boring week" in federal polling so far, with only Essential appearing to date.  Essential moved back to Labor by one point to 52:48, but that was from a Coalition-friendly excursion that no other pollster had been replicating, and so there is no net move on my aggregate, which stays at 52.3.  However, this will reset to 52.1 if nothing happens before midnight tonight, since the probably unrepresentative result of the Newspoll before last will fall out of the system. If there is nothing else today then the aggregate will briefly be based on just three current polls.  So much for too much polling!  At this stage, the touted Fairfax replacement for Nielsen has yet to surface.

The coming federal polling will be of interest to see whether Bill Shorten's clearing by Victoria Police of a decades-old rape claim has any impact on perceptions of Shorten as a leader; indeed, it will be the first time for quite a while that Shorten's ratings have been of much interest or driven by anything.  I don't think we'll know the answer right away.  There may well be sympathy for him in the short term, and then it depends on whether the whole story dies off or branches out in new directions.  More on that next week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Poll Roundup: Slow Move Back To Coalition Continues

2PP Aggregate: 52.3 to Labor (-0.4 since last week, -1.4 in four weeks)

This week's federal polling sees the Coalition's gradual recovery in recent weeks continue, with some of the government's best results since before the Budget.

This week's polls

This week Newspoll recorded a 2PP result of 52:48 (-2) to Labor, this being the closest Newspoll has had the two parties in any poll since April.  Morgan recorded 54:46 (unchanged) to Labor by last-election preferences (56:44 respondent-allocated), which is worth about 52.5 once Morgan's house effect is considered.  Essential recorded its third straight 51:49.  Essential and Newspoll more or less concurred on personal net ratings for Tony Abbott (-17 and -18 respectively), for Bill Shorten (-6 and -8) and on Tony Abbott reclaiming the preferred prime minister "lead" (by 4 points and 1 point). As always noted, preferred prime minister is an indicator that is blatantly skewed towards incumbents and so Abbott's lead has little meaning except that the Coalition is less badly behind than a few weeks ago.  Shorten's ratings continue to bob around with little apparent meaning but it is vaguely notable that his dissatisfaction score of 44 is his second-worst thus far.

All up my aggregate sees the Coalition up to 47.7% 2PP, not too far now from the 49-ish position it was in for about five months before the Budget.  That said, half of this week's gain comes from the last remaining influence of pre-MH17 polling falling out of the system. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

World Chess Federation Election

A Kasparov election poster in Tromso. Just a little one ...
Greetings from TromsΓΈ, Norway (69.40.58 N, 18.56.34 E), a very pleasant if pricey city of about 72,000 people (plus lots of students and seasonal visitors) up above the Arctic Circle.  I'm currently staying here for the world chess federation (FIDE) Congress and four-yearly elections. As I so often write about elections on this site, I thought it was well worth covering this one, eccentric as it is by the standards of those I usually cover.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poll Roundup: Small Bounce, Deeper Issues For Coalition

2PP Aggregate: 52.8 to Labor (-0.3 since last week, -0.9 in two weeks)

Available polling results for this week on average show the Coalition in its best 2PP position since before the Budget, with Tony Abbott's personal ratings substantially improved.  So it may be a surprise to readers to see me offer this right from the outset: that the last two weeks of polling should be actually the most troubling the Coalition has so far seen in its time in office.  The reason I say this is that the recent MH17 disaster was an event that allowed the Coalition to play to one of its supposed strengths - national security - but the voting intention gain has been so small, and such gains tend to be temporary anyway.  When we look past these event-driven aspects of current polling, the government still has a lot of work to do to turn around the early negative perceptions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poll Roundup: A Brief History Of Disaster Bounces

2PP Aggregate: 53.1 to ALP (-0.6 since last week)

"I actually think Tony Abbott is doing us proud.  I didn't think he would, I didn't think he had it in him, but he's put his foot down and now other countries are supporting him".

The above was one of a number of vox-pop style voices in a Tasmanian ABC radio segment about reactions to the MH-17 air disaster.  Interviewees, all or nearly all of them female, spoke about the way the disaster is being seen in the community and the issues involved in talking about it to children.

MH-17 coverage is inescapable in media of just about any kind, and some of the more lurid excesses of disaster-porn (Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, that would be you) have just about had me reaching for the JG Ballard collection in disgust.  But what effect does this sort of thing have on polling and perceptions of the government?

When I put to various left-leaning online political circles the idea that this might see a rather large improvement in the Abbott government's fortunes, the consensus reaction was pretty sceptical: no bounce, or if any bounce lost in the noise.  After three polls out this week, we're seeing what looks like some movement back to the Coalition, but it's modest so far and far from conclusively real.  Untangling what is going on is made more difficult by the government having succeeded in repealing the carbon tax in the same polling cycle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Poll Roundup: Post-Budget Recovery Stalls

2PP Aggregate: 53.7 to ALP (+0.5 since last week, -0.3 since Budget)

Welcome to the first instalment of the newer and notionally shorter approach to federal polling roundups on this site (see admin note at bottom of article).  The previous instalment Turnbull PM: Not Likely Any Time Soon followed federal polling over the last four weeks.  In this time the Coalition showed modest signs of recovery - perhaps by a humble point - from the 46:54-ish 2PP results recorded in the aftermath of one of the worst received federal Budgets ever.

Polling this week has scotched that and left it unclear whether the Government's polling has even recovered at all, eight weeks on from the Budget.  This week's 2PP results were 54:46 to Labor from Newspoll (down one, but from an off-trend base, so effectively more bad news), 56:44 (+1.5) from Morgan by last-election preferences (the respondent-allocated figure was down one to 56.5) and 53:47 from Essential (unchanged).  These three have added half a point on to Labor's aggregated lead and even the smoothed tracking graph now hints at movement back towards the ALP:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Uneducated Preferencing: NTEU/UMR Robopoll

Wirrah Award For Fishy Polling (image source)

This article initially covered the report in the Examiner today of a poll commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union and said to show first-term incumbent Andrew Nikolic trailing in the federal seat of Bass.  However it has since become clear that this poll is part of a national bulk robopoll of 23 marginal (and in some cases not so marginal) electorates and raises enough issues that I've deemed it necessary to rewrite the article and give it a national focus.

The NTEU is not a slavish supporter of the ALP (for instance endorsing independent Andrew Wilkie at the last election) but it is obviously an opponent of the current government's education proposals.  The poll was conducted by UMR, which is best known as the Labor Party's standard pollster for internals (yet is described by the NTEU as "independent"), as part of a large series of national seat robopolls. The NTEU has now published a full data set for all seats (download from link).  The poll claims to find an average 2PP swing of 11% to Labor in the 23 surveyed seats, from 52:48 to Coalition at the election to 41:59 now.   Simultaneously the NTEU has released a message testing poll taken nationally via online panel sampling also by UMR and taken in late May to early June.  The 2PP in that sample is given as 56% to Labor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Queensland Polling: Careful With That Pendulum, Eugene

ReachTEL (Queensland): 51:49 to LNP (LNP 38.7 ALP 34.4 Greens 6.1 PUP 15.4 Other 5.4)
Interpretation based on this poll "if election held now": LNP would probably win; majority status touch and go.
Widespread claim that poll implies c. 40 seat losses and defeat for LNP is wrong.


I'm currently conducting a poll on the sidebar on whether readers want more shorter federal polling articles instead of longer ones with updates tacked onto the end. The results will also be used to inform how I cover state polls for states other than Tasmania.  This piece (not that it's that short) is a bit of a trial run for the more-but-shorter option and will not be endlessly updated.  One of my main concerns about the shorter option has been how to keep the titles snappy, rather than having an endless procession of pieces called "Poll Roundup Week 37" or "Essential: 51:49 For The Sixth Week In A Row While The Universe Burns". Anyway, I hope that the title for this one passes muster, with apologies to early Pink Floyd and to all readers whose name is actually Eugene.

For an extreme example of how I've approached state polls up til now, see my previous Queensland article Is Campbell Newman Actually In Trouble?, which started in April and ran through to the end of June.  The comments on the recent quarterly Newspoll aggregate (51-49 to Labor) bear repeating: while the result was more generous to Labor than everything else about in recent months, it did put a dampener on weak signs that the LNP were recovering from the low-50s 2PPs they were getting in previous months.  The poll also showed Campbell Newman at a new personal low: a -24 Newspoll netsat, giving him the worst result for any Queensland Premier bar Bjelke-Petersen and Bligh.  I noted that if Newman can win the next election he will equal Bob Carr's record for the worst netsat from which any Australian state premier in the last few decades has been re-elected.  That said, given that the poll was worse for the LNP than others around the same time, it may be exaggerating Newman's plight.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Kills State Governments: Age Or Canberra?

Note (2020): An updated sequel to this article has been published, see Age And Canberra Are Still Killing State Governments


Advance Summary:

1. This article examines the influence of two factors on the fates of state governments at elections: the age of the state government and whether the same party is in office federally.

2. Results since 1969 show a moderately strong influence of which party is in office federally, but only a very weak impact of age of government.  A state government that is of the same party as the federal government is generally strongly disadvantaged.

3. In the 1970s and 1980s two very old state governments were repeatedly re-elected.

4. Since 1989, both the age of a state government and whether or not the same party is in office federally have been strongly connected to state results.  

5. It is rare, perhaps increasingly rare, for a state government that is the opposite party to the federal government at the time to lose.  When this happens there are very strong reasons for it, with leadership instability a common factor.

6. The strength of the impact of federal politics on state politics can predict otherwise surprise results like the 2014 South Australian election win by Labor.

7.  Furthermore, if the federal government is of the same party as the state government then there is a strong relationship between the popularity of the federal government and the fate of the state government.

8. Even without any knowledge of events or polling in this parliamentary term, models based on the history of these two issues still imply that a change of government in Victoria is likely.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Victorian Liberals: Going, Going ...

This is an overview of the state of play in the leadup to the Victorian election, prompted by recent polling.  I expect to make more detailed modelling attempts much closer to that poll.  In summary, this article argues that the Baillieu-turned-Napthine government's first-term status provides no argument against the reasons why it could lose.  While the defeat of this government is not yet a done deal, psephologically, it has at least one foot in the grave.  There is still time to climb out, but it won't be easy.

One of the themes I've been following on this site is the way in which federal politics contaminates state voting intention.  As noted in Is Campbell Newman Actually In Trouble? life gets much harder for state governments when they have a party of their own persuasion in power in Canberra, especially if the federal party isn't polling well.  This is also well covered in Peter Brent's current piece, Dog Days For State Conservatives.  Of the four conservative state governments elected while Labor was in office federally, all are showing signs of wear and tear.  We still have astonishingly sparse state polling from Western Australia since Colin Barnett polled a very poor personal result, but it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Labor in the lead there soon.  The NSW polling picture is still re-sorting itself after the shock loss of a Premier, and in Queensland the LNP have only a narrow lead (Queensland polling updates added) and are still struggling greatly to build their vote share to the level needed to make their unpopular Premier's own seat safe.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Nil-All On Anti-Protesting

Last night the new Tasmanian state Liberal government fulfilled one of its election promises by passing the Workplaces (Protection From Protestors) Bill 2014.  This bill was mainly inspired by a desire to crack down on anti-forestry protestors who obstruct lawful businesses.  We haven't seen that much of that sort of thing lately in Tasmania, but based on the new government's attempts to rip up what it can of the forestry "peace deal" passed during the last government's rule, we may be seeing more of it quite soon. Anti-forestry protests are considered a problem not just because of the obstruction to workers they create, but also because the ease of conducting illegal anti-forestry protests greatly assists activists to gain media coverage that helps in their attempts to damage the industry's brand.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Turnbull PM: Not Likely Any Time Soon (Poll Roundup)

2PP Aggregate: 53.1% To Labor (-0.9 since mid-May)
This article will be updated through late June to about mid July.  Scroll to the bottom for the latest additions.

Just enough results of interest have accumulated to start another roundup of the federal polling information that is out there.  But there is still not a vast amount to look at since the previous instalment, so this article doubles as my thoughts on something else that was causing rather a lot of media flutter last week.  First, the basic polling:

Is The Government Recovering?

This week's polls might be taken as some mild sign that the government is starting to recover from the bad polling recorded following the federal budget.  Newspoll is back a point to 53:47 and this week's Morgan sample (54.5 by last-election preferences, 55.5 respondent-allocated) is similar once due allowance is made for Morgan's house effect.  Essential failing to move (it's still on 54) of course means very little.  (In passing, I note that it is interesting to see the massive 17% support for Others in this Newspoll being described as "support for independents and micro-parties".  Palmer United are certainly not a micro-party anymore, and much of the Coalition's recent loss of primary support seems to be going directly to PUP.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Denison Ballot Papers Damage Report Released

In the first few months of this year, this site provided extensive coverage of the Tasmanian state elections. In my Denison post-count thread I touched on an unusual incident that happened during the counting of postal ballot papers, in which the incorrect operation of a letter-opening machine damaged over 2000 ballots.  Announcements at the time said that 163 ballots (a number later reduced slightly, then increased again) were "irreparably damaged and have had to be treated as informal."

At the time there was a clear danger of this damage affecting the close contest between Madeleine Ogilvie and Julian Amos for the final seat (ultimately won by Ogilvie after two lead changes during the distribution of preferences).  In the end the margin of 331 votes was large enough that it was clear the Tasmanian Electoral Commission had dodged the 2013 WA Senate count bullet.  But this is not only clear because the final margin was of that size, but also because of some advantages of Hare-Clark over the current Senate system.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Optional Senate Preferencing: Not An ALP/Liberal/Green Stitch-Up

Advance Summary

1. This article welcomes the recent interim Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters report into the Senate voting system and generally supports its recommendations.

2. One important issue in Senate voting reform not yet adequately addressed is the calculation of transfer values for surplus votes. 

3. A recent article by Malcolm Mackerras claims that nearly all Senators elected in 2013 were elected by informed voter choice and that major parties are changing the system opportunistically while their vote is falling.

4. However, the Coalition's Senate vote only fell in 2013 because of defects in the current Senate system.

5. At least four and possibly as many as seven Senate outcomes in 2013 did not fairly reflect the will of the voters.

6. The idea that micro-parties combined should be entitled to seats in proportion to their total vote share assumes that micro-party voters very strongly prefer other micro-parties generally to the bigger parties.

7. Analysis of actual Lower House micro-party preference flows shows that any such assumption is false.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

EMRS: No Honeymoon For Liberals

EMRS: Liberal 48 Labor 25 Green 21 PUP 3 Ind 3
Interpretation (provisional): Lib 48 (-3.2 since election) Labor 28 (+0.7) Green 18 (+4.2) PUP 3 (-2) Others 3 (+0.3)
Outcome of this poll "if election held now": Liberal majority government (approx 13-7-5)
Caution: Green vote suspiciously high, even considering house effects.

The first EMRS state voting intentions poll taken after the state election is up.  It shows the Liberals a few points below their state election result but still in majority government territory.  It also "shows" a massive surge to the Greens, at least half of which should be ignored given the pollster's long-term habit of overestimating the Green vote and underestimating Labor's. Although the poll shows Labor down on their election result, they are most likely at least level, perhaps even slightly up.

The tracker graph has been updated but here you need to be aware that some of those dots are not like the others; in particular the ones called elections do not have pollster house effects. Compared to the last poll before the election, this one purports to show the Greens significantly up (by 4 points), Labor insignificantly up and everyone else insignificantly down.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Golden Age Of Studybludging

"[..] you are a playboy and a dilettante, with no real desire to ever work, to hold a job, to repay society for suffering your existence.  You are an opportunist.  You are irresponsible. You are a drone."

For the source of the quote, read on.

This article is just a shortish (by my standards) semi-flippant comment on something that interests me in the current Budget debates.

One of the most contentious Coalition decisions in the current Budget debate is a proposal to not allow unemployed people under the age of 30 access to unemployment benefits until they have been unemployed for six months.  The time for which benefits can't be accessed drops by one month for every year a person has spent in the workforce, although how this is calculated if a person has spent many years semi-employed, self-employed or intermittently employed is not yet clear.  Many, including me, have found this policy to be unbelievably nasty at first look.  On Twitter I described this policy as worse than everything else in this and many other budgets put together.

On that ABC program I rarely watch (because I dislike talking-head panel shows and bear-baiting in general) Treasurer Hockey was asked a direct question about what happens to someone who finishes their education, having not been in the workforce, and simply cannot get a job.  The questioner - who spoke very well indeed - assumed, as many would, that the result for such a person would be six months with no income.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Budget Blowout ... In Coalition Polling

Scroll to bottom for latest updates - updated through May and first week of June

Current aggregate: 54.2 to Labor (+0.3 since last week, +2.9 in five weeks)
Tracking graph (smoothed)

Advance Summary

After holding a slim and by no means election-winning polling lead for five months from November 2013 to April 2014, the Labor Opposition moved into a clear and widening polling lead in the weeks surrounding the 2014 Budget, and would easily win a hypothetical election "held now".  The polling position of the Coalition is roughly comparable to the two worst slumps of John Howard's first term, but many federal governments have recovered from similar, and in at least four cases worse, polling situations.

The federal budget is among the worst received in the last 27 years, second only to the 1993 "horror budget" in terms of its perceived impact on poll respondents and providing the worst ratings since the early 1990s in terms of perceptions of its impact on the economy.  Tony Abbott's personal ratings are among the worst recorded in one pollster's history (Nielsen), while in another's (Newspoll) they do not stand out so much, but are nonetheless the worst results he has recorded since late 2012.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

LegCo: Rosevears and Huon Live and Post-Poll Discussion

Rosevears: CALLED. Kerry Finch (IND) re-elected. 
Huon: Armstrong (Ind) defeated Hodgman (Lib) on preferences

The most recent comments are below the dotted line with the opening post - some parts of which have been a tad discredited by the results (!) - at the bottom.

TEC Huon Results
TEC Rosevears Results

Nice results maps at The Tally Room.
Monday 8:10 pm: Sorry for the slow updates; Monday's my chess night.  Anyway it's all over; Armstrong has smashed Hodgman on Smith's preferences winning 57.7% of them; Hodgman with 17.8% couldn't even beat exhaust.  Final result is a whopping 57:43 to the Huon Valley mayor, but the real margin was his survival at the Smith exclusion by under 3% of the total.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Is Campbell Newman Actually In Trouble?

Updated in May and June - scroll to bottom of article.


Life isn't easy for conservative state and territory leaders anymore.  Of the five who came to power during the Rudd/Gillard years, Barry O'Farrell, Ted Baillieu and Terry Mills all failed to make it to the next election, and Colin Barnett won re-election comfortably but his polling has been on the skids (see Unpopular Premiers Have Dire Historic Fates).   Now, the future of Campbell Newman, whose government must go to an election by the middle of 2015 and is likely to go to the polls a few months earlier, is also attracting speculation.

Newman's position has always looked dicey because of the nature of the seat he holds, Ashgrove. Newman's electorate had been held by Labor for 26 of the previous 29 years at the time he won it, and it typically runs about six points above the state average for the ALP.  So, all else being equal, the Coalition would only win this seat in years when they recorded about 56% of the two-party preferred vote statewide.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nielsen: Greens 17: What Is This?

This week's AC Nielsen poll has created a bit of a flap with a primary reading for the Greens of 17%, and that is not the only unusual thing about it.  This result is a national record - the highest vote polled by the Greens in any reputable national opinion poll.  Ever!  Their previous highest results were recorded during a purple patch surrounding the 2010 election - 16% in Newspoll in late May that year, 15% in Nielsen the week later, 15% in Galaxy in late July, and two 15s in Morgan that September. 

The state breakdowns in the Nielsen (in a preliminary version the PUP row was mistakenly labelled "Independent") are especially interesting because they show the Greens on 27% in WA, compared to only 20% for the ALP, despite the two-party-preferred in that state being 52:48 to Coalition.  I've modelled the implied 2PP from the Senate poll as 53:47, so 52:48 in WA is about what we'd expect. Of course, the sample size for WA is tiny, so we shouldn't take too much notice of the figure.  All the same, might such things as a national Greens vote of 17% really be true?

Monday, April 14, 2014

JSCEM Comes To Hobart

Just a quick note that the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters will be holding hearings into the 2013 Federal Election this Wednesday morning in Parliament House.  Here's the star-studded lineup:

The hearings are open to the public, unless the Committee grants a request from a witness to go in camera so they can disclose sensitive information.  They are also expected to be broadcast on the Parliament House website (I'm assuming this is the federal one).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WA Senate Take Two: Preview, Live Comments And Post-Count

Seats Called: 3 Lib 1 ALP 1 Green 1 PUP

Summary and general comments (edited to update as required):

Liberal Senators David Johnston and Michaelia Cash, ALP candidate Joe Bullock and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam are all elected based on party quotas.  Palmer United Party candidate Zhenya Wang is close to quota and will be elected on micro-party preferences.  Liberal candidate Linda Reynolds (who would have won in the first election had it not been annulled) and Labor Senator Louise Pratt were contesting the final seat as of election night.  Both Labor and the Coalition have little over half a spare quota in their own right and the outcome will be determined by the preferences of other parties including the surplus votes of the Greens and, once they cross the line, PUP.

The hope for Labor in the post-count was that the pattern of postal votes relative to ordinary votes would be different to how it was in the 2013 federal election, when the Liberals performed nine points better on postal than ordinary votes.  In particular, it might have been thought Labor's dire final week (with constant bad publicity surrounding Bullock) would have meant that its vote before the last week had been higher.  Postal votes in so far are very consistently showing that the Liberals' performance relative to booth voting is at least as strong as in 2013, possibly stronger, and for this reason Reynolds will win.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Legislative Council 2014: Huon and Rosevears Guide and Candidates

May 3: My live coverage page is now up: LegCo Rosevears and Huon Live
What? Another Tasmanian election?  Yes, I know, the dust has barely settled on the main state poll and it's already time to gear up for an election on May the 3rd for two of the state's fifteen upper house electorates.  I should have more on the Lower House election (oh, and perhaps even the WA Senate by-election!) over the next few weeks but felt like setting up this guide first.  This article will serve as the main outlook and candidate guide piece for the two seats, and will include links to any other articles that arise from the campaigns.  I expect to run a separate live coverage thread here on the night.

A reminder that this site welcomes donations; see the sidebar for details.  Donations assist in increasing the amount of time I can spend on this site and my ability to run it effectively when away from home.

The Legislative Council

For those who've managed not to notice it before (even for Tasmanians, this isn't hard) the Legislative Council (or LegCo) is the state's upper house of parliament.  It consists of fifteen single-member electorates with members elected for six-year terms.  Elections are held on a staggered basis so that each year two or three seats go to the polls.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SA Election: Libs Fall Short Of Majority, Again!

(Note re Tasmanian state election: the seat postcount threads below will continue to be updated when signficant news is available, in the evenings only from Thursday onwards but hoping for more often once the cutups start mid next week.  Links to them will remain in the sidebar on the right)


Unfortunately I've been too busy with the largely-as-expected Tasmanian state election thrashing to even manage a proper devouring of some of my pre-election words on the South Australian election.  I thought that the Liberals had good chances to get a majority in SA since only one state poll (when properly interpreted) had pointed to a strong chance of a hung parliament, and even if the 2PP vote was below 53% to the Liberals, then they could have other avenues to majority victory.

As it turns out they've struck out on both their chances - the 2PP vote seems to have been closer to the final 52.3% Newspoll than to any other poll in the campaign (including the 55:45 final ReachTEL of which no other details have been seen) and the Liberals' performance in terms of seat-harvesting has been not much better or worse than random.  Their best hope of victory now is to scrounge a 23rd seat in late counting to place them on a better footing to deal with the two Independents, but even then, success is not assured.   If they can't flip any seat from the ALP's current lead (or even if they flip just one), then Labor may have pulled off an escape even more precarious than last time.  Of course, the Independents will have the final say about that, but it's much easier governing with a 25-22 majority than a 24-23 one.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

State Election Post-Count Thread: Braddon

This is the last of my state election post-counting threads.  There is now one for each electorate and they will be updated frequently.  During the cutup (which starts in the middle of the week after next) I will be on remote fieldwork and will update nightly, but hope to take a day off at the peak counting time.

SEAT OUTCOME:  4-1-0 (Count finished) 
WINNERS: Brooks (Lib), Rockliff (Lib), Green (ALP), Jaensch (Lib), Rylah (Lib)

Braddon is the most fascinating of the five preference distributions unfolding before us, with a real chance something quite unusual could occur.  The Liberals have racked up a whopping 3.53 quotas (nearly 59%), Labor is on 1.40, PUP have 0.43, the Greens have 0.40, the Nationals 0.13 (headed up by their rogue candidate Ken Dorsey!) and the rest a trickle.  

Adam Brooks and Jeremy Rockliff are both way over quota, with 0.91 quotas surplus between them.  Bryan Green is far enough ahead of the rest of the Labor ticket that he will be elected, though it will take him a very long time to do so.  

The Liberals will obviously get at least one of Roger Jaensch and Joan Rylah over the line and the question is whether they can get two.  Their rivals for this feat are Brenton Best (ALP), Kevin Morgan (PUP) and Paul O'Halloran (Green).