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.

Well, I got that one totally wrong in my attempts to predict it sans polling in advance.  I assumed two historical trends (new governments picking up seats in the LegCo and an apparent waning of hostility to party politics upstairs) would combine to overcome the traditional obsession with LegCo "independence" but instead that latter tradition is back bigger than ever.  On one level the way in which Huon voters refused to follow the usual Tasmanian script of family dynasties is refreshing.  On the other hand, sadly, this result will do nothing for political honesty since for several years hence we will see candidates with blatant party links running for the LegCo as "independents" to avoid a repeat of the failure that the Liberals experienced here.  While there is much to be said against the nature of the Liberal campaign in Rosevears - in particular the use of Kerry Finch's same-sex-marriage vote as an unstated dogwhistle to homophobia, and the heavy-handed justification for running against Finch at all - the Liberals otherwise deserve credit for at least badging their candidates honestly.

Robert Armstrong was a big fish in a small political pond, but he's taken down a Tasmanian political whale (albeit, perhaps, a sleepy grey one) and he's done it without even bothering with a website. Yet another local mayor is off to the Champions League.

Monday 5:30 pm: Jimmy Bell's preferences have hugely favoured Armstrong propelling him to a 4-vote lead.  The margin between Hodgman (!) and Smith is 530 so Smith is certainly out (even if that exceeded the number of votes remaining that would make no difference) and now it is just a straight battle between Hodgman and Armstrong on Smith's preferences. The only reason why Smith voters might think about preferring Hodgman (even if they think Armstrong may as well be a Liberal) is the traditional clash between Smith and Armstrong, who are long-time and far from friendly opponents in local politics.  I would not think that's enough to make a difference to the overwhelming flow of preferences against party politics in the Upper House that we have seen so far - especially given that a lot of Smith's preferences are #1 votes for somebody else.

Monday 5:10 pm: Word is circulating that Liz Smith will be excluded.  However I don't know the margin yet.  It also appears that Armstrong is very close to Hodgman after Bell's exclusion, and if this is true then Armstrong will win on Smith's preferences.  Awaiting confirmation of these reports and figures.

Monday 4:20 pm:  I have been looking closely at the geographic patterns of the Bell vote and an advantage for Armstrong here is that in booths where Bell was strongest - mainly around Huonville and down the west side of the valley - Armstrong generally outpolled Smith.  I'd expect preferencing to reflect that, but it's no sure thing it will do so strongly enough to put Armstrong back into second place.

Monday 3:10 pm: Dillon is excluded and his preferences split 33.1% Smith, 25.5% Armstrong. 24.8% Bell, 15.3% Hodgman, and congratulations to the 1.4% who somehow managed to vote for the bottom three in some order and then exhaust their ballots.  Bell is out now and Armstrong's share of Bell's votes on current figures needs to be 5.4 points higher than Smith's, bearing in mind that Hodgman is still getting votes too and that some votes are exhausting.  If Armstrong makes second then he needs his combined share of Bell's and Smith's votes to be 9.2 points higher than Hodgman's (54.6% with no exhaust, but exhaust on the last exclusion could be 10% or so, so a few points higher).  I rather think that he would get that, even accounting for exhaust.

Note that if Armstrong and Smith are very close after this exclusion the cutup may stall for one or more days awaiting more postals.  Otherwise, it will go right through and finish tonight.  I reckon we'll have the Bell exclusion figures by about 5 pm.

Monday 2:40 pm: The preference flows we are seeing are so much about everything other than political ideology that I wouldn't even totally rule out Smith winning this from here.  Still think it's highly unlikely though, even if she does stay second. 

Monday 2:15 pm:  Ruzicka is excluded and his preferences have pretty much splattered with Hodgman again not coming out of it well (in fact every candidate got more of them than him).  If Armstrong makes the final two he now needs a 52.6% split (assuming no exhaust, so maybe really high 50s.) But despite Ruzicka's position on the forestry peace deal his votes haven't helped Armstrong over Smith at all.  Dillon is out next and Bell would need more than half of these to stay in the race at all, which will not happen.  But the question of whether Smith can outlast Armstrong has a lot more juice in it now that Ruzicka's votes have done nothing to help the mayor.  If Ruzicka hasn't helped Armstrong, why should Bell or Dillon?  Perhaps the Ruzicka vote being so concentrated in Greenish areas that are also on Smith's patch will make the difference.

Monday 5th May 1:50 pm: We've seen the first exclusion, that of Helen Lane.  Lane's campaign came from out of the electorate and was low-profile and hardly left-wing, and her preferences have flowed extremely strongly (47.2%!) to Smith, with no basis I can see for that flow other than gender voting. Hodgman performed poorly on Lane's preferences and Armstrong's required share of remaining preferences ahead of Hodgman is more or less unchanged at 55.3%.  But the chance of it not actually being Armstrong has increased with Smith now in second.  If she gets a strong enough flow from Dillon she might yet stay there (to the presumed delight of Hodgman supporters).

Oh and that's just about the end of it for Bell who now needs his share of the combined Dillon and Ruzicka preferences to be 32.3 points higher than one of Smith or Armstrong.  With both of those strong in the area where Ruzicka is also strong, that seems very unlikely; he'll be doing well to even get that many points of flow himself.  Quite a creditable performance by him though.

Monday 5th May 1:30 pm: 273 votes have gone into the count, presumably postals arrived today. I don't know the number of votes outstanding exactly but since it was around 500 yesterday it is probably not more than 250 now.  This should enable the exclusions of Lane, Ruzicka and Dillon.  To remain in the race, on current figures, Jimmy Bell needs his share of these three exclusions combined to be 20.3 points higher than Smith's.  Given that this is in a four-way split with Armstrong and Hodgman, and with Dillon's votes possibly favouring Smith, I don't think this is at all likely. 

A note re the Ruzicka vote.  Although only 6.4% in total, it was very concentrated around his home area, with 15.3% in Cradoc and 18.2% in Cygnet.  Cygnet is quite a large booth and one that I've long noted for its political split personality, as the town is partly very green and also partly very pro-forestry (it is intermediate between the pro-forestry Huon Valley and the pro-green Channel booths.) The strong Ruzicka vote in Cygnet looks to have done Hodgman quite a bit of damage.

Sunday 4th May 5 pm:  Today has seen lots of rechecking, with a small improvement in Hodgman's position (his lead over Armstrong has increased by 0.17%.)  The real action will start tomorrow afternoon when the distribution of preferences is expected to commence.

Late night wrap: (Sorry, that took a bit longer than expected!) Well that was all rather surprising, at least to me.  In 1998 Labor under Jim Bacon won a rather lucky outright majority and then over the next few years they were able to pick up Legislative Council seats fairly regularly, to the point that they almost controlled the chamber.  It might have been expected that the Liberal Party could do something similar, with recent results like Leonie Hiscutt's win last year showing that voters are in theory very much open to electing Liberals to the Legislative Council.

One could hardly blame the Liberals, then, for turning the rock over, but in doing so they've found something ominous lurking underneath it.  Many voters in Huon and Rosevears, it seems, do not want the new state government to have too easy a path to implementing its mandate.

In Rosevears the Liberals have thrown the kitchen sink at the incumbent, attacking him with TV ads and robocalls tying his voting record to that of the Greens, and in spite of their core claim that Kerry Finch votes like a Green being largely true, the voters haven't cared.  Let's not have any nonsense about the Liberals picking up a substantial swing in comparison to Finch's previous no-profile opponent with no party backing in much less right-leaning days.  They've gone in boots and all in a friendly electorate (admittedly with a fairly low-profile candidate) and been thrashed.

It appears that the Liberals' voting-record-based attack on Finch almost totally failed, and while the risky nature of their tactics may have something to do with that, there's a message that (to my surprise) voters just aren't voting on the issues.  Kerry Finch it seems, like Andrew Wilkie, is seen as having a kind of integrity that the parties of the left are seen as having sold down the drain during the last parliament, if not before.  The strength of the Liberal win at the state election now doesn't look like a positive endorsement for the ideas they went to the voters with - only a rejection of the Labor, Green and PUP alternatives,  and not for what they campaigned on in the first two cases so much as for trashing their brands by "selling out".  Tonight's result hardly speaks wonders for the Liberals' mandate.

Some are even reading federal implications into the surprising results, and while the result is consistent with the pattern that the party of the federal government tends to struggle in state polls, I don't think there's anything in it.  If voters on the day were shocked by the Commission of Audit, for instance, they might have been kinder to the Liberals in the postal and prepoll voting, yet this was not notably the case.

Voters have given Kerry Finch an enormous mandate as a rare MLC who has fought a campaign on the matter of his voting record, opposed by the government of the day (a new government at that), and won decisively.

As for Huon, a tricky cutup scenario awaits us.  I am unsure how far up the tree the provisional distribution will be able to get tomorrow, as there are potential sticking points where the difference between two candidates is exceeded by the number of votes outstanding.  In the absence of scrutineering figures I think that anti-Liberal preferences have scattered among a number of candidates and are likely to pool with Armstrong provided that he stays ahead of Smith.  Armstrong won't necessarily win, but he is close enough if he is good enough.  I'll be following this in coming days - if it isn't all over tomorrow.

NB No updates likely from me on Sunday before c. 4-5 pm. Field trip.  Electoral Commissioner Julian Type has warned that the result could take several days. 


8:57 pm: Just having dinner; I'll have a wrap up within another half hour or so.

8:38 pm: Blackmans Bay is in with Hodgman winning it and we have the following line-up for the cutup (with some postals and provisionals to come):

Hodgman (Lib) 26.08%
Armstrong (Ind) 20.47%
Smith (Ind, ex-Green) 19.10%
Bell (Ind) 15.50%
Dillon (Ind, leftish) 8.18%
Ruzicka (Ind) 6.45%
Lane (Ind) 4.22%

This will certainly go to two candidates.  Let's assume it's the top two - in that case if no votes exhausted, Armstrong would need 55.3% two-candidate preferred ahead of Hodgman.  In practice, there will be some exhaust as voters are only required to number three squares.  A plausible exhaust combination is a left-leaning voter who votes in some order for Dillon, Smith and Bell.   So Armstrong may actually need something in the high 50s or low 60s from that list of candidates.

Based on the disdain for the Liberal attempt to infiltrate the Upper House shown tonight he could well get that.  But it is not clearcut yet that he will.

8:17 pm: Franklin is in and it joins Middleton, Cygnet, Kettering, Woodbridge and Sandfly in the list of booth wins for independent ex-Green Smith.  Just waiting on Blackmans Bay now which will give Hodgman a bit of a lift.

8:06 pm: Waiting on Blackmans Bay and Franklin booths in Huon.  The former will most likely favour Hodgman.  With Smith now lifting to very close to Armstrong's vote, there is the question of whether Smith might beat Armstrong into second.  This would be a huge gift to Hodgman if it happened since Armstrong's preferences would be very likely to elect him, but at this stage I don't think it's that probable.

8:01 pm: More figures in in Huon and a few Green booths have gone in with Smith now moving a few points ahead of Bell, reducing his chances.

7:46 pm: The magnitude of the drubbing in Rosevears is clear with all booths in and Finch winning the lot.  His current margin is a whopping 60:40 and that's not going to change very much.

7:37 pm: Good news is that in Rosevears postals are being counted already, which means we'll hopefully get the already-received postals in Huon tonight (edit: they're in already).  The cutup is then likely to be attempted tomorrow and they might be able to get a fair way up the tree without stalling, since the order of exclusion of Ruzicka and Dillon might not be beyond doubt (given outstanding postals) but also shouldn't matter.

7:26 pm: Hodgman has the lead back in Huon but it's a meaningless one.  The smokie in the Huon count on current primaries is Jimmy Bell.  Bell is not far behind Smith.  If Bell can be over Smith after the preferences of Lane, Ruzicka and Dillon, Smith's preferences will flow to Bell and put him over Armstrong.  Smith is less likely to win than Bell because conservative preferences from Armstrong won't help her.  We're not going to know the result of this one tonight.

7:20 pm:  Finch has even won Legana, the most Liberal-friendly booth at the state election, oh and he has certainly won the seat by miles.  In a seat that voted 59% Liberal just a few months ago they have tried to KO the incumbent by exposing him as a closet Green based on his voting record - and despite the charge that he votes like a Green being substantively true they have still failed dismally!

7:14 pm: Some Huon area booths have come in and put Armstrong into the primary lead!  He probably won't stay there but if I was a Liberal scrutineer I would be looking at that preference pile marked "Liz Smith" and hiding under my chair.  Armstrong may be as pro-development and socially conservative as a Liberal, but he's not actually a Liberal, and that could make all the difference.

7:10 pm: Massive win for Smith in the extremely Green Woodbridge booth, no surprise there.

7:00 pm: New booths from Huon continue the amazingly bad result for the Liberals in this seat given their candidate's huge profile and their electorate's honeymoon effect.  Oh dear, my expectation of a boring count hasn't turned out correct at all!  The way this is looking, Hodgman is actually in severe danger of losing this to Robert Armstrong on preferences, even though Armstrong's campaign effort did not even extend to a website.  I'd think Armstrong just has to beat Bell and Smith.

6:50 pm: Hodgman's projection is actually dropping and I now have him projecting to a miserable 26%.  This is a real surprise and we're in for a long cutup with a serious possibility Hodgman will actually lose.  Much will depend on the order of exclusion, which at this stage is very far from settled.

6:47 pm:  A lot of booths are coming in in Huon and Hodgman is struggling in lots of them - he was beaten by Dillon in Barnes Bay (near his base), Armstrong in Glen Huon, Bell (!) in Judbury, and Smith in Middleton (which is very Green).  I'll enter those in and see where he's at.  This is a shocking night for the Liberals so far.

6:43 pm: And those two booths I mentioned before, Sidmouth and Glengarry, are in, and Kerry Finch has won both of them!  Morris is down for the count already with Finch projecting to 59%.  We are seeing tonight in both electorates a much cooler reception for the Liberals' attempts to break into the Upper House than for Labor after its election win in 1998.

6:40 pm: We have the mobile figures for Huon and these have lifted Hodgman on the overall total, but mobile votes tend to include institutions, hence older votes, hence lean Liberal, so his projection isn't changing at all.  What is interesting is that at the moment with Lane and Ruzicka polling little, the rest are quite evenly spread.  It will take a while before we get a clearer idea who Hodgman's main opponent actually is, but it is probably Armstrong as none of the Huonville area votes are in yet.

6:35 pm: In the Alonnah booth in Rosevears Hodgman has only just beaten Dillon, but Dillon is based on Bruny Island where that booth is.  Thus I don't expect Dillon's vote to stay so high, and the 30% projected for Hodgman at this stage should be an under-estimate as more votes go in.  (Previous post had an error in the projection model; it should have read 29%.) All the same these early figures are a bit underwhelming for the Liberals.

6:26 pm:  And in an early but possibly telling jab Finch has immediately opened a cut, winning the Frankford booth which the Liberals polled 61% in at the state election.  This is a very small booth but if that sort of form holds up this fight could be a fizzer!

6:23 pm: Some small booths in from Huon, and Hodgman has narrowly won one and tied with Smith in the other.  One of these, Adventure Bay, is a green-leaning booth; Hodgman's share of the vote will rise later and on these two early booths he would project to 36% Which isn't great, but would be enough without any strong challenge from anyone else.  Lane and Ruzicka are polling very little.

6:15 pm:  For those wondering about the difference between using 2014 state and 2008 Rosevears figures to project Rosevears, there's a reasonable corellation between the two if and only if you remove the booth of Beaconsfield.  Beaconsfield has a low Liberal vote but a high Labor vote and was pretty friendly to Finch's opponent last time probably because of Labor supporters voting in favour of the pulp mill.

6 pm: Polls are closing right now.  Expecting first figures within 30-40 minutes based on past experience. Not sure if I can match Antony's football jokes; I think boxing might be the metaphor of choice given Finch's Daniel Geale endorsement.

Midday: Opening post: Welcome to my coverage of the 2014 Legislative Council election counts.  There will be live comments tonight through the count.  There will be updates and analysis through following days as well.  Polls close 6 pm.  First figures may appear around 6:30-ish and based on past experience most booths will be in by around 8-8:30.  If Rosevears is close we may have to wait for the large number of early prepoll votes to be counted (I think this will happen on the night) and if it's very close we'll have up to 10 days of postals.

All my pre-coverage including lengthy discussion of the Rosevears campaign can be seen in my 2014 LegCo Guide.  The Huon count presents a common LegCo scenario in which one candidate has an enormous profile advantage and is opposed by a number of mostly low-profile opponents.  It's a boring scenario, it's been a boring campaign, and I expect Peter Hodgman to win his old seat back easily.  He should be taken to preferences but it may not even make it to a final two; if it does I think it will be 54:46 or greater.

Rosevears however is something new and different: a determined effort by a Liberal Party basking in the glow of its massive state election win to blast out a hostile high-profile incumbent by branding him as a closet Green based on his voting record, complete with TV ads and robocalls.  I've been unable to find any useful basis for projecting this contest objectively. I will say that every time this week I have thought it is right on the line, there's then been some new small piece of apparent evidence in the incumbent's favour.  So at this time (midday) I have a slight intuitive leaning to the incumbent holding, but I say that with a very low level of confidence. With the little we really know about a contest of this type, it's possible either candidate could win easily.

My comments will be updated in the main post with the most recent comments below the line so refresh your browser frequently during the counts for latest comments.  I am not aiming to compete with any of the Tasmanian Electoral Office, the ABC Elections site or Pollbludger in posting results. What I am aiming to do is comment on the results as they come in.  Thus, this site is best read in conjunction with some or all of the others.

When I believe a seat has been definitely won by a given candidate the seat will appear as CALLED at the top of the page. Until then, anyone stating I have CALLED a seat will be subject to a Commission of Audit.

I will be using the 2014 state election results as a baseline for projections for both elections once the votes start coming in.  For Rosevears, if Don Morris can keep the swing from the 2014 Liberal state primary below 8.9%, he wins.  Two small and very different booths to watch that might get counted quickly are Glengarry and Sidmouth: if either candidate wins both of those (or even wins one easily and loses the other narrowly) then they have a high chance of winning the seat.  

For Huon, we won't know what vote Hodgman actually needs until we see where the rest of the field are, but anything that projects to the low 40s or higher should be plenty, and he may well not even need that.  The trick to watch for in Huon is that the Huon Valley booths may see higher than otherwise expected non-Liberal votes because of the high local profiles of Armstrong and Smith.

In the very unlikely case that visitor interest melts the site, comments will be posted on Twitter at .  CALLS will be posted on Twitter and some other comments including answers to questions may be; I'll see how it goes.  For those not familiar with this site, if you want to submit comments you need to have (or register) a Google, WordPress, Open ID account or similar, and all comments are subject to moderation clearance; I'll try to clear them as fast as I can.


  1. Why do you feel the Greens or Labor did not bother fielding a candidate for Huon? The Greens in particular have run candidates in LegCo divisions in the past, divisions where they had no chance of winning. So what reasoning could explain their absence from the ballot paper this time around. I notice according to your guide that they polled over 20% at the state election in the Huon booths, so if they had put up a high profile candidate, maybe they could have got a good vote?

    1. I'd think Labor didn't run because having just been belted in the state election they would have had no hope at all of winning the seat (even without Hodgman running) and it's quite likely that with Armstrong in the mix they would have polled something really embarrassing, like below 15%.

      With the Greens, Liz Smith would be their most natural candidate if they ran one, but she has decided to run as an independent, though clearly still supporting Green views. If the Greens ran an endorsed candidate alongside Smith I think Smith would outpoll them and they would finish up with 10% or maybe even less. It would be interesting to know whether the party made vigorous attempts to convince Smith to run with them or not. For all I know her running as an independent may have been strategic and tacitly approved.

  2. As you say Armstrong doesn't even have a website, but he is the only candidate who knocked on my door. That probably has more sway in the rural and ageing Huon?

    1. It seems there are still electorates where there is no substitute for shoe leather!

      That said this is not so much about Armstrong polling well - I expected him to poll something in the 20s. It is Smith and especially Bell who have polled well compared to (my) expectations, and Hodgman who has put others in the race by polling badly.

  3. Pretty even split with the Ruzika preferences. Perhaps because people didn't even know who he was bar his sign? Perhaps the Green voters thought he was a fellow hippie due to his hair and the conservative voters thought he looked manly enough?


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