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.