Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Site Review

Another year done for a site that is now just over four years old.  When I started this site I intended it just as an interim site while I explored other options, but in spite of some very minor frustrations (like difficulty in stopping spammers from even submitting comments) I've seen no compelling reason to move.

This year was a federal election year and the activity pattern for the year looks like this (the units are sessions per week):

The federal election and its post-count events basically swamp everything else.  Senate reform performance reviews maintained a high level of reader interest through to mid-August and after that the rest of the year was quieter, with little spikes for the ACT and NT elections. The massive federal election spike meant that this year had about 128% more traffic than last year, and about 60% more than the previous busiest year (2014).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What Chance One Nation Seats In The Tasmanian Parliament?

Recently there have been some noises about Pauline Hanson's One Nation trying to break into Tasmanian state politics at the next election.  The next state election still could be 15 months away, if the parliament goes full term, and before then we'll have the WA and probably the Queensland elections, which both look like fertile ground for the resurgent party.   But anywhere might be fertile ground if a recent ReachTEL in Victoria that had the party on 9.4% there is to be taken even half-seriously. One Nation's current national surge might fall in a big heap by the time Tasmanians next go to the polls, but let's suppose it doesn't.  I thought it was worth a detailed look at the sort of chances the party might have, supposing that it makes a serious effort.

The case for One Nation as a threat is pretty easily stated.  The party very nearly won a seat in the state at the Senate election, albeit when competing for one of twelve seats rather than one in five per electorate.  Its primary vote was low (2.57%) but it received about another 2% in preferences from micro-parties that might reasonably be expected not to contest the state election.  Throw in regional variation and it's easy to project One Nation above 6% in both Lyons and Braddon.  Throw in that the party's national polled support is running close to double what it polled in the Senate and something like 10% in these seats starts to look pretty viable.

One Nation might appeal to some voters who are displeased with the current state government but would hate to go back to another minority government where the Greens hold the balance of power.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Poll Roundup: 2016 Year In Review

Aggregate 52.0 to ALP (+0.1)
Labor would win an election "held now"

It's about the time of year when polling shuts down for a few weeks, so as usual I will post an annual recap.  If there are any late polls then I will edit the text to add them in.

In the three weeks since the last roundup, we've seen some evidence that the anti-Coalition trend in polling has softened, but not all that much.  Newspoll has come in from 53:47 for Labor to 52:48, while Essential's last three readings for Labor have been 51, 52, 53.  I aggregated the Newspoll at 52.1 and the Essentials at 51.3, 52 and 53.1.  There was also the Ipsos discussed in the update to the previous piece.  All up I have things at 52.0 to ALP, down from 52.4 three weeks ago:

Whatever is going on in February and March is likely to shape polling much more than whatever (if anything) is causing the very small comeback that we see here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

SA's Voter Choice Bill Could Be Better

Earlier this year, the Australian federal parliament successfully passed Senate voting reform, which abolished the Group Voting Tickets that had trashed the 2013 election, and returned control over preferences to the voters.  I've had plenty to say already about how successful that was (performance review part 1, part 2, JSCEM sub (PDF) etc).  However, while Group Ticket Voting has been put in the bin at federal level, hopefully to remain there for good, it remains in place in the upper houses of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. (For completeness, NSW fixed its system after the 1999 debacle, Tasmania has a single-member-per-seat Upper House and Queensland has no Upper House at all).

I'm not going to expend a huge amount of energy on trying to get state upper house systems reformed in states other than my own.  But with South Australia the first state where a move away from GVTs is the subject of legislation since the 2016 Senate outcome, I think it's interesting to have a look at what is being proposed.  In attempting to get rid of Group Ticket Voting, the SA Labor government has come up with a near-polar opposite.  The proposed alternative, while still much better than keeping GVTs (as is just about anything really) is so inferior to the Senate and NSW systems that I wondered for a moment if it was built to be voted down.  It appears this isn't the case, so hopefully parties in the SA Upper House (where the Government holds just eight out of 22 seats) will be able to amend the legislation to improve it.  An interview with the Attorney-General in July did suggest he was open to different models provided that preference harvesting got the chop, which is commendable.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Poll Roundup: Are Australian Voters Grumps?

2PP Aggregate: 52.1 to Labor (-0.3) - updated after Ipsos
Labor would win election "held now"

Another four weeks on since my last update on national polling and not much has changed.  We still have only two regularly active pollsters and their results continue to show a very gradual shift away from the returned Turnbull Government since the July election.  I'm expecting some improvement on the former front shortly, and may update this article should that occur.  As for the smoothed 2PP tracking, it looks like this:

Since last time there's been little variation in the released polls, all from pollsters that don't do a lot of variation anyway: two 53-47s to Labor from Newspoll, two 53s and two 52s from Essential.  I consider these two polls between them to have had a bit of form in skewing to Labor during the Turnbull phase of the previous parliament and so the current aggregate comes out at 52.4 to ALP. Before house effect adjustments, I've aggregated the recent polls at 52.7 and 53.0 from Newspoll and 52.5, 53, 53.4 and 52.6 from Essential.  However, the 53.4 currently isn't in the mix, because of the way I use only alternate Essentials at any one time.  Those who also follow BludgerTrack, which should be everyone reading this, may have noticed my aggregate is about 0.4 of a point more Coalition-friendly at the moment.  A fair slab of this is because I assume that all the pollsters know what they are doing with their 2PP calculations, though a lot of the time I have my doubts.

Since Essential started using the 2016 preference distributions for its 2PP figures, I have its average published 2PP as 52.2 for Labor, but the average 2PP derived from the published figures without any knowledge of decimals or state breakdowns would be 52.72.  So the Coalition has done better on the published 2PPs than would be expected from its primary votes, by about half a point.  In contrast, Newspoll has had a published average of 51.72 for Labor but its derived average would be effectively identical to the published figures at 51.84.  The differences in Essential's case could be caused by rounding, but rounding differences should be randomly distributed.  If this continues for another, say, ten polls it will be strong evidence that something unusual is going on - not necessarily an error, as state breakdown factors could be at play.

We're still not seeing any panic-stations 2PP polling, and the rate of change is slower than the last time the Coalition lost support in a more or less steady fashion over a few months (in late 2014).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Tasmanian State Poll: Rolling Comments

ReachTEL Liberal 45.6 Labor 30.9 Green 15.1 Other 8.4 (Undecided removed)
On raw numbers, it is a tossup whether Liberals would just retain majority (c. 13-10-2) or just lose it (c. 12-10-3)
Adjusted for house effects, Liberals would be likely to retain majority (13-10-2)

Introduction (15 Nov)

A new Tasmanian ReachTEL poll of state voting intention, with a large sample size, is about to be released by The Mercury.  As noted in the teaser, the poll points to the probable loss of two or three seats if the government were to face the music today.  A loss of two seats would leave the government with a majority of one while a loss of three would create a hung parliament.  This will be familiar territory for those who have followed my state polling coverage in the term, as my aggregated polling model has pointed to either 12 or 13 Liberal seats for a long time now.

Polling in Tasmania was inaccurate at the federal election, and has shown large pro-Liberal house effects at both the last two federal elections (but not at the 2014 state election) so there will always be some room for doubt about it.  Another important factor is the potential for a tactical bandwagon effect as seen in the 2006 election - if one party has a realistic chance of majority government and the other does not, voters may gravitate to that party.  While polling says the government's majority would be touch and go if an election were "held now", that assessment has very little predictive value because of this kind of strategic voting.

I have seen some of the results for the purposes of expert comment, but a recent business model change by The Mercury means I will be going about posting analysis of this poll in a slightly different manner.  As I understand it, many of the results will be released behind a paywall in the first instance and then published in the print edition the next day.  I won't be posting analysis of the results until they have appeared in the print edition, at least in basic form, or been freely reported.

As results are revealed over the next several days, in-depth coverage will be posted below.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nats Under The Gun In The Orange Postcount

ORANGE, NSW (Nat 21.7 vs ALP)
GAINED by Donato (Shooters Fishers and Farmers) by 50 votes after recount


Key questions:

1. Will Labor overtake Shooters Fishers and Farmers for second place?  (If yes, Nationals win)
Assessment: No

2. If no to 1, will the Shooters Fishers and Farmers catch the Nationals on preferences?
Assessment: Very close, currently Shooters appear to be ahead

Three state by-elections were held in New South Wales today.  Labor very easily retained Canterbury against token opposition, and held Wollongong now that their regular Independent opposition there no longer has the Noreen Hay factor to capitalise upon.  But the third by-election, the one that was always likely to be the most interesting, has lived up to its billing, and then some.

In the by-election for Orange, held by the National Party (and its precursor the Country Party) since 1947, the Nationals have suffered a primary vote swing that is currently running at 35.4%.  Their candidate Scott Barrett leads on primaries on 30.27% with 73.6% of enrolment counted, but is closely followed by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers' Philip Donato on 24.73%, with Labor's Bernard Fitzsimon on 18.85%.  The rest of the field includes one Green, one Christian Democrat and three independents.

Even if the Nationals retain the seat, the result is still dismal.  This is best seen in the stunning booth swings.  The Nationals were down well over 20 points in all but two booths.  This is partly down to the greater number of candidates running (the SF+F and three indies have replaced only No Land Tax at the last election).  However in three booths they are down by 60 (!) points or more and in two more by over 50.   If these were tiny rural booths with small samples this might be less surprising but one has over 1200 voters!  SF+F are the main beneficiaries of the swing.

At some booths over 80% of voters who voted National last time didn't do so at the by-election.  These are staggering numbers, even by by-election standards, and will come as a very rude wake-up call to the party after a strong performance at the federal election.  The swing is thought to be driven primarily by proposed forced council amalgamations, with the now-retracted ban on greyhound racing also prominently in the mix.  Some are even seeing a Donald Trump factor at work, which seems a pretty long bow to draw, though there is little doubt the US result emboldened the Nats' opposition in the final days.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Wins: Another Major Poll And Modelling Failure

Well here we are again.  As with the UK election, as with Brexit, as with many other voluntary voting elections we have an unexpected result with the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the USA.  Pollsters are in disrepute because most had Clinton with a modest popular-vote lead, but overconfident modellers deserve their share of the blame for the level of public surprise at the result.

A few days ago, Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight was the target of a terrible Huffington Post article and an argument broke out about whether it was more accurate to say Donald Trump had about a one in three chance of becoming President, or virtually no chance at all.  HuffPo was to double down with this rather pretentious piece by a stats prof accusing Silver of overstimating Trump's chances - a piece that has proved to have an exceedingly short shelf life indeed.  Silver's model might not look crash hot in the wake of what has happened, but it still looks a great deal better than those that were saying Trump had only a 1% chance of winning.

Friday, November 4, 2016

WA: How Bad Is Barnett's Latest Polling?

I last covered Western Australian state polling in March, in an article called A New Species Of Strangeness In The West.  At that time, despite increasingly bad Newspolls for the Barnett Liberal government, there was a bizarre and very short-lived call to replace Opposition Leader Mark McGowan with former federal MP Stephen Smith.  Since then it is Barnett who has gone through the normal process of leadership speculation and challenge that strikes leaders who are actually polling badly.

It came to a head in mid-September when then Transport Minister Dean Nalder quit Cabinet and launched a leadership challenge, in which his proposal for a spill managed to get 15 votes out of 46 although there was almost no public support for him as leader (5.5% in ReachTEL) and a widespread perception that his challenge was hopeless from the start.  This would normally be the beginning of the end for an incumbent Premier, but the difference here is that if someone is going to throw Barnett under the bus, they will need to get a wriggle on.  It is just over four months til the election.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Bob Day Chaos Thrills The Crowd

It's so crazy it's beyond even poetic.  Firstly now ex-Senator Bob Day takes the government to court using money that may not even exist to argue that the new Senate system has prevented his re-election.  Then he proves his own case multiply wrong by winning.  Then it turns out he might not be eligible to keep his seat and he says he'll resign, then he flags that he'll hang around a bit.  Then he resigns, and then it turns out that he might never have won in the first place - for a different reason to the one he first flagged resigning over.  And it has been cited as a factor in the blowup between George Brandis and the former Solicitor-General, Justin Gleeson (though it's now emerging that that was erroneous and advice involving a different Senator, Rod Culleton, was the issue there.)

What happens now?  Firstly, while Day's seat remains vacant until we find out whether it is a recount or a casual vacancy appointment that will fill it, the Coalition benefits.  The Senate is reduced from 76 seats to 75, meaning that a majority is now 38 not 39, which is effectively the same as having Bob Day automatically voting with them on everything, with the added bonus of him not even being there to do it.  They're probably hoping the court has some really long adjournments.

(Update: The paragraph above was written before Culleton threw a spanner in the works by flagging his intention to abstain on contentious legislation while his own eligibility is sorted.  If Culleton abstains then the combined absence of Day and Culleton is very harmful to the Coalition,  meaning they need 8/9 non-Green crossbench votes instead of 9/11.)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wilderness Society Tasmanian ReachTEL

Yesterday the Tasmanian Government announced a substantial restructure of the government business entity Forestry Tasmania, which recently announced another financial loss.  FT will be renamed "Sustainable Timbers Tasmania" in what might be seen as furthering a pitch for certification and a positive image, but can also be seen as a deliberate trolling riposte to the rampant misuse of the word "sustainable" by environmentalists in recent decades. (If the latter then I strongly approve.)

The business will be downsized (again) and attempts will be made to bring forward logging in land originally reserved under the now defunct "forests peace deal".  The latter change came as a complete and not entirely welcome surprise to some within the industry.  The changes are being seen as making the forests industry a major issue at the 2018 state election. If passed, they will do nothing to end the great Tasmanian sport of Ritual Forest Conflict between pro- and anti-forestry campaigners, and will provide the government with ample fodder for trying to wedge the ALP based on its record when in government. But first we will have to see if the government can get the reopening of deferred land through a now finely balanced Legislative Council, or if this is yet another episode of forestry-related culture-warring for show but not for result.

Yesterday morning the Wilderness Society put out a press release spruiking a poll (PDF link) it had conducted on Monday night.  I must commend the Society for promptly releasing the full results including all questions asked.  One really cannot ask for more from a commissioning agency.  However, it does appear that the Society has gone off half-cocked and been outmaneuvered as a result.  The poll was released on the morning of Resources Minister Guy Barnett's announcement of the planned restructure, which goes further than the poll design seemed to anticipate.  Also, as usual with commissioned issue polls, the issue questions have major design problems, and the interpreter can hence make of the results pretty much anything they like.

At least, however, the poll gives us some fresh Tasmanian voting intention data!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Poll Roundup: The Turnbull Slide Continues

2PP Aggregate: 51.8 to ALP (-0.1 since last week)
Labor would probably win election "held now" with a small majority

Almost four months since its re-election, the Turnbull coalition government continues to poll ordinarily.  It has still not led in a single poll by anyone, and only now are there some signs that Labor's lead might be stabilising.  With a new bad news cycle hitting the government, oh, about twice a day on average lately, there might even be relief it is not worse ... yet.  An implicit stoush between PM Turnbull and Tony Abbott over the history of rapid-fire shotgun negotiations might have looked like fodder for further movement, but Newspoll suggests it was seen as just beltway stuff.

Most of our polling still comes just from Essential and Newspoll though this week a third player, Morgan, dipped a very tentative toe in the water with one of its irregular phone polls.  The only voting intention result released was 55:45 to ALP, easily Labor's biggest lead from anyone so far.  Given the small sample size and the lack of adequate documentation of 2PP method or primary votes, this only counted for 10% of a normal poll in my aggregate, but even that made some difference.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

ACT Election Live and Post-Count Comments

Labor minority government returned - ALP 12 Liberal 11 Green 2.  
This was also the interim outcome

Postcount Comments

(NB Through the week I will be posting comments here only in the evening, because of work commitments)

What happens now is that votes are gradually entered into the computer and a series of interim preference distributions are released, leading up to the final "button press" which is expected to happen next Saturday.  As we get closer to the full count these should become more accurate as an indication of what will happen, but for the time being it is useful to keep an eye on differences between the current primary count (which is based on more votes) and the primary count for the interim distributions, and also to bear in mind that the counting of postal votes may favour the Liberals.

Saturday: It's over!  In Brindabella Nicole Lawder (Lib) has won the final seat from Labor's Angie Drake by 553 votes.  Drake outlasted Steven Bailey by 307 votes at the second-last exclusion, but had Bailey survived that exclusion he would have lost anyway, probably by more than Drake did.  In Ginninderra the Ginninderra Effect has indeed struck again - Labor with 2.74 quotas at the final exclusion have won three seats while the Greens with 0.78 at the same point have missed out.  This is because two of the Labor candidates had a very evenly split share of their party's votes, and indeed it wasn't all that close between them and the Greens (701 votes for Tara Cheyne over Esguerra with Gordon Ramsay actually ahead of Cheyne at that point).  In Murrumbidgee the Greens are up by 800.  The other two electorates were decided by thousands.

How To Best Use Your Vote In ACT (and Tasmanian) Elections

This is a quick note because there are some incorrect myths doing the rounds about how people should vote in the ACT election today.  I was asked to write this piece because there have been some claims that voters who vote for independents should refuse to preference anyone but independents.  A claim to this effect was recently published in the Canberra Times in an otherwise generally good article.  It happens that the same advice I'm giving here for the ACT also applies to Tasmanian lower house elections, because both use the Hare-Clark system, albeit with some minor differences.

My basic recommendation for both ACT and Tasmanian elections is simple: If you want to make your vote as powerful as possible, number every square.  Don't even leave the final box blank.  If you don't feel you can number all the squares, you should number as many as you can.

This is the key incorrect claim from the Canberra Times article:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Recent NSW State Polling

The purposes of this post are: firstly, to add some context to the dramatic findings of a recent NSW state Newspoll, and secondly, to link to the full results of some late August NSW state union polling that may be of some interest to somebody out there.  I have actually had the latter for a few weeks but because I have been overseas and then very busy it has taken this long to do anything with it.

Newspoll record?  Well, not really ...

The recent Newspoll has found that Mike Baird's status as Australia's most popular Premier by far has come to a sudden halt after nearly two years of stellar ratings.  This finding was also foreshadowed by a slightly earlier Fairfax ReachTEL which showed Luke Foley ahead of Baird as Preferred Premier.   The latter result, while still striking, was not quite the sensation it appeared to be: the forced-choice method used by ReachTEL does not advantage incumbents in the way that the method used by Newspoll, Galaxy, Ipsos and Essential does.  So an Opposition Leader being preferred Premier in a ReachTEL poll usually just means the two-party race is close and the Premier is a little bit under the weather.                                    

The Newspoll found Mike Baird's net satisfaction rating has crashed from +39 (61-22) in January to -7 (39-46) now.   The Australian listed this at the top of a list of the greatest netsat falls by a Premier in Newspoll history.  In a poll-to-poll sense this is true, but it is a misleading statistic as the intervals between two consecutive Newspolls in a given state historically have been anything from a few days in some cases to four years in others.  In this case, eight and a half months is an unusually long interval, especially when the old Newspoll often routinely polled at intervals of two months.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Poll Roundup: Bad Start For The Second Turnbull Government

It's early days, but here we go again ...
2PP Aggregate: 51.5 to Labor (+0.6)
Labor has led since aggregate resumed

Welcome back to Poll Roundup, a series which looks at the aggregated state of the federal polls, leadership ratings and polling snippets of interest.  Nearly three months after a narrow victory in the 2016 federal election, the Turnbull government's progress has now been measured in three Newspolls and eleven weekly Essential Research readings.  It's not a great start for the returned regime.  It hasn't been ahead in even one of those, and is now clearly behind.  Indeed, when the primaries from the early polls are converted using 2016 preferences, a case can be made that Labor has been leading in the lot.

If we look at the two-party-preferred votes for the newly returned government, the Newspoll sequence of 50-50-48 is exactly the same as what the Gillard government received in 2010, in its first three polls after an even narrower escape, on its way to three years of generally wretched polling and, eventually, a heavy defeat.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Field Guide To Opinion Pollsters: 45th Parliament Edition

This is an outdated guide version which has been superceded by the 46th Parliament Edition.

Just before the 2013 election I posted a Field Guide to Opinion Pollsters, which has become one of the more enduringly accessed pieces on this site.  However, over time parts of its content have become dated or specific to that election, and with more and more pollsters emerging as others disappear, the thing has got too long.  I've decided therefore from now that I will post a new edition shortly into the life of each parliament, editing it through that parliament as the need arises.  Pollsters not expected to be active in the life of the current parliament will be removed, but the old edition text will remain on the previous page.

There are a lot of polls about in Australia these days.  But how do they all work, which ones have runs on the board and which ones can you trust the most? This article describes what is known about each pollster and its strengths and weaknesses and includes coverage of general polling issues.

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

Federal 2PP Aggregate Methods (45th Parliament)

This is the methods post for the 45th Parliament edition of the aggregate (sometimes nicknamed "Aggedor") that I post in the sidebar of this site, and which will form the basis for Poll Roundup posts and, later, my attempts to forecast the next election.

The current version is essentially the same as the version running at the end of the 44th parliament, with some minor changes to the weightings and the interpretation of Newspoll.  One substantial methods change was made half-way through the 44th parliament, which was to switch from just using the 2PP figure supplied by pollsters using previous-election preferences, to using a hybrid of the supplied figure and a figure calculated from their primaries.

A simpler version ran before the 2013 election and fluked getting the 2PP exactly right as a result of a preference shift cancelling out a possible late swing to the Coalition.  The 2013-6 version had a final error of 0.4 points, almost half of which resulted from slight shifts in preference flow patterns.

The aggregate is mostly a weighted average of two-party preferred polling derived from all recent polls of sufficient standard.  The 2PP figure assigned to each poll is multiplied by various weightings based on the poll's recency, accuracy and other issues, and the sum of the multiplied poll scores is divided by the sum of the weightings.

The aggregate is designed to be transparently checkable in theory and to use basic mathematics only.  However, it is not entirely codified in advance.  Decisions will be made on issues of pollster weighting and house effects, and possibly other matters, and will be updated to this page at the bottom when made.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Federal Election 2016: Best And Worst Pollsters

It's been a long time coming but the recent finalisation of the 2016 House of Reps election results means it's time to present my in-depth review of how the various pollsters did.  At the 2013 election there was a widespread belief that the polls might be totally wrong, but it turned out they were accurate.  Since that election there has been a massive turnover in Australian polling methods and companies (such that only two pollsters went to this election doing the same thing as last time) and there were more reasons for concern, but the miracle has continued.  Australian national opinion polls have again proved highly accurate.  However, the picture in individual seat polling was not such a pretty story.

As usual I will present my awards in three categories.  This article is quite numbery of course, and is rated 3/5 on the Wonk Factor scale.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Proposed Anti-Discrimination Changes And "Don't Mess With Marriage"

The Tasmanian Government has introduced the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2016.  This differs little from a draft version that was circulated for public comment, but a notable change is that the proposed addition of a reasonableness clause has been dropped.

This is the second consecutive government to try to amend the fabric of free speech in the state.  The previous Labor/Green government introduced particularly extreme changes which were fortunately thrown out by the Legislative Council.  The latest proposals are nowhere near as concerning but they still raise some serious issues about the fair and clear application of the law to a range of differing beliefs.

There are two main backgrounds to the proposed changes.  The first is the complaint by Martine Delaney against the Catholic Church over the circulation of a booklet entitled Don't Mess With Marriage, a modestly worded but in places highly insulting defence of supposed church creed against same-sex marriage.  The complaint attracted high-profile attention and at times was frothed about in the opinion sections of the Australian on a more or less daily basis.  In fact, all that happened was the complaint was sent to conciliation as quite clearly required by the law, and we never found out whether the booklet actually breached the law because the complaint was dropped after the conciliation stage.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 House Of Reps Figures Finalised

I'm not sure exactly when this happened, but sometime in the last two weeks while I have been away overseas, the AEC has released the final detailed set of federal election results.  Although all House of Representatives seat results were already known, the release of final information on two-party preference flows and preference distributions is very useful for many things, including assessing the performance of polls.  Final results are here.  This article is a general roundup of various details, and soon I will be using the figures to conduct an in-depth review of polling accuracy at the election, and after that to start a new polling aggregate model.  There is quite a backlog of other articles that I want to write, so I hope I can get through as many of these as possible in the next three weeks before another round of fieldwork.

The final two-party preferred result is 50.36% to the Coalition to 49.64% to the ALP.  This represented a clear success for the last-election method of preference prediction, which would have predicted a 2PP of 50.53% for the Coalition based on the primaries actually cast.  The respondent-preferences method (on average across polls using it) expected a shift in preferencing large enough to shift the 2PP result by at least 0.6 points (ie Labor would have won the 2PP).  This continues the superior track record of last-election preferences, and I will continue to treat respondent preferences with caution. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

EMRS: Liberals Rebound, But Still Shaky

EMRS August 2016: Liberal 41 Labor 31 Green 15 "Independent" 11 Others 2
Intepretation: Liberal 42.5 Labor 33.5 Green 12 Others 12
Seat projection on this poll: Liberals would be slightly favoured to just retain majority (approx 13-10-2, with 12-10-3 next most likely)
No seats are projected to fourth parties/independents as no prominent fourth parties/independents are yet known to be running

Aggregate of all recent polling 12-10-3 (no majority)

Another EMRS poll of state voting intentions is out.  Also see the useful trend tracker.  After dipping to its lowest level for many years in the July poll, the Hodgman Liberal government has rebounded to a position similar to that in the May poll.  This is consistent with the July poll result having been contaminated by the Liberals' woeful performance in Tasmania at the federal election, and not too much should be read into the four-point shift in this poll for that reason.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

NT Election 2016: How Badly Will The CLP Be Beaten?

Final result 18 ALP 2 CLP 5 IND.  Result will be declared and winners seated subject to any challenges.

Because of fieldwork I have not had much time to follow the Northern Territory election to be counted tonight.  I'll use this thread to post comments on any aspect of the count of interest either while the count is going or in the following days.  The ABC has some very comprehensive coverage (and will have more on News 24) and there is also coverage and discussion at The Tally Room and Poll Bludger.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Majors Stitch Up Senate Term Lengths, Film At 11

When the Senate resumes at the end of the month, one of its first items of business will be to allocate the Senators to six-year and three-year terms.  Today both major parties indicated that they will use the order-of-election method, under which the first six Senators who were elected in each state's cutup will receive six-year terms and the remainder three-year terms.  Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann has stated:

 "The important point is obviously this is a function of how many votes and how many preferences you are able to attract. If you are elected in the first six out of 12 then it stands to reason that you were elected earlier and as such you qualify for the longer period."

Labor's Penny Wong has issued a statement saying Labor will support the order-of-election method and saying that it "reflects the will of the voters".

The Electoral Act requires the AEC to conduct a "Section 282 recount" to simulate which Senators would have filled the first six places at a half-Senate election based on the same votes, as an alternative to using the order-of-election method.  However there is no requirement that the Senate use the recount to decide the order.  While the Senate affirmed in both 1998 and 2010 that the recount should be used, those decisions were not binding on the current Senate, and were under the old system anyway.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Senate Reform Performance Review Part 2

In this piece I continue the roundup of the performance of the new Senate voting system that I started in part 1.  Part 1 covered proportionality, half-Senate projections, winning vote shares, the impact of preferencing, just-vote-1 rates and exhaust.  This part covers  informal votes, the One Nation question, below the line rates, the two most unusual victories (Lisa Singh and Malcolm Roberts), the impact of the fixed quota, the question of verification and areas for improvement. (There's also a brief note about Inclusive Gregory that isn't relevant to reform, but that I thought I should mention anyway).  Anything else I think of may be tacked onto the end.  I have already discussed donkey-voting, proximity preferencing, the abject failure of most parties' how-to-vote cards, and preferencing patterns by state on the Button Press Week thread. Also, lots of Tasmanian-specific stats can be found on the Tasmanian button press thread.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Senate Reform Performance Review Part 1

The results of the Senate election are all in and so it is timely to review how the new Senate system performed in full detail.  No system should be expected to perform flawlessly on its first attempt.  However, the new system has generally exceeded the expectations of its most ardent supporters (save any who supported it for the wrong reasons) and made its opponents' pre-election arguments look very silly indeed.

Two major models of reform were canvassed in the Senate reform debate that ran through the last term of parliament.  The original JSCEM model released in 2014 allowed for fully optional preferencing above the line with semi-optional preferencing (six squares for a half-Senate election, twelve for a double dissolution) below the line.  The revised model released in 2016 initially allowed for semi-optional preferencing (1-6) above the line, but essentially maintained compulsory full preferencing if voting below the line.  After many complaints from the psephosphere (and I especially give credit to Michael Maley and Antony Green here) the final version as amended allowed semi-optional preferencing (1-12) below the line as well.  This change, in the end, allowed Tasmanian voters to overturn the contentious demotion of a sitting high-profile Senator.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Gaynor's Clueless Call For Senate Recount

A reader today drew my attention to this piece by Bernard Gaynor claiming apparent irregularities in the Tasmanian Senate count, and calling for a recount, even including a petition to the AEC to that effect.  Gaynor's concern is that as a result of this outcome Australia will have one less Pauline Hanson and one more Sarah Hanson-Young.  Luckily for those who think one of either or both in the Senate is one too many, both these Senators are actually unique. Neither is affected by the outcome in Tasmania.

In this piece I'll examine the basis for Gaynor's call in some detail, but firstly I should point out that the call for a recount is in itself misconceived.  The reason for this is that it comes too late.  The time for calling for a recount in a seat is before the declaration of the poll (S278 Commonwealth Electoral Act).  In 2013, requests for a recount in Western Australia were granted (on appeal) because of a much closer apparent margin (14 votes) at a tipping point during the preference distribution and the declaration of the poll was delayed while the recount was conducted.  I followed the progress of that recount in an article at the time.

The Senate: Button Press Week

This week if all goes according to plan, the buttons will be pressed on the remaining Senate races in ACT, WA, SA (Tuesday), Victoria (Wednesday), Queensland and finally NSW, and the makeup of the Senate should be known.  I'll be posting some comments about these races and the results as time permits, but I'm rather busy this week, so feel free to add thoughts about any of the races in comments.

I haven't had the time I would have liked to analyse these races in detail, and really you have to sample preferences in scrutineering to have a really confident handle on what's going on in a given state under the new Senate system.  You also can't do it on the night, as you have to know what the main races are to know what you need to look for.  I used scrutineering-based modelling to successfully predict the result in Tasmania (though there was very nearly an upset for the final seat) and it surprises me that I have not seen any detailed public attempt at a scrutineering-based model for any other state.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Eric Abetz And The 2016 Tasmanian Liberal Result

Advance Summary

1. The Tasmanian Liberal result at the 2016 federal election was very poor.

2. Not only was the Liberal primary low, but in the Senate race the Liberals failed to obtain preferences even from "right-wing" parties.

3. Liberal ticket leader Eric Abetz has offered a number of reasons for the party's poor results, some of which are clearly false.

4. In fact the Liberal ticket would have had more chance of winning five seats had a below-the-line campaign for Richard Colbeck been more successful, not less.

5. Although Senator Abetz polarises opinion and was the candidate most frequently placed last on Senate ballots, no conclusions about his popularity can be drawn directly from this result.

6. Historically, there is evidence that the Liberal Party performs worse in Tasmania (relative to the nation) when Senator Abetz is on top of the Senate ballot, but the difference is not quite statistically significant and could be caused by other factors.

7. There is no evidence in historic results that having Abetz on top of the ticket is an asset to the party's fortunes.

8. Tasmania is a historically Labor-leaning state, but this does not alone explain the poor result at this election.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tasmania Senate 2016 Button Press And Analysis


Order 1 Abetz (Lib) 2 Urquhart (ALP) 3 Whish-Wilson (Green) 4 Lambie (JLN) 5 Parry (Lib) 6 Polley (ALP) 7 Duniam (Lib) 8 Brown (ALP) 9 Bushby (Lib) 10 Singh (ALP) 11 Bilyk (ALP) 12 McKim (Green) 
Colbeck (Lib) was passed by McKim and McCulloch and excluded
5 Labor 4 Liberal 2 Green 1 Lambie

I would like to thank all the AEC staff in Hobart for all their help with information on the count and congratulate them on their efficient and punctual delivery of the Tasmanian outcomes.

Friday, July 22, 2016

EMRS: Hodgman Government Would Lose Majority

EMRS July 2016: Liberal 37 Labor 32 Green 17 "Independent" 12 Others 2
Intepretation: Liberal 38.5 Labor 35.5 Green 14 Others 12
On this poll Hodgman government would clearly lose its majority
Seat projection 11-10-4 (Liberal-Labor-Green) or 12-10-3.
No seats are projected to fourth parties/independents as no prominent fourth parties are yet known to be running

Also now released EMRS May 2016: Liberal 41 Labor 29 Green 21 "Independent" 8 Others 1
Interpretation: Liberal 43 Labor 31 Green 18 Others 8
On this poll Hodgman government would have lost its majority in May as well
Seat projection for May 12-10-3

Aggregate of all recent polling 12-10-3 (no majority)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Seat Betting Improves, But Still No Miracle, At The 2016 Federal Election

Advance Summary

1. Seat betting markets, sometimes considered to be highly predictive, returned another modest result at the 2016 federal election, predicting thirteen seats incorrectly.

2. Seat betting markets did however improve as a predictor of total seat wins compared to the 2013 election, at which they greatly overestimated the Coalition's winning seat margin.

3. Seat betting markets also performed impressively in their predictions of "non-classic" seats, getting only one (Cowper) wrong.

4. Overall the predictions of seat betting markets were extremely similar to those of poll-based projections.

5. Large swings to Labor in outer suburban and low-income seats, generally missed in public seat polling, gave seat betting markets an opportunity to show superior insight.

6. That chance was, however, generally missed, showing that seat betting displays no superior insights.

7. In terms of seat totals, individual seat markets again showed no notable insights, and were again outperformed by betting markets dealing specifically with the number of seats won.

Monday, July 18, 2016

2016 Late Postcount And Expected Recount: Herbert

Yeah OK this is kinda closeish, this one ...
Herbert (LNP 6.2%, Qld)
Cathy O'Toole (ALP) ahead by 8 votes at end (?) of indicative 2PP count
O'Toole provisionally won recount by 35 votes.  
Following distribution of preferences O'Toole has won by 37 votes.
O'Toole will be seated and result can be challenged in court, but will retain seat until court (or by-election called by court) determines otherwise.
At least three incidents in which voters were unable to vote have been alleged.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Tasmania Senate: A Model Of What Might Occur

Button press imminent - results and discussion will be posted on a new thread.  Thanks all for the comments - this has been the most commented thread in this site's history by a long way!


Tasmanian Senate model
Outcome of model based on current data: 
Likely outcome 5 Labor 4 Liberal 2 Green 1 Lambie
Next most likely outcome is 5-5-1-1.
Nick McKim and Richard Colbeck main contenders for final seat. McKim appears somewhat better placed on my sampling but contest is too close to call.
Significant chance of Colbeck not making final two and final contest being McKim vs McCulloch
Outside chance of McCulloch (One Nation) win, other micro-parties don't appear competitive.

Note: updates added through count including second model run from Thursday 21 July  - scroll to bottom.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 Senate Postcount: A Very Long Way Still To Go

This thread contains some general comments about the overall state of the Senate race and the campaign.  There is one thing I want to make clear about the Senate race right now before I get any further:

We still have an extremely long way to go!

What we have at the moment are primary vote counts that are often little more than halfway complete and may still move around a lot based on votes still to be added.  We have a new Senate voting system and no past-data experience of how voters use it.  People are trying to pick from this which micro-parties might win seats when we don't know what the final votes are let alone what they mean.

I understand the media's desire to communicate information to readers, but this stuff is hugely complex and I just want people to accept that it is going to take a long time to know who will be winning particular seats, and in some cases we won't know what is going to happen until the pressing of The Button when all the votes have been entered.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

2016 House of Reps Postcount: Cowper

This is just a brief explainer re a seat that is not in significant doubt but that is going to cause confusion. Please post comments on other seats to the thread below.

In the seat of Cowper (NSW), Rob Oakeshott took on the Nationals' Luke Hartsuyker in a last-minute raid that caused the Nationals a lot of panic especially with polls showing a very tight race.  In 2013 this was a classic Coalition-vs-Labor seat.  Because Oakeshott has made the final two in 2016, the AEC is conducting a realignment of the Cowper count by booth.

Because different booths have very different leanings, the sample of booths included in the realignment will cause the two-candidate preferred count between Hartsuyker and Oakeshott to move around a lot in the early stages before eventually settling down.  After six booths Oakeshott is in the lead on that count, which may give an appearance he is winning.

Monday, July 4, 2016

2016 House of Reps Postcount: Vanilla Reps Seats

Expected final outcome Coalition 76 Labor 68 Others 5 Undecided 1
Herbert: Labor leading, much too close to call, recount very likely (moved to new thread)

Coalition assumed to win: Grey, Dunkley, Chisholm, Gilmore, Flynn, Forde, Capricornia

Labor assumed to win: Batman, Cowan, Hindmarsh, Melbourne Ports (see separate thread)

Note: You can now vote in the sidebar Not-A-Poll on what will be the closest seat!


This thread deals with the standard (hence the "vanilla" in title) two-party preferred seats at the 2016 federal election, as distinct from more exotic offerings like Grey and Melbourne Ports which have their own threads.  Usually the Coalition performs slightly better on post-counting than Labor and for this reason I have (for now) not included Robertson, Petrie, Dickson or La Trobe, in all of which the Coalition leads by more than 1000 votes.  Should any of these close up I may cover them. In 2010 and 2013 Labor never won any seat in which the Coalition had more than 50.53% at the end of the ordinary votes.  However with the different mix of postal votes (see below) perhaps Labor might make such a gain somewhere.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

2016 Federal Postcount: Grey and Other NXT Seats

Preferences are being reallocated to correct two-candidate preferred
Ignore raw totals during this process 
Outlook: Liberal retain

This thread follows postcounting in the seats where the Nick Xenophon Team might be in some kind of contention in South Australia, other than Mayo which they have already won.  The big one is Grey but some people are saying there is still life in Boothby and there are a few others worth mentioning.

Grey is a case where the AEC had the "wrong" pair of candidates on the night and these cases always create great confusion because of the process involved in fixing this.

House of Reps Postcount 2016: Melbourne Ports

Melbourne Ports (ALP, Vic, 3.6%)
Michael Danby (ALP) vs Owen Guest (Lib) and Steph Hodgins-May (Green)
Outlook: Danby Retain (Awaiting official confirmation)

Key questions (updated Saturday 16 July, 2:30 pm):

1. Can the enormous declaration vote rate in Melbourne Ports cause Guest to beat Danby on the two primary preferred?  No.

2. Can Hodgins-May overtake Danby on the preferences of left-wing micro-parties?  Awaiting official confirmation - provisionally Danby has survived by about 800 votes.

3. If Hodgins-May overtakes Danby, who wins out of Hodgins-May and Guest?  Too close to call on scrutineering information available to date but irrelevant

Postcount: 2016 Tasmanian Senate

Seats Won: 4 Labor 4 Liberal 1 Green 1 Lambie
Seats In Doubt: 2 (Labor vs Green vs Liberal vs various micro-parties)
It appears likely Labor will win five seats
Lisa Singh has very good chance of re-election. 
Richard Colbeck's position is not yet clear.
It appears difficult for micro-parties to win (One Nation has a remote chance, it is hard to find a realistic chance for others)

Expected to be returned easily: Urquhart (ALP), Polley (ALP), Brown (ALP), Abetz (Lib), Parry (Lib), Duniam (Lib), Whish-Wilson (Green), Lambie (JLN)

Bilyk (ALP), Singh (ALP), McKim (Green), Bushby (Lib), Colbeck (Lib) are contesting final four seats, together with various micro-party lead candidates.

Current assessment 5-4-2-1 to Labor or 5-5-1-1 are most likely


Note: I have decided to put some new modelling of this contest in a new post.  Go to Tasmania Senate: A Model Of What Might Occur for my latest comments, though those below are also often still relevant.

Election Wrap: A Total Mess!

ELECTION OUTCOME: Hung parliament or narrow Coalition majority

Apparent Coalition Wins: 69
Apparent Labor Wins: 64
Apparent Crossbench Wins: 5

Links to threads will be added here.

Undecided Seats (12):

Coalition vs ALP (9):
Flynn (see below)

Coalition vs NXT

Coalition vs ALP or Greens

ALP vs Greens

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Election night arrangements and election watching tips

Live coverage over here starting about 6 pm

When will we know?

We should get exit polls right after 6 pm, which are still a bit of a vague science in this country.  Votes will build up from maybe 6:30 and if the result isn't close we could know who has won the Reps in a couple of hours.  This is especially likely if the Coalition does better than expected on either the 2PP or its sandbagging of Labor marginals. However there's a fairly high chance based on current polling the result (the winner and/or if there's a majority) will be either not quite nailed down or very much up in the air at the end of tonight's counting.

There have been serious information transmission failures in at least one state election or by-election recently (forget which one) so don't be too surprised if there are website issues at either the AEC or ABC end.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Final Poll And Campaign Roundup: Was It Really So Bad Now?

2PP aggregate smoothed tracking graph. Probably final

EXPECTED FINAL 2PP Aggregate: 50.8 to Coalition
CAUTION: Final polls appear herded
Seat Projection if this is the actual 2PP: Probable Coalition majority win (approx 79-65-6)
Subjective prediction 78-65-7 (plus or minus lots!)
NXT seat outcome in SA is unpredictable - could win none or lots

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Seat Betting Watch: The Last Few Days

I'll start a final poll roundup tonight with the release of Ipsos, and try to make a few coherent general comments about the state of the campaign then.  This separate piece continues my monitoring of the seat betting markets, because the predictiveness of betting markets is frequently a matter of discussion.  Seat betting markets performed indifferently at the 2013 election and it will be interesting to see if they do better this time around.  This election lacks the major challenge of the 2013 poll (a massive difference between national polling and seat polling) but there are new problems to make things challenging for people betting on the outcomes.  These include the large number of unpredictable minor-party challenges (especially in South Australia) and also the unclear impact of the Xenophon Team on the preference situation.

I had some interesting insight into the shallowness of some of the specialty betting markets (2PP, clean sweeps and so on) when someone contacted me about some of the odds and then threw money at them, resulting in substantial and rapid changes.  It would be interesting to have some information about how many people are actually betting on some of these markets; in some cases it is probably not very many.

 This is how things line up on the seat betting markets at present.  A seat is considered close if both parties are at $3 or less on any market:

Loss (Coalition to Labor): Barton*, Paterson*
Close Loss (Coalition to Labor): Solomon, Dobell*,  Eden-Monaro,  Macarthur,  Capricornia, Burt, Petrie, Page, Lyons
Close Loss (Coalition to NXT): Mayo
Loss (PUP to Coalition): Fairfax
Tied: Cowan (split markets)

ALP Close Holds: Batman (vs Grn), Greenway, Chisholm
Coalition Close Holds: Banks,  Gilmore, Macquarie, Cowper (vs IND), Brisbane, Flynn, Forde, Grey (vs NXT), Barker (vs NXT),  Hindmarsh, Braddon, Bass, Deakin, Dunkley, Hasluck, Swan

In the last week Lyons has moved into the Labor pile following a 45:55 ReachTEL (though on the public evidence I think Labor are still too short here).  NXT has become the favourite in Mayo and Cowan has moved to the fence.  Mark the Ballot has great detailed tracking of the Sportsbet odds; I can add that Batman has briefly been tied during the last week but hasn't stayed there for long.

Here's the colour-coded tracker:

Key to colours:

Dark blue - Coalition favoured in all markets
Light blue - Coalition favoured in some markets, tied in others
Grey - seat tied, or different favourites in different markets
Pink - Labor favoured in some markets, tied in others
Red - Labor favoured in all markets
Dark green - Green favoured in all markets
Orange - NXT favoured in all markets

While the Coalition has lost one net seat in which it is favourite, it has regained ground on my "close seat adjusted" total.  Mark the Ballot's graph of the sum of seat probabilities as perceived by the market (with longshots chopped out) shows Labor shedding about five seats over the past few weeks.  All this is consistent with the markets gradually adjusting to a small shift in national polls that began in the second week of June.

The various totals markets are expecting about the same thing.  The William Hill banded seat market expects 79 seats with 76-80 the shortest range.  The William Hill exact seat market expects 77.6 seats on average with 79-80 seats as joint favourites at $12.  Oddly the Centrebet exact seat market has 77 seats favourite at just $3.50 (and if you think Labor will win outright and can get the margin right, that's good for at least $100) - the average there comes to 78.3.  The Sportsbet 2PP market has finally fallen into line with other markets with 50-51 now the favourite range.

At the last election we saw a lot of media reporting of Monte Carlo models where people ran, say, 10000 runs of the seat-betting probabilities in the different seats and on that basis concluded that Labor had no chance of winning majority government. The same exercise gives the same result this time. I haven't seen so much of that this time around but I should point out that while such exercises are fun they provide no useful information about what markets are thinking, or indeed about anything at all.

The reason is that they depend on the assumption that seat probabilities are independent, so that, for instance, the Coalition winning Lindsay doesn't change the Coalition's chance of winning Banks.  But in reality if you know the Coalition wins a given seat, this makes it more likely that its national 2PP is good, and hence increases the chance of it winning others.  If there is a national swing or a national polling error then this changes the correct odds in almost every seat, and punters know there is a chance of this.  Such models don't even show that the chance of one side winning is such-and-such if there isn't a national swing in the last few days (or a polling error), because if we knew we had the 2PP right we could be far more confident about more seats.  The way to determine what markets "think" the seat tally will be, and with what spread of possible outcomes, is to look at markets that are directly about seat tallies.

Seat Poll Model

My seat poll model (limited to objective information as it is, but with some subjective calls regarding weightings) currently largely agrees with the betting markets - it expects about 78 Coalition seat wins based on current national polling.  If the national polling changes then so does the seat estimate.  It has Labor favourites in the following Coalition seats: Barton, Paterson, Dobell, Petrie, Capricornia, Lyons, Solomon, Cowan (which it thinks is extremely shaky, and so do the markets and so do I) and Burt.  It disagrees mildly with the markets about Macarthur (where it has a 53% Coalition retain chance assuming no further 2PP change) and Eden-Monaro and Page (neither of which have had a neutral seat poll; if I add commissioned seat polls then both flip.)  Although it has the Coalition favourite in 83 seats, I am currently overriding Mayo based on seat-polls combined with my NXT modelling attempts.  Of the rest it thinks there are enough shaky Coalition seats for the Coalition to be expected to lose about five of the seats in which it is favourite, and to pick up about one seat from Labor.  However the shortage of data about ALP seats is so severe that the model cannot single out any specific seat with a very high chance of going against the flow.  It just says it will probably happen somewhere.

The problem with the national polling my model is based on is that yet again it is all several days old.  If things have changed in the final week we will not get a hint until tonight, and will then need more polls to confirm, by which time it will all be over!

Updates or extra detail, especially re notable betting movements (if any) will be added to this site tomorrow and tomorrow night.  If you see a seat "flip" in betting, feel free to let me know.


Split Market In Batman: As of 4 pm Friday Bhathal (Green) has become favourite in Batman on at least one market but not yet all of them.  Also the seat of Melbourne Ports is tightening with the Liberals in to $4.50 from $7 a few days ago.  (The problem in Melbourne Ports is that Michael Danby is being targeted by the Greens, who could push him into third, at which point they might struggle to get enough preferences given Danby's anti-Green stance.)

Libs Favourite In Cowan: Betting markets now favour Liberal Luke Simpkins in Cowan, making the Coalition favourite in 80 seats.

Murray: I've pretty much ignored this intra-Coalition contest but the Nationals have hit the lead.

Cowper Flips: As noted in comments, Cowper has flipped and Rob Oakeshott is favourite at $1.75 Sportsbet $1.65 Crownbet while William Hill have pulled the market on it.  That means the current list of seat favourites has Coalition 79 Labor 64 and Others 7.

Final (2am election day):

Loss (Coalition to Labor): Barton*, Paterson*, Dobell, Solomon
Close Loss (Coalition to Labor): Eden-Monaro,  Macarthur,  Capricornia, Burt, Petrie, Page, Lyons
Close Loss (Coalition to NXT): Mayo
Close Loss (Coalition to IND): Cowper
Loss (PUP to Coalition): Fairfax
Tied (ALP vs Green): Batman (split markets)

ALP Close Holds:  Greenway, Chisholm
Coalition Close Holds: Robertson, Gilmore, Macquarie, Brisbane,  Grey (vs NXT), Barker (vs NXT),  Hindmarsh, Braddon, Cowan

Key to colours:

Dark blue - Coalition favoured in all markets
Light blue - Coalition favoured in some markets, tied in others
Grey - seat tied, or different favourites in different markets
Pink - Labor favoured in some markets, tied in others
Red - Labor favoured in all markets
Dark green - Green favoured in all markets
Orange - NXT favoured in all markets
Purple - Ind favoured in all markets

Total of favourites: Coalition 79 Labor 64.5 Green 1.5 Ind 3 NXT 1 KAP 1 
Close seat adjusted: Coalition 79.6 Labor 63.6 Green 1.5 Ind 2.7 NXT 1.6 KAP 1

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite Is An Even Worse Idea Now

Last year I wrote a piece called A Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite Is A Terrible Idea.  At the time I wrote it, Tony Abbott was still Prime Minister, albeit not for long, and the proposed plebiscite (or "non-binding referendum" if you prefer) was just a silly rumour being fanned by foolish Liberal-aligned op-eds.

I made the following basic points:

* The plebiscite would not generate new knowledge since it is already clear that Australian voters support same-sex marriage.
* The majority voice is irrelevant because the right of two consenting adults to marry each other should be recognised, since there is no reason to allow the majority to impugn it in a liberal democracy.
* Australia has resolved far more difficult issues without recourse to a referendum, and to subject same-sex marriage to such a vote opens the door for constant demands for unnecessary national votes on other subjects.
* The plebiscite would not be binding.
* A plebiscite, even if passed, stigmatises people in (or seeking) same-sex relationships by implying that their relationships were problematic enough to require the consent of society.
* At a time when Australia is in debt, a plebiscite is an unconscionable waste of public money unless a need for it can be demonstrated.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Does The Coalition Need Far-Right Preferences To Win?

I had this bit in my Poll Roundup, but decided it was too long, so I moved it to a separate article and expanded it a bit.  It gets a bit ranty in places; beware.

Bill Shorten yesterday claimed the following:

“It is clear that if Mr Turnbull is any hope to retain a range of seats in the government column, he is going to rely upon the votes of more extreme views, which are not healthy for this Australian democracy.

The only formula whereby he can win this election is if parties like One Nation give him the preferences that allow him to govern, and the problem with Mr Turnbull getting another chance at government is we’ve already seen him surrender his values and his views on climate change, on marriage equality. We see that elements of the conservatives within his party giving him orders and instructions. What we see is a weak Prime Minister hostage to the right wing of his party, hostage to the political fortunes of even more right-wing parties outside his government.”

This was part of a general theme of trying to liken Malcolm Turnbull to David Cameron that Shorten had going, and I have to say that Shorten has been much more inventive, combative and spirited in trying to turn Brexit to his advantage than I expected.  Whether this culture-warring works anywhere outside Labor-vs-Green seats, we will soon see.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

ReachTEL Says Lyons Going, North In Doubt

Note: National poll updates are continuing in the rolling poll roundup below.

ReachTEL: Bass and Braddon 50-50, Lyons 55-45 to Labor, Franklin 59-41 to Labor, Denison 65-35 Wilkie vs Labor
Interpretation: Bass 51-49 Liberal, Braddon 51-49 Labor, Lyons 54-46 Labor, Franklin 58-42, Denison see below
(Poll taken before Brexit and Launceston university funding announcement)

The Mercury has released ReachTEL polling of the five Tasmanian federal electorates.  For my general background to them see The Five Tasmanian House Of Representatives Seats and for a previous ReachTEL from mid-May see ReachTEL Points To Tasmanian Status Quo.  It isn't pointing that way any longer.  There is also some Senate-related polling coming that I will cover in an update to this piece.

The previous Mercury poll had all three Liberal incumbents (Andrew Nikolic in Bass, Brett Whiteley in Braddon and Eric Hutchinson in Lyons) in fairly comfortable positions.  Although their two-party preferred votes were only 51% in two cases and 53% in the third, these were based on a strong flow of respondent-allocated preferences and in reality the leads were greater.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Rolling Poll Roundup: The Final Week

2PP Aggregate: 50.6 to Coalition (Ended last week at 50.5)
Seat estimate if this is the final 2PP: 78 Coalition 66 Labor 6 Other
Voting intention may be volatile in final week because of Brexit. (Or not.)

Smoothed 2PP Aggregate. Graph last updated 26 June post Newspoll
Here's another rolling roundup of incoming polls, which will probably run at least until the middle of election week.  For last week's see here, and for my thoughts on the state of the betting markets through last week (and reasons for caution about the current projections of a narrow Coalition win) see here. New polls and thoughts will be added, and the aggregate graph and header updated, through the week as polls arrive.

I've been eagerly awaiting the fresh data in this evening's national ReachTEL, given that as usual in this rather sparsely-polled election, there were no national data that were less than five days old.  Especially it was important to see whether national polls had picked up the shift to Labor implied in that batch of commissioned ReachTELs in NSW earlier this week.  If that shift was real, then Labor's Medicare scare campaign may have bitten hard, and it would not have been surprising to see the Coalition drop a few points off its primary vote tonight.  Tasmanian polling which I will report on tomorrow is also none too flashy for the government.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Horse-Race Overview And Betting Roundup: Are Labor Too Long?

(Note: This post was actually released 23 June, not 18 June as for some strange reason stated!)

It's just about time to rule a line under the rolling poll roundup that I ran through the last several days and write something new about the overall horse-race picture.  A new rolling roundup will be started when there is a new national poll (most likely ReachTEL on Friday night).

The national polling data that we have on this election at the moment all dates from Sunday or earlier.  Only Newspoll is even dominated by data from last weekend.  The two-party picture is persistently close, and the Coalition's advantage in seat projections is not massive, but betting markets offer headline odds that imply it's almost a done deal.  Many people have suggested to me over the last few weeks that Labor are way too long, and that odds of $3 or $4 might be understandable, but surely not $6 and upwards as has been seen at times.

My own polling aggregate (which, I should restate, describes the state of play at a given time - it is not by itself a prediction) has found the Coalition to be in a winning position at all times since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister.  The Coalition has sometimes slipped below 50% two-party-preferred, but has never yet fallen below 76 seats on my projection of what would happen in an election "held now" at the time.  However, it hasn't had a big lead for a long time.

Rolling Poll Roundup: ReachTEL vs The Rest?

2PP Aggregate: 50.3 to Coalition (ended last week at 50.6, week before 50.3)
Seat projection for this 2PP: probable Coalition majority (estimated 77-67-6)
(at time of starting this rolling roundup, aggregate was 50.7)

2PP aggregate tracking graph.  Last updated 21 June
As foreshadowed at the end of the previous session I've decided to put out a rolling poll roundup thread to cover the time from the new polls out on Friday night until at least the expected release of Essential on Tuesday.  Updates will be added at the bottom as new polls arrive.

As I write a difference between one poll, ReachTEL, and the other most recently released polls (Ipsos, Morgan and Essential) has developed.  ReachTEL had the Coalition at 50-50 2PP last week and 51-49 this week, using respondent allocated preferences, but if last election preferences are used both polls come out to about 52-48 to Coalition.  Meanwhile Ipsos, Morgan and Essential have all issued headline rates of 51:49 to Labor.  ReachTEL had the Coalition primary on 42.7 last week and 43.5 this week while Ipsos had it on 39 and Essential on 41.  We're still looking for Morgan's primary results and expect to find them somewhere between the black box of MH-370 and the sign that reads "Beware of the Leopard", but the Coalition was probably on 40 or less with them too.

Friday, June 17, 2016

List of Senate How-To-Vote Card Preferences


This is a resource piece that will be updated as information comes to hand.  It is simply a list of the Senate preference recommendations on party how-to-vote cards by state, with some comments as I feel inclined to add them.  I will not be writing a similar piece for the House of Representatives.  Note that the ABC Senate Guides also show HTV card scans for many parties (indeed a lot more than listed here) though at the time of writing they are missing some that I have.

Senate how-to-votes are of interest because in the new Senate system, voters decide their own preferences, but many will follow how-to-vote cards in so doing.  Typically something like half of major party voters are likely to follow cards (more accurate assessments are probably available elsewhere in the psephosphere) but the card-follow rate among Greens voters is very low.  Under the new Senate system it is possible voters will be more reliant on these cards than normal.  Knowing who these cards preference may be important in projecting the outcome early in the post-count, as will high-quality scrutineering (but I doubt that there will be too much of that.)

Following a how-to-vote card and then stopping after six boxes weakens the power of your vote and I strongly recommend voting beyond six boxes if voting above the line.  See How To Best Use Your Vote In The New Senate System.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Poll Roundup and Seat Betting Watch: National Poll Drought Edition

2PP: 50.3 to Coalition (same as end of last week, +0.5 in two weeks)
Coalition would probably win election if everyone voted now, probably with small majority (seat projection 78-67-5)

The 2016 federal election is underway! Prepoll voting has already started and we're just sixteen days away from the main game.  And yet, courtesy of a long weekend and perhaps media disinterest in splashing out on polls this time around, the evidence of what is going on in nationwide voting intentions is very limited indeed.  (We do have evidence of who is paying attention though.  Check out Morgan's very believable list of the most and least engaged electorates.)

For all that trendy stuff about how we're being swamped with polls, as I write we have just one national sample that is entirely less than one week old, and that will stop being true some time tonight.  Unless the overdue Morgan finally appears (which apparently it will sometime), we may be left with the infamously trend-averse Essential as the only poll with any data less than one week old until ReachTEL and Ipsos come along on Friday night.  The non-appearance of Newspoll this week makes this the first time since 1990 that the Newspoll brand has gone this late into a campaign before switching to weekly polling.

So if federal voting intention has changed significantly in the last week, we may well not even know. It doesn't seem like it has based on seat poll results and murmers from party insiders, but it's hard to tell which of these sources of knowledge is least reliable.

Polls ... you don't know what you've got til its gone! (I dislike that song, by the way.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tasmania Senate 2016: Prospects and Guide

Likely outcome 4 Liberal 4 Labor 2 Green + Lambie with 12th seat unpredictable
Final seat between Liberal, Labor, Lambie Network or a micro-party

Tasmania's list of Senate candidates has been released.  The state has 58 candidates, including 21 party groups and five ungrouped candidates (two of whom are running for parties).  This compares with 54 candidates in 23 party groups (plus one ungrouped) in 2013.  The new Senate system should have the impact over time of discouraging so many micro-parties from wasting their deposits and cluttering up the ballot paper, but because it's the first time and it's a double dissolution, a lot of them have decided to try their luck anyway.  (There's a scurrilous theory that some of them are part of an organised flood of the ballot.)

This piece gives some basic information and views about the parties and lead candidates, and some general background to the contest.  The party candidate section, in places, represents my own opinions of the candidates and parties.  There are a few obnoxious candidates on the Tasmanian ballot  and I have no hesitation in warning voters about these people.  There are also some parties that may not be what they seem.

For advice about how to best use the Senate system to vote see How To Best Use Your Vote In The New Senate System.  I have listed how-to-vote cards for the parties here, but my advice is to ignore them since following any how-to-vote card weakens your vote.

Also see ReachTEL Says Lyons Going, North In Doubt for some comments on some rather vague Senate related polling for Lisa Singh, Richard Colbeck and Jacqui Lambie.

Friday, June 10, 2016

How To Best Use Your Vote In The New Senate System

This piece is written to provide advice on the best way voters can use their vote effectively in the new Senate system.  Many regular readers of the site will already be aware of many of the points below.  I hope the main part of the post will also be useful, however, for those who want to know what advice to give less politically engaged (or more easily confused) voters.  I will vote below the line and number every square under the new system, and I'm sure many other readers will too (at least in the smaller states!), but not everyone is up for that.

Under the old Senate system, you had a very simple choice.  You could vote for a party above the line and your vote would be distributed according to your party's registered ticket, or you could vote for candidates below the line, in which case you knew you had to number nearly all the squares or your vote would not be counted.

That old system has been scrapped.  Voting all the way below the line for sometimes 100+ candidates was too difficult, confusing or time consuming for most voters, and above-the-line voting was being gamed by micro-party preference deals that meant most voters would have no idea what their vote would actually do.  Not only that, but problems with this system meant that the loss of a small number of votes in WA caused the whole WA Senate election to have to be re-run at massive cost.