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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: Fear Of A Hung Parliament Edition

2PP Aggregate: 50.2 to Labor (unchanged)
Seat projection for this 2PP: probable narrow Coalition win, not necessarily with majority (estimate 76-69-5)

As usual, this roundup is quite long so feel free to just read whichever bits interest you.

It may as well be a recorded message: for the eighth (!) week in a row national 2PP voting intention has been around 50:50 and there has been no significant movement in the 2PP at all.  Excitable noises are made about moves of 1-2 points this way or the other in this poll or the other (typically by the media those polls are associated with) but it is all meaningless babble as nothing has actually happened.

This week Newspoll came out at 50:50 following four weeks of 51:49 to Labor.  Ipsos, which has tended to lean slightly to the Coalition but is bouncy because of its smaller sample size than other pollsters (and lack of artificial bounce-retardants, I suspect) raised the odd eyebrow with a 51:49 to Labor (by both kinds of preferences).  Essential went to 50:50 after being 51:49 to Coalition last week and ReachTEL went to 50:50 as well.  The two-point move in ReachTEL was mostly caused by volatility in their respondent-preference sampling; by last-election preferences the Coalition improved by only 0.7 points.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Five Tasmanian House of Representatives Seats

This article gives a detailed discussion of the five Tasmanian House of Representatives seats, which will be updated as needed up til election day.  Two seats (Denison and Franklin) are generally not considered to be in play at this election.  Three (Bass, Braddon and Lyons) are Coalition marginals that could change hands with swings of 1.2 to 4%.  Current national polling points to a close federal election, although this may still change during the final week.  If it does not change, then these three seats could be very important to the outcome of the election, or to whether the winner has a majority or not.  As of 25 June, with the national swing estimated at 2.7% , my projections favoured one or two Liberal losses, with a possibility of all three seats falling. However, there is really not a lot of quality public polling data for the state.  A late swing to the Coalition could make all these seats safe, while a late swing to Labor might see all of them lost.

To explain why these seats are tricky, it is worth looking at the strange results in the state from the 2013 election.  Labor won 51.2% of the state's two-party-preferred vote, but only won one of five seats.  The swing against Labor was the largest of any state by far (9.4%) but the uneven nature of it meant that Lyons, held with a 12.2% buffer, fell with a 13.5% swing.  However Franklin, on a 10.8% margin, was easily retained.  Causes of the massive swing included a downturn in the forestry industry, anger at the state's then ALP-Green coalition government over its "forests peace deal", and a correction from 2010 in which year the Liberals had campaigned very badly in the state. Both at the 2013 federal and 2014 state elections, Tasmania may as well have been two different states, with the anti-Labor mood extremely strong in the north.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: Preferred Pet-Sitter Edition

2PP Aggregate: 50.1 to Labor (-0.1 since end of last week)
Coalition would probably win with a slight majority if election were "held now" (projection 78-68-4)
No significant move in voting intention detected in past seven weeks

In this edition:
Seventh straight week of no 2PP action
Old Newspoll's Queensland problem
Is Nick Xenophon Channeling Terry Pratchett?
Bill Shorten, Preferred Pet-Sitter
Corangamite seat poll
Punters Vs Polls - A False Dichotomy (For Now)

(Note: these roundups get pretty long, so feel free to just read the bits that interest you! I hope to have a detailed preview for the five Tasmanian seats up sometime this coming weekend)