Saturday, September 30, 2017

Not-A-Poll: Best Prime Minister Of The Last 45 Years - Round 2

EXCLUDED IN ROUND 1: Turnbull, Fraser
Rudd continues only because of irregular voting patterns for Abbott

Round 2 voting open in sidebar til 6 pm AEDST, 31 October

A month ago I started a multi-round Not-A-Poll to determine this site's visitors' choice for the title of Best Prime Minister of the Last 45 Years.  The idea is that each month the Prime Minister in last place is eliminated and the rest continue until someone gets over 50% and wins.  There are rules permitting multiple exclusions in certain cases, to speed up the process a bit.  Each round runs for a month, so you can vote for different candidates from round to round if you want to. Multiple voting is in theory banned and adjustments may be made if I detect it, but there will probably be a lot of low-level multiple voting I can't detect or prevent. Comments about the merits of the contestants are welcome.

Technical note: If you wish to vote on a mobile, switch to "View web version" at the bottom of an article.

Round 1 Results: 

Here are the results of round 1.  Whitlam led from the start, though in the very early voting he ran at over 40%.  After about a week Keating seemed to be on course to overtake Whitlam, but the gap bogged down at around 3% and didn't change much from then on.  Based on round 1 it looks like the eventual winner is likely to be one of Whitlam, Keating or Hawke, but we will see.

There were a few issues with the voting in round 1.  Mainly, there was a very strange voting pattern for Tony Abbott, who finished in fourth place, but was assisted by at least some ballot-stuffing.

Abbott received only two of the first c. 260 votes and at this stage was tied for last with Malcolm Turnbull.  Abbott then received 58 of the next c. 85 votes in a roughly 36-hour period.  This looked a lot like stacking by one person, though I couldn't prove it was, so I posted a note saying I had my eye on this.  In the next 15 days, Abbott received 23 out of the next 192 votes.  Moreover, the share of votes Abbott was getting per day gradually increased over this period, as if someone was pushing the envelope to see how many they could stuff in before being caught.  The other possible explanation was that Abbott was getting votes because No supporters in the same-sex marriage debate were finding this site and voting for him as that debate ramped up.  However, on around 20 Sep, I made a settings change to decrease (but not prevent) the risk of multiple voting - this change should also apply from here onwards.  From a measurement I took just after this point, Abbott received only two of the next 81 votes, while most of the other top scorers continued scoring strongly. The exception was Gillard, whose vote share was initially high because of her fan base of Poll Bludger regulars, but who had been declining through the voting period.

On this basis, I'm convinced that following the initial flood of Abbott votes, someone was deliberately casting a trickle of multiple votes for Abbott.  It's reasonable to suspect this person also made most of the 58 votes that arrived in a flood, but it's also possible in theory that someone rounded up a bunch of their mates to stack the vote (which is allowed).

Not-A-Court Ruling On Abbott Votes

Based on the bulk-exclusion rules as outlined, candidates Whitlam, Keating, Hawke, Gillard, Abbott and Howard (by a whisker!) are through to the next round while candidates Rudd, Fraser and Turnbull would be out.

However given the evidence of at least some ballot-stuffing for Abbott, it might be argued either that he should be excluded or that Rudd shouldn't.  Based on the numbers for the other candidates (bearing in mind the tiebreak of least recent to leave office) Abbott is entitled to continue if he has at least 20 genuine votes, while Rudd is entitled to continue if Abbott has between 20 and 29 genuine votes.  This is on the basis that with any Abbott score in this range, if all the Fraser and Turnbull voters switched to Rudd, then he could get enough votes to catch Abbott, and then if the Abbott voters switched to him, to catch Howard and so on.

My suspicion is that Abbott got only about ten genuine votes, if that - and it's just about impossible that his genuine vote tally falls in the narrow range that should allow Rudd to stay in the contest - but these are early days and the aim of the contest is to find the winner, with the order of the remaining finishers irrelevant. On this basis the Not-A-Court of Disputed Returns has ruled that both Abbott and Rudd may continue, in the hope that we may laugh about how badly they do next time (edit: Rudd actually doing quite well early in round 2!) and more importantly to avoid a lecture about  Not-A-Poll's lack of programmatic specificity.  The Not-A-Court also rules that Tony Abbott is demoted to fifth place in round 1 for the purpose of any future tiebreaks because there is very strong evidence that at least ten of his votes were bogus.

As for Turnbull and Fraser, however, they would be excluded under the rules no matter what vote tally Abbott got, so they are out.

Excluded: Malcolm Turnbull 0.32%

Prime Minister Turnbull has lost 20 consecutive Newspolls, and now he's lost a Not-A-Poll as well, receiving a derisory two votes out of the 618 cast in round one of this poll.  Both these votes came in the first five days of voting and thereafter Turnbull received no votes at all in the next 25 days.  Interviewed about this performance on Not-The-ABC, the PM described the reception he had received from voters in the Not-A-Poll as "overwhelmingly respectful" and said that his performance was that of "an agile and innovative political startup ... what a time to be alive".

Excluded: Malcolm Fraser 0.95%

Fraser's habitually truncated and nicked saying that "life wasn't meant to be easy" didn't seem to apply when he was the first Liberal Prime Minister to record a vote!  However Fraser's trousers were well and truly pulled down by a regular reader who revealed he had voted for Fraser by mistake.  From this moment Fraser was unable to arrest a pattern of sluggish growth in his own vote while the votes for the others all rampantly (and suspiciously in one case) inflated. He nonetheless maintained, via seance, that he would have easily beaten Bill Hayden.

A word from the round 1 leader ...

As "winning" a round on primaries carries only the paltry benefit of beating everyone else on tiebreak for the next one, I will provide an extra benefit.  Each round, a different photo of that round's leading primary vote getter together with a different quote by that PM will be displayed, unless it is suspected that they cheated.  For future rounds this will occur at the top of the article - except when we get to the final two (should that happen), when both contestants will be pictured!

"I’ve never said I’m immortal. I do believe in correct language. I’m eternal; I’m not immortal."

(image source, reuse subject to license)


  1. It would be Bob Hawke first daylight second indeed Bob could well be our best ever PM. People who for Gough were smoking funny cigarettes!

    1. Betcha nobody will make a speech like this when Hawkey dies -

  2. I gave my early vote to Turnbull so he wouldn't be behind Abbott. But I clearly hadn't gamed the system hard enough.


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