Tuesday, December 25, 2018

New South Wales 2019: Battle Of The Unknowns

It's a personal tradition to release something on this site on Christmas Day if possible.  This year it was tempting to go with the annual Ehrlich Awards for Wrong Predictions, but one of the predictions on the shortlist still has a remote chance of being fulfilled in the few days left in this year, and also, it's a bit mean on the recipients to drop this year's collection at such a time. So that will come out early in the New Year, and in the meantime, nominations for any false predictions I may have missed regarding political events in the year 2019 are welcome.  See the original Ehrlich piece for the award rules.

Instead I've decided to go with a curtain-raiser for this year's biggest state election in New South Wales.  Currently the expected date of the NSW election is March 23, with the federal election generally expected to follow seven or eight weeks later.  An alternative scenario is the federal election being held on March 2, in which case it is possible to delay NSW until April 13, at the expense of a slowed post-count because of Easter.  There are some other scenarios, but it's highly likely the NSW election will be within about two months of the federal one, with a lot of rather anxious interest surrounding the question of whether it will be before or after.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

EMRS: Small Swing To Labor In Tasmanian Federal Poll

EMRS Tasmania (federal) ALP 40 (+2.1 since election) Lib 33 (-2.4) Green 11 (+0.8) Others 15 (-1.4)
Overall poll suggests a no-change seat result in Tasmania would be likely if election held now
Individual seat results must be treated with caution because of small sample size.

The Liberal Party suffered a major blow early on federal election night 2016, losing the three northern Tasmanian seats that it had captured from Labor in 2013.  In the leadup to the 2019 election, the Tasmanian federal seats have so far not attracted much attention.  This is consistent with a national feeling that with a substantial swing to Labor likely, only a few Labor seats are likely to be in play, and typically where so for unusual local reasons (Lindsay, Macnamara for examples).  The Coalition's strategy is likely to be focused on trying to save as many of its own seats as possible, and going hunting for gains in Tasmania (where PM Morrison has never been high-profile) doesn't seem like a high-payoff-chance strategy.  The northern Tasmanian seats are also protected by personal vote effects for new sitting members, making them harder to shift (not that this stopped them from flipping last time.)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

EMRS: Some Respite, But Labor At Nine-Year High

NOTE: Coverage of the EMRS federal poll will be online here at 9 am Saturday.

EMRS: Liberal 39 Labor 35 Greens 14 Ind/Other 12
Interpretation: Liberal 42 Labor 37 Greens 11 Ind/Other 10
Estimated seat breakdown if election "held now" - majority status touch and go with 12-13 Lib, 10-11 ALP, 2 Green

Three months ago Tasmania's second-term Hodgman Liberal government received a rather nasty wakeup call in the form of the largest poll-to-poll crash in local pollster EMRS's history.  As commented at the time, the timing of the poll was especially unlucky for the government, which was afflicted by fallout from the federal leadership change, unpleasant headlines in the Angela Williamson saga and more criticism of health services.

But in a way that poll belonged to a simpler age for the government, as it was rocked in November by its renegade Speaker Sue Hickey crossing the floor many times over transgender rights amendments.  The government, which had brought in legislation to rectify gender-change divorce anomalies following the passing of same-sex marriage, ended up voting against its own Bill as Labor, the Greens and Hickey added amendments expanding anti-discrimination law in the already-included area of gender identity, making the recording of gender on birth certificates optional and removing surgery requirements for the recording of a gender change on a birth certificate.  Questions were asked about the government's stability but Hickey reasserted her support on supply and confidence, and at this stage remains a member of the party.

Hickey has since crossed the floor again to much less fanfare, and has continued to criticise her own party for underestimating her and not giving her a ministry.  The government is doing its best to route around the problem by blaming Labor and the Greens each time it happens, but it's an ongoing nightmare for them all the same.

So in the circumstances, had someone offered the government a three-point lift as a mark to end the year on, I think they would have taken it, meagre as it appears.  It could be taken as some suggestion of a little bit of random error in the previous result as well.  All the same, the government's lead over Labor is an anaemic four points, lower than all but two polls in the previous term.

Labor Scales The Heights! (Well, slightly ...)

The bad news for the government is that its gain comes at the expense of Greens and Others, and not at the expense of the Labor Opposition.  The ALP recorded a one-point lift that, while deeply insignificant statistically, still takes them to a nine-year high of 35%.  Labor last polled 35% in August 2009 and was last above that level in May 2009 when it polled 43% during then-Premier David Bartlett's honeymoon phase.

The other good news for Labor is that Rebecca White continues polling well personally although the party didn't get near winning this year's election.  White continues to lead Will Hodgman 46-40 as preferred Premier.  Hodgman himself wasn't found to be unpopular when his personal ratings were measured during the election campaign, and I doubt that much has changed.  It seems that White's persistent leads here are something unusual - a case where an Opposition Leader is much liked by voters without the incumbent or his party being badly on the nose.

The Clark Conundrum

EMRS's stocks as a pollster have recently been bolstered by a remarkably good reading of the Hobart City Council election, an extremely difficult race to poll correctly (see here and scroll down to "Well Done EMRS!")  So I am not inclined to cast aspersions at where it has the major parties.  But it does have a long history of having the Greens vote too high, sometimes much too high, in pre-election polling.  Also although its record with independent/other voters is more accurate, its readings for them seem to blow out between elections, possibly as voters engage in wishful thinking about who might be on their ballot paper.  Finally, at recent elections it has tended to underestimate the primary of the incumbent government, more so than any specific major party.

After adjusting for all of these things I take it that an election "held now", but unaccompanied by months of cash-splashing from third-party forces, might yield something along the lines of this:

The exact level of house effect corrections required might be contested, but on an even swing from the state election result, only one seat would be close to flipping, and that is the Liberals' second seat in Clark (formerly Denison), which is now the most marginal of the thirteen seats they hold.  As in the previous term, it is possible the Liberals could stay in office even with a primary vote lead as low as 5-6%, because of the size of their margins in all the seats they won in 2018.

On an even swing the second Liberal Clark seat would be very close to falling (depending on the vote breakdown within the party) and might fall to a third Labor candidate if Labor had someone good enough.  However the 2022 race for Clark is going to be greatly complicated by the question of what to do about Sue Hickey.

At the moment there is a perception that Sue Hickey won't be re-selected for the Government given that she not only seized the Speakership but has also crossed the floor and criticised the Government's tactics and elements within it (also unhelpfully implying it is "right-wing", which is more true of some of its members than of others).  Indeed, Hickey probably would have been kicked out of the party by now except that doing so would make the government a minority government (placing pressure on the Premier to quit) and might even result in a mid-term change of government.  The best case for the Liberals might be that Hickey retires at the next election, but even then they will lose her personal vote and her appeal to left-Liberal voters.  If Hickey runs again as an independent, then it will be much harder to hold two seats in Clark, whether she wins or not.

A lot will change between now and the very far-off 2022 election, and current polling cannot mean a lot predictively.  A change of federal government is likely next year, and a Labor federal government might be gearing up for its first defence or even into its second term by the time Tasmania goes to the polls again.   State governments seldom lose while the opposite party is in power federally.  However, possible 2022 state election scenarios might be in the background as the parliament again considers restoring the House of Assembly to 35 members.  A parliamentary committee set up to consider the matter will be deliberating in 2019 and reporting by August.  (On current polling, it wouldn't help the government - it would win 16 or 17 seats only in a 35-seat House).

Note that I am still not running a Tasmanian polling aggregate, but intend to resume one once there are data from other pollsters.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Poll Roundup: 2018 Year In Review

2PP Aggregate: 54.2 to Labor (last election preferences) (+0.2 since two weeks ago)
With One Nation adjustment: 53.6 to Labor
Labor would easily win election "held now"
Labor won all 66 public and three commissioned national polls released this year

With the release of this week's Ipsos and Essential polls, the polling year has probably come to an end.  If there are any late polls I will edit this piece and update it accordingly.

For a government that currently looks as stuffed as a Christmas turkey, the end of the year cannot come soon enough.  As the final poll of the year, Essential offered some respite having the government only six points behind (47-53) but this should be treated with some caution as there is an ongoing difference of opinion between Newspoll and Essential as to just how bad the Morrison government's situation is.  Since Scott Morrison became Prime Minister, Newspoll has had the Coalition primary on an average of just 35% and the Labor primary on 40%.  Essential, however, has had the Coalition primary only narrowly behind (on average 36.9-37.2).  On a 2PP basis Newspoll has had an average reading of just 45.25% for the Government, while Essential has had 46.6% - and this is even though Newspoll's preferencing method is more favourable to the Coalition's than Essential's.  Currently, with Newspoll and Essential coming out in different fortnights, my aggregate bobs around a bit depending on which one is out, rather than based on the Coalition making substantial gains or losses.  If this continues into the New Year I may apply corrections to both.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Victoria 2018: Final Lower House Results, Poll Performance and 2PP Pendulum

There is no single method of calculating 2PP for this election.  The following are examples of possible figures:

57.57% to Labor (Uniform swing applied to Richmond - probably fairest method)
57.84% to Labor (Richmond treated as 100% to Labor)
57.30% to Labor (Richmond excluded)

With two-party results for all Lower House seats now available it's time to wrap up my Victorian election coverage for 2018, on a high because at least that's the one house where I can talk about the results without constantly losing my temper at the system.  The article again includes a 2PP pendulum.  While this will be of less use for the future than the 2014 one was, given that there is a major redistribution coming, I think it is still useful for looking at the results, and especially at whether the Coalition was lucky not to lose even more seats than it did.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Group Ticket Voting Wrecks 2018 Victorian Upper House Election

The buttons have been pressed on the Victorian upper house election.  In the end, none of the results were all that close, and all regions have been declared.  If anyone can find a legal basis for challenging the results, they will now have to do so in court.  On that, it would be nice if professional preference harvesting could be deemed to be a bribery offence under Section 151 (3) (d) but I  suspect that it doesn't work like that, and that that section is aimed at bribery connected with how-to-vote cards.  I can only assume what has happened is all legal, but history should record it as another upper house election that was trashed by Group Ticket voting. 

I should add that this post is not intended as an attack on the calibre of those elected to represent parties with small vote shares.  They may turn out to be excellent MPs.  Rather the point is that they were not elected by a proper electoral system and those elected on very small vote shares do not have a proper mandate.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Victorian Upper House 2018: Button Press Day


I've decided to bring the Victorian upper house count to the top with a new thread for the day on which all the buttons are pressed, and also for any possible recount news.  My coverage of the count was here.  The schedule is for buttons to be pressed for each division from 2:10 pm at ten minute intervals, in alphabetical order by region name.  However, buttons are being pressed faster than scheduled.  Declarations are scheduled for 6:00 but it is possible that some division will be close enough (either at the end or at a key exclusion point) for a recount to be requested, or that some other issue requiring a recount might be identified.  In 2006 there were two recounts, one because of a 6,000 vote transcription error.

Provisional results will be posted as soon as they are available. I am now reviewing the preference distributions.  There may be some delays in posting analysis (if the distributions are up by then!) as I will be out between 3:45-4:45 but will be online for some of that time.

For all the analysis on the above thread and elsewhere there are some seats that are going to the button in significant doubt.  There are others where what is going to happen appears to be clear but it is possible that all the modelling thrown at these counts might still be wrong and something unexpected will happen.  I should note that at this stage we only have party totals, and do not know if there might be an unusually significant below-the-line vote for any otherwise irrelevant candidate (though there is no reason to think that there is.)

Friday, November 30, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premiers Of The Last 40 Years: Round 2 Results And Runoffs

For the past few months the mostly hopelessly socialist heathen who come here to admire the colour scheme have been involved in the selection of best state premiers of the last 40 years.  This month saw the runoff stage for those states that were not resolved in round 1 by absolute majority, and also the start of the consolation prize round for Coalition premiers.

We are not yet ready to proceed to the grand final stage because some young chap called Andrews was involved in a real election and I feared this could contaminate the vote.  The Victorian runoff will be in February to get a little distance from this result and meanwhile we can continue eliminating Coalition premiers.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

2018 Victorian Postcount: Other Indie Challenges (Pascoe Vale, South-West Coast etc)

On this page - Pascoe Vale, South-West Coast, Geelong, Ovens Valley, Werribee, Mildura

Link to state tally and main postcount thread

Link to upper house coverage

I've already posted threads on the interesting post-counts in Morwell, Benambra and Melton.  There are more seats I could post threads of their own on but I shouldn't put too many on the front page!  This seat covers all remaining seats I am aware of where there are interesting issues involving independent candidates creating problems for either major party.  Often in election leadups this is spoken about as a factor but then most of the indie challenges fizzle.  In this case the Coalition's performance has been so bad that it has opened many doors to independents to either beat the Coalition on Labor preferences or beat Labor on Coalition preferences.  Suzanna Sheed has easily retained, Ali Cupper appears to have won Mildura (see below),  Russell Northe is in a fairly good looking position in Morwell, and there are a bunch of others who either can't be written off, or who can be written off but have come close.  Here we go then.  All seats will be updated from time to time unless I have already called them.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Melton

Melton (Labor vs probably Birchall (IND), 2014 ALP vs Lib (11.2))
2014-elected ALP member Don Nardella quit party, sat as independent and did not recontest
Assessment: It's complicated [update: fairly close to an upset but Labor has won.]

(Link to main postcount page and state summary)

Melton? What is this?

The Daniel Andrews Labor government has crushed the Coalition opposition in the state election, but it's had a bit of bother in a few seats from independents, and these create the only real threat to its 2014 seat collection apart from the fairly likely and widely expected loss of Brunswick to the Greens.

One that sticks out like a sore thumb on the 2PP swingometer is Melton, the former home of Deputy Speaker Don Nardella, who resigned from the party and declined to recontest his seat after being caught up in an expenses claim scandal.  In an election where the swings are a sea of red everywhere except a few safe rural Nationals seats, Melton has produced a 2PP swing to the Liberals of 7.2%.  Currently, the Liberals are getting 58% of all preferences in a safe Labor seat where last time they got 42.4%.  There is the in-theory prospect of a bizarre boilover in this seat, and while someone out there might have information to prove it won't happen, I don't.  Even if it doesn't happen, it is worth keeping an eye on in case such a contest happens again in the future.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Benambra

Benambra (Lib vs probably Hawkins (IND), 2014 Nat vs ALP (9.7%)
Current 2PP Lib vs ALP figure is irrelevant
Assessment: Probable Liberal retain (update: retained)

(Link to state tally and main postcount page)

The seat of Benambra has been held by conservatives for 141 years but is under siege from independents inspired by the Cathy McGowan victory in Indi.  Bill Tilley's primary has fallen well below 50% leaving him in the danger zone. Here are the current primaries:

Tilley (Lib) 40.29%
Tait (ALP) 17.61
Hawkins (IND) 16.77
O'Connor (IND) 12.91
Knight (Shooters) 8.97
Bardsley (Green) 3.44

Jacqui Hawkins is a McGowan staffer and Jenny O'Connor is a local mayor who was a Greens candidate for the federal seat of Indi.

The Green how-to-vote card preferences O'Connor then Hawkins.  The Shooters registered two cards, one of which preferences Tilley then Tait and the other preferences Tait then Tilley.  O'Connor registered an open preference card (as did Hawkins.) Labor's card preferenced O'Connor then Hawkins with Tilley last.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Morwell

Morwell (IND vs ALP, Ind Held, 2014 Nat vs ALP 1.8%)
Nat vs ALP two-party figure is irrelevant
Assessment: Northe (IND) wins subject to being 2nd after preferences which is overwhelmingly likely
(update: confirmed, Northe has won)

(Link to main postcount thread and tally)

This is the first of my indie-seat postcounts.  The 2018 Victorian state election has thrown up a very large number of seats where independents have some sort of chance in the postcount and are likely to finish in the top two.  The count in Morwell may be more straightforward than in Melton and Benambra but it is nonetheless still messy.  Perhaps not as messy, however, as many thought it might be.

Russell Northe held the seat narrowly in 2014 despite a monster swing to Labor.  He has been a very much embattled incumbent (including in the final days of the campaign when there was more adverse media coverage of debt issues) but also one who has received plenty of sympathy for his struggles with the unusual pressures of political life in this seat.  He's polled a primary of around 20%, which normally wouldn't be enough, but he may have been saved by the collapse in the Coalition vote.  Here's how the primaries currently line up:

2018 Victorian Postcount: Greens Vs Labor (Prahran, Brunswick, Melbourne)

Link to main postcount thread including state summary

This thread covers late counting in seats being contested between the Greens and Labor.  The Greens went into the election holding Melbourne, Northcote (which they won from Labor in a mid-term by-election) and Prahran (which they won in a ridiculously close three-cornered contest in 2014) and hoped to pick up Brunswick (ALP vacancy) and Richmond (where there is perennial opposition to their candidate Kathleen Maltzahn from sections of the left on account of her support for the Nordic model of criminalising paying for sex).

The Liberals tried to stoke the pot in Richmond by not running a candidate at all, the strategic point of which remains elusive.  Former Prime Minister Paul Keating waded in by accusing the Liberals of piking on the contest to try to dislodge Planning Minister Richard Wynne in order to assist Liberal-linked property developers, while Maltzahn issues were another distraction for the Greens in a campaign full of them.  In the end Wynne has won Richmond with a commanding swing in his favour, and Labor has also comfortably recaptured Northcote.

2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Summary And Classic Seats


Labor 55, Coalition 27, Green 3, IND 3

Seats covered on this page:

Links to other postcount threads (links to be added as completed):

Green vs Labor (Brunswick, Prahran)
Other indie challenges (Pascoe Vale, Mildura, South-West Coast, Geelong, Ovens Valley, Werribee)

Link to Upper House coverage

Victorian Upper House Live

Go to new button press thread for final results and discussion. 

Button presses to occur on Tuesday at 10-minute intervals commencing 2:10 pm.  Very close results (if any) could still be subject to recount beyond that.  ABC Calculator seat "results" (actually output of a flawed but useful model) are not final and some are not likely to be correct.

Warning: The North Metro count section has been rated Wonk Factor 5/5.  Some of the rest aren't too far behind.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Victoria 2018 Live

The starting line: Labor 46 Coalition 37 Green 3 Ind 2 (Melton treated as Labor)
Polls have closed
Seats apparently won (some at low levels of doubt) ALP 51 Coalition 24 Green 1 Ind 2
10 seats currently in significant doubt (that I know of)

Apparent Labor gains from Coalition (some still in some doubt): Bass, Mt Waverley, Ringwood, South Barwon, Burwood, Nepean, Box Hill

Coalition seats in doubt: Bayswater, Ripon, Hawthorn

Apparent ALP gain from Greens: Northcote

Apparent IND gain from Nat: Mildura

In doubt Coalition held vs Ind: Benambra, South-West Coast (likely hold but exclusion order issue)
In doubt IND held vs ALP: Morwell (Ind favoured)
In doubt ALP vs Ind: Melton
In some doubt ALP held vs Ind: Pascoe Vale (probable ALP hold)
In doubt Green held vs ALP: Prahran (ALP ahead)
In doubt ALP held vs Green: Brunswick 

Friday, November 23, 2018

2018 Victorian Final Polls

Galaxy 53-47 to Labor, ReachTEL 54-46 to Labor
Current primary vote aggregate ALP 40.7 L-NP 39.4 Green 11.0 Other 8.9
Polls could be underestimating Labor 2PP vote slightly and may be overstating Greens primary
Seat projection estimate ALP 48 L-NP 36 Green 3 IND 1

This post will update all polling news in the final 24 hours of the Victorian campaign.

If the latest polls are right, yesterday's token post about Lower House modelling might not be quite so token after all. What we've seen in the Herald Sun's YouGov-Galaxy (53-47 to Labor) and Fairfax's ReachTEL (54-46 to Labor) suggests that the net effect of the last few weeks of campaigning has been more or less zero.  The polling would not have to be wildly wrong for an unlucky distribution of seats to leave Labor short of a majority, but it would have to be very wrong indeed for the Coalition to win the election in any way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Token Post About Modelling The 2018 Victorian Lower House

Seat modelling on assumed 2PP of 53.4 to Labor currently gives estimate around ALP 47 Green 3-4 LNP 36 IND 1-2 
On current numbers Labor are very likely to win, but at some risk of doing so in minority
Contest badly lacks sufficient recent polling data so any modelling is unreliable

State opinion polling aint quite what it used to be.  At this stage of the 2014 Victorian state election, there had been twelve statewide voting intention polls by six different pollsters released in the previous two months.  This time it's four by either two or three (depending on how you treat Newspoll/Galaxy) and the most recent one was commissioned.  Over a million voters have voted already (including those whose votes are in the mail) and yet so far this month the only statewide poll we've had is a ReachTEL for the Victorian National Parks Association.  There may well be a flood of polling in the final days, but at this stage, those of us trying to predict what might occur have not a lot to work with.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Site colour change

From time to time I change the colour of this site, often partly or entirely for some reason connected with its content.  Examples of past colours adopted have been:

a shade of dark blue which was the subject of a ludicrous cease-and-desist letter from the Tasmanian Liberal director asking that an "independent liberal" candidate cease using the colour "Liberal Blue"
Orange, partly in amazement at Cathy McGowan's team finding 1000 votes under the proverbial table during the 2013 Indi count.
Purple, signifying neutrality between the major parties
The colour of Senate ballot papers, moving to a purely psephological colour as an expression of disgust with the federal parliament over anti-free speech provisions in the rushed-through same-sex marriage plebiscite safeguards bill.
Burnt orange, flying SA-BEST colours in protest against SA Labor and Liberal parties preferencing the Australian Conservatives.

The new colours (though I'm fiddling with the combination to try not to make it too hard on the eyes) are another protest, concerning the behaviour of nearly every party in or leading up to the current Victorian Legislative Council election.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Wentworthless: Another Epic Seat Poll Fail

The failures of seat polling have been a common subject on this site this year.  See Is Seat Polling Utterly Useless?, Why Is Seat Polling So Inaccurate and How Did The Super Saturday Seat Polls Go?

The recent Wentworth by-election was difficult to poll because of a late strategic-voting swing of probably a few to several points from Labor to the winner Kerryn Phelps.  All seven polls that polled a Liberal vs Phelps two-candidate preferred vote did actually get the right winner.  But that is all the good news that there is.  In so many other respects, the seat polls for the historic Wentworth by-election, perhaps the most polled seat in Australian history, were way wrong. And like other recent seat poll failures in such seats as Bass, Macarthur, Dobell, Lindsay and Longman, the failures were characterised not just by the polls being very wrong, but also by them tending to be wrong in the same direction.  The problems go beyond small sample size, and beyond even the tendency of seat polls to be less accurate than their sample sizes say they should be.  They point to systematic errors not random ones, and in this case, I suspect, to the oversampling of the politically engaged.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fear And Loathing With Victorian Upper House Preference Flows

Following the launch of Antony Green's Legislative Council calculator I've been playing around with some possible scenarios for the Victorian upper house group ticket flows.  Quite a few people are doing this and so there are a number of different estimates about what might happen out there.  What we know from the past is to expect the unexpected - we can say that it looks like preference harvesters will win several undeserved seats, but it's hard to say which ones they will be and who.  The whole exercise is incredibly sensitive to starting assumptions - one micro-party you've never heard of might get 1% instead of 0.5% and suddenly something completely different happens.  Snowballs from very low vote shares have a higher chance of crashing because of below-the-line votes, especially as voters for micro-parties, with the exception of the Liberal Democrats, are more likely to vote below the line.  In 2014 the BTL rate for most micros was in the range 8-22%.

At the last Victorian election, five candidates won seats as a result of preference-harvesting:

* In Eastern Victoria, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (2.44%) beat ALP-2 (8.68% over quota) and Green (8.23%)
* In Northern Metro, the Sex Party (2.87%) beat Labor-3 (7.06% over quota)
* In Northern Victoria, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (3.5%) beat L-NP-3 (7.84% over quota) and Greens (7.68%)
* In Western Metro, Democratic Labour Party (2.57%) beat ALP-3 (10.65% over quota) and L-NP-2 (6.90% over quota)
* In Western Victoria, Vote 1 Local Jobs (1.28%) beat Greens (9.19%)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Poll Roundup: Well That Wasn't Much Of A Honeymoon

2PP Aggregate: 54.8 to Labor (+0.8 since last week) by 2016 preferences
54.2 to Labor with One Nation adjustment
Labor would win election "held now" with a very large majority 

It's been a while since my last federal poll roundup.  At that time the Coalition's polling was recovering from the shock caused by the messy and (to the public) inexplicable coup that deposed Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, and it was too soon to read anything into what we were seeing.  Because the Coalition's polling was in recovery mode but the new Prime Minister was still in a polling honeymoon period it was a matter of waiting for things to settle down to get a feeling for how competitive the Coalition really was.

On my aggregate, the recovery from a post-coup low of 43.9% peaked at 46.7% after seven weeks, and since then things have been getting worse rather than better.  Furthermore, since the defeat in Wentworth, they have been getting worse faster, at least if this week's shocker Newspoll is anything to go by.  The Coalition's current position is worse than at any time with Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, and also worse than all but the worst few weeks under Tony Abbott.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premiers Of The Past 40 Years: Round 2

Two months ago I started a round of Best State Premier Not-A-Polls.  Winners from each state will eventually go through to an elimination-style final similar to my Best Prime Minister series.  Also the skew in this site's reader base (and that's probably not the only cause) led to Labor Premiers winning round 1 in every state, so I am starting a Best Non-Labor Premier/Chief Minister runoff as well.

As it has turned out six states have finished up with two-candidate runoffs.  The first named was the round 1 winner in every case except Queensland which was a tie.

NSW Neville Wran vs Bob Carr
Victoria Steve Bracks vs Daniel Andrews (postponed to January to reduce Vic election contamination)
Queensland Peter Beattie vs Wayne Goss
Western Australia Geoff Gallop vs Carmen Lawrence
Tasmania Jim Bacon vs Lara Giddings
ACT Katy Gallagher vs Jon Stanhope

All these runoffs will go for one month.  (Voting in the sidebar, closes 6 pm Nov 30.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2018 Hobart City Council Count (With Some Coverage Of Other Councils)

The number above appears at the top of my coverage to highlight the final informal vote rate for the Hobart City Council councillor count, as a result of absurdly strict formality requirements. Launceston (7.94%) and Clarence (7.24%) are not far behind.  

This level of informal vote as a result of absurd legislation is a farce, an insult to democracy, and a threat to the legitimacy of seats being decided by a handful of votes.  The informal rate was 100 times the final seat margin in Hobart.

I call on the state government and other parties in the Lower House to immediately and publicly commit to fixing this problem.  The current government did not create this problem, but the problem should have been fixed after the last election four years ago.

Coverage follows below.

Note added Saturday night: I will be mostly offline for the coming week (Nov 4-10) so comment clearance will be slow.

Introduction (from Tuesday)

Welcome to my live coverage thread for the Hobart City Council count, which will also have some comments on other councils when I find time to look at them.  My Hobart candidate guide and preview was here and has probably been viewed by about 20% of Hobart voters.  Updates will be added below the dotted lines; check back regularly through the week for comments.  These introductory comments will stay at the top, there are also some more detailed introductory comments at the bottom.

Friday, October 26, 2018

2018 Victorian State Election Intro

It's very close to the 2018 Victorian state election for me not to have written a thing yet about it!  Largely this has been because my analysis model needs polling to work, and (in common with other recent state elections) there's hardly been any of it.  Anyway, this is an opening offering on some general issues in trying to forecast this election

Let's start with the important bit.  If voting in the Legislative Council (upper house) in Victoria, vote below the line for candidates, not above the line for parties.  You only have to choose five candidates for a valid vote, though you will make your vote a lot more powerful if you number a lot more.  If you vote above the line, your vote will be at the mercy of your party's decisions about where to send your preferences, and they may well choose to send it to a party who you'd be totally opposed to.  Unfortunately, Victoria is one of the two remaining states that has not got rid of the Group Ticket voting system.  Keep control of your own vote and say no to preference-harvesting which can lead to unknown parties electing unaccountable candidates off tiny percentages of the vote.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ways To Improve Tasmanian Council Elections

On Tuesday I voted in the Hobart City Council elections.  (By the way, if you haven't voted yet, you might want to take your vote direct to your local council centre.) After following this election for months, including researching the candidates and writing a guide to the election it still took me 70 minutes to fill out my ballot papers, albeit with a little live tweeting of my thought processes on the way.  I'm not even convinced I did all that good a job of it, and suspect it would have taken me 3-4 hours to come up with a vote that was the best I could possibly do.  If it wasn't for the fact that there are always people who need putting near the bottom, I would have been wondering why I even bothered.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wentworth Live: Majority On The Line Again (Plus Post-Count)

WENTWORTH (Lib vs ALP 17.8%)
Dave Sharma (Lib) vs Kerryn Phelps (IND) (16 candidates total)

GAIN by Phelps (IND) - margin will exceed 51:49

Government to lose majority and seat held almost continuously since Federation.

The swings involved, while among the largest, are not an all-time record of any kind. (Not even if you discount Wills 1992)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Oh Yes We Do Have Strategic Voting In Australia (Sometimes)

On Wednesday Alex Turnbull, who has been campaigning for voters to evict the Liberal Party from his father's former seat of Wentworth, switched his support from Labor to independent Kerryn Phelps on strategic grounds.  Amusingly, Turnbull jnr justified his support by reference to a popular American text called "Gaming the Vote" by William Poundstone, and posted a colourful excerpt explaining how the squeezing out of a centrist candidate who finishes in third places can lead to "unpalatable, Wizard-or-Lizard dilemmas".  After Clinton-vs-Trump, or even the utter farce that has been the present term of Australian parliament, wizards and lizards are both sounding pretty good at the moment.

The idea here is very simple: if Kerryn Phelps makes the final two she is more likely to beat Dave Sharma (Lib) on preferences from Labor (which will include some votes originally for the Greens and minor candidates), than Tim Murray (Labor) is to beat Sharma on Phelps' preferences should he make the final two.  Phelps is (mostly) seen as the more centrist candidate in an electorate that has never elected a Labor MP.  There will be voters who want to send a protest vote against the Liberals for disposing of that other Turnbull or whatever other reason, but who cannot bring themselves to vote Labor.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Council Voting - Please Be Careful!

I've already made this point in my Hobart guide but I thought I should make it prominently in a separate post to cover all councils.  Please feel very free to share and spread widely.

A scourge of Tasmanian council elections is the high rate of informal voting.  Informal votes are votes that are returned but cannot be counted as they are not valid votes.  The main reason the informal voting rate is high is that voters make mistakes and the rules concerning this are stupid.  The reason the rules are stupid is that governments have failed to fix them.  The previous Labor/Greens government ignored warnings that bringing in all-in all-out elections would cause a high informal voting rate under the current system. The current Liberal government has so far done nothing to fix it.  The Local Government Act needs to be reformed to provide savings provisions for voters who make honest mistakes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

2018 FIDE (World Chess Federations) Elections Updates

8:15 am Georgian time

Greetings from Batumi!  This is a post to cover the goings on regarding the FIDE election, which I first posted about nearly three months ago (2018 World Chess Federation elections).  I hope to post updates through the election today but they may or may not be delayed a little by duties in connection with it, or issues with running my computer off its wayward battery.

Since my previous article, the attempt to impose greater strictness surrounding the tempting of delegates has fallen by the wayside (because it lacked statutory authority), but still the election has been austere compared to the cash-splash of 2014, especially on the Makropoulos side.  Unlike in 2014, a delegate is not bombarded with pamphlets at meetings for days before the election and there are few posters to be seen.  The Makropoulos and Dvorkovich camps have stalls at the Olympiad venue (and the Makropoulos camp accuses a member of the Dvorkovich camp of some scruffy behaviour related to this) while the Short camp has no physical presence beyond its various members.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Poll Roundup: The Current Polls Aren't All That Meaningful

2PP Aggregate: 54.2 to Labor (-0.6 since last week) by 2016 election preferences
53.6 to Labor with One Nation preference adjustment 
Labor would win election "held now" with a large majority
(scores and text, but not graph, updated for Essential)

This week Newspoll, which has so far produced the worst readings for the Coalition since Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison, came down two points on the two-party preferred vote from 56-44 to Labor to 54-46.  Taking into account the primary votes, the Coalition's gain was probably slightly greater.  Indeed this Newspoll had a slightly smaller gap (0.7 points) between the expected last-election preferences off the primaries and the published 2PP with Newspoll's adjustments of One Nation preferences than has usually been the case lately.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hobart City Council Elections Candidate Guide And Preview 2018

Note added 30/11/22: this page was unpublished by Blogger on 28/11/22 after, as best I can determine, an unknown link was found to go to a site that now contained malware.  I have resubmitted the page with all external links removed for posterity.  A version with links is available on the Wayback Machine (access at own risk) or can be supplied by email (ditto).


All candidates are directed to the note for candidates at the bottom of this page.

Introductory Waffle

With some rather expensive looking corflutes already cropping up in parts of the city, it's time to start my resource page for the 2018 Hobart City Council elections.  This guide (like my 2014 guide) includes a list of candidates who are running for the Council for the 2018-22 term.    The guide includes brief bio details and links, descriptions of candidates' past electoral form (where any) and an attempted assessment of prospects.  All sections will be updated regularly, but there will be lags of a few days at times between Sep 25 and Oct 7.

During the campaign period voters will get official statements by the candidates, with photos supplied by them.  The online version will include web links.  This piece was first published for the interest of those who don't want to wait for the candidate statements, but will stay up to present a less filtered view of candidate backgrounds.

Donations to cover even some of my time in writing this guide are very welcome - but not from candidates or their direct connections.  There's a PayPal button on the sidebar or you can email me for bank account details. Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Wentworth By-Election: Prospects And Polls

WENTWORTH (Lib vs ALP, 17.8%)
Cause of vacancy: Resignation of Malcolm Turnbull

A by-election for Wentworth has been set down for Saturday 20 October following the resignation from parliament of the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.  This post will give an assessment of how this by-election stands in history and will also comment critically on polling. As I start it on 14 Sep I won't be brave enough to predict the winner yet, but I may do so later [edit: as of the final week I am not liking the Liberals' chances of holding off Phelps at all].  This post will be updated with new polls and changed assessments through to polling day.

By-elections often produce big swings against governments, but surely 17.8% is safe?  After all, there has only been one larger swing in federal by-election history (20.1% in Wakefield, 1938).  In fact there are at least two reasons not to take the seat's safety for granted.  These are the historic circumstances of the by-election and the prospect of losing the seat to an independent.  While I've seen some spinning suggesting that a double-digit swing should be viewed as a shocker for the Liberal Party even if they don't lose the seat, I think the circumstances are so unusual that they'd take a win by any margin now.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Wagga Wagga By-Election

Ham (Lib) vs Hayes (Labor) vs McGirr (IND)
GAIN by McGirr (IND) from Liberal

A very interesting three-cornered state by-election tonight in Wagga Wagga (NSW) where the Liberals are trying to defend a 12.9% margin over Labor, but also to hold off an independent.  Obviously, federal carnage is a factor.  Seat polling has suggested the Liberal primary vote has collapsed to the point that the independent Joe McGirr or perhaps Labor could win.  This hastily erected thread will follow counting and post-count developments.  Refresh for updates.  Latest at the top (I've flipped that to make it easier.)

Friday, September 7, 2018

Tasmanian Senate Major Party Preselections

Tasmanian major party (Labor and Liberal) Senate preselections are expected to be announced on Saturday 8 September.  I will be posting the results when I know them, and discussion of such voting details as emerge, but I will be out on a field trip for some of Saturday, and I don't yet know at what time the news will be revealed.  For starters then, this post looks at what different Senate placements for some of the candidates would mean.  It will be expanded to cover all relevant aspects of the preselections that emerge.

Before I get any further, I would like to say this: media should not denote any spot on the Tasmanian Senate ballot as "unwinnable".  Unwinnable, obviously, means it is impossible to win.  Lisa Singh was dumped to a so-called "unwinnable" spot in 2016, and won, as a result of below the line votes.  Clearly then her spot was not unwinnable!   It's embarrasing to hear intelligent journalists say stuff like "Lisa Singh was elected from an unwinnable position".   An acceptable alternative to "unwinnable position" is "position winnable only through below the line voting".  This description applies to all positions below 3 for either major party.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

EMRS: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

EMRS: Liberal 36 ALP 34 Greens 16 Other 14
Interpretation: Liberal 39 ALP 36 Greens 13 Other 12
Estimated seat breakdown if election "held now" - probable hung parliament with about 11-12 Lib, 11 ALP, 2 Green, 0-1 Ind/other

Six months ago the Tasmanian Liberal government of Premier Will Hodgman snapped a run of increasingly mediocre polling with the largest poll-to-poll gain in EMRS' history.  This came just before an election at which the government outperformed even that polling and was re-elected, and the returned government was travelling OK a few months later.  But now that's over, and the government is back to almost where it was last year after chalking up the pollster's largest ever poll to poll loss.  It's almost as if the election never happened.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

How Did The Super Saturday Seat Polls Go?

With final results for the Super Saturday by-elections now available, including preference flows, it is worthwhile reviewing the accuracy of the seat polling for these by-elections.  Recently I have posted a few times here about seat polling - see Is Seat Polling Utterly Useless? and Why Is Seat Polling So Inaccurate?  The preferencing results of the Longman by-election are also of special interest to the debate about Newspoll preferences, as the first test of Newspoll's changed methods at any federal election.

We can put that one to bed right away: the preference flow from One Nation to the Coalition in Longman was a massive 67.74%.  This should not be taken as a sign of quite how strongly One Nation preferences would flow nationally, since they did preference the LNP in this seat but would not necessarily do so in every seat, and since LNP preferences flowed strongly to One Nation in the area at the Queensland election even in the seat where the party preferenced Labor.  But it does show that it is entirely reasonable for pollsters to assume that 2016-election preferences can't be trusted in the case of One Nation.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premiers Of The Last 40 Years

This evening I've cluttered up the sidebar with a new round of Not-A-Poll voting for this site's choice of Best State Premier in every state, and eventually, from the whole country!

Quite early in this site's history I ran one of these for Tasmania, and following the fun had with the recent Best PM, Worst PM and Worst Opposition Leader Not-A-Polls I thought it might be worth running something similar for all states.

But before that, time to declare the result of the previous Not-A-Poll exercise:

Monday, August 27, 2018

Rolling Poll Roundup: Early Morrison Polls

2PP Aggregate: 56.1 to Labor (+3.3 since last week) by last-election preferences
55.5 with One Nation adjusted preferences
Labor would win an election "held now" in a landslide with a seat count around the high nineties.

This post will follow polls released with Scott Morrison as PM for at least two weeks.  I would have called this post "Early Morrison Era Polls" but I'm not sure he'll be there long enough (this time anyway) to qualify as an "era". My commentary during the spill can be found in the amazingly titled Spill! thread, and my post-spill comments can be found in Australia - So What The Bloody Hell Was That?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Australia - So What The Bloody Hell Was That?

For the fourth term in a row, the Australian Prime Minister following the previous election has failed to survive the term without being removed by their own party.  This is quite a streak given that in the previous 41 terms only two PMs have been deposed in the same way.   However this week's removal of Malcolm Turnbull has had a novel outcome, with the PM replaced not by his initial challenger Peter Dutton, but by a supporter, Scott Morrison.

Among the many takes that I think needs more careful analysis is the claim that Dutton failed to become Prime Minister just because that side of his coup attempt was tactically botched.  For sure, the Dutton camp frequently seemed to have a bad grasp of both numbers and tactics, whinged when faced with a reasonable request to prove support for another meeting so soon after the first, and were not helped by their man's recycled 17-year-old ALP thought-bubble of removing the GST from electricity.  Dutton's erratic demeanour didn't help either.  But I think there has been too much attention on how badly the Dutton plotters played their hand and too little on it being a weak hand to begin with.  It was a weak hand on two fronts: parliamentary stability and potential electoral impact.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


(This article will serve as rolling coverage of spill-related polling and other items.)

Tuesday morning

It's on! Turnbull vs Dutton.  Unfortunately because they are already in the party room, we don't get the wonderful drama of retinues of supporters walking the corridors behind their leader and so on.

Turnbull has defeated Dutton 48-35 but generally a margin that small is not sufficient to ward off a future challenge, which in this case could well happen soon.

Julie Bishop has been retained unopposed as Deputy Leader.

It is worth bearing in mind that with the exception of Malcolm Fraser (who was unsuccessfully challenged by Andrew Peacock) no Prime Minister who has faced a spill has remained in the job until the next election.  (Fraser lost).  Other PMs who have been challenged have all failed to make it to the next election: Gorton, Hawke, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott.  In four of these five cases it took two goes to get rid of the incumbent (it is little-known that Gorton was unsuccessfully challenged after winning the 1969 election with a disappointing margin).

Monday, August 20, 2018

Poll Roundup: Here We Go Again?

2PP Aggregate: 52.8 to Labor (+1.2 since last week) by last election preferences
52.2 to Labor with One Nation adjustment
Labor would comfortably win election held "right now"
That escalated quickly ...
Last night's Ipsos poll has produced a big blowout in my polling aggregate, wiping out all the Coalition's gains since June. However, Labor had already made modest gains in the wake of the Super Saturday results even before that.

Normally I put out a Poll Roundup every second Newspoll.  Last week's Newspoll had some points well worthy of comment so I was considering bringing this one forward (but got distracted by another issue).  Now with this extreme Ipsos result hitting the stands, I think it's worthwhile going one week early - especially with the noises being made in media and a feeling about that leadership problems could blow up into a challenge quickly.  Whether or not that happens, at the least we have another round of serious leadership speculation, and even if the Ipsos was twaddle it will probably turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Events have developed quickly, with the PM shelving emissions targets in the National Energy Guarantee on Monday followed by news of possible Section 44 issues for Peter Dutton, which it seems the Dutton backers are intent on ignoring.  As I write the word is that Dutton backers think they have enough support and are deciding whether to go right away or wait until September.  In the past these things have often come to a head very quickly.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Threatened-Listed Species And The Proposed Cable Car

The debate about the proposed cable car on kunanyi/Mt Wellington has already been a dismal spectacle of false claims and questionable standards on both sides.  On this site I have already dealt with claims that concern polling or other poll-shaped objects that claim to mention public opinion (see the rolling Polling on the Mt Wellington Cable Car Proposal article and the earlier Public Opinion and the Mt Wellington Cable Car.) 

Now it is time for me to post a new article covering the already suspect claims in the area of threatened species impacts, in the hope of deterring any more threatened species nonsense and encouraging everybody involved to actually do some research.  While this is mainly a psephology site, most of my professional income comes from working on invertebrates of the non-political kind, and I am Tasmania's only living expert on native land snails.  I also have a keen amateur interest in native orchids, and have worked on or surveyed for a range of threatened species of various kinds.

The catalyst for the current burst of threatened species claims is a proposal by the cable car proponent, the Mt Wellington Cableway Co, to have its proposed cable car depart from a site on Main Fire Trail.  This proposal includes a new road from McRobies Gully (see route maps here and here) in an area of bushland that includes extensive areas of a state-listed threatened vegetation community (Eucalyptus tenuiramis on sediments.)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Hobart City Council Voting Patterns 2014-8

Advance Summary

1. Traditionally, the Hobart City Council  loosely divided between "pro-development" councillors and councillors who stress environmental issues and/or the interests of impacted residents. 

2. This term of Council has continued a trend from late in the previous term in which voting clusters have weakened and the voting of individual councillors has become much less predictable.  

3. Despite this most councillors can at least be classifying as leaning towards the "pro-development" ("blue") mindset or its opponent ("green").  

4. The results of votes on this council have been very unpredictable because of the weakness of the voting patterns observed, the narrow advantage in numbers for the "blue" side over the "green" side and the frequent absence of various councillors from meetings.

5. A possible ordering of councillors from "greenest" to "bluest" in this term is: Cocker, Burnet, Reynolds, Cooper (no longer on Council), Harvey, Ruzicka, Sexton, Briscoe, Thomas, Christie, Hickey (no longer on Council), Denison, Zucco.

6. Possible causes of the weakening of vote clusters include personality clashes within the "blue" side, a lack of solidarity or a common approach to most council issues among endorsed Greens, and genuine changes in the views of some councillors over time.   

(Note: This article is long and in places very mathsy, but I've cut out some of the really arcane stuff from past editions, mainly because the data entry was such a massive job by itself!)


In the leadup to each set of Hobart City Council elections I post a detailed account of voting patterns on the Council in the previous term.  My findings for the 2011-14 term can be seen here, and that piece includes links back to older pieces.  Now that terms are four years long, this is a much bigger job than it used to be, but at least it only needs doing every four years.  Entering in the data from something like 84 meetings, every single one of them with at least one contested motion, took me much of the last few days.  But it was worth it; the results are rather interesting.

Friday, August 3, 2018

"Margin Of Error" Polling Myths

A lot is said about "margin of error" in public discussion of opinion polls, and nearly all of it is wrong.

This is another piece I've been meaning to write for quite a while.  There are many other articles about this on the web, but I'm not aware of any that make all the points I'd like to make and make them in an Australian context.

The concept of "margin of error" is one that is commonly talked about in discussion of polls.  It is often used to (rightly) deflate breathless media babble about movements in polls that are supposedly caused by whatever the media pundit wants to see as the cause, but in practice are often nothing more than random variation from sample to sample.  Possum's Trends, The Horserace and Random Numbers (2012) was a classic debunking of that sort of commentariat nonsense, written in the days of the older, much bouncier Newspoll.

Unfortunately, of all the things that get talked about in polling, margin of error is probably the concept that best shows that "a little learning is a dangerous thing".  People grasp the basic principle and misapply it constantly - and are assisted by pollsters, the media and even the Australian Press Council's otherwise good (and too often disregarded) poll-reporting guidelines in doing so.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Worst Opposition Leader Of The Last 45 Years: Grand Final!

Oh yes, there was actually a book about these two!
Latham 158 - Downer 141
Grand Final: Abbott vs Latham

Welcome back to the final round of our exciting but brief quest to find this site's pick for worst opposition leader of the last 45 years.  We started by splitting the field into two groups, those who at some stage had been PM and those who had not yet been PM.  Tony Abbott cleaned up the former with an outright majority in round 1, while the latter was a closer contest.

The Latham-Downer stoush showed why I run these things for a month.  Downer led out of the blocks by a surprisingly large margin given Latham's primary vote lead from the first round.  But after a while Latham started gradually catching up.  After 23 days Latham took the lead, and his lead continued to grow; in the end it was close but not super-close (52.8% to Latham, about what John Howard beat him by in 2004).

So it comes down to this.  I stated the case for (or should that be against) Latham last time.  Regarding Abbott, his credentials as a bad opposition leader are seriously dented by the fact that he won an election and won it big, but it's unclear how much credit we should give him for that.  In tactical terms, he did steer the Coalition back to competitiveness by opposing Labor on emissions trading, and it might be that everything Labor did from there was self-inflicted as a result of internal tensions between a factional system and a self-styled presidential leader.  Abbott opponents may also argue that it's not just about whether you win or lose but above all about how you play the game, and I'm not sure those who want to take that line need me to provide examples (or that I have time to list them all.)  As with Latham, I suspect Abbott's post-OL performance taints his legacy as Opposition Leader, though in my view he was actually a much more harmless PM than he could have been.

In comments, reader Carl adds another relevant criterion: that good or bad Opposition Leadership in a tactical sense is not only about whether you win, but also the extent to which your victory limits you. 

Voting is open in the sidebar now and continues til 6 pm 31 August.

Kevin Bonham Leaves Tasmanian Times (2012)

It has come to my attention that the Tasmanian Times website no longer includes my lengthy 2012 rant where I wrote about why I was leaving it as a regular writer and poster, and also the thread where the TT audience (plus one sad interloping chess troll from Melbourne) debated my departure.  (A very limited relationship persisted after that, which I completely ended earlier this year.)

The deletion of these articles, some time since January 2017, was never requested by me and I was never informed of it.  My request to TT, given that they were unwilling to publicly apologise for Ted Mead's garbage to my satisfaction (or publicly at all) was "remove the link to my site from the sidebar immediately and please cease linking to my site in future."  Even if it resulted from a misinterpretation of my request as a request to remove all existing links to my site, numerous other old articles linking to this site are still up.  

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Super Saturday By-Elections Live And Postcount

MAYO: CALLED Sharkie (CA) retain
PERTH: CALLED Gorman (ALP) is new MP, retaining seat

Braddon Swings

Here is a graph showing the relationship between the vote for the independent Craig Garland and the 2PP swing in Braddon:

You can see maps of the Garland vote and the 2PP swing over at The Tally Room.  The Liberals did very well on 2PP swing on the West Coast, were smashed on King Island and the west end of the coast (Wynyard - Stanley area where fishing is important) and got small swings in Ulverstone and Devonport-Latrobe.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Longman By-Election

Cause of by-election: Incumbent resignation (ineligible under Section 44)
Outlook: Your guess is probably as good as mine.

I've finally found the time to write a detailed post about the prospects for the Longman by-election.  This won't be anywhere near as long as my Braddon guide but I think it is worth explaining why we are seeing Labor struggling in the polls, the betting and in commentary perceptions in this seat. (That said quite a few people think Labor will win Longman but lose Braddon instead.)  When I first wrote about these by-elections, I thought national polling gave Labor enough advantage to probably just hold Longman, but since then Labor's national position has declined.  Labor may still win the seat, but their position is quite fragile.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Why Is Seat Polling So Inaccurate?

The accuracy of Australian seat polling has been an important topic lately, especially given the coming by-elections.  By-elections are very difficult to forecast.  Even after throwing whatever other data you like at them (national polling, government/opposition in power, personal vote effects, state party of government) they are less predictable than the same seats would be at a normal election.  So it would be nice if seat polling would tell us what is going to happen in them.

Unfortunately single-seat polling is very inaccurate.  I discussed this in a recent piece called Is Seat Polling Utterly Useless?, where I showed that at the 2016 federal election, seat polling was a worse predictor of 2PP outcomes than even a naive model based on national polling and assumed uniform swing.  The excellent article by Jackman and Mansillo showed that seat polling for primary votes was so bad that it was as if the polls had one sixth of their actual sample size.  It doesn't seem that seat polls are useless predictively, but we certainly can't weight them very highly.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Submission To Tasmanian Electoral Act Review

Initial submissions to the review of the Tasmanian Electoral Act close today.  The review was mainly prompted by issues raised (mostly during the state election, but also during previous state elections) concerning:

* authorisations for social media posts
* restrictions preventing naming candidates without their permission in certain kinds of material
* restrictions preventing newspaper coverage on election day
* lack of state-specific donation requirements
* issues with involvement of non-party actors in the electoral process (the call for submissions singles out unions, though in 2018 there was far more concern about gambling interests)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Poll Roundup: National Narrowing As Super Saturday Approaches

2PP Aggregate (2016 Preferences): 51.7% to ALP (-0.5 since last week, -1 in six weeks)
With One Nation preference adjustment 51.1% to ALP
Closest position since October 2016
Labor would probably still win election "held now" but it would be close

Even psephologists have trouble with counting to big numbers sometimes. Like two.  Normally I release a new post in this series every second Newspoll week, but two weeks ago on Newspoll Monday I had an inconvenient distraction.  By the time I'd got through that and a couple of days of work my mind was so much elsewhere that I had forgotten it was time for another Poll Roundup.

Anyway, another Newspoll week has come and gone and all the current streaks noted on my Newspoll records page have continued.  These streaks are: the Coalition for most 2PP losses in a row (now at 36), Malcolm Turnbull for most Better PM wins in a row (now 56), Bill Shorten for most negative netsats in a row for an Opposition Leader (now 69) and Malcolm Turnbull for the third-most negative netsats in a row for a PM (now 47, and he has overtaken Julia Gillard for second place for longest stay in negativeland by time.)

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Importance Of Keeping #politas On Topic

This is a piece concerning Twitter I've been meaning to write for some time, mainly so I can link to it and so others can link to it when explaining the concept of topicality to people determined to ignore it or else new to Twitter.  Or who just don't know what "#politas" means.

On Twitter, hashtags are used to to help people find material that is relevant to them.  If a person is interested in something, they can use TweetDeck or other programs to set up a search for all tweets with a particular hashtag (a # followed by the subject matter), and thereby "follow" that hashtag.

Friday, July 13, 2018

2018 World Chess Federation Elections

The perfect politician?
This site mainly covers Australian elections, especially Tasmanian, but now and then I write about a curious area where two of my lives intersect, namely global chess politics. 

The world chess federation (FIDE) is gearing up for its 2018 presidential election, to be held in Batumi, Georgia (the country, not the state) in early October.  When I last picked up the story here, long-time incumbent, the somewhat eccentric Russian businessman and former Kalmykian President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, was on his way to yet another landslide win in Norway in 2014.  While naive western media wrote up the contest with Garry Kasparov as likely to be a close-run thing, Ilyumzhinov won a frequently grubby contest much as expected and a little bit more, with 64% of the vote.  This more or less repeated other lopsided wins for him in 1996, 2006 and 2014.  

There were some sequels to the election, with Kasparov and Ignatius Leong being found guilty of a serious electoral breach (regarding an arrangement in which Kasparov agreed to pay Leong to deliver him votes) by the FIDE Ethics Commission and banned for two years.   However, a rival complaint against Ilyumzhinov was dismissed

Another sequel of note concerns Ilyumzhinov's promises to pay twenty million dollars into FIDE's bank account if re-elected, and establish an African chess foundation with Nigel Short at its head.  Neither of these things ever occurred.  These promises were excused by Ilyumzhinov's supporters at the time as theatrical "bullshit" in response to similar promises by Kasparov.  No evidence that Kasparov's promises were in fact "bullshit" has ever been presented, though they were certainly premised on something (him winning) that was never going to occur.

But finally after 23 years at the helm, Ilyumzhinov's reign is over, as he has not nominated for re-election.  After crushing all previous opponents, he has finally met his match in the unlikely shape of the US Department of Treasury.  In late 2015 Treasury designated him for allegedly "materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria, Adib Mayaleh, and Batoul Rida." Ilyumzhinov tried to have the sanction overturned, including attempting to fly to the US to sort matters out (he was refused permission to board) but nothing worked.

Within weeks of being designated, Ilyumzhinov effectively stood down from the regular business of the FIDE presidency until the sanctions could be overturned (which never happened), continuing as a figurehead president but with all effective power delegated to his deputy Georgios Makropoulos.

In 2017 conflicts developed between Ilyumzhinov and his former supporters headed by Makropoulos after Ilyumzhinov made verbal statements at a meeting that were widely taken as saying he was resigning. The President was also accused of using meeting time to pursue his difficulties with Agon, the commercial rights holder for the World Championships and the culprit for some of the worst event websites in chess history.  Ilyumzhinov however denied he was resigning, and the FIDE rules stated that resignations were only binding in writing.  Therefore Ilyumzhinov remained as President technically, although the image of him on the FIDE website was eventually removed.   Moreover, the FIDE President was reported to the FIDE Ethics Commission for spreading groundless conspiracy theories about the motivations of his former supporters and now opponents on the Presidential Board.  (Update: he's been banned.)

Matters became much more serious when FIDE's bank drew a line in the sand over FIDE's retention of Ilyumzhinov as President in view of the US sanctions issue.  FIDE was eventually forced to make alternative arrangements.

Rejecting various motions calling on him to resign, Ilyumzhinov showed many signs that he might contest re-election.  This brings me to the matter of tickets.  Each FIDE Presidential candidate runs on a ticket with five other candidates for the offices of Deputy President, General Secretary, Treasurer and two Vice-Presidents.  At least one ticket member must be female. The election is winner-take-all, though further Vice-Presidents are then appointed from the floor and by the winning President.

Ilyumzhinov's announced ticket consisted largely of nobodies in the chess world and included one person who was in fact a nobody in any world.  Yes, Ilyumzhinov's announced candidate for FIDE Treasurer, "Glen Stark" (picture at top of article) proved to be a fake candidate whose photo was a stock image.  (For those with too much time on their hands I can thoroughly recommend Googling the Glen Stark story.  It's extremely weird.)

Ilyumzhinov tried running for the presidency of the Russian Chess Federation but pulled out as he did not have the numbers.  Finally the end of a long, winding and very silly road arrived when the Russian Chess Federation overwhelmingly endorsed a different FIDE Presidential candidate (see below). With that Ilyumzhinov, having given the chess world one final dose of bizarre entertainment, threw in the towel.  

The comical end of the long-serving President's reign has led to widespread support for an eight-year term limit for future Presidents, especially as the previous long-serving President, Campomanes, also had a controversial exit.  I am generally opposed to term limits in politics (I am not even sure the Presidency of the United States really needs them) and I think this call is especially missing the point.  Controversial long-serving FIDE Presidents become such because Federations vote for them.  Ilyumzhinov was always controversial.  He didn't become a problem because he had been there too long.  He became a problem because an accident that had always been waiting to happen finally did.  Take a look at almost all the arguments for why US Presidents should be term-limited, and I give you how Trump carries on after less than two years in the job.

Candidates For The Post-Kirsan Era

For the time being there is a three-way contest, and this is something FIDE hasn't seen for President under its current electoral rules, so if it stays that way it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

The current "establishment" candidate is the Deputy President, and effective acting President since Ilyumzhinov's troubles began, Georgios Makropoulos.  Makropoulos, known widely in the FIDE world as "Makro", is a Greek International Master and seven-times Greek Champion.  As is fairly common for chess officials, he is no longer active as a player in major tournaments, with his last FIDE-rated game being played in 2009.  Makropoulos is or was a newspaper journalist in Athens by profession and is currently chairman of FIDE's recently formed Commission of Chess Journalists.

As Deputy President, Makropoulos has been the chairman of the business part of many of the General Assembly meetings I have attended.  In my observation, Makropoulos is a forceful, no-nonsense chairman who has a well developed ability to read the room and determine just how much pointless grandstanding needs to be allowed before an issue can be knocked on the head.  At this point he will frequently announce a proposed resolution and say something like "This is my proposal.  Any objections?"  The result in most cases is silence.  It's actually quite interesting to observe.

The establishment forces (those core FIDE officials who supported Ilyumzhinov against his string of challengers but have now been forced to ditch him) have had some difficulties settling on a preferred Presidential candidate who was willing to run.  The popular Asian Chess Federation President, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, was rumoured to be the likely candidate but didn't run.  Makropoulos seems to have stepped forward because nobody else satisfactory could be found and intends to serve only one four-year term if elected.

The Makropoulos ticket is called "FIDE Forward". (As with Julia Gillard's "moving forward" from the 2010 Australian election, the word "forward" also seems to imply a moving away from the past.) On the whole, FIDE Forward is running on a unitarian program of fiscal consolidation and avoidance of (further) controversy in order to restore the reputation of FIDE.  Makropolous has put forward some proposals for change including an end to proxy voting in FIDE elections (a proposal also supported by Nigel Short).     The argument for Makropoulos will be that he will be a steady hand who, with his supporters, has saved FIDE from being completely run into the ground (not only in reputation terms but also financially, with a severe squeeze a few years ago attributed to wasteful spending, that has since been resolved).  The argument against pretty much any of the senior incumbents is that had Ilyumzhinov not been propped up for so long despite being an obvious liability and reputation risk, FIDE would not have needed saving.

The "anti-establishment" challenger is Grandmaster Nigel Short.  Short is a former World Championship challenger (defeated by Garry Kasparov in 1993) and an evergreen tournament veteran who is now the oldest player in the world's top 100 by three years.  He's also seen plenty of passport stamps in his time as a travelling chess player, having visited about as many countries as the Queen.  Short is an accomplished and amusing commentator on live internet broadcasts, an often outspoken writer and not averse to a spot of light trolling now and then.  In 2015 he attracted a large social media backlash (mostly from people who didn't read the article) after wading into a heated nature-nurture debate by arguing that the massive imbalance between male and female participation rates in top-level chess resulted from differences in brain physiology.  (For anyone interested in the detail of that debate for its own sake, Australian GM David Smerdon had some good posts on all this. I'm personally somewhat on the nurture side actually, but I think we need a lot more trials of the Polgar experiment to really know.)

Short's address to federations pushes some similar ideas to, but has a more energetic feeling than, the programs argued for by previous challengers Karpov and Kasparov.  In particular, Short wants FIDE to turn its financial model inside out, start attracting better sponsors and to stop raising so much revenue from "taxing" players, arbiters, trainers, organisers and federations.  As one of the officials who handles a lot of Australia's transactions at FIDE level I can vouch for some of the issues that the profusion of FIDE fees can cause.  I quite often email chess players to tell them that if they want to change their FIDE federation listing that will be 250 Euro (if they're lucky) - explained by one senior official as a price signal to discourage players from creating work for FIDE by having their federation listed accurately.  Most put up grumpily with being listed under the "wrong" federation rather than pay.

The third and somewhat mysterious candidate is Arkady Vladimirovich Dvorkovich. Dvorkovich is a very experienced Russian politician, Deputy Prime Minister under Medvedev from 2012-2018, and also recently chairman of the soccer World Cup organising committee.  He is also an economist and billionaire.  The candidate's father was a dedicated arbiter, and Dvorkovich is a former Russian Chess Federation President (2010-2014).  Dvorkovich is widely viewed as the "Kremlin candidate" and his endorsement by the Russian chess federation was widely seen as intended to force Ilyumzhinov out of the race, but it is unclear what more is intended beyond that.  Information in English on Dvorkovich's intentions is, at this stage, somewhat elusive, but here's one translation of his comments at a press conference. If he's not all that serious about winning and just wants to use his bid to develop chess, is this a foot in the door for an expected vacancy in 2022?  As yet we don't know.

No particular controversies are known to be attached to Dvorkovich.  However, in January 2018 the US released a list of potential sanctions targets (basically, people who are Russian politicians or are very rich Russians, of which Dvorkovich is obviously both.)  That seemed to be a shot across the bows though, so I don't know if there's a risk of a repeat of the Makropoulos situation.

OMG Actual Electoral Ethics!

As I finally get this article nearly finished comes a remarkable development with FIDE issuing a decree against the kind of behaviour that has been par, bogey and double bogey for the course by all sides in recent previous elections.  A remarkably strict declaration on "anti-corruption" measures targets the sort of stuff I mentioned in my previous article: the flying of delegates here and there for meetings, the strange letters from embassies to chess federations (sometimes bearing offers of lunch), hopefully even the giveaway pens inscribed with the names of candidates for office and so on.  It's a relief to look forward to all the free space in my rubbish bin at the end of the Congress, but I'm not sure this overdue culture change has been entirely thought out:

No Federation Presidents, delegates or officials in FIDE of any national chess federation should accept any gifts, subsidy, inducements, financial or otherwise, or accept any hospitality from a Presidential or Continental electoral candidate, member, adviser or supporter of a Presidential ticket or electoral candidate. All Presidents, officials, delegates or candidates should immediately report any such offer to the Electoral Integrity Committee. 

Officials include but are not limited to: 

• Officers or any person with influence over the decision or voting processes of FIDE or any national chess federation/s including but not limited to Presidents or Delegates of such federations. 
• Candidates for election to any FIDE or Continental positions 
• Employees, administrators, managers, employed by FIDE or national chess federations 

So I guess that means the tickets won't be throwing any parties for their supporters in Batumi, because that's "hospitality", and as it's written even buying a coffee for a delegate could be a prohibited gift.  (Electoral jurisdictions that have policed this stuff for more than five minutes tend to have a codified value floor, about the cost of a coffee or beer, below which a gift cannot be considered as a bribe.) There's also the question of what constitutes an "adviser or supporter" - does a delegate whose federation has publicly declared support become a "supporter" for the purposes of this rule?  If I chat with Nigel Short about the above restriction on Twitter, does that make me an "adviser"?

Another sign of a sea change was the rapid dumping by the FIDE Forward ticket of Aguinaldo Jaime, one of Ilyumzhinov's 2014 Vice-Presidential candidates. Jaime was on the Makropoulos ticket until Short raised corruption allegations from a US Senate report (old stuff that has been online since at least 2010!).  Almost immediately Jaime had to withdraw for personal reasons.


The first available (though not necessarily reliable) data on support from particular candidates came from the release of the list of countries nominating each ticket.  A ticket requires a minimum of five nominators but tickets are often keen to show off their strength by being supported by more.  The process of declaring support in this way is public, and countries can also publicly declare their support in other ways, but the actual voting is done by delegates in a secret ballot.  So there is no guarantee a country will vote the way it says it will.  Nonetheless, lopsided nomination tallies have tended in the past to lead to lopsided elections.

The Makropoulos ticket was submitted with a massive 64 nominations (they say they had a few more, but ran out of room to list them) to 13 (notably including France) for Dvorkovich and six for Short.  This is an even more lopsided balance than the 52-20 rollcall in 2014.  With many federations yet to show their hands there's still a long way to go but if this really stays a three-way contest and if all these federations do vote for Makropoulos then he only needs a handful more to fall his way to win in the first round, which he has been openly predicting will happen.  Some churn between nominations is also of interest - while most of the federations nominating Short didn't nominate anyone in the opening announcement last time, three of those that nominated Kasparov have declared for other tickets.

There are two lines of "it's not that simple" theory that I have seen around the traps.  The first, and I am unsure if its factual premise is even correct, is that the nominations might have been mostly collected prior to Ilyumzhinov's withdrawal and Dvorkovich's entry, and that while none of the federations nominating Makropoulos are remotely likely to vote for Short, they might yet be open to voting for Dvorkovich, especially if his bid is well-resourced.

The other is that there is some sort of plan for the two non-Short tickets to merge with Dvorkovich becoming some kind of shiny new Ilyumzhinov.  The problem with this theory so far is that it is not clear why this would not have been organised in advance if it was ever going to happen at all. 

For all the talk of last-minute dramas and deals, exotic ticket splicing, balances of power and other such scenarios my early suspicion is that the election itself is shaping up to be another fizzer, which is why I'm writing now while it's still interesting!  If it does go to a three-way contest, then the FIDE Electoral Regulations come into play:

3.7 For all elections a majority of the votes cast, not counting abstentions, shall be required. If there is a tie, the voting is repeated until the tie is broken. 
If three or more persons are nominated for the same offices or office, the candidates that receive 50% plus one of the votes cast, are elected on the first ballot. Thereafter, the candidates receiving most votes on the second ballot are elected to the vacant number of offices. If there is a tie, the voting is repeated until the tie is broken. 

One would think that the candidate in third place drops out after the first round (if there is no outright majority) but the regulations don't explicitly require them to.  Oh for those still pushing ticket-merge theories, here's the regulation on that sort of thing:

1.7 In case one member of a Presidential ticket becomes incapable to run for the election (death, illness or similar serious reasons), he/she can be replaced on the Presidential ticket within 20 days after the unexpected event, but at the latest until the day before the election. All other conditions concerning the nominations are applicable. In case of doubt, the ELE shall make a decision.

The ELE is the Electoral Commission (itself a fairly recent development) and consists of a chair (of the Constitutional Commission) elected by the General Assembly of federations and one member elected by each of the four Continents.  The "scrutineers" (effectively the election vote-counters; what this site knows as "scrutineers" are in FIDE parlance called "observers") are also elected by the General Assembly. And here is an aspect of Short's platform that I personally support: FIDE should ideally find some way for all of its electoral organs to be independent. It is the only way, especially when so many FIDE regulations are so imprecisely written.


Disclaimer: This article represents my own views only and not those of the Australian Chess Federation, any other chess organisation or any candidate or election ticket. The ACF has not as yet made any decision regarding who (if anyone) to support, and nor have I. 

Warning: All feedback arising from this article will be taken to be on the public record, especially if stated otherwise.