Sunday, November 25, 2018

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

Ripon Recount Updates

As noted below after Louise Staley (Lib) led Sarah De Santis (ALP) by 79 votes on the quick count, corrections in the distribution of preferences (including a 68-vote anomaly that had already been known) resulted in De Santis provisionally winning by 31 votes.  The VEC conducted further scrutiny of the major party primary votes and informals after which De Santis' lead was, according to unofficial indirect reports, cut to either three or four votes.  The VEC is now conducting a full recount.  Eventually a winner will be declared, unless it is a tie, and then after that the winner will be seated pending any possible court challenge.

Friday 11:00  At this stage changes in the recount primaries have affected only minor candidates with Gibbs (DHJP) down 4, Truscott (IND) up 3, Jennings (VS) down 1, and Fava (SF+F) up 2 since last night.  Things will get more interesting later.

Friday 12:30 No change from the above showing yet.

Friday 1:30 Mysteriously, the VEC has just posted a spreadsheet of the superceded recheck (replacing the previous recheck breakdown by booth page) and it shows the Liberal vote was 3 votes higher (15597) than the 15594 showing late last night and at present.  No other party is affected by the difference between the recheck spreadsheet and the votes as of late last night.

A bigger mystery is that the Ripon page now says "Refer to the distribution of preferences below for result from Recount", but the distribution of preferences page (which has the superceded recheck margin of 31 votes) is showing different primary figures again!  This gives the impression that the recount is complete, but surely it can't be.

The following table shows how the currently shown primary figures (2:00 Friday) differ from various previous figures shown:

(Click for larger clearer version).

The table shows that the Liberal vote increased from the preference distribution figures to the figures currently showing, and this probably explains the closing of Labor's margin being reported last night (but never officially confirmed).

I have also had a report that scrutineers say the gap has closed to one vote.  Hmmm...

Friday 2:30 Still nothing new to see, there have been no changes in the figures on the VEC site for at least four hours now.  VEC recounts can be pretty fast.  They did Prahran in one day in 2014.

Friday 5:00 Still no official update on figures but the VEC has said the recount will continue tomorrow from 9:00.

Friday 7:20 A second-hand claim from scrutineers (party unknown) that Staley is now just ahead, and also that the recount is going slowly.  I've also seen a comment suggesting Liberal scrutineers are confident.  I've heard nothing about or from Labor scrutineers yet.

Saturday 3:00 Liberal MLC Margaret Fitzherbert has posted a photo of Staley's scrutineering team and said that Staley has won by 15 votes.  Awaiting official confirmation.

Saturday 5:30 Officially confirmed that Staley has won by 15 votes.  Further changes in the primary vote totals were that Animal Justice lost 4 votes and nobody else gained or lost more than 1, so the recount must have also found changes in the preference distribution (alas there I didn't keep a copy of the original.)

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Welcome to my Lower House postcount coverage after a remarkable Victorian state election night that has seen Daniel Andrews' Labor government returned with an increased majority and a 2PP vote that is likely to be well above what the majority of polls predicted.  The swing in pre-poll voting in urban seats was much weaker than the on-the-day swing, for reasons that remain unclear, and as a result some of Labor's more exotic apparent wins on the night have either gone away or dropped back to lineball.  But it's not like they haven't done damage, with the casualty list including Bass,  Ringwood, South Barwon, Burwood, Box Hill and apparently also Mt Waverley and Nepean.  Some of these were not even on the radar.  The Nationals have also almost certainly lost Mildura to independent Ali Cupper.

On the downside for Labor, beyond the possible loss of Brunswick to the Greens they have run into indie trouble in some seats, including a potential loss in Melton.

Why is it so?  Firstly there is nothing too unusual about second-term landslide wins for state governments when the opposing party is in power federally.  This was also seen, for instance, in Victoria with Bracks, in Queensland with Beattie, in Tasmania with Bacon, on the Liberal side in WA with Barnett and so on.  However this one wasn't expected mainly because of the high level of turbulence associated with the Andrews government.  It has turned out that voters couldn't care less about Red Shirts rorts, firefighter infighting, factional dust-ups or anything else so long as they have a government selling a message on infrastructure and services that appeals.  Labor made no apologies for openly promising a big-spending big-building agenda for the future and this made a refreshing change from the risk-averse micromanaged nonsense that is the bulk of Australian political campaigning.

Right-wing media tried to tell voters they cared about governance, crime, terrorism, African gangs and culture war babble against Safe Schools and euthanasia. Voters didn't, and this has to be the most spectacular demonstration of the modern ineffectiveness of the tabloids and shock-jocks that we have seen for some time.  "Federal drag" (being of the opposite party to the party in power federally) was of course a massive boost to Labor and an enormous hindrance to the Coalition.

The Greens' problem was not just that their primary vote was down (currently hovering just below 10%, having yet again been overestimated by the polls) but more so that Labor's was up.  They could not benefit from shifting in Liberal preferencing behaviour in the inner city seats because there were hardly any Liberal preferences to benefit from - many Liberal voters simply switched to voting Labor.  The vote for "others" increased substantially.  I will review polling accuracy when all the votes are in, but I expect all the polls except for possibly the VNPA ReachTEL will fall well short on the 2PP, perhaps even by outside "margin of error".  Currently the 2PP could be around 57-43 but I have not tried to estimate it accurately and won't for some time.

Also bear in mind that of the remaining possible postals, not all will be returned, and of those returned not all will be formal.

The current 2PP counts are "check counts" only.  At past elections check counts have often been wrong by several dozen votes and in cases up to a 400.  Don't treat them as decisive for very close seats.

This thread will follow the postcount in classic seats and also act as a link to postcount threads for other seats.  The other threads will be rolled out this afternoon and tonight. If any other seat becomes in serious doubt it will be added to the list below.

Notes on count progress (postals etc)

An important thing to bear in mind is that the VEC has innovatively processed most postals on the night, and deserves enormous credit for doing so.  As a result we are not likely to see the usual swings back to the Coalition that late counting usually produces - leads of 51-49 either way are very likely to stick.  However, we may see the Coalition do well enough on out-of-electorate prepolls to avoid a rout on absents in the close seats.  Because postals are already extensively counted I am not expecting Labor's leads in Nepean or Mt Waverley to fall over. I couldn't completely rule out that Labor might even come back in Sandringham but I think that is very unlikely.

Some seats still have large amounts of counting to go that appears to consist of outside-electorate prepolls.  We have little idea yet what these will do and whether they will behave more like within-electorate prepolls (helping the Coalition) or like absents (helping Labor).  It is possible this could yet cause further large movements in some seats, so please treat all my assessments as provisional until those counts currently well below 80% are more settled.  If it is assumed that remaining postals and prepolls will flow the same way as those counted so far, the Liberals will easily win Bayswater and Hawthorn and go close in Nepean (see William Bowe's projections).  However I think remaining postals will be weaker, out-of-electorate prepolls will be more left-leaning, and as a result the flows back to the Liberals will be less strong.

A note (added Tuesday) that in a number of cases the number of postals has turned out to be higher than I was expecting based on the VEC statistics, and I am not sure why this is the case.  However they are not much higher and there are not likely to be that many more to come.  In general this favours the Liberals compared to my earlier assessments.

A note (added Wednesday) that out-of-electorate prepolls are similar to absent votes in that their behaviour depends on where they are from.  Therefore it isn't safe to project patterns off partial out-of-electorate prepoll counts to the rest.  Given the large out-of-electorate prepoll vote we can expect more bouncing around than usual and there could be the odd late surprise.

Note added Saturday: there has been inaccurate information from scrutineers in some districts about the amount of certain kinds of vote left to count.  My apologies for the wildly swinging forecasts of the Caulfield count especially.

Bayswater (Lib vs ALP, 4.6%)

Currently Heidi Victoria (Lib) leads Jackson Taylor (ALP) by a precarious 72 votes.  2369 postals have already been counted and there are at most 640 postals outstanding.  Out-of-electorate prepolls and absents could well favour Labor so it will be interesting to see if the seat can be saved.  William Bowe's projections have Victoria holding if out-of-electorate prepolls mirror the 54-46 split on prepolls so far.  However if out-of-electorate prepolls are slightly more left-leaning (as @sorceror43 has noted was the case in Higgins and Kooyong at the last federal election) then that lead disappears so in my view this seat is a wait-and-see proposition.

Tuesday 5:36 It seems there may have been more postals for this district than showing on the VEC numbers (not sure how that happened) but it hasn't helped Victoria that much anyway as Taylor now leads by 165.  The main benefit for Taylor was the counting of absents which broke to him 1132-922.

Having had a rather close look at this seat there is probably only say 5.5% left to count if the turnout matches 2014 (which it may not) - perhaps 2400 votes, maybe not even that.  That includes provisionals which will break to Labor, and Victoria would need about 53.5% overall.  So far postals have broken to her 57.5% and prepolls 52.5%, but both would be likely to weaken, so at the moment I think Labor could hold on and at least win the check count.  Perhaps it will get close enough for a recount.

Wednesday 6:00 VEC now has Labor 236 votes ahead and in good shape.  I was momentarily confused about the 2PP counting issues but it does seem all primaries are included.

Thursday 6:15 Labor now 266 ahead.  Based on 2014 turnout, Heidi Victoria would be needing about 60% of what is to come to retain, but hasn't been getting that even from postals so I see not that much room for doubt that Labor will win Bayswater.

Monday 11:00 With Taylor 259 ahead on the quick count, the preference distribution is scheduled to start at noon Tuesday.

Tuesday 3:30 Labor wins by 296.

Ripon (Lib vs ALP, 0.7%)

This was the lone seat the Liberals won from Labor at the 2014 election.  Assisted by sophomore effect (which is a theory and a fact!) the Liberals' Louise Staley has done very well in minimising the enormous swing, but even the trivial 0.8% swing against her has still placed her in great danger and she currently trails by 60 votes.  3925 of 4759 possible postals have already been counted so Staley's position is challenging.  It will depend on whether out-of-electorate prepolls cancel out absents.

Tuesday 3:40 Staley now 17 votes ahead.  No absents have been counted yet and no further postals.  4321 prepolls are included.

Tuesday 5:36 I am not sure why the postal counts are slightly exceeding the numbers on the VEC postals page (there won't be that many more to come over the next few days) but this is helping the Liberals in various seats.  Staley now has a 210 vote lead but absents have not been counted in Ripon yet and one would expect them to wipe it out.  Still much too close to call.

Wednesday 5:50 Staley leads by 52 votes on 2PP-counted votes, but these don't include absents which have been counted to primary but not 2PP.  The absents are about equally weaker for both majors compared to the remainder, and stronger for both the Greens and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.  This is probably bad news for Staley but unlikely to be enough to knock her out of the contest by itself - we will have to see where she is after these absents are counted to 2PP.  This could be extremely close.  Also note that the 2PP quick count is not itself checked until the preference distribution, so a lead of 100 votes or less can easily be wrong.  (Larger leads can also be wrong but much less often.)

Thursday 12:20 After adding absents Staley trails by ... ten votes!  Note that provisionals have not been added yet and will probably help Labor, but other remaining votes are more likely to help Staley.

Thursday 1:15 Staley 46 ahead now.

Thursday 6:20 Staley continues hanging tough while other Liberals in doubt fall.  She is now 66 ahead.

Friday 2:45: Staley is 67 votes ahead with 90.85% counted.  We will need to wait for the 2PP count and, should the margin close, potentially a recount, but it is seeming more likely than not that Staley will hang on.

Friday 6:45 Staley 73 up with 91% counted.

Sat 1:30 Staley 83 up with 91.2% counted.  There cannot be too much left now.

Sunday 12:40 There are interesting discrepancies between the various counts currently posted for Ripon (the initial primary count, the rechecked formal primaries and the 2PP quick count).  The spreadsheet primary count has 40134 formal and 3330 informal (total 43464).  The quick 2PP count has 40250 formal and 3341 informal (total 43591).  The rechecked primary count has 40012 formal and 3616 informal (total 43628).  The discrepancy between the spreadsheet and quick 2PP counts are explained largely by small numbers of postal and early votes yet to be updated to the spreadsheet.  Once this is fixed, the major difference between these sources is the larger number of informal votes in the rechecked primary count.  Currently Staley is down 68 more than De Santis in the rechecked count compared to the spreadsheet count.  On this basis it is possible the count when rechecked will be actually extremely close.

Monday 12:00 Staley 81 up on the check count with 91.31% counted.

Monday 11:00 pm With Staley 79 ahead on the quick count, the preference distribution is scheduled to start at 11:00 Tuesday after rechecking of provisionals.  There is some potential for a recount in this seat depending on the final margin.

Tuesday 6:20 Reports that the seat has flipped in the preference distribution with De Santis winning by 31!  I expect this to go to a recount, but we will have to wait for official confirmation. In any case a margin of 31 in a state seat is not likely to be overturned in a recount.

Tuesday 10:20 At this stage a recount has not been announced in the activity plan for Wednesday.  Recounts in Victoria are at the discretion of each seat's Election Manager unless directed to be held by the Electoral Commissioner.  In Prahran in 2014 the decision was reported by the VEC as being made by the Election Manager in consultation with the Electoral Commissioner.  Given the late finish it may be that the matter of a possible recount will be discussed tomorrow.  There may not necessarily be one given the amount of checking already.

Wednesday 6:00 The VEC has approved a partial recheck of the Labor and Liberal primaries and informal votes.  This ensures that all votes have been processed three times, since these are the votes that were not involved in the preference distribution.  A recount has also been requested and is being considered based on the outcome of the recheck.  The recheck is scheduled to conclude tomorrow, following which a decision on a recount will be made.

Thursday 4:15 A report that scrutineers say the gap has closed to 7 votes (original source not yet known).  VEC has said work will continue tomorrow.  It should be noted that in this recheck there is a possible reason for the Liberals to gain, since they have more primary votes so on an assumption of uniform error rate they probably also have more that have been mis-sorted (a reverse of the situation with preferences).

Thursday 9:36 I have had word that the margin is now ridiculously close (3 or 4 votes) with further proceedings tomorrow.  At least a further recheck of preferences; it is unclear if there will be a formal full recount.

Further updates moved to top of page.

Hawthorn (Lib vs ALP, 8.6%)

We are talking about this seat why?  Midway through the night this looked gone on a massive swing but John Pesutto has bounced back to lead by 53 votes.  Only 1920 of a maximum 3383 postals have been counted so Pesutto has more left in the tank than Staley or Victoria.  However he is also still vulnerable to absent votes.  William Bowe is projecting this count to track back to Pesutto (see above).  I am inclined to agree that Pesutto should win because of the number of outstanding postals.

Tuesday 5:42 Pesutto out to a 235 vote lead with 3692 postals counted (again there are slightly more postals than I was expecting to be possible) but absents have not yet been counted so once they are this one too could come back to the wire.

Wednesday 5:50  Labor's John Kennedy has taken a 43 vote lead after the inclusion of absents.  Antony Green has made a comment about incomplete check counts so I am being cautious about projecting anything in micro-close seats and have set them all to unclear/tossup.  Also note that the 2PP quick count is not itself checked until the preference distribution, so a lead of 100 votes or less can easily be wrong.  (Larger leads can also be wrong but much less often.)

Thursday 5:40 Now this is starting to get seriously problematic for Pesutto with Labor now ahead by 153 votes, presumably on the counting of further absents.  88.1% counted; in 2018 92.9% voted so if that is repeated there might be 1900 formal votes to go of which Pesutto would need 54%.  So far he is getting 57% of postals and 54% of prepolls, but both these flows have moderated from the early counting.  There are also still the pesky provisionals to come, and possibly further absents.  Projecting off absents and pre-electorate prepolls is risky because we don't know where they come from, but this looks a bit difficult now.

Friday 2:10 Labor 154 ahead with 89.9% counted.  Provisionals have been counted with Pesutto doing well on them with a 2-vote break, but it's very hard to pull back 154 votes with only a few percent to count.

Friday 6:45 Labor now 163 ahead with no change in the counted percentage.

Saturday 6:25 There is word that this seat has become "closer" now but I know nothing more at this stage. I have checked for possible errors in the check count (cf Caulfield) but not seen anything of note.

Monday 1:30 There has been no real change in the margin (now 165) and there is nothing in the primaries to suggest errors that will retrieve the seat.

Monday 11:00 With Labor up by 165 counting still has to finalise some small absent/provisional parcels with the preference distribution starting at 10:00 Tuesday.

Tuesday 11:22 The final parcels have so far benefited Kennedy by eight votes, so Labor's lead is 173.  This is highly unlikely to be overturned in the distribution.

Tuesday 5:50 Within the last half hour, Kennedy claimed victory on Twitter, so I'm assuming that this one is over.

Tuesday 8:20 There is something weird going on in this election with blowouts from the quick count to the result after preferences in many seats and nearly all in Labor's favour.  Labor win Hawthorn by 329 votes.  The magnitude of this win is worth stating - Hawthorn was only ever won by Labor in 1952, being lost following the DLP split in the 1955 landslide.  Since 1952 Labor has only got closer than 45-55 twice (1955 and 1982) and has never got closer than 48-52.

Nepean (Lib vs ALP, 7.6%)

This is another seat that was never supposed to be on the radar.  On the night Labor led 51-49 which should be enough, but Liberal Russell Joseph just picked up a 62-38 split on a parcel of 974 votes that have appeared on the ABC website but are yet to show on the VEC.  With Labor's Chris Brayne now just 622 ahead (50.60%) I feel inclined to make the doubt over this seat more significant, though I still expect Labor to win it.

5:44 Labor 359 ahead, absents not counted yet so that should come out to over 500.

Wednesday 6:48 Labor now 492 ahead with absents still not included yet so I am now treating this seat as an assumed Labor win.

Thursday 12:00 Labor now 652 ahead after absents.

Final: Labor won by 767.

Caulfield (Lib vs ALP, 4.9%)

Caulfield seemed to be nailed down after electorate night with the Liberals' David Southwick up 51.8% against Labor's Sorina Grasso.  However, the seat has seen wild swings in different types of votes through the count, presumably because of its large Jewish community.  There are reports from Labor sources that the count is "very very close" so I am waiting for fresh official figures on the seat.

Friday 11:50: And yes there has been a stunning turnaround in this seat, mainly because of a high absent vote count which Labor has won by over 1000 (60-40); Labor conventionally does very well on absents here but there are usually not that many of them (up from 3287 to 5563). There are still provisionals to come which should just about overturn Southwick's current 40-vote lead, and whether he survives will depend on the vagaries of small numbers in the remaining parcels.  That said, there is still quite a lot potentially left to count here, with the count still about 8.5% short of the 2014 turnout, so Southwick may pick up on remaining postals especially.  Also, this is another one where the check count is so close we may need to wait for the preference distribution to confirm it.

At about 11 this morning James Campbell tweeted that Labor considered they were about 70 ahead after rechecks - I am unsure if this is superceded by the VEC 40-vote Liberal margin or if it reflects errors in the un-rechecked VEC 2PP count - and also that Labor say they are winning late postals.  As with Wentworth, the Jewish vote in the seat is probably driving discrepancies between early and late postals.

Friday 3:00 James Campbell has reported that Labor scrutineers say they are 289 ahead with very little left to count.  It looks like Labor is actually going to win the seat!

Friday 6:45 The official margin is currently 7 votes to Southwick; this is at 82.65% counted, so still a long way to go in the official count.

Friday 7:50 The official margin is now 118 with yet more absents added.  Where are all these absent votes coming from?

Saturday 6:00 In this very up and down count I have had a report that Labor scrutineers say Southwick is back in front (perhaps yesterday was a bit optimistic?) And yes, the check count now shows Southwick 338 ahead (though there may be significant errors in this).  I rather give up trying to make sense of this one, which is still showing only 83.7% counted.

What happened here today is that contrary to expectations that postals were (i) all but done and (ii) breaking weakly anyway, another 1558 of them appeared and split 1007-551 to Southwick.

Saturday 7:00 There are indeed significant discrepancies between the running primary total in the spreadsheet and that shown as rechecked votes on the main page, as follows:

Southwick (Lib) 16760 (rechecked) vs 16911
Grasso (ALO) 12647 vs 12487
Evans (AJP) 1113 vs 1124
Bavati (SA) 624 vs 650
Matthew (Green) 5176 vs 5148

The net effect is that the check-count 2PP lead is likely to be overestimating Southwick's position by somewhere approaching Southwick's actual lead, and that the seat is still very close.

Sunday 1:15 Southwick is still 338 ahead on the quick count which now shows 87.6% counted (there is lag on the spreadsheet % counted, so this was probably also the case as of yesterday's updates).  The 2014 turnout was 90.7%.

Monday 3:30 Southwick has made further gains and is now 421 ahead on the quick count.  While the issues with the quick count may well reduce this margin to something in the 100-150 range I am expecting Southwick to now hold.

Monday 11:00 With Southwick 410 ahead on the quick count, the preference distribution will commence from 10:00 Tuesday.

Tuesday 2:40 The margin has been halved in the preference distribution as a result of the errors mentioned above but Southwick has retained Caulfield by 205 votes.


  1. Are you absolutely certain about 'Coalition 52, Labor 25'?

  2. I think you have Labor and Coalition the wrong way round in the header.

  3. Bloody typos! I only write this stuff, I don't have time to edit it. :)

  4. Where can one find data on the number of postal votes issued? (assuming that is what use for maximum postals). Thanks!


  5. Staley is just regular sophomore surge. Joe Helper retired in 2014.

    1. Right you are; that's how she won it against the run of play in the first place. Fixed.

  6. Hi Kevin, I notice that the VEC have declared the winners in some of the less close contests today - seats that probably no one here has paid any attention. But Yan Yean caught my eye for the low voter turnout reported. The VEC site says only 49%. Last election was in the 90s. Would that VEC figure be right, or does it get changed later? Is that kind of turnout common in your experience, or is that particularly low?

    1. VEC has at times been showing deceptive % counted figures because the front page is only showing the % counted for rechecked votes. In fact Yan Yean is over 81% counted and will get to over 90%. The VEC would have statistics on how many people did not vote according to which it could be sure Labor will win.

  7. 15 votes might be close enough for a CDR challenge, particularly if there really were a lot of challenged ballots.

    1. It might but it is probably only worthwhile if Labor think they have good prospects of being awarded the seat outright without having to go to a by-election. Although such an action is open to the court (if there is no dispute about voters voting invalidly or being wrongly excluded, so that the only issue is the interpretation of particular votes) I can't think offhand of a case where it has happened.