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.)