Friday, January 4, 2019

2018 Site Review

This post presents site data for 2018, which was the most successful year on this site so far.  The rate of unique pageviews was 22.5% higher than in the busiest previous year (2016).  Here's the activity graph for the year (the units are unique pageviews per week):

The first part of the year actually started similarly to 2014, with roughly similar levels of interest in the Tasmanian and South Australian state elections.  However this year had the bonus features of the Super Saturday and Wentworth by-elections, and there was also more interest than in 2014 in my coverage of both the Tasmanian local government elections and the Victorian state election (the big spike on the right).  Partly this was because I wasn't working on anything else at the time Victoria rolled around and was therefore able to put much more effort into analysis of the Victorian upper house especially.  It's pleasing that people supported these efforts with donations - while I'm in no danger of getting rich from them, it does mean I can put major effort into covering an election and feel that the pay is something like real work!

In 2018 I somehow released 114 articles, compared to a previous high of 88.  Given that I was working four days a week for much of the first two-thirds of the year, I am really not sure how this happened.  The major contributors to the tally were the Tasmanian state election (22), the Victorian election (15) and federal polling roundups (11).

The cutting-room floor

Despite the number of pieces that were released, a larger than normal number didn't make it to the finish line, mostly for reasons of time, loss of interest or temper, or because I just didn't quite get them right.   Some of the ideas involved appeared in shorter form in other pieces, or might appear some time in the future.  Languishing in the drafts section at lengths varying from a sentence or two to more or less complete I had the following:

* a heavy-handed spoof of major party majority government pledges to be entitled "Exclusive: Greens Declare: We'll Govern In Minority Or Not At All" (I really wish I'd had time for this!)

* an article expressing exasperation that the Senate took only five minutes to rearrange the Tasmanian term lengths (absurdly distorting the will of the voters by giving the Liberals three full-term Senators from a bad 2016 result)

* a "making best use of your vote" type piece for the Tasmanian state election

* an expanded piece about the Greens threatening a no-confidence motion against the Liberals in the final week of the Tasmanian state election

* detailed analysis of the May Victorian Bus Association state ReachTEL

* another media notes page (when to call me, what to call me, etc)

* a piece comparing people who defend Bob Ellis and people who compare Donald Trump

* a statement clarifying that I now have no formal relationship with the University of Tasmania and that this site has never had any such relationship

* a post combining the above and the media notes page

* Tasmania's Green MPs Are Really Fuelling Xenophobia (July 15)

* What Freedom Of Speech Is Not.  I might still release this one someday.  People  on all sides of politics frequently claim all kinds of things to be free speech issues; most of them aren't.

* Why I Don't Support Term Limits

* Push-Polling In Australia Is Pretty Much Extinct

Top of the pops

The following were the ten most popular articles of the year by number of unique pageviews:

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

The third most viewed article of this site's history (second by total pageviews), trailing only the 2014 Tasmanian state guide and the 2013 federal postcount page (which both would these days have been broken up into smaller pieces).  This article covered counting for the historic Wentworth by-election, which attracted great interest with the Liberal Party losing one of its Federation jewel seats to independent Kerryn Phelps.  Interest was further boosted by a late-night wobble where differences between on-the-day and pre-day voting caused the margin to close massively, and data transcription errors gave a largely false impression that the seat had been called prematurely.  This site published evidence (see graph below) that these transcription errors were likely to exist and that Phelps' position at the end of counting on election night was better than it appeared.

2. Victorian Upper House Live

A close second, and the fourth most viewed article of this site's history.  This article followed counting in the Victorian Legislative Council election, in which micro-parties won a ridiculous number of seats by preference harvesting, with an increase in below-the-line voting rates having relatively little impact on that outcome.  The modelling involved in following these contests was very difficult, but with a lot of help from readers we managed to project all 40 seats correctly (including three overturns of the ABC Calculator) by the time the buttons were pressed.

3. 2018 Hobart City Council Count (With Some Coverage Of Other Councils)

This article followed the 2018 Hobart Council count, which saw Green-turned-independent Anna Reynolds win the mayoralty by what turned out to be a more than decisive margin, while temporary Lord Mayor Ron Christie lost his council seat entirely, and four new Councillors were elected, with a great increase in the Council's ethnic diversity and Green-turned-independent cult-candidate Holly Ewin pulling off a surprise win too.  The article also covered other councils generally, and covered the scandalous rate of informal voting as a result of a lack of savings provisions and requirements to fill in too many boxes.

4. Hobart City Council Elections Candidate Guide And Preview 2018

Guide page for the above.

5. 2018 Victorian Lower House Postcount: Summary And Classic Seats

Post-counting page for classic-2PP (Labor vs Coalition) seats at the 2018 Victorian state election.  There were a large number of these that were close, with one going to a recount and some others showing wild swings in post-counting based on differences between on-the-day and booth voting.  As with Queensland in 2017 these posts seem to be especially popular when official information isn't adequate.

6. 2018 Tasmania Postcount: Franklin

This post followed the postcount for the Tasmanian state seat of Franklin, where Green incumbent Rosalie Woodruff eventually defeated Liberal incumbent Nic Street by just 226 votes.  Early on it appeared that Street was better placed, but eventually Woodruff prevailed as a result of a change in the behaviour of votes coming from Labor compared to previous elections.

7. 2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Main Page

Unlike in 2014, I did separate guide pages for each electorate, but the main guide page still made the top ten without them.  As expected the Hodgman Liberal government retained office with a reduced majority.

8. 2018 Victorian Postcount: Greens Vs Labor (Prahran, Brunswick, Melbourne)

This covered the three close Greens vs Labor seats in the Victorian state election.  The most interesting was Prahran, though it was only a two-way fight to make the final two, rather than a close three-party fight as in 2014.  Ultimately incumbent Sam Hibbins (Greens) prevailed, winning from third on primaries for the second election in a row.  The Greens also picked up the vacant seat of Brunswick, and retained Melbourne but with an unflattering margin.

9. 2018 Tasmania Postcount: Bass

This covered the close postcount race between Jennifer Houston (ALP) and incumbent Andrea Dawkins (Green) for the final seat in Bass.  The postcount featured a very close three-way tipping point between Labor, Green and Liberal candidates.  Always the favourite, Houston survived that tipping point by 275 votes and won on Liberal preferences.

10. Legislative Council 2018: Prosser

Preview page for the Tasmanian Legislative Council race for the new seat of Prosser, ultimately won by the Liberals' Jane Howlett in one of the largest fields on record.

Some other stats

The ten biggest days of the year were Oct 21 (day after Wentworth), Nov 25 (day after Victoria), March 14 (Tas postcount), Mar 4 (day after Tas), Nov 26 (Vic postcount), Mar 3 (Tas election day), Oct 30, Oct 31 (Tasmanian councils), Mar 13 (Tas postcount) and Nov 27 (Vic postcount).

The most popular pieces written in any previous year were How Often Are Federal Newspolls Released?, Why Preferred Prime Minister/Premier Scores Are Rubbish, Polling On The Mt Wellington Cable Car Proposal (because of updates), the bio page and the federal aggregate methods page.

The ten most clicked tags were Tasmania, Legislative Council, post-counting, silly greens, South Australia, 2016 federal, pseph, Hare-Clark, EMRS and Greens.

In the visiting countries stats there is a very high bounce rate for one country, France.  After adjusting for this the top ten countries were Australia, USA, UK, NZ, Canada, France (re-entry), India (+2 places), Japan (-1), Singapore (-1) and Germany (-4).  132 "Google countries" visited in 2018 and in total 171 have now visited.  As this is lower than the 2017 total, Google must have changed some of the country units.  First-ever visits were recorded from Nauru, St Lucia, Botswana, Liberia and Gabon.

The top ten cities were Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Launceston (+4), Brisbane (-1), Adelaide (+1), Canberra (-2), Perth (-2), Devonport (re-entry) and London (-1).   This all makes sense; lots of places had elections and some places didn't.

Among the quirkier search terms to find their way here were:

2008: Prof Kerryn Phelps bent spoon 

fallout from the batman by-election

gay par tas line

paul simon curtains

thylacine wa

voting legalative council only nomber 1square and 0 In all other squares

who was prosser tas

The top hit sources for the year were Google, Twitter, Facebook (+1). pollbludger (+3), Tally Room (-2), Bing, Tasmanian Times (-2), Reddit (re-entry), duckduckgo (new entry), Chesschat (-1).  duckduckgo is a search engine.  If I ignore search engines, the next three are Wikipedia, The Conversation and the Something Awful forums.

Thanks once again for all the support through an especially crazy year in Australian electoral politics, especially from those who have donated $$$.

Orders of the year

In 2019 there will be a federal election and a NSW state election. There will also be Tasmanian Legislative Council elections for the divisions of Montgomery (Liberal-held), Pembroke (Labor-held) and Nelson (vacancy in conservative-leaning seat).  It may be that the first half of the year is very busy in this game and the second half is very quiet - we'll see if it stays like that!

1 comment:

  1. A belated merry Christmas and happy New Year to you Dr Bonham and to all that visit this site, may you all have many more. Thank you for your insightful look into the world of political polling, which I'm still trying to get my head around. In closing I'd just say that we are in for a helluva bumpy ride in the next few months,so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Barry