Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Site Review

This post presents site data for 2019.  The activity graph tells the story of the year (the units are unique pageviews per week):

Hmm, also looks a fair bit like my income pattern for the year.  There were three big events within two months early in the year - the NSW state election, the Tasmanian Legislative Council elections and the 2019 federal election, but the back half of the year has been extremely quiet, bar a small flutter of interest in September that was partly caused by an unusually exciting Tasmanian recount.  It is not just that the second half of the year was such a quiet one, but also the 2019 federal election aftermath was considerably less interesting than either 2013 or 2016, with only one remotely close Senate race and no House of Reps recounts (among other things).  As a result of all this, site traffic was down 22.5% on 2018 (which was the busiest year here to date) and also down 5.1% on the previous federal election year, 2016, making this year the third best for site traffic so far.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Field Guide To Opinion Pollsters: 46th Parliament Edition

It's a tradition on this site to nearly always release something on Christmas Day, but for those who are done with polls after this year's failure, I realise this gift might fall under the heading of "worst present ever".

Just before the 2013 election I posted a Field Guide to Opinion Pollsters, which has become one of the more enduringly accessed pieces on this site.  However, over time parts of its content have become dated or specific to that election, and with more and more pollsters emerging as others disappear, the thing has got too long. So now I post a new edition early in the life of each parliament, editing it through that parliament as the need arises.  Pollsters not expected to be active in the life of the current parliament will be removed, but the old edition text will remain on the previous page.  For the 2016-2019 parliament see 45th Parliament Edition.

There are a lot of polls about in Australia these days.  But how do they all work, which ones have runs on the board and do any of them deserve our trust at all? This article describes what is known about each pollster and its strengths and weaknesses and includes extensive coverage of general polling issues.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

UK 2019: Win For Polls And Tories, A Shocker For The Left And Centre

After spending yesterday commenting on the UK election on Twitter, I think it's time to put some longer-form comments down about the result in light of the sorts of themes that get covered here.

The result was of course a resounding win for Boris Johnson's Conservatives, with 365 of the 650 seats.  The major seat movements were in England, where the Tories took nearly 50 seats from Labour.  There were also movements in Scotland (where the Scottish Nationalist Party took seats from both major parties), Wales (where Labour lost more seats to the Tories) and Northern Ireland (where the Democratic Unionist Party lost two seats to nationalist parties).  The Tory vote didn't increase greatly, but the Labour vote collapsed.  

There will be plenty of detailed accounts available of the characters of areas that broke to one party or another.  As with Australian analysis, when reading these always beware of the "ecological fallacy" - an electorate with a lot of voters of type X swinging to party Y does not always mean that voters of type X themselves swung to party Y.  The obvious hook (and one not so subject to this problem as some) is Brexit, and unsurprisingly strong Leave areas swung to Conservatives and strongly against Labour, while strong Remain areas swung more modestly against Labour and weakly against the Conservatives.  However the relationship between Brexit position and swing was messier in Labour's case.  Correlation-hunting has unearthed this remarkably strong link between swing and blue collar jobs, so it will be interesting to see where that debate goes.  

Sunday, December 8, 2019

In Search Of Australia's Most Ratioed Political Tweets

(This article is updated regularly - original introductory text below.  To save people the effort of scrolling through to see if a very recent tweet has been added, I will be noting the most recent addition at the top, when I remember that is.  The most recent addition was by ABC Insiders added 5 Mar 24)

Note new rule added 1 Dec 2020 to address tweets with replies disabled.

Revised new rule added 28 Sep 2023 to address tweets with replies disabled partway and regarding quote-tweet changes to above rule.

RULE CHANGES: Effective 1 Jan 2022 new tweets will need to have a ratio over 10:1 to qualify.  They can qualify by either the Replies/Likes method or the Quote Tweet/Retweet method, whichever is higher, subject to at least 100 Replies or Quote Tweets respectively.  However I will only track the latter if (i) replies have been disabled or (ii) I have been notified or otherwise become aware that a given tweet is scoring highly on this score.   Selected tweets with ratios between 5 and 10 will still be added if they are of unusual interest to me - which includes tweets by the left of politics or relating to opinion polling or elections.  )


Following the 2019 federal election defeat, Labor is having a hard time reappraising its relationship with coal.  The party was smacked senseless in mining towns in Queensland and copped a 9.5% swing against it in Hunter (NSW), where Labor voters deserted to One Nation in droves.  At the same time, mixed messages on Adani probably saw it lose votes in the other direction to the Greens in the Queensland Senate race.  Labor MHR for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon, has been particularly keen to reconnect with the coal industry following his own somewhere-near-death experience, but when he tried this on Twitter this week, it mostly did not go down well with the natives:

Fitzgibbon's tweet attracted far more replies than likes.  On Twitter this (with varying definitions, eg including or not including retweets as well as or instead of likes, where to set the cutoff etc) is known as being ratioed. The formula I use is simply (number of replies)/(number of likes), counting anything over 1 as an instance.  While there are cases where tweets attract more replies than likes because they provoke a genuinely long discussion or outpourings of sympathy, these exceptions are very rare indeed (especially in politics).  As a general rule, a tweet that is ratioed is so because it has been piled onto by opponents.  Frequently there is a very good reason for that, but in politics the response can be affected by partisan bias.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Voting Patterns In The Tasmanian House Of Assembly (2014-2019)

Advance Summary

1. In the previous Tasmanian Lower House term, the most common voting pattern was Labor and the Greens voting together against the Liberal government. Cases of the Liberals and Greens voting together against Labor were very rare.

2. Between the last state election and September, the Government had significant defeats caused by renegade Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey sometimes voting against it, but Sue Hickey still voted with the Government more than 80% of the time.

3. Since ex-Labor Independent Madeleine Ogilvie rejoined the parliament, the government has not lost any votes, with Ogilvie almost always voting alongside it, and only voting against it so far on symbolic motions.

4. Since Ogilvie rejoined the parliament, Hickey's voting behaviour has become still more independent, to the point that she no longer strongly votes for or against any of the parties or Ogilvie.

5. Votes with the Liberals and Greens voting together against Labor have been significantly more common in this parliament than the previous two.