Saturday, August 22, 2020

2020 Northern Territory Election Live And Post-Count

Election over - ALP 14 CLP 8 TAP 1 IND 2 
ALP returned with reduced majority 

2PP Estimate 54.1 to ALP (Mulka excluded; effective 3.1% swing to CLP)
Final 2PP 53.3 to ALP (Mulka excluded; effective 3.9% swing to CLP)

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All results are now final and will be declared.  Any winners might then in theory be challenged but will be seated pending any challenge (challenges are rare).  

In the final distribution of preferences, eight seats saw changes to the 2CP results, with the biggest change being in Gwoja where 31 votes flipped from Labor to the CLP. This sort of thing is more common in lopsided seats that have attracted less scrutiny.  One of the changes was in Barkly, where the CLP's margin was cut from seven votes to five (but a win is a win is a win ...)

Despite substantial closing of the margins to third in some cases (including Braitling and Namatjira where Independent and TAP challengers had some chance to get into second but fell 99 and 102 votes short) in no case did the final two change as a result of a preference distribution.

My 2PP estimate - a definitive figure should emerge eventually - is 54.1% to Labor.  This is calculated firstly based on the actual votes that definitely reached Labor or the CLP ahead of the other, which accounts for 93.2% of the votes.  The remaining votes, that cannot be attributed to a 2PP winner just yet, are 2270 votes that landed with the Territory Alliance at the point of Labor's eliminations in Araluen and Goyder, and 4385 votes that landed with independents Gumbula (Arnhem, 1105), Purick (Goyder, 1760) and Ratahi (Nelson, 1520) at the points where the CLP, Labor and Labor respectively were eliminated.  For the TAP I have used the total flow of all preferences from them between the CLP and Labor in 19 seats where they were excluded before either major party (I have this flow at 59.2% to CLP).  For the independents I have used the combined flow from independents Purick and Wood in 2016, of 54.2% to Labor.  (Arguments can be made either way on this.  On the CLP side it is likely that the flow from Gumbula was weaker as he was an ex-CLP candidate, and also possible that the flow to Labor from indies would have been weakened by the election being less lopsided.  On the other hand the huge swing from Independent to CLP in Nelson especially makes it likely that the more conservative independent voters switched to the CLP, and the remaining independent voters were more pro-Labor.)

On this basis, the swing with Mulka ignored was 3.1%.  On such a swing, if uniform, Labor would have been expected to drop four seats in which they won the 2PP, and this is exactly what happened.  They lost Katherine, Brennan and Braitling which were all on margins below 3.1%, they lost Barkly which was on 15.7% in an only-in-the-Territory result, but they saved Port Darwin which would have been below the waterline.  They won Blain for the first time, but Blain was in fact a Labor 2PP win in 2016 (54.8%) so if one assumed that Terry Mills was going to lose it, one would have also predicted Labor to win it given the small swing.  

So ends the Territory election!  Thanks all for the interest, it's been fun.

(Update 30/10: the 2PP was in fact 53.3% to Labor.)


1:15 EDGINGTON WINS: Steve Edgington (CLP) has gained 27 votes on the late postals and pulled off an upset seven-vote win, subject to official confirmation.  Final postals broke 53-24, even stronger than the 58-31 flow to that point.  I was surprised by the number of postals that arrived in the last few days, overturning my expectation that Labor would retain this seat.  A great win for the CLP in a seat held by Labor by a massive margin.  For the time being the result is 14-8-1-2, subject to preference distributions.  

1:10 Yan moves further ahead on remaining postals in Namatjira and wins by 22 subject to confirmation and preference distribution (see below).   The late postals were weaker for the CLP than the earlier ones with the flow dropping from 75% to 61%; Labor would be hoping for a similar decline in Barkly.

1:05 Big flood of late postals to Lambley in Araluen, she wins by 43 (subject to official confirmation.)

A few more postals have trickled in and there are now 81 to count in Barkly, re which Labor would be very nervous.  Added postals have split 13-12 to Labor in Blain and it appears that Labor have won Blain by 13 votes.


Numbers of votes to come (thanks to Ross Leedham): Araluen 58, Barkly 75, Blain 23, Namatjira 66.  I have put Barkly back into significant doubt since the number of votes remaining is higher than expected and if these follow the pattern of the postals seen so far then the CLP could yet just get there (they would be expected to gain 22 votes).  In other jurisdictions there is a pattern that late postals are more left-wing than early ones but I am not sure that holds in the NT, and there has been controversy about voters voting after election day.  

No counting today.  Antony Green has a list of seats where there may be exclusion order issues, in theory in one case (Namatjira) giving rise to a different result.  For the Territory Alliance to win in Namatjira they need to gain on Labor at .228 votes per vote in a three-way split between the CLP, the TAP and Labor.  The fact that 272 votes come from the Greens, who preferenced Labor, will most likely put this beyond reach.


5:30 Labor now 20 ahead in Barkly.  I'm assuming the recounting is done now, in which case it seems extremely unlikely the current leaders in Barkly, Araluen and Blain will be overturned.  More postals will be counted on Friday.  In Namatjira, the CLP lead is cut from seven to six!

5:00 Lambley now 17 ahead, and still no change in Namatjira.

4:00 Labor now ahead by 15 in Blain.

1:00 A gain for Labor in Barkly (now leading by 22) and also one vote onto the margin in Blain (now 14).  No change in the other two.

11:40 Recounts are occurring today in seats within 100 votes.  The only margin change so far is that Labor has lost another vote in Barkly and is now 14 ahead there.  


12:15 After postals Labor's lead in Blain is 13 while rechecking has cut Labor's lead in Barkly to 15.  I am not sure if further postals will be counted in the other seats today.  There are known to be 15 postals in Barkly, 14 in Araluen, 17 in Namatjira.  There should be very few more to arrive.  

11:30 Leads after declaration votes are Araluen Lambley 18, Barkly Labor 18, Blain Labor 15, Namatjira CLP 7. A small number of postals still to come today but challengers facing a double digit lead are now just about out of ammunition ans will need something to happen in the recount. 


3:30 Araluen: Lambley now leads by 12 votes.  It looks like yesterday's larger lead could have been an error as it hasn't resurfaced, but who knows?  Anyway, more votes are going out of the count, which is good for her.

Barkly: Has been updated but only minor corrections not new votes, Labor still 23 ahead.

Blain: Finally an update here and Labor now leads by 14.

Namatjira: Currently the closest seat but Bill Yan extends his lead from 6 to 9.


6:00 There is an issue with the Araluen results which appear to be missing some of the already counted votes (or perhaps some votes were double-included in the first place), showing Lambley only 13 votes counted.  Compared to totals posted earlier today the current count is missing 49 previously included votes for the CLP, 57 for Lambley, 58 for Labor, 17 for the Greens and 16 for others.  It is unclear which version is correct.

12:30 Robyn Lambley now leads by 34 votes in Araluen and as postals continue to go slightly in her favour I believe she has retained.  I have upgraded this seat to an expected TAP win.


9:10 Another 54 formal postals have been added in Barkly and they behaved very differently to the first lot, with the CLP getting 40 of them.  At that rate, the CLP would only need another 50 or so more formal postals to win, which is the number likely to be returned if the return rate is the same as in 2016. However if the postals are the same as the average to date, then they would need more.  I have pulled this seat back to a merely likely Labor win.

The CLP have also taken the lead in Namatjira after some postals were added.  They lead by six there now.  Labor would probably need help from declaration votes at this point.  Lambley got a bit of a breather today with her lead increasing to 17.

4:15 Progress today in:

* Araluen where Lambley's lead was cut to 11 making her position very uncertain pending the random dribble of remaining postals and an inevitable recount.
* Namatjira where Sheralee Taylor's (ALP) lead was boosted to 33 significantly improving her chances of holding off further postals, but the first lot of postals were so nasty that there is still a chance she will be caught.
* Barkly, where the CLP challenge remained barely alive with the cutting of Vashist's lead to 55 though it is unlikely there are enough postals left or that they will flow strongly enough for that lead to be overturned.  

Nothing today from Blain. I am continuing to update my 2PP estimate, which may be generous to the CLP as it assumes a roughly 50-50 flow from independents including Purick and Ratahi, but it's fairly likely the conservative end of independent voting in Goyder and Nelson has gone home to CLP and the rest will be more Labor-leaning.  Then again the preferences of Gumbula might be more CLP-leaning.  

Note that the NTEC recounts all seats with margins <100, a rather generous policy but then again it probably doesn't take very long.


Not-A-Poll: After removing votes taken after the polls closed (at which time the poll was set to close), 50/99 voters (a bare majority) in the sidebar Not-A-Poll successfully picked a Labor majority government.  The other votes were:

32 ALP-led minority or coalition
6 CLP-led minority or coalition
4 CLP majority
4 TAP-led minority or coalition
0 TAP majority
3 Something else

5:10 There have been some issues with Mulka today briefly displaying as a Labor lead - this seems to have been a transposition error in rechecking, and now the Mulka Mobile 1 booth is missing as a result of which Guyula's lead is smaller than I believe it actually is.  There is no reason at this stage for doubt that Guyula has won easily.

2:40   Coolalinga EVC has been removed from the Blain booths list and this has also happened for eg Fong Lim. Perhaps it doesn't actually exist which at this juncture would be very handy for Labor.

A word on the Kim Hopper situation in Braitling.  Hopper, an independent on a platform similar to the climate-focused centre-left independent style common in mostly inner city seats at the last federal election, looked a possible chance early on election night.  She now trails Labor by 306 votes, which would require her to beat Labor by 28 points in a three-way split of votes going between her, them and the CLP.  If she succeeded in making the top two, she would need 71% of all preferences to reach her ahead of the CLP.  Both these things seem difficult and an issue here seems to be the TAP preferences, as TAP have preferenced first Labor then the CLP ahead of Hopper on their card, something some of their supporters are likely to do anyway.   Now and then someone will win a contest of this sort (eg Wilkie Denison 2010) so it is worth keeping an eye on absent of scrutineering evidence as the final preference flow unfolds.  I think it is probably very difficult for Hopper to get into second, and am assuming it won't happen, but mention it anyway just in case.  

1:40 Labor's lead in Namatjira cut to 15, possibly on rechecking.

1:10: I have revised my 2PP estimate based on current counting to 53.6%.  Yesterday's estimate underestimated the degree of undercounting in certain of the safe ALP seats.

I will be otherwise occupied for much of today; there will be updates around mid-afternoon.  Of note is a comment from poster Outsider at Poll Bludger re the Coolalinga issue which suggests that the reason the Daly votes there were so pro-CLP is that the booth is closer to the semi-rural side of Daly.  This doesn't apply to Blain so the Blain votes there may not do anything.

MONDAY (Note: I forgot to reset my clock to NT time, the times below are AEST, sorry!)

6:43 CLP out to 95 in front in Brennan now so I am moving that one to expected win status.

5:04 Labor over 200 ahead in Fong Lim now after absents.  Meanwhile I have had a go at a 2PP estimate off the current count and my current very rough estimate is 52.8% to Labor, an effective 4.4% swing to the CLP because of the exclusion of Mulka from the 2PP list.  

4:58 Strong performance by Labor on absents in Namatjira puts them 20 votes ahead there.  

4:28 Lambley out to 20 in front after absents, so again looking likely to survive.  Meanwhile another cut for Labor in Blain, dropping back to 21 after absents.  The Coolalinga EVC is on the boundary between Nelson and Goyder and returned normal results for those seats, but very conservative results for Daly, so Labor should be nervous of its prospects on the Blain votes there.  In Fong Lim, Labor 137 up after postals.  I doubt there are enough nasty Coolalinga votes for that one to cause them issues there.  Note also that the conservatism of Coolalinga might be enough to put Brennan beyond reach, if it isn't already.

4:13 Labor's lead in Barkly has been cut to 72 on absent votes.  They should still be alright there as the number of outstanding postals is not likely to be large.  

4:00 In Blain Labor has landed 29 in front with Coolalinga EVC still outstanding; this is too close to call at least until that booth is added.  The CLP have 62.5% of Mills' preferences.  In Brennan the CLP are 38 in front with the same booth missing.  In Daly, the CLP have won the Coolalinga EVC booth very handily and jumped to a 91-vote lead which is enough for me to assume the CLP holds Daly.  In Katherine I did not earlier notice how few votes there are left to realign, such that the CLP will certainly win the realignment and the only remote issue there is the extremely unlikely prospect of the TAP candidate beating them by 53 points on the preferences of a low-scoring IND.

2:37 Note also re Blain that there is still a Coolalinga EVC booth outstanding, the number of votes in which is unknown to me.  So there are a lot of uncertainties in this seat and it will probably still be in play at the end of the day.  After one more booth was added I have the projected margin after realignment down to 32.

2:16 In Araluen, Lambley's lead is down to 9 votes.  In Daly, the CLP lead by 38 so are likely to be fine there now.  

1:50 Things have continued going well for Labor in Fong Lim where they are now 117 ahead at the end of the realignment.  There are still three outstanding EVCs there with 184 votes and probably still a three-figure sum of postals to come but that one is looking extremely strong for Labor now and I've moved it to expected win status.

1:41 In Blain the CLP's share of TAP preferences has improved.  Labor currently leads by 52 in the realigned booths; I project that to drop to 38 but that is without looking for correlations between booth vote and preference share, so with that and postals it is still very close there.

1:36 Labor wins Arnhem. The flow of preferences in the first mobile booth was so weak that Labor is now mathematically certain to win on the current numbers, and while this may not quite be the case after including absents and postals, the preference flow required for them to lose will be prohibitive.

1:00 In Arnhem, Gumbula (IND) got 59% of preferences in the first booth, which was a booth where he did not do well on primaries.  He may do much better in the mobile booths and is still in with a real shot here on paper, though bear in mind Labor scrutineers have been reported as saying they have him covered.

12:57 The first booth in Katherine has been realigned with 58% of preferences going to the CLP, which is easily enough.  Antony Green has tweeted 51% but I believe that is incorrect.

12:32 Getting worse for the CLP in Fong Lim too where their preference share has dropped to 56%.

12:30 CLP lead in Daly down to 4 votes!

12:24 The realignment has started in Blain.  One booth has been realigned, Palmerston ECV, but it's a big one, and it's bad news for the CLP as they are only getting 60.7% of preferences, which would project them to a 62-vote deficit.  So that seat switches to Labor favoured but still too close to call.

11:35 The realignment has started in Fong Lim.  At the moment the CLP are leading on 2PP but this is because one of the booths realigned so far, Berrimah, was favourable for them.  They are getting 57.1% of preferences in Berrimah and 60% in Casuarina EVC, neither of which is currently quite enough.  On the flows so far Labor projects to about 80 votes in front, but that's quite close and there's still a way to go here.

11:30 Casuarina is also being re-aligned and the realignment there has commenced.  Note that the realignments may occur booth by booth and there could be a lot of bouncing around in the close seats while that happens.

10:50 A slight change on primaries in Fong Lim; the CLP now needs 63.9%.


1:10 Postals added in Araluen where Lambley has somewhat unexpectedly increased her lead to 26 votes and should now survive barring counting errors.

In Namatjira, there has been a very strong flow of postals to Bill Yan (CLP) who is now 25 in front and would seem unlikely to be caught.

In Daly, the CLP has taken a seven vote lead.

In Brennan, postals slightly favoured Labor who trail by 48 and there is still an outstanding EVC to report.

In Katherine, Melanie Usher (TAP) still needs to gain 75 votes over the CLP on a split of 161 votes from Booth (IND), with these votes also having Labor as a possible destination.  That requires her share of Booth's preferences to be 47 points higher than the share for the CLP.  That seems very difficult especially as the donkey vote goes to Labor.

12:20 Postals added in:

* Arnhem, where there were very few postals; Gumbula now needs 65.3% of preferences. A note re this seat: the ABC are projecting it strongly to Gumbula but that is based on estimated preference flows, not real numbers.  ALP scrutineers were reported as projecting they would win by 100 but that may be incorrect as well.
* Barkly, where 35 postals split very evenly and given what we know about the likely low postal count in Barkly this is looking very solid for Labor now and I have upgraded it to an expected Labor win.
* Blain, where the CLP now also needs 64.5% of preferences
* Braitling, where the CLP lead increased by four votes to 105
* Fong Lim, where Labor performed well and Bonnani now needs 64.5% of preferences.

10:00 Overnight changes:

I have moved Fong Lim back into the doubtful category because Labor's lead has closed on further prepolls such that the CLP candidate there (Kylie Bonnani) now needs only 63% of preferences to win.  I would think that is still a tall order given that some of the preferences are coming from an Independent who seems to be reasonably unclassifiable but further counting may close the asking rate, and the fact that the independent and the CLP candidate are both female, would seem to give the CLP more realistic chances, especially with a reasonable number of postals still to be added.

Regarding today's postals Antony Green writes:

"The postal votes to be counted in the close contests today are – Araluen 181 returned of 494 issued, Arnhem 38 of 322, Barkly 45 of 316, Blain 185 of 438, Braitling 112 of 399, Brennan 252 of 492, Daly 140 of 438, Fong Lim 157 of 413, Katherine 75 of 349, Namatjira 112 of 406,"

Note that in seats like Arnhem and Barkly with low return rates, it is likely that most of the remaining postals will not appear at all, and this is why Labor are well placed in Barkly.

Current leads by votes in seats with meaningful 2CPs are:

Araluen Lambley (TAP) 13 votes
Barkly Vashist (ALP) 103
Braitling Burgoyne (CLP) 101
Brennan Boothby (CLP) 59
Daly Venes (ALP) 28
Namatjira Taylor (ALP) 30

Note that in the NT it is rare for leads exceeding 100 to fall over.  


Third-party uprisings have been a common trend of Australian state politics, but in single-member systems they generally fail to deliver the goods.  Recent modest exceptions like KAP in Queensland and Shooters in NSW have been very regionally concentrated.  This is another case where a third-party uprising has amounted to very little, with the Territory Alliance currently on only 13%.

The election has seen some swing against the Gunner Government, but it is currently running at only around 2% in the seats that can be counted to 2PP, and may not get above about 3% in further counting, so there seems little doubt that Labor has won the 2PP comfortably.  At this stage, Labor has suffered a net loss of only one seat, but it is projected to lose at least another two once postals are added.  

The polling discrepancy I referred to here has been resolved in favour of uComms, whose poll looks likely to have been very accurate by NT standards, while the Territory Alliance Mediareach poll has not been predictive at all.  Of course, polls only measure votes at the time they are taken and a defender of that poll could argue that the TAP were on course but later crashed.  However, I don't think so.  

The election confirms that it is hard for state and territory parties to defeat first term governments, and also hard to do so when in government federally.  To what extent the government might have faced a bigger swing in the absence of COVID-19 we will probably never know.  

Postal counting tomorrow will either determine the result in five of the eight outstanding seats, or determine that they will go to the wire.  Thanks all for the interest in the coverage; it's been a fascinating and quite messy night!


12:20 It's been a long night! I've looked at preference flows in seats where there is a clear flow of TAP preferences - in Karama it is 58.7% to CLP, in Sanderson 50.7, in Wanguri 65.2 and in Spillett 68.8.  This suggests the ABC's projection for Fong Lim is wrong and Labor should win it when it is realigned (the site is calling it a Labor win).  This also raises questions about Blain, where the CLP needs 64.3% of Terry Mills' preferences to win.  However I suspect that asking rate will drop on postals and they'll get there.  

11:40 Looking at Barkly, there are 316 outstanding postals, of which at least a quarter won't arrive - but in 2016 very few postals issued were returned in this seat.

Even if three-quarters were returned this would leave the CLP needing three-quarters of the rest.  In 2016, postals in Barkly were 37% stronger for the CLP and 16% weaker for Labor on primaries than other votes.  However there was an independent who had an impact in that year.  If that swing was applied the seat would go to the wire, but it is more likely that the increased postal count will result in a moderation of the postal flow and Labor should therefore just hold on.  However we should find out more about that tomorrow.

11:29 Katherine is looking more like a CLP win with TAP now about half of the independent's count behind Labor, and hence unlikely to get into second.

11:10 In Arnhem, with all booths in Labor has 41.5% and Gumbula has 34.0%.  Apparently Labor scrutineers believe they will narrowly win.  

11:00 Primaries have come in for the remaining centre in Barkly.  Most votes here went to the Independent Hoosan whose preferences have favoured Labor elsewhere.  Malarndirri McCarthy has reported preference flows that would give Labor a 106 vote lead.  However, the ABC is now projecting Fong Lim to quite a close Labor win (50.9%) so we may need to wait for a preference flow there.

10:37 Still waiting for that Coolalinga EVC in Daly which will narrow the gap there considerably.

10:30 Gumbula (IND) now second in Arnhem and could win - let's see how the other mobile booth goes.

10:25 Labor did well in the EVC in Barkly and are now in front there, but there is still one mobile to come there and they have been struggling with those.

10:20 The final booth in Namatjira has come home strongly for the CLP, putting the TAP into a clear third that I doubt they can get out of.  Labor lead by a whisker: 30 votes!

10:10 The CLP remains ahead in Brennan, though the margin is currently not clear enough to call, and there are still more votes to come tonight (in theory) there.

10:00 Big surge to the CLP in Braitling.  The CLP have done very well in the Alice Springs EVC putting them ahead on 2PP.  Hopper on 15% trails Labor on 22% with the CLP on 36%.  Hopper would need to beat Labor by 7 points in a three-way split of the remaining 27% and would need to get 71% of preferences over the CLP.  Maybe that's not impossible but I expect that it will get harder after postals.  

9:45 Huge boost to Labor in the Namatjira mobile booth. That looks a lot like 13 seats and majority,  but it's not cut and dried yet.  Preferences are not flowing to the CLP despite the TAP card; it may well be that TAP are actually second but they are a long way behind on primaries at the moment and would need a very large preference flow.  
9:32 Antony noting Arnhem could change when mobile booths report (in favour of the independent who is so far polling nothing much) so that's one we need to still keep an eye on.
9:30 A bad booth for the CLP in Daly, they are now well behind on the 2PP but still waiting for one strong booth for the CLP to report to 2PP.

9:25 Labor believe they have good numbers coming their way in Namatjira.

9:17 Ross Leedham suggests the Alice Springs EVC vote in Braitling might improve Labor's position.  Indies tend to do poorly on prepolls and some daylight over Hopper would assist Labor greatly there if that occurred.  

9:00 The second mobile is in in Arafura and the swing against Labor has moderated, so Labor is looking OK there, especially as there will not be many votes to come there.  Meanwhile Araluen shows Lambley very narrowly in front.

8:46 Labor has jumped ahead in Daly and the ABC doesn't credit it.  The gap referred to is that the Coolalinga EVC has not yet reported to 2PP and when it does the CLP should just about retake the lead.  However still a long way to go in that one.

8:43 I have Labor on 11 seats that seem reasonably solid: Casuarina, Drysdale, Fong Lim, Fannie Bay. Gwoja, Johnston, Karama, Nightcliff, Sanderson and Wanguri.  They are currently projecting ahead in Port Darwin, and also in Braitling but that could be lost to the Independent.  It looks like Labor will form government, but it might not still be a majority if things go badly in their unclear seats.  

8:35 Meaningful numbers in Arnhem at last - Labor OK there at the moment.

8:26 Lambley unsafe in Araluen - the CLP jumped to a big lead on primaries.  Based on the preference flow so far the CLP projects marginally in front.  The TAP has no clear seat wins at this stage.

8:12 Big boost for Guyula who appears to have won Mulka.

8:10 Port Darwin has improved considerably for Labor and they may now be holding that seat.

8:05 Big dump of numbers in in Katherine where the TAP are beating the CLP but at the moment they have a problem - they are third on primaries and would need to get into the 2CP count after preferences.  If they don't, I assume the CLP wins.

8:00 There is an exclusion order issue in Namatjira, where Labor are beating the CLP on preferences but TAP might make the final two and win.  However, this will be difficult on current numbers because the Greens have preferenced Labor, which should boost them ahead of TAP and put TAP in third.

7:49 Thanks to RohanCT on Twitter for pointing me to Arafura, where Labor are way ahead but fall slightly behind after booth matching.  So that one is doubtful for now.  We're also still waiting for anything meaningful from Arnhem.  However, Labor now ahead in Namatjira.

7:42 NTEC has pulled the 2CP counts in Blain and Fong Lim, but at the moment Labor is recovering the latter.

7:23 The threat to the CLP gain in Braitling remains with independent Kim Hopper in third and potentially capable of making it into the top two and perhaps winning from there.  Also Labor and the CLP are swapping the 2PP lead in that seat, with Labor now ahead.  

7:20 Labor slips to third in Araluen where Lambley leads the CLP after preferences.

7:20 Labor trailing in Barkly as well now.  Barring turnarounds in prepolls, Labor's hold on majority is looking tenuous to me.

7:10 Labor is trailing on 2PP in Port Darwin, and has a booth-matched swing of around 12% against it on 2PP in one booth.  I am not so positive about Labor's position at present as Antony Green is, but we'll see how things go later.  Note that in Braitling there is an independent off to a strong start who might be able to get into the top two (but a long way to go there).  

7:04 In Araluen, Robin Lambley is currently second, but would probably be OK on Labor preferences if remaining there.

7:01 In Mulka, the independent Yingiya Mark Guyula is off to a huge start - except he is actually down compared to the mobile booths last time.  What might save him is declining votes or changing vote patterns in Labor's strong centre of Nhulunbuy.

6:57 In Blain, Terry Mills is currently third.  The NTEC is doing a 2CP between Labor and TA, but if Terry Mills doesn't make the final two, it will be Labor vs CLP on his preferences and the CLP might pick it up.  In 2016 Mills got into the top two relatively late in the count.

6:54 The CLP now has a big lead in Braitling, so that's a third Labor seat in difficulty.  Brennan is close.  In Fong Lim, TAP's incumbent is in third, Labor leads on primaries.  Namatjira is another three-cornered seat where the question is whether TAP can stay in the top two.  

6:53 Two booths in in Katherine.  At the moment Labor seems to be losing this seat assuming any preference flow between the conservative parties, but there is an exclusion order issue as to whether the Territory Alliance can make it into the top two and benefit from Labor preferences.  

6:49 The swing in Nelson on primaries would be enough to deliver the seat to the CLP but only by about 4%, so too soon to say about that one.

6:41 More numbers in and these include the CLP off to an early lead in Daly and Namatjira (as well as Nelson and Spillett) while Labor unsurprisingly leads in Wanguri and Sanderson.  So Labor off to a poor looking start in a couple of its seats, albeit expendable ones.

6:37 The first figures in from Katherine point to a three-cornered race at this stage.  The NTEC is counting this as CLP vs TA.

6:35 Early figures now in five seats, noticeable Purick off to a strong start in Goyder.

6:33 We're off!  Michael Gunner has a primary vote lead in the first booth counted, but it looks like an underwhelming one compared to his 2016 results.  However it doesn't seem a booth of that name existed then.

6:28 Interestingly a lot of the ABC discussion so far concerns government anxiety about seats in Palmerston and Alice Springs, and also Fong Lim.  No numbers up yet.

6:07 I have not found the NTEC's results page yet, maybe it is not yet up. (Edit: Here it is)  Note that postals will not be counted tonight, the postal count will start tomorrow.

6:00 The token post to say that polls have closed!


Welcome to my live coverage of the 2020 NT election and subsequent post-counting.  My previous pieces on this NT election were here:

Divergent Polling In The Northern Territory
NT Election Final Roundup

From 6:00 NT time (6:30 AEST) I will be posting live comments on the count as it unfolds, keeping an eye on the ABC coverage, the NTEC official site, and other sources of information if I have time to look for them.  Coverage will then continue through coming days, as time permits and as things happen.  I've turned my computer clock back half an hour to try to keep times in NT time!

As a baseline for seat wins and losses I am treating 17 seats as Labor (including Gwoja vacated by an ex-Labor independent, and Namatjira which is notionally CLP), 2 as CLP, 3 as Territory Alliance (including Fong Lim occupied by a Labor defector), 3 as Independent (including Nelson which is vacant).

Once a clear picture develops I will be posting a summary at the top of the page.  I will be watching the ABC, the NTEC site and possibly Twitter for info as time permits.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: All assessments on election night are provisional unless described as definitively called.  It is easy to miss possible exclusion order scenarios and there can be counting errors in initial figures.

Things I'll be especially watching for:

* Seats with unclear exclusion order issues.  Some, perhaps several, may need to be re-aligned from the two-candidate preferred count on election night.

* When watching the ABC website it is important to distinguish between actual preference flows and modelled preference flows.  Modelling preference flows will be very difficult at this election and there may be a risk of seats being called prematurely or incorrectly.

* Any apparent patterns in preference flow.  The switch from optional to compulsory preferences may make it much easier for trailing candidates to catch up.


  1. "Live comments will appear below the line once counting starts" Very pedantic point, Kevin - counting has undoubtedly started. You will start posting comments on the count once some booths have *finished* counting and have reported it!

  2. Johnston looks messy when you consider that both TA and CLP preferenced Greens over Labor, and they're in 3rd. The current 2PP is Labor vs TA (in 4th). Could be preference snowball potential.

    1. At the end of the night this is still possible but unlikely with Bowden on 45.2%. Assuming Greens can stay ahead of TA once IND distributes, Greens will need to gain 113 votes on the CLP out of the 608 being distributed. This may be possible given the favourable TA how to vote card, but it will depend a lot on what kind of TA voters are out there. Then if they overtake the CLP, they will need to get at least 78% of the CLP votes. This is possible - Adam Bandt got 80% of Liberal preferences in Melbourne 2010, which is the last election where Liberals actually preferenced Greens on their HTV.

      However the remaining booths and postals will likely make all of these numbers more difficult (if not wipe out the GRN lead over TA). It's unlikely Greens volunteers and materials were even present at the other 3 polling booths not yet counted as of 12:30 EST.

      In summary, very small chance of a snowball but I don't think anyone calling Johnston for Labor will be embarrassed.

  3. Hmmmm - the ABC is now (8:22) calling 11 for Labor, 6 for CLP and 3 for others. D'you think they're a bit premature or could this be realistic?

    1. Something like that though I think some individual seats are being called by the ABC prematurely.

  4. Katherine seems to be the first real occurrence I've seen of the issue brought up by opponents of Instant Runoff voting - where Labor seems to have helped their 3rd preference beat their 2nd preference by doing too well.

  5. Barkly seems to have produced an outlier result, any ideas if there are any electorate specific issues there?

    1. Yes, ALP incumbent leaving, very popular CLP local mayor. I've seen some some comment suggesting Labor thinks they can still bounce back there (ie the extreme swing so far might be unrepresentative.)

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  7. Has there been any scrutineering of Blain? Labor are currently 226 votes ahead of the CLP on primaries, so Mills' 789 votes will need to split more than 64/36 to the CLP to get a win. Even between conservatives, 64/36 is about the PHON -> LNP ratio (with a favourable HTV). However Mills was running as a centrist and his treatment the CLP may predispose his supporters against the CLP. There's a 108 vote shift from ALP to CLP after preferences in neighbouring Brennan, which is 28% of the TA vote (i.e. exactly the same % votes/Mills votes that CLP needs to gain to win Blain), although the independent also shakes things up.

    I think Blain will come down to the wire.

    1. I have not seen any data on Blain. I expect the asking rate to come down after postals, if it stays at 64/36 it is quite uncertain.

  8. Hi Kevin, great work here - once again you were my go-to source when things seemed unclear.

    Connected to a point you make in a reply above about the ABC's premature calls, I would really like to see them adopt a system more similar to yours (and to US election coverage actually) where there is an extra level between "leading" and "called" - probably called "likely". That way they can reserve "called" for seats where there is absolutely no doubt, but still have a meaningful seat tally on screen. The last few elections have had a lot of cases where the ABC computer calls something, and then un-calls it, and then repeats that process a few more times (maybe calling it for the other side once or twice for good measure). I think it leads to a lot of confusion, and I know I for one usually have to check your site to see what the situation actually is.

  9. Thanks and great work as always.

    I was just wondering if you think this looks like a repeat of the TAS election. A big vote win resulting in a 1 seat majority or minority government.

    I haven't seen a 2pp yet, but on first preferences it looks like the left (grn/alp) and right (TA/CLP) are about even with 11-12% other (I havent looked to see if other are stronger left or right).


    1. Yes it does; I'm thinking the 2PP will be easily in Labor's favour (though excluding Mulka will deflate it slightly for those who do that) and they will under-deliver on seats. It looks like they are losing a lot of seats narrowly and wasting 2PP margin in safe Darwin seats and Gwoja. This was a likely outcome if there was a modest swing based on the pendulum - Labor's seat tally was always more fragile than their 2018 margin implied.

  10. Was there any significance to NTEC doing an ALP vs CLP preference throw today for Johnston? Were they just realigning to top 2 in all seats, or did they test whether Greens could overtake CLP after TA's exclusion.

  11. This is so many extrenely close contests. Is there a margin that automatically triggers a recount?

    1. Apparently NT recounts anything under 100, which is a generous policy (on the other hand, with only c. 4000 votes per seat, it probably doesn't take very long).

      The margins look close because of the small number of votes involved but, for instance, a 50-vote margin is often around 50.6% 2PP, which in other states wouldn't be grounds for a recount.

  12. Is a challenge likely for Barkly, given the mix of an unexpectedly large number of late postals and concerns that these postals might have been filled out after election day.

    1. A challenge on those grounds might be possible but (i) it would be incumbent on the ALP to prove that enough ineligible postals had been submitted as to be capable of overturning the result (ii) if there was a challenge, Edgington would still be seated while the challenge was being heard.