Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Site Review

 This post presents site data for 2020.  The activity graph tells the story of the year (the units are unique pageviews per week):

Nothing much happened in the first half of the year except for a bad Newspoll for the government in mid-January.  However there were significant spikes of interest for the Eden-Monaro by-election, the Tasmanian Legislative Council elections, the NT election, the ACT election and the Queensland election.  The ACT election is the largest of the spikes above.

With it being neither a federal election year nor a Tasmanian state election year, traffic was well down on 2018 and 2019 (down 47% on 2019) and only exceeded the traffic for one other year so far, 2015 (this site started in 2012).  I also felt early in the year that COVID was swamping all other news consumption, leading to low interest levels in anything else.  

In 2020 I released 59 articles including this one.  This is the smallest number for a completed year so far (the previous lowest was 77) and a major cause of that has been the decline in both federal and state polling.  The most common subjects were federal polling (8 articles), the Queensland election (7), and the NT, ACT and Tasmanian Legislative Council elections (4 each).

The cutting room floor

Articles I started but never finished this year and don't expect to release soon were to have covered such subjects as:

* the false view, prevalent on Twitter again following an Amanda Palmer concert in January, that almost half of all Tasmanians are illiterate.  (It was actually "functionally illiterate", which doesn't mean even nearly the same thing.)

* the false view that platypus are on the brink of extinction, which spread in international media in January as a result of some silly science-media reporting.  

* infection sources for Tasmanian cases of COVID-19; this became a display in the sidebar instead  (it's still running)

* psephological themes in the Palace Letters

* misuse of the term "push polling" in Australia

* a new bio/About This Site page

* a list of disclaimers to accompany my tweets about Newspoll (because there are people on Twitter who will assume that if one tweets a poll one must believe it's correct!)

There were also, as usual, some others that appeared in reshaped form as parts of later articles or that I have not listed above because I think I will use the ideas in them in future.

Top of the pops

As measured by unique pageviews, these were the ten most visited articles in 2020:

1. 2020 ACT Election Live And Post-Count

A surprise winner for the year, ranking eleventh by unique page views and fifth by total page views in the history of the site so far.  This followed the count on the night and over the next week for the 2020 ACT Election, a Hare-Clark contest with a number of close seats and a remarkable final result of 10 Labor, 9 Liberal and 6 Green.  The post-count was fairly difficult to model because of the need to use two different incomplete data sources to try to assess where the counts were going.

2. 2020 Northern Territory Election Live and Post-Count

Followed the count for the 2020 NT election which saw Michael Gunner's Labor government returned with a reduced majority, the opposition CLP rebuild and the Territory Alliance challenge fail.  Attracted about five times as much interest as my coverage of the 2016 contest.

3. Eden-Monaro Late Live Comments And Post-Count

I had to go out to dinner on the first night of the Eden-Monaro count which led to a late start, but as the contest remained close over coming days interest persisted.  The by-election for the famous former bellwether seat was called for Labor late on the night, but a counting error correction gave the Liberals some appearance of a chance for a few days thereafter.  

4. Legislative Council 2020: Huon and Rosevears Live And Post-Count

The delayed 2020 Legislative Council elections in Tasmania saw an upset win for Labor in Huon, decisively unseating conservative independent and former Huon mayor Robert Armstrong, and a nailbiter in Rosevears where the Liberals' star candidate Jo Palmer just held off a preference surge to long-time local councillor and former mayor Janie Finlay (IND).  

5. Legislative Council 2020: Huon

Guide to the above-mentioned Huon contest, which placed too much stock in the history of Legislative Council incumbents and to little in the importance of being endorsed by an owl.  (Seriously, the voters of Huon were probably mad as hell over services issues.)

6. Queensland 2020 Postcount

Followed the post-count of the 2020 Queensland election, but there were only three seats in real doubt (two of which ultimately went to recounts) and as a result total pageviews for the postcount and live pages were lower than for the single threads for the NT or ACT elections.

7. Queensland 2020 Live

Election night for Queensland 2020 was a slower affair than 2019 but easier because of a disappointing shortage of messy seats.   A lack of swing except away from One Nation was evident early in the night and over the night it became clear Labor had won easily.

8. Divergent Polling In The Northern Territory

This article discussed two polls in the NT election leadup - a loudly splashed internal poll for the Territory Alliance that had them performing very strongly and a small-sample uComms of Greater Darwin that had a conventional two-party contest.  The uComms was extremely accurate and the Territory Alliance poll was way off.  

9. Legislative Council 2020: Rosevears

Guide to the other Tasmanian Legislative Council seat, which correctly saw it as a contest between Jo Palmer and Janie Finlay. 

10. White Goes First, Right Goes Beatup: The ABC Did Not Attempt To Cancel Chess

Article that followed a beatup by right-wing media sources after an ABC everyday trivia program decided to explore whether white moving first in the game of chess had racial connotations.  They made the mistake of calling a former chess administrator who was also a published commentator, leading to widespread misreporting by the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Sky News (especially them) and others.  John Adams, the ex-administrator in question, has more recently taken to boosting claims that seek to cast doubt on the 2020 US Presidential Election result.

Some other stats

The ten biggest days of the year for this site were Nov 1 (Qld), July 5 (Eden-Monaro), Oct 31 (Qld), Aug 1 (LegCo), Aug 23 (NT), July 31 (LegCo), Oct 18, Oct 21, Oct 17 (ACT), Aug 22 (NT), Oct 23 (ACT).  There's a pattern of often getting more visitors on the Sunday of an election count weekend than the Saturday.

The most popular pieces written/started in any previous year were In Search Of Australia's Most Ratioed Political Tweets,  the bio pageGetting Ginninderraed, Federal Newspoll Records Page, and the current edition of the field guide

The ten most clicked tags were Legislative Council, 2014 state, 2019 federal, Tasmania, EMRS tied with poll accuracy tied with silly greens, Rebecca White tied with silly lefties, and debunkings. The inclusion of 2014 state in this list is quite odd.

The top ten visiting countries this year were Australia, USA, UK, NZ, Canada, Germany (+2), Singapore (+1), France (+2), India and Netherlands (new entry).  99 "Google countries" visited this year and 170 have now visited in total.  Apparently new visits were recorded from South Sudan, Turkmenistan (!!), Guernsey and Kosovo, but there again seems to be something that causes some previously recorded "countries" to drop off the list.  

The top ten cities this year were the same as last year in a slightly different order: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane (+1), Hobart (-1), Canberra, Adelaide (+1), Launceston (+1), Perth (-2), London and Gold Coast.

Among the more unusual queries to reach this site (a pretty weak list this year compared to previous years) were:

anita bligh and mark mcgowan (Probably looking for this)

+the quirk in tghe system that got lambie elected

call Eden do Qdoba adjusted should I even had one for a party go

kaylee campradt my children called

There were very few misspellings of my name this year, though one lost soul did call me "Professor".

The top ten hit sources were as per 2019 but in a different order: Google, Twitter, Facebook, pollbludger, Tally Room (+1), duckduckgo (+1), Reddit (+1), Bing (-3), The Conversation, and Chesschat.  Ignoring the three search engines the next three were Blogger, feedburner and Wikipedia.

Orders of the year

2021 could be an extremely quiet year for this site, but it also might not be.  If only scheduled elections are held there will be just Western Australia in March, but my postcount coverage is likely to be constrained beyond the first few days by fieldwork.  Tasmanian Legislative Council elections are expected in May for Derwent, Mersey and Windermere.  Barring unexpected retirements, Windermere (either a vacancy or a 76 year old incumbent running for a fourth term) looks the most interesting of these, with the other two attracting only token contests in 2015.

The second half of the year will become much more active if either the Tasmanian election or the federal election, both scheduled for the first half of 2022, are held early.  Should neither of these happen there may be not that much to write about in the second half of the year.  Heck, I might even start taking requests!  

I'll be back soon with the 2020 Ehrlich Awards for Wrong Predictions and Grand Gerry (which will also include a roundup of 2019's best failed predictions, though there was no award as such for 2019) and probably also with some further comments on the recent JSCEM report on the 2019 electionThanks to all readers for your interest in and support of this site, and especially to those of you who have thrown a few dollars my way in these uncertain times. 

1 comment:

  1. Further comments on the JSCEM report sounds interesting, as do Palace Letters psephological themes.