Wednesday, February 24, 2021

One More Nightmare: Group Tickets And The 2021 WA Upper House

Sorry to be so ranty about this, but I think that it has to be said.  The 2021 Western Australian Legislative Council "election" is a bad joke.  Voting systems should give voters real choices about how they vote and should only reward parties with serious voter support.  WA politicians have failed and disrespected the voters by doing nothing at all to deliver this.  Instead voters are still coerced, eight years after the 2013 Senate farce, into propping up another dishonest Group Ticket grift party fest.  If you can do it without making a mistake, vote below the line.

As noted four years ago (sigh) Western Australia's upper house has the worst voting system in the country.  The chamber is grossly malapportioned, with votes in two bush regions being worth nearly four times more than votes in Perth suburbs.  

Voters can vote by putting a one above the line, in which case their vote may be sent goodness knows where as a result of backroom preference deals and deliberate preference harvesting.  They cannot give preferences between parties as they can in the Senate.  The only other way in which it is permitted to vote formally is to vote below the line.  If you do this you must number every box (about 54 on average) and if you leave any box blank or skip or repeat any number in the sequence, your vote is informal. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

WA 2021: How Lopsided Do You Want It?

The 2021 Western Australian lower house state election looks like the most lopsided state election for several years, and may be among the most lopsided ever.  A Premier with near-universal approval who won a large majority last time around takes on an opposition onto its third leader of the term amid a pandemic that has seen large polling boosts in most places that have not completely stuffed it up.  The comparison with the New Zealand landslide is impossible to avoid.  

Even with no COVID-19 and no Opposition disarray it would be a massive upset for the McGowan government to lose.  Two major patterns in predicting state results are "federal drag" (it is an advantage not to be the party in power in Canberra) and the age of the state government.  The last loss by a first term government that was in opposition federally in any state was back in 1930 and the historically expected result for WA Labor would be to gain about three seats.  That should be treated with some caution given that they have so many already, but to actually get near losing would be a massive outlier.

But there's been speculation that this might not be just a routinely heavy pasting of a hapless opposition (such as the crushings delivered by Labor Premiers Beattie, Bracks and Bacon at the end of their first terms in 2001-2) but rather something more spectacular.  Is the opposition heading for Tarago territory or worse?  The results of the opening Newspoll would suggest yes, while a uComms poll merely predicts an enormous but more manageable thrashing.  

Sunday, February 7, 2021

How Much Does A Home State Federal Leader Matter In That State?

This piece came about, indirectly, because the Courier-Mail was printing silly sentences again.  A piece commenced with the following lines:

"Kevin Rudd has refused to reveal whether under-pressure Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese can win Queensland despite the former Prime Minister joining him for day one of a whirlwind ‘jobs tour’ across the state. 


Mr Albanese was joined by Mr Rudd on the pre-campaign hustings at Southbank – however the former Prime Minister declined to comment when asked by The Sunday-Mail about how or whether Labor could win the state."

Rudd claims he declined to comment because it was the Courier-Mail rather than because of the question.  Whatever the facts in that regard, two things stood out to me in the opening line. Firstly there's the idea that the former Prime Minister is a divine revelator who can exclusively "reveal" facts  about the prospects of Opposition Leaders in his state.  Secondly, the idea that winning Queensland is a realistic or relevant goal for an Albanese-led ALP.  After all, Labor currently needs an enormous 8.44% swing to win the 2PP in Queensland, and has only won the Queensland 2PP three times since the Second World War - 1961, 1990 and 2007, all of them by a whisker

Monday, February 1, 2021

Newspoll: Surprise 2PP Tie Takes Heat Off Albanese

The first Newspoll of this year had the potential to be a very significant one for Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, but he has escaped it without major harm.  This was one of the more significant Newspolls lately because of the leadup, so I thought I'd briefly write about it and related themes.

Leadership speculation has been swirling around Albanese in recent weeks.  This started after forces within the CFMEU and closely linked to unionist John Setka spruiked polling claiming to show dire numbers for Labor in its Newcastle area seats of Shortland (4.5%) and Paterson (5.0%).  Setka was expelled from the ALP in 2019 at Albanese's insistence.  

The polling has not been published for scrutiny.  The polls were conducted by Chorus Consulting with Community Engagement.  No public polling for any election by Chorus is known to me, but their director is also a director of Redbridge, who have released other polls predicting similar doom for Labor in other seats including Dobell and Macquarie.  I have been told that Community Engagement did tracking polls for Labor at Victorian state elections, but as no results were published or given to me at the time there is no way to comment on their accuracy.  I am however aware of some polls by them that were published for the 2016 election and these were not that accurate overall (the worst a Higgins seat poll that had Liberal 42 Greens 25 Labor 20; the result was 52-25-15).