Saturday, April 30, 2022

2022 Senate How To Vote Cards: Variants, Changes and Other Comments

This is a page where I hope to keep track of cases where parties are issuing multiple Senate How To Vote card recommendations (eg with regional differences) or else change their published Senate HTV to something different to what is showing on the ABC website.  Please notify cases in comments, on Twitter (@kevinbonham) or to my email (link via profile).   The ABC does a brilliant job of archiving Senate How To Votes but tends to only store one version for each state and not keep track of variants.  I want to try to keep track of the variants because doing so is useful in calculating the rate at which Senate cards are followed for articles like this.  Note that I am not myself keeping lists of the main HTVs, except in the case of Tasmania.

Not that many voters actually follow Senate HTVs.  As noted in the linked article, in 2019 the rate by state among voters voting above the line was in the 20-30% range for the Coalition, 15-20 for Labor, 7-15 for Greens and mostly 0-10 for other parties.  These figures were a little lower than in 2016.  In Tasmania, the follow rates are almost negligible, and approaching 30% of voters vote below the line anyway.  Unlike in the House of Representatives, where providing a single order for voters to copy is vital for trying to control the informal voting rate, in the Senate if a voter votes 1 above the line then their vote is saved and counted, provided there is only one 1.  (It counts for that party only, and once all their candidates are elected or excluded it exhausts.)  

Friday, April 29, 2022

How To Make Best Use Of Your 2022 Senate Vote

People are starting to vote already (by post) so I thought I'd get a revised version of this guide up for this year.  It is largely copied from the previous one but I have made a few minor changes and dropped some no longer relevant content.   Many regular readers of the site will already be aware of many of the points below.  I hope the main part of the post will also be useful, however, for those who want to know what advice to give less politically engaged (or more easily confused) voters.  I will vote below the line and number every square, and I'm sure many other readers will too (at least in the smaller states!), but not everyone is up for that.

Under the system introduced in 2016, voters determine where their preferences go - there is no longer any "group ticket voting" in which if you vote for one party, your preference also goes to another.  Voters have great flexibility - they can vote above the line (in which case they are asked to number at least six boxes) or below the line (in which case they are asked to number at least twelve).  Voters who vote below the line are no longer forced to number all the boxes.  

This freedom is fantastic, but it's still taking some getting used to, and most voters are not using their vote in the most effective way they could.  If you don't have time to use your vote effectively and just want to get out of the polling box as fast as you like, that's fine, that's up to you.  But not making the best use of your vote might end up helping a party you can't stand beat one you are merely disappointed by.  This guide tells you how to avoid that, if you want to.   

Here I give some answers to the sorts of questions people are asking or likely to ask about the system.  At the bottom there is a section on tactical voting for advanced players only.  The vast majority of readers should stop when they get to that point.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Tasmania Senate 2022: Prospects and Guide

 SUMMARY: 

Likely 2 Liberal 2 Labor 1 Green 1 JLN if Lambie Network vote mostly holds up
If Lambie Network vote crashes then multi-party contest for final seat

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Tasmania's list of Senate candidates has been released.  Tasmania has 39 candidates in 14 groups with two ungrouped, down from 44 candidates in 16 groups plus four ungrouped in 2022.  Of the groups that ran columns last time, two have disbanded, two are not running and one (Garland) has switched to the Reps.  Three groups that did not run last time are running, one of which (Local Party) is new for this election.  None of the groups that ran last time were direct victims of the recent cull of ballot clutter.  One recognisable impact of the 1500 member rule to Tasmania is that Steve Mav has joined One Nation instead of founding his own party.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Poll Roundup: Federal Hung Parliament Club Edition

CROSS-POLL AVERAGE 52.6 TO LABOR (-2.0 in two weeks)
Aggregate of recent polls assuming no overall house effects 53.2 to Labor
Recent Newspoll would not be likely to produce a hung parliament if replicated
Significant chance of hung parliament based not on most current polls, but rather on historic pattern of leads shrinking.  

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Welcome back to another edition of Poll Roundup.  At the time of the last edition the Labor Opposition was a very long way in front but things have since got a lot closer.  I covered some of this at the start of a more recent piece but following today's Newspoll, hung parliament talk has become widespread.  Sectors of the press gallery are embarrassing themselves more than usual, while sectors of the press gallery that always embarrass themselves are doing what they do best.  

"Hung parliament club" is my nickname for a circle of usual suspects in the Tasmanian left and commentariat who continually argue that hung parliaments in Tasmanian state elections are both extremely likely and uncontentiously desirable.  My view is that their constant public hankering after minority situations makes majority government more likely, not less.  Federally, there have been echoes of this in Adam Bandt's constant poll-spinning that uses various unsound arguments to claim a "power-sharing parliament" is highly likely.  However overall the federal variant of hung parliament club makes even weaker claims about the likelihood of a hung parliament than are seen in Tasmania, and then goes on to claim that a hung parliament could lead to crazy chaos and an immediate fresh election.  The main suspects here are innumerate types in the Canberra press gallery, who seem to have listened to each other too much (or perhaps to party hacks or low-grade pollsters) instead of seeking any kind of informed take on how to interpret the numbers. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Prospects for the 2022 Senate Election

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This is a general (and maths-heavy) piece giving assessments of the Senate contest in each state and territory and overall. A detailed Senate guide for Tasmania will be released soon after the announcement of nominations for the state.  Firstly, a look at which Senate seats are up for grabs at this election and which are continuing until 2025 (barring a double dissolution):


The ACT and NT seats are recontested every election.  At present the Coalition is three short of a majority and can pass legislation supported by Stirling Griff, Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie, or by any one of these plus One Nation.  The ability to block enquiries, motions and disallowances in the Senate is also very important and here the Coalition and One Nation have a "blocking majority" of exactly half the seats.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Two-Party Swing Is A Fine Predictor Of Seat Share Changes (And No It Isn't Getting Worse)

I am hoping to have a Senate prospects piece up by the end of tomorrow but before that I think I need to address something I am hearing too much of at this election.  I refer to trendy talk about federal elections being seat-by-seat battles, the election being 151 separate contests, and the idea that even a massive 2PP win (should Labor be so lucky) might seriously not result in a Labor majority.  We hear this stuff at every federal election but this time around the commentariat seems especially awash with it.  This piece is pretty mathsy (let's say 3/5 on the Wonk Factor scale) but it's necessary to crunch a few numbers to show what a load of nonsense we are hearing.  

The state of play

Firstly a brief word about polling since last week's roundup.  Two polls have been released, a Newspoll with Labor 53-47 ahead (L-NP 36 ALP 37 Green 10 ON 4 UAP 3 others 10) and a Morgan with Labor 57-43 ahead by Morgan's respondent preferences (L-NP 32.5 ALP 36 Green 12.5 ON 5 UAP 1.5 IND 8.5 others 4) .  However, if last-election preferences are used the Morgan only comes out at 55.4 to Labor, so Morgan's headline 2PP not changing can be ignored.  (The expected value for the Newspoll off the published primaries is 52.8, but Newspoll would have a more accurate number based on rounding).  By last-election preferences the average of the most recent polls from each major pollster is now 54.2 to Labor.  There is a reasonably strong case based on the history of Australian polling generally that this is probably skewing to Labor a little bit and the real underlying voting intention is more likely somewhere in the 53s, but always beware of Nate's 1st Rule.  In any case, history suggests that whatever lead Labor now has will probably (but not necessarily) reduce by the time of the final result.  

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Tasmanian House of Representatives Seats Guide (2022)

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This article gives a fairly detailed discussion of the five Tasmanian House of Representatives seats, which will be updated and edited as needed up til election day.

Two seats (Clark and Franklin) are not considered to be in play at this election.  Two (Bass and Braddon) are Liberal marginals with a long history of going back and forth and are in play more or less irrespective of the outcome.  One (Lyons) is fairly comfortable for Labor on paper but Labor's baseline margin is exaggerated so it may be in play if the election is fairly close overall.

National polling as I start this article has been suggesting the sort of swing to Labor that would see Labor easily recover Bass and probably Braddon as well.  However Tasmania has become somewhat detached from national patterns in recent years with national swing only predicting Tasmania's two-party seat result perfectly once in the last 30 years.   Tasmanian federal swings still have some relationship with the national swing but it is a loose one.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Legislative Council 2022: McIntyre

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MCINTYRE (New seat replacing parts of former Apsley and Western Tiers)

Incumbent Tania Rattray (IND), former member for Apsley from 2004.

This is my third guide for the Tasmanian Legislative Council this year. Previous guides are up for Huon and ElwickI hope to find time to update my voting patterns analysis for the Council before the election as well, though that will be very difficult given that there is a federal election impending.

I will be doing live coverage of the Legislative Council elections on this site on election night, Saturday May 7.  

For several years the Liberal government has had a difficult upper house to deal with.  The current numbers are four Liberal, two somewhat right of centre independents, four Labor, four left independents, and one ex-Labor vacancy.  The good news for the government is that this year is a free swing for it, and the pressure is on Labor.

Not-A-Poll Reset Time (Again!): Gutwein Resigns

Less than three weeks after the last change of state Premier we've had another one with Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein resigning just under a year since the last election, and being replaced by long-serving Deputy Jeremy Rockliff.   And so here we go again.

These were the previous round's results.  Unsurprisingly, almost nobody expected another leader at state or territory would go before the May federal election.  


Eagle eyes may have noticed that Gutwein originally had four votes.  I was out without access to my computer when the news came through and could not immediately close the poll.  I have determined that two votes for Gutwein were cast after the news that he was resigning and these votes have been removed.  Likewise, the current round has been set to close at 6:30 pm on the expected federal election day.

Gutwein's departure marks the fifth time in the past six terms that the Tasmanian Premier elected at an election has not served out the term.  However, thanks to Will Hodgman's full term 2014-2018, Tasmania is still slightly more stable than New South Wales, which has had a change of Premier five terms in a row (in one of those cases two changed).  

Can we get to the federal election and (presumably) get one of Morrison and Albanese out of this poll before another one drops?  



Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Poll Roundup: Lukewarm Budget Reception As Coalition Remains Way Behind

FIVE POLL AVERAGE 54.6 TO LABOR
Little evidence of "budget bounce"
Labor would comfortably win election "held now" 
Leads in polling at this stage tend to contract

Herewith a roundup of polling following the Budget.  It's been a long time since I had time for the last federal polling roundup here, so I just want to set the polling scene before moving on, time (what is that?) permitting, to Tasmanian House of Reps seat guides, a Tasmanian Senate guide [EDIT: that will come after nominations are released] and hopefully a general assessment of the prospects for the Senate.  In short, the government's current polling is rather bad, but it is not all over yet.  To take things pollster by pollster, with the three who are Australian Polling Council members at the top and the laggards and backsliders at the bottom:

Notice: No Free Interviews List

NOTE 13/4: At present this list is not active (other than the boycott on Sky News) following technical assistance from a supporter.  However newspapers that do not give me free subscriptions should be warned that they may be refused interviews without warning at any time should the problem recur.

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This page is a list of media sources to which I am no longer providing most free interviews until further notice.  (See carve-outs below.)

The major reason I refuse to provide free interviews to some media is hard paywalls.  I like being able to see online media stories relevant to my work in explaining polling and electoral themes to the public immediately.  I especially find it absurd if I do a story for a paper and then I cannot see how they have written up the interview without paying for it.

Some newspaper "paywalls" are not actually true paywalls and it is easy to read the material on the pages in various ways.  However in recent times some papers have become much tighter in preventing access.

I do have free access to image files of most newspapers but this is slow and cumbersome, and doesn't help with articles that have not yet appeared in print editions.

Sure, newspapers have to make money, and paywalls are an entirely legitimate part of that.  But exploiting sources by taking their expert comments, making money from the story, and giving the source not even free access back is not - at least, I refuse to be part of it, even though I would otherwise like to help them to improve their coverage of political and polling matters.  It is not viable for me to subscribe to every newspaper I need access to - I would need to do much more paid work to do so, and then I would not have time to do interviews anyway.  

Not all outlets with hard paywalls will be put on the list.  I have from time to time been hired by The Mercury, and am a subscriber to them and through that to all the Murdoch tabloids.   Other outlets that hire me will also not be listed if they happen to have a hard paywall, but those on the list below have never hired me.  Also there are some local rural papers that I don't have cause to read much and may not mind giving an interview to despite being paywalled.  And if I happen to have an easy way around the paywall - whatever it is - then a paper won't be on the list.  

Once newspapers are added to the list I may, for a few weeks of grace period, provide the odd free interview to journalists from said paper who ring me up and are unaware of the boycott.  They will then be told about it and asked to pass it up the line.  

Also, this list applies only to electoral/political/polling interviews.  Interviews relating to my scientific work or chess are not affected (except in the case of chess for Sky News).  

Exemptions may be made in specific cases - these will usually be ones that involve the media giving me something I might not otherwise see, such as full results of a poll.

This list will be edited from time to time.  

On list for hard paywall

Outlets will be removed from this list if they provide me with a free subscription or hire me to write for them.  Note that I do not approach outlets with pitches, but I do accept commissions.  

(There are currently no papers on this list.)

On list for other reasons

Sky News

Sky News was involved in a beatup about an ABC interview about chess and racism that I was involved in.  To be interviewed by me again without payment, Sky News must to my satisfaction broadcast an apology for airing material that characterised an interview I was involved in before it had been conducted, for inappropriately using tournament footage of Tasmanian chessplayers including me as background to its culture war on this matter without the consent of all involved, and for making no effort to present a balanced presentation of facts or opinions concerning the story.

The Mercury

The Mercury is on the no free interviews list as of 17 May for debiting my partner's card $15 for a subscription the day after she cancelled her subscription by phone and was told it was cancelled.  To be interviewed by me again without payment, The Mercury must refund the money with a minimum of further difficulty.  

Monday, April 4, 2022

Peter Gutwein Resignation And Recount

Retiring MP: Peter Gutwein (Liberal, Bass)

Recount from 2021 election for remainder of 2021-25 term
Recount for seat between Liberals Simon Wood and Greg Kieser 
Simon Wood won recount easily as expected

Jeremy Rockliff elected Premier unopposed. 

Recount updates 26 April

Recount updates will be posted here today as news arrives.  The number of ballot papers to be counted is very large but an outright majority for Wood on the first count (pretty likely I think) would speed things up.  Not sure if the result will be today, but if so I'd think late today.  

Tuesday night: the update late tonight shows Wood with nearly two-thirds of the vote with nearly two-thirds counted, confirming he will win tomorrow.

Wednesday: Wood wins on primaries as expected and by lots, 61%-28.9%.  

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In breaking news Premier Peter Gutwein has announced he is resigning as Premier and from Parliament later this week.  Gutwein was Premier for just two years and three months but in that time led his party to the retention of its majority (a very unusual feat for a seven year old government while the same party held office federally) and vied with Mark McGowan for the highest opinion poll ratings recorded in Australian polling history.  Gutwein's leadership of the state during the early days of the pandemic was acclaimed, though in the last few months opinion of the state's reopening has been divided and his ratings were starting to return to earth.  Gutwein has stated he is resigning for more family time.  His devotion to a massive workload saw him hospitalised with exhaustion and he has had some difficult challenges recently including isolation after a family member tested positive, and also revealing that he was a survivor of an attempted sexual assault as a teenager.  

This is very fresh and this article will be updated as the Premiership story develops.  I will start with the known unknown - the battle to replace him, and other parts as I can.

Friday, April 1, 2022

"Reignite Democracy" Cooks Up Some Senate Preference Myths

Yesterday my attention was drawn to a flier that had been circulated by Reignite Democracy Australia, a fringe right anti-mandates group, and also to a course they are offering.  The website is promoting online sessions in "how the electoral system works", how it supposedly favours the major parties and the Greens, how it supposedly works against "freedom loving and independent candidates" and how voters can "turbocharge their vote".  There's a bit of a push around for voters for parties like Liberal Democrats, One Nation and United Australia to preference each other, with supporters of the idea labelling all those involved "freedom parties" or "freedom friendly", even though some of the parties involved hardly have a libertarian bone in their bodies on any issue that isn't COVID-related.

I believe that everyone, whatever their politics, should have access to the facts about the electoral system and how they can make best use of their vote to represent their views.  Unfortunately what we have with this flier and may get with the presentations is some eccentric claims about the Senate specifically by one Peter Newland (apparently a veteran JSCEM correspondent, though not one I have noticed before). The claims sound plausible because of the detailed discussion of electoral systems, and indeed received a fairly friendly response on Twitter yesterday when tweeted, perhaps because they were more interesting than the usual RDA paranoia about voting in pen, stylising 1s and 7s and so on.  However, they still contain serious errors and unsound strategic voting advice.  It appears that RDA may be about to give a platform to junk psephology and recommend it to children.