Thursday, November 30, 2023

EMRS Says Tasmanian Labor's Getting Nowhere

EMRS: Liberal 39 (+1) Labor 29 (-3) Green 12 (-2) IND/Other 19 (+3)
Election "held now" would be some kind of hung parliament, but further improvement for the government would put it in contention for winning outright
Jeremy Rockliff increases slim Better Premier lead

In 2021 Tasmanian Labor had a poor election result.  Blighted by infighting and candidate disasters and facing a supremely popular Premier riding a COVID management surge, the party managed only 28.2% and lost a seat in Clark to an independent.  Two and a half years on the Premier is gone, and the "moat" phase of the pandemic that boosted his party has gone.  Also gone are two backbenchers who defected to the crossbench, three other Ministers who quit the parliament, another Minister from the Cabinet, and Adam Brooks after some number of minutes as a returned MP.  The government itself was almost gone two months ago when a crisis involving the resignation of then Attorney-General Elise Archer could have sent it to a snap election.  It remains at the mercy of two indies who at times say some very strange things.  These are hard times to govern in without this chaos.  The government is almost a decade old and has spent much of the year lurching from one crisis or shambles to the next and under pressure over a range of unpopular policies, including the now-shelved fire levy.  So where is the Opposition in this feast of opportunity?  According to the latest EMRS poll it's on ... 29%.  Pretty much back to where it started.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

JSCEM's Strange Case For Extra Territory Senators

Yesterday saw the release of the final version of the Joint Standing Committee into Electoral Matters report into the 2022 election.  Following the somewhat lightweight and culture-war afflicted 2019 report it was good to see a return to substance, but that is not to say that everything is wonderful.  There are various welcome aspects of JSCEM's findings and proposals that I may comment on later but for now I wanted to deal with JSCEM's recommendation to increase the number of Senators for the ACT and Northern Territory from two to four apiece.  (I'm also considering a longer article about the current push for "truth in electoral advertising" laws, and the extent to which that movement is being fanned by naive support arising from the Voice failure and the rise of Donald Trump style candidates.)

Increasing the number of Territory Senators can be done by legislation and could in theory very well happen before the next election, while an increase in the House of Representatives is likely to be a second-term project for the Albanese Government, assuming that it gets a second term.   As the support of Labor, the Greens and David Pocock for expansion appears highly likely, the Government would only, for instance, need the support of either Lidia Thorpe or the Lambie Network (or even someone to abstain or be away) to pass the change.  In theory an expansion could be challenged in the High Court but the prospects for any challenge would seem dim.  The Constitution allows the Parliament to create Territory representation on whatever terms it likes and so long as there's some reasonable argument rather than it just being an out-and-out stack, it's hard to see on what basis the Court could say no. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Mulgrave By-Election 2023: Prospects And Live Commentary

Mulgrave (Vic, ALP vs IND 10.8, ALP vs Lib 10.2)
Vacancy for resignation of Daniel Andrews (ALP)

ALP Retain (Called 9:40 pm)

Final 2PP swing was 5.5% but Liberals unexpectedly finished third after preferences!  

Large (just over 10%) primary swing against Labor, but going to left as well as right. 

Normal by-election 2PP swing result for vacating Premier, but finishing third is embarrassing for Liberals.

Updates (scrolling to top)

Tuesday 27th The final result is in - the Liberals did finish third! The preferences from the Libertarian candidate with the donkey vote on board (but not at all just for that reason) flowed exceptionally strongly to Cook (61% vs 11% to Liberals) putting him close enough to just overtake Mann on Green preferences at the end by 158 votes. However the Liberal 2PP (45.33) is still much higher than the Ian Cook 2CP (43.51).  

7:20 Sunday The VEC will not realign the preferences before the preference distribution so we'll be waiting for postals to get the final margin and the expected confirmation that the Liberals were second, probably in a bit over a week.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Poll Roundup: This Is The Way The Honeymoon Ended

 2PP Aggregated Estimate: 52.9 To ALP (-1.4 since mid-August)

ALP would still win election "held now", probably with increased majority

Time for another federal voting intention poll roundup as there have been several noteable results in recent weeks.  In a previous edition I reported that while the end of the Albanese Government's polling honeymoon had been declared by many hasty false prophets, we weren't quite there yet ... but we could be soon.  My standard for the honeymoon phase still existing had been a 54-46 estimated aggregated polling lead for the government, but in the event of the government falling slightly below that level I would want to see at least a month of evidence that that was the case.  (It is somewhat like how a single quarter of negative growth does not count as a recession).  

Anyway I can now report that on my estimates the rear-vision window shows that it's been two months.  The Albanese Government's polling honeymoon ended not with a bang but with a gradual slip into the twilight zone of not-quite-enough-ahead in early September.  There were several individual poll results better than 54-46 since then but on a weekly rolling basis I have had Labor in the 53s ever since.  Furthermore following this week's Newspoll the Government dipped just below an aggregated (and Newspoll!) 53% for the first time.  

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Voice Referendum: Turnout and Informal Votes

I haven't seen any other articles on these subjects so some coverage of turnout and informal votes in the Voice referendum.  

The most important thing to know about Voice turnout is that it was a lot higher than many people said it was going to be.  It indeed managed to just beat the 2022 House of Representatives turnout, but this is no great miracle alone given that the 2022 election was COVID-blighted.  What makes it more impressive was that it was acheived against the backdrop of an enrolment drive that made the roll more complete than ever before, putting more voters on the roll who had a relatively low chance of voting.  Another factor that makes the near-90% turnout commendable is that six years ago there was a mass voting type exercise that was voluntary, and there was some potential for confusion about whether voting in the referendum was required.

Just a disclaimer before I get much further: when I post graphs with low r-squared values (percentage of variation explained) I come across a few readers for whom a little knowledge of statistics is a dangerous thing and who will, sometimes irately, insist that anything below r-squared equals 0.3 or so is worthless.  In fact electoral statistics are very messy and even r-squared values of a few percent can be statistically significant if there are enough data points.  The important thing with such values is to be especially cautious about assuming causation since the causes of such patterns are often to be found elsewhere.  For instance, in the 1999 Republic referendum, seats with high Yes votes had low turnout, but that isn't because high support for Yes in an area caused people to not vote, it is mainly because inner city seats that tended naturally to vote Yes also have high numbers of transient young voters (who themselves would be likely to vote Yes if they voted at all).  

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Voice Referendum Polling Accuracy

The 2023 Voice referendum was a triumph for Australian (and in one case UK) opinion polling.  With all votes counted apart from a few dozen that may or may not exist, here is my assessment of the accuracy of the final polls, and of the polling overall.  

Before I start a few words about the late count: firstly the Yes vote rebounded after the first night of counting from projecting to the low 39s to finishing up at very nearly 40 (39.94 pending any late corrections, which would appear unlikely at this stage).  The main causes of this were: a strong performance by Yes on absents, a relatively strong performance on out-of-division prepolls (which were intermediate between absents and in-division prepolls) and both these forms of votes being substantially more common than in 2022 (29% and 22% more common respectively).  The latter also pushed the turnout up from the initial mid-to-high 80s range to more or less 90%, with it finishing at 89.92% (up 0.1% on the 2022 Reps election, but also up over 400,000 voters because of increased enrolment).   That said because it is harder to get one's vote rejected over enrolment issues, a better comparison might be the 2022 Senate turnout of 90.47%, on which turnout was slightly down.  

34 divisions voted Yes, including all in doubt after the night except for No's closest victory in Hotham, and 117 voted No.  Tasmania pipped NSW for second highest state Yes vote by 0.02%.

The polls overall

The Voice referendum was among the most heavily polled electoral events in Australian history, and the single most diversely polled with at least 22 different pollsters releasing some kind of result on the Voice since the 2022 federal election.  The polling was characterised by a refreshing lack of herding and saw a range of approaches taken in terms of headline figures (these could be broken broadly into one-pass, two-pass and forced choice approaches).  The major national polls towards the end were in general exclusively online, the main variation being that DemosAU used device engagement whereas the others employed panel polling.  This lack of method diversity turned out not to be a problem.