WA Senate by-election: results live

10:15pm – I’m going to sign off here for the night. I’ll be back with another post tomorrow. As a summary, here are the key points:

  • There has been a large swing against both the ALP and the Liberal Party, with the two major parties polling well under 60% of the primary vote.
  • There have been large swings towards the Greens and the Palmer United Party, including positive swings in every electorate.
  • The first two Liberal senators and the lead Labor and Greens candidates have polled a full quota, while the Palmer United Party is close enough to be very likely to win.
  • The final seat looks likely to be a race between the Liberal Party’s Linda Reynolds and the Labor Party’s Louise Pratt. At the time of writing, Pratt leads on the ABC Senate calculator, but a lot of votes remain to be counted, and Pratt’s lead is extremely slim.

10:10pm – And Louise Pratt of the ALP has now gained the lead on the ABC Senate calculator, which just demonstrates how tight this race is.

10:01pm – Both the Liberal Party and the ALP have suffered negative swings in all 15 electorates. The Greens and the Palmer United Party gained positive swings in all 15 electorates. The swing to the Greens was weakest in the very rural electorates of Durak and O’Connor. The Greens achieved swings of 8% or over in the inner-city seats of Fremantle, Perth, Swan and Tangney.

9:57pm – In terms of the geographic spread, I’m probably going to stop updating my figures at this point, since the ABC data is very good-quality. I’ll come back tomorrow with some more analysis of the swings and geographic balances. For now I’ll just focus on some broad trends.

9:46pm – We have just under 40% of the vote counted, and there’s a pretty clear pattern. The Liberal Party has won two seats,the ALP, the Greens and the Palmer United Party, and the final seat is a race primarily between the Liberal Party’s Linda Reynolds and the ALP’s Louise Pratt. At the moment, Antony Green’s Senate calculator has Reynolds winning by a margin of 0.02 quota, which is definitely vulnerable. That will be the race to watch.

9:40pm – The Greens have overtaken the ALP in both Curtin and Tangney.

9:02pm – The PUP vote ranges from 4.4% in Curtin to 17.6% in Brand. Swing ranges from 2.3% in Perth to 10.2% in Brand.

8:54pm – Let’s look at the vote for the larger parties in each electorate. The Greens vote varies from 6.8% in O’Connor to 27.1% in Perth. Swings from +0.1% in O’Connor to +13.9% in Perth.

8:39pm – Antony Green’s projections suggest the Greens aren’t that far behind Labor overall.

8:22pm – The swing against the ALP ranges from 0.5% in Curtin to 10% in Tangney.

8:20pm – It seems pretty clear that five of the six seats will go to two Liberals, one Labor, one Green and one Palmer, with the last seat seemingly a race between the ALP and the Liberal Party.

8:18pm – My projections are as follows:

  • LIB – 2.25 quotas increases to 2.32
  • ALP – 1.09 to 1.36
  • GRN – 0.92 to 1.20
  • PUP – 0.89 to 0.84
  • NAT – 0.94 to 0.41

7:47pm – Antony Green is matching results to booths from last time, and he suggests a trend that has the Liberal Party only just over two quotas, with the ALP on about 1.5 quotas, the Greens over a quota and PUP just under a quota.

7:45pm – Out of seven electorates that have reported votes so far, the Greens are up in five seats. This includes an increase of 6% in Pearce and Stirling, and 14.3% in Brand. Bear in mind that we don’t know if the booths reporting so far are representative of the entire electorate.

7:41pm – My model, which weights the vote in each electorate according to the number of votes polled in 2013, halves the National vote from 19.2% to 9.5% and increases the ALP vote from 13.8% to 19.5%. It also increases the Greens vote from 7.7% to 12.1%. Bear in mind we still have no votes from eight urban seats, and this model will become more useful once all 15 seats have reported votes.

7:39pm – We now have over 8000 votes – which is 0.62% of the votes recorded in 2013. In O’Connor that ratio is over 4%, with most of the other seats conservative and rural.

7:05pm – We have votes now from five conservative seats: Canning, Durack, Forrest, Pearce and O’Connor. This is enough to see that O’Connor is well over-represented. The vote reported in O’Connor is at 0.8% of the 2013 vote, which is a much larger ratio than any of the other seats.

6:49pm – So far we’ve got less than 200 votes, most from O’Connor and a small number from Pearce.

6:44pm – Sam Dastyari on ABC News 24 claims that a sample of large booths suggest a drop of 15% in turnout.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in Western Australia, and I’ll be covering the results here on the website.

I’ll be using a new model to try and track how the results are flowing in, and to take account of trends that are not uniform between seats. In short, I will be scaling up each seat’s vote to 80% of the turnout at the 2013 election, which will weight votes more heavily from seats where they haven’t reported. This isn’t perfect, as voting patterns will vary within each electorate, and my model won’t be able to match booths individually to get a more precise sense of the swing.

I’ll be tracking how the results are going in each seat, and what sort of swings we are looking at. I’ll then be relying on Antony Green’s Senate calculator to get a sense of how those primary votes will translate into a result.

WA Senate election day

Polls have just opened in Western Australia for the unprecedented special election for all six WA senate seats that were meant to be filled at least year’s Senate election.

In the last few days of the campaign, we have seen Newspoll release their quarterly breakdowns, which include figures for each state, and is the only recent federal poll showing figures for Western Australia. This poll had Labor down to 29%, the Liberal Party up to 46%, and the Greens up substantially to 15%.

Reports of internal polling suggest the Greens performing strongly, with Labor polling poorly and in serious danger of not polling two quotas, with Louise Pratt’s seat certainly in danger.

Some journalists are reporting Liberal sources as being confident of retaining their three seats, while others suggest the Liberal Party will struggle to win a third seat.

The Palmer United Party has dominated advertising spending in WA, with the Greens also outspending the major parties, according to a report from advertising monitoring company Ebiquity. This led the Prime Minister to accuse Clive Palmer of attempting to ‘buy’ the election.

Today’s news was dominated by reports of a speech given by Labor’s lead candidate, Joe Bullock, late in 2013, in which he criticised his party, its members and made comments about his fellow Labor candidate Louise Pratt.

Please use this thread as an opportunity to post your own predictions for tonight’s election results, and as an open thread to post news from the polling places of Western Australia.

William Bowe at Poll Bludger yesterday predicted a strong result for the Greens’ Scott Ludlam, with both Labor and Liberal struggling to reach their second and third quotas respectively.

I think that makes a lot of sense. The Greens have run a strong campaign and are polling strongly, while Labor has not recovered much or any ground since the 2013 election, and could go back further.

I predict that the Liberal Party will win two seats, the ALP and Greens one. For the final two seats, it’s likely they will fall to Labor and Palmer, with an outside chance for the third Liberal.

What do you think?

SA and TAS 2014 – campaigns conclude

Today we saw the conclusion of the count in Tasmania’s electorates, with all five electorates now finalised.

Results in Franklin and Bass were reasonably decisive, with Labor MPs David O’Byrne and Brian Wightman losing their seats to the Liberal Party.

In Lyons, former Labor MP David Llewellyn won back his seat, while the Greens’ Tim Morris lost his seat to the Liberal Party.

In the northern seat of Braddon, the ALP’s Brenton Best narrowly missed out for the final seat and the Greens’ Paul O’Halloran also lost his seat, resulting in an unprecedented four seats for the Liberal Party, a result not seen since the reduction in seats in 1998.

In the southern seat of Denison, there was no change to party representation, but the ALP’s second seat was left open with the retirement of Graeme Sturges, and all four non-incumbent Labor candidates were in with a chance. Madeleine Ogilvie narrowly won the seat ahead of Julian Amos.

This produced a final result of 15 Liberal, 7 Labor and 3 Greens. This is a solid majority for the Liberal Party, and also results in loss of parliamentary party status for the Greens.

In South Australia, the election night result of 23 Labor, 22 Liberal and 2 Greens held through late counting. After independent MP Bob Such was admitted to hospital for an indefinite period, independent MP Geoff Brock decided to support the ALP to continue in government, recognising that both independents would need to support the Liberal Party to achieve stable government.

This is the last word for the South Australian and Tasmanian elections for this blog. I’ll be covering the Western Australian Senate by-election next Saturday, April 5, and you can read the guide for the by-election (including sub-pages for all 15 electorates in Western Australia), and comment on any of the pages.

Beyond that, I’m close to finishing my maps for all 88 Victorian electorates for the November state election. On April 17, the final boundaries for the New Zealand general election will be released, and I will start work on that election guide, and I plan to have both ready to go well in advance of those elections.

While I work on these projects, you may notice less activity on the Tally Room, but be assured that I will be working hard in the background to get ready for the next campaign.

ACT Assembly going to 25

In the lead-up to the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania, I didn’t have time to cover another electoral story in the Australian Capital Territory. After many years of debate, and competing proposals, the ACT Legislative Assembly appears set to increase in size, from 17 to 25 seats.

The ACT’s legislative body currently has 17 members elected from three multi-member electorates. The electorate of Molonglo, centred on Lake Burley Griffin, elects seven members, while the Belconnen-based Ginninderra and the Tuggeranong-based Brindabella each elect five members.

The Labor Party and the Greens have supported some expansion in size of the ACT for a while, but it has faced opposition from the Liberal Party.

An expert panel (read the report) recommended the creation of five electorates – which would initially elect five members each before eventually electing seven members each for a total Assembly size of 35.

The Liberal Party’s ACT division decided to support the increase to 25 at their meeting on March 5. It’s unclear if either party is pushing for an eventual increase to 35 seats.

The next ACT election is due in just over two and a half years, giving plenty of time for the Assembly to pass the change and for new boundaries to be drawn.

We don’t know exactly how the boundaries will be drawn, but there aren’t that many options when you are drawing electoral boundaries in Canberra.

One possible way to divide ACT's polling places into five electorates. Belconnen in orange, Central in purple, North in blue, Tuggeranong in green, West in yellow.

One possible way to divide ACT’s polling places into five electorates. Belconnen in orange, Central in purple, North in blue, Tuggeranong in green, West in yellow.

In 2010, I conducted some analysis at the likely impact of a 5×5 electoral system that didn’t make it to this blog. This included assigning all polling places to one of five electorates.

The ACT is divided into seven districts. The central suburbs are split into North Canberra and South Canberra by the Lake. These areas are usually referred to as the ‘inner north’ and ‘inner south’.

In the north you find Gungahlin, and Belconnen in the north-west.

In the south you have Tuggeranong, and just north of Tuggeranong to the west of the city is Weston Creek and Woden Valley.

When drawing these boundaries I found that both Tuggeranong and Belconnen were too large to be contained within a single electorate. Both areas formed the basis for an electorate. I then created an electorate called ‘West’ covering Weston Creek and the remainder of Tuggeranong. In the north I created an electorate covering all of Gungahlin and northern parts of Belconnen, as well as the northern fringe of the inner north.

I then created a fifth electorate in the centre, surrounding the Lake and mostly covering the inner south and inner north.

Population will continue to shift, and I didn’t take into account absentee and other special votes which may vary in numbers. It’s quite possible that the Central electorate will lose parts of Woden. Having said that, I think they provide a useful guide as to how a 5×5 system would change the balance in the ACT.

I’ve taken the results by polling place of the 2012 results (no thanks to Elections ACT, who don’t provide the data in a format that allows you to download it all at once – you need to visit a separate page for each polling place) to produce my estimate of how many quotas each party would have polled in each of these five hypothetical electorates in 2012.

Seat Labor Liberal Greens Others
Belconnen 2.5227 1.8653 0.6105 1.0004
Central 2.4636 2.1197 0.9045 0.5118
North 2.4001 2.1628 0.7039 0.7324
Tuggeranong 2.1273 2.8835 0.3939 0.5950
West 2.4007 2.4501 0.5984 0.5494

The Liberal vote is more concentrated in Tuggeranong so the highest result for a particular party is for the Liberal Party in Tuggeranong. Tuggeranong is the best area for the Liberal Party, and the worst for both the ALP and the Greens. Belconnen is best for the ALP and worst for the Liberal Party. The Greens vote peaks in the central electorate.

On these numbers, I estimate that we would see 11-12 Liberals, 10-12 Labor and 2-4 Greens MLAs. The fifth seat in Belconnen could either go to the ALP or the Greens. The fifth seat in the West could go to Labor, Liberal or Greens. In this scenario, all parties would increase their numbers.

In most circumstances, this result would ensure that both major parties won two seats in each electorate. The Greens vote is quite strong in Central – probably enough to offset the fact that they previously benefited from a lower quota in Molonglo that has been lost. In this scenario, 0.7 quota in the North is probably enough to elect a Green, but may not be enough to guarantee a win if the balance between the major parties shifts.

The Greens polling 0.6 quotas in Belconnen and the West would provide enough of a base to give the party a chance, particularly in a good election. The Greens would have to perform exceptionally to win a seat in Tuggeranong.

Overall, these new electorates would see no change in the balance of power: on 2012 votes, the Greens would have held the balance of power, with the likely result seeing Labor and the Greens sharing government as they have done. The biggest impact would have been a deeper bench: resulting in more talent available to serve as ministers, and a larger backbench.

SA 2014 – boundary issues

South Australia’s election produced a result that has sparked a lot of interest: despite the Liberal Party winning a majority of the two-party-preferred vote (and by even more than in 2010), the Liberal Party has won less seats than the ALP, and we appear to have narrowly avoided the Labor government holding an outright majority.

It’s not an uncommon outcome, in South Australia and elsewhere in the country. The ALP has formed government in South Australia despite losing the statewide vote three times in the last 25 years: in 1989, 2002 and 2010, and in two of those cases the ALP won an overall majority.

In federal politics, the 1990 and 1998 elections both saw the sitting government maintain power despite losing the vote (Labor in 1990, and the Coalition in 1998).

Following Saturday night’s result, multiple Liberal figures have come out to complain about the outcome and to vaguely criticize our existing electoral system which allows such an ‘unfair’ result.

Tony Abbott described South Australia’s election laws as ‘extraordinary’, ignoring the fact that Saturday’s outcome could just as easily happen under federal electoral law.

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