Taking a break for a while

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Now that the election is over I will be taking an extended break. I won’t be doing any work on the Tally Room for the next six weeks.

After this break I will be back with regular posts. We have no more elections this year but there will be redistributions, by-elections (I assume) and deeper analysis of the recent elections. I’ll be doing full guides for the Brisbane City Council election in early 2020 and then the more populous NSW council elections, and the ACT, Northern Territory and Queensland later in 2020.

I’m also hoping to start a podcast running the history of Australian elections, starting off with the 1901-1914 period, if you want to sign up as a donor to help make this happen.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you in August.

NT redistribution – draft boundaries released

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While we’ve been focused on the federal election, redistributions have been progressing for the local Legislative Assemblies in both the ACT and the Northern Territory.

I blogged about the population numbers in the NT in April, and since then the first draft of the boundaries have been released.

In that post I suggested that changes did not need to be overly dramatic, particularly in the majority of seats in the Darwin-Palmerston area, but that the Alice Springs seats were well over quota and would need to lose population to the surrounding rural seats.

And that is largely what has happened. Both Alice seats shrunk, giving off surplus population to the surrounding seat of Namatjira. That seat then shrunk, triggering a cascading effect as another five seats stretching from end to end of the territory all edged south to accomodate the shrinking southern seats.

7.8% of the territory’s population has been moved into a new seat. 44% of the population of Namatjira was previously in either Araluen or Braitling. Three other rural seats (Arnhem, Barkly and Stuart/Gwoya) include over 20% who were previously in another seat.

Four seats were unchanged: Goyder, Karama, Nhulunbuy/Mulka and Port Darwin.

Two seat names have been changed Nhulunbuy in the north-eastern corner of the territory has been renamed Mulka, while the south-western seat of Stuart, which stretches from the Timor Sea to the South Australian border, has been renamed Gwoya.

I’ve included a map showing the changes below the fold, along with a link to download the file yourself.

Senate count update – week four

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We’re now halfway through the fourth week of counting for the Senate, and the count has got close to the finish line, although we only have a final result in the Northern Territory, where Labor and the Country Liberal Party each retained their one Senate seat without any need for preferences.

A few weeks ago I ran through each state and identified only one race, in Queensland, where seats were still in play. Since then the ALP has lost ground. While we will still need to wait for the distribution of preferences to know for sure, it seems likely that the last three seats will go to the LNP, the Greens and One Nation.

The current quotas for these groups are:

  • LNP – 2.74 quotas
  • ALP – 1.59
  • ON – 0.71
  • GRN – 0.70

One other point of interest from the Senate count is the informal rate. It’s not clear to me if there’s any formal votes still sitting in the informal pile – there certainly were a lot of formal votes incorrectly classified in the first counts after election day. The informal rate has dropped dramatically since those early counts, now sitting at 3.86%, down slightly from 3.94% in 2016.

State2016 informal rate2019 informal rateChange in informal rate
ACT2.212.320.11
NSW4.534.25-0.28
NT3.333.640.31
QLD3.403.22-0.18
SA3.333.510.18
TAS3.483.640.16
VIC4.204.260.06
WA3.353.500.15
Australia3.943.86-0.08

Informal voting has slightly increased in most jurisdictions, although that was cancelled out by small declines in NSW and Queensland.

I should again emphasise that this informal rate is likely to drop a little bit more as the count continues, potentially getting below the 3.75% informal rate at the 2010 election.

Mapping the Molan BTL vote

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Jim Molan grabbed a lot of attention in the election for his quixotic attempt to be re-elected from the fourth spot on the NSW Liberal/National ticket, despite New South Wales having a relatively low rate of below-the-line voting.

He never came close to winning, but has polled over 100,000 votes, equalling about 2.6% of the vote, with a small number of votes yet to be allocated to individual candidates. It’s an impressive result (although the raw numbers are helped by him running in Australia’s largest state).

His result also appears to have led to a spike in below-the-line voting generally in New South Wales while the rate of voting below-the-line appears to have declined in most other jurisdictions.

I’ve mapped out where he got his votes below the fold.

Map of the day – northern Tasmania

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I received a request earlier this week to consider making a map showing the results of the map in Bass and Braddon, the two electorates in northern Tasmania won by Labor in 2016 and lost in 2019.

The map in this post shows the two-candidate-preferred vote across Tasmania, and also shows the swing in four of the five Tasmanian seats (there’s something weird going on with the booth swings in Clark in the AEC’s dataset, so I’ve left it off).

The picture of swings in northern Tasmania is reasonably consistent, but there is a handful of booths across the region where Labor gained ground against the general trend.

When you look at the total vote (not the swing), Labor still won majorities in clusters of booths at the centre of Launceston, Burnie and Devonport, but otherwise lost most booths.

Map of the day – swings in opposite directions for Greens in Victoria

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As I’ve been putting together these maps I was particularly interested in seeing what the booth map looked like for the Victorian Greens. There wasn’t a consistent story to come out of the election when it comes to swings for the Greens. The Greens had a tough ask in retaining all six of their Senate seats up for election. At the moment they should win five and possibly six, which is a pretty good outcome.

The Greens have gained a small +0.15% swing in the House of Representatives nationally, and a bigger +1.5% swing in the Senate. Yet Victoria bucked those trends, suffering a large -1.3% swing in the House and a small -0.3% swing in the Senate.

This partly reflects the Greens going backwards in some of their inner city heartland electorates, but again there is not one consistent picture here.

So that’s what I wanted to map out. The map is below the fold.

Swinging maps in Canberra

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The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) never receives much attention in federal elections, but I found some interesting trends when I mapped out the results of the recent election, both in terms of the House and the Senate.

The ACT received a third seat in the House of Representatives as part of the most recent round of redistributions, leading to the creation of a new inner-city seat of Canberra. This naturally forced the centre of the other two electorates further out into the suburbs. The boundary between the two old seats ran close to Lake Burley Griffin, ensuring each electorate had a mix of outer suburbia and inner city. There is now a big demographic difference between Canberra and its neighbours.

Meanwhile there was another concerted effort to unseat Liberal senator Zed Seselja from his traditionally safe ACT Senate seat, without much success.

I’ve produced three interesting maps which show a widening gap between the Canberra inner city and the outer suburbs (particularly in the south), as well as who is in the lead in the Senate in each booth.

Federal 2019 – Swan’s booths move to the centre

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Once you notice the trend of Liberal areas (particularly those with higher education and income levels) swinging towards Labor while Labor areas swing to the Coalition, you start to see the trend all over the place.

One particularly good example is in the marginal Liberal seat of Swan in the inner suburbs of Perth. Swan covers trendy inner-city areas like South Perth and Victoria Park, but also includes more suburban areas at the eastern end of the seat, such as Belmont, Cloverdale and Cannington.

I’m not particularly familiar with this area, but it appears that the eastern end of the seat has lower education and income levels compared to the west, and traditionally has voted more strongly for Labor. The western end of the seat includes the South Perth council area, which voted solidly for the Liberal Party in 2016 (66% 2PP), but also the Victoria Park council area, which narrowly voted for Labor (51% 2PP) while also having the highest Greens vote.

The informal rate is rising, but more votes have been counted

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After my post on Friday evening about turnout levels I’ve also done some further analysis into the rate of informal voting at the recent election.

While it is true that the informal rate has increased compared to the 2016 election, it is still lower than it was in either 2010 or 2013. And the increasing rate of enrolment means a larger proportion of the Voting Eligible Population (VEP) have cast a vote in 2019 than in any election in the last decade.

In the post below I’ve run through the key stats for formal voting and turnout over the last few elections, and look at a map showing the informal rate by seat.

The turnout is pretty good actually

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The Sydney Morning Herald published an article this afternoon claiming that the recent federal election had “one of the lowest voter turnouts” in the last century. Further down the authors claim that the turnout is “on track to be lower than the 2016 election”, despite acknowledging that this is partly due to the record high enrolment rate bringing in a larger proportion of the eligible population than ever before.

I was planning to write a post explaining why this is misleading, that while it may be true that the proportion of the roll to have cast a vote may have gone down, you can’t spin a story about voters becoming disengaged while the proportion of the eligible population who have voted has been steadily increasing.

Yet it turns out that no such nuance is needed, because even the basic fact at the core of the article is false. Updated statistics tonight reveal that the turnout at this election is about to surpass the 2016 election, with more votes yet to be counted.

Yes there are reasons to be concerned about voters’ “disengagement”, but it is false to claim that the number of Australians who are voting is dropping.