After the closeness of the 2013 election, we were all ready for a close contest in 2014, but that hasn’t eventuated. At the end of election night, the ALP’s Louise Pratt looked like she had a chance of overtaking the Liberal Party’s Linda Reynolds in the race for the final seat. After a full week of additional counting, Reynolds’ lead has grown, and she will be winning the final seat, for a total result of 3 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Green and 1 Palmer United Party.
Last Sunday, the day after the election, I wrote about the likely shifts in votes, which I predicted would help Reynolds win the final seat. The following day, I also outlined possible scenarios last Monday which could see Louise Pratt gain the lead. We now have a much clearer picture about how the result has gone.
According to the ABC Senate calculator, it now predicts Reynolds to win the final seat by a margin of 0.036 quota. In this post, I’ll run through some of the reasons why this has happened, and why Louise Pratt’s chances have disappeared.
We have been learning new information about votes in two ways. Firstly, special votes that hadn’t been reported on election night have started to be counted. Absent votes have been counted in nine out of fifteen electorates. Pre-poll votes (not including local pre-poll votes which were counted on election night) have been counted in eleven, and postal votes have been counted in twelve electorates. I believe that more votes are yet to be counted in electorates that have reported figures.
In addition, all votes counted on election night were counted as ‘unapportioned’ votes for each group, instead of being identified as either above-the-line ticket votes or below-the-line votes for a particular candidate. Approximately two-thirds of all ordinary votes have now been moved from the unapportioned line to be counted as either above-the-line or below-the-line.
As expected, postal votes make up close to a majority of all special votes counted, although I believe postal votes will increase as a proportion of the vote.
In postal votes, the Liberal Party polled 9.5% higher than amongst ordinary votes. The ALP and PUP polled only slightly lower, while the Greens vote is less than half of that from election day. Since Pratt was relying on Greens preferences to win the final seat, the poor Greens postal vote has impacted on Pratt’s position at the end of the count.
The Liberal Party and ALP both polled more poorly amongst absentee votes, while the Greens and PUP polled higher.
Over 30% of below-the-line votes counted so far were for Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, and this number reaches 32.8% for the entire Greens ticket, compared to 15.4% overall.
While Louise Pratt outpolled Joe Bullock below-the-line (9.3% vs 7.5%), overall the ALP polled less below-the-line than it did above-the-line. Over 40% of below-the-line votes were either for a Greens candidate or for Joe Bullock. The ABC calculator assumes all of these votes will flow to Pratt in the final race, but some of them will likely leak to the Liberal Party. This strong below-the-line performance may outweigh the fact that the Liberal Party would be expected to suffer preference leakage on below-the-line votes due to the Liberals relying on more preferences from other groups.
We won’t have the full picture for a couple of weeks, at which time we’ll have a full picture of below-the-line votes and how the parties performed across the entire state on special votes, but at this point in time it’s pretty clear that the Liberal hold has strengthened and is likely to strengthen further.