Archive for February, 2009


Seat in Focus: Indooroopilly

Indooroopilly is considered one of the Liberal Party’s traditional Brisbane seats, and is the only seat to cross the Brisbane River, lying in Brisbane’s western suburbs. The 2001 Beattie landslide saw the seat fall to the 25-year-old Ronan Lee. He managed to hold on to the seat in 2004 and 2006, with the seat lying on a 2.4% margin after the 2006 election, which rose to 2.7% after the redistribution.

In October 2008, Lee defected from the ALP to become the first Greens MP in Queensland. The move was controversial, with Lee being seen as holding socially conservative out of line with Greens grassroots members and supporters, if not some leadership figures in the Queensland Greens. In particular, Lee has conservative views on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. This follows the defection in 2003 of Kris Hanna from the ALP to the Greens. Hanna is a member of the South Australian House of Assembly, and was re-elected in 2006 as an independent after his Greens membership ended in tears.

Indooroopilly is an interesting mix of inner-city progressivism and wealthy Liberal supporters, and should become the first truly three-cornered urban seat in Australia in a long time. The 2006 election saw the Greens poll 17%, with both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party polling around 40%.

At the 2009 election, the seat will be contested by Scott Emerson of the LNP and Sarah Warner of the ALP, with Lee running for a fourth term as a Green. It’s expected that the Liberal National Party will gain a primary vote swing, which could put them up around 45%. Under Queensland’s optional preferential voting system, it will be difficult for either Lee or Labor candidate Sarah Warner to muster up a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote. If the LNP gets 45%, and Lee manages to muster 30%, with Warner on 25%, Lee would need at least 60% of Warner’s preferences. While Lee’s ALP heritage should ensure he gains strong preferences from the ALP, it appears unlikely that a preference deal will be struck between the ALP and the Greens, with the Greens refusing to work with the ALP over Traveston Dam and the ALP still stung by Lee’s defection.

On the other hand, the Liberal National Party merger may play into Lee’s hands. If the backlash against Springborg outweighs any anti-Bligh swing, and Emerson manages only 40%, with Lee on 33% and Warner on 27%, Lee could win the seat on 25-30% of ALP preferences, which is eminently achievable.

The seat divides between strong Liberal suburbs on the shore of the Brisbane River, around Chelmer, Graceville and Fig Tree Pocket, while the suburbs on the fringe of the electorate are stronger ALP booths, as well as being stronger Greens booths. I’ve posted a booth map below showing the approximate two-party-preferred figures in each booth.

[geo_mashup_map add_overview_control=”false” zoom=13 add_map_type_control=”true”]


Washington DC to gain voting rights?

You might be surprised that the political capital of the United States, Washington, DC., still lacks any representation in the US Congress, while it casts 3electoral votes in Presidential elections and the role of the Mayor and the city council are severely curtailed by close monitoring by Congress.

This primarily is due to the fact that, unlike every other part of the continental United States, the District of Columbia is not a state, and the US Constitution states that only the States of the Union shall elect members of Congress.

The Bill has passed the Senate, and is expected to pass the House soon. Its last attempt at passage, in 2007, fell three votes short of the 60 needed in the Senate, while passing the House comfortably, so it is expected to be passed and signed into law by President Obama. The Bill also increases the number of seats for the 50 states from 435 to 436, which will give an extra seat to Utah for the 2010 election, as Utah was the closest to getting a seat at the 2000 census. However, the upcoming 2010 census will likely see an increase in Utah’s population, meaning an extra seat would’ve been granted to the Mormon-dominated state from 2012 anyway.

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Psephoblogs around the world

I love reading all the psephological blogs in Australia (primarily Crikey’s Poll Bludger and Possum), as well as the bits of psephological content on a bunch of broader political blogs. However, it’s never enough, and I like to read psephological blogs from other English-speaking countries.

I’m always looking for more, and would like to make more links and gain insight into how elections are covered in other countries, so I’m gonna list some of my favourite foreign psephoblogs. What ones do you read? Please go to comments and post your favourites for everyone else to read. And if you know any English-language psephoblogs covering elections in non-English-speaking countries, I would love to see it.

  • Curiablog – A relatively quiet New Zealand blog that posts regularly covering New Zealand opinion polls, and provided a polling average during last year’s NZ election.
  • – The star of the 2008 US Presidential election, FiveThirtyEight was only established in March 2008, well into the election campaign, but Nate Silver’s unique statistical analysis, adopted from baseball fandom, managed to make him a major psephological pundit by the time of the general election in November, and was incredibly accurate in projecting the result.
  • Irish Election – A blog I’ve just discovered, it seems to be the Poll Bludger of Ireland, and would be worth focusing on, should Ireland’s government collapse and trigger an early election in the months to come.
  • UK Polling Report – UK Polling Report provides analysis of UK opinion polls and has produced impressive analysis of the seats that matter for the next UK general election. It includes a calculator that predicts seat numbers based on the percentage of the vote going to each of the three major parties.

Qld Galaxy poll: 50-50

Today’s Courier Mail carries a poll by Galaxy, giving both the ALP and LNP 50% of the two-party-preferred, with the LNP leading on 43% of the primary vote, with the ALP on 42%. The Courier Mail makes an interesting comparison with the election fourteen years ago:

While the result will buoy the LNP, it will also help Labor talk Queenslanders out of lodging a protest vote given there is widespread belief Ms Bligh would be returned easily, similar to the situation faced by Wayne Goss in 1995. Ms Bligh said the poll showed the election was a real contest and neither side could claim underdog status.

“This is an election that will go down to the wire,” she said.


The poll of 800 voters across Queensland, taken on Tuesday and Wednesday night, found 64 per cent of voters believed Labor would win the election.

The majority of voters believed the LNP, which was only formed in July last year, was ready to govern, however 11 per cent of their own voters were unconvinced.

As has been pointed out a number of times, the LNP need more than 50% of the two-party-preferred vote to win. However, it does demonstrate that this isn’t a foregone conclusion, and will probably kick the ALP out of any complacency.

Elsewhere: more at Pineapple Party Time from William Bowe, Possum and Mark Bahnisch.


Jeanette Fitzsimons stepping down

Via the NZ Greens’ Frogblog, the NZ Greens female co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, has announced this week that she will be stepping down as co-leader at the June national conference. She reveals in her video that already two of her colleagues, Metiria Turei and Sue Bradford, will nominate. As I understand, there is a ballot of local branch delegates, after local branches discuss the candidates and give instructions to their delegates. I’m not sure of the more detailed mechanics, but it will be fascinating to watch this year.

And in what is an interesting line for Australian Greens members to consider, Fitzsimons says:

In other parties, they have a coup in caucus when somebody gets the numbers, and they walk out of caucus and say ‘we’ve got a new leader’, and the members of the party say ‘oh really?’ Well, we don’t do it like that.



Joe Trippi speaking in Sydney tonight

Some of you might be interested in coming along to this event tonight:

Join GetUp members in Sydney for a talk by US political luminary Joe Trippi on the future of online politics.

When: Thursday 26 February. 7-9pm (please arrive at 6:30)
Where: Teachers Federation Building Auditorium, 1st floor, 23-33 Mary St, Surry Hills 2010

Tickets are a $15 donation – just use the form below and we will put your name on the door list. See you there!


I’ll be there. Should be fun.


Seat in Focus: Beaudesert

I’ve decided to start a series going in-depth into particular key electorates in this electorate. Most of these are races between the ALP and LNP, although I will include two independent seats as well as Indooroopilly, and today’s seat.

Pauline Hanson has announced that she will run for the South-East Queensland seat of Beaudesert at the upcoming Queensland election. Beaudesert covers the rural areas to the south of Ipswich and Brisbane, largely covering the Scenic Rim LGA, along with the southern suburbs of the City of Logan. The seat is bordered by Southern Downs on the west, Lockyer to the northwest, Logan to the northeast, and the Gold Coast seats of Albert, Gaven and Mudgeeraba on its eastern border. To the south lies New South Wales.

The recent redistribution saw little change in the electorate, with small parts of the electorate’s northeast, near Logan, being moved out of the electorate. This saw the seat become 1.4% safer for the National Party, moving from a 4.5% margin to a 5.9% margin.

In spite of the size of the electorate, the vast bulk of the voters live in the northeast corner of the electorate near Logan, which also covers those areas which are more Labor-voting, compared with the more-conservative and more sparesely-populated areas in the rural parts of the electorate.

The following map shows the 2006 election results. Booths are coloured according to a calculated two-party-preferred vote, based on 32% of Greens preferences going to the ALP and 21% going to the National Party. The yellow line is the 2009 boundary for the electorate, and booths are sized in proportion to the number of voters who cast ballots at that booth.


As you can see, the Labor-voting suburbs in the north-eastern corner, which are part of the City of Logan, are balanced by the marginal National suburbs to the immediate south of that area, with far more conservative areas in the west of the electorate.

The following map attempts to measure relative levels of support for the One Nation/Pauline Hanson agenda. Polling booth results are only available on the AEC website dating back to 1998, so I have used booth results from the 1998 federal election. Booths are white where One Nation polled under 20%, grey where they polled 20-40% and black where they polled over 40%.


The three very small booths in the northwest of Beaudesert where One Nation polled over 40% were the only three that were inside the federal electorate of Blair in 1998 when Pauline Hanson contested it, with most of the electorate lying to the north of the current Beaudesert. However, it’s possible that more suburbs in the current electorate were part of the Oxley electorate that elected Hanson in 1996.

In a lot of ways, this electorate reminds me of the state electorate of Wollondilly in Sydney, with a deceptively-large and deceptively-rural electorate divided between conservative rural towns and Labor-voting urban fringe.

It seems like a reasonably smart move for Hanson to pick this electorate. It is one of the seats that lies in the 1990s One Nation heartland, even if it wasn’t right at the centre of Hanson’s old stomping ground. However the suburbs of Logan don’t seem particularly friendly to her agenda. It seems most likely that the result remains a likely win for the LNP. However the shake-up of the field caused by Hanson’s entry into the race, combined with the newness of the LNP candidate, could produce an ALP win, even if the statewide vote goes againt Labor.


Queensland Votes: day three

Today’s campaign has remained focused on Pauline Hanson’s announcement last night that she will be running. It now appears she will be running in Beaudesert, a seat to the south of Brisbane in South-East Queensland. The ALP, LNP and Greens have all committed to not preferencing Hanson or preferencing her last. A fascinating idea is that, in order for the other parties to maximise the anti-Hanson vote, they would be required to number all other preferences in order to put Hanson last. If the Greens decide that they don’t want to preference the ALP over LNP, it would not be possible to preference te LNP ahead of Pauline Hanson, and exhausted Greens preferences could help Hanson in such a situation. This could result in higher preference flows in the seat to lock out Hanson.

In other news, LNP Member for Cunningham Stuart Copeland has announced he will run as an independent in the notional LNP seat of Condamine, which covers the rural areas to the west of Toowoomba and created by the merger of Cunningham with Darling Downs. Antony Green commented on the topic:

Stuart Copeland is currently the Liberal National MP for the abolished seat of Cunningham. His seat has been amalgamated with the neighbouring seat of Darling Downs, also abolished, putting Copeland and fellow LNP MP Ray Hopper in a head to head contest in the new seat of Condamine.

Under the deal that merged the Liberal and National Parties to form the LNP, a procedure was put in place to determine which sitting MPs would get which seats. This was based on seniority and continuity of electorate populations and had been expected to resolve disputes between MPs from the two former parties. Instead, it came into play in solving who would be the candidate in Condamine. More voters in the new seat came from Darling Downs rather than Cunningham, giving Hopper the automatic endorsement for Condamine. Copeland was offered the chance to run in Labor held Toowoomba North but initially decided to retire.

In other news, I’m crazy for First Dog on the Moon’s work on the banner for Crikey’s new blog Pineapple Party Time. I’ve re-posted it below, for your entertainment:



Queensland Votes: day two

A few pieces of election news today:

  • Pauline Hanson has announced that she will stand for election in the Queensland state election on March 21. No word yet on which seat she will contest.
  • Crikey has launched another blog, this time it’s Pineapple Party Time, a blog written by Larvatus Prodeo’s Mark Bahnisch, Poll Bludger’s William Bowe and Possum, of Pollytics fame. Worth a read.
  • A small-sample Newspoll in Queensland has brought the ALP’s two-party-preferred rating down from 57% in December to 53%. If this is a trend, this election could get interesting fast.

Update: Hanson has announced that she will be standing in the South-East Queensland seat of Beaudesert. This seat covers the rural areas to the south of Brisbane and Ipswich, mainly covering Scenic Rim LGA with parts of the City of Logan. It isn’t quite the same area as Hanson’s stomping ground of Ipswich from 1996, but it’s relatively close. The sitting LNP member Kev Lingard is retiring, and Antony Green’s redistribution gives the LNP 50.5% of the primary vote, against 38.1% for the ALP and 11.1% for the Greens. As far as Queensland seats go, this would appear to be the one most sympathetic to Hanson’s message, but who knows.


Is this what you mean, Miranda?

From Crikey‘s First Dog on the Moon: