Archive for November, 2010

Victoria 2010 – the next day

Clearly last night was a terrible result for the ALP. Until the last few weeks Brumby seemed on track for comfortable re-election, and it was only the final pre-election polls that predicted a Coalition victory. It also suggests any Labor government is in trouble. No-one has expected the NSW Labor government to be able to win re-election in next March’s election, but last night’s result suggests the ALP’s problem is much deeper and broader than just NSW Labor.

There was a lot of talk about a ‘hung parliament’ last night, much of which seemed to be desperate hope from the ALP. However it’s important to point out that this is not like any other recent hung parliament, like those currently operating in the federal Parliament and in Western Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory. In all of those jurisdictions (and other recent hung parliaments in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia) there were independents or Greens in a balance of power position who had the capacity to form an alliance with one party and give them a majority, however unstable it could be.

Yet we are talking about a tied parliament, not a hung parliament. The Victorian Legislative Assembly has an even number of seats, and after Craig Ingram’s defeat and the failure of the Greens to win any Assembly seats, there are no crossbenchers at all. This is the only parliamentary jurisdiction in Australia to elect a chamber solely consisting of major party MPs, despite the trend towards more independents and Greens around the country.

I don’t see how a tied parliament allows either side to govern. While the ALP remains in government until they are removed, I cannot see how the Assembly could even elect a Speaker, and it would quickly become dysfunctional. The only way for any stability in this Parliament would come if a single MP was enticed to switch sides and support the other side, or possibly accept nomination from the other side for Speaker. Apart from that, the only solution would be to head back to the polls for another election.

So what is the likelihood we will see a tied parliament?

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Victorian election liveblog

11:21pm – The latest margins in these seats are:

  • Albert Park – ALP by 1585
  • Narre Warren North – ALP by 804
  • Macedon – ALP by 719
  • Eltham – ALP by 225
  • Bentleigh – Liberal by 213

If the ALP can’t take Bentleigh, the Coalition will have a majority. They still need to hold on in the other four seats too.

11:16pm – It’s come down to five key seats. The Liberal/National coalition holds 44 seats, the ALP holds 39 seats, and five seats are undecided: Albert Park, Bentleigh, Eltham, Macedon and Narre Warren North. The ALP need to win all five to produce a tied parliament – not just a hung parliament, but a parliament with equal numbers of MPs for each side without any crossbenchers to provide one side a majority.

9:33pm – On my count the Coalition has 21 seats out of 40 in the Legislative Council. Labor has at least 13, with the Greens on 3. In North and East Victoria, Labor is competing with the Country Alliance. Country Alliance will win in either region if the Greens knock out Labor, as Labor preferenced the Country Alliance ahead of the Greens. In South East Metro Labor is competing with the Greens, but I’m on the verge of calling it for Labor.

9:21pm – Sky hasn’t called a result, but according to what I have seen the Coalition is on 45 seats, Labor 39 seats and 4 seats undecided (all Labor-Coalition races). It would be fascinating if we ended up with a 44-44 result. It wouldn’t be a hung parliament so much as a tied parliament. I don’t think that will happen.

9:02pm – On primary votes, the Greens are up 4.8% in Melbourne, 3% in Richmond, -3% in Brunswick (but with 12% for Cleary) and 0.5% in Northcote. It’s the Liberal preferences what done ‘em.

8:56pm – In South-East Metro there’s a close race between the Greens and Labor to lead over the other. Whoever leads will win. Similar contests are taking place in Northern and Eastern Victoria. In those seats, if Labor leads they will win, but if the Greens lead, then the Country Alliance will win.

8:51pm – In Eastern Victoria, the Greens swing is 0.6% from 9.2% to 9.8%. Produces a result of 3 Coalition, 1 Labor, 1 Country Alliance. Just like with the DLP in 2006 and Steve Fielding in 2004, Labor preferences have elected a conservative minor party ahead of the Greens. At this point, it is possible the ALP will overtake the Greens and win the seat on Greens preferences.

8:48pm – In Western Victoria, the Greens have increased from 8.6% to 9.1%. While the ALP’s preferences now flow to the Greens instead of the DLP, the Coalition’s vote has increased sufficient to elect a third Coalition candidate over the Greens, replacing the DLP.

8:45pm – In South East Metro, Greens vote has increased from 7.2% to 9.1%. On the latest figures the Greens are just over 100 votes behind the ALP at the key exclusion point. At the moment the 3-2 Labor-Liberal split has been maintained, but the Greens have a shot of taking a seat off Labor.

8:43pm – In Eastern Metro, the Greens vote has increased only slightly. Labor and Liberal each get almost exactly two and three quotas each, maintaining the current split.

8:40pm – Western Metro upper house results: the Greens vote has increased from 9.4% to 14.5%. Labor loses their third seat to the Liberal Party.

8:36pm – Labor’s losses to the Coalition are distributed this way by region: four in South East Metro, three in Southern Metro, two in Eastern Metro, two in Eastern Victoria, one each in Northern and Western Victoria. The ALP so far has maintained their complete control in Northern and Western Metro.

8:24pm – At the moment, the the Coalition has gained fourteen seats, they need thirteen seats to win, so this suggests a Coalition win.

8:22pm – In Melbourne, you’ve got a three-way tie, with Labor on 33%, the Greens on 32.96% and the Liberals on 29.87%. The VEC isn’t even trying to produce a two-party count.

8:15pm – We’re now getting a lot of solid evidence that the Coalition is headed for a majority government.

8:03pm – The ABC website seems to be having trouble updating results – so I’ll try and switch to the VEC.

7:53pm - Marginal Labor seats where the Liberals are leading: Mount Waverley, South Barwon, Frankston, Mordialloc, Bendigo East.

7:26pm – The first booth in Brunswick has the Greens on a 6% swing and Phil Cleary polling just under 9%.

7:22pm – Apart from Seymour, the Liberals are on an 11% swing in the only other truly rural Labor seat, Ripon.

7:20pm – The first booth in Essendon has the Liberals first on primaries with the Greens over 20% and the independent well behind. If this trend is maintained the ALP should maintain the seat with Greens preferences.

7:14pm – According to the ABC, the Liberals have gained Seymour, a Labor seat in rural Victoria to the north of Melbourne with a 6.7% margin.

7:10pm – The Nationals have gained independent seat Gippsland East, according to the ABC. This shouldn’t have an impact on the final government outcome, as Ingram has made it pretty clear he won’t have anything to do with the Greens or Labor.

7:04pm - Apparently we have a booth in Northcote with over 50% primary for the Greens. Far too early to interpret, but a strong sign for the Greens in inner-city seats. We’ve also got rumours of a good result for independent Catherine Cumming in Essendon, but no figures on the ABC website yet.

6:56pm – It’s too early to glean any meaning, but it looks like the sole independent MP in the Assembly, Craig Ingram, is losing to the Nationals with a double-digit swing in Gippsland East.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in Victoria. I will be liveblogging tonight as we get results in. You can check out my complete guide to Victoria’s 88 Legislative Assembly districts and the eight Legislative Council regions on my blog right now by clicking the links on the right-hand side of the website.

Victorian election guide complete

This morning I finished the final seat three seat profiles for the Victorian state election. You can access the entire guide, or view the seats in alphabetical order, by Legislative Council region, or by viewing the pendulum. Each Legislative Council regional profile includes links to the 11 Legislative Assembly seats in that region.

In about a quarter of seats I haven’t had a chance to update the candidate list to the final candidate order after the close of nominations, I am rushing to do those today.

Ireland on the verge of election

With the Irish economy on the brink and in need for a bailout from international organisations and the European Union, Ireland is also on the verge of an election which has been pending for the last few years.

The junior coalition partner Green Party has called for a general election to be held in late January 2011. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) has agreed to call an election in early 2011, despite the five-year term not expiring until May 2012. He has insisted that the government’s budget is passed before he will call an election.

Fianna Fail have been in government since 1997, and had two terms of stable and prosperous government. In 2007, they went into coalition with the Green Party, but things went badly for the government as Ireland was hit badly by the financial crisis of 2008 and has been in dire straits ever since.

The current government is extremely unpopular and it is being assumed that Fianna Fail will lose, and there is a possibility that the Greens could lose all of their parliamentary representation. It is expected that the election will result in a coalition of the opposition Fine Gael and Labour parties, with the only question being how much a share of governmental power each party will gain. Rare polls have suggested that Labour, which has always been Ireland’s third-biggest party, has the potential to overtake Fianna Fail in terms of votes and seats.

The government’s position in the Dail (lower house of the Parliament) has deteriorated to the point that it is unclear if they can command the support of the Dail, with a number of uncommitted TDs holding the balance of power after a number of defections and by-elections. This raised the possibility of the government falling entirely and bringing on an early election. It appears this will not be necessary, but it is yet to be seen whether the government will be able to pass the budget which may be necessary to fulfill the requirements of the bailout deal and has been set as a requirement before an election is called.

With Fianna Fail facing annihilation, there has already been talk about replacing their leader Brian Cowen, with one cabinet minister expressing interest in taking on the role.

Ireland’s election should be a fascinating one. The Republic of Ireland’s lower house is elected by the single transferable vote, with 43 constituencies electing 3-5 TDs (members of Parliament) each. I hope to blog about it as Ireland descends into an election in an environment of economic disaster. For the time being, you can download the electoral maps for the Dail for both the 2007 election and for the upcoming election from the Tally Room maps page.

For now I will return to my preparation for this weekend’s Victorian state election. I’m planning to finish the final five seat profiles tomorrow in time for the election.

Victorian election update

News has broken this morning that the Liberal Party will be putting the Greens last in all Legislative Assembly races in Victoria. This is an issue only in the four inner-Melbourne seats where the Greens are in a contest with Labor to win, with the Liberal preferences helping decide the result.

While this has been reported as an action that will doom the chances of Greens winning seats in the Assembly, I still think the Greens have a strong shot in three Assembly seats, although it will be harder than it previously appeared.

In those four seats, the Liberals preferenced the Greens in 2002 and 2006, and the current margins are based on the Greens receiving those Liberal preferences.

Those current margins are 2.0% in Melbourne, 3.6% in Brunswick and Richmond and 8.5% in Northcote. It certainly harms the Greens’ chances in these seats without Liberal preferences, but I still think they have a strong shot at three seats.

William Bowe at the Poll Bludger recently produced projections based on the 2010 federal election results in those four seats, showing the Greens winning Melbourne and Richmond and coming close in Brunswick and Northcote if the Liberals preferenced the Greens (as they had done in the federal election).

Assuming that the Liberals didn’t preference the Greens in these seats, his projections has the Greens winning just under 50% in Melbourne and Richmond and just over 40% in Brunswick and Northcote. There are a number of reasons, however, why I think this underestimates the Greens’ chances in Melbourne, Richmond and particularly Brunswick:

  • The Greens generally are polling slightly better than they did in the federal election. Recent polling has had them on 16% in Neilsen and 14% in Newspoll (down from a record 19%). If the Greens manage to crack 15%, that’s a 50% increase in their vote, and puts them in a much stronger position in those inner-city seats. The Fremantle by-election saw the Greens outpoll Labor on primary votes, and if the Greens manage that in any of these seats, Liberal voters probably won’t preference Labor in high enough proportions to give them the seat. Bowe’s analysis showed the Greens ahead by 1% in Melbourne on primaries and behind by 2% in Richmond.
  • In the federal election, all of the energies of the Greens (in terms of winning a lower-house seat) were focused on Melbourne, with some energy dedicated to Martin Ferguson’s seat of Batman. Melbourne state and Richmond almost exactly correlate with Melbourne federal, while Northcote covers southern parts of Batman, and Brunswick covers southern parts of Wills. So while the Greens did much better in the federal election in Richmond than Brunswick, it’s worth remembering that the two seats were exactly matched in 2006, while Richmond gained much more attention at the 2010 federal election. Once you consider the impact of Carlo Carli’s retirement and Phil Cleary’s emergence in Brunswick, I see Brunswick as still being on a similar footing to Richmond.

Taking all that into account, I believe that the Greens still have a strong shot in Melbourne, Richmond and Brunswick, but they will all be very close-run contests without Liberal preferences. I also think that the lack of Liberal preferences will make it very hard for the Greens to win in Northcote.

In the Legislative Council, preferences have been a mixed bag for the Greens. In Western Victoria, the Greens are receiving Labor preferences ahead of the DLP, which in 2006 would have elected a fourth Greens to the Legislative Council. You’d have to think that this makes Western Victoria a likely pick-up for the Greens and very difficult for the DLP to retain.

In Eastern Metropolitan, the other good chance for the Greens to pick up, the Liberal Party’s preferencing decision makes it much harder. The Greens will likely be competing with the second Labor candidate there, and with Liberal preferences flowing to the ALP, the Green would need a higher primary vote to win. I still think it will be hard for the Greens to win in the other regions where they do not have a sitting MLC. Having said that, if the Greens poll 15-16% statewide, they would be competitive in all regions and it becomes difficult to judge where that vote would go.

For those of you interested, I have now posted profiles for 59 Legislative Assembly districts on the blog, including all below a 6% margin. I have another 11 maps ready to go, and I’m rushing to get the remainder done in time for the election. Unfortunately the tight timeframe with the federal election barely two months ago, combined with my trip to the US, has made it hard for me to complete all 88 seat guides in time.

It’s all about the turnout

During the last week of the US midterm elections, I visited a number of groups involved in election campaigning, and it was striking how election campaigning is shaped by the voluntary voting system. I previously was aware of this, and expected to see some campaign resources dedicated to ensuring your own loyal voters turn up and vote, but it turns out that this task takes over the entire campaign, particularly in the final days.

From local Republican and Democratic parties, state campaigns, local labour unions and national campaign committees, their task in the final week almost entirely consisted of contacting voters who their records showed were loyal to their party, but had inconsistent voting records. This involved phone calls (after participating in some of these in the last hour of voting, a number of voters told me that they had received over a dozen phone calls reminding them to vote), as well as checking polling booth lists and visiting people’s houses.

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Election night wrap

Some quick results:

  • Overall, Democrats hold 49 seats in the Senate, Republicans hold 46, independents hold two, and three are undecided.
  • Republicans have gained Democratic Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Arkansas.
  • Democrats managed to hold onto Senate seats in Connecticut, West Virginia, Delaware, Nevada and California.
  • Democrat Patty Murray is leading by 16,535 votes in Washington state, but vote-counting has been delayed by very high rates of postal voting.
  • Republican Ken Buck is leading by 4899 votes in Colorado.
  • 40% of votes counted in Alaska have been counted for write-ins, compared to 34% for Republican Miller and 25% for Democrat McAdams. If the write-ins maintained a lead, they will all be checked individually. It is expected most will be votes for incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, but it remains unclear what proportion will be valid votes.
  • Republicans have gained gubernatorial office off the Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico and Wyoming.
  • The Democrats gained gubernatorial office only in the state of California. Jerry Brown has returned to office. He was last elected Governor in 1974 and 1978.
  • Two New England states may elect independent governors. In Rhode Island, former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee was elected with 36%, defeating the Republicans with 34%. The Republicans previously held office in Rhode Island.
  • In Maine, which was previously governed by a Democrat, Republican Paul LePage is leading over independent Eliot Cutler by 3703 votes.
  • Gubernatorial contests are too close to call in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota and Oregon.
  • Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo won 37% of the vote in the Colorado gubernatorial contest, but fell short of the Democrats. The Republicans polled in single digits.
  • The Democrats have lost control of the House of Representatives. According to MSNBC, the Republicans hold 231 seats, the Democrats 168 and 34 are undecided. It is unclear on the final numbers, but CNN expects the Republicans will gain at least 60 seats.
  • A majority of members of conservative Democrat Blue Dog Coalition’s members in the House of Representatives have lost their seats. Around 30 Blue Dogs have definitely lost their seats, out of Democratic losses of around 60.
  • In Calfornia, Proposition 19 (legalising marijuana) has failed, 44-56.
  • Proposition 20, which would expand the independent redistricting commission to cover congressional districts, passed with 64% support, while Proposition 27, which would have abolish the commission, easily failed.
  • Californians passed Proposition 25, which allows a budget to be passed through the state legislature with a simple majority, and withholds salary and expenses for legislators for every day that the budget is late.
  • Californians also defeated Proposition 23, which would have suspended climate change legislation, voting 42-58.
  • A proposal to change the state’s official name from “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” to simply “Rhode Island” was massively defeated, with only 22% voting yes.
  • Amendments 5 and 6, which impose strict fairness rules on the Florida legislature in drawing legislative and congressional districts, both passed with over 62%, managing to pass the 60% threshold required for passage.
  • Two-thirds of Illinois voters have passed a referendum creating a process to recall the Governor of Illinois, following Rod Blagojevich’s scandals in 2008.
  • Independents performed well, coming first or second in Alaska Senate, Florida Senate, Maine Governor, Rhode Island Governor and Colorado Governor races.
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Midterms open thread

It’s now just after 5pm in Washington DC and I will be occupied tonight attending election night events and won’t be immediately liveblogging.

If you want to comment on the election, please use this thread.

I will work on some post-election coverage tomorrow.

7:32pm – Republicans have picked up the open Democratic Senate seat in Indiana, which isn’t a surprise to anyone.

9:29pm – The Republicans are projected to take control of the House, but in the Senate the Democrats are leading in Pennsylvania and have held on in West Virginia.

9:38pm – The Democrat is also leading substantially in Illinois’ Senate race, despite previous expectations. Nate Silver, however, is suspicious of tear figures, as most votes have come from Chicago.

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