This week’s guides – April 13

Since I last posted about this, I’ve published eight more guides, with the links listed below:

I’ll keep publishing one guide per day, and you can see the most recent guides on the right-hand sidebar or on each guide’s front page. If you’d like to see a seat prioritised, you can make a request if you donate $5 or more per month via Patreon.

The South Australian redistribution is due out today. I plan to do a quick calculation of the margin but have some work commitments which may make that hard to do immediately. Watch this space!


Double Disillusion – the definitive analysis of the 2016 election out now

I’m very pleased to plug a new book that has just been published from ANU Press about the 2016 federal election entitled Double Disillusion.

The book will be available in hard copy and is also available as a free download.

This is the sixteenth edition in a series of election studies dating back half a century, covering each federal election in depth. It features chapters analysing the overall contest, each of the political parties’ campaigns, the impact of the media and interest groups, and the major policy debates of the election campaign, written by a bunch of excellent academic writers.

I was very happy to be able to contribute the chapter summarising the results in the House of Representatives, including the impact of minor parties, the role of preferences and a run-through of key seats. This is paired with a chapter analysing the Senate results by Antony Green.

Thank you to Anika Gauja and Peter Chen in particular for inviting me to participate in a formal space which I am not normally a part of.

There’s also a bunch of other excellent chapters and I hope readers find it useful and interesting as a definitive take on this bizarre election campaign.


How should we be naming our federal seats?

Australian federal electorates follow a fairly unique naming convention. Australian state seats are usually named after geographic locations, which is also common for national electorates in Canada, the UK and New Zealand, while electoral districts in the United States are generally given numerical names.

The majority of Australian federal electorates are named after prominent individual Australians, as a way of honouring those people. 113 out of 150 seats in the current parliament are named after people, while 37 are named after geographic features.

The AEC is usually hesitant to rename seats, and their guidelines prioritise maintaining existing seat names. Yet seats do change from time to time: states gain additional seats, population shifts within a state sometimes require a seat to be abolished, and there is pretty much a hard-and-fast rule that former prime ministers are honoured with a seat as soon as possible after their death.

Because of this practice, most seat names are those that were named in the first half of last century:

43 seats are those created for the first parliaments. 35 seats have survived since 1901, while eight other seats are the same as when they were created in Tasmania and South Australia in 1903 (those states did not use single-member electorates in 1901).

There were spikes in seat names in 1949 and 1984, when the parliament was expanded. More than two thirds of electorates were named in these three peak periods.

Thus it’s not surprising to discover a strong bias towards naming seats after white men. This partly reflects the era in which seat names were coined, but also reflects how men were much more likely to qualify as someone who had “rendered outstanding service to their country” in an era where women didn’t get the same opportunities.

After the fold I will run through why this has happened, and how the AEC isn’t making anywhere near enough progress towards honouring a more diverse cross-section of Australians. You can also download the dataset I used to conduct this analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »


ACT and Victorian redistributions – here are the maps

I’ve finished making Google Earth maps for the draft federal boundaries for Victoria and the ACT, and they are now available for download:

I’ve also turned them into interactive maps below the fold, which show the 2016 and 2019 boundaries (you can toggle each layer on and off). Enjoy!


ACT and VIC redistributions live

3:01 – This is my last comment for now. I’ll be working on the boundary map over the weekend and plan to return by Monday with some more analysis. I just wanted to zoom out to the big picture.

Two extra seats were created today, bringing the total seats in the parliament to 152. This will drop back to 151 when the draft boundaries are released in South Australia. We’ve also had 3 other redistributions already finished this term but they all had minor impacts.

The seat totals now are:

  • Coalition – 75 (-1)
  • Labor – 72 (+3)
  • Others – 5 (-)

Labor previously needed a 1% uniform swing to become the largest party. They now need a 0.6% uniform swing. They previously needed a 1.4% swing to become the largest party. If you assume that the abolished SA seat is a Liberal or NXT seat, they will only need a swing of 0.7%. This increases to 1% if Labor loses a seat in the South Australian redistribution.

Overall this is a very good outcome for Labor and, combined with strong polling, puts them in a stronger position to win the next election.

2:45 – Corangamite has shifted east, losing touch with Lake Corangamite (hence the renaming to Cox) and taking in the Bellarine peninsula from Corio. This has almost entirely wiped out Sarah Henderson’s margin. McEwen lost some of its Melbourne fringe area, while also losing Puckapunyal and Seymour to Murray/Nicholls, but gained Macedon. Overall this weakened Labor’s hold on the seat. La Trobe shifted east, to sit more clearly on the eastern fringe of Melbourne, while the Bass Coast area has shifted into McMillan/Monash. Changes to the large rural seats appear to have been small.

2:42 – In the western suburbs, the new seat of Fraser mostly covers the Brimbank council area, taking in areas formerly contained in Maribyrnong, Gellibrand, Gorton and Calwell. All of these seats have been pushed away from the new seat in different directions.

2:36 – There’s been some significant redrawing in the south-east which will make Labor happy. It appears Goldstein has been left alone, Chisholm has shifted north (and become slightly safer for the Liberal Party), and Deakin has shifted east (likewise becoming safer). Isaacs has shifted north, pushing Hotham east, making both Labor seats more marginal. Bruce has shifted west, becoming a lot safer for Labor, and all of these changes have pulled up Dunkley, flipping it from marginal Liberal to marginal Labor.

2:22 – In the north-east, Jagajaga has lost its north-eastern tip and gained territory from Scullin, while Menzies has jumped the Yarra (which has reduced its margin).

2:17 – Changes in central Melbourne are relatively modest. Batman has lost its northern fringe to Scullin (which helps the Greens with the margin based on 2016 results), and gained Coburg North from Wills. Melbourne lost its north-western corner to Bill Shorten’s seat of Maribyrnong. Kooyong has expanded slightly on its eastern edge, while Windsor has moved from Higgins into Macnamara.

1:59 – The new electoral boundaries for the ACT improve the Greens chances of breaking through in the lower house (although they are still distant). The old boundaries spread the Greens vote evenly, with about 15% voting Green in both seats in 2016. These new boundaries push up their support in Canberra to 18.7%, while it’s down around 13% in the two other divisions.

1:55 – Now it’s time to take a look at the maps! I’ll be putting together my own interactive maps over the weekend but not for today. Firstly, it’s worth noting that Bean is actually a successor to the old Canberra, taking in Tuggeranong and other southern suburbs. The new Canberra takes in parts of the two old electorates and is centred on Lake Burley Griffin, as Canberra was the last time the ACT had three seats from 1996 to 1998. Here’s that seat’s map:

1:48 – I’ve now updated both tables with the correct numbers. The changes are quite small but please use these updated figures. I’ve now added in estimates for Indi and Higgins. In Indi I ignored a few thousand votes from Murray where we don’t have an IND vs LIB count. In Higgins I counted some Labor two-candidate-preferred from Hotham towards the Greens. In Melbourne I counted some Labor 2CP from Batman and Wills towards the Liberal.

1:24 – Okay I’m revising up my margin of McEwen from 3.6% to 5.9% and Nicholls down from 25.2% to 22.4%.

1:22 – I’m doing some tinkering with my estimates – found a small bug which mainly effected McEwen and Monash.

1:11 – I’ll have plenty to say about the AEC’s policy on naming divisions, but not right now.

1:10 – The Greens are closer to overtaking Michael Danby in his renamed seat of MacNamara. Danby outpolled the Greens by 3.2% to stay in second place on primary votes in 2016, but this gap has dropped to 2.35% on the new boundaries.

1:07 – This gives Labor 72 notional seats, with the Coalition down from 76 to 75, and five independents. Bear in mind that we will see a seat abolished in South Australia next week, so those numbers don’t add up.

1:05 – I can see one seat that has changed hands – Dunkley appears to be a notional Labor seat now. Cox (formerly Corangamite) has almost become a tied seat, while Labor has also gained the two new seats. Labor seats like Holt, Hotham, Isaacs and McEwen have all become more marginal.

1:02 – And here is my estimate of margins

I need to go back and calculate a LIB vs GRN margin for Higgins and also an independent margin for Indi.

SeatOld marginNew margin
Aston LIB 8.6% LIB 7.6%
Ballarat ALP 7.3% ALP 7.4%
Batman ALP vs GRN 1% ALP vs GRN 0.7%
Bean (Canberra) ALP 8.5% ALP 8.9%
Bendigo ALP 3.7% ALP 3.9%
Bruce ALP 4.1% ALP 14.2%
Calwell ALP 17.9% ALP 19.7%
Canberra New seat ALP 12.9%
Casey LIB 6.1% LIB 4.5%
Chisholm LIB 1.2% LIB 3%
Corio ALP 10% ALP 8.3%
Cox (Corangamite) LIB 3.1% LIB 0%
Deakin LIB 5.7% LIB 6.3%
Dunkley LIB 1.4% ALP 1%
Fenner ALP 13.9% ALP 11.8%
Flinders LIB 7.8% LIB 7%
Fraser New seat ALP 19.8%
Gellibrand ALP 18.2% ALP 15.1%
Gippsland NAT 18.4% NAT 18.3%
Goldstein LIB 12.7% LIB 12.7%
Gorton ALP 19.5% ALP 18.5%
Higgins LIB vs GRN 8% LIB vs GRN 7.6%
Holt ALP 14.2% ALP 9.7%
Hotham ALP 7.5% ALP 4.1%
Indi IND vs LIB 4.8% IND vs LIB 4.9%
Isaacs ALP 5.7% ALP 3.1%
Jagajaga ALP 4.7% ALP 5.6%
Kooyong LIB 13.3% LIB 12.7%
La Trobe LIB 1.5% LIB 3.3%
Lalor ALP 13.4% ALP 14.2%
Macnamara (Melbourne Ports) ALP 1.4% ALP 1.2%
Mallee NAT 21.3% NAT 20.1%
Maribyrnong ALP 12.3% ALP 10.5%
McEwen ALP 7.8% ALP 5.9%
Melbourne GRN vs LIB 18.5% GRN vs LIB 18.5%
Menzies LIB 10.6% LIB 7.8%
Monash (McMillan) LIB 6% LIB 7.5%
Nicholls (Murray) NAT vs LIB 24.9% NAT 22.4%
Scullin ALP 17.3% ALP 20%
Wannon LIB 9% LIB 9.4%
Wills ALP vs GRN 4.9% ALP vs GRN 4.9%

12:51 – Okay here are my estimates of the vote in each seat. A comparison of margins will be up next.

Vote estimates

SeatALP 2PPLNP 2PPALP primLNP primGRN prim
La Trobe46.753.332.1344.258.2

12:37 – There was a campaign to rename Batman due to the seat’s namesake’s historical atrocities against Aboriginal people. Smaller campaigns focused on McMillan and Gellibrand. This appears to have succeeded in McMillan but not Gellibrand or Batman. The other three seats with new names were all named after geographic features. While the AEC has generally not supported seats named after geographic features, they haven’t actively sought to rename these seats when there’s not a need. This suggests a change in policy.

12:32 – According to this statement, the seat of Batman will not be renamed.

Other information includes:

  • 19.5% of electors will change their electorate.
  • Renaming of seats will effect 10.54% of electors.

I still don’t see the report or the data online.

12:30 – We don’t have anything online but there have been some people who must have the report tweeting about name changes, including:

  • The new ACT seat named Bean
  • McMillan renamed Monash
  • Melbourne Ports renamed Macnamara
  • Corangamite renamed Cox
  • Murray renamed Nicholls

And the new seat of Fraser will be in the north-west of Melbourne.

11:45 – The AEC is promising to release the draft electoral boundaries for the ACT and Victoria around ‘lunchtime’ or ‘midday’. I’ll be posting my analysis of those boundaries here as quickly as possible, prioritising calculating primary vote and 2PP by seat. Stay tuned.


This week’s guides – April 5

Since last week’s post, I have published seven more guides. This includes the next five most marginal federal seats, as well as one donor request each for the Victorian and NSW state elections.

The federal seats are:

I’ve also published guides to the state seat of Shepparton in Victoria and Goulburn in NSW, both on the request of new patreon donors.

I’ll keep publishing one guide per day, and you can see the most recent guides on the right-hand sidebar or on each guide’s front page. If you’d like to see a seat prioritised, you can make a request if you donate $5 or more per month via Patreon.

I’m expecting a change of pace tomorrow with the publication of the draft federal boundaries in Victoria and the ACT (South Australia is due in April, but we don’t have a date). So keep an eye out for that.


Election guide update – some long weekend reading

As flagged earlier this week, I’ve now started work on the guides to the next federal election, along with the upcoming state elections in New South Wales and Victoria.

I threw it open to those people donating to my Patreon to nominate seats they wished to see prioritised, and I had 13 responses. I’ve written all these guides, and I’ll post their links below so you can all have a read over the coming weekend.

If you’d like to request a seat, you can do so if you donate $5 or more per month via Patreon.*

I’ll be writing more guides (aiming for 5 per week) and will be doing weekly posts with links, but in the meantime all of the links are going up on the front page of each guide and the sidebar will feature the 10 most recent seats for each election.

Federal election:

  1. Ryan
  2. Eden-Monaro
  3. Dickson
  4. Sydney
  5. Capricornia
  6. Gilmore

Victorian election:

  1. Northcote
  2. Richmond
  3. South Barwon

NSW election:

  1. Ballina
  2. East Hills
  3. Heffron
  4. Bega

*I’m not currently doing guides for federal seats in Victoria, South Australia or the ACT due to the impending redistributions.


You tell me which seats to profile…

Now that the elections of March are mostly concluded, I’ve shifted my focus to my guides to the federal election and the state elections in Victoria and New South Wales.

There won’t be many elections in the next few months, so the front page of this website may look quiet, but there’ll be a lot of work going on in the background.

I’m going to start picking seats to profile, and I’ll be doing weekly posts listing all the guides posted in that week.

If you’d like me to prioritise a seat, you now have that option.

All you have to do is sign up as a patron of this blog via Patreon, giving at least $5 per month. Each $5 donor is welcome to request a particular seat to be contested at any of these three elections (excluding federal seats in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT), and I’ll aim to complete that guide and publish it within the next week.


Tasmanian upper house guides posted

Tasmania’s Legislative Council is elected by a unique voting system, with a small proportion of the fifteen seats up for election every year, with the entire state voting over the course of a six-year cycle.

This voting system tends to favour local independents over the major parties, with Labor currently holding four seats and the Liberal Party one, along with ten independents.

Two seats are up for election in 2018, and I’ve prepared guides for both contests.

This map shows the location of the two seats:

Hobart covers the inner city of Hobart, and was won in 2012 by left-leaning independent Rob Valentine, who is favourite to win in 2018.

Prosser is a new seat created out of parts of four other seats in the south-eastern corner of Tasmania. There is no incumbent MP, with an MP representing an abolished seat elsewhere in the state retiring this year. The seat has some strong Labor areas including Sorell, along with better Liberal areas further north. Prosser could go to either major party, or to a strong independent, and will be the first electoral test for the re-elected majority Liberal government.


What happened to SA Best?

This is quite a long analysis of the SA Best performance at yesterday’s state election. If you stick with it I’ve included a chart comparing SA Best to the Nick Xenophon Team in 2016, and at the end there’s a map! Enjoy.

Expectations were very high for Nick Xenophon’s SA Best party, with earlier polling suggesting the party had the potential to break apart the two-party system in South Australia. Yet their support in the polls dropped away as we got to election day and did not manage to win any lower house seats.

It’s worth a reminder that the SA Best vote is pretty good for a minor party. The party is sitting on 13.7% in the House of Assembly, and 18.9% in the Legislative Council. That will be enough to win two seats in the Legislative Council, while the Greens will likely only manage one seat and Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives will likely miss out entirely.

There was some polling in late 2017 which put SA Best neck-and-neck with the major parties, but it now appears that these polls were outliers. A Newspoll in late 2017 had the new party on 32% of the primary vote, while both major parties were stuck below 30%. One other Morgan poll put SA Best on 28.5%. If you exclude those two polls, no other poll had the party on anything more than 22%, which isn’t that much more than the final upper house vote of 19%.

The public narrative suggests that SA Best suffered from a polling collapse, but I’m not so sure. There definitely was some decline – there was a 4-point drop in the last Newspoll, and that was 3 points above the actual result – but I doubt the figures in the high 20s or low 30s, which implied SA Best wiping out a major party and taking over ten seats, were ever anything other than outliers.

Even though there was only a small amount of polling, SA Best had a lot of hype, which may have contributed to Nick Xenophon’s decision to resign from the Senate and contest the seat of Hartley, or the late surge in the number of SA Best candidates, until they were running in 36 out of 47 seats.

Read on below the fold for more about SA Best.

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Prior to the election I used a breakdown of the NXT Senate vote at the 2016 federal election by state seat to attempt to predict the SA Best vote. So how did this perform?

The model worked reasonably well. This graph compares the vote in the 36 contested seats to the Senate vote, and the trend is very clear.

There were a few outliers, including Xenophon’s seat of Hartley, where he polled only 2% less than his party polled in the Senate in 2016, but in most areas there was a drop in the SA Best vote relative to 2016, and the drop was relatively consistent.

Nick Xenophon’s various political machines have tended to produce relatively even votes across the state. This gives him a broad base to win Senate and upper house seats, but it also means that he could poll quite well and struggle to win single-member electorates.

This trend hurt SA Best badly last night – the party’s vote of almost 14% was only enough to just crack 25% in three seats.

The party was very effective at breaking into the top two, but in most cases this didn’t give them a chance of winning. SA Best are currently sitting in second in twelve seats. In those twelve seats, the gap between the second-placed SA Best candidate and the leading candidate ranged from 14.8% in Hartley to 35.5% in MacKillop. Those are massive gaps to close on preferences. A more lopsided vote count would’ve allowed the party to come first on primary votes, or at least come a close second, in a handful of seats, while polling poorly in many other seats, or perhaps not even running.

This makes me wonder how much effort was put into concentrating SA Best’s vote in a few key seats. Apart from Xenophon himself, no other candidates stood out as leading figures, and I didn’t see any evidence (admittedly from afar) of the party picking a handful of seats to ensure the party at least won a few seats. Perhaps it was just hubris, believing the party had a real shot at winning, say, ten or twenty seats and forming the opposition. If you really believe that you’d want to spread out your resources, not concentrate them.

This is the only way I can explain Xenophon’s choice of Hartley. The seat ranked twentieth on the list of NXT seats from the 2016 election. I get that it was his own local electorate, but it put a lot of faith in his party’s ability to sustain a very high vote, or his ability to push his personal vote well ahead of his party. The chart above suggests that Xenophon did benefit from a substantial personal vote, something that would’ve been enough to win if he’d contested a seat like Finniss, Heysen or Chaffey, but it won’t be enough in Hartley.

The last thing to note is that this is Nick Xenophon’s first attempt at contesting a lower house seat. He won his first seat in the Legislative Council on a tiny vote in 1997 thanks to favourable preference deals. He was re-elected to the Legislative Council in 2006, and then to the Senate in 2007, 2013 and 2016, each time with a massive vote closer in scale to the major parties than to other minor parties.

Nick Xenophon was on the ballot across South Australia at his last four elections – not this time. I’ve long wondered how well his parties would perform without him on the ballot. Xenophon-endorsed tickets at the 2010 and 2014 state elections did much less well without his candidacy, and I suspect that is a key factor in the drop in vote. It could also reflect the fact that state lower house MPs have much more profile than upper house MPs, and the major parties prioritise putting those people forward. It’s easier to vote for Nick Xenophon over an anonymous Labor ticket (particularly when a favourite lead candidate won’t have trouble winning re-election) than to vote for an SA Best candidate over a known local MP.

Finally, here is a map showing the relative vote for SA Best in the 36 seats they contested: