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Tasmanian upper house – nine days to go

The next Australian election will take place Saturday week, with two Tasmanian upper house electorates electing representatives for the next six years.

I’ve already written profiles of both electorates, featuring the results of the 2008 election and the history of each electorate. I’ve now updated those profiles with the list of candidates who have officially nominated.

The southern seat of Huon covers the Huon valley in southern Tasmania and other rural areas, to the south-west of Hobart. The seat was last held by Paul Harriss, who resigned earlier this year after almost eighteen years in the seat to run (successfully) as a Liberal for the seat of Franklin at the House of Assembly election.

The Liberal Party is running an official candidate in Huon: Peter Hodgman. Hodgman is the uncle of the new Premier, Will Hodgman. Peter Hodgman previously held Huon from 1974 to 1986, replacing his brother Michael, and joining his father Bill in the Parliament. He moved to the lower house seat of Franklin in 1986 and held it until an unsuccessful attempt to move to the House of Representatives in 2001.

Hodgman is opposed by six independents, but is tipped to win the seat.

The northern seat of Rosevears covers areas to the north-west of Launceston. The seat is held by independent MLC Kerry Finch. Finch is seen as being one of the more left-wing members of the Council, unlike most of his independent colleagues.

The Liberal Party in the past has supposedly had a policy of not running against sitting independents: a convenient policy considering the right-wing positioning of most independent MLCs. However the party has chosen to run against Finch, running former political staffer Don Morris, who has worked in the past for Will Hodgman, Wyatt Roy, Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine.

No other candidates have stood, and Rosevears should be an interesting race between centre-left independent Finch and Liberal candidate Morris.

Unfortunately I won’t be in a position to cover the results live on election night, but I will follow up with analysis of the results the following day.

WA Senate 2014 – Liberal Party wins final seat

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blain by-election results live

8:09 – And that’s it for tonight. Short and sweet election night.

8:07 – One last point to raise before finishing this liveblog. If you assume that the Greens vote mainly flowed to Labor, it seems that roughly half of the AEU candidate’s vote flowed to the CLP, which is worth 4-5% of the total vote. The independent candidate was not friendly to the ALP with his preferences. If all of those votes had flowed to Labor, either as preferences or as primary votes, the ALP would’ve won. Of course we don’t know if those votes would have gone to Labor or CLP in the absence of the independent, or how much the how-to-vote card effected preference flows.

7:44 – Meanwhile, an election ten times the size of Blain is taking place to elect a new mayor of Willoughby in northern Sydney, after the death of the previous mayor. The four leading candidates have all polled primary votes between 16% and 23%.

7:39 – The swing to the ALP ranged from 8.2% in Rosebery to 11.6% in Moulden Park. The ALP won 53.4% in Moulden Park, but lost in the other two booths, with the CLP polling around 55% in both places.

7:34 – Votes from the Darwin pre-poll centre and all three election-day booths have all come in now, with the CLP leading with 53.2% of the vote. It seems very unlikely they could lose from this point.

7:17 – We now know more about those preference flows. At Palmerston pre-poll, 44 preferences flowed to the ALP and 43 preferences flowed to the CLP. Overall this gave the CLP 54.8% after preferences, a swing of 10.5%. This is nowhere near enough to see Blain won by the ALP.

7:13 – Antony Green is saying that if the trend at Palmerston pre-poll is reflected elsewhere, then the CLP will likely hold that seat. It sounds right to me, although we’re yet to see where the AEU candidate’s preferences flow.

7:05 – Bear in mind that there are more candidates running than in 2012. Most of that swing against the CLP didn’t go to the ALP, who only gained a swing of 4%.

7:00 – We’ve got the pre-poll votes from Palmerston, which has seen an 18.5% swing on primary votes from the Country Liberal Party. 9.3% has gone to the AEU’s candidate, who I understand to be preferencing the CLP.

6:05 - Polls have just closed in the by-election for the Northern Territory electorate of Blain, covering southern Palmerston.

Blain is on paper a safe Country Liberal seat, and the CLP needs to retain the seat to continue to hold a majority in the Legislative Assembly.

There are only three polling places plus special votes, so this by-election shouldn’t take too long to count.

In addition to Labor and the Country Liberal Party, other candidates include an independent endorsed by the NT branch of the Australian Education Union, and Greens and Citizens Electoral Council candidates.

Blain by-election – NT majority on the line

One of the smallest Australian elections will be coming up this Saturday, April 12, in the Northern Territory electorate of Blain.

Blain covers the southern suburbs of Palmerston, the major town that lays outside of Darwin. The seat was held since the 1999 by-election by Terry Mills. Mills had served as Country Liberal (CLP) leader from 2003 to 2005, and then again from 2008 until 2012, when he led the CLP back into government.

Mills lost the Chief Minister’s position to Adam Giles in March 2013, and in February 2014 he resigned from the Assembly.

In the last few weeks, the Northern Territory CLP government has suffered a crisis amongst its parliamentary ranks, one that could see the government lose its majority if it loses the Blain by-election.

Last week, three members of the CLP caucus, all indigenous members representing outback electorates, resigned from the CLP as the conclusion of a long-festering internal party conflict. At the 2012 election, a shock result saw Labor’s previously-safe outback seats almost entirely wiped out, while the ALP held on in the Darwin area.

Following the three resignations, the CLP only holds twelve seats in the 25-member Assembly. A win in Blain will protect the government’s majority, whereas a loss will force the CLP to seek an arrangement with independent Gerry Wood to stay in power.

Due to the small size of the electorate, I didn’t produce a full-sized guide to the electorate. At the 2012 election, just under 4000 formal votes were cast in Blain, and Mills won 63.2% of the two-party-preferred vote.

Antony Green recently outlined the history of swings in recent by-elections. While it is possible that Blain could fall to the ALP, it would require a substantial swing that is not unheard of, but is not that common.

Results by polling place

Polling place CLP 2PP % ALP 2PP % Formal % of votes
Moulden Park 58.20 41.80 823 20.58
Rosebery 63.75 36.25 720 18.00
Woodroffe 64.64 35.36 1,315 32.88
Other votes 64.94 35.06 1,141 28.53
Two-party-preferred votes in Blain at the 2012 Northern Territory election.

Two-party-preferred votes in Blain at the 2012 Northern Territory election.

WA Senate – how Pratt could win

Yesterday’s post predicted that the most likely outcome in the WA Senate election is that Liberal candidate Linda Reynolds will widen her lead over the ALP’s Louise Pratt, thanks to a large batch of postal votes yet to be counted.

I still think this is the most likely outcome, but since posting yesterday a number of points have been raised that I think are valid, and suggest ways that Pratt could perform better than my projection (which was very similar to William Bowe’s at Poll Bludger).

It is possible that the Liberal Party may suffer more serious leakage from party tickets, as Reynolds is relying on more preferences than Pratt. However if Pratt and Ludlam have performed strongly on below-the-line votes, more of these votes could be ruled informal in coming weeks, and this could partially cancel out any leakage benefit.

There is a scenario where a slightly higher Palmer United vote results in an earlier election, and frees up more votes to flow to the ALP. It is also possible that Friday’s story about Joe Bullock pushed down the election-day vote, which may mean our projections are too pessimistic when trying to predict Labor’s share of postal votes.

I explain these theories in more detail below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

The next day – preference flows and postal votes

At the time of writing, the result of yesterday’s Senate re-run in Western Australia is still up in the air, but is much clearer and easier to understand than the 2013 result.

The first two Liberal candidates (David Johnston and Michaelia Cash) and the lead Labor and Greens candidates (Joe Bullock and Scott Ludlam) will win their seats with a full quota of primary votes.

Dio Wang of the Palmer United Party sits on 0.87 quotas, and should have little trouble winning a seat.

The final seat is a race between the third Liberal candidate, Linda Reynolds, and the second Labor candidate, Louise Pratt.

At the time of writing, the ABC Senate calculator gave the final seat to Reynolds by 0.07% of the vote, which is just over 600 votes. Of course, we all now understand that this isn’t the end of the story. The addition of declaration votes is likely to increase Reynolds’ lead.

In this post I will run through what votes are left to be counted, how they might skew the result, and what preferences Reynolds and Pratt will be relying on in their race.

Read the rest of this entry »

WA Senate by-election: results live

10:15pm – I’m going to sign off here for the night. I’ll be back with another post tomorrow. As a summary, here are the key points:

  • There has been a large swing against both the ALP and the Liberal Party, with the two major parties polling well under 60% of the primary vote.
  • There have been large swings towards the Greens and the Palmer United Party, including positive swings in every electorate.
  • The first two Liberal senators and the lead Labor and Greens candidates have polled a full quota, while the Palmer United Party is close enough to be very likely to win.
  • The final seat looks likely to be a race between the Liberal Party’s Linda Reynolds and the Labor Party’s Louise Pratt. At the time of writing, Pratt leads on the ABC Senate calculator, but a lot of votes remain to be counted, and Pratt’s lead is extremely slim.

10:10pm – And Louise Pratt of the ALP has now gained the lead on the ABC Senate calculator, which just demonstrates how tight this race is.

10:01pm – Both the Liberal Party and the ALP have suffered negative swings in all 15 electorates. The Greens and the Palmer United Party gained positive swings in all 15 electorates. The swing to the Greens was weakest in the very rural electorates of Durak and O’Connor. The Greens achieved swings of 8% or over in the inner-city seats of Fremantle, Perth, Swan and Tangney.

9:57pm – In terms of the geographic spread, I’m probably going to stop updating my figures at this point, since the ABC data is very good-quality. I’ll come back tomorrow with some more analysis of the swings and geographic balances. For now I’ll just focus on some broad trends.

9:46pm – We have just under 40% of the vote counted, and there’s a pretty clear pattern. The Liberal Party has won two seats,the ALP, the Greens and the Palmer United Party, and the final seat is a race primarily between the Liberal Party’s Linda Reynolds and the ALP’s Louise Pratt. At the moment, Antony Green’s Senate calculator has Reynolds winning by a margin of 0.02 quota, which is definitely vulnerable. That will be the race to watch.

9:40pm – The Greens have overtaken the ALP in both Curtin and Tangney.

9:02pm – The PUP vote ranges from 4.4% in Curtin to 17.6% in Brand. Swing ranges from 2.3% in Perth to 10.2% in Brand.

8:54pm – Let’s look at the vote for the larger parties in each electorate. The Greens vote varies from 6.8% in O’Connor to 27.1% in Perth. Swings from +0.1% in O’Connor to +13.9% in Perth.

8:39pm – Antony Green’s projections suggest the Greens aren’t that far behind Labor overall.

8:22pm – The swing against the ALP ranges from 0.5% in Curtin to 10% in Tangney.

8:20pm – It seems pretty clear that five of the six seats will go to two Liberals, one Labor, one Green and one Palmer, with the last seat seemingly a race between the ALP and the Liberal Party.

8:18pm – My projections are as follows:

  • LIB – 2.25 quotas increases to 2.32
  • ALP – 1.09 to 1.36
  • GRN – 0.92 to 1.20
  • PUP – 0.89 to 0.84
  • NAT – 0.94 to 0.41

7:47pm – Antony Green is matching results to booths from last time, and he suggests a trend that has the Liberal Party only just over two quotas, with the ALP on about 1.5 quotas, the Greens over a quota and PUP just under a quota.

7:45pm – Out of seven electorates that have reported votes so far, the Greens are up in five seats. This includes an increase of 6% in Pearce and Stirling, and 14.3% in Brand. Bear in mind that we don’t know if the booths reporting so far are representative of the entire electorate.

7:41pm – My model, which weights the vote in each electorate according to the number of votes polled in 2013, halves the National vote from 19.2% to 9.5% and increases the ALP vote from 13.8% to 19.5%. It also increases the Greens vote from 7.7% to 12.1%. Bear in mind we still have no votes from eight urban seats, and this model will become more useful once all 15 seats have reported votes.

7:39pm – We now have over 8000 votes – which is 0.62% of the votes recorded in 2013. In O’Connor that ratio is over 4%, with most of the other seats conservative and rural.

7:05pm – We have votes now from five conservative seats: Canning, Durack, Forrest, Pearce and O’Connor. This is enough to see that O’Connor is well over-represented. The vote reported in O’Connor is at 0.8% of the 2013 vote, which is a much larger ratio than any of the other seats.

6:49pm – So far we’ve got less than 200 votes, most from O’Connor and a small number from Pearce.

6:44pm – Sam Dastyari on ABC News 24 claims that a sample of large booths suggest a drop of 15% in turnout.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in Western Australia, and I’ll be covering the results here on the website.

I’ll be using a new model to try and track how the results are flowing in, and to take account of trends that are not uniform between seats. In short, I will be scaling up each seat’s vote to 80% of the turnout at the 2013 election, which will weight votes more heavily from seats where they haven’t reported. This isn’t perfect, as voting patterns will vary within each electorate, and my model won’t be able to match booths individually to get a more precise sense of the swing.

I’ll be tracking how the results are going in each seat, and what sort of swings we are looking at. I’ll then be relying on Antony Green’s Senate calculator to get a sense of how those primary votes will translate into a result.

WA Senate election day

Polls have just opened in Western Australia for the unprecedented special election for all six WA senate seats that were meant to be filled at least year’s Senate election.

In the last few days of the campaign, we have seen Newspoll release their quarterly breakdowns, which include figures for each state, and is the only recent federal poll showing figures for Western Australia. This poll had Labor down to 29%, the Liberal Party up to 46%, and the Greens up substantially to 15%.

Reports of internal polling suggest the Greens performing strongly, with Labor polling poorly and in serious danger of not polling two quotas, with Louise Pratt’s seat certainly in danger.

Some journalists are reporting Liberal sources as being confident of retaining their three seats, while others suggest the Liberal Party will struggle to win a third seat.

The Palmer United Party has dominated advertising spending in WA, with the Greens also outspending the major parties, according to a report from advertising monitoring company Ebiquity. This led the Prime Minister to accuse Clive Palmer of attempting to ‘buy’ the election.

Today’s news was dominated by reports of a speech given by Labor’s lead candidate, Joe Bullock, late in 2013, in which he criticised his party, its members and made comments about his fellow Labor candidate Louise Pratt.

Please use this thread as an opportunity to post your own predictions for tonight’s election results, and as an open thread to post news from the polling places of Western Australia.

William Bowe at Poll Bludger yesterday predicted a strong result for the Greens’ Scott Ludlam, with both Labor and Liberal struggling to reach their second and third quotas respectively.

I think that makes a lot of sense. The Greens have run a strong campaign and are polling strongly, while Labor has not recovered much or any ground since the 2013 election, and could go back further.

I predict that the Liberal Party will win two seats, the ALP and Greens one. For the final two seats, it’s likely they will fall to Labor and Palmer, with an outside chance for the third Liberal.

What do you think?

SA and TAS 2014 – campaigns conclude

Today we saw the conclusion of the count in Tasmania’s electorates, with all five electorates now finalised.

Results in Franklin and Bass were reasonably decisive, with Labor MPs David O’Byrne and Brian Wightman losing their seats to the Liberal Party.

In Lyons, former Labor MP David Llewellyn won back his seat, while the Greens’ Tim Morris lost his seat to the Liberal Party.

In the northern seat of Braddon, the ALP’s Brenton Best narrowly missed out for the final seat and the Greens’ Paul O’Halloran also lost his seat, resulting in an unprecedented four seats for the Liberal Party, a result not seen since the reduction in seats in 1998.

In the southern seat of Denison, there was no change to party representation, but the ALP’s second seat was left open with the retirement of Graeme Sturges, and all four non-incumbent Labor candidates were in with a chance. Madeleine Ogilvie narrowly won the seat ahead of Julian Amos.

This produced a final result of 15 Liberal, 7 Labor and 3 Greens. This is a solid majority for the Liberal Party, and also results in loss of parliamentary party status for the Greens.

In South Australia, the election night result of 23 Labor, 22 Liberal and 2 Greens held through late counting. After independent MP Bob Such was admitted to hospital for an indefinite period, independent MP Geoff Brock decided to support the ALP to continue in government, recognising that both independents would need to support the Liberal Party to achieve stable government.

This is the last word for the South Australian and Tasmanian elections for this blog. I’ll be covering the Western Australian Senate by-election next Saturday, April 5, and you can read the guide for the by-election (including sub-pages for all 15 electorates in Western Australia), and comment on any of the pages.

Beyond that, I’m close to finishing my maps for all 88 Victorian electorates for the November state election. On April 17, the final boundaries for the New Zealand general election will be released, and I will start work on that election guide, and I plan to have both ready to go well in advance of those elections.

While I work on these projects, you may notice less activity on the Tally Room, but be assured that I will be working hard in the background to get ready for the next campaign.

ACT Assembly going to 25

In the lead-up to the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania, I didn’t have time to cover another electoral story in the Australian Capital Territory. After many years of debate, and competing proposals, the ACT Legislative Assembly appears set to increase in size, from 17 to 25 seats.

The ACT’s legislative body currently has 17 members elected from three multi-member electorates. The electorate of Molonglo, centred on Lake Burley Griffin, elects seven members, while the Belconnen-based Ginninderra and the Tuggeranong-based Brindabella each elect five members.

The Labor Party and the Greens have supported some expansion in size of the ACT for a while, but it has faced opposition from the Liberal Party.

An expert panel (read the report) recommended the creation of five electorates – which would initially elect five members each before eventually electing seven members each for a total Assembly size of 35.

The Liberal Party’s ACT division decided to support the increase to 25 at their meeting on March 5. It’s unclear if either party is pushing for an eventual increase to 35 seats.

The next ACT election is due in just over two and a half years, giving plenty of time for the Assembly to pass the change and for new boundaries to be drawn.

We don’t know exactly how the boundaries will be drawn, but there aren’t that many options when you are drawing electoral boundaries in Canberra.

One possible way to divide ACT's polling places into five electorates. Belconnen in orange, Central in purple, North in blue, Tuggeranong in green, West in yellow.

One possible way to divide ACT’s polling places into five electorates. Belconnen in orange, Central in purple, North in blue, Tuggeranong in green, West in yellow.

In 2010, I conducted some analysis at the likely impact of a 5×5 electoral system that didn’t make it to this blog. This included assigning all polling places to one of five electorates.

The ACT is divided into seven districts. The central suburbs are split into North Canberra and South Canberra by the Lake. These areas are usually referred to as the ‘inner north’ and ‘inner south’.

In the north you find Gungahlin, and Belconnen in the north-west.

In the south you have Tuggeranong, and just north of Tuggeranong to the west of the city is Weston Creek and Woden Valley.

When drawing these boundaries I found that both Tuggeranong and Belconnen were too large to be contained within a single electorate. Both areas formed the basis for an electorate. I then created an electorate called ‘West’ covering Weston Creek and the remainder of Tuggeranong. In the north I created an electorate covering all of Gungahlin and northern parts of Belconnen, as well as the northern fringe of the inner north.

I then created a fifth electorate in the centre, surrounding the Lake and mostly covering the inner south and inner north.

Population will continue to shift, and I didn’t take into account absentee and other special votes which may vary in numbers. It’s quite possible that the Central electorate will lose parts of Woden. Having said that, I think they provide a useful guide as to how a 5×5 system would change the balance in the ACT.

I’ve taken the results by polling place of the 2012 results (no thanks to Elections ACT, who don’t provide the data in a format that allows you to download it all at once – you need to visit a separate page for each polling place) to produce my estimate of how many quotas each party would have polled in each of these five hypothetical electorates in 2012.

Seat Labor Liberal Greens Others
Belconnen 2.5227 1.8653 0.6105 1.0004
Central 2.4636 2.1197 0.9045 0.5118
North 2.4001 2.1628 0.7039 0.7324
Tuggeranong 2.1273 2.8835 0.3939 0.5950
West 2.4007 2.4501 0.5984 0.5494

The Liberal vote is more concentrated in Tuggeranong so the highest result for a particular party is for the Liberal Party in Tuggeranong. Tuggeranong is the best area for the Liberal Party, and the worst for both the ALP and the Greens. Belconnen is best for the ALP and worst for the Liberal Party. The Greens vote peaks in the central electorate.

On these numbers, I estimate that we would see 11-12 Liberals, 10-12 Labor and 2-4 Greens MLAs. The fifth seat in Belconnen could either go to the ALP or the Greens. The fifth seat in the West could go to Labor, Liberal or Greens. In this scenario, all parties would increase their numbers.

In most circumstances, this result would ensure that both major parties won two seats in each electorate. The Greens vote is quite strong in Central – probably enough to offset the fact that they previously benefited from a lower quota in Molonglo that has been lost. In this scenario, 0.7 quota in the North is probably enough to elect a Green, but may not be enough to guarantee a win if the balance between the major parties shifts.

The Greens polling 0.6 quotas in Belconnen and the West would provide enough of a base to give the party a chance, particularly in a good election. The Greens would have to perform exceptionally to win a seat in Tuggeranong.

Overall, these new electorates would see no change in the balance of power: on 2012 votes, the Greens would have held the balance of power, with the likely result seeing Labor and the Greens sharing government as they have done. The biggest impact would have been a deeper bench: resulting in more talent available to serve as ministers, and a larger backbench.