Tasmanian Senate button-push – summary

I’ve got a piece prepared for the Guardian today which discusses the Tasmanian Senate result but I had some thoughts that didn’t fit in to include here.

Firstly, the challenge in winning a seat from below the line isn’t just in gaining enough primary votes to be a contender. On primary votes, Richard Colbeck looked like he was in a strong position to win a seat. He was actually on track to win the tenth seat at the point where there were 24 candidates still racing for the last four seats.

Neither Colbeck or Singh received a single above the line vote. Not one. Colbeck was knocked out before Bushby was elected, so he wasn’t able to receive any. Singh was elected just before Bilyk, on preferences from Colbeck.

Colbeck was successively overtaken by Bushby, then Bilyk, then McKim, then finally McCulloch. Singh only survived because she was close enough to a quota to stay ahead of the pack, and to limp across the line with below-the-line preferences.

As long as we have above-the-line voting, this will remain a significant hurdle for any insurgent candidate. Ideally, they need the candidates ahead of them to drop out of the race early to open up room for them to gain preferences, because it’s hard to see any candidate getting close to the much higher half-Senate quota on their own steam. Singh wouldn’t have won a seat if this was a half-Senate election.

The second thing to note is that preferences are critical. Before this election we relied on tremendous speculation about how an election might work under this new voting system. Some suggested that all votes would exhaust, and it would become a “first past the post” race. That has well-and-truly proven to be wrong. I’m personally surprised by how few votes exhausted in Tasmania, and how close the final seat was to a full quota.

Less than 2.8% of votes exhausted. The last seat went to a candidate on more than 80% of a quota. Over 85% of above-the-line votes were numbered 1-6. It appears that a similar phenomenon is taking place in other states, although you’d expect that more votes will end up in the exhaust pile in states with bigger ballots.

Considering this information we have, we need to assume that a lot of preferences will decide the last seats in every state.

Gee wouldn’t it be nice to have daily interim distributions of preferences, as they do in ACT territory elections!


Double NSW elections – the guide

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There are two New South Wales state seats which are due to hold by-elections this year, after the incumbent MPs resigned to run (successfully) in the federal election.

Labor MP Linda Burney resigned from the inner-west Sydney seat of Canterbury to run for Barton, and Nationals MP Andrew Gee resigned from the central west NSW seat of Orange to run for Calare.

I don’t know when these elections will be due, but it will be some time this year.

I’ve completed guides for both seats.

Click here for Canterbury

Click here for Orange


QLD redistribution – the numbers

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.44.44 pmQueensland is about to dive into a redistribution of state electorates, to update the existing electoral map which was created in the lead up to the 2009 election.

Queensland currently has 89 electorates, but will be adding four additional seats for the next election, thanks to legislation passed earlier this year. For this reason, most existing electorates are above the required average for the new electoral map.

The electorates are required to be roughly in line with the average enrolment as of 2016, and the average projected enrolment as of 2022. The following table shows the quotas in each region of the state.

Seat Seats 2016 quotas 2022 quotas
Brisbane North 16 16.56 16.42
Brisbane South 20 20.12 19.53
Central QLD 11 11.32 11.09
Gold Coast 10 11.00 11.31
North QLD 11 11.42 11.38
SE QLD 10 10.84 11.60
Sunshine Coast 8 8.80 8.94
Western QLD 3 2.94 2.73

It appears that three of the four new seats will be added in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, and in those parts of South-East Queensland outside of Brisbane (such as Ipswich, which is growing fast).

Below the fold I’ve posted a map and run through the likely impact on each region. Read the rest of this entry »


Map update – ward maps for NSW and Victoria

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As we get close to the conclusion of the federal election, I’ve started work on some upcoming elections.

There will be council elections in New South Wales in September this year, and in Victoria in October. These elections will cover the whole of Victoria, and roughly half of all NSW councils. Those NSW councils up for election in 2016 are those unaffected by the council amalgamations. Those which have been amalgamated (or who escape amalgamation) are due to have elections in September next year.

I’ve now completed my ward map of Victoria.

I’ve also completed a local government area map of NSW showing the amalgamated councils and, where no decision has yet been taken, the proposed new council.

I’ve also completed a ward map of NSW for all of those councils with confirmed wards. This map includes wards for all of those councils which have elections in 2016, as well as wards for all of those new councils which have been formally created.

For those new councils already formally created, the NSW state government announced new ward boundaries at the same time as the amalgamations were announced. There is a series of councils where the state government has indicated in-principle support for amalgamation pending court challenges, or where no decision has yet been taken, so no wards have yet been announced for these councils.

The Hills Shire is a special case. It won’t be amalgamated, but has lost its southern edge to Parramatta, which means it will require new wards. Those wards have not yet been decided.

I will keep updating the local government area and ward maps of New South Wales as council amalgamations are finalised in the lead-up to the 2017 elections.

I will return with more analysis of these 2016 council elections as we get closer to election day.


Toowoomba South results

Voters in the Queensland state seat of Toowoomba South voted today in a by-election to succeed Liberal National MP John McVeigh, who had resigned from the seat to run (successfully) for the federal seat of Groom.

I’d taken the night off after the last two weeks of counting so wasn’t able to cover it live, but there’s a few interesting things to look at in the result.

It’s the first election in Queensland state politics since the move back to compulsory preferences. This has caused an increase in the informal rate from 2.5% in 2015 to 3.3% today.

There was a drop in the LNP vote, but LNP candidate David Janetzki should win comfortably. In second place is former Toowoomba mayor Di Thorley, running as an independent. Thorley polled 35.6% of the primary vote, which is impressive for an independent, but it’s only slightly more than Labor polled in 2015, and Thorley isn’t facing Labor opposition this year.

Preferences haven’t been distributed tonight, but Janetzki should comfortably win the seat.


Close seats – two weeks in

It’s now been two weeks since polls opened, and we are now getting very close to a conclusion of the House of Representatives count.

There is only one conventional seat still in play, which is Herbert. There will also be news today in Melbourne Ports which may either make the seat a serious seat in play or make it a clear Labor seat.


The Liberal National Party, at the time of writing late on Friday night, led by 12 votes in Herbert.

There are 200 absent votes outstanding. Labor has won 51.5% of these votes so far. If the remaining votes break the same way, Labor will gain six votes.

There are 399 prepoll votes outstanding. The LNP has won 53.5% of these votes so far. If the remaining votes break the same way, the LNP will gain 27 votes.

There are at least 44 postal votes remaining, with yesterday being the deadline for postal votes to be received. The LNP won 56.6% of the postal votes counted so far. Assuming there are no postal votes to be processed, 56.6% of the remaining votes would give the LNP an additional five-vote lead.

There are 446 provisional votes outstanding. Many provisional votes turn out to be not valid, and thus are not counted. If there are the same number of valid votes as in 2013 (320 votes), then there would be 154 votes. Labor won 60.8% of those votes cast so far, and if this continues this would give Labor a 30-vote lead.

So that’s 36 votes gained by Labor amongst absent and provisional votes, and 32 votes gained by the LNP amongst prepoll and postal votes. That’s a change of four votes in favour of Labor, which would leave the LNP with a lead of four votes.

“This is too close to call” seems a massive understatement.

Melbourne Ports

Up until now we haven’t had any information about whether the Greens are gaining enough preferences to overtake Labor for second place, apart from vague scrutineer reports. If the Greens overtake Labor, the current Labor-Liberal two-party-preferred count would become redundant, and either Liberal or Green will win the seat off Labor.

I’ve heard that the AEC will today be conducting an indicative three-candidate-preferred count between Labor, Liberal and Greens in Melbourne Ports to identify which candidates are in the top two. If Labor does not reach the top two, presumably we will need a fresh two-party-preferred count between Liberal and Greens to determine who is leading in the race to win the seat.

I expect that we’ll know more before the end of the day.


Close seats – Thursday morning update

We’re getting close to the end! In this update, I am calling two more seats for Labor, leaving only one seat up for grabs.

This leaves a total of:

  • 76 – Coalition
  • 68 – Labor
  • 5 – Others
  • 1 – undecided
Seat Absent Provisional Pre-poll Postal Current Labor lead Projected Labor lead
Cowan 2219 0 2774 216 1030 728
Herbert 276 969 867 1098 -34 -196
Hindmarsh 2644 1571 489 791 617 889


There are still about 5000 absent and prepoll votes in Cowan. Labor has a substantial 1030-vote lead. Labor has only polled 45% of the prepoll vote, which is the reason why I’m expecting a drop in the Labor lead, but Labor should still win. This seat is called for Labor.


There are very few votes left in Herbert, but the race is still extremely close. Most of the remaining votes are prepoll and postal votes. Labor has won 46% of the prepoll vote and 43% of the postal vote, which is why the model suggests the LNP will increase their lead. If Labor could win 50% in both these vote categories they would likely win a slim victory, but that seems unlikely.


Most remaining votes in Hindmarsh are absent votes, and Labor has won 56% of these votes up until now. Because of this, Labor is on track to increase their lead. Called for Labor.


Senate preferences – how might they flow? Part 2

Following yesterday’s post analysing the NSW, VIC and QLD Senate counts, here’s my analysis of Western Australia, South Australia and an update of the Tasmanian race.

Read the rest of this entry »


Senate preferences – how might they flow? Part 1

Up until now, I’ve largely ignored preferences when working out who are the leading contenders for Senate seats. While the new system will likely make it impossible for parties on a tiny vote to jump ahead of a number of contenders, preferences are still likely to matter.

I visited the NSW Senate count on Saturday in Moorebank. Apart from seeing the new scanning technology in action (a story for another day), I got to observe ballots being data entered for a few hours, and got a sense of some general trends.

The main takeaway is that nearly everyone is preferencing, but very few people have preferenced more than six parties above the line. In my time, I only saw three ballots which had a ‘1’ and no other numbers above the line, and a similar number who had numbered more than six boxes. This observation has been confirmed by Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian count and appears likely to be a national trend.

This tells us that preferences will definitely be flowing, particularly between parties with some similar policies, but that preferences won’t flow all the way. Plenty of votes will exhaust after electing one person and the last seat could still be decided on substantially less than a quota.

In this post I’m going to run through the latest figures in the Senate count and the general political make-up of the preference available to flow. We don’t really have detailed information on how minor party preferences will flow. Even if you were to scrutineer, there are so few of them in such a large bundle of votes that you don’t get a decent sample.

In this post I cover the races in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. I’ll come back tomorrow with a similar analysis for Western Australia and South Australia. I’ll do a separate update on Tasmania, as the below-the-line voting there makes that race unique and worth following more closely.

The other thing to note is that these primary vote totals are based on an incomplete sample: as more declaration votes are counted the numbers should shift. I also ignore the effects of below-the-line voting, as we don’t yet have any data on this for the mainland states.

For each state, I group together all the votes for minor parties (and small leftover quotas for larger parties) into four groups: left, right, centre and random. “Random” covers unclassifiable parties like the Citizens Electoral Council, the Socialist Equality Party, Online Direct Democracy, etc. “Centre” covers Derryn Hinch, Nick Xenophon Team, the Veterans Party and the Motoring Enthusiasts. The rest should be clearly left or right.

Read the rest of this entry »


Close seats – Tuesday morning update

Sorry there was no update yesterday – I only have limited time each day and I devoted it to my takedown of electronic voting in the Guardian.

In today’s update I’m calling three more seats for the Coalition giving them 76 seats. Labor is leading and look likely to win two more, with Herbert extremely close.

These three seats that are newly called for the LNP are the Queensland seats of Capricornia, Flynn and Forde. This gives us the numbers of:

  • 76 Coalition
  • 66 Labor
  • 5 others
  • 2 leaning ALP (Cowan and Hindmarsh)
  • 1 tight (Herbert)

I’ll also try to address the topic of Melbourne Ports at the end.

Seat Absent Provisional Pre-poll Postal Current Labor lead Projected Labor lead
Capricornia 706 499 1444 826 -691 -970
Cowan 3069 934 2756 183 946 745
Flynn 1488 733 1357 1588 -933 -1218
Forde 1544 720 786 358 -917 -862
Herbert 1428 1043 1472 2477 178 -20
Hindmarsh 2593 1599 383 732 583 850


We have less than 1000 postal votes remaining and my model estimates around 1000 absent votes remaining, plus between 1400 and 1800 prepoll votes. The current LNP lead of 691 is expected to grow, and considering the relatively small number of votes left to be counted it’s not possible to see Labor recovering. Called for LNP.


Yesterday there was the big news that a bundle of 200 Greens votes (presumably mostly flowing to Labor as preferences) accidentally in the Liberal pile, and this shifted the trajectory significantly towards Labor. There are only 183 postal votes waiting to be counted, along with about 3000 absent votes and 2756 pre-poll votes. It looks likely Labor will win but I’d want some more of those votes to be counted before calling the seat.


We are down to less than 2000 postal votes. The AEC claims to only have 1500 remaining absent votes but this is about 2000 less than were counted last time – it seems likely some more votes are yet to be reported. The LNP looks to have won this seat. Called for LNP.


Very few postal votes left over and about 3000 votes of other types. While the margin isn’t massive there’s not much room to move. Called for LNP.


This is the closest seat in the country now. We’ve still got a few thousand postal votes remaining, along with just under 4000 absent and prepoll votes. Labor is winning a decent majority of the absent votes but narrowly lost the first batch of pre-poll votes. My model currently gives the LNP a majority of 20 votes, which is well within the margin of error. If Labor picks up ground in the pre-poll that will put them in front.


Labor look to be strengthening here after coming close to falling behind. There are very few postal votes left over, with around 4600 absent and prepoll votes yet to come in. Labor is winning the absent votes comfortably. We don’t have any pre-poll data but the model assumes a narrow Liberal majority. The model expects the Labor margin to grow from 583 votes to 850. Leaning Labor, but not ready to call.

Melbourne Ports

There was a story in Fairfax yesterday about Melbourne Ports still being in place. Unfortunately we don’t have much public data to go on. The seat will be won based on preferences which aren’t currently being recorded. All I will say is that it is possible for the Greens to overtake Labor, but is a mighty task. Beyond that we can’t do any more than note that Greens and Liberal scrutineers believe that Danby is likely to lose. Kevin Bonham has done his own analysis.