Vic 2018 – group voting tickets triumph over voters


The button was pushed this afternoon in the eight Victorian Legislative Council contests, producing provisional results (subject to any possible challenges where the race might be close.

The seat count by party is:

  • 18 Labor (+4)
  • 10 Liberal (-4)
  • 1 Nationals (-1)
  • 1 Greens (-4)
  • 3 Hinch’s Justice Party (+3)
  • 2 Lib Dems (+2)
  • 1 Reason (-)
  • 1 Shooters (-1)
  • 1 Sustainable Australia (+1)
  • 1 Transport Matters (+1)
  • 1 Animal Justice (+1)

There was a slight increase in the non-Greens minor party vote, from 19.7% to 22.1%, but this doesn’t explain the big increase in members from these parties, from five to ten.

I don’t have any particular problem with minor parties getting elected. Indeed I’m a fan of proportional systems which make this possible. But the group voting ticket system has seriously distorted the result to favour certain minor parties over others, and has allowed Labor to divert its voters’ preferences to parties more likely to be pliable in the balance of power, and away from the Greens.

The arguments in favour of abolishing the group voting ticket system are strong, and we don’t have any particularly new evidence coming out of this election result, but all of the usual arguments still apply.

In this post I will run through some of the biggest problems with this election result.

Podcast #16 – Victorian late counting


In the final episode of the Tally Room for 2018, I’m joined by Kevin Bonham to discuss the close races in the Victorian state election, and to run through all eight Legislative Council contests just days out from the pushing of the button in each region.

You can follow Kevin’s live blog of the Legislative Council count.

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.

The Liberal problem with women (it’s not about the voters)


Federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson was interviewed on Saturday morning, and was quoted as saying that “ultimately the public needs to vote” for all of the great female candidates his party is running.

Anyone who has read my previous analysis of gender balance would know that this is rubbish.

In June I analysed the gender breakdown of candidates based on what sort of seat they ran in and whether they were an incumbent. I found that Labor has effectively reached parity amongst candidates in winnable seats, both safe and marginal, if you only look at new candidates and those elected in the last decade, which suggests the party will reach parity once the older generation of MPs leaves parliament.

The Liberal Party, on the other hand, showed no progress towards parity in 2016. The party did run almost as many men as women in open marginal seats (although most of these were Labor seats which the party didn’t end up having much of a chance of winning), but only ran one non-incumbent woman for a safe seat – that was Nicolle Flint in Boothby (which has now become very much marginal, but was safe on the 2013 vote). On the other hand, they ran over a dozen non-incumbent men for safe seats.

With Wilson’s latest comments, I thought it would be worth checking the candidate data for 2019. While there are a bunch of seats with incumbents where it isn’t clear if they are running again (hello Craig Kelly), the data for non-incumbents who have been preselected is a lot more complete. Thanks to Nick Casmirri for trawling the party websites and local newspapers looking for every candidate. You can view the 2019 candidate data here.

For this exercise I will ignore incumbent MPs. I’m not claiming that a party can solve gender parity overnight, so I’m just going to look at new candidates.

This table shows the proportion of candidates running for Labor and the Coalition who are women in each of five seat categories.

Seat typeALP womenLNP women
Marginal Labor3/43/9
Marginal Coalition12/221/2
Safe Labor1/33/6
Safe Coalition12/320/1

The first thing I noticed with this table was how few candidates the Coalition has preselected! By my count there is 37 coalition-held seats where we haven’t been able to confirm who is running – in most cases we don’t have definitive confirmation that the MP has been preselected to run again, and in some cases they are definitely not running but have not yet been replaced (hello Gilmore).

But more importantly, you can tell a lot about the different priorities of the two major parties. Labor is actually running more women than men in marginal Coalition seats, which are the seats they are likely to pick up if the polls are accurate and they sweep into power. They are also running more women than men for their own open marginals. They only have 3 new candidates preselected in safe seats, two of which are newly-created seats. They are running men for Bean and Fraser, and a woman in Canberra.

On the other hand, the Liberal Party has only preselected new candidates to run in four of their own seats, and only one of them is a woman: this is Gladys Liu in Chisholm. Meanwhile, the only new candidate nominated for a safe seat is Julian Simmonds in Ryan, who defeated Jane Prentice for preselection.

The Liberal Party doesn’t have a lot of open seats right now, and you wouldn’t expect them to win many seats off other parties in 2019. But there is no evidence to suggest they are putting forward women for the voters to consider where open seats do emerge.

P.S. If you’re interested in this topic there was a discussion about these issues in the first episode of my podcast back in June:

Victoria 2018 – the early vote gap


I thought I would dive into some of the interesting data trends from last weekend’s Victorian state election, since fellow bloggers William Bowe and Kevin Bonham are doing a great job tracking the close races as counting continues.

I’ve been interested in looking at how the pattern of results differed between election day votes and pre-poll votes (otherwise known as early votes), in particular how the smaller swings in the special votes pulled back the predicted Labor seat gains on election night.

Podcast #15 – Victorian election results


Ben spoke to Paddy Manning from the Monthly and Stewart Jackson from the University of Sydney about the results of Saturday’s Victorian state election, including a focus on the Greens’ performance and preferences in the upper house.

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.

Victoria 2018 – can below the line voting wind back the minor party wave?


The Legislative Council result at the moment looks like a big victory for Labor and the small parties, and a bad result for the Greens and the Coalition, but the impact of late counting and below the line votes is yet to be made clear.

We only have about 40-50% of the vote counted so far, and the remaining votes could change the result. Lower house results do suggest the Liberal Party has done relatively well on the pre-poll votes, so we could see the Libs come back a bit as the counting continues.

Labor is currently on 40.8%, which is a swing of 7.4%. The Liberal/Nationals vote has dropped by 7.9%, to just over 28%.

The Greens have suffered a 1.6% swing down to 9.2% – the worst result for the party under the Legislative Council voting system introduced in 2006. Meanwhile the vote for other parties has increased from 19.7% to 21.7%.

Victoria 2018 – election night open thread


9:52pm – I’m going to close down this brief liveblog, but I will be back in the morning with further analysis, including a focus on the Legislative Council.

9:51pm – Let’s revisit the Greens races. Lidia Thorpe in Northcote has fallen further behind, trailing by 1100 votes. The ABC is projecting that the Greens’ Tim Read is leading in Brunswick, but either way it looks very close.

The Greens have widened their gap on the Liberals in Prahran. It is worth noting, though, that the 2PP count is between Liberal and Green, not Labor and Green. Presumably Liberal preferences will favour Labor, which could see Labor win there.

9:47pm – There are currently four rural seats where independents are in play, in addition to Shepparton where Susanna Sheed has been re-elected.

In Benambra, Jacqui Hawkins is on 30.5% of the primary vote, behind sitting Liberal MP Bill Tilley but well ahead of Labor, who are on 18%. Tilley is on less than 38%. We have no Liberal vs Independent 2CP count, but if Hawkins gains every Labor and Greens preference she will make a majority – and that’s ignoring another 9.5% of the vote with other candidates. It’s worth noting that Benambra overlaps with the federal seat of Indi, held by independent MP Cathy McGowan.

Labor’s Mark Richards has a big primary vote lead in Morwell. He’s on 36.7%, followed by sitting independent Russell Northe on 18%, and a further 22% between the Liberal and National candidates. We don’t have a Labor vs Independent preference count, but it seems clear that the Nationals won’t regain t his seat.

Independent Ali Cupper is on 32% in Mildura, which puts her in second place. The ABC is currently estimating a narrow win for her, but it’s not clear if this is based on real preference data.

Independent candidate Tammy Atkins is on 20% in the Nationals seat of Ovens Valley. This is just behind Labor’s Kate Doyle on 20.4%, with sitting MP Tim McCurdy leading on 44.3%. Atkins would need to overtake Labor either on primary votes or thanks to minor candidate preferences. It’s hard to see her winning but she has a chance.

9:38pm – Following on my previous point, this map shows (in the underlying colours) the results of the 2002 state election, when Labor won 62 seats.

You can see that they held on to a core of inner south-east Melbourne. The green overlay shows seats which Labor is currently on track to gain off the Liberals.

9:05pm – Let’s discuss what is happening in the Liberal heartland of Melbourne.

The last Labor landslide was in 2002, when a precarious first-term Labor government was re-elected with 62 seats. But a lot of the seats that have changed hands tonight were not ones gained by Labor.

In particular it’s worth noting Labor gains in Bass, Box Hill, Caulfield, Nepean and Sandringham, along with possible gains in Hawthorn and Brighton – all seven of these seats stayed in Liberal hands in 2002. Apart from Bass and Nepean, these seats are in the inner-city strip of Liberal heartland.

On the other hand, Labor did not pick up Evelyn, Ferntree Gully, Forest Hill, Gembrook and Hastings – all more suburban seats Labor gained in 2002.

I’ll leave it to tomorrow to analyse why this is the case, but this trend does remind me of the backlash we saw in Wentworth.

8:49pm – There are five seats where the Greens had hopes. They appear to have retained Melbourne with basically no swing, and are narrowly behind in Northcote, which they won in last year’s by-election, trailing by 800 votes. They are also less than 500 votes behind Labor in Brunswick.

Despite expectations that the Liberal Party sitting out Richmond would help the Greens win, Labor has increased their two-party-preferred margin from 1.9% to 7.6%.

And then there’s Prahran. On a two-candidate-preferred basis, the Greens’ Sam Hibbins has gained a a swing of almost 12% against the Liberal Party. But it’s not clear if he’ll make the final two. At the moment Labor is leading with 31.3% of the primary vote, followed by Sam Hibbins on 30.6%, and the Liberal Party on 30.1%. If Hibbins falls into third, Prahran will be another gain for Labor. We will be unlikely to know this seat for a week.

8:42pm – I’m sure you’ve all seen by now, but Labor has comfortably won an increased majority in the Victorian state election. At this time the ABC predicts that Labor has gained Bass, Bayswater, Box Hill, Burwood, Caulfield, Mount Waverley, Nepean, Ringwood, Ripon, Sandringham and South Barwon. This gives Labor at least 56 seats, up from 45 before the election.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in Victoria. I won’t be updating this post regularly tonight as I have another commitment, but will occasionally post summaries. Feel free to use the comments section as an open thread to discuss the results.

If you want to follow the results can I suggest one of these options:

Victoria 2018 – election day


Voters in Victoria will be voting today in their state election – except, that is, for those who have already voted, in record numbers.

As of Thursday night, 1,184,095 early votes had been cast. This is already well ahead of 2014, when a total of 912,967 early votes were cast, and doesn’t take into account those votes cast on Friday (likely in excess of 200,000 votes). As of Wednesday night the VEC reported that early votes cast so far was 65% above the 2014 level.

This is part of a long-running trend of more and more voters casting their votes early. I have blogged about this issue a number of times – for example this article from the 2015 NSW state election.

After a drought of statewide polls we’ve had two last-minute polls putting Labor in the lead. A YouGov Galaxy poll has Labor on 53% of the two-party-preferred vote, while a Reachtel poll gives them 54%. This wouldn’t necessarily translate into a big seat gain for Labor. According to a uniform swing based on the pendulum, this would only give Labor two extra seats, and the two-party-preferred vote doesn’t tell us much about Labor’s battles with the Greens.

I won’t be actively blogging tonight due to another commitment, although I will post an open thread for discussion of the results.

If you are looking for something to read before results start to flow in, can I suggest checking out some of the seat guides for a few of the key seats.

The first area to watch is the marginal seats of the sandbelt in south-eastern Melbourne. These four seats were the only Labor gains from the Coalition in 2014, and remain extremely marginal. This area covers Bentleigh, Carrum, Frankston and Mordialloc.

You’ll also want to check out my guides to the Labor-Greens contests in the inner city. There is four head-to-head inner city races: the Greens-held seats of Melbourne and Northcote, and the Labor-held seats of Brunswick and Richmond. There is also the three-cornered contest in the Greens seat of Prahran, a seat they won off the Liberal Party in 2014 after the Liberals won it off Labor in 2010.

If the polls are correct and Labor is on track to gain seats, it would be worth watching hte regional Liberal seats of Ripon near Ballarat and South Barwon near Geelong, both of which are held by margins of less than 3%.

There are also a number of regional races where independents could be in play. Independent MP Susanna Sheed will be defending her seat of Shepparton. Russell Northe, who has been re-elected three times as a Nationals MP, and survived a close contest against a Labor and independent candidate in 2014, is now an independent and will be facing multiple rivals to win a fourth term in his Latrobe Valley seat of Morwell.

There are also independents running in Ovens Valley and Mildura who could be worth watching.

That’s it for now, happy electioneering!

Victoria – vote below the line!


I’ve done a video for my day job explaining to voters how they can vote below the line to avoid the risks of electing someone they don’t support, which could happen if they vote above the line.

I’m not the only analyst to make this point, but it’s worth emphasising that it’s quite easy to vote below the line in the Victorian upper house (unlike for the old Senate voting system) and that is the best way to opt out of the dodgy group voting ticket system.

Just number at least five preferences below the line to make your vote count. There’s no need to number every box, indeed I’d argue it’s preferable to let your vote exhaust instead of it ending up with a party who you know nothing about.

Podcast #14 – Victorian upper house preferences


In this week’s podcast Ben is joined by Tom Clement from Geeklections and Tim Colebatch.

We discussed the Victorian upper house race in depth, followed by a summary of the Victorian state election campaign.

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.