2016 was a good year for candidates overcoming their party’s Senate ballot order. We saw Tasmanian Labor senator Lisa Singh win re-election as one of five Labor senators despite being ranked sixth on her party list, with the candidate ranked above her, John Short, missing out. We also saw Tasmanian Liberal senator Richard Colbeck perform strongly on below-the-line votes, but he was less successful, although he later returned to the Senate due to a vacancy caused by section 44. Singh’s victory was the first time since the introduction of above-the-line voting in 1984 when a Senate candidate defeated a candidate from their party who was ranked above them on the party’s ticket.
This election Lisa Singh has again been demoted to an unwinnable position, while New South Wales Liberal senator Jim Molan is attempting to hold on despite being ranked fourth on his party’s ticket.
So can either of these senators win despite the unfavourable position? It’s very unlikely, for a number of reasons. Each state will only elect six senators in 2019, compared to twelve in 2016. It’s also much easier to achieve this in Tasmania than in mainland states, for a number of reasons.
Below the fold I’ll run through some more analysis on this question.