Brisbane City 2020 – candidate update


I published my Brisbane City Council election guide at the end of 2019 and have been focused on other work since then, but I’ve returned to the topic to do an update of the candidates who are running, which I have published for you to view.

Nominations close next Wednesday, March 4, and so far I have identified 61 council candidates and three for Lord Mayor.

This includes 23 Labor candidates, 22 LNP candidates and 13 Greens candidates, as well as three independents. I would expect all three parties to run a full slate of 26 candidates.

Those independents include sitting independent councillor Nicole Johnston, as well as sitting councillor Kate Richards, who won her Pullenvale ward as an LNP candidate in 2016. Richards was referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission by her former party in December, and was dumped as the party’s candidate at the same time.

At the moment I am missing Labor candidates in Chandler, Pullenvale and Walter Taylor. These three wards are amongst the five safest LNP wards in the city, and in two cases the ALP candidate failed to poll in the top two in 2016.

I am missing LNP candidates in the Forest Lake, Moorooka, Morningside and Tennyson wards: all held by Labor or independent councillors.

All three parties are close to gender parity with their candidates. The LNP is running twelve women and ten men, while Labor is running eleven women and twelve men. The Greens are running seven women and six men.

You can view the dataset here. I will make one final update following the close of nominations next week. I have included the website links for each candidate in the spreadsheet. I will make no further updates of links after my post-close-of-nominations update, so if there is a better link please let me know soon. I will only post pages which are specifically for that one candidate, and will prefer your own website over a Facebook page.

Bundamba by-election scheduled for March 28


Another election in Queensland has been scheduled for the final weekend in March, with a second state by-election announced for that date.

March 28 is already the election date for council elections across Queensland, including the Brisbane City megacouncil. It was also announced as the election date for the by-election for the marginal LNP seat of Currumbin at the southern end of the Gold Coast after Jann Stuckey announced her retirement last month.

The sudden retirement of longstanding Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller in her Ipswich-area electorate of Bundamba last Thursday triggered a quick scheduling of her by-election to be held on the same date.

This is a tight timeframe – nominations closed in Currumbin almost two weeks ago, yet the two by-elections will be held on the same date.

I have now published my guide to Bundamba.

The seat is held by Labor by a margin of over 20%, and it seems most likely they will win again. But this is a good area for One Nation, who declined to run here in 2017. They are running this time and could do quite well. I wouldn’t rule out an upset.

In other news I’ve also updated my Currumbin guide with the list of the four candidates running in that by-election.

2019 election – major party domination weakens further


This post draws on analysis in my chapter in Morrison’s Miracle, a forthcoming book from ANU Press and Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia about the 2019 federal election.

Most seats in the House of Representatives at the 2019 election were still won by one of the major parties, but below the surface the position of the major parties doesn’t look so dominant.

The major parties polled just 74.8% of the formal vote in the House of Representatives, the lowest figure at any recent election. This was down from 76.8% at the 2016 election, which was already one of the lowest figures.

Most House of Representatives contests have traditionally been races between a Labor candidate and a Coalition candidate, but at a certain point that doesn’t hold up when the major party vote keeps dropping.

2019 election – winning on the early vote


This post draws on analysis in my chapter in Morrison’s Miracle, a forthcoming book from ANU Press and Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia about the 2019 federal election.

One of the most significant ways in which our voting system is changing over time is the rise in voting early.

This is happening in all sorts of elections: federal, state and local. The trend is stronger in some jurisdictions than others, but no-one can hold back the tide.

Almost 33% of votes were cast as early pre-poll votes in 2019. This figure rises to about 41% once you include postal votes, which must have been cast before election day.

This growing trend means that the early vote is more important than ever, and is absolutely critical to the election result.

I don’t think enough attention was paid to the gap between the two-party-preferred vote on election day as opposed to the early vote.

Labor has always done relatively better on election day compared to the early vote, but the gap was bigger than it has been at any election since 2001, when over 90% of votes were cast on the day. That gap was 5.3% in 2019.

NT redistribution – margins published


The Northern Territory’s electoral boundaries for territory elections were redrawn last year, but until now I haven’t been in a position to calculate the redistribution margins.

This task is made more complicated by the large number of voters who don’t vote at a local polling place, particularly in rural electorates where a large portion of the vote is cast through remote teams without information about the geographic origin of the votes. There are also very few polling places which means each one covers a larger part of the seat. In one case an electorate did not have a single ordinary polling place in 2016.

It’s also the case that margins, even if they are perfectly accurate, are less relevant in an election where small numbers of voters make up each electorate, where party allegiances are not as solid in larger jurisdictions, and where the incumbent MP has a lot more influence.

But I’ve managed to do my best to transfer polling places, sometimes fractionally, and then transfer the remaining votes in proportion to the population movements, and have come up with a set of margins below the fold.

I’ve previously described the changes here and here. Antony Green has also calculated his own estimates.

The biggest change in the margins has taken place in the southern outback seat of Namatjira. I estimate that the Labor margin in this seat has been cut from 8.5% to 1.1%. Antony goes further and estimates the seat with a 2% CLP margin. This electorate took in a large number of voters from the two Alice Springs electorates which are usually amongst the most conservative in the state, so this rings true.

Below the fold I’ve included a table of margins and a map.

Coming soon: the book of the election


I have a chapter coming up in Morrison’s Miracle, which is the definitive book covering every aspect of the 2019 federal election.

My chapter will cover the results in the House of Representatives, as I did in the 2016 election book Double Disillusion.

This book is the seventeenth book in a series which has been the definitive academic take on most federal elections in my lifetime.

The book will be out in the middle of this year so please keep an eye out.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will be publishing a number of posts focusing on particular points of analysis in my book chapter.

WA redistribution – margins published


It’s taken some time as I’ve waited for some necessary data, but I’ve now compiled my own margin estimates for the 59 state electorates in Western Australia following the recent redistribution.

I won’t lay claim to originality: both William Bowe and Antony Green have previously published their own estimates. Mine are very similar with a few exceptions where my figures differ from one or both of them. I’m not saying mine are necessary better than others but I thought I should publish them as they will be used as the basis for my maps and tables at the time of the election.

The table of margins is below the fold, along with a map.

Guide to the Johnston by-election


The first vote of the year will be coming up at the end of February, when voters in the Darwin-area electorate of Johnston will elect a member for the Northern Territory’s assembly.

The seat was vacated by Ken Vowles at the end of 2019. Vowles was a minister in the Labor government before he was sacked and kicked out of the Labor caucus at the end of 2018.

As with all NT electorates, Johnston has a very small population, with just two polling places within the seat.

Labor should be the favourites but NT elections can always be unpredictable, particularly considering the circumstances of the previous member’s departure.

Read the guide here.

NSW 2020: new ward boundaries finalised


Local councils in New South Wales will go to the polls in September this year to elect new councillors for the next four years.

I have just finished putting together my map of ward boundaries for those councils that use wards to elect their members.

49 councils currently have wards, plus Shellharbour council is restoring wards for the first time since the 2004 election.

I have identified new boundaries in seventeen of these councils (plus Shellharbour), and have finished drawing those new boundary maps. I believe that none of the other councils have changed their wards, but I will list those which I have not definitively ruled out at the end of this post.

Annoyingly, there is no central repository of information about local ward redistributions in New South Wales. You have to go to each local council and look for information on exhibition, and look through minutes for official decisions. If a council hasn’t made any change, you might not find anything. This is different to Queensland and Victoria, which coordinate ward redistributions through the state electoral commissions and publish all the information on one website. There’s a whole other story to tell about how problematic it is that ward decisions are made directly by the councillors.

Below the fold I’ll briefly run through the 18 councils with new ward boundaries, and I’ll post a map showing the changes in boundaries.

You can download a Google Earth file with the 2020 ward boundaries (including the existing wards for those councils which haven’t changed) from my maps page, where I also have the ward boundaries from each council election since 2008.

By-election coming up in Currumbin


There will be a by-election in a marginal LNP seat in Queensland in the next few months after Liberal National MP Jann Stuckey announced her resignation.

Stuckey has held Currumbin since 2004 and won in 2017 by a 3.3% margin. Stuckey announced last week she planned to resign.

The by-election date is yet to be set but it seems quite likely that it will be held on March 28, the same day as Queensland’s local government election.

Currumbin is the seventh-most marginal LNP seat in the state parliament and if Labor were to win it would increase their majority in the parliament in the lead up to the October state election.

Currumbin covers the southern end of the Gold Coast.

You can read my guide to this by-election here.