By-election Archive


What’s going on at the Tally Room

This blog has been pretty quiet since the conclusion of the NSW council elections. I’m working on a few different projects in the background and I just wanted to give a quick update.

Firstly, I’ve been working on a project to collect together all of the results of the NSW council elections to publish in an easy-to-use format for data analysis. This is part of a broader project to publish local and state election results in an easy-to-use format, since so many electoral commissions do not publish results (as well as candidate and booth lists) in accessible formats, unlike the AEC. Unfortunately I’ve hit a wall in scraping the data for the 2016 council elections, although the data for the 2011 and 2012 elections is ready. If you’re an expert on web scraping who can help me with this, drop me a line. Once this is done, I might do some high-level comparisons of the 2012 and 2016 election results.

The ACT election is due this Saturday, and I’ve got guides published for all five electorates which you can read here. I’ve got an article going up at the Guardian today about the election which is also worth a read. Unfortunately I won’t be around to do a liveblog on Saturday night, but I will return to do some overall analysis on the weekend.

Three by-elections are due in New South Wales in November and I’ve published guides for all three seats. This includes a guide to the Wollongong by-election, which was only recently written.

Beyond that, I’ve been making maps for a couple of recent redistributions. The Northern Territory is in the midst of a redistribution, whereby the urban seat of Solomon will lose some areas on the outskirts of Darwin and Palmerston to the seat of Lingiari. This is the first time since the territory was split into two electorates in 2001 that the boundaries will be changed. I’ve completed a map of the new boundaries which you can download from the maps page.

I am currently working on the new draft map for the South Australian state redistribution, and I’ll be publishing that probably next week, and once the draft boundaries are released for the Queensland state redistribution I will also make a map of those boundaries.

Then once all that’s done I plan to get into preparing the guide to the Western Australian state election, for early next year.

So I will pop up from time to time, but mostly I’ll be away in the background for the remainder of this year.


Polwarth and South-West Coast by-elections

7:25pm – The Liberal Party looks set to retain both seats. At the moment they are on 47.7% in Polwarth, which should easily be enough. In South-West Coast they are on 36%, but with ex-Labor candidate Roy Reekie second on 17.7% ahead of the Country Party and the Nationals. This should also be enough.

6:18pm – Polls have now closed in these two state by-elections for these seats in south-western Victoria.

I haven’t done my traditional booth-matching work for these by-elections, but will post occasional updates as results flow in.


North Sydney by-election – December 5

northsydney1-LIBThe by-election for Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney has been scheduled for Saturday 5 December.

I’ve now posted the guide to the by-election, which is likely to see Liberal candidate Trent Zimmerman elected to finish Hockey’s term.

Read more


By-elections triggered in Victoria

Following dual resignations of senior Liberals on August 31, we’ll be seeing two Victorian state by-elections in neighbouring rural seats in south-western Victoria later this month.

Former Premier Denis Napthine and former minister Terry Mulder both resigned from their seats on August 31, after losing power in November 2014.

Napthine’s seat of South-West Coast covers Warrnambool and Glenelg in the south-west corner of Victoria, and Mulder’s seat of Polwarth lies immediately to the east of South-West Coast, covering Anglesea, Lorne, Lismore, Colac, Camperdown, Terang and Mortlake.

Both seats are held by the Liberal Party by margins of around 11%. The Labor Party has announced that they won’t contest either seat, while the Nationals have announced they will run in both seats.

The date for the by-elections has not yet been set.

Read the guide to the Polwarth by-election.

Read the guide to the South-West Coast by-election.


WA redistribution and Canning – open thread

There are two major electoral events in Western Australia which kicked off last week. I’m still working on maps for these projects, so this is an open thread for discussion on these topics until later this week.

The draft electoral boundaries for the 2017 WA state election were released on Friday. I’ll be publishing an interactive map later this week. In the meantime, Antony Green has described the changes, and calculated estimated margins, at ABC Elections.

A federal by-election is also due for the WA seat of Canning following the death last week of Liberal MP Don Randall. I’m also working on a guide for the by-election, which should be up later this week.


Northland by-election – Winston Peters leading

In addition to the New South Wales state election, on Saturday voters in the New Zealand electorate will be voting for a replacement for National MP Mike Sabin, who resigned in January.

Northland has been traditionally considered safe for the National Party, but the seat is now being contested by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. A poll yesterday had Peters leading in the seat by a 20% margin. If Peters wins, the National-led government’s majority will become even tighter.

I know it’s late, but I’ve posted a guide to the Northland by-election, which you can read here.


Gippsland South by-election guide

Before the NSW election on 28 March, we have another election coming up this Saturday.

Voters in Gippsland South in Victoria will be voting in a state by-election to replace Peter Ryan, the former leader of the Nationals and Deputy Premier in the last government. The ALP is not running, but the seat will be contested by both the Nationals and the Liberal Party.

Read the guide here.


Fisher update – could there be another win from third?

All votes have now been counted for last weekend’s Fisher by-election for the state seat in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

Earlier this week I wrote about how, after Labor won a solid lead on election night, a strong Liberal lead in the declaration votes brought the race close to a tie. As of yesterday afternoon, all two-party-preferred votes have been counted and Labor leads the Liberal candidate by 24 votes.

As long as Labor remains in the top two when the official preference distribution concludes today, you would expect Labor to win by roughly 24 votes.

However, there is a scenario where independent candidate Dan Woodyatt could overtake Labor and win the seat on Labor preferences, in a similar way to how the Greens won Prahran earlier this week.

On primary votes, Labor’s Nat Cook is leading independent Dan Woodyatt by 711 votes, and there are an additional 2864 votes cast for five other minor candidates.

For Woodyatt to win, he needs to gain a lead over Labor of 25% of those minor candidates’ votes. That could be a scenario where 50% goes to Woodyatt and 25% each goes to Labor and Liberal.

This is definitely a possible outcome, but there is not as much information about how those candidates’ preferences are flowing, as there was in Prahran earlier this week.

The preference distribution is taking place today, so we should find out this afternoon.


Fisher – Liberal takes the lead?

While we were all distracted by Prahran yesterday afternoon, quite strange things were happening in the count for the South Australian state seat of Fisher following Saturday’s by-election.

We all expected Labor to win the Fisher by-election after an error on Sunday revealed that Labor was holding 52% of the vote on election-day votes.

The Electoral Commission of South Australia (ECSA) added a whole bunch of ‘declaration votes’ yesterday, and with these votes the Liberal Party took a 17-vote lead. Just before this blog post went up, another batch was added and this resulted in Labor’s Nat Cook regaining the lead by 21 votes. At the time of writing, this update hasn’t made it to the ECSA website.

When I say ‘declaration votes’, I’m referring to all votes other than those cast at a local polling place on election day. This includes, prepoll votes, postal votes, absentee votes, and a few other small categories. There are no absentee votes because this is a sole by-election, so you would expect most of that category to be postal votes and prepoll votes.

While there was a swing of about 9% away from the Liberal Party on ordinary votes, the current sample of declaration votes suggests only a slight drop in the Liberal two-party-preferred vote, down to 55.6%. That seems quite unlikely.

Sadly, ECSA does not break down declaration votes by type, so it’s hard to know whether those votes counted are all postal or prepoll, and we can’t separately compare them to similar votes from March.

It’s also unclear whether all votes have been counted. However, when you compare total votes counted, it seems that not as many votes have been counted. In March, 24,087 votes were counted in Fisher, including informal votes. So far, only 21,175 votes have been counted. It’s likely that there has been some drop in turnout, but it’s also possible that some declaration votes are yet to be counted.

On Twitter, Nine News reporter Tom Richardson reported that most declaration votes have been counted, with a small batch to come.

The Liberal Party was only winning by the slimmest of margins thanks to a very high declaration vote, considering their election day vote. If there are more votes, and they don’t favour the Liberals by the same margin, then you would expect Labor to win. Labor has already taken a slim lead.


Fisher by-election – results wrap

Update: Sunday’s recheck did indeed discover an error at the Aberfoyle Park booth which means the booth was won by Labor with 54%, not the Liberal Party with 54%. This puts the Labor two-party-preferred vote over 52%, and pretty much locks down the result.

Original post: Yesterday’s by-election in the southern Adelaide state seat of Fisher produced an unclear result, but one major party should be very happy with the result, while the other should be disappointed.

Fisher is a traditional Liberal seat – the seat was held by the Liberal Party from 1989 until Bob Such left the party in 2000. At the March 2014 general election, the Liberal Party won 57.2% of the two-party-preferred (Liberal vs Labor) vote in Fisher, which suggests that the party would have won the seat without Such’s candidacy.

In comparison, Labor won 50.9% of the two-party-preferred vote in the nine polling places used on election day. Labor won four out of nine polling places. In March, the Liberal Party won all ten polling places, with a vote ranging from 52.3% to 68%.

Independent candidate Dan Woodyatt ran explicitly as a successor to Bob Such, but polled much less than Such. Woodyatt is now polling 22.5% of the primary vote, compared to 38.4% for Bob Such in March.

While around 16% of Bob Such’s voters moved away from Woodyatt, the Liberal Party completely failed to gain those votes. The Liberal vote is currently down 0.05% compared to March, while Labor’s primary vote is up by over 10%.

I don’t have exact figures, but it appears that the number of declaration votes (which includes postal and prepoll votes) has increased compared to March. Antony Green estimates that the Liberal Party will need to do 3% better than they did on election day, which is greater than the gap in March.

If Labor holds on to their lead and wins the seat, the Labor government will regain a majority in the House of Assembly, with 24 seats as well as the support of two independents, compared to 21 seats for the Liberal Party.

For my analysis, I have split up booths into the same three areas used in the by-election guide: East, Central and West.

The ALP won 54.7% of the two-party-preferred vote in the east, and 49% of the 2PP vote in the Central area. The Liberal Party won a large 63.5% majority in the west, but the population is much smaller in that area.

Voter group LIB prim % ALP prim % IND prim % ALP 2PP % Formal % of votes
East 34.58 33.55 18.47 54.65 7,482 51.16
Central 32.98 23.35 27.67 48.89 6,065 41.47
West 50.00 14.01 21.43 36.45 1,078 7.37

One other thing worth noting: Antony Green has identified a possible error in counting that may have underestimated the Labor two-party-preferred vote.

In seven out of nine polling places, the proportion of minor party and independent preferences flowing to the Liberal Party was clustered from 30% to 35%, but the Liberal Party received 45% of preferences in Clarendon, and over 50% of preferences in Aberfoyle Park.

If you look at the following map showing the swings after preferences, you’ll also see that the swing to Labor is much lower at those two booths. Every other booth has a swing to Labor of 7-11%, but those two booths have a swing of 2-3%. This discrepancy does not exist on Labor’s primary vote – Labor gained a swing of 9.6% on primary votes in Aberfoyle Park, although the Labor primary vote swing in Clarendon was substantially lower at 4.2%.

There’ll be a recheck of votes tomorrow, so if there is a problem it should be discovered, and this would make the challenge even more serious for the Liberal candidate.

Two-party-preferred votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Two-party-preferred votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Two-party-preferred swings at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Two-party-preferred swings at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Liberal primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Liberal primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Labor primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Labor primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Dan Woodyatt at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Dan Woodyatt at the 2014 Fisher by-election.