South Australia Archive

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.

Fisher by-election live

Fisher by-election primary votes – all booths reporting, no declaration votes reported

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected %
Heidi Harris Liberal 5,126 35.05 -0.05 35.18%
Jeanie Walker Independent 140 0.96 +0.96 0.96%
Nat Cook Labor 4,077 27.88 +10.14 27.96%
Rob De Jonge Independent 545 3.73 +3.73 3.73%
Bob Couch Stop Population Growth Now 187 1.28 +1.28 1.28%
Dan Woodyatt Independent 3,291 22.50 -15.95 21.83%
Malwina Wyra Greens 582 3.98 -0.75 4.35%
Dan Golding Independent 677 4.63 +4.63 4.63%

Fisher by-election two-party-preferred votes – all booths reporting, no declaration votes reported

Candidate Party Votes %
Heidi Harris Liberal 7,115 49.07
Nat Cook Labor 7,384 50.93

9:01pm - With no more results expected tonight, I would have to say Labor is the favourite to win in an extremely close race.

8:59pm – Labor has won 62.44% of preferences distributed tonight, with the Liberal Party winning 37.56%. If you apply the swings we saw on the booths to the March declaration vote, and then distribute preferences from Woodyatt, the Greens and other minor candidates in the same proportions, then Labor wins the declaration vote by 50.55%. Without knowing how big that vote is, that would see Labor win with a slightly reduced margin. Having said that, this assumes that the declaration vote is similar to what it was in March. We can’t assume that.

8:53pm – And we now have the final 2PP figures for election day – the Liberal Party narrowly winning Aberfoyle Park North. This leaves Labor leading by 269 votes before the inclusion of declaration votes. According to Antony Green there has been a big increase in the number of prepoll votes which makes it hard to predict how they will break.

8:21pm – Using the same model as before (which actually underestimated Labor’s preference flow slightly), I expect the Liberals to win Aberfoyle Park North but not by enough to offset Labor’s current lead. Then it will all come down to declaration votes. In March, there was 5865 declaration votes in Fisher. If Labor holds on to a lead of 227 votes after Aberfoyle Park North reports, then the Liberal Party would need 51.9% of the 2PP to win.

8:17pm – We just got the primary votes for Aberfoyle Park North, and the 2PP figures for Reynella East and Happy Valley West. Those 2PP figures have pushed Labor into first place by more than I predicted – they’re leading by 371 votes. Aberfoyle Park North also saw a solid pro-Labor swing but not as big as some other booths.

8:12pm – If you look at the three Aberfoyle Park booths that have reported votes, the Liberal Party is leading 2020-1989 – a 31-vote lead. If something similar happens at Aberfoyle Park North – a reasonably large booth – then Labor may end up ahead by about 100 votes before declaration votes are counted.

8:09pm – So far there are six booths reporting 2PP figures, and in those booths the minor party vote is splitting roughly 60% to Labor and 40% to the Liberal Party. If you extrapolate that to Reynella East and Happy Valley West, then Labor turns a 386 vote deficit into a 157-vote lead. However Labor is not expected to do quite as well at the ninth booth, Aberfoyle Park North, from which we’ve heard nothing.

8:04pm – We now have eight out of nine booths reporting and the ALP is well ahead of Woodyatt. There’s roughly 14% of the vote with other candidates but it’s hard to see Woodyatt overtaking Labor – quite a lot of that will flow to Labor or Liberal.

7:54pm – Labor has also topped the primary votes in Happy Valley West, which has pushed Cook ahead of Woodyatt on primary votes. The projection model is holding steady.

7:45pm – We’re now missing primary votes from Aberfoyle Park North, Happy Valley West and Reynella East. Happy Valley West, Reynella East and the abolished booth of Woodcroft were the only booths where Labor polled over 20% in March 2014. They were also the three worst booths for Bob Such. This is why my model is suggesting Labor will overtake Woodyatt, but that certainly could be wrong.

7:42pm – Vote after preferences now reported from Happy Valley and the Liberal Party won – just. This narrows the Liberal lead from 52.8% to 52.2%.

7:37pm – Now have the 2PP figures for Aberfoyle Park Central and the primary votes for Aberfoyle Park, and they are both good for Labor. Labor has now won the vote in the two Aberfoyle Park booths to report 2PP figures. In the two booths reporting primary votes but no 2PP, Labor is up over 10% and the Liberal Party is down 2%. Overall, the Liberal Party is only leading by 2.8% after preferences off a sample biased towards them.

7:25pm – We’ve just added another Aberfoyle Park booth – four out of nine booths are in Aberfoyle Park – and we saw a 0.3% swing against the Liberal Party and a swing of over 11% to the ALP. We haven’t yet gotten 2PP figures for either Aberfoyle Park booth.

7:22pm – I’ve also now added in the two-party-preferred count between Liberal and Labor. There are no swings or projections possible on these figures, but it’s worth noting that Labor narrowly won in Aberfoyle Park South. We haven’t gotten results from Happy Valley, but there was a primary vote swing of over 10% to Labor and 2% away from the Liberal Party there, so that should increase Labor’s 2PP vote.

7:18pm – An even bigger booth, Happy Valley, has about as many voters as the first three booths combined. The Liberal vote has actually gone down at Happy Valley by 2%.

7:14pm – The first large booth – Aberfoyle Park South – has reported, and the Liberal vote has dropped to 41%. The projection is roughly the same – Liberal on 41%, Labor 25%, Woodyatt on 17.5%.

7:09pm – With two booths reporting, the Liberal Party is on 50% of the primary votes, with independent Dan Woodyatt second on 21% and Nat Cook on 14%. However my projection suggests that these booths are strong for the Liberal Party and particularly bad for Labor, and if the trends continue (comparing Woodyatt to Such’s vote in March), then Labor will overtake Woodyatt and the Liberal vote will drop to 42%. Heidi Harris should still win on that vote.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in the by-election for the state seat of Fisher in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. I’ll be back with results as soon as they are available.

Fisher by-election – election day

Voters are going to the polls today in the by-election for the southern Adelaide seat of Fisher in the South Australian parliament. The by-election was triggered by the death of independent MP Bob Such.

I’ll be back with live coverage of the results from 6pm Adelaide time (6:30pm AEDT). In the meantime you can read the Tally Room guide to the Fisher by-election.

William Bowe of Poll Bludger also wrote about the by-election in yesterday’s Crikey: in particular considering the prospects of independent candidate Dan Woodyatt, who is attempting to position himself as the successor to Bob Such.

Fisher and Davenport by-elections in South Australia

Fisher1-2CPWhile I’ve been busy preparing guides to the three major state elections coming up soon, I’ve been neglecting two by-elections due over the next two months in South Australia.

The seats of Fisher and Davenport in southern Adelaide will both be electing new MPs in by-elections: Fisher on December 6, and Davenport on January 31, 2015.

The Fisher by-election was triggered by the death of Bob Such. Such was a former Liberal who had held Fisher since 1989 – holding it as an independent since 2000. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after winning re-election earlier this year, and died in October.

Former Liberal leader Iain Evans resigned from Davenport shortly after Such’s death. His seat of Davenport lies immediately to the south of Fisher, and the Liberal Party hoped to have both by-elections scheduled on the same date, but the Labor Speaker of the Legislative Assembly declined to do so, and scheduled Davenport for the end of January.

The Liberal Party are favourites to win both seats.

As usual, the guides feature the history and geography of each seat, the results of the last election, a breakdown of booth results from March 2014, and a list of candidates. You can also join in the discussion about each by-election in the comment thread. Click on the links below to visit the by-election pages, or click on the links on the menu at the top of the website:

Council elections in Tasmania and SA

Two Australian states are in the process of electing their local councils for the next four years. Unfortunately due to the large volume of state elections currently taking place, I won’t be able to provide any coverage of these elections, but others have produced some useful coverage elsewhere.

South Australian elections take place every four years. All SA council elections are conducted by postal ballot – ballot papers will be sent out over the week of 20-24 October, and voting closes on November 7. SA councils are elected by a mixture of single-member and multi-member wards, as well as directly-elected Mayors in most (or possibly all?) councils.

Until this year, half of each Tasmanian council was elected every two years for a four year term. This year is the first time that entire councils have been up for election at the same time. Tasmanian councils have no wards – so this means that all councils are proportionally elected, and the quotas will drop significantly. Mayors in Tasmania tend to be directly-elected. Tasmanian ballot papers will be posted between the 14th and the 17th of October, and must be returned by the 28th of October.

The shift in Tasmania towards conducting all council elections on one day every four years means that only one Australian state now conducts staggered council elections. In Western Australia, councillors are elected every two years for four year terms. The next WA council elections are due in late 2015.

Queensland’s next council elections are due in early 2016, while both New South Wales and Victoria are both due around the time of the next federal election in late 2016.

Tasmanian psephologist Kevin Bonham has completed an in-depth profile of the Hobart City Council election, including analysis of how sitting councillors’ have voted and lists of candidates. I recommend it for those eager for more elections news.

Radio Adelaide program The Scrutineers, by Casey Briggs and Dianne Janes, has produced a special episode focusing on South Australia’s local government elections. You can listen to the show online, as well as subscribe to the podcast and download old episodes of the show.

South Australian redistribution: draft maps released

Late last week the Electoral District Boundaries Commission of South Australia released draft boundaries for the next South Australian state election in March 2014.

Antony Green has covered the changes and their significance in more depth, including margins for every seat and a description of each seat’s change. You can also see the maps at the ECSA website.

South Australian electoral law requires a redistribution following every election. In addition, SA electoral law requires that electoral boundaries be ‘fair’, which in the past has been interpreted as drawing electoral boundaries that would result in the party that wins a majority of the two-party-preferred vote winning a majority of seats.

Despite this law, the last election saw the ALP win a majority of seats while the Liberal Party won a solid majority of the vote (51.6% of the 2PP vote). This was largely achieved due to the ALP suffering massive swings in their safest seats while largely holding their ground in their marginal seats.

It was expected that this would require a significant redrawing of the electoral map to give the Liberal Party a notional majority of seats. However, the Commission instead decided to make relatively minor changes. Not a single seat held by the major parties has changed hands on the boundaries. As Antony Green has said:

The Commission’s justification is that it has decided the boundaries at the 2010 election were fundamentally fair. However, the differential nature of the swing denied the Liberal Party a majority. The Commission has decided the differential swing was a campaign factor, not one caused by an unfairness in the boundaries drawn in 2007.

It is yet to be seen if the final boundaries will produce a more significant change. Even with boundaries that preserve the ALP’s majority, it is likely the ALP government will suffer a significant swing in 2014, making this redistribution largely irrelevant.

You can download my Google Earth map of the draft 2014 boundaries along with the previous four seats of maps at the maps page. You can also download a time series map that shows the changes in SA electoral boundaries since 1997.

2010 South Australian electoral boundaries, showing the Adelaide area.

Draft 2014 South Australian electoral boundaries, showing the Adelaide area.

New maps posted

The blog has been quiet for a while. Partly this has been due to me being very busy with other projects and with my day job, but the main reason has been due to me doing my work on this website behind the scenes.

Over the past two months I’ve produced maps of the election results for all 89 Queensland state electorates for the 2009 state election. This is part of my plan to produce a guide to the upcoming Queensland state election, as I have done for the last state elections in New South Wales and Victoria, and last year’s federal election.

Over the last week I’ve been working on a different project. Maps have now been posted on the blog’s maps page for two jurisdictions. The new boundaries that will be used in Victoria for the next federal election have been posted, along with the draft boundaries for South Australia. The Victorian maps are the result of a redistribution which was concluded at the end of 2010. The South Australian redistribution is expected to be finalised in the next few months.

In the next few months the calculation will be made as to whether any states or territories gain or lose seats at the next election. It doesn’t appear likely that there will be any change in seat numbers, so there isn’t expected to be a redistribution in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania or the Northern Territory, as all of these states held redistributions before the 2010 election. A redistribution is due next year in the Australian Capital Territory, which should be a relatively simple endeavour. I’ll keep you posted.

Update: I have now finished the redistribution for the NT Legislative Assembly, which will face an election on the new boundaries next year. I have also checked the timetable for the ACT redistribution, and it appears it won’t commence until January 2013, leaving an open question of whether it will be finished in time for the federal election. I also realised that I had improperly marked the two previous sets of ACT federal boundaries, so these have been fixed.

Seat profile #98: Port Adelaide

Port Adelaide is a safe Labor seat in northern Adelaide. The seat covers the aforementioned port and surrounding areas. It was first created in 1949 and has always been held by Labor MPs. It was won in 2007 by Mark Butler, a prominent figure in the South Australian Labor Left, and now a Parliamentary Secretary. The ALP shouldn’t have any trouble retaining the seat in 2010.

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