The next day – preference flows and postal votes


At the time of writing, the result of yesterday’s Senate re-run in Western Australia is still up in the air, but is much clearer and easier to understand than the 2013 result.

The first two Liberal candidates (David Johnston and Michaelia Cash) and the lead Labor and Greens candidates (Joe Bullock and Scott Ludlam) will win their seats with a full quota of primary votes.

Dio Wang of the Palmer United Party sits on 0.87 quotas, and should have little trouble winning a seat.

The final seat is a race between the third Liberal candidate, Linda Reynolds, and the second Labor candidate, Louise Pratt.

At the time of writing, the ABC Senate calculator gave the final seat to Reynolds by 0.07% of the vote, which is just over 600 votes. Of course, we all now understand that this isn’t the end of the story. The addition of declaration votes is likely to increase Reynolds’ lead.

In this post I will run through what votes are left to be counted, how they might skew the result, and what preferences Reynolds and Pratt will be relying on in their race.

It appears that all votes have been counted from most polling places, leaving only declaration votes (postal, provisional, pre-poll (outside of the electorate) and absentee votes) to be counted.

The AEC has published some information about the number of declaration votes that have been issued, and it seems that the numbers of absent, provisional and pre-poll votes have dropped to 20-33% of the 2013 levels, while the number of postal votes has increased.

This should see the Liberal Party increase their vote when those postal votes are added to the count.

My projection model suggests that the Liberal Party will gain ground with the addition of declaration votes, and suggests that Linda Reynolds is in a strong position to win the final seat. Using the ABC Senate calculator, my model suggested Reynolds will win by a margin of 0.0297 quota, up substantially on the current margin of 0.0022.

Finally, I’ve looked at how preferences are due to flow from each of the parties in the election towards the three parties who end up needing those preferences: Labor, Liberal and Palmer United.

Overall, there’s a pretty clear left-right divide in how parties’ preferences flow. Left-wing minor parties have generally flowed to Labor, with a large group of right-wing parties flowing to the Liberal Party. Most of the Palmer United Party’s preferences flowed from conservative minor parties, with the exception of the Democrats.

Most parties that preferenced PUP then flowed on to the Liberal Party after PUP’s lead candidate is elected. The only exceptions are the Motoring Enthusiast Party, the Democrats and Katter’s Australian Party, who then split their votes evenly between the ALP and the Liberal Party.

GroupPartyFlows toVotes so farQuotas
AThe Wikileaks PartyALP59640.0423
BThe NationalsLIB306190.2170
CIndependent (Save ABC)ALP56080.0397
DAustralian DemocratsPUP, then split 50/50 ALP/LIB25640.0182
EPirate PartyALP48300.0342
FAustralian Labor PartyALP738370.5232
GAustralian Motoring Enthusiast PartyPUP, then split 50/50 ALP/LIB51660.0366
HFreedom and Prosperity PartyPUP, then LIB5610.0040
IVoluntary Euthanasia PartyALP60520.0429
JLiberal DemocratsLIB174250.1235
KAustralian Voice PartyPUP, then LIB8050.0057
LBuilding Australia PartyPUP, then LIB7410.0053
MMutual PartyPUP, then LIB7030.0050
NFamily First PartyPUP, then LIB70690.0501
O#Sustainable Population PartySplit 2/3 ALP, 1/3 LIB26340.0187
PPalmer United PartyPUP, then LIB1233700.8741
QAustralian Sports PartyPUP, then LIB37250.0264
SShooters and FishersPUP, then LIB98070.0695
THEMP PartyALP103160.0731
URepublican Party of AustraliaLIB5990.0042
VSmokers RightsLIB27480.0195
WAustralian Fishing and Lifestyle PartyLIB32900.0233
XAustralian ChristiansLIB155410.1101
YSecular Party of AustraliaALP7120.0050
ZRise Up Australia PartyLIB17770.0126
AAThe Greens (WA)ALP157820.1118
ABDLP Democratic LabourLIB20260.0144
ACKatter’s Australian PartyPUP, then split 50/50 ALP/LIB7980.0057
ADAnimal Justice PartyALP57960.0411
AESex PartyALP91300.0647
AFSocialist AllianceALP6430.0046
AGOutdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens)LIB19370.0137
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  1. Won’t BTL votes strongly favour Pratt? is there any hard evidence yet on how many there were?

  2. Hi Geoff,

    I did do some analysis of below-the-line voting, one of the many reasons this blog post was delayed until the end of the day.

    I think they have already been included in party totals and thus any surge in Pratt BTLs is already factored into the Labor vote. If I’m wrong that could be a factor that would be hard to predict.

  3. According to AEC fact sheets, BTL votes are recorded to the group that has the vote’s first preference without checking for formality on the election night.

  4. Thanks Ben, very useful!

    Any idea about the leakage of btl votes from the tickets? Could Labor’s higher quota to start with, and the Libs greater reliance on preferences, mean they are more likely to fall as a result of any btl voting? Or do you already take account of that?

  5. No, I haven’t taken account of that, but most of those parties won’t have a large number of BTLs. Once we know how many BTLs there are we can get a more precise calculation.

  6. I assumed BTLs might help Pratt too, but since she’s already getting ATL preferences from pretty much all the left-leaning groups there’s presumably not much more she can gain in terms of BTLs from groups she’s not getting ATLs from.

  7. I’ve started looking at the BTL preferences from the 2013 non-election and my initial thinking is that there could be a swing of around 2500 votes to Labor (i.e. net 1250 votes changing sides) as compared to where those votes would go on ticket preferences.

    I was stunned at some of the preference splits from 2013. Among preferences that may leak to the ALP, I have 37% of National Party preferences going to Pratt ahead of Reynolds, 36% of LDP preferences and 24% of AUC preferences. Going the other way the Liberals would pick up 30% of AJP, 27% of HMP and 25% of WIK.

    The ALP actually got 53% of below-the-line PUP preferences and 41% from the Shooters, but the impact of those will be limited this time because they’ll carry only a tiny weighting, having gone to PUP first (I suspect the surplus will be less than the 9% currently in the ABC calculator as PUP will likely do worse on postal votes).

    The Nationals split may also go more to the Liberals if the drop in their vote really is the removal of the “footballer factor”, although it could also be that those who are swayed by the presence of a footballer on the ticket will be underrepresented among below-the-line voters.

  8. It looks to me that the major parties have pretty much suffered similar swings, and those on their side of the spectrum have picked them up – it looks like Labor’s lost vote has gone to the Greens, and the Liberals’ lost vote has gone to Palmer. Frankly neither of the major parties can take comfort from this result.
    In the unlikely event of another minor party or micro-party picking up the last seat, it’ll feel like Groundhog Day, given what happened with the Senate last September!
    Meanwhile, for you election tragics, if you want something of interest to follow and you don’t mind something in a non-English-speaking setting, the Indonesian legislative elections are around the corner. Parties wanting to contest the presidential election later this year will need to win at least 112 of 560 parliamentary seats, or a decent chunk of the nationwide vote, in order to field their chosen candidates. I suspect that Jakarta’s Governor Joko Widodo will ultimately end up succeeding Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as president – but watch this space …

  9. Continuing to update my coverage at

    I’ve found there to be a tipping point in the count and an explanation of it is up at the link. It is whether PUP are elected on the preferences of the Lib Dems or have to wait for HEMP to be excluded. What this decides is whether PUP’s surplus is very small or quite large. If it is large (arising after HEMP) then PUP’s Liberal-directed primaries dominate it, which reduces the value of those preferences that would otherwise flow at full value from HEMP to the ALP after the election of PUP.

  10. Here’s another coupla things for Warren’s list:

    Tomorrow, the Quebec election (or early Tue morning, on this side of the world). The Parti Quebecois looks like losing its majority in a three-way race between them, the Liberals and a new-ish right-wing party.

    Next Saturday, up in the NT: another by-election, in the safe CLP seat of Blain. The former chief minister Terry, Mills, quit parliament after being sacked as party leader, and meanwhile three of the four Aboriginal CLP MP’s who won the election for Mills are on the verge of leaving the party or being thrown out. If Labor win Blain (unlikely, but never rule anything out in the territory), the NT could have their second hung parliament in as many terms.

  11. Worth noting it’s not quite as straightforward as the Liberals losing votes to PUP and Labor to the Greens. In 8 out of 15 divisions the swing to the Greens is higher than the swings away from Labor + Others, so the Greens seem to have picked up Liberal votes as well.

    Another minor footnote I noted yesterday. Katter’s Australian Party’s 0.08% must be close to a record low vote for a party with current parliamentary representation!

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