The last week has been painfully slow as we wait for the final figures from the Victorian state election.
At the moment, there are a small number of seats still in contention. Labor holds slim leads in Bentleigh and Frankston, but this is probably enough to hold on in those two seats. In Prahran, it still remains unclear whether Labor or the Greens will come second. If Labor comes second, they are trailing the Liberal Party by a small margin and could well take the lead when all votes are counted. If the Greens come second, we have no idea if they will do better or worse than Labor after preferences.
The VEC still has not counted a lot of absentee votes in most seats, and before completing that process they have moved on to doing a ‘recheck’ of all votes cast.
This process is important, but frustratingly the VEC has decided to take down all vote data from before the rechecking. In contrast, the AEC only replaces original data with rechecked data when it comes available. The VEC’s decision means that in some seats the number of votes in the results on the website (and on websites such as ABC Elections that rely on the VEC for data) dropped from 30-40,000 to less than 10,000 overnight.
This makes it particularly difficult to assess what is going on in the Legislative Council. There are two different tools which usefully convert the VEC results data into a prediction of results – Antony Green’s calculator and Tom Clement’s analysis at Geeklections. But both rely on the VEC results, and huge chunks of the upper house results are missing. Sometimes the pattern of results is biased, with particular towns or electorates counted in whole and others not counted at all. As an example, the VEC’s website lists less than 20% turnout for Western Metro region, but speaking to a local Greens scrutineer they had data for 70% turnout, which entirely changes the results.
So I won’t focus on the Legislative Council today, and instead look at the pattern of swings in the Legislative Assembly.
Out of the 82 ‘classic’ seats where Labor and Coalition candidates both came in the top two, Labor gained a positive swing after preferences in 72 seats, and suffered small negative swings in ten seats.
The largest swing to Labor was in Morwell, where Labor’s vote after preferences jumped by 11.5%. Labor gained swings of over 6% in another 11 seats.
Looking at swing by upper house region, the Labor two-party-preferred vote went up the most in Eastern Victoria (an average 4.8% swing) and Southern Metropolitan (4.2%): both regions dominated by the Coalition. In South-Eastern Metropolitan, Labor’s vote only went up by an average of 1.6%, despite gaining three extra seats. This is partly due to Labor’s vote falling in Dandenong, Narre Warren North and Narre Warren South.
Labor also competed with the Greens for four seats in the inner city (not counting Prahran, where the Liberal Party will come in the top two). The Greens gained a large 6.8% swing in Melbourne, and smaller swings of 2.1% and 2.7% in Richmond and Northcote respectively.
The result was a good one for the Greens, winning their first lower house seat and on track to increase their number of MLCs. At the moment it looks likely that the Greens will win five upper house seats, one lower house seat, and still have a chance in Prahran. But this result did not come about due to a general rise in the Greens vote. At the moment, the Greens vote looks steady at 11.2% in the lower house, after earlier appearing to have dropped.
In fact, the Greens have managed to increase their vote in the inner city (particularly in Melbourne), while the vote dropped in other suburbs. Despite campaigning hard in the four key seats at the southern end of the North Metro region, the Greens experienced an average swing of only 0.6% across the region, thanks to big drops in the Greens votes in the outer north of Melbourne. The Greens lower house vote also dropped in West Metro and increased in Western Victoria.