NSW 2019 – upper house count, week two


We’re now in the second of three weeks of counting for the New South Wales Legislative Council and we’re getting a decent chunk of votes counted.

As of Monday evening, over a million votes have been counted in the check count (the one that includes below-the-line votes and all groups’ above-the-line votes). I estimate this is about 21.6% of the final count, assuming the same turnout we saw in 2015.

In this post I’ll run through my latest calculations, my estimates of the bias in the count and who I think can win.

In short, I expect a race between five or six parties all on about half a quota for the final three seats, with preferences crucial to the outcome.

We haven’t seen much progress on the initial count (the one that only separated the above-the-line votes for seven groups). I estimate this count is at 88% of the eventual turnout.

The votes that have been counted so far don’t come close to being representative of the state.

Region Seats % counted
Eastern Sydney 29 32.2%
Western Sydney 25 48.9%
Hunter-Central Coast 13 4.5%
Inland NSW 10 3.9%
North Coast 8 3.8%
South-East 8 5.1%
    I’ve used the same six regional definitions I used for my regional summaries earlier in March. Almost half of the vote has been counted in the Western Sydney region, with just under a third counted in the eastern half of Sydney. In contrast, other regions are averaging 4-5% counted.
    This is totally understandable – votes are being counted centrally and it will take longer for regional votes to arrive. Of course they’ll count the urban votes first. We should see this bias gradually fade but it’s important to understand it.
    Next up, I thought I would just post the total quotas so far for the 19 groups with a box above the line, both according to my adjusted initial count (factoring in 6.2% informal rate and below-the-line ratios for these seven groups which match the check count so far), and the raw unrepresentative check count figures for all 19 groups.
Group Initial count (adj) Check count
Liberal/Nationals 7.7297 7.2986
Labor 6.5026 6.9453
Greens 2.0426 2.3459
One Nation 1.5065 1.2905
Shooters, Fishers & Farmers 1.2185 0.7187
Keep Sydney Open 0.6003
Liberal Democrats 0.5941
Christian Democratic Party 0.4749 0.5305
Animal Justice 0.3853 0.4478
Sustainable Australia 0.3646
Voluntary Euthanasia 0.2284
Small Business 0.1651
Conservatives 0.1320
Flux 0.0895
Socialist Alliance 0.0858
Buckingham 0.0527
Osborne 0.0401
Jansson 0.0275
Advance 0.0254

You can immediately see the bias playing out. Labor is overperforming by about half a quota, with the Greens overperforming by 0.3 quotas, and Animal Justice up by 0.06 quotas. On the other hand, the Coalition is down by 0.43 quotas, One Nation by 0.21 quotas, and the Shooters are well down by 0.5 quotas. The CDP are slightly overperforming, reflecting their heartland in suburban Sydney.

There are also three parties in contention who did not have any votes counted in the initial count: the Liberal Democrats, Keep Sydney Open and Sustainable Australia.

It seems reasonably clear that KSO are a primarily urban-based party and should lose ground as the count progresses. The Lib Dems may be a conservative party, but are they the kind who will benefit as rural votes start to flow in? I looked at their Senate primary vote in New South Wales at the 2016 Senate election. The result was remarkably consistent, ranging from 2.1% in Macquarie to 4% in McMahon. It does appear they did better in suburban seats, with their top eleven seats being in Sydney. This could reflect confusion with the Liberal Party (the seats included those with higher informal rates and those with a big Liberal primary vote), which is less of a factor at this election, but still I don’t see a reason to expect an uptick in the Lib Dem primary vote.

As for Sustainable Australia, I did wonder if they might do better in regional areas, but the results of the 2018 Victorian state election and the 2016 Senate election in New South Wales both suggest the party is strongest in safe Liberal seats, like those on the north shore of Sydney. This area is relatively over-represented now.

So I’m still expecting the first eighteen seats to go this way: 8 Coalition, 6 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 each for Shooters and One Nation.

Assuming some decline in support for KSO, Lib Dems and Sustainable Australia would put Sustainable Australia out of the race and give KSO and the Lib Dems about half a quota, which is about where I put Labor, One Nation and the CDP. So that’s five parties all roughly on half a quota, with Animal Justice trailing on about 0.4 quotas.

This probably means Labor or KSO will win one seat, with the Liberal Democrats, One Nation and the CDP competing over the other two, although Animal Justice and Sustainable Australia preferences could potentially help Keep Sydney Open to win alongside Labor.

I’ll be back next week with another update as the vote count continues to grow, and hopefully becomes more representative.

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  1. shows how fractured the vote is
    what would happen if the council was elected in one lot of 44?

  2. If there’s preferences left over from the Greens after their 2 they may very well give either Animal Justice or Labor the edge in the scramble for the last spots. I know I made sure to prefrence AJP and a few other left wing minors after the Greens and then finished up with Labor. I’d say many Greens voters would have done something similar. Good chance my upper house vote hasn’t been counted either as it’s from that North Coast group. Something to keep in mind too is that all rural/regional areas can’t be assumed to vote the same way. There will obviously be quite a large Green vote from the North Coast, while in other areas like Western NSW it will be much lower.

  3. “As for Sustainable Australia, I did wonder if they might do better in regional areas, but the results of the 2018 Victorian state election and the 2016 Senate election in New South Wales both suggest the party is strongest in safe Liberal seats, like those on the north shore of Sydney. This area is relatively over-represented now.”

    Ben, I wonder if Sustainable Australia’s showing in some of the regional/rural lower house seats changes your view on their chances in the upper house?

    In particular,

    Albury -7%
    Shellharbour – 5.87%
    Port Macquarie – 5.30%
    Cessnock – 5.13%
    Wollongong – 4.36%
    Londonderry – 4.14%
    Tweed – 3.79%
    Castle Hill – 3.70%
    Keira – 3.96%
    Pittwater – 3.72%
    Mulgoa – 3.49%
    Oxley – 3.47%
    Blue Mountains – 3.01%
    Kiama – 2.87%
    Bathurst – 2.54%
    Gosford – 2.44%
    Hawkesbury – 2.44%
    Ballina – 2.15%

    Interestingly, the top three are Labor, Liberal and National held seats. Labor round out the rest of the top 5.

  4. It would be interesting to know how actively they campaigned in some of these seats. Many times small parties just have a candidate on the ballot paper, not supported by letterboxing and people handing out. If they did that in say Port Macquarie or Cessnock, then it should flow through to the LC, but only in those specific seats, so it wont really lift their overall vote as they only have a handfull of seats like that. The Illawarra area is interesting with all 3 seats at 4% or above, much better than anywhere else. Generally it seems that minor parties/Independents and even Greens tend to have higher results in rural and lower socio-economic urban seats where the candidate choice is limited and I suspect this might be the case in some of these. In that case the vote won’t flow through to their upper house result as there was a much bigger choice there. I suspect more of SA’s vote will stick in a seats like Pittwatter and Wollongong where there was a lot of candidate choice.

  5. shade off topic but is it worth trying to identify the extent of a late swing back to the coalition? look at areasin marginal seats less than 10% 2015 margin….. where alp won prepoll but failed to gain the seat.
    or even where the prepoll vote was 1% or better than the final vote?

  6. Peterjk23, SA has a sizeable member base that are actively engaged and encouraged to letterbox – not just at election times. I can’t speak to all seats, but they ran 55 members in the lower house, and a number of candidates were featured in local media and actively campaigned. There was also a drive to have polling booths covered by party volunteers. In particular, I know Albury had volunteers crossing over from Victoria to help out in that electorate and it was reasonably covered. SA definitely punches above its weight as micro party in terms of trying to get it’s message out there.

    But yes, I take your point about voters having more choice in the upper house and that a first preference for a lower house candidate won’t necessarily transfer.

    I guess we will find out in a week or so what has actually happened!

  7. Lib/Dems we’re campaigning hard on some polling booths. There were 3 of them all day being quite pushy with voters at Leichhardt Town Hall.I expect some voters believed their lines about “ freedom of speech”.

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