Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bennelong Live: Majority On The Line (Plus Post-Count)

Bennelong: John Alexander (Lib) vs Kristina Keneally (ALP)
2016 margin: Liberal 9.7%

CALLED: Alexander (Lib) retains

Live Comments

7:46 Nothing moving here, I think this can safely be called.

7:40 Tony Burke suggests this by-election is different because we've never had one where a government could lose its majority.  Federally that's true, but Queensland had one of those at state level and threw the majority government out!

7:37 The Conservatives are on 4.7% to the CDP on 3.0%, which is not as decisive as polls predicted.

7:32 The projected swing at the AEC is running ahead of the ABC and has increased to 5.2% with 9% counted.  That's still not enough, but it's getting closer.

7:29 This might be a good night for ReachTEL and a bad night for Galaxy/Newspoll.  That's a change if so.

7:23 As far as I can tell, the ABC two-party projection is not booth matched, but they are treating it as if they are.  I don't have a by-booth feed yet, but it looks like things are going unexpectedly well for Alexander because of a strong flow of preferences from the CDP and Conservatives.

7:10 After four booths the AEC has a seven point primary swing, but also some swing away from the Greens and to the Christian right parties on primaries.  So this is not a great start for Keneally in terms of winning chances when we get to preferences.

7:06 The ABC is showing booth differences that seem to now be from the total for the last election (ie not booth matched).  The AEC swings appear to be booth matched.  The swing in the first few booths wasn't large enough for Keneally, but Tony Burke has reported that at the Carlingford booth they have a double-digit swing on primaries.

6:55 We have votes! However it's rather confusing because this is a new booth location for the Ryde booth, and the ABC is showing swing figures that don't match the previous Ryde figures.

6:30 It's worth keeping an eye on certain clusters of booths based on their patterns last time.  Labor actually got a swing in 2016 in the Ryde booths (other than Middle Ryde), but the Eastwood booth had a double-digit swing to Alexander. Trent Zimmerman (Lib) has just mentioned that the Eastwood booth's turnout has roughly halved.  This might be a sign of poor turnout generally.

6:10: Not expecting anything too substantial before about 7 pm.  Most of the booths attracted more than 1000 votes last election.

6 pm: Well, here we go, though it will be a while before we get the first booth in.  Something else to mention about the stakes of this one: if Labor wins, it gets the numbers to act with the crossbench to bulk-refer MPs to the High Court over Section 44.  As the Coalition is much more likely to lose any by-elections thus caused, that could be the slow-burn path to a mid-term change of government.  But this is all several hypotheticals away, for now.


Welcome to my live comments page for today's Bennelong by-election, including the post-count for as long as it remains of interest.  As usual this is intended as a more forensic companion to the coverage on ABC News Live, and there will be similar live comment threads at Poll Bludger, The Tally Room and other places.  Comments here will start from 6 pm and will scroll with the most recent on top of the page, refresh now and then for the most recent comments.

If this seat falls, the Turnbull Government loses its majority, although it would be unlikely to collapse by reason of that happening alone.  The government very easily saw off a similar situation in New England two weeks ago but that was against weak opposition.  Polling and historic evidence both suggest Alexander will probably be narrowly returned (see my preview comments, including poll results) and the betting markets have him favourite at around $1.33.  In my view, that's a bit short. There are a lot of strange factors at work making this one a singular contest.  I can't find any objective reason to say Keneally will win, but I can see lots of subjective ones why she might.

The by-election is also an important test for Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives, both in terms of the potential for the party to succeed in New South Wales (where it is anecdotally attractive to disgruntled Abbott fans) and in terms of its potential to supplant or absorb Fred Nile's Christian Democrats.  Bennelong is an excellent test seat for this as the Christian Democrats polled very well (over 6%) at the 2016 election.  Bernardi's party is eyeing off One Nation's Senate seat in NSW and we may find out whether this is a realistic threat.

In terms of some basic statistics for the election, enrolment is 106,582.  However, recent urban by-elections have rarely had turnouts much above 80% even when both major parties have contested.  Perhaps the intense focus on this by-election will drive a higher turnout, but I'm expecting at least 10,000 and possibly 15,000 or more to not show up.  I'm also expecting about 5% of votes cast to be informal.

13,387 voters have pre-polled.  Nearly all of these were at Epping and West Ryde Prepoll Voting Centres (6848 and 6275).  There have been 16,210 postal vote applications of which 439 have been withdrawn as duplicates.  Of the postals, 45% are Liberal "party postals" and 7% are Labor's, compared to the 2016 election at which 19% of Bennelong postals were Liberal "party postals" and insignificant numbers were anyone else's.  A "party postal" is an application submitted on material sent out by a party (for instance a flier for a candidate might include a postal vote application form).  The voter who uses a party postal to apply won't necessarily vote for that party, but is believed to be more likely to.  In 2016, postals in Bennelong were 4.3 points better for the Liberals than booth votes.  As that gap might in theory increase, and as there are no on-the-day absent votes in by-elections, Labor will need a solid lead on the night for the seat to be callable this evening.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Senate Section 44: The Term Lengths Issue Is Back

Once upon a time, a young chap in the Senate discovered that he was a dual New Zealand citizen and resigned.  Back in those quaint, far-off days (it was actually July this year), the fact that he was the holder of a six-year term was one of the most intriguing things about the situation.  With Ludlam's resignation merely the start of a citizenship issue that has now claimed eight MPs, with two more currently referred and questions about , the term lengths issue has been on the sidelines.  The High Court following Re Canavan simply appointed Jordon Steele-John to Ludlam's vacant place and it was assumed that that was all, perhaps because there wasn't an alternative.  But it turns out that was all because nobody suggested otherwise, and following a mention of the question by amicus curiae ("friend of the court") Geoffrey Kennett in the Fiona Nash case, the issue is back.

Firstly, although Steele-John is listed on Senate documents as having a term expiring in 2022, the WA Greens conducted a preselection (which he won) on the assumption that he would be facing the voters again in 2019.  Secondly, the issue has now been brought to the High Court's attention in cases dealing with the replacement of Senators Nash, Parry and Lambie (who all had six-year terms) and in the Lambie case it impacts on the future party makeup of the Senate.

As previously noted ("Majors Stitch Up Senate Term Lengths, Film At Eleven"), the Senate allocates Senators to short and long terms following a double dissolution.  It can do this on whatever basis it likes (including even a random or arbitrary basis), but has in practice always used the order of election method.  Currently, the order of election method means that the first six Senators elected in each state receive long terms and the next six receive the short terms.  The order of election method is a crude solution that can have very arbitrary results and could be quite unfair in some situations.  Nothing in the Constitution specifies what happens to the term lengths if someone is disqualified by the High Court, and one reason for that is that when the Constitution was written, the voting systems of the time did not allow for the reuse of the original ballot papers to determine a new Senator.

The cases of Ludlam, Nash, Lambie and Parry all have the feature that a Senator originally elected in the first six is set to be replaced by a Senator who is not elected in the first six in the special count to replace them.  I can identify at least the following four views on what the High Court and/or Senate can do about this:

1. As Section 13 of the Constitution only provides for the setting of terms as a one-stop process after each double dissolution, there is no power to alter terms beyond that.  The Court can only appoint new Senators to replace former Senators on a one-for-one basis, the new Senator inherits the term of the Senator they are replacing and the Senate can do nothing about this.

2. As the Senate's resolution on term lengths assigned those elected in the first six places to long terms and the rest to short terms, this resolution automatically by analogy applies to any replacements, with the order found in the special count determining who gets long and short terms, and neither the Senate nor the High Court has any power to do anything different.

3. By analogy with the procedure in Section 13, since the Senate sets the term lengths of the original Senators, it can also set the term lengths of a replacement Senator, and if this results in a Senator acquiring a different term length to the original Senator, then the Senate can also alter the term length of another Senator in order to make the numbers of Senators holding each term length even.

4. As the special count procedure overwrites the original election for a state with a new result, the original allocation for that state is void and the Senate reallocates terms for all the Senators from that state.  (Thanks to Andrew James on Twitter for suggesting this one).

Variants on these themes are also possible.  For instance, here's what I'll call the too-much-coffee variant of solution 4: since the original allocation of Senators might have been based on an agreement that a certain package-deal outcome across various states was fair, any disqualification allows the Senate to revisit the terms of every Senator, including those from other states.

Lambie replacement as a test case

The Nash and Parry replacements (ditto for Ludlam) only involve a new Senator potentially jumping into a six-year term from below Senators from the same ticket who keep three year terms.  This is slightly complicated in the Nash case by the presence of the two Coalition parties on the same ticket.  In the Ludlam and Parry cases I can't see much dispute that if it is legally possible for the Senate to rearrange the terms so that those at the pointy end of the ticket get the longer ones, then this is the right thing to do.  In the Nash case there is only the added wrinkle that since she was a National, perhaps the other National on the ticket (John Williams) might be said (at least by Nationals) to be best selected for the six-year term.

However the Lambie situation is where the problem becomes more important.  Lambie's ticket polled over a quota in primary votes, but included a massive below-the-line personal vote for Lambie, almost half of which failed to flow to her ticket #2, the mayor of Devonport Steven Martin.  In the special count to fill the Lambie and Parry vacancies, the order of election of the top six changes from:

Abetz (Lib), Urquhart (ALP), Whish-Wilson (Green), Lambie (JLN), Parry (Lib), Polley (ALP)


Abetz (Lib), Urquhart (ALP), Whish-Wilson (Green), Duniam (Lib), Polley (ALP), Bushby (Lib)

(with Lambie's replacement now elected ninth).

So if the order-of-election method is applied (either imposed by the Court or chosen by the Senate) then the Lambie Network is reduced from a six-year term to a three-year term, and the Liberal Party gains an extra six year term.  Firstly, the Liberals won only four of twelve Senate places in Tasmania to Labor's five, so they do not deserve to get three long terms to Labor's two.  Secondly, this gives the Liberals a more or less automatic seat gain in Tasmania at the next half-Senate election, at which they would be defending only one seat (Colbeck).

In my view, this is a strong argument against solution 2.  The Senate did decide to impose a particular principle in allocating terms, but one could hardly say it did that blindly on general principles and without awareness of what the consequences of that decision would be.  Indeed one would hope it would not have used the order-of-election method had the order-of-election method resulted in something massively favouring one party or another.  So it cannot be assumed that the Senate necessarily wanted the order of election method reused in a case where it might alter the balance of the Senate.  (One might also more flippantly say it's wrong to hold the current Senate to the will of the original Senators when so many of them have left!)

However, while the Court might decide solution 1 is the only legally viable option, it doesn't have much going for it on the fairness front apart from that.  Jacqui Lambie won a six-year term by virtue of personal votes that pushed her party over a quota.  Without those personal votes, no other lead candidate for her party would have done that.  She also would seemingly have been elected, based on the votes cast, had the election been for just six Senators (see the Section 282 count) although, as the stitch-up article pointed out, that method isn't perfect either.  It's not clear whether Lambie's replacement would win the Section 282 advisory count if one was held (Martin might still beat Lisa Singh, but it would be close).

Lambie's #2 and #3 candidates are both being challenged by One Nation, who are claiming that both are ineligible.  Should both be disqualified then One Nation, a party not even elected at the original election, would according to solution 1 inherit a six year term.

Solutions 3 and 4 are more flexible, but amplify a problem with the existing method of allocation.  It's simply not right that the Senate allocates terms itself (as is currently done) since this opens the door to partisan manipulation of terms to try to entrench an advantage.  On that basis, it's a further concern if the Senate is able to vote on altering terms every time someone is disqualified in the years after a double dissolution.  It's probably even more likely that partisan considerations would influence such a vote when it was held mid-term in the heat of battle over various issues of the day.  Probably, this isn't the Court's problem, but rather the Senate's.

Anyway those trying to guess which way the court might jump may enjoy reading the transcripts regarding Nash and Parry/Lambie.  The biggest hint we apparently get is that Nettle J describes the idea that the Court should decide who is elected and the Senate can reset the terms if it wants to (Solution 3 or 4, presumably) as "an attractive idea", and it might well be that everyone is going to agree and leave it at that.  This might then leave the question of whether Steele-John is a special case because of having been elected "in place of" Ludlam, as opposed to just being declared elected.

Meanwhile Tasmania won't be getting any new Senators until at least the Nash term lengths matter is resolved.  The next step in resolving that is a directions hearing on 22 December to discuss whether the Nash term lengths matter can be resolved by a single judge or requires referral to the full bench.  Even if that leads to a quick decision (eg that Molan and by implication Colbeck can be seated and the Senate decides how long for) the Martin matter will need to go to the full bench in the week of 29 January. 

I have been meaning to write about Section 44 in the Reps as well, but this article is long enough as it is, so I will leave that to some other time.  Comments about S 44 and the Reps are welcome on this article too.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

EMRS Says The Wheels Are Falling Off

EMRS (Tas State) December: Lib 34 ALP 34 Green 17 JLN 8 IND/Other 7
Appears to be lowest Liberal primary for 11 years
Interpretation (based on historic skew) Lib 35.5 ALP 37.5 Green 14 JLN 8 Others 5

Modelled seat results based on this poll if election "held now": hung parliament with 10-10-4-1 (Liberal, Labor, Green, JLN) with next most likely outcome 9-11-4-1
Rolling aggregate of all state polls 12-10-3-0 
Rebecca White increases Preferred Premier lead over Will Hodgman to 13 points

If the December EMRS poll is to be believed (see also the helpful trend tracker), the Hodgman Government is currently headed for a Campbell Newman-like reversal of fortune at the 2018 Tasmanian state election.  Having won a massive victory from Opposition at the 2014 state election, the current poll suggests Hodgman's government, much like Newman's, could be going straight back where it came from and that election night could be carnage with incumbents losing all over the place - to Labor, the Greens, the Lambie Network and their own party.  On a like for like basis (which is rather difficult to follow through old EMRS poll reports) this seems to be the Liberals' lowest primary in an EMRS poll since August 2006.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

New England Washup and Bennelong By-Election Preview

I've decided to combine some post-result comments about New England with an overdue preview of the Bennelong by-election, which will be updated for any further polls that are published.  It's really not possible to talk about Bennelong now without talking about the former and whether anything seen in New England does or does not apply.

New England: Barnaby Bolts Back In

While Barnaby Joyce's re-election was always extremely likely given the lack of serious opposition, the scale of it surprised me.  Currently Joyce has 64.6% of the primary vote, a 12.3% swing to him, and a 73.6% two-party vote against Labor, a 7.2% swing to Joyce.  It seems that Labor are second, although in theory independent Rob Taber might overhaul the 4.4-point gap on the 17.2% of minor-candidate preferences.  Even if he does, his two-candidate result against Joyce won't be much better than Labor's.

My pre-election expectation was that Labor would not get much 2PP swing and that there would probably be a modest 2CP swing away from the result achieved by Tony Windsor in 2016, but that the gaggle of candidates running against Joyce might be able to take him to preferences and delay the result.  Instead Joyce has picked up a primary vote swing compared even to his 2013 result, when Tony Windsor wasn't on the ballot paper.

The main post hoc response to this result was to say that it is unsurprising given the nature of the campaign.  Once it was known that Tony Windsor was not running, and with Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and One Nation not interested either, it was generally accepted that the outcome was a foregone conclusion.  Joyce kept spending and promising money but other major players lost interest and devoted their efforts to Bennelong instead.  On this construction, the result in 2016 was abnormally close because Tony Windsor's presence in the contest created a perception that the seat was in play and resulted in major attacks against Joyce, suppressing both his primary and his two-party-preferred vote.

I am not convinced this is the whole story.  In 2013 there was also not a serious contest, but although the Coalition was riding high at that election Joyce did not do nearly so well.  Granted, at that stage he was not as prominent on the national stage as party leader.  I did question whether the idea of a sympathy vote for a member who is disqualified on a technicality would still hold up this long after the original election, but the result suggests at least a possibility that it has.

One further explanation we can scratch is that the government's acceptance of a banking Royal Commission spurred a swing to Joyce.  If this was the case there would be a much weaker swing in pre-poll voting, but this is not the case so far.

The result has been hailed as a record swing to an incumbent Government, but is not.  There are clear-cut cases of larger swings in Opposition-held seats - the Nationalists recorded a 12.6% swing in Labor-held West Sydney in 1921, but still lost, as did the Liberals in recording a 13.4% swing in Australian Capital Territory in 1970.  Also in the strange case of McPherson 1981 a 2PP swing of 16.2% in favour of the Fraser government is claimed (Labor finished third as the seat had become a three-cornered contest. An independent had directed preferences against the government in 1980).

Bennelong (Lib, 9.7%)

Assessment: Narrow Liberal retain favoured based on historic patterns and polling, but evidence needs to be treated with caution.

Bennelong was historically a safe Liberal seat but boundary and ethnic changes over time have made it less so, culminating in the 2007 defeat of Prime Minister John Howard by Labor's Maxine McKew on a swing that was basically the same as the national swing and similar to that in surrounding seats.

John Alexander, a formerly top-ten ranked tennis player and later commentator, recovered the seat in 2010 and has outperformed the national swing at all three elections he has contested, even recording a 2% swing in his favour in 2016 despite the national 3.1% swing to Labor.  On Alexander's watch, Bennelong has therefore gone from 1.3 points more favourable to the Coalition than the national average when McKew won to 9.3 points more favourable now.  However, a swing to the Coalition (worth about three points two-party preferred) was also seen in the 2016 Senate results in Bennelong, so Alexander appears to have benefited from the Turnbull government's appeal to inner-city voters in the 2016 election.  If that appeal has since worn off more than the government's standing elsewhere then it is likely Alexander's margin from the last election is a bit inflated as a starting point.

Once factoring in current polling, the expected swing for a typical by-election would be quite close to the 9.7% target.  See my findings on this pre-Canning last year, and also William Bowe's (which include state elections).  From my own findings, an 8.2% swing against the government would be expected for a generic by-election, while William has it even closer to the score required.  However, this is not a typical by-election.  Irrespective of the sympathy-vote angle that may have been present in the New England results, one difference that is certainly significant is that when an MP is disqualified and recontests, their personal vote advantage is not lost.  On that basis, Bennelong should not be expected to change hands.

Perhaps recognising this, Labor have preselected a very high-profile candidate, the former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally.  Keneally's profile might make her perform unusually well - which may be necessary to get near winning the seat - but the controversial nature of her Premiership also makes her a high-risk selection and easy target with the possibility of a bad result.

The election has seen two gaffes and one bout of unwanted publicity for the Alexander camp.  Firstly in an image of his team supposedly making phone calls to voters, the phones were not connected.  Secondly, video surfaced of him telling a dirty joke with rape and racial references at a private function in the 1990s.  Thirdly, two days out the SMH reported that Alexander had failed to declare rental income from a country estate.

The Keneally campaign has come under scrutiny with claims about Medicare office closures and waiting times being strongly challenged by opponents, and Keneally's claims about Catholic education being vigorously attacked by journalist Samantha Maiden.  Keneally has also faced many questions about the Obeid era and her campaign has, in general, been a fact-checker's paradise.

Another major campaign focus has been the electorate's large Chinese vote - 13% born in China, 21% with Chinese ancestry.  The by-election has been ethnically charged because of controversy about Senator Sam Dastyari's actions at the behest of a Chinese donor, which have forced him to announce his resignation, and also because of broader issues about foreign donations and influence in Australian politics.  However there have been claims of "China-phobia" against the Liberals as a result of the way they have pursued Dastyari and the disclosure .   I share the view that treating Chinese and for that matter other Asian voters as a homogeneous mass who are going to care desperately about the mud-slinging in this row is silly, but some will.  To the extent that Alexander has padded his margin by appealing to Chinese communities, he must be at some risk of losing some of that buffer.  There are also some Chinese groups that have been specifically active in the by-election, lobbying against the Coalition, and this makes things quite unpredictable.

A sleeper issue is Alexander's age and future intentions for the seat.  At 66 there's speculation he won't run again, although it is unconfirmed by the candidate.  Voters may be wondering about his commitment level if this is his final term.

There is reason for caution about whatever drove the New England result applying in Bennelong.  The New England result shouldn't be taken as a sign that the government is in good electoral health, as it is possible that the National Party is travelling OK and the Liberal Party is not.  Also, there is the obvious difference in campaign intensity to consider.  Nonetheless, even completely discounting anything we saw in New England, and completely ignoring sympathy-vote issues, historic evidence says the seat should probably be retained.  The question is whether the issues specific to this intense and rather singular campaign are enough to overturn what should be a buffer of a few points for the incumbent.

Among the other candidates, the greatest interest in the election is the comparative performance of the Australian Conservatives and Christian Democrats.  The Greens are also running but will not get much attention, and the remaining seven out of twelve are cluttering up the ballot paper and are not likely to get their deposits back.  Alexander has the benefit of the donkey vote over Keneally; however this is only worth a few tenths of a point these days.

Overall, my view of this campaign is that both sides have made impressive efforts to lose.  However, there can only be one loser.

Keneally's Past Ratings

Keneally is associated with the infamously bad Labor state government that was turfed with a massive swing against it at the 2011 New South Wales election.  There have been two myths about this - firstly that Keneally herself was not unpopular and secondly that Keneally's popularity was only dragged down by her own government.

The following were Keneally's Newspoll net satisfaction ratings as NSW Premier, in order: +15, +16, +10, -5, -12, -14, -27, -24, -28.  The last three readings came in early 2011 after Keneally's controversial decision to have Parliament prorogued, which was seen as avoiding scrutiny.

Other leaders whose doomed state governments were smashed have often, but not always, polled bad personal ratings in the leadup to that.  Some have polled somewhat worse, eg Anna Bligh at -43 and Lara Giddings at -37.  One notable exception: Carmen Lawrence was still +14 a few months prior to her party's thrashing in WA in 1993, and although there doesn't seem to be an election-eve Newspoll for her, she was fantastically popular as Opposition Leader after Labor's loss.  Another: Joan Kirner (Vic) had slipped as low as -31 but had recovered to only -8 by the time of her party's defeat in 1992. These exceptions show that being at the helm of a doomed state government does not necessarily translate to bad personal ratings.

Bennelong Polls

Two seat polls were published early in the campaign.  Seat polls in Australia are rather unreliable.

Galaxy found a 50-50 result with Alexander holding a 42-39 primary vote lead.  (That would not seem enough except that Bennelong has a very high Christian Democrat vote, 6% at the last election, and the CDP preferences are conservative).  ReachTEL had a respondent-allocated 53-47 to Alexander off raw primaries of LIB 41.6 ALP 34.5 GRN 5.9 ON 5.4 CDP 1.6 CON 1.4 Other 1.2 Undecided 8.3.  With the "undecided" splitting 33-27 to Alexander, that's 44.3-36.7 between the two leading candidates.  The religious-party scores look low and we now know there is actually no One Nation candidate.  (Thanks to the well informed reader who sent me the full primaries.)

The ReachTEL found favourable ratings for both Alexander (good 51.2 poor 15) and Keneally (good 41.6 poor 28.1).   A national YouGov found mildly favourable impressions of both Alexander (40-28) and Keneally (39-29) but this is of very little use.

In the second-last week of the campaign both sides agreed Labor was "behind" and Liberal internal polling was said to show about a 54-46 lead for Alexander.

On the last weekend, Newspoll doubled down on the earlier Galaxy result with a 50-50 2PP off primaries of Liberal and Labor 39, Green 9, Australian Conservatives 7, Christian Democrats 2 (others 4).  This close poll, contradicting the agreed narrative that the Liberals were ahead, is likely to reshape campaign coverage.  The result also highlighted a point of interest: the contest has big implications for the Christian Democrats, who might have to seriously explore merging with the Conservatives if they are thumped in this one.  The Conservatives result might be exaggerated by them being named in the readout, but if that is true it is also true for the Christian Democrats, and coming off over 6% last time they certainly don't want to go there.  Another point about this poll is that the sample size is small.

Overnight on the final Wednesday, a 53-47 Fairfax ReachTEL was reported.  So we get the same pattern we saw in the WA and Queensland state elections where ReachTEL is much better for the Coalition through the campaign (in both cases, ReachTEL converged at the end.)  However this time the reasons are probably different. Primaries were Liberal 40.4 Labor 35.7 Green 7 One Nation (not running and should have been removed) 2.6 Conservatives 6.2 Christian Democrats 2.3 other 3.4 undecided 2.4, so add about a point to each major for the undecideds.

A report on the Fairfax poll had 23.5% of voters saying they were more likely to vote Labor based on news of Sam Dastyari's Chinese connections and 28.4% less likely, but this polling format is a waste of time.  Polls in this format routinely generate 30% effect sizes even when the issues canvassed are trivial or even fake.  Even if voters respond honestly and accurately (which many won't) the poll doesn't say how much more likely.  This sort of poll creates a fake environment in which the voter is expected to consider their vote and a single issue in isolation - that's not how most voters decide their vote.

Finally on the day of the election we had a Galaxy with a 51-49 lead to Alexander off primaries of 40% Liberal, 38% Labor, 8% Green, 7% AC, 3% CDP, 4% others.  Again the sample size was only just over 500. 

A special concern I have about polling for this electorate is the high proportion of voters with English as their non-primary language.  These voters may be difficult to poll and yet their votes could have a major impact.

I will have live comments on the Bennelong count on Dec 16.  See also the Poll Bludger guide.

Grading The Result

Sean Kelly has an article here on the difficulty of grading the Bennelong result, especially if the Coalition wins.  He suggests that the result is only genuinely dramatic if Alexander gets such a scare that the result is unclear on the night, or if Alexander wins with a margin similar to last time.

Really the difficulty with marking this one is that we don't know what the sympathy vote for the disqualified MP is worth as there are so few precedents and their circumstances differ.  Here's my scorecard for 2PP results:

Below 50 (Loss by any margin): Self-evident disaster
50-51.9: Poor
52-55.9: Inconclusive; can be spun any way you like
56-57.9: Good
58+: Excellent, and Labor has questions to answer.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Not-A-Poll: Best Prime Minister Of The Last 45 Years, Round 4

Image result for gough whitlam image
(Image: Flickr:Gostalgia licence)

"The main sufferers in Australian society — the main victims of social deprivation and restricted opportunity - have been the oldest Australians on the one hand and the newest Australians on the other. " 

Three months ago, I started a multi-round Not-A-Poll to determine this site's choice for the title of Best Prime Minister of the Last 45 Years.  Each round, one Prime Minister (sometimes more) is given the boot until someone gets over 50% and wins.  Each round runs for about a month, so you can vote for different candidates from month to month if you want to.  Multiple voting is in theory banned, but still readily possible at low levels; adjustments may be made if required.  It is what it is, but at least it's preferential in a way, unlike, say, Australian bird of the year.

The winner of each round gets a photo and a quote on the top, except for the final round when photos of both candidates will go up together.  And there is an obscure rule that if there is a new Prime Minister voting stops for a month to give the new PM time to establish themselves as incredibly brilliant and win the contest. I mention that because there's chatter about that the incumbent (eliminated in last place in this contest with a ridiculously small vote) might not even last the coming sitting week.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

2017 Queensland Election Postcount (Main Thread)

Labor has won the election

Final result ALP 48 LNP 39 KAP 3 ONP 1 IND 1 GREEN 1 

Pumicestone won by LNP
Cook assumed won by ALP
Rockhampton won by ALP
Gaven won by ALP
Maiwar won by Greens
Hinchinbrook won by KAP
Macalister won by ALP
Burdekin won by LNP
Townsville won by Labor

This thread will follow the 2017 Queensland election post-election-day count in those seats that remain up in the air.

I'm in no real doubt now that Labor has won the election, in some form or other, but that form (majority or not, and if not with what numbers) remains to be clear.  They have 44 wins that I am regarding with some trepidation as solid, and one more ( Gaven) that I think they have probably won.  There are two more that appear to be going to "the left" in some form (Maiwar and Rockhampton), a close one in Townsville, and it is also worth noting that the indie who appears to be winning Noosa preferenced Labor. A vast amount has to go wrong from there before an LNP-ONP-KAP-indie government could be seriously considered, and even then it's not clear which way KAP would go.

This thread will follow the seats that I consider to be in significant doubt.  Where time permits and a seat greatly interests me, it may be given a breakout thread.  Seats appear in alphabetical order but when a seat is no longer considered of interest it will be moved to the bottom of the thread.  It will take me some time today to add all the seats.  Updates on specific seats will be added as time allows, but because of work commitments this is only likely to happen in the evenings, and probably not all of them.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Queensland 2017 Live

Labor appears to have won the election, but majority status is touch and go.

Approx Labor 43 LNP 38 KAP 2 ONP 1 IND 1 Unclear 8 (including one ALP vs Green)

(From base of Labor 49 LNP 42 KAP 2:)
Labor Gains from LNP: Redlands, Aspley
Very likely Labor/Green Gain from LNP: Maiwar
LNP gains from Labor: Bundaberg and probably Burdekin (notional ALP)
Very likely ONP gain from Labor: Mirani
Likely IND gain from LNP: Noosa

Complicated: Hinchinbrook (LNP), Mundingburra (ALP - Labor favoured), Thuringowa (ALP - Labor favoured), Macalister (ALP - Labor favoured), Rockhampton (ALP)

Unclear ALP vs LNP: Pumicestone (ALP leads in ALP seat), Gaven (ALP leads in LNP seat)