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                  Mumble 
Nicholson (clipped) in The Oz                                 

2007 election results->  AEC    ABC    political narratives

March 7 2008 A good one to lose?

Many folks reckon last year's federal election was a good one to lose, aka a bad one to win. That's because of all those economic chickens returning: inflation, a possible international downturn, big current account deficits mattering once again.

But was it a bad election to win? And what would be a good one?

Before the 1993 poll, many said that would be the one to win, as the economy was set to grow again, and whoever jumped on that wave would be propelled to several more terms. That analysis got the economy right, but not the electoral stuff - at least from the incumbent's point of view.

1996 was obviously a sensational one to win from opposition, as was 1993 in Canada, 1997 in the United Kingdom and 1999 in New Zealand. Falling unemployment and interest rates etc etc. When Tony Blair retired last year, he boasted of not having presided over one quarter of negative growth, a claim John Howard could almost - but not quite - make.

But imagine Mark Latham had never entered federal parliament and Labor had won in 2004. Right at the beginning of all those interest rate rises. The story would be: rates fell under Howard, Labor gets in and they do nothing but rise.

The way things panned out, voters experienced the sight of the Howard government obviously helpless in the face of deteriorating circumstances. That perception bubble was pricked. Rudd & co's history-writing job is a little easier.

Maybe 2010 would have been a better one for Labor to win, but who would want to wait until 2010?

And 2007 was a better one to win than 2004.

March 4 Newspoll says 63 to 37

Tables here. As with last fortnight, most commentators (eg Tony Jones last night, ABC radio news this morning) are reporting Dr Nelson's "approval rating" as 7%, but that's his preferred PM; his approval  is actually 29%.

Mr Shanahan remains within the margin of Dennis. 

March 3 What are Green preferences worth?

(About 0.2 percent)

Just fyi, on 24 November last year, Labor got 77.1 percent of Green preferences in the 16 seats in which Greens ran a split ticket, and 79.9 percent in seats where they preferenced Labor. (They preferenced Coalition in none.) (Thanks to William Bowe for identifying those seats.)

Is that difference, 2.8 percent, alot or a little? The total Green HoR vote was 7.8 percent, and one way of looking at this is to estimate that the difference between the Greens preferencing Labor in every seat across the country, and running dead in every seat, would be 2.8 percent of 7.8 percent, which is 0.2 percent of the two party preferred vote. 

On the one hand, that's not to be sneezed at, and without doing the sums, probably at least one Labor gain would not have changed hands had the Greens not directed preferences Labor's way. 

On the other hand, these things are a trade-off, because whatever you do to get the Greens to print friendly how to vote cards can alienate other voters. And you know that at least three quarters of Green preferences will flow to Labor no matter what you do.

Thank God - from Labor's point of view - for CPV.

(This theme - Green preferences and CPV/OPV - to be continued.)

February 29 Optional preferential voting anyone?

Further to Wednesday's post on OPV in NSW ...

No-one seriously doubts that the federal government's 2006 electoral changes were largely motivated by a desire for partisan advantage at the ballot box. And it is likely that the combination of close of rolls with writs issue, proof of ID and changes to provisional voting did cost Labor some seats - certainly McEwen (if they don't win the court case) and probably a couple of others. 

But there's another reform that would have helped the Howard government, and unlike the other stuff is actually a good idea: optional preferential voting for the HoR. It's a good idea because it would lead to about a halving of the informal vote rate, and is also less coercive on the voter than CPV. Currently, electors are told that they must turn up to vote (or make contact with the AEC), and after that by all means they can vote informal, but if they decide to vote they must number every square. Under OPV, as you know, you can number as many as you like.

But the major federal parties don't like OPV.

The Coalition doesn't like it because, well, they are a coalition, and the existence of two conservative parties led to its the 1918 replacement of First Past the Post with CPV. If Coalition parties aren't disciplined, and stand against each other in seats, any move towards first past the post hurts them.

As well, One Nation-esque rural splintering comes back to the Nats under CPV.

But currently, at the federal level, with a high Green vote, it is the ALP who benefits from the C for Compulsory in CPV.

2007 results under OPV 

At the November 24 election, national primary support was ALP 43.4, Coalition 42.1, Greens 7.8, Family First 2.0 and 3.7 for everyone else. Two party preferred was 52.7 to 47.3

Overall, minor party and independents preferences flowed to Labor 64% and 36% to the Coalition. Under OPV, lots of minor party and independent votes, maybe half, "exhaust" - they don't make it to the final two candidate preferred count.  

If half non Coalition/Labor federal HoR votes had exhausted last year (and the remaining votes had flowed the same way as the total did), the national two party preferred vote would instead have been 51.9 to 48.1.

Individual seats

What about the individual parties in individual seats? From this AEC data, we can get the following table of preference flows from minor parties to major ones.

Votes after preferences to: Percentage  
minor party ALP Coalition ALP Coal. num seats
CCC 5339 4131 56.4 43.6 7
CCE 1822 1417 56.3 43.8 4
CDP 31870 72835 30.4 69.6 63
CEC 13712 13356 50.7 49.3 79
DEM 54917 33034 62.4 37.6 84
DLP 4125 1893 68.5 31.5 4
FFP 97033 147207 39.7 60.3 127
FPY 1090 993 52.3 47.7 2
GRN 749027 193246 79.5 20.5 147
LDP 8226 8815 48.3 51.7 47
NAFD 398 297 57.3 42.7 3
ON 14499 15639 48.1 51.9 33
SAL 6101 3872 61.2 38.8 17
SEP 2189 1676 56.6 43.4 8
WWW 2025 1845 52.3 47.7 4

(The last column is the number of seats the number is calculated over, where flows to both sides were available. Don't ask what most of the party abbreviations stand for.)

Notice the biggest parties, Greens and Family First, favoured Labor about 4 to 1 and the Coalition 3 to 2 respectively.

Using that same data, if half the non-major party votes had exhausted, the Coalition would have retained four more seats: Bass, CorangamiteRobertson and Solomon. (The very marginal Flynn was a three-cornered contest with a low Green vote - in fact, lower than Family First, and OPV would probably have increased Labor's 2pp.) Not enough to keep government, but enough to put Labor's majority at 8 rather than 16.

OK, that was all a bit crude, with lots of assumptions. And there must be actual party by party preference flow and exhaust data from recent state elections somewhere, but I don't have them. But it's certain that, under OPV, Labor would have won fewer seats in 2007.

Optional Preferential Voting is a great idea, but don't expect either side to support it.

February 27 Yesterday's NSW Nielsen 

As always, approval/preferred PM etc is interesting, but the important stuff from an electoral point of view is voting intentions. SMH says 38 to 43, and  51 to 49 two party preferred. Well, that 2pp is according to how people told the pollster they would allocate their preferences, but the problem with OPV is that about half the minor party/independent votes exhaust; Nielsen estimates 2pp as closer to 50 50.

But maybe that too is too kind to Labor. At last year's election, the first preference votes were 39.0 to 37.0, Greens on 9.0, two party preferred 52.3 to 47.7. With the poll showing a seven percent turnaround in the primary vote gap, one might estimate the 2pp to do the same, which would give about 49 to 51. But maybe the make-up of minor parties favours Labor more in the polling, or it's in the rounding. [Update: Green support is 11.]

February 23 Morgan: Turnbull preferred as opp leader

Here, and voting intentions.

This week's Newspoll

Here are some belated Newspoll observations:

  • Nelson's approval rating is actually a very respectable 40%. Some media reports contorted the 9% preferred PM to things like "approval rating as preferred PM", but 40% is a good number. John Howard's "Mr 18 percent" in the 1980s was approval rating.
  • The Coalition still holds slim leads on the economic and national security questions (as opposed to large ones before November 24). I expect national security to soon move onto Labor's side, and economics to soon follow. But the Coalition (ands right of centre parties generally) tends to enjoy an advantage on the economic stuff. Maybe we'll eventually see large Labor leads on national security and small ones on the economy.
  • (However, as you know, I don't see anything other than voting intentions as important pointers to electability.)

February 21 Dennis dukes up for another round

What is Dennis Shanahan on about in this piece? (For anyone inclined to revisit last year's instalment of the Newspoll Wars, go here and scroll up and down.)

You would think that Dennis & co, having made such gooses of themselves last year on such matters right up until election day, would prefer to leave the whole episode behind.

Most of it is too silly to refute, but on one specific charge: I'm quite sure I've never dismissed a poll movement just because it's "statistically insignificant". Quite the opposite, eg in first par here . (I just tend to downplay the importance of  individual polls per se.)

February 20

Order in the House

As always, click here for the toe-tappin Gershwin tune.

February 19 Newspoll: 57 to 43

And record satisfaction ratings for Mr Rudd. Here.

The trouble with the Nats: Independents and friendly fire

You've heard that the Nationals now hold a record low 10 seats. But the ALP is not the problem: there is only one seat the Nats held during the Hawke-Keating years that Labor holds now (Dawson), and there is also one vice versa (Hinkler, Labor-held '87 to '93).

The erosion comes from Kennedy and New England now being independent (as Calare was from 1996 to 2007), and the Coalition partner nicking seats. When a sitting Coalition member retires, three-cornered contests are allowed, and Farrer was taken in this way by Lib Susan Ley after Tim Fischer's retirement in 2001; Murray was taken in 1996.

When you're in government, some people put a glow on everything you do politically, but intra-Coalition competitions like this are surely a waste of time and resources.

This, I think, is one reason put forward in support of amalgamation. 

February 15 The shifting "middle"

It is difficult to recall that not long ago Labor's longstanding promise to apologise to the stolen generations was seen as one of those "latte" issues that was keeping them out of office. Now it's the Coalition's problem. 

That's the middle ground for you: candidates for government need to adhere to it, but it also shifts to reflect whoever happens to be in power at the time.

The problem with Brendan

Therein lies the dysfunction inherent to Brendan Nelson's leadership: it was built during the Howard era. For years, Brendan wooed Howardesque backbenchers both privately and in his public behaviour.

It worked a treat, but he was aiming to be Howard's successor as PM, not opposition leader. Political life, and the middle ground, have changed, but the bitter Howard rump remains estranged and unreconciled. And they are Nelson's support base.

This keeps him away from the new middle and keeps them emboldened. If Malcolm Turnbull had won the leadership, the dynamic would have been very different. 

Return of Costello?

In the end, however, even the Howard remnants will turn against Brendan when it becomes obvious he won't take them to power. But if they can't stand Turnbull, who else is there?

Could Peter Costello emerge as the "compromise candidate"?

February 12 Gerard in revision-land

Gerard Henderson is usually level-headed about political tactics. But today in SMH he uncharacteristically buys into a silly narrative about something called "conviction politicians!"always winning the day. 

This leads him to the fantastic statement that John Howard "returned to the leadership in 1995 as a conviction politician".

Those with uncluttered memories will instead recall a politician who wiped the slate clean by repudiating past positions on Medicare, Asian immigration, a GST, big tax and spending cuts ... nearly anything concrete that distinguished him from the then incumbent. Even had a bob each way on the Republic by retaining his predecessor's convention policy. 

This sort of revisionism won't help poor Dr Nelson, caught between Malcolm's ambition on one side and cranky Howard-remnants on the other. But probably nothing will.

February 11 Swinging carcass

It is quite sad watching Dr Nelson; he makes the opposition leadership look every bit as awful a job as everyone says it is.

Brendan resembles opposition leader Kim Beazley - but the later version, 2005-06.

Beazley Mk I, especially 1996-8, was very secure in his job. No-one else wanted it, largely because no-one thought they'd get within cooee of government for a long time. And he seemed just what was needed: Mr Nice Guy, possessing lots of gravitas, generosity and goodwill. 

For the first year Beazley attracted high approval ratings, as did Prime Minister Howard, who also led big in voting intentions. Everyone - Howard, Beazley, the voters - was happy.

But Brendan is so obviously insecure in his job because, presumably, many on his team delude themselves that victory in 2010 is a real possibility. (I see the most likely result as an increased Labor majority.) Malcolm Turnbull obviously reckons he could do it by sheer force of energy and personality.

As every leader with a less than firm grip on the position knows, you can't do your job properly if you're spending all your time just keeping it. So feel sorry for Dr Nelson - but not too sorry. He is not likely to be leading his party at the next election - which is good for him.

Is that DFAT or DTFA?

Were you aware that Australia's Trade Minister ranks above the Foreign Minister? 

In Kevin's world this is so.

This is not the only interesting feature in the ordering of the Rudd Ministry. (Here, for comparison, is the last Howard one.)

Defence is perhaps the biggest winner, with minister Joel Fitzgibbon jumping over Health, Communication, Finance and Attorney-General. In fact AG seems to be the biggest demotion, no. 8 under Howard, but now 17th. 

Lemmings inherit the Earth, it seems.

February 8: US Presidential Election

Below is from Centrebet today. I'm quite sure Clinton always topped the list until this week, but McCain having all but become the official Republican nominee (with Romney dropping out), and Obama only coming in a little behind Clinton on Super Tuesday, both men have hit the front.

I suppose what it all says is that 

(1) Punters consider Obama more electable in November than Clinton but until now had strongly favoured Hillary to take the nomination.

(2) They favour a Democrat to win against a Republican. I still think McCain would be hard to beat - but then, I usually get US politics wrong.

Turnout at the 2007 federal election

[This post is a little eye-glazing. Maybe only for electoral roll aficionados.]

The official turnout for the House of Reps on 24 November was 94.8 percent - 12, 930,814 as a percentage of 13, 646, 539. For the Senate it was 95.2 percent, which is 12, 987, 814 as a percentage of that same total number.

But is this really the percentage turnout? What was the "actual" enrolment on election-day?

Graph below is from Simon Jackman's site. The red line is total enrolment for the roughly six years from the 2001 election to just before the 2007 one. Blue line is Australian population. The lines have been "normalised" for comparison; in reality the blue line would be much higher (around 20mil) than the red one (around 13 mil.) 

Click for PDF.

The bit about half way along where red goes above blue is at and after the 2004 election. The roll grew in the lead-up to the poll, kept growing, and then took a dive. Below is that small section of the red line - the roll from October 2004 to July 2005

Why did the roll suddenly drop in mid-2005? Answer: it does this after every federal election.

Elections are a great way for the AEC to cleanse the rolls. Only about 95% of those on the rolls turn up to vote, so they send the other 5% a stern letter pointing out that voting is compulsory in this country and we hope you have a jolly good reason for not voting etc. A fair number of these letters come back "return to sender", or someone phones/writes back and says so-and-so doesn't live here any more. Or they get no reply and so keep sending letters.

In this way the AEC finds out about lots of folks who have died, or moved (and who had slipped through the cracks of their CRU which usually identifies such people), and takes them off the roll. There's always a lag after the election - about 8 months in 2004-5.

A similar, noticeable drop in the size of the roll will presumably happen later this year.

We don't know the numbers of names taken off the roll as a result of the election. In 2004, was it the 200,000 odd which is the difference between April and July 2005? Or more? Or less?

If it was about 200,000, then that means the roll should have been 200,000 less on election-day. Which would make turnout about 1.5 percent larger.

On the other hand, there are about a million people who aren't on the roll, lots of whom tried to vote on election day but couldn't. In fact, about 340, 000 people unsuccessfully attempted to cast a declaration (postal, prepoll, absent or provisional) vote. But if they had been successful they would have been added to both the roll and turnout.

'Tis all rather complicated, but it means we shouldn't take turnout etc numbers too literally.

Don't mind me - thinking out loud, really. 

The end.

February 2 2008 Quote of the week

Paddy McGuinness "never succumbed to malice".

Frank Devine at the funeral.

In other news: Brendan Nelson has never succumbed to the lure of hair-gel, Paul Keating would not dream of reminding people of his economic accomplishments when in office, and Wayne Swan has never been tempted to rehearse his lines.

On the subject of speaking ill of the dead, here's Paddy on the then recently departed James McClelland (1999) and Jim Cairns (2003).

January 26 Post close of rolls additions/deletions

The AEC 2007 enrolment middle columns are now filled in. 

Quick comparison between 2004 and 2007: in 2004 the roll increased, from close of rolls to election-day, by 77, 231. In 2007 it was just 1, 466. Far, far fewer re-instatements in 2007, particularly via provisional votes. This reflects the tightening of the rules.

January 24 Informal voting

Possum C. has crunched numbers on informal voting here.

The Bulletin closed

Long mooted end of a very long era. Press release here (with annoying sound).

January 22 Newspoll: Labor a mile in front!

In the Oz, it's 58 to 42. Good summary at pollbludger.

This follows a couple of Morgans showing something similar.

Newspoll boss Martin O'Shannessy sensibly compares this first Rudd govt Newspoll with the 1996 change of government. Table below has Newspoll for that year, post-election.

One difference between '96 and '08 is that while the new Howard government reached voting intention heights it had rarely approached when in opposition, Rudd is simply revisiting, after a comfortable but modest election result, the extraordinary poll numbers he pulled throughout 2007.

(Newspoll website doesn't show minor party support for these dates, and Beazley's satisfaction numbers are missing from first survey. Back then they didn't do 2pp outside campaigns. Note the jump in Howard's approval after the April 28 Port Arthur massacre.)

Newspoll data March - December 1996

Date (1996) Coal vote ALP vote Howard Satis Howard Dissat Beazley satis Beazley Dissat How'd better PM Beaz better PM
15-17 March  52 34 45 12 ? ? 54 22
29-31 March  54 35 52 14 38 17 56 20
12-14 April  55 33 55 13 39 15 57 19
26-28 April  53 35 50 21 41 17 54 20
10-12 May  55 36 67 14 47 17 60 18
24-26 May  55 36 60 23 46 20 54 20
14-16 June  48 40 53 30 45 21 52 22
28-30 June  47 40 50 33 43 26 52 24
12-14 July  51 37 58 29 48 25 54 24
26-28 July  49 38 57 30 46 24 51 25
9-11 August  47 38 48 38 46 26 51 26
23-25 August 50 38 51 34 42 31 53 24
6-8 Sept  49 39 53 35 46 29 50 25
20-22 Sept 50 39 56 32 47 30 55 25
11-13 Oct 50 37 55 32 44 33 54 23
25-27 Oct 51 34 54 33 39 38 55 21
8-10 Nov 51 34 55 31 41 32 54 22
22-24 Nov 49 36 55 34 45 32 51 22
6-8 Decemb 48 39 51 35 43 34 52 24
13-15 Dec 48 36 53 35 42 36 53 24

January 21 All AEC election 2007 numbers in - almost

There's one set of numbers that is not quite done: the total electoral roll.

Compare these two pages from 2004 and 2007 respectively. The middle columns need filling in for 2007, which will make the right-hand column different to the left-hand one.

Tighter rules probably mean there will be fewer additions to the roll this time compared to last, but there will be some (for example successful provisional votes).

Turnout percentage numbers therefore not yet final. 

[23 Jan update: it's been fixed.]

January 15 Informal voting at 2007 election

You may recall that at the 2004 election, the outer western Sydney seat of Greenway scored the highest percentage of informal votes. 

Greenway was vastly redistributed in 2006 and now contains less than half of the old Greenway. At the 2007 election, it was replaced in the top spot by Blaxland. 

Broadly, three things are likely to lead to, or are associated with, informal voting: optional preferential voting at the state level; high numbers of people from non English speaking backgrounds; and lots of candidates.

Below table ranks seats by informal vote, and shows these associated variables. The average number of candidates across all seats was 7.0. 

NSW and Queensland use OPV. SA has a funny ticket system that could have a similar (although smaller) effect.

  seat state informal vote % number of candidates rank (out of 150) by  people born in NES  country
1 Blaxland NSW 9.49 8 3
2 Watson NSW 9.05 6 2
3 Chifley NSW 7.99 9 12
4 Prospect NSW 7.73 5 10
5 Fowler NSW 7.67 4 8
6 Reid NSW 7.57 7 1
7 Parramatta NSW 6.56 10 13
8 Werriwa NSW 6.53 6 26
9 Banks NSW 6.36 6 24
10 Bennelong NSW 6.22 13 9
11 Grayndler NSW 5.98 7 21
12 Barton NSW 5.56 4 6
13 Lindsay NSW 5.54 8 64
14 Macarthur NSW 5.37 7 82
15 Kingsford Smith NSW 5.33 5 20
16 Murray VIC 5.24 9 102
17 Throsby NSW 5.24 4 66
18 Lyne NSW 5.07 9 141
19 Leichhardt QLD 5.06 11 75
20 Port Adelaide SA 4.96 5 32
21 Lowe NSW 4.95 4 5
22 Stirling WA 4.91 9 47
23 Wentworth NSW 4.90 11 58
24 Calwell VIC 4.85 9 19
25 Lingiari NT 4.85 5 133
26 Berowra NSW 4.78 7 42
27 Mackellar NSW 4.71 7 70
28 Charlton NSW 4.66 8 117
29 Wakefield SA 4.66 8 91
30 O'Connor WA 4.64 11 130
31 Greenway NSW 4.63 7 49
32 Forde QLD 4.61 9 95
33 Swan WA 4.59 10 40
34 Perth WA 4.58 9 41
35 Rankin QLD 4.49 7 72
36 Gorton VIC 4.44 5 4
37 Newcastle NSW 4.44 10 92
38 Hasluck WA 4.42 8 76
39 Wills VIC 4.33 7 17
40 Dobell NSW 4.32 8 120
41 Fadden QLD 4.31 9 77
42 Page NSW 4.30 10 139
43 Hunter NSW 4.29 6 145
44 Richmond NSW 4.28 7 119
45 Hughes NSW 4.26 5 48
46 Fremantle WA 4.25 8 60
47 Grey SA 4.25 7 124
48 Gellibrand VIC 4.22 8 22
49 Gilmore NSW 4.21 9 123
50 Oxley QLD 4.21 6 50
51 Parkes NSW 4.20 7 144
52 Herbert QLD 4.19 9 111
53 Cowan WA 4.16 9 52
54 Shortland NSW 4.16 5 127
55 Sydney NSW 4.12 7 28
56 McEwen VIC 4.09 8 88
57 Kalgoorlie WA 4.07 8 115
58 Makin SA 4.07 7 69
59 Scullin VIC 4.06 6 16
60 Flynn QLD 4.05 9 140
61 Bradfield NSW 3.99 6 29
62 Cowper NSW 3.98 6 132
63 Maribyrnong VIC 3.98 6 15
64 Wide Bay QLD 3.98 7 128
65 Pearce WA 3.97 9 90
66 Cunningham NSW 3.96 7 59
67 Hinkler QLD 3.91 6 118
68 Brand WA 3.90 8 100
69 Mitchell NSW 3.88 7 37
70 Blair QLD 3.87 8 131
71 Cook NSW 3.87 8 79
72 Barker SA 3.85 6 103
73 Hindmarsh SA 3.84 8 53
74 Kennedy QLD 3.84 7 93
75 Riverina NSW 3.83 5 105
76 Batman VIC 3.82 6 18
77 Farrer NSW 3.82 6 135
78 Dawson QLD 3.80 6 122
79 Moncrieff QLD 3.77 8 63
80 Corio VIC 3.73 9 67
81 Kingston SA 3.73 8 89
82 Bruce VIC 3.71 7 7
83 Eden-Monaro NSW 3.69 7 94
84 Mallee VIC 3.59 6 112
85 Warringah NSW 3.58 8 61
86 Paterson NSW 3.57 8 138
87 Holt VIC 3.56 6 27
88 Macquarie NSW 3.56 8 106
89 Maranoa QLD 3.56 6 143
90 Bendigo VIC 3.54 9 137
91 Lalor VIC 3.49 6 43
92 Longman QLD 3.47 7 107
93 North Sydney NSW 3.47 8 39
94 Sturt SA 3.46 6 33
95 Calare NSW 3.44 5 147
96 Robertson NSW 3.44 7 108
97 McMillan VIC 3.43 8 104
98 Hume NSW 3.39 6 126
99 Bowman QLD 3.38 6 99
100 Capricornia QLD 3.36 8 136
101 Fairfax QLD 3.35 8 121
102 Forrest WA 3.33 8 116
103 Isaacs VIC 3.31 7 30
104 Canning WA 3.30 7 73
105 Hotham VIC 3.30 7 23
106 La Trobe VIC 3.28 7 78
107 Bass TAS 3.25 7 134
108 McPherson QLD 3.16 7 81
109 Moreton QLD 3.14 7 31
110 Adelaide SA 3.11 5 34
111 Braddon TAS 3.09 6 149
112 Groom QLD 3.06 9 129
113 Lyons TAS 3.06 6 150
114 Gippsland VIC 2.98 6 96
115 Bonner QLD 2.97 7 71
116 Moore WA 2.97 7 87
117 Petrie QLD 2.97 7 84
118 Brisbane QLD 2.96 7 74
119 Lilley QLD 2.96 6 80
120 Aston VIC 2.94 6 35
121 Fisher QLD 2.94 6 125
122 Solomon NT 2.93 6 83
123 Griffith QLD 2.88 8 65
124 New England NSW 2.88 6 146
125 Boothby SA 2.87 8 68
126 Melbourne VIC 2.80 8 14
127 Casey VIC 2.78 6 86
128 Flinders VIC 2.78 5 97
129 Dickson QLD 2.77 7 110
130 Mayo SA 2.76 6 109
131 Menzies VIC 2.76 6 25
132 Tangney WA 2.73 7 38
133 Franklin TAS 2.72 6 142
134 Indi VIC 2.68 6 113
135 Dunkley VIC 2.62 5 85
136 Chisholm VIC 2.61 6 11
137 Wannon VIC 2.59 4 148
138 Higgins VIC 2.57 8 44
139 Corangamite VIC 2.53 6 101
140 Denison TAS 2.50 6 98
141 Jagajaga VIC 2.45 6 62
142 Goldstein VIC 2.42 6 57
143 Ballarat VIC 2.41 4 114
144 Fraser ACT 2.36 7 46
145 Canberra ACT 2.26 4 54
146 Melbourne Ports VIC 2.16 6 45
147 Ryan QLD 2.14 8 56
148 Kooyong VIC 2.10 6 36
149 Deakin VIC 2.09 6 51
150 Curtin WA 1.91 7 55

Will return to this later.

January 11 Postal votes

Me in Crikey.

The final, final result: 52.7 to 47.3

With Melbourne two party preferreds now in,  the national ones are too. (To one more decimal place it's still 52.70 to 47.30). [See Jan 5, below.]

That's almost exactly half-way between Galaxy/Newspoll's last results of 52 to 48 and Morgan's 53.5 to 46.5.

Votes not counted?

Recall that if the 2004 provisional vote rules had applied in November '07, Labor's vote probably would have been, say, 0.1 percent higher (so about 52.8 to 47.2). 

More generally, we can note that the AEC believes about seven percent of eligible Australians aren't on the roll. In addition, roughly five percent of those on the roll didn't vote, and of those who did, about four percent were informal - deliberately and accidental.

It comes to about 15% of eligible people not voting. (And that's not counting ex-pats.) Considering Australian pollsters assume everyone votes, there might be room for error. (Granted, refused and undecideds are excluded/allowed for.)

All the more reason to fix the electoral roll (and bring in optional preferential voting to slash informal votes.)

January 8 Take my cricket team ...

Please.

January 6 Iowa Caucuses

Gerard Henderson and John Howard would be unamused.

Here's Obama's smashing victory speech. What would a Huckabee-Obama contest look like? 

Fast and Loosley

I thought it would take a term or two, but a reader points us to the first description of our new PM as a "conviction politician!" 

No byline on the page; the writer is Stephen Loosley, who has form.

January 5 2008 Labor's two party preferred: 52.56 or 52.7?

Read Mr Colebatch. That 1.5 percent margin compares with Howard's 4.3 in 2004, 1.7 in 2001 and 0.9 in 1998. (See this table.)

Perhaps main point of interest is that the magic 48 percent that the Coalition thought they could win with turned out to be about 48.9.

Here are two party preferred results with national totals 52.56 to 47.44 But there are no numbers for Melbourne, which late in the counting became Labor v Green. If Labor's national vote of 52.56 doesn't include Melbourne, then including that seat's 72 to 28 makes the national total more like 52.7 to 47.3.

One for the nit-pickers; we shall see.

January 3 2008 It's a new year

Wishing everyone an excellent 2008.

Me in The Australian

On the Libs' long-term electoral outlook.

Gerard Watch

Gerard Henderson's annual "silly things people write" appeared in SMH last week. But no election edition this time.

December 24 - 26
        

                               

December 23 Queensland's role in Rudd's victory

As you know, Queensland contributed more to Labor's seat gains than any other state last month - an eight percent two party preferred swing and nine extra seats. Without that nine the result would have been 74 for each side plus two independents.

But another way of looking at it is that Rudd got half the Queensland two party preferred vote and half the seats. (See here and here.) It was off a very low 2004 base. Without a Queenslander as leader, it is doubtful Labor would have done as well there. But they would have made some gains.

The Rudd win largely comes down to decent majorities in NSW and Victoria - 57 percent (rounded) of the seats in each state. (The national figure rounds to 55.) Winning the two biggest states is always good. (Five out of five Tasmanian seats didn't hurt.)

Amateur-hour in the Liberal campaign?

You've heard of course that the Liberal's election campaign was hopeless. You can set your watch to stories like this about the losers after every election, particularly a change of government, when last election's sublimely professional outfit somehow forgot how to do their jobs in the intervening three years.

These judgments - and the flipside, that the winner did everything right - epitomise the superficiality and "living in the moment" of much political reporting. There is little reflection, including self-reflection on the part of the writer: "why was my opinion of this bunch of people so different a year ago to what it is today?"

Former NSW ALP general secretary Stephen Loosley

And people who have themselves been involved in campaigns obviously aren't immune. Stephen Loosley in The Australian finds evidence for "disorganisation among the Liberals" in their regularly changing strategy and slogans:

'It was incredible to watch how the Liberal backdrop logo kept changing. "Go for growth" had to be complemented with "Don't risk Labor" as "storm clouds" appeared. The position of the flag shifted. Then the slogans shifted. There was no consistency and a once professional effort descended into amateur hour.' 

Does Loosley seriously reckon Loughnane & co kept accidentally putting up one slogan and then - "whoops, that's not the right one; didn't I tell you to put up that other one?" - changing it?

The truth is that the Liberals entered the campaign in diabolical straits, facing almost certain defeat. A good campaign, so I've read, is supposed to be able to react quickly to changing events. Nothing was working for them, so they kept trying different themes. Isn't that what a professional outfit would do?

Maybe they got a lot right: from published opinion polls, the result could have been much, much worse.

Hunger?

And this line from the former senator: "Hunger plays a huge role in politics. At the 2007 general election, Labor was far hungrier for a win."

Puh-lease. They weren't just as desperate to win in 2001 and 2004? This kind of impressionistic, bells-and-whistles narrative is what speech-writers do well and historians, too, often use to wrap a bow around the story, to make it interesting and give it context.

But we might expect something more grounded in reality from a former machine-man.

December 21 Melbourne: ALP v Green

Malcolm Mackerras points out that the Green candidate in Melbourne has made it into the final round of counting.

Lindsay Tanner's margin therefore goes from 22 percent versus the Lib (earlier this week), to less than five against the Green.

See AEC and ABC.

After the 2001 election, the word was that the Green candidate was not far from making it into the final round, and if she had he had she would have won the seat. Here's the 2001 count (haven't looked at closely).

December 20 More on provisional voting

Me in Crikey yesterday.

December 19 Informal votes in Bennelong

Simon Jackman looks at 'em and other stuff.

McKew in Bennelong

While on the topic, yesterday in Crikey, Charles Richardson and I had two rather (but not totally) different interpretations of the Maxine McKew candidacy.

December 18 And then there were 83

McEwen has been declared, after recount, a Liberal win, which takes Labor's haul to 83 out of 150 seats with 52.7 percent of the two party preferred vote.

Recall Malcolm's point last week re New England and Kennedy.

Kim Wilkie still contemplating an appeal in Swan.

Comparisons

Rudd's two party preferred vote is about the same as Howard's in 2004 and (the AEC's estimate of) Whitlam's in 1972. Whitlam won 67 out of 125 seats - 53.6% - while Rudd's haul is 55.3%. Howard's in 2004 was 58.0%

Seat-wise it's the same as Howard's in 2001 (when the vote was 51 to 49).

As has been noted, this is a poor seat per vote haul, which is usually the case for oppositions. The ALP came close to taking several more, and let's not forget the ...

Provisional votes

If the same provisional vote rules had applied in 2007 as in 2004, Labor would probably have won McEwen and Bowman, and maybe Dickson and Swan.

Probably. It depends on assumptions about rejected votes; as well, figures on AEC and ABC in close seats are currently strange. 

Am writing a Crikey piece about this, probably for tomorrow.

December 15 Morgan says 60.5 to 39.5

Here. To be expected with a new government, and Howard got similar readings in 1996, although Rudd has had leads like this as opposition leader.

Liberal leadership crisis

Paul Kelly has a great piece in the Oz on the famous APEC Howard-Downer cabinet leadership shenanigans, with sources apparently including everyone involved.

Much - but not all of it - you've read before, and it sounds reasonable: Howard had intended to leave last year but Peter Costello and Glenn Milne stuffed it all up. (Ok, we'll never know the truth of that.) Then, in September this year, the PM knew he was gone for all money and wanted a dignified exit. 

So he told Cabinet (through Alex Downer) that he would not go voluntarily, instead he asked them to dump him. This way he would not look like he was running away, and it would allow him and his fans to insist (or at least suggest) for years that if the silly buggers had not been so silly as to force him out, they would still be in government. 

What is surprising is Downer's explanation for Cabinet declining Howard's request: that it would piss the Liberal faithful off. 

So what? I don't understand that part. Would Liberal faithful have then voted Labor? More likely Downer & co just didn't have the stomach for it - and for wearing the perceived consequences.

So Howard's considerations were all, unsurprisingly, about his own place in history, and not the interests of his silly old party.

But in the end it was a good result for every individual in the country except one.

[Mr Kelly's emphasis differs a bit from the above.]

December 14 Result without redistributions

A visitor (no 3) to Simon Jackman's site wonders whether "the redistributions over the last three years made any difference to the results in any of the seats". An interesting academic question. My calculations, assuming, for every seat, the same swing pre-redistribution as post-redistribution, are:

Without redistributions, Labor would have won Hinkler, Dickson, Greenway and Macarthur. The Coalition would have won Macquarie and Blair

As well, the Coalition’s Gwydir disappeared, and a new seat of Flynn was created in Queensland, which Labor won.

I don't know about the vastly redrawn Calare - that would require some scribbling - but Peter Andren did take it off Labor in 1996.

So all up (perhaps one could say) the redistributions favoured the Coalition by one or two seats, and Brian Loughnane's complaints at the time were premature.

December 13 The case of the 70,000+ missing votes

Consider this post a preliminary sketch of something I'll be looking at further. I'm not 100% au fait with it all yet, and so welcome any comments and stand to be corrected ...

Provisional votes

Provisional voting happens when an elector turns up on to a polling station on election-day, finds their name not on the electoral roll and reckons it should be there. Usually they've moved house in the same electorate, haven't told the AEC and have been taken off the roll at their old address and not put on at the new one because they haven't sent in an enrolment form. 

These people put a vote in an envelope with their name on it, and if their story checks out their vote is counted.

That was how it used to be anyway, but one of the Howard government's electoral law changes was to have enrolment by address, rather than by electorate, and that might account for the numbers to follow.

From 50% accepted to 10%

At the 2004 election, a total of 180, 878 provisional votes were received, of which 90, 512 were counted as valid votes. That's an acceptance rate of about half.

At last month's election, there were, at last count, about 168, 000 provisional votes received. And while I haven't been able to find a total national figure for provisional votes accepted, from a quick squiz at individual seats it seems about 90 percent of them were rejected.

So the numbers accepted have shrunk from about 50% to 10%.

In rough, rounded numbers: perhaps 20k provisional votes were/will be counted this year compared with 90k in 2004. That 70k difference amounts on average to about 4-500 per electorate. 

It is sensibly believed that most provisional voters are renters, transient, young people etc, and their votes favour, after preferences, the ALP rather than Coalition.

If we conservatively estimate the split at, say, 65 to 35 in Labor's favour, then that 70k votes amounts to about 20k in net Labor votes, which would add perhaps .1 percent to the national Labor 2pp and average about 130 votes in each seat. 

Such a number would have only made a difference in one or two seats (Bowman and Swan, assuming McEwen stays Labor after the recount).

But this is without yet looking at actual provisional vote rejections in each seat (which are there at AEC site). Nor does it allow for the apparently reduced numbers of received (rather than accepted) provisional votes between 2004 and 2007, when one would probably expect the number to have increased. That is, officials may have told people not to bother making them in the first place. [See this comment at pollbludger.]

Watch this space

This is a convoluted story, and I don't fully know the reasons for this drop. It might have something to do with the change from enrolment by electorate to enrolment by address. (That is, having your name knocked off the roll because you moved from one address to another in the same electorate is no longer considered an error on the AEC's part.)

The AEC would have issued instructions to staff - they would be great to get hold of.

As I said, all preliminary. Will definitely be digging further, and all suggestions/ corrections/ comments welcome.

December 11 Final two party preferred votes

Malcolm Mackerras notes in the Oz that the national two party preferred figures so far don't include New England and Kennedy. He reckons that with them the aggregate 2pp might be about 52.6 to 47.4 (instead of current 52.9 to 47.1

Good point, and New England will certainly bring the total down, but I wonder about Kennedy. The last time the ALP got a two party preferred majority in Qld (in 1990) it won the seat. According to this, Labor's 2pp in 2004 was about 41 percent. A double digit swing to Labor (vis a vis the Nats) would be in the ballpark of neighbouring seats Leichhardt and Dawson.

On the other hand, Katter does put National candidates above Labor on his how to vote card. On another hand still, his primary vote is not that great. 

It's near the bottom of the AEC's "to do" list, but ALP Coalition two party preferred numbers there will be interesting. [Update: 57 to 43.]

My chapter in the Crikey book

I had a chapter, in the Crikey election book, on opinion polls. 

Written in January/February this year, when Mr Rudd was enjoying a boost in the polls compared to Kim Beazley, but before his massive leads had taken hold.

It began a little opinion poll history and went onto contemporary matters, including preferences, sample and error and last year's "Newspoll Wars" (which then continued throughout this one). 

Scanned chapter can be found, with book's cover and table of contents at front, in a 350kb PDF here. (Sol Lebovic's departure from Newspoll necessitated some quick rewording.)

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