On for young and old

A new study probes deeply into younger voters’ overwhelming preference for parties of the left, and whether it portends a progressive tide over the coming decades.

Courtesy of Shaun Ratcliff, University of Sydney and YouGov alumnus now at Accent Research, a study on political attitudes and voting behaviour across the generations offers a detailed look at the exacerbating tendency of younger voters to favour the left and its future implications. This scaled new heights at the 2022 election, for which survey research cited in the report shows gaps between Gen-Z (born 1996 and after) and baby boomers (born 1946 to 1965) of 23 points in support for the Coalition, four points in support for Labor and 26 points in support for the Greens.

What this means for the future depends in large part on whether the gap bespeaks life-cycle effects, in which conservatism is encouraged by personal and economic circumstances that tend to apply later in life (notably home ownership and family formation), or cohort effects, in which variations in political attitudes reflect divergent historical experiences. Contrary to common belief (Ratcliff notes it being expressed by former Liberal Senator George Brandis), it is plainly not the case that life-cycle effects consistently manifest as stronger support for the left among the young, as the current tendency to that effect has only been evident since the 1990s. However, proponents can argue that the gap at least partly reflects the fact that emerging generations are reaching life-cycle milestones later in the game.

For conservatives, the life-cycle thesis holds out hope that younger voters will adopt the attitudes currently associated with baby boomers in due course. The implications of cohort effects are more troubling, at least for conservatism as presently understood, as they are less likely to change over time. The manifestations of cohort effects tested by Ratcliff’s study are possession of a university degree (22.1% among boomers, 40.2% among the millennial cohort born 1981 to 1995), non-identification with a formal religion (54.7% among Gen-Z, 31.3% among boomers), LGBTQ+ identification (17% among Gen-Z, 4% among boomers) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification (5.4% among Gen-Z and 1.8% among boomers, which is presumably not entirely down to health outcomes).

Ratcliff’s analysis reaches something of a split decision: life-cycle and cohort effects each explain five to six points of difference in Coalition support between boomers and Gen-Z, and eight points each for the Greens. However, life-cycle effects do little to explain the smaller but still substantial gaps between boomers and millennials, whereas cohort effects explain three points in the difference for the Coalition and six points for the Greens.

In any case, progressives should be warned against triumphalism, at least with respect to the immediate future. As the greying of the population continues to play out, the 70-plus cohort is increasing as a share of the overall voting population – a point illustrated in a Grattan Institute report noting its 13% increase between the 2016 and 2019 elections.

Polls: Essential, Morgan and ANU Indigenous Voice survey (open thread)

Two new voting intention polls have Labor keeping its nose in front, while the Australian National University unveils an extensive post-referendum survey on the Indigenous Voice.

Essential Research’s fortnightly poll records little change on federal voting intention, with the Coalition steady on 34%, Labor down one to 31%, the Greens up one to 13%, One Nation steady on 7% and the undecided component up one to 6%. The pollster’s 2PP+ reading has the Coalition as close as it has been this term to taking the lead, with Labor down a point to 48% and the Coalition steady on 47%, the remaining 6% being in the undecided category. Monthly leadership ratings have Anthony Albanese in net negative territory for the first time since the election, his approval down four to 42% and disapproval up four to 47%. Peter Dutton is up three on approval to 39% and down one on disapproval to 42%.

A monthly “national mood” reading records a deterioriation after five months of stability, with 51% now rating the country on the wrong track (up three) compared with 30% for the right track (down four). The Coalition is credited with an edge as best party to manage the economy (33% to Labor’s 25%), reduce cost of living pressures (28% to 25%) and keep prices down (ditto), though Labor leads 37% to 19% on supporting higher wages. Forty-four per cent consider social and economic equality is decreasing (one would more naturally say inequality was increasing), with only 16% holding the opposite view. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1151.

Also out yesterday was the weekly Roy Morgan poll, one of Labor’s better recent results with a two-party lead of 52.5-47.5, reversing a Coalition lead of 50.5-49.5 last week. The primary votes are Labor 32% (up two-and-a-half), Coalition 35% (down two-and-a-half), Greens 13.5% (steady) and One Nation 5% (down one-and-a-half). The poll was conducted last Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1379. The Australian also published further results yesterday from the recent Newspoll showing only 16% consider themselves better off than they were two years ago, compared with 50% for worse off. The 18-to-34 cohort offered the most favourable response, with 29% for better off and 37% for worse off.

The Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods also treats us to a 93-page report on the October 14 Indigenous Voice referendum, based on a survey of 4219 respondents from October 17 to 29. I haven’t absorbed this one yet, but the report is here.

JSCEM post-election report: territory Senators, expansion of parliament and more

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters concludes its inquiry into the 2022 election with a second tranche of recommendations, few of which find bipartisan support.

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has completed its inquiry into the 2022 federal election with a final report that addresses matters not covered in an interim report in June, and expands on some of its conclusions relating to campaign finance, truth-in-advertising laws and Indigenous enrolment. Highlights and observations:

• The most interesting recommendation is that Senate representation for the two territories should be doubled from two seats to four. In terms of representation per capita, this would elevate the Australian Capital Territory from the fourth-best represented jurisdiction to third, overtaking South Australia, without disturbing the Northern Territory’s second place behind Tasmania. The justification for having the territories at the top end of the scale is the federal parliament’s power to overrule territory legislation, as was done in past times in relation to euthanasia and same-sex civil union laws. The report quotes Kevin Bonham identifying the realpolitik of the situation in pointing to the high probability that four ACT seats would go three left and one right (it does not seem to have been suggested that the four Senators should be worked into the system of six-year staggered terms applying to the rest of the Senate, in which case only two would be elected at a time, except at double dissolutions). Naturally, the Coalition’s dissenting report gives this recommendation the thumbs down.

• A section curiously named “Proportional Representation – ‘One Vote, One Value'” ends with a recommendation about the tangentially related matter of the size of parliament, which it says should be considered by a separate stand-alone inquiry. Whereas folk wisdom would have it that parliament is a sty with too many snots in the trough, the committee prefers to think that “an increase in the number of electors in a division over time incrementally reduces the value of each elector’s vote and capacity to engage in the political process”. A bigger parliament would count as “one vote, one value” to the extent of ameliorating the over-representation of Tasmania (which has five seats due to the constitutional minimum for the original states) and the Northern Territory (which has two because that’s the way it goes). Here too the Coalition is opposed, noting the lack of a government mandate and the existence of a “cost-of-living crisis”.

• The committee has at last recommended ending the practice of parties mailing out postal vote applications with their own offices as the return address, allowing them to harvest data before passing the applications on to the Electoral Commission. This has long been held in low regard by everyone but the major parties, but the committee had always found spurious reasons for continuing it. To its great discredit, the Coalition dissenting report objects that the practice is in fact “an extremely useful part of supporting voter turnout”, for which one naively hopes it will cop a bollocking over the coming days in more consequential media outlets than this one.

• The majority report recommends removing the archaic three-day blackout on television and radio at the end of the campaign — but only as an extension of the truth-in-advertising laws recommended by the interim report, presumably on the basis that these would substitute for the blackout’s aim of scotching last-minute misinformation campaigns. The Coalition opposes the former by virtue of opposing the latter.

• Specifically with a view to improving Indigenous enrolment, it is recommended that voters be allowed to enrol at polling booths on election day, as can be done at state level in New South Wales and Victoria. The Coalition dissenting report opposes the idea without troubling to point out any problems with it.

• It is recommended that telephone voting, which is currently provided for blind and low-vision voters, be expanded to encompass those with disabilities or who are located overseas or in remote communities. The Coalition dissenting report seems surprisingly animated in its opposition, arguing the system is insecure and expanding it would impose undue burdens on the AEC.

• In revisiting the recommendations of the interim report, it is recommended that registered charities be exempt from a proposal for caps on donations to anyone involving themselves in the election campaign process. The Coalition protests that this would create “an uneven regulatory playing field” and “a partisan approach to electoral reform”, which I take as an acknowledgement that charities’ campaigns tend to be unhelpful to it.

• The Coalition’s dissenting report says the redistribution process that starts with the determination of state and territory seat entitlements should start three months rather than a year into the parliamentary term, which sounds like a good idea to me but apparently did not find further support.

Newspoll: 50-50 (open thread)

Newspoll becomes the second pollster after Roy Morgan to record a disappearance in the lead Labor had enjoyed since the May 2022 election.

The Australian reports the latest Newspoll offers further evidence of an end to Labor’s period of federal polling dominance, recording a dead heat on two-party preferred, in from 52-48 in Labor’s favour three weeks ago. Labor has slumped by four points on the primary vote to 31%, with the Coalition up a point to 38%, the Greens up one to 13% and One Nation steady on 6%. Movements on leaders’ ratings are milder, with Anthony Albanese actually recording a marginal improvement in his lead over Peter Dutton as preferred prime minister, from 46-36 to 46-35. Albanese is down two on approval to 40% and up one on disapproval to 53%, with Peter Dutton unchanged at 37% and 50%. The poll was presumably conducted from Monday to Friday, from a sample of 1216.

NZ Port Waikato by-election live

National very likely to win today’s by-election as new New Zealand government formed. Also covered: a far-right party wins the most seats at the Dutch election.

9:57am Sunday With all election night votes counted, National won 76.9% in the by-election with NZ First a very distant second on 15.2%. Animal Justice was fourth with 1.6%.

5:31pm This is likely to be my last article for the year for this site. I will see you next year when the US presidential primaries start in January.

5:15pm Over 6,800 votes have been counted in Port Waikato, and National has over 5,400 or 80%. So this one’s over already. Of the 123 total seats, National will hold 49, and there will be 34 Labour, 15 Greens, 11 ACT, eight NZ First and six Māori. So National and ACT add to 60 seats, two short of the 62 needed for a majority.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls close at 5pm AEDT today for a New Zealand by-election in Port Waikato. A candidate’s death after nominations closed caused the postponement of the Port Waikato election from the October 14 general election. National held this seat at the 2020 Labour landslide, so they are expected to easily win the by-election. National’s only significant opposition will come from NZ First, as none of Labour, the Greens or ACT are contesting.

The winner of this by-election will be seated in addition to the 122 elected on October 14. The October 14 results were 48 National, 34 Labour, 15 Greens, 11 ACT, eight NZ First and six Māori. National and ACT combined had 59 seats, short of the 62 needed for a majority. A National win in the by-election would still leave these two parties two short of a majority. So National needed NZ First as well as ACT to form a government. On Friday, three weeks after election results were finalised, these three parties agreed to form a governing coalition.

For the general election, recounts were conducted in three seats, with the winning candidates unchanged. The most important recount was in a Māori-roll seat, which the Māori party had won by four votes over Labour. On the recount, they extended their winning margin to 42 votes. The overall results of the October 14 election were unchanged, with Māori winning six electorate seats, causing a two-seat “overhang” (as there are 122 total seats, not the normal 120).

Far-right party wins most seats at Dutch election

The 150 members of the Dutch lower house are elected by national proportional representation without a threshold. Wednesday’s election was held over a year early owing to a collapse in the previous governing coalition that was led by the conservative VVD.

The far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) won 37 of the 150 seats (up 20 since the March 2021 election), an alliance between Labour and the Greens 25 seats (up eight), the VVD 24 (down ten), the socially left but anti-immigrant NSC 20 (new), the centrist D66 nine (down 15), the agrarian BBB seven (up six), the Christian Democrats (CDA) five (down ten) and the Socialists five (down four). D66 and the CDA were part of the last government.

While the PVV easily won the most seats, they have under half the requirement for a majority (76 seats). They are not at all guaranteed to be part of the next Dutch government. It took ten months after the 2021 election to get a new government. This is the first time the PVV has won the most seats. There was a surge to the PVV in late polling, but polls still understated them.

Poland, the US, Switzerland and Israel

Polish President Andrzej Duda is aligned with the Law and Justice (PiS) party. He was re-elected in 2020 for a five-year term in a runoff by a 51.0-49.0 margin. By initially selecting the PiS parliamentary leader as PM-designate, Duda delayed the formation of a non-PiS government until early December following the October 15 parliamentary election that PiS lost. Polish presidents can veto legislation, and it requires a 60% majority to override this veto, which the parties opposed to PiS don’t have.

A US by-election occurred last Tuesday in Utah’s second federal House seat. With 83% counted, a Republican held by a 56.9-33.9 margin over a Democrat. In 2020, Donald Trump beat Joe Biden in this seat by a 56.7-39.5 margin. The previous Republican member won by 59.7-34.0 in 2022.

I previously covered the October 22 Swiss election, in which the right-wing SVP gained nine lower house seats at the expense of the Greens and Green Liberals. After November runoffs, results for the malapportioned upper house are 15 of 46 seats for the conservative Centre (up two since 2019), 11 Liberals (down one), nine Social Democrats (steady), six SVP (steady), three Greens (down two) and one Green Liberal (up one).

Since the current war began, support for Israel’s right-wing government has crashed into the low-40s out of 120 Knesset seats, down from the mid-50s before the war and 64 seats at the 2022 election. But the next election isn’t due until late 2026.

Midweek miscellany: Morgan poll, redistributions, Liberal Senate preselections (open thread)

Morgan finds the Coalition with its nose in front; latest redistribution machinations; and Liberal Senate preselections in NSW and Tasmania.

The only new poll for the week is the the weekly Roy Morgan federal poll, which for the second time in recent months credits the Coalition with a two-party preferred lead. In this case it’s by the barest margin of 50.5-49.5, compared with 50-50 last week. The poll is also the first for the term with Labor’s primary vote below 30%, having fallen half a point from last week to 29.5%, with the Coalition up half to 37% and the Greens up half to 13.5%. The poll was conducted Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1401.


• The Age/Herald had further results from last week’s Resolve Strategic poll on Sunday, showing 48% support for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people as the first inhabitants of Australia, an even 40% for and against a legislated voice, 33% support for a Commonwealth treaty with 37% opposed, and 35% support for the Makarrata Commission for truth-telling with 31% opposed.

Public suggestions have been published for the Western Australian federal redistribution, with both major parties’ new submissions concurring with the conventional wisdom that the state’s new seat will need to be in Perth’s eastern suburbs. Labor proposes a seat called Farmer in honour of local football legend Graham “Polly” Farmer taking out a large part of the current seat of Hasluck, which would deeper into suburbia in the west. The Liberals propose a seat of Court in honour of two of the party’s past premiers, which would likewise take a large chunk of Hasluck, but extend instead beyond the metropolitan area in the conservative territory of the Avon Valley. The deadline for submission for Victoria’s federal redistribution is on Friday, to be published next Wednesday. The finalisation of Western Australia’s state redistribution is also due “no later” than December 1.

• Two Liberal Senate preselections will be held on the weekend, one being to fill the vacancy created by Marise Payne’s retirement in New South Wales. Moderate-aligned former state government minister Andrew Constance is routinely invoked as the front-runner, but Peter Dutton is supporting conservative former ACT Senator Zed Seselja, and Monica Tudehope, former deputy chief-of-staff to Dominic Perrottet and daughter of Finance Minister Damien Tudehope, has support from Business Council of Australia chief executive Bran Black. Also in the field are former parliamentarians Dave Sharma and Lou Amato, NSW RSL president James Brown, and Lowy Institute research fellow Jess Collins.

• A vote of 67 preselectors on Saturday will determine the Tasmanian Liberals’ Senate ticket, in which conservative-backed Clarence mayor Brendan Blomeley hopes to wrest the second position from moderate incumbent Richard Colbeck. Conservative incumbent Claire Chandler appears assured of top position, with another conservative, Simon Behrakis, a possibility for the usually unfruitful third position. UPDATE: Informed local observer Kevin Bonham notes in comments that Simon Behrakis has filled a vacancy in state parliament, and is presumably no longer in the running.

Argentine presidential runoff election live

Live commentary Monday morning on the Argentine runoff that could be won by the far-right Javier Milei. And should US Democrats replace Biden as their presidential nominee?

Live Commentary

9:18am Tuesday Milei will be inaugurated on December 10 for a four-year term. This is the second time the centre-left party has lost an Argentine presidential runoff after leading in the first round; this also occurred in 2015.

2:17pm With 99.3% counted, Milei has defeated Massa by 55.69-44.31, an 11.4% margin.

11:13am Legislative results: The better news for the left in Argentina is that, because of a system similar to first past the post for the Senate in the October 22 legislative and first round presidential elections, they still hold the Senate.

Massa’s Union for the Homeland (UftH) won 13 of the 24 senators elected, Milei’s Liberty Advances (LA) won seven senators and Bullrich’s Together for Change (TfC) two. UftH has a total of 35 of 72, while TfC and LA combined hold 31 seats. Five of the six others are formerly from the centre-left.

Proportional representation was used in the Chamber of Deputies, and UftH holds 108 of the 257 seats, with 93 TfC and 38 LA, giving the combined right (131 seats) a majority in the Chamber. 130 of the 257 Chamber seats were up at this election, and 24 of the 72 senators. The next Argentine legislative election is in late 2025.

An aside here: the Spanish Wikipedia page on the Argentine legislative results is better than the English page as it gives total numbers of seats, not just those elected in 2023. I use Google translate.

11:12am Over 96% counted, and Milei leads Massa by 55.8-44.2.

10:43am Bullrich voters swung behind Milei. In the first round in Buenos Aires city, Bullrich won 41.2%, Massa 32.2% and Milei 20.0%. In the runoff, Milei is winning this city by 57.3-42.7 with 93% in.

10:34am With 88% of precincts reporting, Milei leads by 55.9-44.1. The poll that gave Milei a 12.8-point lead will easily be the best.

10:14am Massa has conceded before official results are released at 11am. 80% has been counted already.

9:35am According to Bloomberg, Milei is probably winning according to leaked results.

9:11am Monday Bloomberg’s live blog is here and their results page is here. They expect results at 11am AEDT.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls close at 8am AEDT Monday for Argentina’s presidential runoff election. Argentina doesn’t release results until a substantial amount has been counted. In the October 22 first round, the first results were released about 11:20am AEDT. I expect faster counting with only two candidates and no other contests.

In the first round, the centre-left Sergio Massa won 36.8%, the far-right Javier Milei 30.0% and the conservative Patricia Bullrich 23.8%. A centrist candidate won 6.7% and the far-left 2.7%. Bullrich endorsed Milei on October 25. Milei is an admirer of Donald Trump and has called climate change a “socialist lie”.

Voting is compulsory. Polls mostly have Milei leads by mid-single figures, but a few have narrow Massa leads. One poll though gave Milei a 12.8-point lead. In a TV debate on November 12, Milei praised former British PM Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher went to war with Argentina in 1982 over the Falkland Islands; the British sank an Argentine warship, killing 323 people on board.

The only province out of 24 won by Bullrich in the first round was Buenos Aires city (note: this isn’t part of Buenos Aires province). Massa will hope that the higher-income and better-educated people in the city who supported Bullrich can’t stand Milei.

At the previous Argentine presidential election in 2019, the centre-left Alberto Fernández ousted conservative Mauricio Macri after one term by a 48.2-40.3 margin (a runoff isn’t needed if a candidate achieves over 45%). In 2015, Macri had a 51.3-48.7 runoff win. In 2011, current vice president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is now hated by the right, won a massive landslide with 54% in the first round; her nearest opponent (a socialist) got 17%.

Despite being eligible, Alberto Fernández did not contest this election, and his party nominated Massa as its candidate. Had Fernández stood, he would have been blamed for the over 100% inflation. I believe Massa has a much better chance to win than Fernández would have.

Should Biden follow Fernández’s example?

Joe Biden will turn 81 on Monday. Since March this year, his ratings in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate have worsened, and he’s currently at 55.5% disapprove, 39.0% approve (net -16.5). Most national polls now show Trump ahead, with or without third party candidates, and recent Siena polls for The New York Times gave Trump four-to-ten-point leads in five of the six closest 2020 Biden-won states.

While Trump led overall by five points in the Siena polls, an unnamed generic Democrat would lead Trump by eight. In a similar exercise a year before the 2020 election, Biden led Trump by two and a generic Democrat led by three. This suggests replacing Biden with a far younger Democrat would enhance Democrats’ chances of defeating Trump.

Pro-Biden Democrats argue that the November 7 off-year elections were great for Democrats, and therefore the polls showing Biden losing are wrong. There are two objections: first, that the off-year election polls were OK and polls for next November are measuring a completely different election.

Second, legislative elections were mediocre for Democrats. The celebrated victories in the Virginia legislature were by bare majorities in both chambers – 21-19 in the Senate, 51-49 in the House. This implies a Democratic lead by low single digits in Virginia overall. If Biden only wins Virginia by two points after winning by 10.1 in 2020, it’s very likely Trump wins the election overall.

Spanish Socialists form government

On Thursday, four months after the Spanish election that right-wing parties had been expected to win easily, current Socialist PM Pedro Sánchez won an investiture vote by 179 votes to 171. The Socialists made a controversial deal with the regionalist Junts party, which was the kingmaker after the election. This will be a second term for the Socialists.

No government has yet been formed in New Zealand, with National, ACT and NZ First still negotiating. During the next week there will be a US federal by-election in a safe Republican seat and a Dutch election. I will cover these elections in a post on next Saturday’s NZ Port Waikato by-election, which National should win.

Mulgrave by-election live

Live coverage of the count for Victoria’s Mulgrave state by-election.

Click here for full display of Mulgrave by-election results.

End of Saturday night

Labor candidate Eden Foster’s 40.1% primary vote, while more than 10% down on Daniel Andrews’ share in November 2022, is enough to ensure the only remaining point of interest is who finishes second. Liberal candidate Courtney Mann leads independent Ian Cook by 21.6% to 18.9%, leaving 19.5% from various other candidates to be distributed among the three during the preference count. To close the gap, Cook’s share of the latter needs to be 13.85% higher than Mann’s, whereas at the general election he did little better than equal it (29.6% to 29.2%, the rest going to Andrews), and there’s little reason to expect different this time.

Consequently, the 56.2-43.8 split in Labor’s favour on the indicative TCP count is of only academic interest, and will probably be pulled over the next few days and a fresh Labor-versus-Liberal count conducted. Based on my own preference estimates, I’m projecting Labor to win that one by 56.5-43.5, though it seems that’s at the high end of what’s generally expected. This gives Labor 25% of preferences from Ian Cook, 80% from the Greens, 83% from Victorian Socialists, 64% from Animal Justice, 30% of Libertarians and 25% from Family First, and splits the rest evenly. To pull off a freakish win, Mann would need 74% of all preferences.

Live commentary

11.35pm. We’ve got what I take to be our final numbers for the evening, which include a third batch of early votes that were very strong for Labor — so much so that they are now performing above par on early votes, in swing terms.

10.51pm. A big missing piece of the puzzle has been added with the second batch of early votes on TCP, which had hitherto been in the count only as primary vote. What was previously listed as a 27.2% swing against Labor on TCP now registers as 9.9%. They have nonetheless slightly boosted Ian Cook’s vote against Labor on the progressive TCP count, which is unlikely to be the one that applies at the final count. Still outstanding for this evening are one booth on both primary TCP, and another just on TCP.

10.23pm. Labor have claimed victory and Liberal have conceded defeat, although the Liberals at least say they expect to finish ahead of Cook.

10.19pm. The last two updates have brought three TCP booth results, which confirm what was already known.

9.51pm. The only new result in the latest update is a TCP result from the Brandon Park booth, which slightly improved Ian Cook’s position relative to Labor. Whether that becomes the operative count is still an open question, but Labor is clearly not in danger either way.

9.34pm. The latest update brings another election day booth primary vote result, which does nothing to change the situation.

9.21pm. The latest update brings one new election day booth on the primary vote, and it must have been a good result for Labor because it’s almost cancelled out the impact of my correction to the error that was selling the Liberals short on the TCP projection (it had been splitting preferences 50-50, whereas now it’s going about 58-42 to the Liberals).

9.17pm. I note that a big new batch of pre-polls got added on the primary vote in the previous update, and they confirmed my earlier suspicions — the swing against Labor on the primary vote is now 13.4%, whereas before it was well over 20%. The 27.2% TCP swing against Labor currently indicated on early votes can thus be expected to come down dramatically when these new votes are added to the count.

9.14pm. I’ve identified the error that was inflating Labor’s projected TCP against the Liberals. The next update, which should be along in a few minutes, should bring it down to about 55-45.

9.05pm. There are now seven booths in on the primary vote, and still only two for TCP (plus postal and early votes on both counts), and the situation appears to have settled in.

8.49pm. The regular once-every-15-minutes update brings another election day booth on the primary vote and the small number of absent votes (if you’re wondering how a by-election can have absent votes, these are in fact telephone-assisted votes), neither of which much changes the situation.

8.36pm. The latest update (they happen every 15 minutes) brings a fourth booth on the primary vote and a second on TCP, together with the batches of postals and early votes that have been added to the count, which have both. Ian Cook has fallen further behind the Liberal on the primary vote. The Labor-versus-Liberal and Labor-versus-Cook two-candidate results from the 2022 election were very similar, so presumably the 6.2% lead has on the Labor-versus-Cook count will be broadly indicative regardless of what happens. I still think my projection of 7.6% is probably flattering Labor a little, but in any case it seems they are going to win fairly comfortably despite a double-digit hit on the primary vote, about half of which is going to the Liberals.

8.23pm. There is now an election day booth in on TCP, together with the early and postal results. Cook remains 2.7% behind the Liberals, and I wouldn’t care to venture how much chance he has of closing the gap on the primary vote. My system has a method for projecting this that says it won’t happen, but I’m not entirely sure how much I trust it at this stage of its development. My preference estimates suggest Labor will win by about 8% if he drops out, but the size of the primary vote swings are making me think that’s flattering to Labor. I’ll now revisit my preference estimates.

8.07pm. The postal TCP votes are added and Ian Cook no longer leads on the TCP count, suggesting he’s unlikely to beat Labor even if he finishes second. One further booth has reported on the primary vote, and the primary vote gap between Cook and Liberal has narrowed from 3.4% to 2.9%. His primary vote is similar in both size and distribution to the election. Apart from early votes, Labor are down a bit over 10% and Liberal up a bit over 5% — but the early votes are strikingly worse for Labor elsewhere. It may be that this is because they are from one particular location that’s weak for Labor, and will come more in line with the rest of the result when further votes are added.

7.55pm. The first two election day booths have closed the gap between Ian Cook and the Liberal candidate, from nearly 10% to 3.4%. We also have a TCP result on the pre-polls, which were bad for Labor on the primary vote, but are nonetheless striking in having Cook well ahead. My probability estimate is still not giving him any chance of making the final count, but given the imbalance between election day and postal/early votes, it may not be reliable.

7.40pm. My results page conked out for a few minutes after the first upload, but I’ve patched it up now. As was the case in Warrandyte, we have the slightly confounding (from my perspective) fact that postals and pre-polls have reported before any of the election day booths. Labor is on 41.3% of the primary vote, and Ian Cook appears set to finish third with 17.1% to the Liberals’ 26.9%. My projection does not get the Liberals anywhere near closing the gap on preferences, and is close to calling it for Labor.

6pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the count for Victoria’s Mulgrave state by-election. Results are likely to be a bit slow in coming (and will only be updated every 15 minutes), given the field of ten candidates and the fact that all the booths are in urban areas. If the Warrandyte by-election in August is any guide, the first batch of results to come through may in fact be postals, which was something I had never previously encountered (and which my results system struggled with at first). The candidates chosen for the Victorian Electoral Commission for the indicative two-candidate preferred count are Labor’s Eden Foster and independent Ian Cook, so its results will be redundant if Cook performs below expectations and the Liberal candidate looks set to reach the final count instead. If my system calculates that this is likely, it will fall back on preference estimates to project a final result.