Bits and pieces

• The only seat still in doubt in Queensland is Bundaberg, which looks likely to be won by Nationals candidate Jack Dempsey. Dempsey led 9,778 to 9,568 at the close of count on Saturday, but the ABC computer was pointing to a 0.3 per cent Labor win. This was based on comparison with results from 2004, when Labor did much better on the as-yet-uncounted declaration and pre-poll votes (55.3 per cent versus 36.7 per cent) than polling booth votes (50.4 per cent versus 41.4 per cent). However, that trend is being substantially reversed this time around. Most pre-poll and postal votes have now been counted (roughly two-thirds of the non-polling booth total, itself 16 per cent of the overall total), and Dempsey’s lead has widened to 11,161 to 10,821. Most of the remaining uncounted votes are absentee votes, of which about 5 per cent will be exhausting minor party votes. With similar figures this time, non-exhausting absentee votes will need to break about 920-580 in Labor’s favour (roughly 70-30) if they are to win the seat. Very, very unlikely.

Charles Richardson of Crikey has been good enough to invoke my words of wisdom while criticising the media for buying Labor’s late-campaign spin about worrying internal polling:

Governments worry obsessively about overconfidence – the twin dangers of (a) seeming arrogant, which puts voters off, and (b) looking invulnerable, which makes voters think they can safely punish them without risking an opposition victory. So when they seem to be getting too far ahead, out comes the famous "private polling" to play down their chances. The media obediently went along. Having spent the previous week reporting the collapse of Coalition support, they started to have second thoughts. As William Bowe, the Poll Bludger, put it on Friday, "momentum is building behind the idea, if not the reality, of a late Coalition revival". But there was never any real evidence for it. The final polls from both Newspoll and Galaxy picked the result almost exactly, while the punters who swung Centrebet’s odds back towards the Coalition in the last week all lost their money.

However, if Glenn Milne in The Australian is to be believed, the Liberals in particular did enjoy a late-campaign recovery that spared them from being reduced to one seat, maybe even less. This of course could be yet another example of journalists receiving selective intelligence designed to serve the ends of those providing it, and should perhaps be viewed in the context of Liberal leadership ructions. It should be noted that Milne is commonly faulted for serving the ends of particular elements in the Liberal Party, intentionally or otherwise.

• Across the border to the west, the by-election for the Northern Territory seat of Stuart will be held the Saturday after next. Labor’s candidate is Karl Hampton, a ministerial officer to the retiring member, Health and Justice Minister Peter Toyne. The CLP is adopting its favoured tactic of running both white (Lloyd Spencer-Nelson) and Aboriginal (Rex Granites Japanangka) candidates (CORRECTION: thanks to Kerry Gardiner in comments for noting both candidates are in fact indigenous), which is calculated to boost its vote in remote communities (a circumstance born of the Territory’s practice of including candidate photos on ballot papers to assist illiterate voters). The party’s candidate at last year’s election, Anna de Sousa Machado, is running as an independent, as is Gary Cartwright, the Labor member for Victoria River (now called Daly) from 1990 to 1994. Rounding out the ballot paper is a third independent, Peter Tjungarray Wilson.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

5 comments on “Bits and pieces”

  1. William,

    You might be interested in some quick back-of-the-envelope analysis of Greens preferences based on votes cast on polling day on the Gold Coast. The main message is: the more naturally urban-Liberal the seat, the more likely that Greens voters will exhaust their votes.

    Gaven had a massive 60% exhaustion rate for Greens votes (this is likely to be close to the highest in the state – but I do not have time to do the analysis to confirm this). The irony is that had preferences flowed in any numbers to the conservative candidate then Gaven may have gone to the wire. Similar story in Robina.

    Where electors wanted to punish the ALP, preferences from Greens flowed more freely (ie Currumbin), and the majority of course went to the ALP.

    Therefore it would be fair to say that a Labor protest vote to the Greens is more likely to go with preferences back, but a conservative Green protest is more likely to exhaust. I think this is a general reflection of voter anger with the Queensland opposition and a reflection of them dropping the ball on “Green” (read environmental, planning and infrastructure) issues.

    Of course, I am talking about the peculiar Queensland political landscape and do not intend to draw any conclusions about what may or may not happen in NSW (thanks, Mumble) or elsewhere.

  2. Point of correction re Stuart By- election. Lloyd Spencer- Nelson, like Rex Granites, is an Indigenous person of the Warlpiri language group.

  3. Has anyone else noticed the turn-around in counting for Chatsworth ?
    The Liberals have had a massive advantage in postal and absentees and have narrowed the ALP lead to within striking distance.

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