Foiled again

UPDATE: The Speaker at is progressively posting his invaluable upper house election calculcators; first cab off the rank is Northern Metropolitan.

To give some idea of the setback the hapless Victorian Greens have suffered from the Coalition preference tickets, it’s worth taking a look at Antony Green’s assessment of how the 2002 result would have looked under the new system. Operating under the assumption that the Coalition would preference Labor last, Antony reckoned the Greens would have won seats in Eastern Metropolitan, Eastern Victoria, Northern Metropolitan, Southern Metropolitan and Western Metropolitan, as part of an overall result of Labor 20, Coalition 15 (including one Nationals seat) and the Greens five. However, two of those Greens wins (Western Metropolitan and Western Victoria) would have relied on Liberal preferences; without them the seats would have gone to Labor, giving them a clear majority with 22 seats. While the Labor vote will no doubt be lower this time, the Liberals’ preference decision has turned the slim outside chance of a Labor majority into a genuine possibility. The Poll Bludger will leave it to others to consider whether this was sound tactics; it will perhaps make more sense if it subsequently emerges that Labor has agreed to give the Liberals preferences in country seats at the expense of the Nationals. On a region by region basis, the Greens’ prospects now look as follows:

Eastern Metropolitan: The 2002 figures suggest that Labor, Liberal and the Greens would have been very evenly placed after the first four seats were decided, with Liberal on 0.66 of a quota, the Greens on 0.63 and Labor on 0.60. With the Liberals preferencing the Greens ahead of Labor, the Greens would only have needed to stay ahead of one or the other (after distribution of preferences from "others" – 0.11 of a quota, though that would presumably be higher in the context of a multi-member election). But without the prospect of Liberal preferences, the Greens would have had to rely on Labor being eliminated first. Fortunately for the Greens, Labor’s vote is likely to be lower this time, and they will also be boosted by preferences from People Power and the Democrats. However, there is the corresponding likelihood of a higher Liberal vote, which will be further boosted by preferences from the DLP and Family First. If that adds up to 50 per cent (the Liberal primary vote was 44.3 per cent in 2002), the Liberals will win a third seat at the expense of the Greens – although that would have been true regardless of what the Liberals had done with their preferences.

Northern Metropolitan: Here at least the Greens look very likely to win a seat, having scored a full quota off their own bat on the 2002 results. The only conceivable result that might thwart them is if the Liberal vote (23.0 per cent in 2002) surges sufficiently to give them 33.3 per cent and a second quota after the addition of Family First preferences. This would involve draining enough votes from Labor to pull them below a third quota (from 57.4 per cent in 2002 to below 50 per cent after the addition of DLP preferences) and from the Greens to pull them below a first (from 16.8 per cent to less than 16.7 per cent after Democrats and People Power preferences). Labor could then get the Liberal surplus and win the final seat at the Greens’ expense. However, it’s more likely that the Greens will either get a quota on their own, or come close enough that the surplus over Labor’s third quota will win them the seat.

South Eastern Metropolitan: The Liberal preference ticket has scuttled the Greens’ chances here, making an outcome of three Labor and two Liberal all but certain. Had the Liberals put Labor last, their surplus over the second quota could potentially have made the Greens competitive, provided the Labor vote (54.2 per cent in 2002) was more than a fraction below 50 per cent after the addition of Family First, Christian Party and DLP preferences. As it stands, the Liberals will surely get the 33.3 per cent needed for two seats, and their surplus will equally surely secure the last seat for Labor.

Southern Metropolitan: The Greens could well manage a 16.7 per cent quota here without the surplus of either major party – they polled 15.4 per cent in this region in 2002, and will receive preferences from People Power and the Democrats. However, a three Liberal and two Labor outcome is equally possible – the parties’ respective vote in 2002 was 44.2 per cent and 37.9 per cent, so a straight 4.5 per cent shift from one to the other would give Labor a narrow two quotas, and the Liberals the 50 per cent needed for a third seat with Family First and DLP preferences. The significance of the Liberal preference decision is that an outcome of 3-1-1 (as distinct from 2-2-1) is now less likely, because the Liberal surplus over the third quota will boost Labor rather than the Greens.

Western Metropolitan: If the Liberals had the Greens ahead of Labor on preferences, the 2002 figures (Labor 3.73 quotas, Liberal 1.54, Greens 0.58) would have given the Liberals one seat with enough of a surplus to deliver another to the Greens. But with Labor getting Liberal preferences, Labor would have won a fourth seat instead. This time though, the Labor vote is likely to be lower and the Greens are a good chance of winning a seat with Labor’s surplus over the third quota. But that could be endangered if the Liberal vote rises from 25.6 per cent to over 30 per cent, giving them a shot at a second seat at the Greens’ expense. It’s also worth noting the possibility of a wild card outcome: People Power and the Democrats are trading preferences, as are Family First and the DLP; People Power and the DLP have each other second; all are ahead of the main contenders on the Liberal and Labor tickets, except that Family First is second last on the Labor ticket. One possible scenario involves People Power or the Democrats harvesting enough preferences to get ahead of the fourth Labor candidate and then the first Greens candidate, picking up the preferences of each and snowballing to victory.

Western Victoria: Again, a replay of 2002 with Liberal preferences going to the Greens ahead of Labor would have given the Greens a seat they would not have won otherwise. The results were Labor 2.84 quotas, a combined 2.54 for the Liberals and Nationals, and 0.50 for the Greens. Democrats preferences would have put the Greens ahead of the Coalition, and Coalition preferences would then have given the Greens a quota. It’s still possible to construct a scenario where the Labor vote falls enough that their surplus over the second quota is lower than the Greens vote, without falling so far that the surplus can’t get the Greens ahead of the third Coalition candidate. But a lot of things would have to go right for that to happen.

Eastern Victoria: In 2002, the Greens would have won a seat on Labor preferences: the results being 2.84 quotas for the Liberals, 2.46 for Labor and 0.60 for the Greens. However, this time it seems certain that votes will shift from Labor to Liberal, so that the Labor surplus will be inadequate to the task and the Coalition will win a third seat.

Northern Victoria: Regardless of the preferences here, it is hard to envision a result other than Coalition three, Labor two.

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.

28 comments on “Foiled again”

  1. Re: Western Metro, if the DLP poll as well as they did federally they are the most likely of the minor parties to harvest PP and FF preferences and get in front of the ALP fourth (The Dems will go to the Greens). That will put them into a 3-way race with the Liberals and Greens. In a surprising twist though, if the DLP comes third, ALP preferences should elect the Greens; if the Greens come third their preferences will elect the Liberals; and if the Liberals come third their preferences will elect the DLP. Standard scenarios are more likely, but there is the ironic possibility that the Greens will poll too well, and push down the ALP/Lib vote to their detreiment.

  2. Bill am I reading this wrong? Upon reading the HV the Libs seem to be preferencing the ALP before the greens. That would suggest a 3 – 2 ALP and Lib split

  3. This is the right decision by the Liberal Party for a number of reasons.

    1. The ALP is closer ideologically to the Liberals than the Greens.
    2. The Liberal Party rightfully wants to avoid the situation of the Greens holding the balance of power in the Legislative Council.

    If the ALP does not win 21 LC seats, then not only would the Greens likely hold the balance of power, but then the Liberal Party’s behaviour in the Legislative Council with regard to how it deals with legislation would be more important, as they could bypass the Greens and the Nationals by voting in the Council to support government legislation.

    Remember this was Peter Costello’s argument during the GST negotiations with the Democrats – that none of it would be necessary if the ALP supported the Government’s legislation in the Senate.

    Looking at the voting record of the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council over the past seven years they have voted against a minority of Government Legislation.

  4. What are the chances of Labor preferencing the Libs ahead of the Nats in Nat-held electorates? One would think there is a motive behind the Libs shafting the Greens in the Upper House. I reckon we’re about to see the end of the Victoria Nats!

  5. Labor did not return the favour in the Upper House to help rid the Liberals of their coalition partner. This could have saved the Nationals one or two LC seats. This implies that the descision was unilateral on behalf of the Liberals for reasons suggested by Howard C.

    Whether this translates to a unilateral arrangement in the lower house to foil the Green aspirations in inner city is yet to be seen. The Liberals may ask for the favour to be returned, so they can both cast off their “coalition” milstones.

  6. I’ve fed a few sets of numbers through The Speaker’s calculator for Nthn Metro, and the only set of figures that produce a result that’s even close to something other than 3Lab1Lib1Grn is this:
    LIBERAL 26.00
    DEMOCRATS 1.60

    It’s not far from the figures of the Speaker, but the preferences of FF and DLP actually become very important. It produces a result for the final seat of: LIBERAL 16.63 vs AUSTRALIAN GREENS 16.70
    which elects Greg Barber but is close enough to have every b-t-l vote count. A lot. More as it comes to hand.

  7. The sooner you abandon the 2002 results the better.

    They dont apply in this PR election.

    The margins are not that tight. What is claris that the new system is providng a far better distribution of representation then was the case under the old system Chances are there will be a slight swing away from the ALP in the upper house. preliminary Analysis shows that if Labor can hold on to the 44% state wide then it has a chance of electing 4 seats in the Western metropolitan.

    AT just 8% of the vote the Greens are elected to three seats. If the falls lower then 7.5 then it might change. There is little chance that the Greens will pickup more.

    Unknown quantities include the Liberal/NO split in the rural electorates. The strength of de stephanos ticket in Northern Victoria. All other minor parties do not effect the results.
    It is interesting that the Democrats have not had a split ticket in every seat which is normally the case.

    Also Western Victoria did not attract as many of the main layers for some reason.

    Its harder to estimate People Power I have placed then at around 1-2% tops. They are out of the game.

    My Analysis is done by taking a scaled percentage distributed based in electorate profile splits and processed using a database to distribute the vote as would apply in the count.

    Anyone wishing too provide a realistic percentage allocation I would be please to process the data but I do not believe there is much chance of a change in outcome give or take 1 to 2 seats tops.

    Preferences make more difference in the lower house and we will see today of the Greens have a chance in Melbourne or Richmond,. All dependents on Liberal preferences.

  8. I understand why the Liberals would do this, but I’m not sure it was actually a bright move for two reasons. Firstly, I think it’s likely to offend moderate swinging voters of the Democrat/ex-Democrat variety, who may be less inclined to send their preferences the Liberals’ way as a result of their screwing the Greens in favour of the ALP. It badly undermines Ballieu’s progressive credentials, which he’s seemingly been trying hard to portray himself as having.

    Secondly, if I were in Opposition, I’d rather have the upper house in minority hands than government hands, even if there are ideological differences, as it gives one the opportunity to actually have some influence over government bills (whether that be by lobbying the Greens, or having the ALP have to come begging to the Liberals because the Greens are being painful).

  9. Results, ALP, LIB, NAT, GRN, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Eastern Metropolitan Region, 2, 2, , 1, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Eastern Victoria Region, 2, 2, 1, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Northern Metropolitan Region, 3, 1, , 1, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Northern Victoria Region, 2, 2, 1, , * DeStanfino Group unknown quantiy
    South Eastern Metropolitan Region, 3, 2, , ,
    Southern Metropolitan Region, 2, 2, , 1,
    Western Metropolitan Region, 4, 1, , , ,* Close call on 4th ALP seat
    Western Victoria Region, 3, 1, 1, , * Close call on 3rd ALP seat

    Sum, 21, 13, 3, 3,
    Alt, 20, 14, 3, 3, ,* DeStanfino vote unknown quantity

    Sum, 55, 35, 8, 7,

  10. You’re quite right about the limited utility of the 2002 figures, MC. I’ll take a closer look at your own stats when I get time – though I’ve been saying that for a while now …

  11. Northern Metropolitan

    It is interesting I have done this count and verified the result with the calculator and they show a ALP 3 LIb2 in the Northern seat. There is a fine line between winning and losing. I am still trying to find the exect threshold point for the greens I think it is around 12.5 to 13 %. They will need to do more work on te 8% statewide to secure this seat beyond doubt. 8.5% should do the trick… Again the 2004 Sentate distribution is worth looking at. the Greens will need to match the 2004 Senate vote to win this seat.

    ALP 51
    LIBERAL 30

  12. The reliability of electronic voting machines is a topic often brought up for discussion in the context of American elections, and people from other countries often wonder what’s wrong with pencil and paper. But I’ve suddenly wondered how reliable our method actually is.

    Is information available like the number of ballots are particular polling station hands out, the number which are returned, and the number of ballots counted at that polling station? Presumably (ballots handed out – ballots returned) = ballots submitted = ballots counted. Does anyone know whether our voting system counts all the votes that’re submitted, and no more? (Is there some other thing I’m forgetting in this equation?)

  13. There are occassional missing ballots, usually because some people leave with the ballot papers for whatever reason. Very few though.

    If you are running a polling booth of 1,500 to 2,000 votes, you can imagine that at the end of the count, you may end up 1 or 2 votes out. You have to reconcile the number of names crossed off with the number of ballots issued with the number ballots deposited in the ballot boxes. And you have to reconcile how many ballot papers you started with and how many remain. But if they don’t match, it can be an error by the clerks rather than an error in the number of ballots. Remember the election night count is only a provisional count done by day labour under the supervision of senior officers. The whole lot get counted again the next day by electoral office staff.

    If you suddenly find your numbers substantially out, alarm bells go off. If you had 500 ballots missing, or 500 too many, I think its fair to say a major investigation would begin.

    In elections decided by a handfull of votes, if you want you can probably find enough ‘over and under’ errors in the count to mount a challenge. That’s why close contests end up scrutineered to death and the count conducted slowly. The scrutineers are there to represent the candidate’s interests, but they are also there to ensure the count is done correctly.

    George Bush won Florida in 2000 because in the end, whatever way you counted the votes, the result was less than the margin of error on a well tuned punch card voting machine. As it turned out, many of the machines had full chad boxes, so the margin of error would have been even higher.

    Our margin of error is the occassional ‘unders and overs’ error. These only ever become important when the final result is very very close. And as I said, the closer the contest, the closer the scrutineering, the more accurate the count. If you go through an election results book, you can sometimes spot errors in very safe seats. Not enough to change a result, but errors non the less. In part this happens because candidates and parties don’t bother scrutineering the count in safe seats.

    The closer the contest also, the more attention is paid to names crossed off the roll. If there is any significant evidence of multiple voting in a close contest, you can probably guarantee the result would be overturned if challenged.

  14. There is a distinct possibility of DLP’s John Mulholland getting elected in Northern Metro also, and probably other seats too.

    The Democrats are the only party whose preferences go to the Greens before the DLP. So DLP gets preferences from IND, People Power, Family First, and crucially, ALP and Libs. So if DLP’s total with it’s votes gained on preferences is more than whoever remains out of ALP and Libs, then DLP gets the final seat over the Greens.

    Try it out. We could have the DLP ‘do a Steve Fielding’ and get someone elected with about a 2% primary vote.

  15. ALP should really learn to co-operate with the Greens. They share a lot of common ideologies and the voters generally want the two partys to get on well with sucess.

    What’s with PP being 2nd on almost every party’s preference sheet? I really do hope family first stop making wild accusations about the Greens, these two parties now do not really need to fight as FF support is not growing and they lie around 3% for federal support. Even the democrats are now on 5.5% federally

  16. DLP has not chance in hell to win in Northern Metro Regions. William you are wrong to say the Liberals need 33%. Preference fold up indicates they can win the seat with around 29% of the vote. This is there threshold. The Greens need over 14.5% locally. They will not do as well as they did in 2002. In 2004 Senate vote they received less then 8.5% statewide. newspoll currently put them on 8% they need that extra 0.5$ ti beat the Liberal party to the race. the ALP is assured of wining 3 seats in this region. You need to plug the data into the calculator to find the thresholds upper and lower. The Greens have to peg back the Liberals its not a battle with the ALP.

    Any news of the Liberal HTV cards for Melbourne and Richmond? If the Liberals preference Labor ahead of the Greens that will be a serious blow to their campaign to win a lower-house seat.

  17. DLP 2.5% in the Northern Metro. yes the DLP helped Family First win the Senate (So did the Democrats and in the end the ALP) problem is everyone wants to win lotto and they all trip-up the leap-frog so it wont happen.

  18. Thankyou Antony. I thought the system should be something like that, but when Americans were defending a system that missed (or miscounted) a vote in an 18/18/0 tie for a mayoral election, I did become a little concerned…

    Darryl Rosin: Has anyone with a Macintosh got upperhouse’s calculator to work? If so, how?

    I can’t make it work on my Debian GNU/Linux computer with Galeon (based on Gecko/Mozilla). No matter what values I type in, it reckons the total is 0.0% and won’t calculate anything… It did work at the last Senate election tho.

  19. Has anyone with a Macintosh got upperhouse’s calculator to work? If so, how?

    Instead of clicking “calculate” just hit enter to submit the form.

  20. Eastern Victoria could be fun depending on how the minor parties finish.

    If you try FFP 3.04%, LIB 36.07%, PP 2.54%, ALP 37.30%, DLP 1.02%, IND 0.30%, GRN 7.29%, NAT 9.35%, CDP 0.76% and CA 2.29%, People Power win the last spot.

    If LIB + NAT + CA fall short of 3 quotas in this region, you could get a wild result. Of course, depends on PP getting some primary votes and Greens and Labor polling as low as I have above.

  21. I’ve had complete calculators working since Sunday for all regions, though haven’t had much chance to play with them yet. Had an election computer systems and a handbook of notes to get finished first. But now I’m playing with the calculator, there could be some fun results. Can’t publish on the web unfortunately. Old DOS based programs I’ve had for years. Must re-write them one day.

  22. The key test in Western Metropolitan is if the Labor surplus beyond 3 quotas, plus Democrats, plus People Power plus DLP is greater than the Liberal suplus above 1 quotas plus Family First. If that is the case, LIB and FFP preferences electe either Labor or DEM or PP, depending on who is left. If not, Labor preferences elect a Green. All assuming the Greens poll less than a quota in their own right.

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