Full house?

The Poll Bludger’s lower house predictions left a bit to be desired – I underestimated the Nationals, failed to spot Labor’s troubles in Gippsland, missed Russell Savage’s defeat in Mildura, punted on some roughies that failed to come home (Eltham and South West Coast) and got suckered in by some faulty conventional wisdom (South Barwon and Melbourne). However, I can claim to have salvaged some pride with my upper house predictions, all of which are looking good except my call of three Liberal and two Labor in Western Victoria, which will likely be the other way round (UPDATE: See below). Given that my prediction was for a total of 20 seats for Labor, the Western Victoria bonus would give them the magic 21 seats and an absolute majority in the 40-seat chamber. Bearing in mind that the VEC still only has results in from 1744 out of 2416 voting centres, the picture appears as follows in the eight regions listed in rough order of interest (if any).


1. David Davis (Liberal)
2. John Lenders (Labor)
3. Andrea Coote (Liberal)
4. Sue Pennicuik (Greens)
5. Evan Thornley (Labor) leads David Southwick (Liberal)

Labor is coming perilously close to having its star candidate Evan Thornley lose to the third Liberal. The Greens have a quota without much room to spare after preferences from the Democrats boost them from 15.64 per cent to 17.31 per cent, above the magic number of 16.67 per cent. Similarly, Evan Thornley starts out with Labor’s 14.98 per cent surplus over the first quota and just gets there with preferences from independent Rita Bentley (0.38 per cent) and People Power (1.37 per cent), boosting him to 16.73 per cent. He will further get the Greens surplus if he needs it, which on current figures will boost him 0.60 per cent to a total of 17.33 per cent. That gives him an uncomfortable lead of 0.66 per cent; if this lead evaporates, Family First preferences will put the Liberals’ David Southwick over the line. It is interesting that Rita Bentley is giving Thornley such a valuable boost, as her preference ticket singles him out for special treatment – Thornley is in third place behind Bentley’s running mate Geoff Taylor, while the other Labor candidates are behind the Liberals.


1. Jaala Pulford (Labor)
2. John Vogels (Liberal)
3. Gayle Tierney (Labor)
4. David Koch (Liberal)
5. Elaine Carbines (Labor) leads Peter Kavanagh (DLP)

With Labor and Liberal winning two seats each, the final seat has emerged as a contest between Labor and the Greens with the tide continuing to flow to Labor. At the critical point of the count, Labor leads 9.13 per cent to the Greens’ 8.46 per cent (their 8.17 per cent primary vote plus preferences from the Socialist Alliance). Whichever of the two emerges in front will get to a quota on the preferences of the other, leapfrogging either the Nationals or the DLP. (UPDATE: The previous statement was based on the erroneous assumption that Labor preferences would go to the Greens rather than the DLP. In fact, if Labor falls behind the Greens – which is reckoned to be at least possible by those in the know – their preferences will deliver the seat to the DLP).


1. Justin Madden (Labor)
2. Khalil Eideh (Labor)
3. Martin Pakula (Labor)
4. Bernie Finn (Liberal)
5. Henry Barlow (Labor) leads Colleen Hartland (Greens)

After the first four seats go three Labor and one Liberal, Labor is leading the Greens in the race for the fifth seat. Labor has 9.31 per cent over the third quota against the Greens’ total of 9.14 per cent. Labor is then boosted by preferences from People Power (1.24 per cent) and the DLP (0.99 per cent), while the Greens get preferences from the Democrats (0.94 per cent) – leaving Labor with a lead of 11.54 per cent to 10.08 per cent at the critical point of the count. Whichever of the two ends up behind here will propel the other over the second Liberal candidate (7.80 per cent boosted to 11.72 per cent after Family First preferences).


1. Richard Dalla Riva (Liberal)
2. Shaun Leane (Labor)
3. Bruce Atkinson (Liberal)
4. Brian Tee (Labor)
5. Jan Kronberg (Liberal) leads Bill Pemberton (Greens)

After the election of two Liberal and two Labor candidates, the fifth place emerges as a close contest between Liberal and the Greens. The Greens appeared to have the edge earlier in the count, but the tide has continued to flow in the Liberals’ direction. The Liberals are currently on 11.72 per cent above their second quota, with the Greens on 10.30 per cent. With the Liberals further boosted by 4.36 per cent from the strongly performing Family First, the current result at the final count is Liberal 17.48 per cent and the Greens 15.86 per cent – surely an unbridgeable gap.


1. Theo Theophanous (Labor)
2. Jenny Mikakos (Labor)
3. Matthew Guy (Liberal)
4. Nazih Elasmar (Labor)
5. Greg Barber (Greens)

The remarkable thing about the DLP’s near-miss was that it was not entirely down to the strength of their preference arrangements, which were inferior to those of People Power and the Democrats. Their vote of 4.85 per cent may well have been boosted by their position on the far left of the ballot paper, echoing their strong 2.3 per cent Senate vote when they were similarly placed in 2001. It was suggested on that occasion that they had benefited from confused Labor voters. However, the miracle ultimately failed to eventuate because the Greens vote has steadily increased to 16.09 per cent as counting has progressed, lifting them above a 16.67 per cent quota with the addition of 1.13 per cent from the Democrats as preferences.


1. Candy Broad (Labor)
2. Wendy Lovell (Liberal)
3. Damian Drum (Nationals)
4. Donna Petrovich (Liberal)
5. Kaye Darveniza (Labor)

The collective Coalition vote was 50.54 per cent, or a clear three quotas. With the Liberal vote on 28.65 per cent (11.98 above the first quota) and the Nationals on 21.89 per cent (5.22 per cent), these seats went two Liberal and one Nationals. Labor polled 30.05 per cent (13.38 per cent over a quota) to the Greens’ 6.86 per cent; to that the Greens could add only a tiny Coalition surplus plus further preferences from some surprising sources, with the Christian Democratic Party and the DLP both putting the Greens ahead of Labor. That still left them well short of a quota, with Labor coasting home on preferences from Family First (3.66 per cent) and the Country Alliance (2.32 per cent).


1. Philip Davis (Liberal)
2. Matt Viney (Labor)
3. Edward O’Donohue (Liberal)
4. Peter Hall (Nationals)
5. Johan Scheffer (Labor)

A straightforward result with a clear two quotas to Labor (35.36 per cent) and three for the Coalition after the addition of Family First preferences. The Nationals polled 9.70 per cent against the 4.65 per cent Liberal surplus over the second quota, and thus emerged with the third Coalition seat.


1. Gavin Jennings (Labor)
2. Adem Somyurek (Labor)
3. Gordon Rich-Phillips (Liberal)
4. Bob Smith (Labor)
5. Inga Peulich (Liberal)

Another refreshingly straightforward outcome with Labor on just over three quotas (50.72 per cent) and the Liberals just over two (33.50 per cent).

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.

274 comments on “Full house?”

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  1. Sorry Antony I missed you latest update. Looks like we are in sync… I am doing a notional distribution of the below the line votes which helps on the segmenation issue. I will print my totals and see whats what.

  2. Big count today. The liberal Party picked up 7000 ticket votes today alone… The ALP picked up about 4,000. Southwisks below the line did not increase much only buy 10 votes. Solid ticket votes there. Looks as though someone had been printing then out the back. 🙂 No way of double checking as the VEC failed to provided information on the number of postals issued… before Saturdays election …

  3. As I was saying all afternoon, Labor’s problem is that its vote plus the ticket preferences it receives don’t get to a quota. In other words, we won’t know the result until every last BTL vote is entered in the system and the button hit to distribute preferences. The Labor and Liberal votes my bounce up and down slightly from here on in, but it looks like it will be the BTL votes that decide it.

  4. The Jewish vote clearly sent a message they were not happy about the ALP preselection in Northern Metro… We knew it was coming but not sure as to the full extent.. Now I expect the Greens vote will exhaust out and Evan will fall more behind. I have them within 200 votes…

  5. I thought it early also but with all the talk I reconsiders. It hard seeing whats comming in the fogg. Not enough information of where they are at in the count.. This could go to court…

  6. Te gReen spicked up so few votes on the postals in Southern Metrio I am begining to wonder if postals will effect the other seats.. .. THIS IS WHY I WANTED THE NUMER OF POSTAL VOTES ISSUED SO WE KNEW THE FULL EXTENT OF WHAT WAS EXPECTED. Not having this data before the close of the poll leaves a discomfortining feeling and I am still left wondering WHY the VEC did not provide this information when requested… Use to get it from the AEC daily.

  7. MelbCity, is that snide reference meant for Thornley or Southwick? At least Thornley made his own money rather than inheriting it. And he has some real ability whereas Southwick is a complete droob as anyone who saw him debate Danby in 2004 will recall.

  8. Both. I am not sure about Thornley’s money it seams that he took it and ran before the dot.com collapse.

    Trust me I am not a fan of Southwicks either and fully support Michael Danby. My interest here is in the electoral system and the unfolding of the results. The other issue is that the Greens now move up a notch as the ALP will sadly have 20 seats in the upper-house and by the time they appoint the Presindt that leaves them at a disadvantage. It seams to me the problem was in the preselection on the other pole (Northern Metro) that caused the upset. 12,000 votes was not what I was expecting I thought around 7-8000 was outstanding. BUT I knew it was close.

  9. For what it is worth I lost out on two elections by 300 votes and one miscalculation on preferences. I know how it feels. Porblem is I do not knwo how many votes are still to be counted or is the only hope in finding that mistmatch in Albert Park. Effective srutiny of the ballot is only possible with access to a copy of the data-files. Data that the Chief Commsioner has refused to provide… Data that is normally available.

  10. Andrew Landeryou http://www.andrewlanderyou.blogspot.com has just reported, correctly, that the surge in vote and the Greens poor polling in the late returns could see the Greens bumped from their spot in which case Evan Thornley is back in the RACE.

    Confused? It has to do with the fact that with every new vote the quota rises. If it rises high enough then and the Greens run out of energy then they don’t cross the line. The order of election is often miss-read and means very little actually. the longer you can hold on the more chances of picking up votes… well that was the theory but with optional preferential voting its the opposite. Problem is we do not know how many votes are still wating in the ballot boxes out back. No information not ewway to balance the books …

  11. While I speak andre posted.

    Antony your figuar is closure becuase you have not made any allowance for the segmentation. That distorts the result when its this close. The paper-based formula issue might also come into play in this election.

  12. I agree today’s count hasn’t been good for Thornley, but yesterday’s was good for him, and so may tomorrow’s (or Monday’s anyway) be. The fact is that the result is too close to call and will remain so until next week. Andrew L is right that Thornley will benefit if Southwick gets ahead of Pennecuik just as much as if Pennecuik is ahead of Southwick. So let’s all hold off with the verdicts just for a bit.

  13. Proposition: If Labor loses the count in South Metro it will be because of the ill-advised decision to introduce optional preferential voting, which has allowed a small but crucial number of minor party voters to exhaust their votes, to Labor’s detriment.
    Whose brilliant idea was this? Hulls?

  14. Yes that what Andrew Landeryou was taling about

    His assessment is a possibility as for each vote added to the table the quota changes. 2/3rds of each vote is absorbed in the existing four quotas.

    Problem is we do not know how many ballot papers have been issued. We tried to get this information from the VEC but the Chief Electoral Commission was unable to unwilling to provide any statistics on the number of postal votes that had been issued. This information is normally readily available but for some reason Steve Tully refused to provide the data prior to Saturday’s poll.

    As a result it is difficult to ascertain. Certainly if there are more votes to be counted and the Greens percentage is declining then YES the Greens could lose out and could fall below Evan Thornley in which case Evan will cross the line first. Again its like walking around in the fog without necessary information. Another issue that needs to be examined is the impact of optional preferential voting. I am waiting to hear feedback from Scrutineers. Hopefully they will be able to secure a copy of the preference data file because without that there is no way they can properly scrutinise the election in this round without it. again this information use to be made available but Mr Tully has to date refused to make it available. With this election being close he will have to reconsider or face a court challenge.

    more on my blog


  15. Optional preferential damages whichever party has the most ideological fragmentation on its political fringe. Thus in the 1998 Qld election, Opt pref damaged the Nats, because One Nation voters, to the right of the Nats, chose to exhaust rather than preference them, costing them a swag of seats. But in Vic, and especially in inner Melb, the fragmentation is on the left. There is a hard core of Greens who will not preference Labor if the voting system gives them that choice, as it now does in the Council. The fragmentation is not as big as it was for the Nats with ON, but it may just be big enough to cost Labor the South Metro seat, and thus control of the Council.

  16. Adam, I think I have long ago reached a verdict on Evan Thornley: Guilty. But as it relates to the election you are – as always – correct, it’s too early to know for sure.

    As for optional preferences in the upper house, I assume this was designed to minimise informality which – urban legend has it – often seems to impact most on Labor’s vote. So it might have helped in Western Metro and hurt in Southern Metro.

    How many votes left to count in Southern Metro?

  17. When I said Andrew L knows what he is talking about in this instance, that was a psephological observation, not a political one. I do not share Andrew’s view of Thornley’s character.

    On the election, note the following. Yesterday, after a notional distribution of list preferences, the position of the three parties, expressed as quotas, was:

    Lib: 2.97
    ALP: 2.00
    Green: 1.03

    Today it is:

    Lib 3.00
    ALP 1.99
    Green 1.01

    Thus Labor has fallen behind. BUT note that of the Lib gain of 0.03, two-thirds (0.02) has come from the Greens, and one-third (0.01) from Labor. If this trend continues, the Libs will have a surplus which will go to Labor. If the Libs can gain a surplus of 0.02 of a quota (about 1,000 votes), that will get Thornley up ahead of Pennecuik.

  18. Thats the theory. 73.5% of the enrollment is counted and Andrew thinks it coulod go as high as 90%. that means there is another 50 to 60,000 votes to hit the table problem is we don;t knwo exacly how many and more important from what source. Yes the Greens could fall below quota as we saw Evan fall from a lead of 2,000 in one day. I have started praying… but I would feel better if I had the infomration that should have been provided before… reports comming in indicate that Scutineers and candiadte are being left in teh dark also. BUT somehoe I think tyhay will change tommorrow. The Greens are hitting the panic button and they will be joining the vote watch in force. I know the Liberal party have also put a call out for its heavy weights to attend the count. The Chief Commisisoner will come under more pressure to provide much more information then what he has provided to date. Hopefully thiose that have been reading this unfolding drame will begin to appreciate the value of this sort of information and why I keep stressing its importance…

  19. How desperate is Bracks to get Evan Thornley into parliament? Even if he comes up short in South Metro, I wouldn’t write off Thornley just yet – there will no doubt be an upper house vacancy to fill in the next 4 years, or a lower house seat could become available.
    And, there is the next Federal election too – a seat could be found for Thornley in Victoria, or elsewhere.
    I wouldn’t be writing his political obituary just yet, especially when all the votes for South Metro haven’t been counted.

  20. MelbCity, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Ignore the value of the quota. Whatever the number of votes, it is still 16.67%. The actual value does not matter. All that matters is the relative percentage of the vote for Labor, Liberal and Green. Labor lost the 2nd seat today because the Liberals rose relative to Labor and the Greens. The effect of the extra votes on the vote value of the quota is irrelevant. I estimated this morning that if the Liberal vote rose by 0.2% they would win the last spot. That’s exactly what happened today.

    What you need to do now is break the count into above and below the line votes. Add the tickets of Family First and the DLP to the Liberal vote. Add the Democrat ticket to the Greens, and People Power and Group C tickets to Labor’s vote. At this point, none of these three totals reaches a full quota, though the Greens are the closest. The balance is determined by the below the line votes. Unless the relative percentage of Labor, Liberal or Green increases against the other, none of these totals will reach a quota.

    The real unknown is what happens if enough BTL votes drift to the Greens. If this happens, then the Democrat ticket will elect the Green, and release a small number of ticket preferences for Labor. That is the point when your issue with what you call segmentation will become important. You will need to know which bundle of votes at what value put the Green over the line, which may then effect the calculation of the Green surplus. But as at that point nearly all the Green vote will be full value votes, while nearly all the reduced transfer value votes will be locked away in the Liberal and Labor tickets, the order the bundles are distributed should not matter. It seems extremely unlikely any vote vould increase in transfer value with this distribution.

    What Labor needs to win the last spot is for as many BTL votes to drift to the Greens before the Democrat ticket is distributed. Unless the relative %’s of the party change again, on the current count Labor will need a surplus from the Greens to win the last spot.

    But above all, you need to watch the relative level of Liberal, Labor and Green % votes

    Now this count still has some way to go. We do not know which votes were entered into the system today. It may be votes from a particular source that may be reversed by votes added tomorrow. Scrutineers at the counting centre will have a better idea than any of us.

    Of course, the other scenario is that the Liberal vote relative to Labor and the Greens continues to improve. In that case, there is the outside possibility of the Liberals reaching the third quota and fill the fourth seat, and then the Liberal surplus elects Evan Thornley ahead of the Greens. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Liberal Party was responsible for putting Evan Thornly in Parliament and delivering Labor a majority in the LC.

    Whatever, the trick is to break out the ticket votes which are assured preferences, and then work out how many BTL votes are required. I think the models where you treat BTL votes as ticket votes are too crude in such a close count as this.

  21. All these bullshit preference flows makes me wish they had a 50 member upper house with a simple statewide 2% quota, which is similar to NSW isn’t it? This would be much more sensible than the shit that has been played out since saturday. Okay, a few more lunatics may get into parliament but it would make for interesting times. Can anyone tell me if the upper house electoral changes have been consititutionally entrenched. This election has convinced me that if the Libs ever get a result like 1992 or 1996 we could go back to the (even worse) old days.

  22. Oh, and it may well be that exhausted preferences will decide the final seat. It may well be at the final count, neither of the two remaining candidates has a full quota, so the candidate with the higher count would be elected. Don’t ask what happens if there is a tie. That would be too perverse.

  23. Ray,

    The constitutional changes are entrenched and, I am informed, the section that entrenches them is iself entrenched to stop future trickery. I do not know how much of the detail in the electoral system is entrenched.

  24. Antony, do you care to make a fearless prediction at this stage? (Malcolm Mackerras has already called the 2010 election, so you won’t lost your status as the Most Cautious Pundit.)

  25. Thanks Chris, I agree with your assesment of the ALP in Victoria. But I would go even further back and say that the mallaportionment that went on until WW2 hid this reality as well. The good burghers of Richmond had to make a 30,000 people seat while a few hundred farmers from the middle of nowhere had their own member of parliament.

  26. Of course I’m not going to make a prediction apart from saying it’s close. As I always say about the Bush victory in 2000, the Florida result was indeterminate as the margin of victory was less than the margin of error of the counting equipment. On election night the ABC computer uses a 99% confidence interval in picking the winner, though dud historical booth data can bugger that up, as occurred in the seat of Melbourne. As MelbCity says, if you know exactly what’s being counted at each point, you can make a better estimate. If you don’t know, well, you’re only guessing. Picking a winner now means estimating what will happen with the remaing votes. I don’t know so why guess is my view.

  27. On a more cheerful note, Anne Eckstein is in front for the first time in Ferntree Gully, so that Toorak Ted can now claim only four clear wins (Bayswater, Evelyn, Hastings and Narracan) and one probable (Kilsyth). FTG and Mt Waverley are only possibles, and the trend in both is towards Labor. Not much of a result, and not enough to keep him safe for four years.

  28. There seems an awful lot of crystal ball gazing and “what iffing” about the Upper House results when it appears that there are lots of votes to count which could change close results. It seems silly to me to be so concerned about it until all the votes have been counted. The result is in the votes (and electoral legislation). It’s just waiting to be discovered.

  29. Something quite apparent in this upper house election, senate elections sine 1984 and NSW upper house elections before 2003, is the impact of party registered preferences for ATL votes. My democratic instincts tell me that it would be much better for individual voters to have to indicate preferences (eg as in the NSW upper house, by voting BTL or preferences parties ATL) and it would throw up fewer “random” results (eg Steve Fielding getting elected).

    Minor parties would probably really dislike the idea (I’m sure that Arthur Chesterfield-Evans put out a press release against this change in NSW before the 2003 election) and the major parties may dislike it too as it means that the can’t negotiate a watertight preference deal. But nonetheless, it may produce results that have less randomness.

  30. Florida was renowned for a corrupt electoral commission who denied access to information and proper scrutiny of the ballot. We are being kept in the dark. Whilst some might like to sit on a train and wait for the train station to come to the train. I like to be in the rally car seat, looking at the map and knowing the times and kilometers to go to get to where I am heading. There more to it then waiting and trusting in the outcome of the electoral commission its about ensuring we have an open and transparent system. That all relevant information is laid out on the table for everyone to see. It’s about building confidence in new systems and educating the public of the process and shuttles involved. If you are properly informed you can supply resources to assist in the campaign and when it is this close you need to be sure that every vote is accounted for.

  31. Sacha
    I agree (for Multimember elctorates), but there is a reasonable compromise. One could blend the current system with what you suggest. (also allow ordering within each group list too). When the voter’s intent is unclear then the first prefernce “group ticket vote” can be applied. That way you would not get exhausted votes, but people could optionally detail theit list of prefernces to the level they “care”. I also think quotas should 1/n rather than 1/(n+1). That way less voters are unrepresented, and at least the last elected is even those voters least disliked. Where counts are tallied by computer you can do a reverse count and exclude candidates by most unprefernced rather than least votes. I think that numbering ABL votes , being counted as the “group ticket vote” is poor in most STV in Australia because it disempowers the voters obvious intent. Those bits of electoral act sgo against the “err in the favour of the franchise” values.

    Hope those thoughts were dense enogh with “rabbit ears” 🙂


  32. Disagree on the stratewide upperhouse concept. The same deal could be at play. Buyt haveing smaller electorates you are avoding the need for an artifial qouta. I thinkm the system is find\e to a ceetain extent. A avakue based surplus is a must we could retain any remainders with the candidate and have one single transaction per candidate and get rid of the abitary segmentaion system or at least refine it to be FIFO. (Best o have one transaction per candidate). I head what your saying Adam and I also have reservations about optional voting. We will have to wait and see. If Evan loses out in teh state seat he could try and find a position in Canberra were he want to be anyway. I a more concerned about control of the upper-house and the issues that suround a Green Green contorled upper-house. The ABTL voting system was designed to assist in teh counting of the vote. It’s much better then the Party List system ihn use in Europe. Voters always have the option to vote below the line which in many countries you do not have.

    Antony I have been taking teh BTLV into account. I dont just dump them in to the overall total and trat them as a soilid single ticket vote. To te contrary. But I have to assue for teh excerise that BTLV will in general a) stay within the group of the voters first reference 2) generall follow the thgrust of the gorup tciket. IE Labor or Liberal direction. We will know more when and if we get hold of the preference data. Past experiance shows that is generally the case except for the Democrats which spilt 60.40 below the line There are always exceptions but when it is showing this close it difficult to know if the waves have ceased. I do not expect a major shift in the vote in the vote other then prehaps the Grens falling below quota and mayube behind Labor. All three are pretty close. The Dmeocrats preferenecs are the only thing holding up the Greens vote.

  33. re the comment ‘The constitutional changes are entrenched…’ you might like to look at the new book on Victorian Constitution by Dr G Taylor, of Monash University – it is possible that these constitutional changes were not properly entrenched, and may be open to challenge in the courts. State Constitutions are very ‘flexible’ and easily amended.

  34. Antony Green Says:
    November 30th, 2006 at 6:10 pm
    5pm update – Liberals win final seat in South Metro

    Antony Green Says:
    November 30th, 2006 at 11:33 pm
    Of course I’m not going to make a prediction apart from saying it’s close.

  35. Adam, I doubt Toorak Ted will last another 4 years as opposition leader.
    If the Libs can’t win back seats like Gembrook, Mt Waverley and Ferntree Gully, they’ve got serious problems. Ted might wander round in speedos for the next year, but I doubt that’ll help him.

    All this focus on one Upper House seat: are people in Victoria that obsessed with the fate of Evan Thornley?

  36. I think that some of the attacks here on people “buying” preselection and similar should be left alone. Politics needs more Thornley’s and less useless party hacks, but with these new upper house regions, we have seen that Southern Metro is v.strong Liberal.

  37. 5 member electorates have not ended the problem of the Labor vote (and the Green for that matter) vote being bottled up as under the previous system. Maybe statewide PR with a 5% German style threshold would have been the way to go, it would have forced a Liberal-National joint ticket as well.

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