Full house? (part two)

By popular demand, I hereby open a new thread for discussion of the extraordinarily tight three-way race in the Victorian upper house region of Southern Metropolitan. Earlier expectations that the final seat would come down to a race between Labor’s Evan Thornley and the Greens’ Sue Pennicuik have been undone by an unexpectedly strong performance by the Liberals on postals, which has strengthened the hand of their third candidate David Southwick. Remarkably, the current result in quota terms is 3.00 for the Liberals, 1.99 for Labor and 1.00 for the Greens, making it a near-perfect three-way tie in the race for the final seat. The Greens have suffered the worst in late counting, such that the possibility has emerged of the Liberals winning the seat with a tiny surplus that helps elect Thornley, who will receive it as preferences ahead of the Greens’ Sue Pennicuik. The irony of Liberal preferences delivering Labor an upper house majority is being widely remarked upon, though their decision to put the Greens last always meant it was a serious possibility. Antony Green explains in comments that this is a rare occasion where below-the-line votes will prove decisive, so that "the models where you treat below-the-line votes as ticket votes" – such as the calculators at Upperhouse.info – "are too crude in such a close count":

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 … 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.

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.

252 comments on “Full house? (part two)”

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  1. If they are so exuberantly supportive of environmental issues, I would expect DLP to place the Greens somewhere other than last on their upper house ticket. The fact is the DLP is more interested in opposing gays than it is in creating a just and environmentlaly sustainable world.

  2. Well, there we are: the DLP have taken two seats. No one picked that. The Greens took 2 seats with more than 4 times their vote (it might be more than 5 times) and the DLP didn’t really campaign, so it is an amazing result.

    Labor do not control the Council.

    Interesting that the Nationals did so badly in the upper house, completely failing in Western Vic, where they put in a lot of resources.

    One lesson for the psephologists is that where minor parties are vying for the 5th seat in these upper house elections, it is too simple to look at who can garner more than half of a quota and predict a win by them. It all boils down to preference flows. Mackerras and others were picking several Green seats, even though the Greens did not at any stage predict this (they predicted one). Even after the voting, we were all in the dark for a period of weeks, even on this blog, and it just goes to show how uncertain this process is for those who are not in the big parties.

    The time delay also means that election night pronouncements on how the minor parties have fared are fraught with danger, and are unlikely to fully reflect the outcome.

    My thanks to those who contributed to this blog, which I have found particularly interesting. Special thanks to Antony Green for his expert analysis as figures permitted.

    Now let’s see how our elected representatives perform over the next four years.

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