ACT election: late counting

Sunday 26/10. Final result: Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4.

The count has now been finalised and the Greens have indeed won a fourth seat in Molonglo, their candidate leading 9457 to the third Liberal’s 8536 at the key point in the count. As I should have noted in the previous entry, there was also a close race between the second and third Greens candidates which has in fact been won by Caroline Le Couteur, who overtook Elena Kirschbaum late in the count. Kirschbaum had 4203 votes at the point where she was excluded to Le Couteur’s 4285.

Saturday 25/10

In Molonglo, we now have a preference count for 62,577 out of 88,291, and Antony Green’s assessment is that “the Greens are starting to be favourite for the final spot”. On the present projection, second Greens candidate Elena Kirshbaum leads third Liberal candidate Giulia Jones 6660 to 6166 at the relevant count. The Liberals are likely to close the gap in what remains of the count – the primary votes that have been admitted to the preference count have gone 31.3 per cent Liberal and 18.5 per cent Greens compared with 31.4 per cent and 18.2 per cent from the total – but my back-of-envelope calculation tells me they will only be able to close the gap by perhaps 200 votes.

Tuesday 21/10

The count in Molonglo is getting progressively more interesting, with second Greens candidate Caroline Le Couteur just 49 votes behind third Liberal Jeremy Hanson at the crucial point in the count. Le Couteur herself leads the third Greens candidate, Elena Kirschbaum, by 49 votes at the relevant earlier point of the count. So the result could yet be Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4, rather than 7-7-3.

Sunday 19/10

This post will be updated progressively with details of late counting in the ACT election. Two results remain in play: in Molonglo, which could either go Labor 3, Liberal 3, Greens 1 or Labor 3, Liberal 2, Greens 2, and in Ginninderra, which could either go Labor 2, Liberal 2, Greens 1 or Labor 3, Liberal 1, Greens 1. The most likely results will produce an outcome of Labor 7, Liberal 7, Greens 3, but other possibilities are for the Liberals to win as few as five, Labor to win eight or the Greens to win four.

In Molonglo, the Liberals are on 2.48 quotas on the primary vote and the Greens are on 1.48, so whoever does better on preferences will win the final seat. The problem for the Greens is the 2.7 per cent recorded by Liberal-turned-independent Richard Mulcahy, which based on pre-poll votes looks likely to go about 35 per cent to the Liberals and maybe 10 per cent to the Greens. Against that is that the Greens can hope for a strong rate of preference leakage from Labor. There is also an outside chance that independent Frank Pangallo could sneak through and take the seat if he receives enough preferences from minor candidates, but it would have to be rated a long shot.

In Ginninderra, Labor are on 2.41 quotas and the Liberals are on 1.64, the risk for the Liberals being that Greens preferences after the election of their candidate will push them ahead. However, the gap is probably wide enough to get endangered Liberal incumbent Vicki Dunne home.

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.

326 comments on “ACT election: late counting”

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  1. You ruined my week.

    Maybe William’s theory will hold up and some of Gallagher’s surplus will flow through to Le Couteur or Kirschbaum (Can we just call them Caroline and Elena??) and keep the battle interesting.

  2. No way Oz! Kirschbaum is a killer surname. If I were lucky enough to marry a woman named Kirschbaum, I would surely adopt her name.

  3. Adam at 14: It’s precisely that attitude which makes Greens members like me want to back Seselja. I’d love to see the faces on some of the Labor hacks if they realised that their attitude to being dickheads toward the Greens just cost them the perks of office. And it’s not even like there isn’t a local precedent for it: if Kerrie Tucker and Lucy Horodny could work with the Libs in 1995-98, we certainly can now.

  4. If the Greens were to back Seselja that would be the end of them as a significant force in Canberra.

    As William points out, they now have a monopoly on ALP ‘leakage’. This election was a excellent example of that (11% away from ALP, 2% away from Lib, 6% to Green). If they back Seselja, it would be to the irritation of a great portion of the folk who voted for them. That would not be quickly forgiven at the next election.

  5. I agree and disagree. In the end the Greens should back who offers them the best deal and let them know they can easily turf them out if they don’t live up to any demand they have or do something particularly objectionable.

    I’d also demand a key ministry for one member and leave the other 2 on the crossbench. For instance, demand Climate Change, Water and the Environment; whilst leaving the other 2 members to speak out against the rest of the Government when need be.

  6. Rebecca:

    As long as the Greens insist on having the far-left fringe such as old Communist Lee Rhiannon in their party I won’t support them

    Rhiannon’s parents were members of the Central Comittee of the Communist Party of Australia and Rhiannon dutifully served her parents and the CPA politically for decades

    Greens taking seats from Labor is not what i want – Greens – or anyone – taking seats from the Liberals is what i want – in order for that to happen, the Greens have to move rightward towards the centre where the Democrats were.

  7. Is that you Generic Person? In disguise? Some disguise.

    He raised the exact same ‘point’ a few days ago. It was dutifully dealt with by some of the more sensible posters. Haven’t you heard? Red is the new black! Socialism back in!

    Moving past that, as one poster pointed out, why are you intent on fighting cold war battles from 40 years ago? The CPA is dead. Lee Rhiannon is a member of The Greens. She was elected as a member of The Greens and adheres to Green policies. To paraphrase John McCain, if you want to argue against communism you should have been blogging decades ago.

    Regarding your last paragraph, the Greens are not political pragmatists. They do not exist for the purpose of gaining seats by sacrificing principles. They are a party founded on principles and their members are elected on those principles. The centre ground is now dominated by Labor who shift rightwards in their ultimately successful attempt to gain power. The fact that the Greens are steadily increasing their vote around the country without sacrificing their principles or selling out their policies should not be viewed as an indictment by the electorate but the exact opposite.

  8. Oz:

    As William would tell you – different IP address and different person

    Adam was the one who brought up Rhiannon’s old Communism (and her mother’s notorious Stalinism) a while back – i happen to agree with him that it should not be forgotten and should be remembered when assesing Rhiannon – you don’t just stop having life-long beliefs after all

    As Adam said: “We all remember what the Trots and Marxists did to the NDP”

  9. Labor voters and there irrational fear of The Greens.

    I presume you don’t vote ALP because of Julia Gillard’s past far-left history?,23599,22544981-421,00.html

    “SCRAPPING the ANZUS treaty, twinning Melbourne with Leningrad and introducing a super-tax on the rich were among radical policies devised or backed by Julia Gillard as a student activist.”

    Now your only argument is about differing degrees of “leftiness” which would be an amusing discussion.

  10. Oz:

    Gillard was a young student – Rhiannon was a Communist well into the “full grown adult who should bare full responsibility for her actions” part of her life and she only stopped being an official one because the CPA disappeared from under her

    WRT Canberra if i were Stanhope i would give serious consideration to a governing in a minorority or even a “grand coalition” to keep the more fringy Greens out of power and influence

  11. MWH, Gillard was a radical in the ’80’s and ’90’s. That is, her 20’s and 30’s.

    Rhiannon was a member of the CPA for “a few years in the 70’s”. In her 20’s.

    Did Michael Costa’s membership of the Trotskyist Socialist Worker’s Party in the late 70’s, while he was in his late 20’s stop you voting for the Labor Party?

    If you have issues with The Greens about their policies, just say them. No need to hide behind hypocritical attacks on “far-leftism”.

  12. Oz:

    Is that Rhiannon’s version of events – the one that doesn’t mention the reality of her involvement in Communist-controlled youth groups in the 60s, her involvment in Communist directed unions in the 70s and 80s – not to mention her parent’s membership of the Central Committee and hard-line Stalinism

    I’m not a member of the ALP – i used to vote Democrat and am now independent

    sorry William for this

  13. Mary Hannah Wade: I couldn’t care less what rightward Labor voters would like. As a Green, I expect them to do the best to achieve the policies of their constituency, which is to Labor’s left. If Labor insists on bastardising us at every opportunity, then they’re going to eventually find out – as the Liberals keep finding out with state branches of the Nats – they’re going to wind up with a very intransigent party.

    There’s a section of Labor diehards that seem to both think a) that they can pee on the Greens from height, while b) the Greens owe Labor something. I think we could achieve a lot by backing a Seselja government, and it’d give Labor the kick up the arse needed to stop taking us for granted, and realise that tacky smear campaigns like they pulled here can lose them government.

  14. Rebecca:

    The Greens could do with some moderation though – for example their views on unions and union power seem to be so anachronistic that they are pre-Winter of Discontent

    I am a centrist and former Democrat not a Laborite

    Again sorry William

  15. I’m very sceptical about the possibility of the greens getting two in Molonglo, but having just done some analysis of the preference flows thus far (noting that there will be a big update tomorrow night) there are enough preferences coming to the Greens from others for Rattenbury to be elected without using the preferences of Elena and Caroline. For full benefit it would need Elena to outlast Pangallo – she’s about 25 votes behind so perfectly possible. That would see either of Elena or Caroline sitting on a healthy 0.6 of a quota…not enough to stay ahead of Giulia Jones yet – about 0.08 of a quota behind, but well within the change that will come with further counting.

    I haven’t looked at Ginninderra so haven’t formed an opinion about the possible dispatching of VIcki Dunne to the void

  16. Oz, its not that surprising. None of the Green state parties have one leader, they have co-convenors. The party is being forced to choose one leader when they have never had to before.

    Just think, if all Australian parties had co-leaders, and then the ALP or Libs, who only had one leader, were forced to change a winning formula, could that be done this quickly?
    Who would have been co-leader with Bracks? Kennett? Howard?

    Different parties have different ways of opperating. When they are forced to change how they work, they need to do it carefully or everything will crumble.

  17. I’m guessing its because the ALP/Libs will only give a possible cabinet position to the leader.
    Another reason could be the media would prefer to speak to one leader.

    Having the BoP is probably another reason. Bob is now leader where he wasn’t officially before.

    Maybe its their own decision and they aren’t being forced. I’m just saying that choosing one leader is different. And it probably makes it harder when both convenors have been elected.

  18. On the score of Bob Brown – he’s not actually the leader of the Australian Greens, irrespective of the views of the media and general populace. He’s the Parliamentary Leader. This is not just a difference of semantics – operationally he does not control the party.

  19. It wasn’t a very bright decision by the Greens to try and pick a leader. It should’ve just gone informally, as the federal Greens did forever, and as the ACT Greens did last time they had multiple members with Tucker and Horodny.

    Everyone knew that in the event of there being a sole leader, both Rattenbury and Hunter were going to want the position – and if they were to be co-leaders, it wouldn’t do much for Bresnan if there were only three MLAs.

  20. Evenin’ all – ACT Electoral Commission has released a new interim distribution of preferences. Not sure that their new electronic counting system is going well as they don’t seem to have made a great deal of progress in two days. However it is a little clearer in Molonglo that the key thing for a second green to get up is that they are both in the count when Pangallo gets excluded – that passes on enough preferences for Rattenbury to be elected in his own right (by my calculations at least). At the moment Elena is 33 votes behind. This vote count is done in alphabetical order of booths, so the best booths for the Greens are yet to come – with a big flurry towards the end with the Turner booth. However, before anyone gets excited, being ahead of Pangallo is only part of getting up, they also need to be ahead of Giulia Jones – this will be a tougher ask and at the moment, presumably due to better booths for her, she’s well ahead – this is a distortion as she’s ahead of Jeremy Hanson on this count, we know he’s well ahead on first preferences. Thursday should be a bit clearer as Lyneham booth will have been counted by then.

    I had a quick look at Ginninderra – it’s still early in the count but I think, regrettably, Vicki Dunne is safe owing to the even split between the three remaining Labor candidates…Mark Parton though is doing surprisingly well there may yet be serious heart palpatations for Mrs Dunne from this quarter.

  21. Adam: Daft, and right-wing. He was notable for releasing nearly no policy at all, and what was there of it was entirely contradictory. What we do know is that he was publicly endorsed and backed by the Canberra Business Club, the ex-Liberal fundraising organisation that got pissed at the party’s dysfunctionality, walked away, and started funding pro-business independents.

  22. Jimbo I don’t understand your comment about ‘both’ greens still being in the count when Pangallo gets excluded – there are three Green candidates and although, as you say, on tonights distribution Elena Kirschbaum gets eliminated before Pangallo, that still leaves both Rattenbury and Le Couteur. Rattenbury gets elected on prefs from Kirschbaum and Le Couteur goes way ahead of Pangallo in the same distribution. Pangallo eliminated and then it is up to whether Le Couteur survives one of the two remaining Libs.

    On election night I must admit I hadn’t noticed the fact that Hanson outpolled Jones on primaries when I made the observation that the last Lib (I said Jones but meant Hanson) beat Le Couteur in the interim distribution of electronic votes by a much smaller margin than the Greens stood to make up in the counting of paper ballots.

    Having absorbed your important point that the second Green probably needs to beat Jones rather than Hanson, I’d now point to the fact that in tonight’s count Le Couteur is just over 0.19 of a quota behind Jones at the point she gets eliminated. Tonight’s distribution is based on a primary vote for the Libs of 2.61 quotas, and 1.39 quotas for the Greens. The Greens’ relative position on total primaries vis-a-vis the Libs is actually .22 of a quota better in the overall count – ie Libs 2.5 quotas to Greens 1.5. Not to mention the fact that Jones started in tonight’s distribution with primaries representing 0.34 of a quota when her position in the overall count of primaries is 0.20 of a quota.

    I would be willing to put a small bet on two Greens getting elected in Molonglo. Probably Caroline le Couteur as the second, but it could still be Elena Kirschbaum.

  23. For what it’s worth, my analysis agrees with canberra boy: very very close, but if I had to bet I’d bet on the second Green.

  24. It’s worth a very great deal, Charles. I’m too exhausted at the moment to follow the intricacies of the count, so I greatly appreciate these assessments from those who have their eye on the ball. I will start adding updates to the post when I’m able to rouse myself.

  25. Canberraboy – the importance of the two lesser greens staying ahead of Pangallo is that there are enough preferences from him, and the other rats and mice excluded prior to him, to get Rattenbury over the line. If a green gets excluded first then while the bulk of their preferences stay in the ballot group, most go to Rattenbury and he ends up with an overquota – this overquota gets distributed at fractional value resulting in a net loss – maybe as much as 20%. If Rattenbury is elected on Pangallo prefs, then when Elena gets excluded her prefs will transfer to Caroline at full value – this will be important as there is almost nothing between Jones and Caroline.

    It is really important to remember that these preference distributions come from a full second count. On election night only first preferences of paper votes were counted with a full ocunt of electronic votes. What is happending now is that paper votes are being recounted with preferences entered into the computer – early results are distorted becasue only a few booths are counted – Jones is ahead of Hanson in this count because there are better booths for her than him counted – but we know that on first prefs he’s way ahead. What you can use these early counts for is to work out where preferences are going, go back to the primary count and apply as a ratio.

  26. I thought I’d point out that out of the three booths that have been counted in this interim distribution of preferences – Ainslie North, Amaroo and and Aranda, Ainslie North is pretty healthy Green booth (31.4% primary vs 17% Libs), Amaroo is pathetic (7.7% Greens vs. 44% Libs) and Aranda only as 101 votes 26% Greens to 13% Libs.

    So averaging that out, the booths are probably favouring the Libs, especially since Amaroo is a bit bigger than Ainslie North.

  27. Check out this pathetic article:

    [last year they (The Greens at the ACT Senate election) won 21.5per cent of the primary vote (as against Labor’s 40.8per cent). Compared with that, the Greens vote on Saturday was down about 5per cent, the Labor and the Liberal vote by about 3 per cent each.]

    Indeed! Pretty sad that you have to go back a year to find election results in an attempt to spin this as anything other than a comprehensively positive result for The Greens.

  28. Hrumph! Aranda isn’t even in the Molonglo electorate! There would be a couple of out of area votes, but nothing significant
    Amaroo is Giulia Jones home suburb so polls strongly for her, hence the aberration that currently sees her ahead of Jeremy Hanson. This will come down to the woire as two of the Greens strongest booths are Turner and Watson, whilst the Libs have two strong ones in Weston and Yarralumla – the tricky bit is that these last two are good for Hanson, not Jones. If it’s taken two days and we’re still only at the ‘A’ booths, it’s going to be a long wait till we get to ‘W’ and ‘Y’

    Having done some further analysis on Ginninderra I think, despite an impressive performance from the Mark Parton, Vicki Dunne is safe by about 400 votes. Labor no chance for a third seat. One wonders if Parton had managed to form a party and thus not be in the ungrouped netherworld on the ballot paper whether he might actually have made it.

  29. JimboBoy, what’s wrong with your analysis is that you talk about the third Green staying ahead of Pangallo. On the current distribution where Pangallo starts behind the third Green, he manages to pull ahead. If you check the almost complete primary count, Pangallo actually starts off ahead of both the second and third Green. On that basis, I don’t think what you’re talking about is going to happen.

    On the current distribution, Pangallo has 0.27, primary count now 0.32
    Rattenbury 0.75, primary 0.87
    Le Couteur 0.33/0.30
    Kirschbaum 0.32/0.29

    So as the primary count comes in, Rattenbury’s vote rises, the other two Greens fall and Pangallo rises. Which makes your scenario less likely.

  30. Fair point Antony, but I’m not convinced the order of elimination is going to make much difference. On last night’s count, even with Kirschbaum going out before Pangallo, the Greens still get within 49 votes, so on the basis that the booths still to come are better for them than what’s been tallied so far they should be able to get a second up (either Kirschbaum or Le Couteur).

  31. Depends Charles. The Green was trailing Liberal Hanson by 49 votes, but Hanson won’t be running third on the Liberal ticket when all the votes are in, it will be Jones. You have to compare the candidates as the Liberals will have more than 1.5 quotas split across two candidates, while the Greens will have their surplus of more than 0.5 quotas with a single candidate. I can’t say it won’t happen, but it is a mistake just to compare the party totals and surplus, you have to compare the candidate totals.

  32. Hrumph again Antony Green – Jimbocool thanks very much…perhaps you confused me with Canberraboy…
    Anyways my worry has always been, where will the greens preferences come from to get them over the line? My answer is that there just aint enough there to make up the quota, so what has to happen is that either Elena or Caroline has to be ahead of Giulia Jones at the end of the count, a situation in which a quota is irrelevant. In order to get ahead of Jones, they need to maximise their in-group preference flows – if one is excluded and elects Rattenbury the resulting overquota get distributed at fractional value, probaly a net loss of 20% than if, on the back of Pangallo prefs Rattenbury gets his quota. Pangallo prefs are now going 18% to the greens (up from 14% when I did my first calculations), CAP prefs are at 29% (but the volume is considerably less than Pangallo).

    I appreciate your argument, but I think that it’s too early in the count to see where the Pangallo vs lesser Greens race is going. If indeed you are right and Pangallo is going to end up ahead of a lesser green then they will not be able to pick up that final seat.

  33. Tonight’s interim distribution with about 9300 extra votes included has thrown up a couple of interesting things.

    But first, thanks Jimbo for explaining what you were driving at about the second and third Greens remaining in the count beyond Pangallo. That would maximise things for them, but like Antony I don’t think it is possible. I’m 100% with Charles in saying that that particular order of elimination won’t matter.

    Then there’s Antony’s last comment. He’s right that it will depend upon how the total for the Libs is divided between the two surviving candidates. But he’s wrong in saying that the Greens will have only 0.5 of a quota for their one candidate versus 1.5 between the 2 Libs. Looking at tonight’s distribution, the overall preference flow from other eliminated or elected candidates favours the Greens over the Libs so that at the stage there’s three candidates left Kirschbaum has 0.85 of a quota while the two Libs have 1.75 between them.

    Kirschbaum getting within 101 votes of Hanson at the end, or 0.02 of a quota, was achieved with a starting point of primary votes in this distribution that relatively disadvantaged the Greens by 0.15 of a quota (or 600 votes) compared to the overall election primary tallies. So that’s one interesting thing.

    The other observation from tonight’s distribution is that although Hanson starts out 147 votes ahead of Jones on primaries, the preferences favour Jones to the degree that she ends up 57 votes ahead at the point there are three candidates remaining. Perhaps this is a local effect from the particular booths included to date. I doubt that even if this preference split were maintained right through the remaining ballot papers it would enable Jones to get ahead when Hanson’s 1000 primary vote head start is all included. But it underlines the fact that one should not assume too much when dealing with the dreaded Hare-Clark system!

    Polling booths included: Ainslie, Ainslie North, Amaroo, Baker Gardens, Barton & Campbell.

  34. I was just about to draw attention to the new figures but canberra boy got ahead of me. So, what he said. (Except it’s not three candidates remaining at that point but four – the third ALPer hasn’t been elected yet.) The Greens’ problem is that Hanson and Jones are so close together; since everyone’s under quota at that point (moral: should have floating quotas), it just needs one Liberal to get noticeably ahead of the other for the second Green to slip thru.

  35. Charles I did indeed overlook poor Mr Corbell! I think Antony was implying much the same thing earlier about the need for the Libs to split their vote evenly to keep the third Green out. The preferences favouring Jones over Hanson helps to achieve this. But I still reckon the more favourable primary vote position for the Greens when all ballots are included will enable them to win a third seat.

  36. All those new booths are fairly strongly Liberal (Campbell 41%!) bar one. Though I wonder if there’s actually any link between primary vote and preferences. What I mean is, if the Liberals for example poll strongly in a particular area does that usually correlate to a large amount of preference flows to them from other parties and candidates? Or is there no correlation at all, meaning that there’s not point in looking how how Green or Liberal particular booths are.

  37. Oz I have been wondering the same thing. My guess is that there isn’t that correlation – ie that preference flows from a particular kind of voter (ie supporter of particular candidates or parties) will flow in much the same way regardless of whether there are more or less Libs, Greens or whatever in their neighbourhood. The exception could be if there is a local candidate.

    Antony or someone else may have observations on this from other elections.

    We can also set out to do our own research… I’ve been saving the daily distribution spreadsheets from the ACT Electoral Commission to enable backwards comparison.
    Would you like to jointly author a paper for the Journal of Inconsequential Studies?

    I still reckon the most important factor to consider at the moment is that the Greens are 600 primary votes behind the position they would be at relative to the Liberals if the sample of votes in the interim distribution mirrored the overall vote.

  38. The Greens should seriously consider forming government with the Liberal Party. The ALP just takes the Greens for granted- like as if they own them.

  39. Someone else has probably already done it but I’m not familiar with the results of such research if so, so I’m going to have a look at it now. I’m going to find the first three-candidate federal seat contest I can (because the preference data for such contests is so readily available on a broken down basis) and I hypothesise that there will be a corellation between the booth primary vote for the Liberal (or National) Party and the proportion of preferences that party receives from the third candidate in that seat.

    I propose this corellation will exist for two reasons: (i) that voting intent in a given booth covers a spectrum influenced by the booth’s demographics and not just a polarised either-or, so if there are a lot of Liberals in a given booth then those who prefer the third party candidate may be more likely to preference the Liberals (ii) that where a candidate polls strongly because of local name recognition, they will also attract more preferences for the same reason.

    My method for finding a guinea-pig seat for this test will be to scroll through the state-by-state 2007 results on Adam Carr’s archive until I find a suitable seat. This method has been chosen to eliminate my own biases.

    Back when I’ve done it to report on the results. 😉

  40. Actually I struck a semi-expected obstacle right away – can’t find any three candidate contests as they all seem to have more! I will use the seat of Canberra as the guinea pig since (a) it is relevant to the current election (b) it was a four candidate contest where one candidate was a very minor independent who polled less than one percent.

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