Photo finishes: Brisbane

Friday, August 27

Rechecking of ordinary votes has cost Labor 87, and for the first time a batch of absent votes has favoured the LNP, albeit slightly – 622-613. LNP lead now 839, which should quite comfortably be enough.

Thursday, August 26

7pm. Another 1145 absent votes have gone 599-546 to Labor: very slightly good for them in absolute terms, reducing the margin to 743, but Labor’s 52.3 per cent share compares with 56.5 per cent in the first batch. A better portent for Labor with Antony Green apparent confirmation that today’s LNP-friendly batch of postal votes came from the Enoggera army barracks.

4.30pm. The LNP have moved another 112 ahead with the first 596 pre-polls breaking 354-242 their way: margin now out to 796.

3pm. Lucky I advised that caution yesterday, because a second batch of postals has been wildly unlike the first, favouring the LNP 1686-1384. This has widened the lead from 382 to 684 and slashed the overall ALP share of postals from 56.4 per cent to 47.8 per cent. My projection now has the LNP prevailing by 403, and I suspect that might flatter Labor with respect to the absent votes which are probably unlikely to continue splitting 56.3-43.5 to Labor. Pre-polls remain a wild card, but the LNP are back in the box seat.

Wednesday, August 25

11pm. Hmm. The first batch of 961 postal votes has heavily favoured Labor by 542 to 419, cutting the margin to 382. This is a swing in Labor’s favour of 0.8 per cent against the postal vote total in 2007, compared with a 4.9 per cent swing the other way on ordinary votes. Two questions arise: will this prove typical, and how many postal votes will there be? The scrutiny progress sheet says 602, which is obviously wrong because 961 have just been added to the count and a more typical amount is 5000 (UPDATE: And I now note that informed sources in comments are saying to expect exactly that). If you project Labor’s share of the first batch over the latter figure – which still seems intuitively optimistic from Labor’s point of view – they end up in front. If the 5000 outstanding absent votes also follow the trend of those already counted – ditto – Labor ends up winning quite handily, by about 500 votes. Caution advised at this stage.

5pm. Absent votes continue to flow heavily to Labor, raising their hopes of a late boilover. 1182 were added today, breaking 671-511 in favour of Arch Bevis and reducing his deficit from 657 to 490. My projection is for an LNP win by just 195 votes, but this is based on the AEC’s figure of 602 postal vote envelopes issued which is surely much too low. If you assume about the same many postal votes as last time (about 5500), the LNP winning margin blows out to about 400.

Tuesday, August 24

The first 978 absent votes have split 549-429 in favour of Labor. Comparing relativities of ordinary and absent votes from 2007 and 2010, this is a reversal of nearly 10 per cent. What this probably tells us is that these absent votes are from booths in Labor-leaning areas slightly outside the electorate’s boundaries, and the remaining 5000 or so absent voters are unlikely to be as favourable for them.

Saturday, August 21

This post will be progressively updated to follow late counting in Brisbane, where Liberal candidate Teresa Gambaro finishes the night with a lead of 858 votes (0.68 per cent). This narrows to 0.2 per cent on Antony Green’s projection.

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.

184 comments on “Photo finishes: Brisbane”

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  1. From one of the ALP troops in the trenches:

    [There are 5000 PVs, of which we processed 2000, the AEC 2000 and the Libs 1000. Having sat with them all day yesterday scrutineering the registering the envelopes against the PV applications, I can say that 80% of the apps the AEC took directly (ie not via a party) were on our forms anyway – interpret that as you wish, or not at all]

  2. That’s a very high percentage for Arch Bevis to get on postals. It’s on a par with his 2007 postals when his overall TPP vote was 5% higher!

    I can’t see it staying that high for the remaining 5000+ postals, but even if those just break for him on the positive side of 50%, he’d be in a strong position.

  3. Let’s run the numbers with 5000 postals to go.

    For every 1% above 50% of the TPP in the postals Arch gets he will gain 100 votes.

    So as Arch only needs 382 votes, he can do that with 53.82% or better of the remaining 5000 postals.

    And Andrew, based on what your saying Arch achieved in 2007 he has the machinery to achieve this type of result. This seat is definitely too close call!

  4. Just looked at how Brisbane’s pre-polls counted on election night turned out. There’s a Bris City PPVC which Labor won 63-37, and a smaller Divisional office pre-poll that the Libs won 57-43. Combined, they break 58-42 to Labor, so that definitely gives me hope for the out-of-electorate pre-pols.

  5. [Let’s run the numbers with 5000 postals to go.

    For every 1% above 50% of the TPP in the postals Arch gets he will gain 100 votes.

    So as Arch only needs 382 votes, he can do that with 53.82% or better of the remaining 5000 postals.]

    Run those figures again, Luckydave, bearing in mind that only a third of the absentee votes have been counted (with 5000+ still outsanding) and that Bevis is winning them 56% to 44% and it is almost impossible to conjour up a scenario that gets Gambaro back in the game.

  6. This one is going down to the wire. Given he was roughly 500 behind going in to the Postals and my man tells me there are 5000 of those, he needs to maintain that 55%.

    He has been in the seat 20 years, so he is well organised when it comes to postals.

    The wildcard might be the provisionals !!

  7. If attendance at the election was around 90% (a drop of just under 5% from the past election) I figure there are around 14335 votes left to count. Bevis would need to win 51% of these to scrape through. I’m quietly confident he can…

  8. I assume the Greens failed to run a postal vote campaign in Brisbane?

    Accidental informal postal votes will factor in Brisbane. NSW & Qld use an optional preferential voting system at a state and local government level. Thus what is a formal vote at state & local elections (marking just first preference) is NOT a formal vote at a federal election. This creates voter confusion. Research shows that the ALP tends to suffer from this voter confusion phenomenon at a far great rate than the Greens and the Libs. It is argued that socioeconomic, educational and ethnicity factors have a lot to do with high levels of accidental ALP informals.

    However, this phenomenon of high ALP accidental informals whilst evident at ordinary polling booths is not so at pre-poll and postal. Therefore, the postal votes yet to come should show a higher ALP 2PP percentage vote compared to ordinary booths given all others factors are considered even. Given the tight finish, this will come into play. I would rather be in Bevis’ position if what I read about the amount of postals yet to come is true. ALP scrutineers should see a lot less informals with a “1” ONLY marked next to Bevis’ name.

  9. 70 – I can confirm your second paragraph from observation. Worked at polling station in NSW and almost all of the informals where only one preference was indicated on HOR ballot would have gone ALP, a few Greens. Dont recall any such Libs informals.

  10. I agree with these comments regarding informals and the confusion the two voting systems create. If you look at the close seats / marginals, if just 10% of the informal vote was formal, it could change the result. Considering that – anecdotally at least – there is a bias against Green / Labor, I’m wondering if this issue is on the table for the 3 indies. Would reform benefit them or are they acting altruistically at present? Introducing multi-lingual voting (well, at least instructions and comms from the AEC) would also work to reduce the large informal count.

  11. Just summarising where the Brisbane count sat last night.

    Assuming the current trend on absentees continues then Bevis will be about 288 in front by the time they finish counting them.

    This leaves the postals (of which 993 are said to have been counted, splitting 56.4% to Bevis , 43.6% to Gambaro) , the Pre polls (5,030 of them – none counted) and the Provisionals (1334 of them, but most probably won’t be counted).

    We simply don’t know how many postals there are out there. The AEC site says there were only 620, but, as noted, they have already counted 993!

    In 2007 Bevis won all three of these categories (postals, pre-polls and provisionals) by a substantial margin. We can’t be sure that this will occur in this election, but even if Bevis simply breaks even on them he will win the seat. If the postals and pre-polls go to Gambaro, though, she can still win it.

  12. In 2007 Bevis won all three of these categories by a substantial margin that was ~1.5 _lower_ than his ordinary vote count.

    This time in the 2010 count his current declaration vote is 7 points higher than his ordinary vote and 1.5 points higher than his final declaration vote from 2007. I really really doubt this trend will hold for the rest of the count, or even in today’s count.

    I think we are actually seeing is huge variance derived from which envelopes have been opened first, and I think that his vote is going to be regress markedly over the rest of the count. This doesn’t mean Arch can’t win, but I think that if he does it’ll be a fistful of votes in it.

  13. Michael – the other way to read that is that Bevis has had a -4.89 swing against him (at this point in the count) compared to 2007.

    If that holds – he’ll win absent and postals 51-49 (and the smaller number of provisionals by more).

    Of course, if your point is no one should Brisbane as an ALP gain just yet – youre quite right. Looking positive for Labor tho.

  14. [In 2007 Bevis won all three of these categories by a substantial margin that was ~1.5 _lower_ than his ordinary vote count.]

    Interestingly, in the case of the 2007 election, his slightly lower figures for absentee votes seems to have largely involved a diminution in the flow of Greens prefs to him, coupled with a higher Green Absentee vote than they received in the “ordinaries”.

    THis may be a case of absentee voters not having sufficient information after their own favoured candidate was accounted for. (No “how to vote” cards available to them, perhaps?) Voters often just choose their own candidate and then “donkey vote” the rest in such situations. Last time around this would have slightly benefitted the Libs. This time it slightly benefits Bevis.

  15. I think the most vital thing in this division is not who wins or loses, but the AEC officials in Brisbane update the VTR page more often.

  16. From most of the seats I’ve looked at, the declaration votes are quite sticky. That is, they stay closer to the 2007 trends than they ought to considering the swing in the seat. This obviously bodes well for Labor.

    I think the current system is pretty unfair regarding donkey votes. if even 0.5% of enrolled voters issued a donkey vote this time it would have cut Gambaro’s lead by 461 votes, and I think 0.5% is quite a conservative estimate.

  17. It is believed that 2% of voters “donkey vote” in the 1 2 3 4 etc… manner. They need to produce randomised ballot papers where the order of the candidates changes in order to eliminate this unfair situation. Of course this will affect how-to-vote cards, but they should be banned anyway. If you aren’t intelligent enough to figure out who you want to preference for yourself, you shouldn’t be voting.

    Or perhaps the rest of the nation should catch up to QLD and NSW and bring in optional preferential voting.

  18. [They need to produce randomised ballot papers where the order of the candidates changes in order to eliminate this unfair situation.]

    No, they don’t. They need to ditch compulsory voting. That is the cause of donkey votes.

    [Or perhaps the rest of the nation should catch up to QLD and NSW and bring in optional preferential voting.]

    The logical extension of which is optional voting.

  19. @82 CombatWombat

    Actually, the estimaates for the donkey vote are more in the range 0.6% to 0.7%.

    So if the donkey vote favours one side in one election, but the other side in the next, then the net effect is to affect the swing by 1.3%.

    In this case, the donkey vote favoured the Libs in 2007 but favours Labor in 2010. So that’s a 1.3% buffer to Bevis.

    But then, the donkey vote favoured Labor in 2007 and the Libs in 2010 in Corangamite and Hasluck, so that made the task for Labor 1.3% harder in those two crucial seats.

    In the long run, it’s swings and roundabouts.

  20. Wouldn’t it be better if half the booths had one ballot order and the other half of the booths had the reverse ballot order?

    Then on a two-candidate basis, the donkey vote is virtually split.

  21. Not sure how this works, but I did see on the AEC website that Bevis’ results from individual polling booths vary from 22% to 64%. This is a huge range. Maybe the absentees and postals (but I can’t see how this would be the case for postals) come from a place that is more favourable to Bevis? Interesting to see if the trend back to Labor continues (I hope not :o)

  22. Can anyone explain why postals seem to come in waves that heavily favour one candidate or the other? Have noticed it watching other seats too…

    Gambaro is now further ahead in postals, percentage wise, than she is with ordinary votes.

  23. Yep – bad batch for Bevis that last lot. Obviously they are a bit all over the place – or this could just be correcting back to the predicted 51-49 margin.

    Hmmmm, another nail-biter!

  24. Sure will be close. Corangamite and Hasluck look like they will stay in ALP and Coalition hands respectively. Brisbane will be the seat to decide which party holds the majority of seats – which may or may not be a factor in the indies decision making process of who to form minority with.


  25. Mmm,

    Those postals aren’t looking too good for Bevis. I wonder how many there really are to go?

    The absentees seem to be standing him in very good stead, but it is a long time since they counted any more of them. Wonder why?

    With the Postals going to Gambaro you’ve got wonder whether pre-polls will too, I’m afraid.

  26. Current situation:
    Gambero lead = 684. This includes postals and absentees counted to date.
    Absent votes now said to be 7,686
    Absent votes already counted = 2252 (splitting 56.48% to Bevis, 43.52% to Gambaro )
    remaining absent votes = 5434
    Bevis share of absent votes = 3069 at current rates
    Gambaro share of absent votes = 2365
    Gives Bevis a lead of 3069 – 2365 – 684 = 24 at present rate of flow of Absent votes before considering the remaining postals and pre poll

    We don’t really know how many more postals there are to go. The website identifies 5,701 envelopes received, of which 4144 have been counted and are included in the lead of 684 mentioned above.

    THis leaves seemingly at least 1557 postals for counting.

    Assuming the same split for the remainder that we have seen to date then 1557 x .4778 for Bevis gives him 744 of them.

    With the same assumption then 1557 x .5222 for Gambaro gives her 813 of them
    This gives Gambaro a lead of 813-744-24 = 45 after taking into account the known postals, and the Absentee votes as currently listed, assuming both absentees and postals continue to break at the same rate for each candidate.

    The great unknowns here are the 5,109 Pre-Poll and the 1,334 provisional votes, none of which appear to have been counted. A lesser unknown is how many more postals there are outstanding.

    Assuming that not many of the provisionals are counted then the result is going to depend on which way the Pre-Polls break. Whoever wins these will probably win the seat. Will they follow the absentees or the postals? If they break 50/50 then it is anyone’s ball game.

    If the provisional numbers include significant numbers of the “Get-up” new voters, however, then they too, could influence the result.

    If there are still a lot of postals outstanding then it will get harder for Bevis though.

    Unless the pre-polls break clearly in one direction or another, or there are real changes in the flow of either the absentees or the postals, then we have a new McEwen 2007 on our hands, but potentially with far more serious consequence given that it will determine which party has the majority of seats. I hope the High Court have made some space in their diaries!

    Gambaro is back as a slight to mild favourite, though.

  27. 78.5% counted??? Surely there are not 20,000 votes left to count? Can this be right? Does anyone know how many votes are left to count? This is the BIG question. If it is only about 5,000, then you would have to say the seat is out of Labor’s reach. If it really is 20,000, then a Labor victory is still a (horrifying) possibility.

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