Moral majority

Yesterday, the Australian Electoral Commission performed an act which in a rational world would have excited no interest. Since last weekend the commission has featured a “national two party preferred result” on the front page of its Virtual Tally Room, which has assumed tremendous psychological interest as Labor’s margin has steadily eroded from 0.6 per cent to 0.4 per cent. However, the tally had a flaw which biased it in Labor’s favour: there were no Labor-versus-Coalition figures available from strongly conservative Kennedy, Lyne, New England or O’Connor, where the notional two-candidate preferred counts conducted on election night involved independents. This was only balanced out by left-wing Melbourne, where Labor and the Greens were correctly identified as the front-running candidates for the notional count. For whatever reason, the AEC decided yesterday to level the playing field by excluding seats where the notional preference count candidates had been changed since election night, which in each case meant left-wing seats where the Liberals had finished third to the Greens (Batman and Grayndler) or Andrew Wilkie (Denison). The result was an instant 0.4 per cent drop in Labor’s score, reducing them to a minuscule lead that was soon rubbed out by further late counting.

In fact, very little actually changed in yesterday’s counting, which saw a continuation of the slow decline in the Labor total that is the usual pattern of late counting. The media, regrettably, has almost entirely dropped the ball on this point. Mark Simkin of the ABC last night reported that Labor’s lead had been eradicated by the “latest counting”, as opposed to an essentially meaningless administrative decision. Lateline too informed us that Labor’s two-party vote had “collapsed”, and Leigh Sales’ opening question to Julie Bishop on Lateline was essentially an invitation to gloat about the fact. Most newspaper accounts eventually get around to acknowledging the entirely artificial nature of the 50,000-vote reversal in Labor’s fortunes, but only after reporting in breathless tones on the removal of votes that will eventually be put back in.

The reality is that nobody knew who had the lead on the two-party vote yesterday morning, and nothing happened in the day to make anybody any the wiser. The Prime Minister equally had no idea on election night when she made her ill-advised claim to the two-party majority mantle. Only when all seats have reported Labor-versus-Coalition counts, which is probably still a few weeks away, will we be able to say for sure. The best we can do at present is to construct a projection based on the votes counted and our best assumptions as to how the gaps in the vote count data will be filled when all the figures are in.

At present we have completed “ordinary” polling day totals for all electorates and advanced counts of postal votes in most cases, but there has been no progress yet on absent or pre-poll votes in roughly half. Where counting of any of these three categories has been conducted, I have projected the party results on to the expected total of such votes (derived from the “declaration vote scrutiny progress” for absent and pre-poll votes, and from the number of applications for postal votes discounted by 16 per cent as per experience from 2007). Where no counting of a particular category has been conducted, I have compared the parties’ 2007 vote share in that category with their ordinary vote share, and applied that difference to the ordinary vote from this election. For example, the 2007 Liberal two-party vote in Canberra was 7.19 per cent higher than their ordinary vote share, so their 40.54 per cent ordinary vote at the current election has been used to project an absent vote share of 47.73 per cent.

For Batman, Grayndler and Denison, I have used the figures from the two-party Labor-versus-Liberal counts that were conducted in these seats from ordinary votes on election night, calculated the swing against the ordinary vote in 2007 and projected it over the expected absent, pre-poll and postal totals. For Melbourne, New England and Kennedy, where no Labor-versus-Coalition figures are available, I have used preference shares derived from the Labor-versus-Coalition counts from the 2007 election to determine the swing on ordinary votes, and projected that swing through the other categories. It’s with Lyne and O’Connor that things get crude, as we have no case study of how Rob Oakeshott’s or Wilson Tuckey’s preferences split between Labor and Nationals candidates. For O’Connor, which has at least been a Labor-Liberal-Nationals contest at successive elections, I have crudely arrived at a 7.9 per cent swing against Labor derived from the primary vote swing plus moderated by a 70 per cent share of the swing in favour of the Greens. The best I could think to do for Lyne was average the two-party swings from the neighbouring electorates, producing a 5.14 per cent swing against Labor.

Plug all that in and here’s what you get:

Labor 6,313,736 (50.02 per cent)
Coalition 6,307,924 (49.98 per cent)

In other news, Andrew Wilkie says the two-party vote total is “not relevant” in determining which party he will back. Good for him.

UPDATE: An Essential Research poll has it at 50-50, which is “unchanged” – I’m not sure if this is in comparison with the election result or a previously unpublished Essential result from a week ago. Basically no change on preferred prime minister. UPDATE 2: The 50-50 from last week was indeed an unpublished Essential result from their rolling two-week average, which they understandably felt was not worth publishing under the circumstances.

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.

3,640 thoughts on “Moral majority”

  1. [CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said the economy had “hit the sweet spot” and was one of the strongest economies in the advanced world.]

    Sweet isn’t it 😉

  2. btw, the commodity and currency markets are in full cry tonight. Commodity prices are up almost across the board, with copper jumping more than 3%. The AUD is up nearly US 2 cents in 2 days and the chances of a double-dip in the US seem to be receding just a bit. This is very positive for Australia.

  3. ptmd, yes. The outlook is much more confident than it has been for months, coinciding with some great domestic data yesterday and today.

  4. [3565
    To Speak of Pebbles

    The Aus economy is going strong because it is anticipating the awesomeness of Tony Abbott…]

    or because the riddle of Kevin Rudd has been removed…..

  5. Dee
    Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Get luv : ‘@Ron you must love Labor that much not to see the basic problem with the citizens’ assembly.’

    “As I stated before. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a citizens assembly. The Rabbott’s successful hammering of Rudd’s desire to consult has done the process of consultation & the idea behind it a lot of harm.
    To act on CC you must bring the people with you. You must have a multitude of experts & public spokespeople committed to getting the message out there.
    The government proved that this issue cannot be done by politicians alone. We are seeing this as a hurdle for every government around the world.
    We need a dedicated group to inform the public. The opposition had the largest & most influential people out there spruiking that CC was crap & a carbon price was the ruination of the world.
    The same people were able to turn the public against the mining tax.”

    Dee , I’ve made these points repeat in past but your post more eloquently put is why Julia’s 2 Assmblys is needed , and furthers Julia will hold them both for these reasons

    Extreme radical left demanding uneconamiic 25% immediate cuts and extreme rite denying CC even exists will be exposed in these dual 2 public forums which is why both Groups is scared of Julia’s citizens assmeblys

    Motherhood Poll Q’s asking do you suport a CPRS is far diff from Public facing/acepting reality of actualy paying higher energy power bills vs a GBNAT scare

  6. The OO are in panic mode:

    # aus_politics

    Crunch time for the Nationals: THE rise of independents and decline of rural areas leave the Nats in a pickle. http://bit.ly/cNUKm3 10 minutes ago via twitterfeed

    # Australian Politics aus_politics

    Shockwave sent through mining heartland: LABOR’S alliance with the Greens has sent a shockwave through Australia’s… http://bit.ly/910GOo 10 minutes ago via twitterfeed

    # Australian Politics aus_politics

    Oakeshott put off by ‘racism’ in Nationals: IF the Coalition fails to persuade Rob Oakeshott to support an Abbott … http://bit.ly/aP9ZDw 10 minutes ago via twitterfeed

    # Australian Politics aus_politics

    PM’s high-risk Greens embrace: JULIA Gillard has agreed to a historic pact with the Australian Greens in a bid to … http://bit.ly/aZLESl 10 minutes ago via twitterfeed

    # Australian Politics aus_politics

    Treasury finds $7bn hole in Abbott costings: TREASURY’S costings of the Coalition’s election promises have found a… http://bit.ly/9sY4yp 10 minutes ago via twitterfeed

  7. rabbito’s Diogenous , Anony & Pegasus running there same sex drivel poll garbage again tonite

    On numerous occasions very publicly both Julia and Tony Abbott made it clear it is not there polisy , for a combination of culturel , religious , historical , children , and society standards reasons

    They got over 80% of vote so clearly its not a first level issue to voters Also suggest you guys laern how to read Polls and Poll Q’s before making irrational posts

  8. What a strange day!

    There I was this morning at work coming to terms with the fourth stage of grieving – 2249

    [*1- shock – “wtf – how did this happen?”
    2- anger – “arbib/bitar/shorten/rudd/gillard/msm…”
    3- bargaining – “if wilkie…if bandt…if indies…if AEC…”
    4- acceptance]

    then by the time I found out I’d left out a “depression” stage between 3 and 4, Labor and the Greens had made an accord of sorts (Larga Vida a la Tregua!)

    then came news of strong economic data

    then just before I had to go out tonight, the big one, and as people have noted before, the “third possibility” on Abbott’s costings that he never anticipated. In victory he would have pulled the old “core/non-core due to black hole” line, in defeat they would have all been shredded, but in that “nether-world” of a hung Parliament they have been exposed by the Independents for the sham they obviously always were.

    As I write, Andrew Bolt still can’t bear to broach the subject which is headlines on the cover of his own newspaper “$10b ‘black hole’ blow to Abbott”(even though he has started another thread at 12:02 am).

    On betfair Labor has come down to $2.10 and it will be interesting to see how that goes when people wake up tomorrow.

    Vernula Publicus 3503

    [Wonder of any of the projects Tony is going to stop are in Tasmania or New England or the bush]
    – yes, JG should hammer them to say where they are cutting 3 billion (media won’t)

    & 3531
    [I’m not sleeping for the last 36 hours of Abbott’s leadership – starting now]
    – since getting back home, and reading the last 3 hours of posts and looking at the newspapers, I am feeling a lot better than this morning’s “grieving”

    – maybe putting that song on my “name/website” was a premonition!

  9. Ron, you say these posters are wrong, and don’t disprove them.

    But then again you must be right that because 80% voted for ALP or lib, and that they must agree with you.

    Why do you want to stop gays getting married?

    If you talk about culture, why are shops now allowed to trade on Sundays?

    The world is changing around you Ron. If you don’t change with it, you will be left behind like OO journos.

  10. SNIP: Word I don’t allow here for legal safety purposes deleted – The Management.

    Is Hockey dishonest or just very very incompetent?

  11. There have been a lot of “haters” of Andrew Wilkie on this blog.

    Put yourself in his shoes – he has not even sat as an MP and people are demanding he “decide” who should form the government. He does not have a party machine backing him, nor an experienced colleague (Bob Brown to Adam Bandt)

    If there were a re-election (unlikely I know) I think he would win again – some Liberals would vote “tactically” and back him. Then he would either finish ahead of the Greens again and get their prefs to pass the Libs, or ahead of the Libs and get their prefs to take him past the Greens.

    Even though he has never sat in Parliament I think maybe he could be the answer for Speaker – to me he seems above all to want an improvement in Government standards including Parliament. He was hung out to dry by the system (I know it was JH) and I think he is beyond bitter – he wants to improve the nation he lives in.

  12. The great bi-polar nature of this election has enabled me to pick up another $20 for my kick…….very quickly….but geez I sweated on that.
    NOW – the betting markets are at a stage where there is little value in them – I’m hoping for something exciting to happen soon so as to create another arbitrage opportunity. 😆

  13. #3575
    Why appoint Wilkie Speaker? He has never sat in Parliament and his demeanour is untested.
    On the Other hand Oakeshott has 13 years experience in parliament, recently obtained a law degree and his demeanour is known both by parliamentarians and the wider community through his recent media appearances. He is champing at the bit for parliamentary reform.
    I would think its a one horse race between the two.

  14. I don’t know why ppl get their knickers in a twist over gays getting married.

    I don’t care. If one is married, I think the only marriage one should worry about is one’s own (well, qualify that to add your kids, friends etc if they want some advice or help or something, of course). Gays getting married has no effect on anyone else’s marriage, no more than the man and woman’s in the next street. Society won’t fail, the milk won’t curdle, the heavens won’t fall and about 1 year after the change no one will even notice it.

    If it is a religious problem, fine, don’t do these marriages in your holy place. (Though I bet there would be at least one Anglican church that would end up doing it.)

    It really makes not a jot of difference who marries whom as long as it is between two consenting adults. That’s IMHO.

  15. Looks like The Age, SMH, Herald-Sun going with the Abbott “black hole”

    Daily Telegraph can’t resist “Blue Nile”

    Australian (tiresome really) “PM’s high risk Greens embrace”

    *really going to bed now – obviously lack that manic stamina!

  16. I am opposed to gays getting married. Marriage should not be gay, it should be miserable, just like mine! 😛

    As for same sex marriage, go for gold. Makes no difference to me!

  17. [Did you know that when the Apollo program was canned NASA was working out what to do with the left-over Saturn 5’s (Skylab eventually) and one plan was a manned fly-by of Venus in 1973-4 (could have been good foe Nixon!!)]

    That would’ve been sweet but who’d be brave enough for that journey, knowing it’ll mean a couple of months of cabin fever?

  18. [how do i do an avatar on crikey, i can’t find it in the settings? sorry. no caps – one finger typing.]

    Click on your avatar, it’ll bring you to a site called gravatar. Log in with your PB log in details, and the rest is pretty self explanatory.

  19. [Wonder if Katter would take in a stockwhip? (btw My Mum can do a darn good crack of stockwhip!)]

    When a problem comes along…?

  20. I know what Al Bundy would have to say about it. 21 mins of laughter, then a sequel.

    Venus and back? That would take some bravery for an astronaut. Getting in orbit and back is dangerous enough.

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