Final 2PP: 50.12-49.88 to Labor

The Australian Electoral Commission has finalised the last of its two-party preferred Labor-versus Coalition counts, and it confirms Labor has won a narrow victory on the national total of 6,216,439 (50.12 per cent) to 6,185,949 (49.88 per cent), a margin of 30,490. If distinctions to the second decimal place are what matters to you, Labor did about 0.05 per cent worse than last time due to the arbitrary fact of the Nationals finishing ahead of Wilson Tuckey in O’Connor, meaning the AEC finalised a two-party result on a Nationals-versus-Labor basis where the 2007 Liberal-versus-Labor result was more favourable to them. So while I think it reasonable to cite the published figure as the definitive national result, a slight discount should be factored in when considering the matter of the swing, which should properly be rounded to 2.5 per cent rather than 2.6 per cent.

Whatever the specifics, the result leaves quite a few people looking foolish:

Barnaby Joyce: “We’d won the two-party preferred vote by the time the independents made their decision.” (Lateline, 7/9).

Andrew Bolt: “Labor won fewer votes, fewer seats of its own and less of the two-party preferred vote.” (Herald Sun, 8/9).

Alan Jones: “Is it a healthy democracy when a party wins the majority of the two party preferred, wins the majority of the primary vote and wins more seats in the Parliament than the other party but the other party forms government?” (2GB, 8/9).

Sarah Martin: “Yesterday, Julia Gillard’s Labor Party won government despite losing the primary vote and the two-party-preferred vote, or securing a majority of seats.” (The Advertiser, 7/9).

Kerry Chikarovski: “The Coalition won the primary vote, they won the two-party preferred …” (The Drum, 7/9).

Lateline: “Labor loses two-party preferred vote” (report headline, 30/8).

Kenneth Wiltshire: “It is probable that the Coalition will win more third-party preferences.” (NB: This of course is absurd – Labor got 65 per cent of third party preferences, much as they always do – but I think we know what he’s trying to say.) (The Australian 6/9).

Lisa Wilkinson (to Wayne Swan): “Now, you won fewer primary votes, fewer two-party preferred votes and fewer seats.”
(Swan explains to her that she’s wrong.)
Wilkinson: “But in the end you got 49.9 per cent of the vote and the Opposition got 50.1.”
Swan: “No, I don’t think that’s … Lisa, that is not a final count.”
Wilkinson: “Well, that’s what the AEC is saying and that’s what Australia said at the polls.” (The Today Show, Nine Network, 9/9).

No doubt there were others.

Our troubles here began on August 30, when the AEC removed three electorates from the national total on the basis that the Labor-versus-Liberal counts there had been discontinued after election night, as it became apparent the Greens (in the case of Batman and Grayndler) or Andrew Wilkie (in the case of Denison) rather than the Liberals would face Labor at the final count. As three of the weakest seats in the land for the Liberals, these were by extension among the strongest seats for Labor in two-party terms. The resulting adjustment in Labor’s two-party vote from 50.4 per cent 50.0 per cent led to a great many uncomprehending reports of a “surge” to the Coalition, which had an added edge due to Julia Gillard’s post-election claim that Labor had, apparently, won the two-party vote. Those who wanted a clear and accurate exposition of the news had to ignore, say, The Australian, and look to an evidently more reliable source of information in Bob Brown, who explained the absence of eight electorates from the published result and correctly concluded: “If you look at the whole of Australia and you treat every seat equally, when you do that Labor’s ahead and is likely to keep that lead right the way through to the finishing pole.”

Antony Green defends journalists on the basis that they were within their rights to take an official AEC figure at face value, but I’m not so kind. Even if awareness of the missing electorates was too much to ask, those quoted above should at least have been aware that the count was incomplete. As it stands, we have a result that leaves those of us who had done the sums with exactly what we were expecting, and a lot of dopey pundits and dishonest politicians with egg on their faces.

UPDATE: Morgan has published results from a phone poll of 541 respondents conducted on Wednesday and Thursday evening which has Labor leading 52-48 on two-party preferred from primary votes of 35.5 per cent for Labor, 42.5 per cent for the Coalition and 15 per cent for the Greens. The margin of error on the poll is about 4.2 per cent.

UPDATE 2: As Peter Brent points out, the 52-48 result comes from the less reliable two-party measure based on respondent-allocated preferences – going on previous elections, which the most recent election has again vindicated as the superior method, Labor’s lead is only 50.5-49.5.

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.

2,186 comments on “Final 2PP: 50.12-49.88 to Labor”

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  1. Being very kind to Barnaby he may have been trying to saying that they were leading the TPP when the indies made their decision. I must be going soft.

  2. [HA HA HA
    What was that again about Abbott’s right to rule? ]

    While it’s nice that Labor got over 50%, we all know that that doesn’t give them the right to rule. Only 76 seats on the floor gives them that right (which, fortunately they got too).

  3. IMOHO, 3135, previous thread …

    Thanks for the link. Very interesting. According to, avaaz appears to have been co-founded by an Australian, David Madden. It’s apparently based on the model of the Australian progressive movement,, and its American equivalent!

    For those who missed it here’s the link again to aavaz, who are taking the fight up to “hate media”…

  4. Itep, just shows that they consider the public chumps, flat out lying to them when the facts are right there.

    It’s incredibly stupid politics, trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.

  5. Not sure it counts, but Ms Bishop:

    [ Ms Bishop says the Coalition is now significantly ahead on Labor on “all counts”.

    “The primary vote, the two-party preferred, the number of seats in the House, the number of Senate seats, the Coalition is ahead,” Ms Bishop said.

    “Labor, for all intents and purposes, lost the election.]

    Did their ABC set the record straight with the information William has and supplied … or did they let the “Federal Opposition says …” claim (false) go unchallenged?

  6. Cuppa, from the same story:

    [A recalculation means eight seats have now been temporarily removed from the count, as they do not involve a contest between the two main parties.

    Four of the removed seats – O’Connor, Lyne, New England and Kennedy – are broadly conservative, while the seats of Melbourne, Batman, Grayndler and Denison lean towards Labor.]

  7. The O’Connor TPP count is a bad joke by the AEC. I makes a mockery of the WA Nats clearly articulated position with regards to the Coalition.

  8. I think that probably all the votes are now counted Henry unless there are a few postals or absents lying uncounted in some remote electorates.

  9. [Only 76 seats on the floor gives them that right]

    Thank Hamish. everyone please focus on that and ignore 2PP, primary vote, how many goals your team kicked on the weekend, or any other irrelevant statistic that has NO bearing on who has the right to govern.

  10. The Virtual Tally Room says:
    -The two party preferred count is 93.21% complete.
    -The election results on this website were last updated at 17/09/2010 12:57:09 PM.

  11. Triton

    That 93.21% complete figure means the number of voters (formal plus informal)
    with respect to the number of enrolled voters.

    I think that is all the votes cast now counted.

  12. The number of primary votes counted equals the two party preferred vote count so, as Dr Good says, unless there’s postals or absents still to be counted somewhere the count is complete.

  13. [Itep, just shows that they consider the public chumps, flat out lying to them when the facts are right there.

    It’s incredibly stupid politics, trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.]

    Their cause is assisted if the media don’t set the lies/record straight.

  14. [That’s 93.21% of enrolled voters.]

    Okay. The AEC has a bit of work to do on clarity. It also says Figures and calculations on this website should not be considered final until notified as such – until then all results are indicative only. It doesn’t say where we are “notified”.

  15. Turn back the votes!

    I would have thougth this will make the news, but can’t see it mentioned on the website I normally read yet. I suspect that some will not be keen to mention it, given the errors by journalists as well as politicians that William has already mentioned.

    Labor should issue a press release and Gillard and Swan mention this at every interview till it sinks in. This is exactly the sort of historical fat that gets rewritten or forgotten unless people are told.

    Looks like the Indies got it right. Where is Truthie to congratulate them??

  16. Another thing the media incorrectly did at the time was claim the Coalition were ahead 50.1/49.9 when it was really 50.01/49.99. Again, I think this was more a case of incompetence than conspiracy. I recall at the last election a certain commenter saying they thought it was silly to go to two decimal places and that they’d prefer it being left at 1.

  17. During the swearing in of the ministry, David Speers said on Sky News that the LNP may have got back ahead in the TPP. I sent him an email with the AEC numbers that proved he was wrong.

    He did not reply.

    “Don’t let the facts spoil a biased report.”

  18. [Thank Hamish. everyone please focus on that and ignore 2PP, primary vote, how many goals your team kicked on the weekend, or any other irrelevant statistic that has NO bearing on who has the right to govern.]
    The coalition got far more time and sympathy on Fox News and in The Australian. Surely that counts for something??

  19. I’m looking forward to Wayne Swan’s next interview with Lisa Wilkinson. If I were him I’d say, “Thanks for the question Lisa. Firstly let me say … yah-boo sucks to you! We won the 2PP vote. Now, what was the question again” Probably won’t happen, but I can dream 🙂

  20. I don’t frequent the place but someone with a strong stomach should post this on Andrew Bolt’s blog. That reaction would be funny.

  21. Perhaps Gillard could hold a press conference to thank the AEC for finally completing the count in this exhausting process, and acknowledging that the result was close, with Labor only just winning the votes as well as teh Independents support. Its the right thing to do 🙂

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