Photo finishes: Indi

This post will be progressively updated to follow the late counting in the undecided seat of Indi.

Wednesday 4pm. Another 69 absents, 56 provisionals, 87 pre-polls and 70 postals have trickled, making little difference to a Cathy McGowan lead that currently stands at 395. The bigger news is that Sophie Mirabella has conceded defeat.

Tuesday 6pm. A variety of additions to the count today – 132 absents, 116 pre-polls and even 132 provisionals – which have chipped 18 votes from McGowan’s lead, now at 387. Mirabella still needs the dwindling stock of outstanding votes, now at around 1750, to break 60-40 her way.

Monday 4pm. Another 1611 pre-polls have favoured Mirabella 899-712, but they’ve been partly negated by 577 absents which continue to favour McGowan, this time by 327-250. Mirabella’s net rate of gain is less than what she needs, putting her on course for defeat by about 400 votes.

Sunday 7pm. Pre-polls are continuing to heavily favour Mirabella, a batch of 1431 breaking 842-589 her way. This is a ratio of 59-41 in a situation where 57-43 should be sufficient to win her the seat. However, the remaining votes include at least 1000 absent as well as 2000 pre-poll votes, and those have been favouring McGowan. A further 971 of the dwindling stock of postal votes was slightly below par for Mirabella in breaking only 520-421 her way.

Saturday 8pm. Along with some rechecking, just 475 absents added to the count today and they’re continuing to favour McGowan, breaking 252-223 her way and putting her lead at 837. My projection of the share of the outstanding vote Mirabella will need is up from 56.3% to 57.1%.

Friday 6pm. The first 930 absent votes have been added and are good news for Cathy McGowan, adding 98 to her lead. Postals continue to flow solidly to Mirabella, a further 1918 boosting her by 290 votes, but there can’t be too many of those left. Her overall deficit is 897 and with about 7000 votes to come, she needs something of a miracle from here.

Friday 3pm. Another 1918 postals have been added and they’ve favoured Mirabella by 290, with McGowan’s lead down to 791. Yesterday’s projection that Mirabella needed about 55% of the outstanding basically still holds. She’s doing slightly better than that on postals, but absents and pre-polls might behave very differently and single one of either has been counted yet.

Thursday evening. The addition of 1930 postal votes has clawed back 318 for Sophie Mirabella after the identification of yesterday’s polling booth error blew out Cathy McGowan’s lead from a bit under 500 to 1471. Still to come are about 2750 postals, 4500 pre-polls, and 2500 absents, which will need to break at least 55-45 Sophie Mirabella’s way. Her share of postal votes so far is 57.6%, but absents and perhaps also pre-polls will presumably be less unlike ordinary votes.

Wednesday 4pm. A sensational development today with the emergence of a counting error at the Wangaratta pre-poll vote centre which was costing Cathy McGowan a bundle of 1000 votes. As David Barry notes in comments, McGowan had hitherto been doing 15% worse in the Wangaratta pre-poll booth than in the ordinary booth vote compared with a more typical 7% at other pre-poll centres, a discrepancy which disappears if 1000 votes are added to McGowan counts. Where McGowan’s lead had dramatically scaled back to 498 votes on latest counting, it can now be regarded as out to 1498, which almost certainly decides the result.

Monday 5pm. All the fixed polling both two-candidate counts are in, giving McGowan a solid looking lead of 24,840 to 23,086. Better modelling of my own in comments variously gives her 50.5% and 50.3% after pre-poll voting centres are added. However, there remains to come the very large number of postals, pre-polls and absents which seem likely to rein that in, the question being by how much. So a fair bit of entertainment left to come, it would appear.

Monday 3.30pm. The AEC is conducting a two-candidate preferred preference count between Mirabella and McGowan, going through the booths in alphabetical order. Since the largest centres in the electorate start with a “W” (Wangaratta and Wodonga), larger towns are unrepresented in the sample so far, which has Mirabella leading McGowan 14850 to 14569. I have attempted to model the relationship between the preference split and a given booth’s combined Labor and Greens preference flow, without a huge amount of success – the relationship is highly significant, but it only explains 24.4% of the variation. For what it’s worth though, the resulting model (preferences to McGowan equal 0.73*0.331x, where x equals the combined Labor and Greens vote) gives McGowan a 690 vote lead, remembering that this doesn’t include postals, pre-poll and absent votes.

Election night. Antony Green has Sophie Mirabella leading Cathy McGowan 29567 to 27880, which is presumably a projection because the AEC has no preference count and will presumably do one today or tomorrow. The primary votes are 44.4% for Mirabella to 32.2% for independent Cathy McGowan, which will be hard to overhaul with the available preferences from Labor (11.3%), the Greens (3.2%) and 9% others.

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.

143 comments on “Photo finishes: Indi”

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  1. Liberal scrutineers obviously applying a lot of pressure. Over the last couple of hours 106 of McGowan’s votes have been declared informal against 54 of Mirabella’s. As a result the lead has been cut from 1152 to 1100 even though no new votes have been counted.

  2. I don’t think Sophie has much hope of a Lazarus like come back from here. I note that there are no absent votes as yet included in the count. There would be around 3,000 absent votes. In 2010, the overall 2PP was 60/40 but the absents were near enough 50/50. I would expect in line with the general swing against Mirabella, the absents will break strongly in McGowan’s favour. With maybe 4,000 postals to go, taking these factors into account – even with the hardest scrutineering possible going on – McGowan’s lead is just too big to conceivably be clawed back. If the outstanding votes were all postals, it would be too close to call at this point. But they’re not.

  3. I have revised my view in comments on the main thread. I agree its now too far close to call. Until we see some numbers on the pre-polls in particular.

  4. The first 1004 absentee votes have been added and the votes have gone 55.27% Cathy 44.73% Sophie, so Cathy is doing really well on these (1658 of these left to count). 1072 postals left to add and over 4000 pre-polls). Margin out to 897.

  5. So if Cathy continues to get 55.27% of the remaining absent votes (1658) she will gain 174 votes on these. On the remaining postals (1072) Sophie would gain 162 votes, putting Cathy further ahead by 12 votes after both of these are added putting her 908 votes in front before early votes are added.
    There are currently 4001 early votes maybe as many as 4708. In the last election Sophie got 62.44% which would give her a gain of 955 votes enough to win Sophie the count (only just). However, surely there will be a swing on these if Sophie gets 60% of these her gain drops to 800 votes, not enough to win.

  6. Ordinary votes have swung 11% against Mirabella, Postals looking stable at an 8% swing against and Absents are so far swinging 7% against. To hope for no swing on Early seems to be wishing for a miracle. (Not that I’m suggesting that anyone here was hoping for that 😉 )

  7. New postals arrive at about 30 per day, probably half that next week, meaning about 9,300 in total and leaving 1600 to be counted. This will shrink Cathy’s TCP by 250 at the current TCP% for postals.

    There are probably about 6,400 Absents and Early Absents to count. If they break Cathy’s way as the Absents have so far, this means a gain of about 650.

    If these two things came to pass, the final lead would be about 700.

  8. Oops

    Looked in the wrong Excel cell- that was a regression projection. I should have said a final gap of about 1300.

    The AEC put Indi back on the “Close Seats” list earlier today, but have taken it away again this evening. (The criterion is a gap of 1% or less).

  9. This one was all over on Wednesday afternoon with the discovery of the 1000 uncounted votes. There was no doubt from that point.

  10. By no means think that I was suggesting that Sophie would win. I was just saying if she did as well as the last election on the early votes she could come close, I fully expect that not to happen. I live in Indi, I know people who all their lives who voted Liberal who voted for Cathy. I look forward to her being our local member.

  11. Mirabella has got approximately 57% of the early votes from the first ~700 counted. That is only a swing of -5% from 2010, which is much smaller than PPVC votes. The total number of postal votes eventually received and the number of early votes will be crucial. An update here:

    Are any more absent and early votes expected to be received? What is the cut-off date for postals?

  12. I now have a projected final margin of 336 to McGowan assuming no late postals arrive or 180 assuming all late postals arrive.

    There’s a bit of an issue here that I picked up with the Tassie Senate modelling as well – within electorate PPVCs are not a good model for out of electorate PPVs. Why not I don’t know, they’re just not. Maybe votes are cast at different times.

  13. An so it came not to pass.

    Are they still counting? the numbers jiggle about on a hour-by-hour basis. It seems to me that someone might have asked for Pre-poll Dec votes to be counted today, just to see where the land lies.

    Projection of Cathy’s winning margin dropped sickeningly to about 290 with these sample votes.

    Like Kevin I assumed it would not matter whether the “out-of-electorate” were pre-poll or booth voting. But, on reflection, I think you could say that these people were just “natural” postal voters, who chose to go to a pre-poll.

    Indi is now like the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, rocking back and forth across the “too-close-to-call” line.

  14. Sophie is getting 56.51% of the 700 early votes already counted. This is not enough. If all remaining absent, early and postals go they was they are now the gap will narrow by 510 votes. Cathy will win by 327 votes. Course some of the remaining votes will be informal. There is a higher rate of informal voting amongst the absent votes than postals or early votes, so it might narrow to a margin of 300. Of course this depends on late postals and how many more of the missing almost 500 early votes turn up.
    If another 450 early votes turn up and say 200 postals it could narrow by a further 88 votes to just over 200

  15. I’m getting an average gap of 240 on the latest figures on the assumption that practically all remaining EVPPs and one quarter of remaining postals arrive. Mirabella has some chance still, maybe five percent or so (assumptions on probability calculations can be argued various ways). The last 500 absents had almost no effect on my projection.

  16. After today’s counting the result has narrowed to 270 once all the remaining votes are distributed, again it depends how many more postal votes and early votes are still to be added to the total….postal votes have to next Friday?

  17. On Sunday Cathy has been doing well on Labor and Green prefs in the Absent vote (both running at a significantly higher percentage than their Ordinary vote, while Cathy herself is doing significantly worse). Still 1,127 Absents left to count at end of Sunday, so that will add to her tally.

    The EVPP’s are her biggest worry. Still nearly 2000 left, and breaking heavily Mirabella’s way. Again, Green and Labor prefs are helping her stay in the race in this area, but her own EVPP 1st pref count is very low indeed, so she needs all the help she can get.

    I think Cathy will still get there, but just. 250 votes sounds about right, as long as too many more postals don’t arrive!

    You can really see the advantage that the parties have over Indies when you look at the declaration vote 1st prefs in this seat.

  18. There was a theory Labor would have a big advantage over Andrew Wilkie in the 2010 Denison postcount but in the end it came to very little.

    Assuming 300 remaining postals – which is probably excessive – my current projection is McGowan by 180. There is enough uncertainty that a Mirabella win still can’t be completely ruled out.

  19. McGowan has improved on latest absents and my projection has increased to 207 (same assumptions as before). Mirabella is currently needing a 62%+ split on remaining EVPPs. That’s getting very difficult even by the standards of her strong post-count so far.

  20. They must be counting and entering data like fury- the numbers change at about 5-minute intervals. Everybody down there is exhausted. They hope they don’t have to hang about for a re-count.

    At 3PM, the gap is 405, an estimated 1420 of received and to-be-received votes to count, the final gap looks like being 340. TCP would be 50.2%

    As everybody says, Cathy can’t be caught now.

  21. C’mon Cathy, ring it home baby!

    At my workplace down here in Melbourne there are lots of people who will be simply ecstatic to see Mirabella go out to pasture. Symbolic victories are often the sweetest it appears.

  22. Willum said, at the top of the page: “Mirabella still needs the dwindling stock of outstanding votes, now at around 1750, to break 60-40 her way.”

    He must be reading from a different script to me. Mind you, the Declaration Vote Progress page gets the wobblies late every afternoon and is changed without the header “updated” line acknowledging the changes. What it says now 2020 Tue night, is

    Absent Provisional Early Vote (Pre-Poll) Postal Total
    Envelopes issued 2,671 1,052 4,815 10,466 19,004
    Envelopes received 2,668 1,052 4,705 9,374 17,799
    Ballot papers counted 2,237 146 3,993 8,976 15,352
    Ballot papers not returned by voter 7 4 15 24 50
    Ballot papers disallowed
    Envelopes rejected at preliminary scrutiny 148 689 372 273 1,482
    Envelopes processed 2,392 839 4,380 9,273 16,884
    Envelopes awaiting processing 276 213 325 101 915

    Allowing for nearly all Provisional votes to be rejected and allowing for a handful of postals still to come (they got 4 today), this seems to predict that there are only about 720 to count. This agrees with what the DRO said yesterday.

    It implies Sophie needs a 95% TPP from here on in- in postals and Pre-poll Decs- not 60% as William says

  23. To add to the above, the ABC quotes the AEC as follows:

    Meanwhile, the AEC says the Liberal Party’s Sophie Mirabella is fighting a losing battle in the north-east Victorian seat of Indi.

    Independent candidate Cathy McGowan is leading Mrs Mirabella by 387 votes with just 550 ballots left to be counted.

    The majority of those pre-poll votes will be tallied tomorrow, and about 50 postal votes will be counted on Friday.

    The commission’s Steve Kennedy says Ms McGowan is on track to win by more than 300 votes.

    “The pre-poll votes have been favouring Sophie Mirabella by 57 per cent, but even if that trend holds it’s still not enough to bridge the gap,” he said.

  24. “It has been a damn nice thing-the nearest run thing you ever saw…”

    Quite so Mr Wellesley!

    The Voice 4 Indi campaign will become the text-book example of how to empower people, how to make a difference.

    I think it is true to say that there is nothing to match it in recent Australian political history. Certainly I have not seen its like in Federal elections since I started analyzing them in 1980. There is a history to be written here.

    I don’t think I’ll ever take my campaign T-shirt off until it falls off.

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