Victorian election minus one week

Press reports continue to indicate that both sides believe it to be very tight in the crucial sandbelt seats, but statewide published polls still show Labor on course for a comfortable victory.

First up, the arrival of two new poll results – one from Galaxy and one from Morgan, both of which are detailed here – has enabled my first update in some time to the Victorian election poll tracker on the sidebar. I’ve tinkered a bit with my methodology, which is the reason the Greens are off a little despite more than holding up in the latest polls. Other than that, the poll tracker has never failed to show Labor on 50 seats since it opened for business at the start of the campaign.

The charts get a bit messy with the flurry of polling to hit during the election campaign, so to allow you a closer look (and to illustrate the point that you’re not really missing much), here they are with the x-axis limited to the start of August (click to enlarge):


John Ferguson of The Australian offered yet another review of the seat-level state of play as seen by his sources in the major parties on Wednesday. Both sides are said to have detected a “small but significant” swing back to the Liberals in Frankston, with the Liberals apparently hopeful that a double-figures result for Geoff Shaw will send a strong flow of preferences their way. Furthermore, the Liberals are reported to be hopeful or better about the other sandbelt seats of Bentleigh, Carrum and Mordialloc, which I list in what I take to be descending order of confidence. However, Labor is doing “better than expected” in Ripon, although it is still expected to fall to the Liberals (not, be it noted, the Nationals).

• One place where early Liberal hopes appear to have faded is Ballarat, particularly the seat of Buninyong, formerly Ballarat East. Further complicating their task is Nationals candidate Sonia Smith, who has criticised Liberal candidate Ben Taylor over comments he made at an Australian Christian Lobby forum concerning late-term abortions, saying he “should be running for Family First”. While the Nationals’ official how-to-vote card for the electorate directs the second preference to Taylor, Smith has registered her own card instructing voters to determine the matter for themselves. Smith illustrated her rejection of her party’s how-to-vote card through a dramatic photo opportunity for Fairfax.

• Inform your upper house speculation with Antony Green’s preference calculators. Part of me would be sad to see reform to our broken upper house electoral systems purely because it would put an end to these delightful contributions to Australian psephology.

UPDATE: Another Morgan SMS poll, a very current one conducted from Friday to today from a sample of 1173. While one might be tempted to take this series with a grain of salt, the results are interesting: the Coalition is up no less than 4.5% on the last poll to 39.5%, with both Labor and the Greens down two points to 33.5% and 17.5%. However, Labor maintains a 52-48 lead on two-party preferred, down from 55-45. Denis Napthine has gained the lead as preferred premier, now 51.5-48.5 ahead after Daniel Andrews led 52.5-47.5 last time. The previous poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, so I guess Morgan will be doing this polling every down from now on.

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.

192 comments on “Victorian election minus one week”

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  1. [The Victorian government is in damage control a week out from the state election after sacking a candidate whose campaign was set to include an adult film star.

    The Liberal party has disendorsed Nitin Gursahani as a candidate for the seat of Thomastown.
    Gursahani was reportedly bringing Bollywood adult film star Sunny Leone to Melbourne to appear in a campaign event the night before the November 29 state poll.
    On Saturday night, a Liberal party spokesman said this would “not reflect the values that underpin our party”.]

  2. In depth analysis of Family First candidates in Victorian election

    [Of the 55 Family First upper and lower house candidates running in the state election, six are members of the Fenn family, including Mr Fenn’s wife Cielo, who is contesting the marginal goldfields electorate of Wendouree, his son and daughter- in- law Brendan and Helen Fenn, who are contesting the upper house Northern Metropolitan region and the lower house seat of Northcote, his daughter Janna Fenn and family members Judith and Norman Fenn, who are contesting Eltham, Mildura and Mulgrave respectively.

    At least 16 of the Family First candidates running in the Victorian state election are married couples, and another six are clearly from the same families. Most live far away from the electorates they are seeking to represent. In several cases a married couple are contesting electorates at different corners of the state and remote from their homes.]

  3. I have no love for the Libs but I find the sacking of the candidate for Thomastown ridiculous. The candidate appears to be one from the one community.

    The actress in mention was a adult industry star who was successful in jumping into mainstream Bollywood, which is no mean feat considering the star is Canadian born and that India is rather conservative and yet managed to make it big and liked by members of the Indian community.

    This sends the message that no matter how far one goes, they’re still going to be viewed for what they did before and the candidate was a scapegoat in all of this to cater for the religious vote.

  4. Poll Bludger 2014 11 24 1
    (Victorian election minus one week)

    Martin B (142 on page 3),

    GVTs distribute preferences in a way that voters have agreed to by voting above the line. They don’t have to vote above the line. They choose to and in so choosing choose the preference order of the party they vote for.

    Kevin Bonham (146 on page 3),

    I can see why PUP might be reclassified, but it was regarded as micro-party in the first election so I keep it there for the rerun.

    Deblonay (149 on page 3),

    I am the same Chris Curtis who contested Diamond Valley in 1974, 1975 and 1977, but my aim was not to defeat David McKenzie or Neil Brown, but to win votes for myself.

  5. I agree Raaraa, it was cruel and bizarre to sack that candidate for those reasons. Although I think everything the Coal does is cruel and bizarre..

  6. [GVTs distribute preferences in a way that voters have agreed to by voting above the line. They don’t have to vote above the line. They choose to and in so choosing choose the preference order of the party they vote for.]

    As with all such arguments the context of the ‘choice’ needs to be considered. The system gives an easy option and a difficult option. Of course most people take the easy option, especially when accustomed to comparing with an unreasonably difficult option in the case of Senate voting.

    Saying that people taking the easy option means that understand and agree to the preference order is like saying you have read and agreed to all of the conditions for every piece of software you have installed.

    When we look at voter-allocated preferences for supporters of a given party we see that they almost never flow more strongly than about 80% and typical leakage is higher. Unsurprisingly no group of people think exactly the same way. But with GVTs preferences flow extremely tightly in complicated ways. There is a clear difference. Is this difference because voters have a different opinion, or is the difference produced by the system? Clearly it is the latter.

    At best it can be said that voters accept the trade-off of an easy vote against giving power over preferences to their party of choice to be used in a way that will be against the true preferences of at least some of them. If you support that, fine, but it is clearly not an argument about the “principles of STV”.

  7. Raaraa and Phoenixgreen

    I am not at all surprised at the Libs disendorsement. It is an old multicultural area, with a strong Mediterranean base, and hence socially very conservative.

    Most vote Labor, but there is an argument that it is a “Yellow Dog Democrat” phenomenon, and could change if pressures on working people intensify further.

    My daughter tells me she found a nice little statuette of Il Duce (in black of course) in a a bonboniere there. On politely enquiring, she was told the shop did a steady trade in the item.

  8. Martin B,

    We may just end up going around in circles. GTVs have halved the informals– a good thing. They are not compulsory – a good thing, and, I argue, a constitutional requirement under Section 7. There is an alternative – a good thing. The alternative is too hard for most people – a bad thing. My submission to the JSCEM suggested that preferences below the line be optional after the first 20 and that GTVs be restricted to the same 20 preferences. I asked to appear before the committee to explain my submission. My offer was ignored. As long as voting below the line does not intimidate people into voting above the line, I have no problem with GTVs.

  9. [GTVs have halved the informals– a good thing.]

    As KB says, no one suggests going back to the old system. Of course compulsory full preferential BTL voting – and attendant informal rates – are a bad thing.

    Optional preferential ATL would be easy and depend only on voter-allocated preferences.

    [As long as voting below the line does not intimidate people into voting above the line, I have no problem with GTVs.]

    Absolutely it does in Senate elections and once people are used to ATL in that context they will naturally choose it in others. In fact I suspect that knowledge of the optional preferences BTL in state elections is low.

  10. I believe a very large percentage of the population does not understand how the voting system. many believe that there is value in where they put their preferences in the lower house even though they are voting for one of the main parties. as far as the upper house goes, even less of a clue. without HTVs they would be completely lost

  11. 155

    Requiring candidates to be registered in the electorate for which they are seeking election would be a good way of cutting down on excessive candidate numbers and also help make Parliament more representative of people in areas less popular with the professional classes.

  12. 162

    Stop pretending that all GTV opponents want to return to all candidate preferencing. Most of the GTV opponents want ATL preferencing like in the NSW LC (or possibly a compulsory version). It you have a problem with ATL preferencing, discuss that.

  13. Buy “compulsory version” I mean a compulsory preferential version, not BTL elimination. Just to make things crystal clear.

  14. [Requiring candidates to be registered in the electorate for which they are seeking election would be a good way of cutting down on excessive candidate numbers and also help make Parliament more representative of people in areas less popular with the professional classes.]

    Or give the rental market a slight boost every four years.

    I don’t really support residential requirements. Seems like a non-solution to a non-problem.

  15. 168

    There is the option of requiring MPs to live in their electorate for the whole term.

    Not requiring candidate/MP residency means that lots of seats, particularly safe ALP seats in the Western and Northern Suburbs of Melbourne, do not have their MP living in their seat and using the infrastructure and services in the electorate and thus lessens their incentive to improve services there.

  16. Chris Curtis@162

    My submission to the JSCEM suggested that preferences below the line be optional after the first 20 and that GTVs be restricted to the same 20 preferences. I asked to appear before the committee to explain my submission. My offer was ignored.

    That proposal has some similarity with Mackerras’ – IIRC he was arguing for voting 1-15 BTL for a formal vote.

    But even requiring that many will deter voters from voting BTL.

    In Tasmanian local govt elections, voters have to vote from 1 to the number of places to be filled, without omission or repetition, for their votes to count. Recently a change from half-in-half-out (a la Senate) with 5-6 seats at a time to all-in-all-out came in. This meant voters in Hobart City had to number 1-12 without error for a formal vote.

    Well, surprise surprise, even though people were voting postally from home and had two weeks to do it, the informal rate went through the roof. What was interesting was that as well as the unintentional doubling of numbers there were a lot of informals that stopped after 10 or 11 places, as if assuming that near enough was good enough and their vote would still be counted. I suspect you’d get that if requiring 20 squares for a formal BTL Senate vote too. Maybe it can be got around with saving provisions like the existing three-error rule, so you say they have to vote for 20 but accept, say, 17.

    I just can’t see the point in making people distribute that many preferences.

  17. I wonder if Gary Morgan agonised over saying “too close to call” before resorting to “go down to the wire” in his executive summary

  18. Gary Morgan blatantly pushing a barrow here:

    The loss of support for the two parties [even assuming there has been] may be connected to the uncertainty surrounding the East-West Link infrastructure project. Both the ALP and Greens remain resolutely opposed to the $6.8 billion infrastructure project which will provide a huge boost to the Victorian economy.

    I thought pollsters were supposed to be objective.

  19. I know the internet is full of people who just make stuff up, and there have been a few on this site over the years, but if anyone has a quote that shows I’m “pretending that all GTV opponents want to return to all candidate preferencing”, produce it.

    Those who suggest compulsory ATL preferencing should read Section 7 of the Constitution.

  20. Kevin,

    I have dealt with these issues in my submission, so I will respond only briefly.

    The earlier votes become “exhausted” in the single transferable vote system of proportional representation, the less proportional the system becomes and later seats are filled by people who do not even reach a quota. In the Victorian Legislative Council, where that rule applies, parties typically run five candidates (the number of seats to be filled) even though they have no hope of winning five. This locks up below-the-line votes inside the party and means the above-the-line group voting ticket has more influence on the result. Just as it is a citizen’s duty to vote, it is a citizen’s duty to choose between candidates at all stages.

    It is possible to be faced with two or three or four unpalatable candidates on a ballot paper and no one worth electing; yet, the voter is legally required to vote for one of them (it’s a furphy that turning up at the polling place is all that is legally compulsory, though the secret ballot makes strict enforcement of the law impossible). It follows that at every stage of the count, there is a set number of candidates remaining to choose from. The compulsion to choose at each stage is no different from the compulsion to choose in the first place. The only reason to move away from insisting on this principle is the huge number of candidates and the practical reality that the overwhelming number of voters will not make any effort to distinguish between them all. A relatively high number of preferences is necessary to decrease the number that exhaust and thus the likelihood of the last or the last two candidates being elected on less than a quota.

    The states should also amend their laws to require the same 20 (or whatever number is settled on) preferences in elections for both Houses and for local councils. Having the same voting system for the marking of preferences (which is not the same as the method of counting the votes) in all jurisdictions and for both Upper and Lower Houses would reduce confusion and increase the formal vote.

    Given the concern that voters have about getting the numbers right below the line, it would be prudent for the Australian Electoral Commission and the state commissions to establish websites and provide apps that allowed voters to determine their own preferences. Such a site would allow voters to rank candidates and would advise them if their vote was formal or not and print any formal how-to-vote for them to take into the polling booth.

    Lifting registration numbers, requiring them in each state (for the Senate) and increasing deposits for candidates after the first in each group would also reduce the number of candidates and make it easier to vote below the line. It would also allow a reduction in my proposed minimum of 20.

    The aim is to ensure the voters can vote confidently for a result that reflects their opinions.

  21. 175

    You, until the post to which this is a reply, completely ignore the idea of ATL preferencing as an alternative to GVTs while discussing the benefits of GVTs compared to all candidate preferencing (what is all candidate BTL preferencing under the current system and was the previous system before 1984). That is pretending that going back to the old system is the main alternative to GVTs.

    If you want to be taken seriously on the subject of GVTs. Discuss them versus ATL preferencing.

    I am talking about compulsory ATL preferencing as the alternative to compulsory BTL preferencing to replace GVTs, although I could have made that slightly clearer. No Section 7 problems there.

  22. 178,

    So what? That I don’t deal with one issue in a particular post does not mean anything about another. It certainly does not all mean that I said or implied that “GTV opponents want to return to all candidate preferencing. It’s been obvious to anyone who can read that I do not propose all-candidate preferencing, even though I think it is people’s duty. I gave the link to my JSCEM submission in my first post.

    Compulsory ATL preferencing would be unconstitutional under Section 7 because it would mean that senators were not “directly” chosen by the people. We have the constitutional right to vote for individuals for the Senate. That may not be the case in various states, of course.

  23. Chris Curtis@177

    The earlier votes become “exhausted” in the single transferable vote system of proportional representation, the less proportional the system becomes and later seats are filled by people who do not even reach a quota.

    I often encounter this kind of reverence for the quota and find it really strange. People need to think more carefully about what the quota actually is. A quota is not some special sacred number that a candidate must achieve to say they have adequate support from the electorate, with a candidate receiving one vote less being somehow massively less worthy under all circumstances. Rather it is a device for streamlining elections by electing candidates as soon as they are certain to win and preventing their support above that necessary level from being wasted or continuing to pile up. If someone is one of the X most popular candidates, where X is the number of seats to be filled, then whether or not they reach the original quota in getting themselves elected is simply insignificant. There is nothing wrong with letting voters exhaust their votes and reducing quota progressively as you do.

    Distortion of proportionality is another of the purist objections to letting votes exhaust that has no merit. When only six Senators are elected in a state at a time, the very fact that only six Senators are elected at a time is a far greater distortion of proportionality than the relatively small level of exhaust under OPV type systems. And the biggest distortion of all is Tasmania having the same number of Senators as NSW. Anyone who is remotely serious about proportionality in the Senate needs to campaign for a referendum to get rid of state boundaries and bring in nationwide PR. Even in the Victorian context regionalisation creates large distortions against small parties.

    If the fact is that many voters for party A do not have a view between parties B and C and that those who do have a view are anywhere near evenly split, then a group ticket that allocates all preferences from A to B distorts proportionality more than even something that encourages exhaust. 75+% preference flows just aren’t all that common in the wild even when coerced by forced preferencing, excepting Greens to ALP which often doesn’t get distributed in upper houses anyway.

    I do not agree that it is a citizen’s duty to choose between two parties they have never heard of and that only exist in an election because of a broken electoral system that exploits citizens who assign that duty to the parties they vote for. It is too much of a burden to place on people who are often too busy working to pay that much attention to politics and in many cases lack the ability to sufficiently inform themselves even if they had the time.

  24. Someone needs to tell Gary Morgan that – along with all the other things – he has his 2010 Victorian election results wrong.

  25. 179, I don’ think anyone is proposing replacing all senate voting with compulsory ATL voting, just replacing current [1] only ATL with being able to preference a series of parties above the line. You’d still have a choice between that and voting below the line for individuals.

  26. 179

    It is not just one individual comment or commenter proposing ATL preferencing, it is most people who analyse the system closely and many who do not. JSCEM even recommended it. Avoiding discussion of it, when discussing the comparative merits of GVTs, makes your arguments less relevant.

    I did not say you were proposing all candidate preferencing, only that that is what you were/are portraying as the only alternative to GVTs, to justify GVTs.

    Requiring voters to either number all boxes bellow the line or all boxes above the line, cannot be less constitutional than requiring voters to either number all boxes bellow the line or number one box above the line that sets of one or more group voting tickets that give preferences to all candidates. If anything, it is more constitutional.

  27. ALP @ $1:15 LNP out to $6.20 on Betfair.

    Only the morgan poll out which ostensibly shows a swing back to the Libs.

    I wonder if is the realization that the last week of campaigning is going to be over-shadowed by the Federal Libs trashing around on the cuts to the ABC & SBS.

  28. Chris Curtis re Diamond Valley in ’74’75’77
    As DLP candidate your purpose was to gather votes and to defeat the ALP Member David McKenzie as your prefs went to the Libs(though in 1974,a substantial drift of them went to Labor ,as you had the donkey vote and David McKenzie was before the Lib candidate Waite)…so that helped David’s relection…not you intention I know …,notably as he was a pioneer in the cause for Abortion reform..which made him target for certain religious groups including the DLP…

    Those of us who worked our guts out for the ALP and Whitlam detested candidates like you and we have long memories

  29. deblonay,

    To be detested by someone like you is a badge of honour. I’ve already told you what my purpose in standing was, so it is dishonest of you behind your typically anonymous screen name to claim that it was something else. I have spent 46 years trying to make life better for people in Australia, so I do not regard your venom as in the slightest justified. The DLP was not a religious group, but that, being a matter of fact rather than prejudice, is probably of no interest to you. I don’t care how long your memory is. I guess it is no longer than David’s and he has no problem with my standing and trying to win votes in an election, just as I have no problem with his standing and trying to win votes in an election. It’s called democracy, so take your long memory and see if it can remember facts as well as it can retain hate.

    PS The Liberal candidate in 1974 was Neil Brown, but that too is a fact so of no relevance to you.

  30. I have checked. Geoff Waite was the Liberal candidate in 1974. Neil Brown was in 1975. It just shows how you can be certain of some things, but your memory is wrong.

  31. Kevin Bonham @148 Greens and Sex party can not direct preferences in the lower house. Their supporters do not follow their tickets. Most vote on name., Many will inverse donkey vote filling in all blank squares from top to bottom.

    May will be informal as they will not fill in a vote for all candidates. A statistic that is not often published.

  32. The Greens can not dire4ct preferences in either the Lower or the upper-house other then via the Above-the-line GVT in the Legilative Council. I doubt that teh Greens will win any lower house seat. From what I have looked at they will win 3 seats in the upper-house (Northern, Western and Southern Metro) Primarily do to the Sex Party who preferences the Greens in Southern and Western Metro.

    I see little change in the upper-house, Unlike the 2013 Senate election there is not a close nexus of preference swaps between minor groups. The Holly Trinity groups teh key to a minor party winning sufficent votes. Most of teh minor parties are feeders for the Greens, The Cyclist party, Sex Party, Animal Justice, VEP and PUP all preference the Greens. None secure sufficient preference flows to be in the hunt to win a seat.

    T ascertain the likelihood you need to determine the min and maximum percentage of votes in order to determine the thresholds. the only unknown is the number of voters who will be mislead by the VEC and the ABC and only express five preferences in below-the-line voting.

    Optional Preferential voting favours the Greens.

    A below-the-line voter, in order to maximise their vote, should indicate a preference for EVERY candidate.

    The VEC and the ABC should be encouraging voters who wish to vote below-the-line to preference EVERY candidate. To advocate the minimum (There is no justification to nominate 5 preferences as the minimum) is misleading.

  33. Chris Curtis

    The Upper-house voting System is broken. It has always been broken, It was designed to facilitate a manual counting, there are numerous defects in the way the vote is counted,.

    1. The method of calculating the Surplus Transfer value
    2. Segmentation and distribution of preferences from excluded candidates.
    3. The Droop Quota
    and more recently
    4. GVT’s
    5. Optional Preferential voting.

    All distort the proportionality and accuracy of the cont

    The concept of one vote one value does not apply to the way we count STV proportional Representation

    We ho apps over a lower house seat one by less than 10 votes or g0od forbid the Greens lose a Senate seat and fall into the wasted quota

    But we accept or tun a blind eye to the distortions that are embedded into the system of counting the vote, A system that is outdated and designed in the days where calculators were replacing the slide rule.

    We now have computers and electronic counting methods but instead of correcting teh=system and reviewing teh methods of counting we have built in the distortions that were introduced to make it easier to undertake a manual count.

    Now we have introduced Optional Preferential without adjusting the quota or as I advocate reset and restart the count in every exclusion adjusting ten quota as the count progresses.

    There should be one transaction per candidate. A full value vote should always land on the candidate of the voters first available continuing choice of the voter’s.

    A vote should NEVER increase in value.

    A reiterative weighted pure proportional count (x/y) is the ONLY fair honest system of counting the vote. We would not accept the skimming off and revaluing dividends payed to shareholders disproportionally nor should we accept distortions in the way the vote is counted.

    If we are not willing to address these issues than we should just adopt a Party List system and put an end to the pretense.

    To deny that the system is broken is to defend the defenseless. To claim that we should accept ten system flaws and all on the specious argument there is no perfect system if a cop out perpetuating a state of denial

    We might as well just go back to random distribution of preferences. Or Throw yarrow sticks into the air.

    It not hard to fix. With computer aided counting it will not cause a delay BUT it will make it fairer.

  34. democray@work,

    I never know what you are talking about. Years ago, when you used to post as Melb City, I asked you to explain more clearly, but you didn’t.

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