Fisher by-election live

Live coverage of the count for South Australia’s Fisher by-election.UPDATE: Which Labor has won by 23 votes at the final count.

Heidi Harris (Liberal)
Jeanie Walker (Independent)
Nat Cook (Labor)
Rob de Jonge (Independent)
Bob Couch (SPGN)
Dan Woodyatt (Independent)
Malwina Wyra (Greens)
Dan Golding (Independent)
Counted (of 25,829 enrolled):
Booths reported out of 9:

Monday 9.30pm. The indefatigable Tom Richardson relates that the final margin in favour of Labor after the preference distribution came down to just nine votes: 10,284 to 10,275.

Monday 7.30pm. Tom Richardson tweets that the conclusion of adjudication of informal votes has ended, and that the result after finalisation of the preference distribution will be a 13-vote win to Labor. There would appear to be a good chance of the Liberal Party will seek to have the Court of Disputed Returns revise the ballot paper rulings that went against them.

Monday 2.30pm. The recount that was granted to the Liberals, somewhat surprisingly, is now under way. Nine’s Tom Richardson relates on Twitter that reassessment of informal votes has caused nine formerly informal votes to be admitted, resulting in the Labor margin to narrow from 23 votes to 20, with the “validity of several to be adjudicated”.

Saturday 7.30pm. ECSA has published the preference distribution. Woodyatt needed a 24.75% greater share of preferences than Labor in the three-party preferred count, but could manage only 16.92%. The differentials at the Greens and Democrats exclusions were actually 17.04% in Labor’s favour, compared with 27.26% in Woodyatt’s favour among the other candidates. Slightly less than a quarter of the preferences went to the Liberals.

Saturday 2pm. The ABC reports that Labor has secured its parliamentary majority of 24 seats out of 47, having somewhat outperformed expectations in the preference distribution. Labor’s victory over the Liberals on the two-party count will take effect after its candidate Nat Cook survived the last exclusion ahead of independent Daniel Woodyatt by, according to Tom Richardson on Twitter, 226 votes. It appears the preference distribution process turned up another two votes for the Liberals and one for Labor, such that the latter’s winning margin at the final count is now 23. Hopefully the full preference distribution should be published shortly on the ECSA site. I’ve changed the time stamp on this post to bump it to the top of the page.

Friday 4.30pm. Rechecking ends with Labor 24 votes in the clear, so the Liberals are out. The issue between Labor and Dan Woodyatt will be decided at the preference distribution to commence from 9am tomorrow.

Friday 1pm. It seems the preference distribution will be conducted tomorrow. Well-connected observer Independently Thinking relates in comments that Labor appears pessimistic about its chances of staying ahead of Woodyatt, although clearly there will be very little in it. He also passes on an entertaining account of the Liberals’ confusion on election night by Nine Network reporter Tom Richardson at InDaily.

Friday 12.30pm. The last postals have been counted, of which there were only 30, and they have made no difference at all to Labor’s 21-vote lead. So unless anomalies emerge in the preference distribution or any recount that might be conducted, we can now say that the Liberals have not won the seat. Rather, the issue is whether it’s Labor’s Nat Cook (5501, 26.7%) or independent Dan Woodyatt (4794, 23.3%) who survives at the last exclusion. This is down to the 2861 votes cast for other candidates, how they split between Liberal, Labor and Woodyatt, and whether Woodyatt’s share of that total is 708 votes (24.75%) more than Cook’s. Woodyatt’s observation of the count has reportedly been that a “conservative” projection would bring it down the wire, suggesting he rates his own chances as better than even.

Wednesday 4.30pm. ECSA advises it will knock over whatever postal votes arrive in the available time frame of the next two days on Friday. These votes will be small in number, but given the lateness of their arrival they will almost certainly be coming from overseas, so it should not be assumed they will follow the same pattern as today’s batch which came in on Monday and Tuesday. The provisional votes have already been counted, contrary to what I stated earlier, so Labor is not awaiting upon the small boost that such votes invariably provide it.

Wednesday 11am. I should probably know better than to find anything about this count surprising by now, but that is undeniably where I stand after today’s batch of 194 postals behaved very unlike those that preceded in breaking 113-75 to Labor and putting them 21 votes ahead. As related on Twitter by Haydon Manning, today’s primary votes are 52 each for Labor and Liberal, 47 for Woodyatt, 17 for Golding, nine for the Greens, seven for De Jonge, four for Couch and nothing for Walker. By my reckoning, Labor’s two-party lead is now 10,282 to 10,261. The numbers are yet to be updated to the ECSA site, but it’s all accommodated in the table above (UPDATE: ECSA now updated).

Part of the surprise of the Liberals’ late count recovery was a dramatic improvement in their preference share, which was 34.6% on ordinary votes, 43.9% on the first batch of postals and 44.9% on pre-polls. But on this batch of postals, it was 27.4%. On this form, you would suggest that the late-arriving postals are behaving very differently from the early ones, and that the wind should stay at Labor’s back for the rest of the count, particularly if provisionals await to be added. But by this stage, the only thing it would seem prudent to expect is the unexpected.

Tuesday 4pm. The shocks keep rolling in: pre-polls, while slightly less favourable to the Liberals than postals, have gone to them with sufficient strength (2519-2051) to give them a 17-vote lead. Since there will presumably be about 200 postals still to trickle in, the likelihood now is that the Liberals will pull the iron out of the fire, unless a distinct trend in outstanding postals together with provisionals can yet save the day for Labor. Then there’s the fact that Dan Woodyatt’s deficit compared with Labor is down to 3.4% – probably bigger than he can overcome on preferences, but not definitely.

Tuesday 11:30am. Daniel Willis of The Advertiser tweets: “Told early indications from small sample of Fisher pre-polls shows same trend as ordinary ballots cast on Sat. Labor position strengthens.”

Monday afternoon. Things have taken another turn with the first 1217 postal votes flowing very heavily to the Liberals, to the extent of offering them a glimmer of hope. The votes have split 679-504, or 57.4-42.6, and in doing so cut the lead from 626 to 451. If all of the declaration votes were to divide thus, the Liberals would end up winning by around 250 votes. However, it’s all but certain that they will do less well on the pre-polls, of which around 4650 will be counted tomorrow. Of postals, there should be perhaps around 300 more to come in through the rest of the week. Kevin Bonham has been holding on to the idea of Dan Woodyatt still taking the seat after getting ahead of Labor in late counting, but suggests this is conditional on the 5.4% gap on polling booth votes being narrowed to around 3% on late counting. So far he’s pared it back to 4.6%, and if that trend continues it would fall below 2%. In short, a lot of election night prognostications were premature, although the likelihood still remains that Labor will win the seat. Tomorrow’s counting should clarify the situation.

Sunday evening. The recheck indeed confirmed the anomaly in Aberfoyle Park, which together with other rechecking puts Labor’s lead at a formidable 7614 to 6988, or 626 votes (1.2%).

Close of the evening. Multiple reports are circulating to the effect that there is an anomaly in the published numbers detailed above, and that its correction will confirm a stunning result that tips Labor over the line to a parliamentary majority of 24 seats out of 47. The ECSA score has Labor’s lead at 7384-7115, giving them a fragile margin of 269. But it seems there is an anomaly with the Aberfoyle Park High School result, where Labor has received only 48% of minor party and independent preferences compared with a fairly consistent 65%-67% elsewhere. Two stories have emerged on Twitter as to what has gone wrong here: David Washington of InDaily relates via an unnamed source that the two-party result from a booth was entered the wrong way around, and Kaurna MP Chris Picton indicates that 200 votes have been assigned to the wrong pile. In either case, Labor’s preference share from the booth would be well in line with the overall trend. Their lead would be 599 votes (2.1%) on the former scenario, or 669 (2.3%) on the latter. Nine Network reporter Tom Richardson splits the difference by tweeting the word from a “VERY seasoned” Labor source that their lead is in fact at 638.

Whichever it might be, it would take something quite miraculous to reverse the result in late counting. The check vote will be conducted tomorrow, which will presumably get to the bottom of the Aberfoyle Park anomaly. There will follow counting of postals on Monday and pre-polls on Tuesday.

9.00pm. All primary and 2PP booth counts are in, and that’s apparently it for the evening – except there is talk that ECSA has the 2PP numbers in the wrong way around for one booth, for which the likeliest candidate is Aberfoyle Park High School. If that’s the case, Labor’s lead is actually 7549 (52.1%) to 6950 (47.9%), in which case they’re pretty much home and hosed. Will keep you posted on that one. I’ve rejigged the chart to feature the Labor-versus-Liberal 2PP result.

8.37pm. The outstanding booth on 2PP, Aberfoyle Park North, was mid-range in terms of primary vote swings, so presumably won’t make difference to the knife-edge 2PP projection.

8.34pm. All booths now in on the primary vote.

8.18pm. Two more booths reporting on two-party, and Antony’s projection now has Labor 0.8% ahead. A big week of pre-poll and postal counting awaits.

8.06pm. There’s now a sixth booth in on the Liberal-versus-Labor 2CP, and whichever one it’s been, it’s a bad result for Labor, such that Antony now has the Liberals nudging into a 0.3% lead on his projection. But it looks to me like Reynella East was a particularly good result for Labor in a very large booth, so my feeling is that that will put them back in front when it reports.

8.01pm. Reynella East has now reported, and it’s left that last entry of mine looking pretty good. Woodyatt now well behind Labor, who would probably be getting a bit excited around about now.

7.57pm. The two booths outstanding are Aberfoyle Park North, which was a good booth for Such (45.9%), and Reynella East, a bad one (30.0%). But the Woodcroft booth, which was Such’s worst (22.2%), isn’t in use this time, and the nearest booth is Reynella East, so expect that booth to hit pretty Woodyatt hard.

7.53pm. And sure enough, the Happy Valley West booth puts Labor ahead of Woodyatt on the primary vote.

7.48pm. Interestinger and interestinger. A big fly in Woodyatt’s ointment is that the outstanding booths were far Such’s weakest part of the electorate, and if that flows through to him he has little chance of finishing ahead of Labor. And according to Antony’s projection, Labor now have a 1.3% lead on the Liberal-versus-Labor two-party count with five booths counted. So it appears a gravely underestimated their chances a few posts ago.

7.38pm. Aberfoyle Park booth added. With each booth my projection continues to look better for Woodyatt, who has also inched further ahead of Labor on the raw primary vote. I’ve just fixed a bug in my primary vote percentages.

7.33pm. I should observe that my primary vote swings are based on booth matching, so this looks a rather poor result for the Liberals, who are hardly making any headway in Such’s absence, whereas Labor are up around 10%.

7.30pm. Antony projecting 2.2% Liberal lead on the Liberal-versus-Labor count, based on three booths. A Labor win is thus not impossible if they indeed finish second, but the odds appear against them on both counts.

7.13pm. Aberfoyle Park Central booth pushes projected Woodyatt lead out to 4.5%, but he’s only just clear of Labor in second place.

7.10pm. Aberfoyle Park South puts Woodyatt’s nose in front. But I must again stress that this is based on a highly speculative preference allocation.

7.09pm. According to my calculations, Clarendon implies a Liberal win probability of 68%, but in Cherry Gardens it’s 26%.

7.07pm. I’ve cleaned a bug that was causing my 2PP projection to be based entirely on the Clarendon result. Revised verdict: very interesting.

7.05pm. Raw results suggest Woodyatt should finish ahead of Labor. Using the Such-versus-Liberal preferences from March, I’ve got an 11.9% swing to Liberal compared with a 9.6% margin from Clarendon, but a 6.4% swing in Cherry Gardens.

7.00pm. Mixed signals coming through. Labor MP Michael Atkinson pessimistic, but Daniel Wills of The Advertiser apparently hearing Woodyatt looking good. Both booths in so far are very small, so the the later results might change the picture.

6.57pm. Second booth in, Cherry Gardens, and it looks like this was the one Antony was referring to. So we’ve now got two unexpectedly good results in from the Liberals, who I’m projecting to win quite comfortably.

6.53pm. The Clarendon booth primary votes are in – I’ve been a bit slow passing it on because I’ve had bugs to iron out. Antony reckons the Libs vote is up 6.8% but my output says higher, so I might have to look at this.

6.40pm. There’s quite a bit coming through on Twitter about how the count is progressing. My live coverage will be strictly concerned with published results, but you’ll find the diligent PB community relating the Twitter info in the comments thread.

6.38pm. A further point of explanation: the swing figures shown for Woodyatt will be compared with the result for Such at the election. Sorry if this seems to suggest that I’m buying into Woodyatt’s campaign pitch, but it does seem the most instructive way of going about it.

6.30pm. ECSA will be conducting a Liberal-versus-Labor two-party count. Here however you will find something different – a Liberal-versus-Woodyatt count based on the assumptions that preferences will split between the two in the same way as they did between Liberal and Bob Such in each individual polling booth at the elections.

6pm. Polls have closed in South Australia’s Fisher by-election, which you can read all about in the post below. This being a suburban seat with large booths, I’m guessing we won’t see any numbers for about an hour or so.

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.

265 comments on “Fisher by-election live”

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  1. Harris will likely move ahead on postals.

    What’s happened here is not only have the prepoll/primary primaries been stronger for Harris than the booth votes but so have the preferences. She’s getting 43.3% of prepoll/primary preferences compared to about 35% of booth votes. This is partly because the prepoll/postal votes have been more Woodyatt and De Jonge and less Greens and Golding, but I think it’s also because they attacked Woodyatt late in the campaign.

  2. TT
    It was the donkeys who voted for the coalition. Anyone who votes for the Libs in SA deserves to be horsewhipped over the border, any of them.

  3. [Imagine if the Premier had declared otherwise on keeping the ex Lib and Ind in the ministry.]

    They are not going to be dropped from the ministry if the ALP gets a majority. Just like the independent ministers under Rann didn’t. If Weatherill did that, it would look very opportunistic and declare that he actually has no confidence in their ability and that they were only ministers by virtue of keeping the premier in power.

  4. (And yes, that’s a pretty unlikely ‘if’ at this point, but I am not having a good run with making assumptions in this by-election, so I am going to play it safe from now on!)

  5. My goodness, that was unexpected.

    I know declaration votes skew conservative, but that seems like an unusually large ordinary/declaration split for a suburban seat.

  6. David Walsh@162

    My goodness, that was unexpected.

    I know declaration votes skew conservative, but that seems like an unusually large ordinary/declaration split for a suburban seat.

    One thing quite a few people are missing is that this is a by-election. There are no absent votes, and absent votes favour Labor. So I would have been entirely unsurprised to see it come back to 50.5 or so, and that’s what I thought would happen based on the changes in the primaries today.

    What’s surprised me is the way preferences flowed off the votes added today. Reasons can be suggested for this, but so often that sort of thing is hypothesised and doesn’t happen.

  7. If (<— operative word there) it's true that late postals skewed more towards Cook than Harris (correlating with polling day votes), it leans towards the theory that, while the negativity against Woodyatt hurt him, it also got mud splashing back on Harris.

  8. And, of course, I re-emphasise every speculation at this point is based on “If”. I think, regardless of what our instincts might say based on current figures, we should stop making predictions and wait for official results!

  9. Carey (#169) while you might be right about the late campaigning, now that we are down to the last dregs of the postals, the sample size is small enough that *anything* can happen, as far as the votes breaking one way or another.

    188 postals added today; they broke TTP 112-74 for Cook, almost 60% her way.

    If there are another 100 tomorrow it’s not out of a question they break 60% for Harris and she catches up again.

    My prediction – ECSA earning their keep this week.

  10. There will be no counting tomorrow – ECSA plans to wait until Friday, the last day on which postals may arrive, and knock them all over then. Sadly for Labor supporters, the provisionals have already been counted – only postals remain.

  11. Speaking as one who has scrutineered at every State and Federal Election (and the off by-election) over the past 30 year; anything can and will happen during the count.

    Sorry to state the bleeding obvious, but I’m well past being surprised by anything. Who the hell knows until the last vote is counted … or the last piece of evidence is heard at the Court of Disputed Returns?

    One thing is sure in Fisher: the Libs in SA are in serious doo-doo.

  12. A bizarre result, close but Harris looks a good chance. If the trend of the pre-votes had been consistent on polling day, Harris would have won comfortably. So how much of the swing was down to interstate Liberals shooting their mouths off about SA in a negative way? If they lose the seat, it will have been their own ill-discipline that caused it.

    If not, they can pat themselves on the back for achieving an 8% swing against an opposition in a by election. They must be so proud.

  13. Something that may be relevant as the last trickle of postal votes come in is that overseas registered voters cannot vote in SA state elections. The voting entitlement is restricted to Federal elections. It seems the number of 100 postal votes outstanding refers to the difference between postal votes issued and those received thus far. It may be the case that there are significantly fewer that will make it into the count by tomorrow’s deadline.

  14. Having said that i have a sneaking suspicion that Woodyatt will make it over the line. Also this was a very poor Greens result, with 3 of the independents outpolling them.

  15. I have very little by way of scrutineering intelligence on Woodyatt’s chances. About all I’ve seen is #32 on this thread:

    “A scrutineer for a minnow has let me know the prefs from the also ran Independents are around 50-50 Woodyatt vs others, with the Liberals getting the least of the big 3.” Which is about what I’d expect and why I’m assuming that if the gain rate for Woodyatt on Labor is under 20 points he’ll get it. But it’s currently 24 points which I’m not sure about.

    Woodyatt has said in the press that a conservative projection had him 13 votes behind after preferences but I don’t know to what extent his modelling is based on scrute figures or how good they are.

  16. Looks as though ECSA have added another 30 postals.

    Harris got 13, Cook 9 and Woody 3 first preferences.

    ECSA are still quoting the TPP between ALP and Lib, which might mean Woody is still third after preferences.

    Cook still leads Harris by 21 votes.

  17. There has been no formal or even properly done informal 2CP count Liberal to Woodyatt done in case Woody does overcome the Cook the Labor candidate. The 2PP Liberal v Labor count has been done and continues to be done by ECSA on the assumption that is how it will pan out.

    The only time that may change is Saturday when the final preference throw is done and the final 2CP will be done on real figures and not on assumption.

    If, as Mr Woodyatt has stated in the media, on a ‘conservative projection’ he is 13 votes behind after preferences, before the last 30 postals came in which went bad for him, I will assume he is now about 20 or more behind on same projection.

    What is interesting is I am getting a report from a scrutineer that the tiddlers’ preferences are going to Woody VERY strongly such as they believe there is nothing in it between him and Cook for 2nd place – there is no doubt the Liberals have won the Primary easily.

    Now, if Woody does, even by 1 vote, knock Cook into 3rd place, then he will win win easily on Labor preferences as long as they preference him at least 2 to 1 over Liberal, which I think is a gimme, and he will end up on 60/40 2CP.

    The big question is IF Woody can overcome the gap between himself and Cook – and even ALP insiders are very worried that may well happen which is why they have gone all quiet.

    I think Tom Richardson has summed it up nicely –

  18. Tom Richardson on twitter:

    [Tom Richardson ‏@TomRichardson 3m3 minutes ago

    Labor has extended lead over Woodyatt so far, 791 ahead with 2048 to distribute from independents Golding and de Jonge. #FisherVotes]

  19. Tom Richardson:

    I’m told @DanWoodyatt needs 1419 of the remaining 2048 minor candidate preferences to haul back that @alpsa advantage.

    Interesting that the minors excluded so far have gone against Woodyatt.

  20. Tom Richardson is saying Labor needs 25% of Dan Golding’s preferences to win. All still up in the air but the end is nigh… I’m certainly not game to make any predictions….

  21. 70% or 1419 votes is only correct if you assume the Liberal gets no more preferences.

    Woodyatt needs to beat Cook by 38.6% on the remaining preferences.

    If you assume the Lib gets 10%, then Woodyatt needs 64.3% or 1318 votes.

  22. Outstanding results for the both Woodyatt and Cook. Unlucky for the independent, but a lot of credit for him running the race so close.

    lol @ libs

  23. Congratulations to Nat Cook, a terrific candidate.

    By undermining Dan Woodyatt, the Liberals shot themselves in the foot.

    Two weeks before the by-election, Chris Schacht predicted a 50-50 result. How close was that!

    Sad to report that Chris’s mother, Molly, died last Thursday at the grand old age of 94. A formidable Labor warrior. RIP.

  24. td 192 – Woodyatt must be regretting that the Liberals did not target him earlier! It seems that he did better on primaries and pref flows on the actual day after their attacks on him!

    So if he does run in Davenport he can only hope that the Libs come after him early and hard.

  25. The fact Stephen Marshall is likely to survive as leader tells you all you really need to know about the SA Liberals. Utterly utterly bereft of talent in the Parliamentary ranks. I’d like to see them give Vickie a go. At least she’d add some color and humour!!!

  26. For Woodyatt to win would have been a disaster for the Liberal Party.

    Unfortunately for them they didn’t look at all of the consequences of their own actions in avoiding the above and took the risky step of preventing a disaster by accepting a cataclysm as a possibility.

    Congratulations to the ALP, they deserve the win.

    As for the Liberal Party, they put both feet in their mouth and then decided to shoot themselves in the foot.

  27. Can’t remember another SA by-election where any one of 3 candidates could have won, give or take 25 votes.

    The Liberals will really ahve to think hard about their future. As things stand, they’ll be presenting the same old warriors next election, all 4 years older, led by a younger Steven Marshall, who just presents as a whinger.

    I hardly want to assist the Liberals, but until they start coming up with popular policies, they’ll continue to stagnate.

    Fresh blood needed, but more by-elections not needed.

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