What happened

How a dramatic change in the behaviour of minor party and independent preferences powered Labor to the cusp of victory in Queensland, plus results broken down by region.

I’m going to progressively add a region-by-region post mortem to this thread as I go, so be sure to hit “refresh” every now and then if you’re hovering around the site and you think that might of use to you (UPDATE: Scratch that – I’ll do it tomorrow). I’ll start by answering a question that will be on the lips of many: how did the polls (and by implication the poll aggregators – see the sidebar) get it so wrong? The answer to this is simple: by allocating preferences as they flowed at the 2012 election. In fact, the pollsters did well at predicting the primary vote. As noted two posts back, all three late-reporting pollsters essentially had the LNP on 42% and Labor on 37%. The present vote totals are 40.8% and 38.1%, and they will probably edge closer in the direction of the poll results during late counting. This tends to argue against the notion that there was a violent late surge to Labor – and also the notion that there is likely to be a particularly big move back to the LNP on late counting.

The real key to the surprise is that Labor’s share of minor party and independent preferences went from 27% to 45%, the LNP’s went from 22% to 15%, and the exhaustion rate fell from 51% to 39%. This is based on slightly incomplete data, but it should be probably be near enough. Applying those preference flows to the current primary vote totals, it’s Labor and not the LNP that comes out 52-48 ahead, contrary to what all three of the aforementioned polls said. If the pollsters had been operating on accurate assumptions concerning preferences, they would have come out at 51-49 to Labor. Which gives them a lot to think about going forward, particularly with another optional preferential election on the way in New South Wales in a little under two months.

Anyhow, stay tuned.

UPDATE: Or I could leave it for tomorrow. Yes, I think that’s the go actually. Here’s a table that should set you a long way towards working out what I’ll end up saying. Seats are rated in doubt if Labor is ahead by less than 1.8% or the LNP is ahead by less than 1.2%, according to a crude 0.3% estimate of how much late counting generally favours the conservatives. The six in question are Mansfield (Labor leads by 0.1%), Mount Ommaney (LNP by 0.9%) and Redlands (LNP by 0.9%), in Southern Brisbane; Ferny Grove (Labor by 1.6%), in Northern Brisbane; and Whitsunday (LNP by 0.2%) and Maryborough (a special case, in that it will come down to who finishes second out of Labor and independent Chris Foley) on the Central Coast. Since Maryborough is in doubt between Labor and an independent, the ceiling for the LNP is 43, which includes the long shot of Ferny Grove.

Inner Brisbane 41.6% 40.1% 15.7% 2 8 0 0
-8.2% +7.2% +1.5% -7 +7 0
Northern Brisbane 41.3% 44.3% 8.9% 3 8 0 1
-11.4% +14.0% +0.6% -9 +8 0
Southern Brisbane 38.7% 47.1% 8.7% 2 10 0 3
-11.1% +13.7% +1.2% -11 +8 0
Ipswich 29.0% 54.3% 7.0% 0 3 0 0
-9.4% +20.4% +1.3% -2 +2 0
Gold Coast 48.1% 30.2% 7.8% 10 0 0 0
-10.2% +6.6% +1.1% 0 0 0
Sunshine Coast 45.2% 24.2% 12.7% 6 0 1 0
-12.4% +7.8% +0.7% 0 0 0
Central Coast 35.2% 38.2% 4.5% 4 6 0 2
-6.8% +13.1% +0.3% -5 +4 -1
Northern Coast 36.8% 40.6% 6.1% 1 7 0 0
-3.4% +13.1% +0.4% -6 +6 0
Urban Hinterland 45.0% 30.5% 6.1% 5 0 0 0
-5.6% +11.3% +0.3% 0 0 0
Interior 46.6% 23.5% 4.0% 5 0 2 0
-5.5% +8.5% +0.7% 0 0 0
TOTAL 40.8% 38.1% 8.4% 38 42 3 6
-8.9% +11.5% +0.9% -40 +35 -1

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.

274 comments on “What happened”

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  1. Well, i won’t mind saying i predicted this result a long time ago to the disbelief of others so last night panned out exactly as i expected. But bloody hell, how on earth do you go from wining as big as anyone has ever won to losing to an opposition who were in single digits, had a deputy retiring and were drastically outspent in campaigning. As alan jones said last week, an impossible job.

  2. I predicted a 2PP vote of 50.5 in favour of Labor on friday night, does anyone have any estimates of what it actually is now at this stage of counting?

    i also understand postal and pre poll counting won’t necessarily favour the LNP as it traditionally does.

  3. This result invites the question – why do pollsters believe what voters say about their primary voting intention, but disbelieve what they say about preferencing intentions?

    Preferences are assigned on the basis of past behaviour, rather than on stated intention about future behaviour. The inference is that past preference allocation by voters will determine future allocations. Why would this be true for preferences but not for primary votes?

    The Queensland election result shows this leads to misleading forecasts.

    If polls were adjusted to reflect respondent allocated preference intentions, what would bludgertrack be suggesting about an election outcome?

  4. “Sophomore effect”? Ha ha! I always thought it was something invented for a thesis with very little supporting evidence – now I’m sure.

  5. LNP governments win when they can jive enough not very well off people into believing they do things for them rather than just their real constituency of big business and entrenched privilege. Hence the not very well off majourity on the gold coast voting back LNP members despite “get stuffed chicken dances” – Ray stevens and arrogant pronouncements on who is or isn’t a smelly bogan and being above paying fines-Verity Barton.

  6. Oh, and I had predicted (on the Green Ant’s site) that the non-exhaustion rate of preferences would be at least 65%. You mean it was only 61%? Damn!

  7. Spot on Alan Shore. As long as Tories like Peter Cavanagh continue with their heads in the sand, the progressive side of politics will flourish.

  8. Maybe just maybe trickle down economics might work if it’s not for this subsidies for the “job makers” and concessions given to certain industries.

    Then again it’s too big a risk for something not quite proven. This is why I’m a Keynesian.

  9. Not getting this William. Green (updated 15 minutes ago) has LNP/Labor/Others as 34/44/3 with 8 seats in doubt (Maryborough is with Labor; perhaps a glitch). You have 38/42/3 with 6 seats in doubt (Maryborough in doubt). Your other 5 seats in doubt are all in his in-doubt list, so he has one more definite Labor gain than you do. Which, and why?

  10. Bobalot

    Two voters approached the greens people at my booth and said wte that while normally Green they would not vote that way today because of the importance, since they had partners with them I am assuming that was 4 plus another I know of. So that is 5 votes. The greens got 199 votes at my booth so 5 votes is 2.5% of their vote – and this is just the few I happened to know – some neighbours and another lady who had a long chat. it would be not unreasonable to multiply that number by 4 or more, so I think 10% of the greens vote was lost on that basis.

  11. [Not getting this William. Green (updated 15 minutes ago) has LNP/Labor/Others as 34/44/3 with 8 seats in doubt (Maryborough is with Labor; perhaps a glitch). You have 38/42/3 with 6 seats in doubt (Maryborough in doubt). Your other 5 seats in doubt are all in his in-doubt list, so he has one more definite Labor gain than you do. Which, and why?]

    Probably Gaven; the ECQ and ABC are reporting a Labor gain from independent Alex Douglas. But when the LNP/Labor two party preferred comes in the LNP will win.

  12. Bobalot

    Actually looking at Williams totals above, the lost greens voters may simply be explained as a Kate/Cannot do factor – ie it was specially to remove Campbell Newman

  13. [ABC Breaking News: PM Tony Abbott says Federal Government will be ‘more consultative’ in wake of Queensland election result]


  14. A lot of soul searching for the polling companies in the next few weeks.

    Or they’ll just write it off as an aberration and continue doing what they always do.

  15. Thanks Jack A Randa @66

    I heard somewhere that there was bipartisan support to increase the terms from 3 to 4 years but I don’t know if anything has been done about it.

  16. Tks mimhoff. Weird; so they notionally distributed the LNP prefs, even though that candidate topped the primaries. Me thinks some sort of sanity check required at EC. And then is Green’s code that blindly follows…

  17. Well spotted, mimhoff – I was puzzled about that as well, but looks like Gaven is the one. Means Labor’s position is not quite as good as the headlines would have you believe; could well finish with only 43 if the independent gets up in Maryborough. But that’s still a win.

  18. @theqldpremier: Today I phoned @AnnastaciaMP to congratulate her on her candidates’ success. I’ll continue as caretaker until the result is known #qldpols

  19. [@theqldpremier: Today I phoned @AnnastaciaMP to congratulate her on her candidates’ success. I’ll continue as caretaker until the result is known #qldpols]

    Should be @ex-qldpremier.

  20. [How can Can Do continue as caretaker when he has been given the arse?]

    If he resigns, who does he recommend as his replacement? Palaszczuk doesn’t have the numbers yet… but Seeney doesn’t either, plus he may not even be the next party leader.

  21. So a likely outcome is ALP 43 (ex Mansfield), needing to rely on both Foley and Wellington to govern (or alternatively on both KAPs). Interesting.

  22. rb

    [How can Can Do continue as caretaker when he has been given the arse?]

    Because he has not resigned his commission, nor has it been withdrawn. Pretty normal in the circumstances until the dust settles. Because he is caretaker, he cannot (in principle) make executive decisions which bind the following government.

    And the fact that he has lost his seat is not relevant until the Parliament meets again. Of course, by then the result of the election will be know and either Anna Palaszczuk or whoever is chosen to lead the LNP will be able to go to the Governor and advise the Governor that they expect to have the confidence of Parliament.

  23. The LNP will need to start doing preference deals sadly with parties like KAP and PUP.

    I feel bad today not for the fact that Anna 2 is probably going to win with the support of minors but for the fact that Queensland was only just getting back on it’s feet after the $80 Billion Dollars in debt Anna 1 left us with last time.

    It seems to me that everybody wants the Government to deliver everything for free(it is never free, someone pays), they don’t want to sell any assets to pay off the debt which now costs us $5 Billion dollars in interest repayments a year, people don’t want to pay extra taxes and they don’t want job cuts in the public sector.

    So where is the money going to come from? Labor are going to run this state into bankruptcy, they have no plan to fix the last mess they created and no mess to fix the new mess they are about to create. Very sad days.

  24. Caretakers continuing for a week or so while the parliamentary composition is finalised and the new leader Premier/PM sorts out their ministry is completely uncontroversial. It happens at every change of government.

  25. Can(or Can’t) Do not only can continue as Premier, he pretty-much has to until it’s clear who will have the support of the Assembly. He’s been sworn in by the Guv and remains Premier until he resigns or is sacked. Always takes a day or three after an election for the official handover – actually took 6 weeks in SA in 1968, but that was because Don D was making a point.

  26. I hope the reports of people being turned away without being offered a provisional vote are fully investigated even though (it seems) it has not affected the outcome. Even better, I hope the laws get the flick.

  27. Don’t think anybody will be doing preference deals with PUP anytime soon. (Or maybe ever.)

    What Queensland needs to do is jumpstart their tourism economy that’s been shafted when the Newman government thinks that the best thing to do was make the GBR a thoroughfare and not a heritage site.

  28. The ABC page flicking from 48-38 to 46-40 on the predicted column when reloading.

    Don’t think there’s any count today, so that’s probably a stopgap fix.

  29. Factors in the loss:

    – Privatisation. I mean seriously – didn’t they get that message in 2012? The LNP are just plain idiots. (And dont kid yourself true blue, the punters arent mugs: they know you dont sell the house to pay off a mortgage – the future income loss made it a cretinous proposal, exclusively for consumption for the economic dunces of the LNP – punters are way smarter than that)
    – Newman was considered a bullying arse by a huge proportion of the election
    – the “whats this here democracy thing?” approach to everything. QLD is now more sophisticated than “vote for us or the electorate gets in in the neck”. What idiot allowed Newman to run this line?
    – the success of the number all squares campaign
    – Annastacia’s likeability didnt hurt a bit either.

    Smell ya later Newman government! It been real. The leaders and policies were all awful – hopefully the Fed LNP wont learn a thing from this monstrously humiliating result. A record Australian electoral boilover. HOw do you lose when youre 73-9 up? By being the worst government in living memory!! Keep it up LNP, you’re definitely on the right track, and its definitely that the punters just dont understand your brilliant policies

    hahahahahaa!! 😛

  30. Glen/Truthy/TBA, you’re as wrong about supposed debt as you are wrong about every other discussion on the subject of politics and economics. If this hasn’t shown you that you don’t have a clue what’s going on, nothing will.

  31. [debt which now costs us $5 Billion dollars in interest repayments a year]

    Funny how tories never couple the other side of this equation when talking about debt.

    I’d argue that the returns on the debt are greater than the cost of the interest.

    Isn’t it time you stopped pretending to be “economically rational” when you only provide thoughtless rhetoric?

    Talking about debt without discussing what it’s used for shows a wilful ignorance of reality in favour of partisan point scoring, something I think most voters understand these days.

    Gone are the days of newspapers spoon-feeding the electorate. TBA, you’re years behind.

  32. kev@80: Counting that, but not Maryborough (Foley). Ferny Grove only gets them to 43, unless they fluke Mansfield. So without the KAPs they need both Wellington and Foley … and the (ALP) speaker’s casting vote, of course.

    Katter junior for speaker??

  33. [ TrueBlueAussie
    Posted Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Very sad days. ]

    Not according to your fellow Queenslanders! 🙂

  34. The ECQ has also now deleted the notional count for Gaven and is only showing the primaries. Nice to see they are working on Sunday.

  35. [Talking about debt without discussing what it’s used for..]

    Or even factoring in the income from government owned assets!

    That well beyond thoughtless into the realm of simple innumeracy. Dont they teach you to add up in private schools?

    But lets be honest, it actually just deliberate bullshitting of the electorate. So you want to flog off proftiable state assets to your mates in the private sector?

    Well youve ben found out, sunshine. No one buys your crap – you can learn that, or you can keep on losing.

  36. Yeah you are right Glen. The ABC site fooled me again because they had Ferny Grove in the in doubt list when I posted. I should know better 🙂

    Maryborough count will be very interesting.

  37. The ABC site now has the seats as
    42: ALP
    35: LNP
    02: KAT
    01: I (Wellington)

    There are 9 seats in doubt.Of these:

    Labor should get Ferny Grove BUT the pre-polls and postals may be poor for Labor because there was less than ideal local branch activity, due to the factional imposition of a candidate not welcomed by locals.

    Maryborough should go Independent although Labor has a chance

    Sadly I would expect the other 7 to go LNP assuming that there is a slightly more LNP favour in postals and prepolls.

    So the likely balance will be:
    ALP: 43
    LNP: 42
    Other: 4

    However I am still a little hopeful about whitsunday, Mansfield and Mt Omany but Albert, Glass House and Southport a stretch to far. Redlands might go better because of the red wine affair.

  38. Two really interesting electorates, where the ECQ has approached the notional count rather oddly (and now abandoned it in Gaven):

    Gaven, where if Alex Douglas’s voters follow his HTV they’ll probably elect the ALP candidate

    Maryborough, which ECQ is traeting as ALP vs LNP but if the One Nation voters follow their card they’ll put Foley ahead of the ALP and ALP prefs will then put him ahead of the LNP. See http://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/elections/2015/HTVcards/Maryborough/HUXHAM,%20Damian.pdf and http://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/elections/2015/HTVcards/Maryborough/SAUNDERS,%20Bruce.pdf

    But how many will ‘obey’ their candidates’ attempt to direct them? Note also that PUP did not register HTVs in either of these electorates (or, I think any other) so what the PUP voters do is even more unpredictable.

  39. daretotread @96: Mr Green advises that most pre-polls were counted on the night. Not so absentees, which may be what you mean. William gives a generic 0.3% bias for late counting. Ferny Grove’s may be bigger (more wealthy types off gallivanting), but unlikely by enough.

    BTW William, thanks for the all-nighter … if you ever read this.

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