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. cog @196 – the LNP cannot get 43, because they cannot win Maryborough. The highest they can get is 42 if they win Mansfield and Whitsunday (assuming no late-game surprises in Redlands or Gaven).

  2. fredex

    [Repeat after me: the Australian economy is not like a household budget]

    It’s a worry when some of the Press start to tell the truth.

    The endlessly repeated ‘debt and deficit’ line discarded by voters …

  3. Seems to be a very bad preference flow to ALP in Mansfield. Maybe only 50% of Green votes going to ALP. Was this a seat in which Greens did not direct preferences?

    Poor form.

  4. @203, no, Mansfield was one of the seats where full preferences were recommended (although, to be fair to the Greens, all electorates had prominent writing saying to fill in all the squares and put the LNP last).

    The seats where the Greens did not specifically have a preference flow on their HTVs were: Barron River, Beaudesert, Bundaberg, Burnett, Cairns, Callide, Condamine, Gladstone, Gregory, Gympie, Hervey Bay, Indooroopilly, Maryborough (!!!!), Moggill, Mount Ommaney, Mulgrave, Mundingburra (although they did go to Labor here and then stop), Nanango, Noosa, Nudgee, Southern Downs, Thuringowa (to Labor then stop), Toowoomba South, Townsville (to Labor then stop), and Woodridge.

    It would be interesting to see if there was any difference in Greens preference flows in those seats compared to the others.

  5. Glen/Truthy/TBA

    typical Labor supporter.

    I’ve voted for four different parties in my 25 years of voting their truthy. That makes you the one-eyed lemming, not me.

    ..paid to debt collector..

    Ok truthy, here’s a little bit of a lesson the pointy headed lemmings like yourself. Do you know who the debt collector is? Wait for it… US. Australia, because of the policies of the Hawke/Keating government, implemented two generation defining policies. One was the super-annuation policy (bitterly fought by Howard) and the other was the future fund (go peter). These are the debtors.

    So do you know what happens to that debt? It goes to pay pensions. To Australians. Who spend the money to other Australians. Who pay taxes.

    This is the problem with arguing with pointy headed lemmings that only mindlessly repeat slogans. You don’t understand economics, and you should acting as if repeating slogans is any substitute for understanding.

  6. The current count sees the LNP way behind the ALP on 2PP in Maryborough. In the event that Foley overtakes Labor, he can expect Labor preferences. I cannot see how the LNP could possibly hold on in that situation; it would require a ridiculous rate of Labor exhaustion which I just don’t see happening given Foley’s profile.

  7. ___Cog___, the LNP can’t win Maryborough because when it comes to the crunch either ALP prefs will skyrocket Foley to a win, or Foley prefs will do the same for the ALP. Maddern isn’t really a “player”, despite her 1PP lead.

  8. ___Cog___ Only 2000 Greens prefs to distribute in Mansfield. Looks like around half have been distributed & its already brought the margin back from 1000 to under 500. Can’t ask for much more than that!

  9. More Maryborough: given that Foley lodged an open HTV, I’d expect Foley to beat Maddern by a bigger margin than Labor currently is if he ends up in second.

  10. Here ya go truthy, these are the statistics of the australian super-annuation size.


    Superannuation assets totalled $1.87 trillion at the end of the September 2014 quarter, a new record. Over the 12 months to September 2014, there was a 9.6 per cent increase in total superannuation assets.

    Those are the ‘people’ that buy australian government debt. You know, it being AAA, and one of the most sought-after instruments in the world.

    So debt that is used to pay for the building of productivity increasing assets (like the NBN) the benefits of which are two-fold. One, increased productivity, and two, the dividend on the safe investment are returned to Australian pensioners, which are subsequently spent in Australia to Australian businesses and taxpayers.

    oh… but… but.. debt!!!! oh.. but… but.. !!!!

  11. Seems bizarre that so many (regardless of party) are obsessed by what are really pretty small “deficits” at a time when money for international national borrowers is actually as cheap or cheaper than it has been for many decades.

    Perfect time for a very well off country like us to actually borrow a bit more and use it for real “nation building”. Shouldn’t we really be screaming about the absurd childishness of having our future stuffed by so many “bottom line” b’shite merchants?

  12. 203 Cog…Look at the surname of the ALP candidate in Mansfield.

    When making my pre-election predictions I was going to put Mansfield in the ALP column, but then I saw the name of the candidate, and thought better of it!

  13. Ferny Grove is given by Antony Green to Labor, but as William points out it could remain with the LNP if the postal votes etc go very badly for Labor. If this happens, and the Independent wins Maryborough rather than Labor, then it could be 43 seats to the LNP, 42 seats to ALP, 2 seats to Katter and 2 Independents. The first postals for Ferny Grove were not good for Labor, but we will have to wait on the rest, and see how many there are.

  14. Rod Hagen has got it. Now is the time to borrow to pay for things that are going to increase productivity, and reduce the burden of repayment because of increased GDP. Strangling expenditure in an environment like this only leads to recessions, and increased effort to meet repayments.

    There has literally never been a better time for the Australian government to embark on nation-building projects. Instead, we have pointy-headed lemmings that only understand the workings of economics through the lens of three-word slogans.

  15. Let’s face it. The primary real value of Labor’s hard won Triple A credit rating all round is that we can borrow money for less than almost all of our competitors. Sure, we don’t want to go “over the top”, but Australia could do a great deal to get it’s future assured by using its immensely strong current position effectively, instead of the incessant pretence from government about this being just like a ‘family credit card”. Heck, if any multinational company pretended “borrowing is bad” in the same fashion they’d be flushed down the gurgler in days!

  16. We, as in the Australian government, could borrow billions of dollars at interest rates lower than inflation. The ‘profit’ return on the investment of those billions of dollars in the economy, would be higher than the miniscule interest rates that are current and we would be in the position where we could have our cake and eat it too, not only today but in the future.
    At less than no cost, the loans would pay us to borrow them.

  17. Only 4 ‘bad’ results for the ALP in the whole election. Mansfield (candidate name issue), Albert, Whitsunday and Toowoomba North.
    Could possibly add Everton and Chatsworth but those areas seem to be trending Liberal.
    The two country seats are explainable by sophomore surge, which can be much more important in country areas, but Albert is a mystery. It fits the outer suburban demographic that swung so strongly in other areas, especially in northern Brisbane. Also had a huge pro-LNP swing over the previous two elections and only part of that has gone back. Perhaps it was the Gold Coast influence, with the swing generally more muted there?

  18. Borrow to build, borrow to retire debt using near-free money? What? Do you think this mob of morons who lead pointy headed imbeciles would do a sensible thing like that?

    Not while Abbott’s head remains up his arske, and it has not seen daylight in years.

  19. You cannot rule out an LNP win in Maryborough – but not likely.

    At the moment it seems like only 3 seats are seriously in doubt

    Maryborough, Manfield and Whitsunday

  20. Ferny Grove back in doubt, opening up the chance of LNP government with KAP. On the other hand Gaven looks pretty close, probably postals will seal it for LNP though..

  21. Let’s face it. Costello as treasurer was a great lawyer (his real profession) . He knew how to sell a simplistic argument to a pretty naive jury of Aus voters and didn’t care about the real consequence – running down Aus infrastructure shamelessly for a decade in a boom time when we should have been truly investing in the future – as long as he could “sell” his line of absurd “credit card” comparisons.

    Abbott & Hockey (who are no great shakes in economics either) understood the value of the political argument but failed utterly to understand that the ruse could only work as long as you didn’t inflict a heap of pain on most Australian voters.

    That’s where we are today. In a time when we should be using our borrowing power, but where the political argument about”debt” has been sold so frenetically that it is impossible politically!

    Afraid Labor’s failure to argue this stuff seriously, even though they clearly really understand the economics far better, hasn’t helped one iota!

  22. Can anyone realistically work with the KAP to ensure majority. Hopefully Labor gets 44 seats. Chaos is not in anybody’s interests. Huzzah for the Obeid!

  23. [Can anyone realistically work with the KAP to ensure majority. Hopefully Labor gets 44 seats. Chaos is not in anybody’s interests. Huzzah for the Obeid!]
    The chaos is over, Newman and the LNP are gone.

  24. The Australian Government does not need to borrow Australian dollars. It has chosen to link currency issuance to bond issuance but there is no actual need to do this.

  25. @202: “It’s a worry when some of the Press start to tell the truth.”

    To be fair they only do so after they’ve exhausted all other options.

  26. Just noticed that Southport needs serious attention. There is only a partial 2PP count there and given the closeness, that could still be one in doubt.

  27. What does no relation “of note” mean? Just like Torbay was no relation of note, is it that kind of relation we are talking about?

  28. 239 ajm. The issue is that even if only a small % thought there could be a link, that would have been enough. Its also a reminder to people, right as they cast their vote, that government probity was not just an issue with the LNP.

  29. Thanks for explanations, Rod, dtt, pt, …

    Mansfield. Yes, the ALP name is a little unfortunate but it probably does not mean much to anyone who is either not from NSW or not a political tragic. I was assuming that all the Green prefs that were voted (and not exhausted) had been distributed into the 2PP count already. If that is so then I think the 50% is terrible. If it is just because the votes have not been counted for 2PP yet, then that is hopeful.

    Maryborough. Yes, if we know that the prefs between ALP and the Ind are mostly swapping then it is looking good for the ALP.

    So still a hope of a majority government.

    If not, then of course it is reasonable that there are some negotiations with independents and Katter party.

  30. Ah, ESJ, “guilt by name association” is a dangerous game for one whose Gorton era namesake used to pride himself on his family having married into that of Oliver Cromwell, the “Butcher of Ireland” 😉

  31. cog

    Sadly I suspect the greens preferences HAVE been allocated.

    Think that if you are a Greens voter it is often BECAUSE you dislike ALP corruption, so to be greeted with an ALP name like Obeid you might choose to exhaust your vote.

    Pitty Obeid did not change his name spelling – Obede, Obeade.

    Put it this way if you were of German origin and you had been christened Adolf Otto after Grandad, you might choose to change the name before trying for election.

  32. I think KAP is very likely to support the ALP.

    There seems to be some hostility between the KAP & LNP, which is obvious from this article:


    [The LNP had in the past treated the crossbench MPs with ‘contempt’, Mr Katter said but he did not rule out backing the party in a hung parliament.

    The former government had used its massive majority to deprive KAP of staff and force them into smaller offices, he said.

    ‘They didn’t need to do that, it was an act of extreme arrogance and an example of the way they behaved and conducted themselves throughout that parliament,’ he said.]

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