State of confusion

Seeking some clarity about the federal election result? Join the club.

At the end of the evening, a surprising election result hangs in the balance, with a remarkably long list of seats still up for grabs. What looked a slightly disappointing result for the Coalition early in the evening kept getting worse as the night progressed, with a number of seats that looked okay for them early on moving Labor’s way late in the night. Anything is possible, but I would now rate a hung parliament of some kind the most likely outcome, and it’s by no means impossible that it won’t be the Coalition forming the minority government.

At the 2013 election, the Coalition won 90 seats, Labor won 55, and others won five: one each for the Greens, Palmer United and Katter’s Australian Party, and two independents. Redistributions then took place in New South Wales, which lost a seat, and Western Australia, which gained one. In New South Wales, the Labor seat of Charlton in the Hunter region was abolished, but in the resulting reorganisation, Charlton’s neighbour Paterson went from Liberal to notional to Labor, as did Dobell on the Central Coast and Barton in southern Sydney. The three notionally Labor seats are now actual Labor seats, bringing the Coalition down to 87. In Western Australia, the new seat of Burt had a notional Liberal margin of 6.0%, but Labor blew the hinges off that with a 14% swing. Now let’s take a Coalition-centric look at what happened state by state.

In New South Wales, the Coalition has lost Eden-Monaro, Macarthur, Macquarie and Lindsay, and are going down to the wire in Gilmore. That brings them down to 83, with one on the endangered list.

In Victoria, there is little or nothing in it in Labor-held Chisholm and Liberal-held Dunkley. So that brings the endangered list up to two, but also brings one on to what I will call the opportunity list (which won’t be getting any longer).

In Queensland, Labor has won Longman and, following a late-evening turnaround, Flynn. Capricornia and Herbert look better for Labor than the Coalition, but I’ll nonetheless assign them to the endangered list, along with the genuinely lineball Forde, and Dickson where Peter Dutton will probably but not definitely make it over the line. Not surprisingly, Fairfax, which Clive Palmer won in 2013, goes back to the LNP. That brings them to 82, and intensifies the headache in trying to assess the situation by making it six on the endangered list.

In Western Australia, besides the previously noted Burt, Cowan could go either way. Now we have seven on the endangered list.

In South Australia, Mayo has gone to the Nick Xenophon Team as expected, bringing the best case scenario for the Coalition down to 81. Furthermore, the endangered list gets still longer with Hindmarsh lineball; Grey looking to me like a show for the NXT, with their candidate second and the Liberal member on an unconvincing primary vote of 41.6%; Boothby a less likely but still possible gain for NXT, if their candidate overtakes Labor by doing 4.6% better than him when the 13.4% Greens-plus-others vote is split three ways on preferences. Now our endangered list blows out to ten.

Tasmania at least is neat and tidy, with a surprisingly poor result for the Liberals costing them all of the three seats they gained in 2013, with Bass going on a second consecutive double-digit swing. And Labor won the Darwin seat of Solomon in a result that bodes ill for the Country Liberal Party government at their election in late August.

That brings the Coalition down to 77, which they can hope to push up to 78 if they win Chisholm. But then there’s that intimidatingly long endangered list of ten, and while they can hope to rely on the traditional tendency of postal votes to favour them, they would need to be very lucky to make it to a majority.

As for the cross bench, Andrew Wilkie, Cathy McGowan and Bob Katter were easily re-elected; Adam Bandt retains Melbourne for the Greens, and the NXT wins Mayo; and both NXT and the Greens could gain an extra two seats each with a bit of luck (quite a lot of luck actually, in the Greens’ case).

Ultimately, the spread of possibilities for the Coalition ranges from 69 to 78, while Labor’s is only slightly weaker at 63 to 75. If Labor falls below 65, it will do so by losing seats to the Greens, who would assuredly favour them to form government.

Now for the Senate.

In New South Wales, the Coalition wins five, Labor four, the Greens one and One Nation one, with the last seat up in the air. Based on my somewhat speculative preference model, Labor gets enough preferences for their fifth candidate to compete with the Liberal Democrats for that seat, but that may be overrating the Liberal Democrats preference flow based on their strong performance from top position on the ballot paper last time. The other possibility is that it goes to the Christian Democratic Party.

In Victoria, the Coalition and Labor get to four; the Greens should make it to two; and Derryn Hinch has won a seat. The last seat is anyone’s guess, but I’m inclined to think it will be a fifth seat for the Coalition.

In Queensland, there should be five Coalition, four Labor, one Greens and Pauline Hanson, and another tough call for the last spot. The Liberal Democrats are a surprisingly good show, but I wouldn’t rule out Family First.

In South Australia, four Liberal, four Labor, three NXT, one Greens. Surprisingly, Bob Day of Family First doesn’t look like he’ll make it.

Western Australia I expect will be five Liberal, one Nationals, four Labor, two Greens. In Tasmania, five Labor, four Liberal, two Greens and Jacqui Lambie.

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.

1,544 comments on “State of confusion”

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  1. I’m glad that I’m not the only one still eagerly watching this race at 4 in the morning. This has to be the single most nail-biting and exciting political events of my life-time.

  2. As a Coalition supporter I am a bit disappointed with the result but I sore it coming as far back as the budget which was uninspiring and the stupid decision to go to a double disillusion election on a theme that was not part of the campaign in fact I thought the coalition had no new policies just more of the same.


    Election Wrap: A Total Mess!

    To further add to William’s account of the uncertainties above, I note that in Flynn in 2013 the Coalition gained by exactly the amount they are currently behind (believe it was a FIFO thing) so I haven’t called that yet.

    I have also not called Melbourne Ports because on current primaries the preferences of the left-wing micros in that seat may well put the Greens over Danby causing either the Greens or Liberals to win it.

    There was something going on with the projection saying the Liberals would come up a point in Lindsay but no reason for it so I’ve put that one to bed.

    Re Tasmania there is a high chance ALP Senator #5 (should they get 5, or #4 should they get 4) will be Lisa Singh not John Short. Have had reports of some through-the-roof BTL votes for Singh in southern booths. At one booth she had over two quotas. It won’t be like that up north though.

  4. (Continuing the conversation from the last thread).

    blanket criticism @ #1895 Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 3:51 am

    How can anyone be sleeping at a time like this?
    Worst case scenario for Labor (if the close seats don’t shift again) we are looking at:
    Labor: 73
    L/NP: 72
    Greens: 1
    Katters: 1
    NXT: 1
    Independent: 2 (Wilkie and McGowan)
    Of course, the close seats WILL shift again as they have been going back and forth for the last hour.
    I knew this one would be close but never expected it to be this close.

    Usually the Coalition gains in the post-count so they may well grab the three where Labor are currently leading narrowly, and some of those Queensland seats tend to come back big in postcounts.

    Pardon my ignorance, but by postcounts do you mean postal votes? And if so, why do they favour the coalition?

  5. Also not to rein on Labours fortunes using the AEC results it does not factor in Postal, Absentee and Pre-Poll outside electoral boundaries So can see Capricornia, Chisholm, Flynn, Forde, Hindmarsh and Maybe Cowan & Herbert back in the Coalition Hands but would have to wait to see the results in the coming weeks think Lindsay & Longman are too far back for the coalition to hold. Absentee votes will be similar to AEC results at end of Night, Pre-Poll bit better for Coalition and Postals much better. Some talk the ALP did not focus on Postals will have to see. Will be an interesting few weeks if not the next 3 years if any Government can last that long.

  6. senate looks like it has more labour + greens than coalition. But williams numbers add to 71 seats rather than 76. Which ones are missing?
    labour + greens have 34
    coalition have 27

    others are
    1 for lambie
    1 for hinch
    2 for One nation
    3 for Nick xenophon
    1 for ldp/ff
    1 for christain democrats/labour
    1 for ???/coalition

    for the cross benchers I would expect wilkie, cathy, NXT and greens to ally with labour while katter is unpredictable but liberals best bet. So Coalition need at least 75 seats to be likely winners

  7. Post-count just means all the counting that takes place after election night. Postal votes generally favour conservative candidates; it’s just the way it is. One theory is they are more organised, another is that they tend to be elderly and older voters like voting by post, another is they might be more likely to travel on business. I don’t know which of these is most correct.

  8. As a Coalition Supporter at least I have won some money on the result of seats. Had most of my money on my local seat of Adelaide got $1.33 on ALP which I took was tempted to put large wager on Port Adelaide which had ALP on $1.10 which I thought were excellent odds unfortunate did not go through with it. Had lot of bets on Lib Holds and Gains in Victoria did ok just did not get McEwen which swung heavily the other way. Waiting just on Hindmarsh thought it would stay Lib probably have to wait weeks for that result.

  9. I’m wondering how NXT will perform on postals. Seeing that some of the NXT possible seats in doubt were once Lib seats, I’m thinking that they might have gotten a fair share of those postals to eliminate it being in the Libs favour.

  10. Also got $1.50 that ALP will win both NT Seats which I thought were excellent odds due to the news I get about the dysfunctional CLP Territory Government. On an other point I am glad that all National members should be returned plus Drum in Murray being a Gain. I think they should differentiate there policies from the Liberal Party which I think are too big business focus(ie the Economy Stupid) and not interested on social issues.

  11. kevin bonham @ #8 Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Post-count just means all the counting that takes place after election night. Postal votes generally favour conservative candidates; it’s just the way it is. One theory is they are more organised, another is that they tend to be elderly and older voters like voting by post, another is they might be more likely to travel on business. I don’t know which of these is most correct.

    I wish there are postal statistics that would anonymously state division the vote was meant for vs point of origin, but I got the feeling such information is scrubbed out for voter secrecy.

  12. Given that Labor was dealing with incredible media bias toward the Coalition this election, anyone who says Shorten has to go is a mug. Plain and simple, they’re a mug and need to acknowledge themselves as such.
    For a first-term Opposition against a Government in receipt of regular MSM footrubs, their performance has been incredible.

  13. Hi Kevin

    When you say postal votes does that include all prepolls or those been counted already? There were long lines at the prepoll place I went to in Canberra on Friday (there was a big dump of snow this week so I decided to be out of state all day yesterday) and the rate of early votes seems to be unusually high across the country.

  14. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. The thoughts of implosions, explosions and backstabbings in the aftermath of this Coalition debacle are delicious! Also the generous helpings of humble pie to be consumed by the fourth estate will something to behold.

    Kenny and Massola – Turnbull’s gamble backfired.
    Kenny goes on to say that Turnbull’s vacuous agenda simply failed to excite electors.
    Lenore Taylor sums it up nicely – even if Turnbull wins he loses and if Shorten loses he wins.
    Paula Matthewson agrees with Lenore.
    Michelle Grattan describes the result as a major rebuff to Turnbull.
    Paul Bongiorno opines that shorten may have landed a killer blow. Coalition recriminations have already begun he says.
    In this article about Sharkie’s victory over Briggs your very own BK was quoted at the end – but in typical MSM fashion they got my name wrong! Google.
    Alan Jones flies his Abbott colours
    The biggest winners and losers.
    Tony Wright on Shorten’s reception by the party faithful. His position must be safe now.
    Andrew Bolt’s extraordinary outburst in calling for Turnbull’s resignation.

  15. @briefly

    As much as I’ve really disliked your characterisations of the Greens over the last few months, I was really hoping Aly would get up in Cowan and thought of your hard work when watching the results come in. Well done, you deserve congratulations.

  16. Section 2 . . . with Cartoon Corner

    Michael Gordon says that the worst kind of victory looms for Turnbull.
    A crusty Arfur reckons we might need another election to sort things out.
    Annabel Crabbe on the reasons for Turnbull’s boring campaign.
    This is a pathetic excuse by the AEC about the length of polling booth queues. They had ample opportunity during the pre-poll phase to sample the time taken to fill out voting papers under the new system and then determine what capacity would be needed in polling booths. In the case of our polling booth the constraint was (just) the single voter registration desk. But if there was another one there would have been queues in front of the little booths.
    As predicted, Brexit takes to the streets.
    A great little contribution from Mark David on Rupert Murdoch.

    Mark Knight and the senate voting paper.

  17. I was surprised to wake and see the AEC with 72 to Labor. Watching ABC last night didn’t reflect this at all, seven I skipped past as they were going through some stupid “rocket” graphic for loosing politicians. Nine was ok until they started with the “crushinator” crap but at least they didn’t “call” it as wildly as ABC.
    Good the see Wyatt Roy gone, Susan Lamb has developed a high profile here. I’m nervous about postals however as I think these get “engineered” by the Libs (i.e. “Helping” dementia patients abd recently dead to fill in their postals).

  18. Thanks for that BK. I was nervous about the pre -polls as exit polls were saying they were falling more to Libs.

  19. Did anyone else experience huge queues and/or horrendous waiting times to vote yesterday?

    We were slammed all day in my booth; so much so that people were still voting at 6.30 and we AEC staff didn’t even get to vote until after they had left.

    What we heard was there were at least two booths that are normally used that were not at this election and so people were coming over to ours instead. However, the AEC appears to have made no contingency plans with respect to the increased number of voters at out booth. We had to call out for extra ballot papers at 5pm because it was obvious we were going to run out.

    There were a lot of very, very angry people in the lines, with some people overheard to blame the government’s “cost cutting” for the dilemma. If this was both a widespread problem and a widespread sentiment, it may well have shifted quite a few votes at the last minute.

  20. G’day everyone.

    Well, my predictions were a fair way off. I didn’t expect the size of the swing in outer Sydney (except in Banks and Robertson for some reason: sophomore effect?). But then I’m not Robinson Crusoe there. Nor did I expect the vote in Bass! Clearly included a negative personal vote against the thin-skinned Brigadier.

    The ABC coverage last night was sadly marred by something going wrong with the feed into Antony’s computer from the AEC. I don’t think it was the algorithm. I was following the AEC site all night and seats in Queensland, Vic and NSW that Antony had given to the Libs by 8pm were looking totally different when you looked at the actual votes. I think Antony’s projections were consistently misinterpreting where the early votes were coming from. It confused the entire ABC coverage and was clearly making both Barrie Cassidy and Penny Wong a little grumpy.

  21. Ugh, thanks BK. So currently ALP ahead on 72 seats and LIB on 66 according to AEC. Interesting two days ahead.

  22. Pre-Polls made in the electorate were counted Pre-Polls made in other electorates or overseas will be counted in coming weeks I think that how the count will go ?

  23. Usually on Sunday(Today) the AEC counts the Special Hospital Vote not sure they will do it this year with the new rules on ballot box security issues. They are not large votes but with the medicare issue interesting how they voted probably a big swing to ALP.

  24. Benjamin Law
    One of the most rewarding things about the @ABCElections coverage is watching ScoMo’s soul slowly detach from his body live on TV. #ausvotes

  25. Because of new rules due to the loss of votes in the last federal election in WA they have for some reason on security of ballots said counting can not take place until Tuesday. Not sure if this means Special Hospital Votes which used to be counted on Sunday can not also be counted.

  26. I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet but if, once the full count has been done, the NXT candidate can get above Labor in Sturt, Pyne might be in a bit of strife.

    One to watch over the coming days.

  27. Very proud Tasmanian here! Nikolic GONE!!!
    I am about to go and buy the Sunday papers and should expect some headlines such as:
    ‘We were wrong, Turnball in trouble’
    But that is expecting a bit much isn’t it!!!!

  28. Oh dear, Bolt is upset. A delightful silver lining. Of course Bolt ignores inconvenient facts like Abbott was showing worse polling figures than this election result.

  29. @Scoutdog: No fraggin way will our brain-dead MSM admit to their faults. Not in this lifetime. Although, I -do- hear a rumour that Rupert Murdoch’s thrown a real tanty wherever he is…this’ll be the first time the Great Unwashed have dared to defy his how-to-vote since the 1990s.

  30. Cheers Lizzie, I am in the South and a friend of mine said last night we will never learn…always safe seats here but in the North they are marginal and get 14 lane highways built and buckets of money thrown at them.

    I have found the reporting of this election amazingly bad, Turnball has lost a heap of seats and deserves some critical analysis. He will get away with blaming Labor at every turn at some stage it needs to stop and he needs to take some responsibility ie develop a damn policy or two!!

  31. ‘Also the generous helpings of humble pie to be consumed by the fourth estate will something to behold.’

    BK, you know perfectly well that each and every journo will trawl through every word they’ve said or written and find the qualifying sentence which means they were right all along!

    (Spent a day this week listening to a sub editor and editor taking an open and shut case against them and spinning it so it was All My Fault – that they have the gall to ever criticise a politician for virtually anything amazes me still.)

  32. Anything is possible, but I would now rate a hung parliament of some kind the most likely outcome, and it’s by no means impossible that it won’t be the Coalition forming the minority government.

    Went to bed convinced the Libs would hang on (just). Now I read this from William. What a night!

  33. Just looking at the washout, a few salient points.

    1. The Liberal cohort who voted for Abbott and saw him knifed by Turnbull have reacted in remarkable symmetry with those who voted for Rudd and saw him knifed by Gillard.

    At the next opportunity, they put the ‘knifer’ last on the ballot paper, usually via a 3rd party like PUP, NXT or One Nation. There are enough of these angry voters to make ‘post first term PM knifing elections’ atypical espcially when it comes to preference flows.

    2. The postal voting contingent of historically Coalition leaners, will include a similar ratio of angry Abbottistas, so it is likely that postals and preferences wont flow normally.

    3. There is a reason elections are never held in winter. The politically disengaged are not in a good mood having to queue in the cold, espcially if it is for over an hour where the chatting in the line is government cutbacks to the AEC. The last one was Hawke in 1984 and he almost lost that.

  34. Same issue with long queues in Bendigo electorate with people coming to our smaller booth when they found the queue too long at another booth.
    What happened to the much vaunted CFA effect and a swing to the Libs in this seat, it actually went the other way!

  35. Robert King ‏@rjkmelb · 30m30 minutes ago

    It appears @TurnbullMalcolm took the election right down to the (copper) wire. He did the the LNP what he did to the NBN. #auspol #ausvotes

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