Wentworth by-election minus zero days

One last report of internal polling for the Liberals suggests the situation for them is bad, though maybe not quite as bad as some reports this week have suggested.

Dawn breaks, and we have arrived at the end of the campaign without a single media-commissioned opinion poll. All those results from ReachTEL (which you can find listed on the sidebar of my by-election guide) were commissioned by left-of-centre political concerns; the other source of intelligence has been the purported internal polling provided by the Liberals in the name of scaring wavering voters back into line. The last such is from today’s Daily Telegraph – make what you will of the following:

Internal party polling, obtained by The Saturday Telegraph, shows the Liberals are faring better in the contest in Sydney’s wealthiest electorate than they have admitted, with a primary vote of 39 per cent, although this is still not an outright winnable position … Earlier this week, polling conducted by the Liberal Party collapsed to as low as 41 to 59 two party-preferred. However, tracking polling has improved since then.

If all goes well, I’m hoping to take a leap forward with my election night results reporting this evening, I having finally – I hope – wrapped my head around enough Python and Javascript to offer fully automated live results, updated by the minute from the Australian Electoral Commission media feed. For a preview of how this will look (with a few imperfections), I have retroactively applied the set-up to the final results from the Super Saturday by-elections in July: go here and click on one of the five electorate tabs.

Have a look down any given page, and you will see booth results in a nice and neat tabular form, with tabs to allow you to choose whether they appear as raw votes, percentages or swings from the last election. I flatter myself that this will be the handiest way of observing booth results as they come in: the AEC doesn’t publish them at all on its site on election night (unless there’s been a recent change of policy), and navigating Antony Green’s display at the ABC requires a bit more effort.

You will also note “win probability” gauges, copying the concept the New York Times made famous on the unforgettable night/day of the 2016 presidential election. This will only get a workout if the AEC publishes a Liberal-versus-Labor notional two-party count, as this will be the only way to allow for a swing calculation. If that’s indeed what happens, it will come with the fairly substantial qualification that the result will apply only if Liberal and Labor are indeed the last two candidates in the count, and it’s not the general view that that’s what will happen. One way or another, the facility should be regarded as experimental for the time being.

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.

134 comments on “Wentworth by-election minus zero days”

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  1. TTT@11:34am
    It may not be a comfortable win for Sharma. However, high probability that we will not know the result. I think Morrison may be successful in scared the voters enough to vote for Sharma.

  2. Not sure why they got Bob Menzies up & running again – he will find himself totally out of compatibility with today’s ‘Liberal’ Party. He will be unable to recognise them & their policies and will probably join Malcolm’s son to urge them to vote ANYTHING BUT Liberal.

  3. The AEC have disenfranchised me.

    I had assumed that in the Wentworth by-election, electors overseas could, as in general elections, vote at Australian diplomatic missions.

    When I learned on Oct. 6 that this option was not available, I registered for a postal vote and was told by the AEC on Oct. 9 that it had been mailed with Australia Post.

    At the close of business Friday, Oct. 19 in North America, the ballot package had not arrived. It is now 1 p.m Sydney time on election day and I will not be able to exercise my democratic right in what is probably the most significant by-election in Australian political history. The only silver lining is the fact that probably more Coalition supporters would be overseas and affected by this, than voters for the other candidates.

    It’s extraordinary that in this cyber age that the AEC rely on snail mail, posting the ballot half way around the world and having the elector mail it back half way around the world. The ballot will probably arrive next week, taking two weeks go get here.

    I will be particularly p….., annoyed, if Sharma gets up by one vote.

  4. Booleanbach
    Strange that they would fly in a forensic surgeon complete with bonesaw in advance of an anticipated “fist fight”. They must have been pretty confident of the outcome. But given the Saudis were flying in a ten man security team, even “Iron Mike” Khashoggi was always likely to go down in the first round of the “fist fight”.

  5. “It seems to be setting up a narrative that a narrow win means the Liberals pulled off “Mighty Ducks” style victory.”

    I agree. The Liberals are trying to make a 10+% swing look like “plucking victory from the jaws of certain victory”.

  6. Admitting your behind in a historically safe seat is a move you make when you have nothing to lose, so no doubt in my mind they think they have a good chance of losing.

    By doing so they promote the idea that a protest vote has a real chance of making a difference, it gives it purpose.

    The libs just hope that by admitting they are losing, they can win back more protest voters than they encourage.

  7. Good luck with the results reporting WB, it adds another layer of interest.

    Earlier this week, polling conducted by the Liberal Party collapsed to as low as 41 to 59 two party-preferred. However, tracking polling has improved since then.

    The week was a clusterf*ck for the government, so at least half of this is a lie. Not that I trust internal polling, but the first half being true would explain a lot.

  8. SMH
    Kerryn Phelps firms as odds on favorite to win Wentworth

    Kerryn Phelps has gained more support with punters backing her to win the Wentworth by-election with about half of all money wagered behind her at odds of $1.32, her shortest price so far.

    Liberal candidate Dave Sharma has drifted to $3.20 from $3.00 yesterday with Labor’s Tim Murray at $16 and independent Licia Heath was paying $21, according to Sportsbet.

  9. I do not doubt that there is a protest vote happenning against the Liberals. They are hoping that it is saying “do better”. I suspect it might be saying “p**s off”.

  10. In the Tele – interesting

    IT was a trend observed in the NSW by-election in Orange, when voters sensationally threw out the sitting Nationals MP to install a Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate.

    The loss for the Nationals was the catalyst for the resignation of the party’s then leader Troy Grant.

    Out in Wentworth, Labor Party volunteers are observing a similar trend – that is, voters brushing past those handing out how-to-votes.

    “It means they are turning up to the polling booths having made their minds up,” one volunteer said.

    “And that usually means they are not going to be voting for the incumbent.

    “It feels very Orange.”

    While no-one is doubting Independent Kerryn Phelps will be delivered a big swing, Labor could also benefit from the protest votes.

    With Labor delivering its preferences to Dr Phelps, it needs to come third in order to push the former Australian Medical Association president over the line.

    The average by-election swing against a government is five percent.
    The loss for the Nationals in the Orange by-election was the catalyst for the resignation of the party’s then leader Troy Grant.

    Voter anger at having to participate in a by-election was evident last week, with Labor unable to obtain a sample size big enough to complete an opinion poll.

    The party commissioned a poll in the final days of the campaign, only for its pollsters to report they could not obtain enough responses to calculate an outcome.

    “We wanted a sample size of around 800 soe the results were meaningful, but they could not get over 600 even through they tried for three days,” a party source said.

    “People were just hanging up.”

  11. Malcolm was their messiah and they booted him.For me they would be the angriest electorate in the country.I said a few weeks ago there was going to be a massive backlash against that knifing, and the electorate are going to knife Morrison and co.

  12. David Speers tweets…

    .@DaveSharma still on message. Libs working the booths say it’s really bad for them though. (Actually the language used is slightly more profane)

  13. Well the spin job has involved leaking 45-55 and 41-59… they will absolutely try to spin a 48-52 as positive outcome… and bury the electorate as an elite bleeding heart inner city seat.

  14. Can I ask whether your ‘Projected 2PP’ numbers come from the AEC feed, or are derived from regression analysis of counted booths or the 2PP swing at counted booths?

    Just from the AEC feed. No regression.

  15. If Labor couldn’t get a tracking poll over the line how dd the liberals succeed. Don’t tell me they just pulled numbers out of the end of their thumb.

  16. are exit polls to be done?
    assume there is some liberal tactical voting. is 1 labour 2 liberal what is the max extent possible … 5% would be 4000 to 5000 votes… how would we tell?

  17. This is going to be a baseball bat election.
    Those who voted for Malcolm still don’t know why their favourite son was ambushed. They won’t listen to ScoMo about hung Parliaments.
    It could well be the biggest swing in by-election history. Phelps is a better bet than Winx at $1.32.
    Cassidy’s Insiders tomorrow will be a disaster for the Government.

  18. Despite the enthusiasm, I would want more than the current betting odds to rely upon to predict the outcome of this or any other poll. I think history has shown plenty of examples where the betting market has not only not predicted the winner as per the odds offered but sometimes comes nowhere near the mark. Still, it adds to the fun and some money on the Lib candidate might be worth a punt at the current odds shown here earlier.

  19. Betting market is a decent indicator… basically giving Sharma a trump chance of beating hilary (unfortunate analogy), which means he is considered the underdog as opposed to Phelps. That alone is remarkable considering he inherits a 67% tpp and a 62% primary vote from 2016.

    Im fearing the Keneally bennelong disappointment feeling, but in truth she never came near to Sharma’s present underdog odds let alone Phelps’ level of favouratism?

    So in that respect will be v disappointing if Sharma hangs on. Yet it seems hard to conceive that we’re locking in a 20+ point primary vote drop!!! Even at 20 pts, Phelps will need 80% of prefs to get up – which is no small order. If Sharma’s primary is in the mid 30s or worse then Phelps is a lock provided ahead of Murray. Amazing that this is the favoured scenario…

  20. ABC24 is scheduling 3 hours for the count..

    Wentworth Votes Saturday, 20 Oct 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM [180 mins] ctc CC
    Voters in the seat of Wentworth in Sydney’s East go to the polls in a by-election to replace Malcolm Turnbull. Greg Jennett is joined by Brigid Glanville and Antony Green plus Trent Zimmerman (LIB) and Linda Burney (ALP).

  21. The Liberal volunteers must be feeling now like I felt handing out Labor how to vote cards in Kalgoorlie in December 1975.

    My heart bleeds for them.

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