Victorian election: call of the board

Digging deep into the unexpectedly comprehensive Labor win in Victoria.

A full display of the election results, with complete booth figures, swings and probability estimates, can be found here. No updates will appear today (Sunday).

I believe my election results facility, which after a very slow start is now running almost bug-free (with apologies to the seat of Preston), is the only place where you can find two-party preferred results by booth and vote type – vote type being very important in the context of this election. It also trumps the Victorian Electoral Commission site in having swing results at booth-level, on both primary and two-party. To access these, go to the entry page linked to above and follow one of the electorate links further down the page, where you will find neatly displayed results tables with tabs for toggling between totals, percentages and swings. Note that I have turned off booth-matching for my aggregations and predictions, at least for the two-party vote – my failure to do the same with the primary vote means the swings shown for it are slightly anomalous.

The results display turns up ample evidence of what became apparent as the night progressed, which was that pre-polls and postals very often failed to replicate the massive swings to Labor on election day. This meant the final result, as bad as it was, will not be quite as apocalyptic for the Coalition as earlier booth-matched projections made it appear. Cases in point included Brighton, where a 10.2% election day swing that appeared set to deliver Labor a shock victory was followed by swings of only 2.6% on pre-polls and 1.8% on postals; and Hawthorn, where a 10.8% swing had John Pesutto reading his own obituary on ABC Television, only for him to inch to a 53 vote lead after pre-polls and postals only swung 3.4% and 4.5%.

Another seat where the cavalry arrived late was Caulfield, although alert PB commenter Trent notes what is clearly an anomaly in the result. This relates to the booth of Elsternwick North, where Labor has a higher primary than two-party preferred – a mathematical impossibility that can be readily explained by the party’s two-party results having been entered the wrong way around. On this basis, the Liberal margin would appear to be 1.8% rather than 2.9%, although that should be enough for David Southwick after his early fright.

A particularly interesting feature of the result is that the gap between early and election day polling swings was very much a phenomenon of the affluent areas nearer the city. Late counting did little to diminish the swathe Labor cut through the eastern suburbs, which took in Burwood, Mount Waverley, Ringwood and Box Hill. The one exception to this picture was Bayswater, where Heidi Victoria suffered only a 1.5% swing on pre-polls compared with 6.5% on ordinary votes, and ended the night 72 votes in front. In Labor’s other clear gain, the Geelong region seat of South Barwon, pre-polls actually swung quite a bit more heavily than election day votes — 12.6% compared with 7.5%. Nor was pre-poll voting any less harsh on the Liberals in the sandbelt seats, which have delivered Labor stunning margins of 11.9% in Bentleigh, 11.7% in Carrum, 12.3% in Mordialloc and 9.5% in Frankston.

The least unexpected of Labor’s gains was the heavily over quota electorate of Bass, the story of which is told by the suburb of Clyde: in 2014 had one booth which went 376-165 to Liberal, while in 2018 it had two booths that collectively went 1318-932 to Labor. Still in doubt are Bass’s near neighbour, Nepean, where Labor holds a 1.0% lead after swings of 11.3% on the ordinary vote and around 6.0% on pre-polls and postals; Sandringham, where the Liberals now lead by 1.0% and should have the advantage on remaining postals; and Ripon, a Labor target seat where the Coalition performed well above the norm, as they did in Eildon and Euroa, which have in common being regional seats defended by female sophomores.

As usual, it’s been a nerve-wracking election night for the Greens, who are now holding out for their traditionally strong showing on absent votes in a number of seats (to say nothing of the upper house, which I will defer for a later time). This will presumably be enough to keep Ellen Sandell safe in Melbourne, where she leads by 1.2%, and could well allow Tim Read to close his 72 vote gap over Labor’s Cindy O’Connor in Brunswick. However, the Greens have failed to replicate their by-election win in Northcote, and had a rather poor result in Richmond, despite the Liberals making life easier for them by declining to field a candidate. Prahran was a particularly pronounced example of the Liberals doing better on pre-poll and postals voting in inner urban areas, which removed the possibility of their being excluded in what earlier looked a three-way dead heat on the primary vote. So the winner will be whoever finishes second out of Greens incumbent Sam Hibbins (28.3%) and Labor’s Neil Pharaoh (29.6%).

Aside from Shepparton, which was easily retained by Suzanna Sheed, the following seats have independents somewhere or other in the mix:

Mildura. My model says independent Ali Cupper’s 1.3% margin is enough, but it’s not sufficiently cognisant of how well the Nationals tend to do on postals.

Morwell. Labor’s Mark Richards has the edge in the two-party count against the Nationals, but this is redundant as Nationals-turned-independent member Russell Northe will clearly run second. He must then chase down a 34.2% to 20.0% deficit on the primary vote with mostly conservative preferences.

Benambra. The two-party count was Liberal versus Labor, but the potential for interest here lies in the potential for independent Jacqui Hawkins (16.8%) to get ahead of Labor (17.6%) with preferences from independent Jenny O’Connor (12.9%) and then ride home over Liberal incumbent Bill Tilley (40.3%).

Geelong. Independent Darryn Lyons is a clear second on 25.2% to the Liberal’s 20.2%, and Labor incumbent Christine Couzens’ 40.3% is low enough that she might have to worry.

Melton. An exquisitely complicated contest in a normally safe Labor seats which, in which Labor had a retiring member and a late substitute after their original candidate withdrew. There are twelve candidates, most of whom appear to have at least some sort of following locally, and the Labor primary vote is only 34.3%. If preferences from the first eight excluded candidates lock heavily behind independents Bob Turner or Ian Birchall, the might get ahead of the Liberal and then home on preferences. However, one suspects there will be a good deal of leakage along the way. In pure two-party terms, there has been a very unusual 7.2% swing to the Liberals.

Pascoe Vale. Haven’t heard much talk about this, but the primary votes look a bit dangerous for Labor’s Lizzie Blandthorn, who has 37.1% to independent Oscar Yildiz on 25.5%.

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.

184 comments on “Victorian election: call of the board”

  1. The Darling river and much of western NSW has faced, is facing, permanent degradation, stopping of rivers and now appearing to end in desolation for many people trying to continue to live out there. Land use practices and historical abuse are almost entirely responsible for that. With climate change thrown in from everyone on top.
    This is a major concern for people there and many Australians
    No economy without environment. No water no economy. No water no life.
    It is a waste of time to even bother with the some of the nongs on here.
    Without something different happening, inland Australia will likely become largely uninhabitable due to lack of water, heat and land degradation. We are amongst the biggest de-foresters in the world already as well.
    Water, or actually lack of it, will be an ever growing problem for Australia and the world if business as usual continues. Rubbish slogans won’t change that. Neither will wars, but we’re there almost already.

    The introduction of some GM crops actually significantly increased herbicide use and and incidence particularly of roundup resistant weeds, due to management practices.
    Careful though, this leads to broad discussion and references to scientific research which some here may have trouble absorbing or understanding.
    To say nothing of the corporate ownership of the world’s natural resources. Though even these scientists discuss some of the issues inherent in that and also the impact on biodiversity.
    I do understand that some PB bloviators can’t get their head around anything other than slogans. Nevertheless Cheers

  2. Sorry, Quoll, didn’t understand that talking about the Victorian election results doomed inland Australia to be an arid wasteland, devoid of people, rather than the bustling, cosmopolitan destination it is at present..

  3. Quoll
    I see that you are having trouble separating issues relating to water management, GMO cotton and non-GMO cotton. Here are some observations that may help you:

    1. GMO cotton uses vastly less chemicals than non-GMO cotton. Perhaps you could explain why it would be wonderful to go back to the cottons that require vast amounts of spraying?

    2. As previously noted, irrigation water is now a traded commodity. It therefore goes to the crop with the best return. If you think this is undesirable in the policy sense, perhaps you could explain why.

    3. As previously noted, the balance between water for the environment and water for irrigation in the MDB is wrong. This applies whether the crops grown are cotton or GMO cotton.

    4. Despite huge amounts of research there is very, very little evidence that GMO food per se makes people sick when they eat it. However there is a direct relationship between GMOs and productivity and it is this productivity that is saving hundreds of millions of people from starvation. Perhaps you could explain why this is an undesirable thing. Try to explain it as if you are explaining it to a mother who is watching her child starve to death.

    5. There is no doubt that corporate control of GMOs is an issue. But that issue is not about GMOS, per se, it is about corporate control.

    6. BTW, GMO cotton is not a food.

    BTW, you persistently call the people you disagree with ‘nongs’. Have you considered the evils of projection?

  4. I’ll say this for this the Greens’ performance in Victoria.

    The fact that the count in Melbourne was that close when Labor was essentially running dead there has to be a sign of worry for the Greens federally.

  5. @ Millenial
    If Labor were running dead in Melbourne at the beginning of the campaign they weren’t by the end of it! They even told the media that their internal polling was picking up a shift towards them and were throwing extra resources at it.

  6. One of the Labor strategists says that 80% of people they talked to supported assistance being given to those with mental health problems and addiction.

  7. The Greens popularity in Melbourne doesn’t make a lot of sense to me tbh. Labor is so visibly doing things, with annoyingly constant improvements to roads and public transport in the area. Who is voting green? The students at Melbourne uni who rent in the surrounding areas must be a fair chunk of their base, but surely can’t account for all of it.

  8. Quoll – save your energy mate! You’re not engaged in an intelligent conversation with fellow citizens where varied philosophical provisions are presented and debated, within a noble enterprise governed by enlightened protocols of reason, evidence or mutual respect. You’re dealing with a gaggle of RW ALP factional daleks that have been unleashed on this site, and whose programming permits them to do no more than squawk out denunciations of the Greens for anything, everything and at any time. On the other hand you are giving them something additional to squawk about, and they seem to enjoy that in a dalekian sort of way. So you may inadvertently be contributing a theme to the great song of the universe

  9. Toby Esterhase @ #157 Sunday, November 25th, 2018 – 6:33 pm

    @ Millenial
    If Labor were running dead in Melbourne at the beginning of the campaign they weren’t by the end of it! They even told the media that their internal polling was picking up a shift towards them and was throwing extra resources at it.

    Must’ve been a very late push, because I remember reading that there was barely any Labor posters in Melbourne; I think that was about a week before the election.

  10. max
    What is it with the Greens?
    As soon as you confront them with their own policies they go to water – well, not exactly water. They invariably head towards personal abuse.
    BTW, do you think it is an excellent idea to destroy Australia’s cotton industry as per the Greens’ policies?

  11. max @ #161 Sunday, November 25th, 2018 – 7:58 pm

    Quoll – save your energy mate! You’re not engaged in an intelligent conversation with fellow citizens where varied philosophical provisions are presented and debated, within a noble enterprise governed by enlightened protocols of reason, evidence or mutual respect. You’re dealing with a gaggle of RW ALP factional daleks that have been unleashed on this site, and whose programming permits them to do no more than squawk out denunciations of the Greens for anything, everything and at any time. On the other hand you are giving them something additional to squawk about, and they seem to enjoy that in a dalekian sort of way. So you may inadvertently be contributing a theme to the great song of the universe

    Losers are losers! That’s you!

  12. The Melbourne federal electorate essentially covers the state seats of Melbourne and Richmond.

    Currently the 2CP state vote in those seats is 53.4% Labor’s way, though it will probably come back marginally after absentees and certainly benefited from a rubbish campaign from the Greens and a poor candidate in Richmond.

    With a strong Labor candidate, I would suggest Melbourne is very much in play at the next federal election. It will be the battle front for red versus green as Wills and Cooper (nee batman) are going to be near impossible for the Greens this time round.


    I suspect the Greens are currently increasing checks on candidates for the Commonwealth election next year, so that the campaign is not derailed by preselection mistakes like this one was. I think it more than likely the Greens campaign for the Commonwealth election will be better than the state campaign was.

    The ALP do not have an incumbent to defend, I think the planning minister against the developer angle the ALP ran probably helped them, the Greens have incumbency. Adam Bandt is also far less controversial on the left than Kathleen Maltzan appears to be.

  14. GhostWhoVotes just tweeted (4 mins ago) that Federal Newspoll is 55 ALP/45 LNP TPP.

    The Victorian result to be replicated on the Federal stage.

    Whilst the Tories continue to go down the ultra-Conservative path they will continue to discover that Australia is not like that.

  15. Looking at Prahran and 2014 absentee votes and preferences I feel Greens might queak Home? they’re 400 odd votes short of ALP but it seems Greens fared better than 2014 on Pre Polls. I just hope the collapse in the Libs will hopefully mean they’re absentee votes will help Labour . I think they might just fall short…. but I’m
    Sure there are better qualified people who may offer me some solace. Also Reason party didn’t stand last time and they will most likely preference ALP?

  16. Max:

    Please provide your opinion of Buckingham, MacAlpine, Phillips.

    Let us face the awful truth. The Greens have been exposed as racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynist – though butter wouldn’t melt in their collective mouths.

  17. Very confident about Prahran

    Overall, the preference flows should be better for Labor than last time, particularly with Reason directing preferences but also having the higher spot on the ballot.

  18. I am still surprised by the big swing to Labor in Box Hill – my own seat. On the ground it was a non-campaign, no doorknocking, no mail outs or letter box pamphlets, very few posters or corflutes, no campaigning at the station. At the polling booth yesterday, it was equally dead and flat. No serious local issues either.

    Was it an ‘Its time’ factor for Robert Clark? He had been the member since 1988 and surely it was going to be his last term. He has also not been visible at the eastern end of the electorate that was added in 2014. Was there some sort of Chinese language social media campaign that was not readily apparent on the surface? That could have had an effect in Mount Waverley as well.

    Not sure also why there was such a large swing against Dee Ryall in Ringwood – she has been much active and high profile. On the other hand, the swing in Forest Hill was very low and locally both the Libs and ALP ran a more visible and higher energy campaign than Box Hill.

  19. It will be interesting to see if the issue of Matthew Guy refusing to go on Jon Faine’s ABC program was a factor in the seats like Brighton, Hawthorn or Box Hill. Jon Faine hammered away at the issue last week and it was highly reminiscent of Jeff Kennett’s refusal to be interviewed in 1999. The ‘liberal’ Liberal voters in these seats might have been very turned off by it.

  20. The Oz’s take on tonight’s Newspoll:

    ‘Coalition slides but PM popular.’

    As most know, the PPM metric means next to nothing relative to a 2PP of 55:45.

  21. Blackburnseph, It was surmised on Sky News and ABC, that the Federal government inordinate criticism of the Deal that Andrews Struck with China , and didn’t declare or discuss the details with Canberra was a significant factor, Morrison basically saying that you can’t trust China in any deal and you should have come first to him before signing the deal. his ostracized the large Chinese electorate in Box Hill and Mount Waverley, to vote for ALP and Andrews yet another example of Morrison’s ideas that may placate the right of his party and the Sydney Shock jocks, but have no relevance at all in Victoria, which hurts the State Liberal cause even more

  22. So where is the TPP likely to end up?

    If it’s 55/45 we can say the polls just happened, in this case, to be a touch low.

    At 56/54 or 57/43 (where William’s poll widget suggest it is) then it points to a systematic underestimation of the progressive vote.

    The most likely cause being the burst of enrollments for the SSM postal vote has not yet been calibrated.

  23. Blackburnpseph – the Liberals launched their campaign in Neil Angus’ church in Forest Hill.

    Dee Ryall took the damage from being in the heart of Deakin – thanks Michael Sukkar. However, Dee’s personalized van that was parked outside the Mitcham footy ground 24 hours a day 7 days a week probably delivered more things than Dee herself.

    It’s a case of a few factors:
    1. The federal LNP.
    2. The seats tend to swing after the 2nd term that the ALP is elected and will revert to LNP for when they take government again, possibly even an election before.
    3. Matthew Guy
    4. The ALP seem to have delivered more stuff in more locations not just roads.
    5. The ALP have some sort of a plan.
    6. The Greens vetting process.

    All told, a perfect storm.

  24. I am so, so happy to have won Northcote back. I handed out HTVs at Westgarth Primary in the freezing cold in the morning and we bloody won it. Worth every second.

    Was in Prahran in the afternoon at a Toorak booth that was dripping with money and we got a 14% swing against the Liberal. I’m really hopeful for Neil.

    It was a grand day.

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