Victorian election endgame

A week and a half on, the finishing touches are being applied to Victoria’s rather extraordinary election result.

Saturday morning

Late excitement in Ripon, where contested ballots during a recount appear to have worn away to nothing. The VEC’s communications on the recount have been a bit confusing, but the buzz on social media suggests the Liberals have achieved the tiniest of leads, with the result perhaps to be decided by a single digit margin. The recount is to resume this morning, and is proceeding slowly as every dubious ballot is scrutinised in minute detail.

Thursday morning

My results platform is now fully updated with the latest results, and hopefully more or less works. Many more preference counts have been conducted, but not in the one contest that remains of potential interest, namely Melton.

UPDATE: By latest results, I mean the latest VEC feed. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been reconciled with the preference counts yet.

Tuesday evening

The Victorian Electoral Commission is now a fair way through the preference distributions, and it seems the numbers in the new parliament will be Labor 56, Coalition 26 (Liberal 20 and Nationals six), Greens three and independents three. The one remaining chance for a boilover is Melton, which will presumably be retained by Labor, but they have only 34.9% of the primary vote with the remainder scattered among the field of eleven other candidates. Then is the upper house, which I’m afraid I haven’t been able to give its due over the last week and a bit, but do stay tuned.

Notable results from the resolution of the count:

• Sam Hibbins retained Prahran for the Greens by a 7.4% margin over the Liberals, which he was able to do because he again squeaked ahead of Labor at the last exclusion. At that point in the count, Liberal candidate Katie Allen was on 14,824 (36.7%), Hibbins was on 12,911 (32.0%) and Labor’s Neil Pharaoh was on 12,647 (31.3%). The 264 votes separating Hibbins and Pharaoh compares with 31 votes when the exact same candidates faced the exact same situation in 2014. The difference on that occasion was that Pharaoh landed only 277 votes clear of Liberal incumbent Clem Newton-Brown on the final count – here as in so many other places, the Liberals were not a feature this time.

• Labor won the western Victorian seat of Ripon by just 31 votes, Sarah De Santis finishing with 20,030 (50.04%) over Liberal incumbent Louise Staley on 19,999 (49.96%).

• The vague prospect of an independent win in Benambra did not eventuate, with Liberal incumbent Bill Tilley emerging with a winning margin of 2.4%. Independent Jacqui Hawkins reduced Labor to third place, at which point Tilley was on 19,517 (47.1%), Hawkins was on 11,778 (28.4%) and the Labor candidate was on 10,110 (24.4%). That left Hawkins needing 88% of preferences, and she managed 78%.

In the seats that were being followed closely on the earlier post, Liberal member David Southwick made it home in Caulfield by 205 votes (0.3%); Labor’s Jackson Taylor prevailed over Liberal incumbent Heidi Victoria in Bayswater by 296 votes (0.4%); Labor’s John Ormond Kennedy was a 329 vote (0.4%) winner over Liberal member John Pesutto in Hawthorn; Tim Read of the Greens won Brunswick from Labor by 504 votes (0.6%); and Labor’s Chris Brayne finished 767 votes clear (0.9%) of the Liberals in Nepean.

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.

171 comments on “Victorian election endgame”

  1. Amazing win to Labor in Ripon after being behind during the whole count. Strange that the final tallies are a hundred or so less than the final provisional figures – no doubt for good reason. Staley must be shattered, especially since she had to defend such a tiny margin. Then again, sympathy has its limits. She has had ‘two unfortunate run ins with breathalysers’ and I recall the antics of her grub of a relative (uncle, I think), of whom Keating had some very unPC descriptions. I’m always first with the worst:
    https://www.crikey.com.au/2001/08/26/sorry-lasher-its-louise-staley-who-has-dd-convictions/
    https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/liberals-serial-grub-at-the-heart-of-a-sorry-affair-20020508-gdf9ea.html

  2. Prahan result is interesting – twice in a row winning from third position on primaries is probably a record – suggests Green members might have a reasonable chance of holding this seat next time around if the ALP candidate couldn’t make in a year which was very favourable to the ALP

  3. Michael
    Thank god ALP only lost Brighton & Caulfield to LNP onslaught in this election. They were able to retain safe ALP seats of Bayswater, Hawthorne, Ripon, Nepean & Burwood by thinnest of margins.
    GG
    No I am not confused & addled. Hopefully you understand that this is a satire.

  4. Yes. A stunning victory for Labor. Congratulations to The Greens, for holding on in their 3 seats in what was a huge swing to Labor overall. However, The Greens have not succeeded in increasing their numbers in what should be their strongest State. I believe that there needs to be some serious reviewing of tactics and policies however, in the light of Labors success in meeting the needs of people, especially in regard to metropolitan transport issues. Less reference to ideology and more to practicality. The Greens only have to look at what is destroying the Liberal Party, ideology and factionalism, to see the path to go. Here’s hoping for more Greens in Federal Parliament after May.

  5. The next Victorian state redistribution (before the next state election) will add more seats in west Melbourne at the expense of east Melbourne. So more bad news for the Liberal party.

  6. Do we have any thoughts about the MPs who have been voted out?
    Brian Paynter, Heidi Victoria, Dee Ryall, Robert Clark, Graham Watt, Andrew Katos, John Pesutto,
    Michael Gidley, Louise Staley, Peter Crisp & Lidia Thorpe.

    Of these, you would imagine that we definitely haven’t seen the last of Pesutto and probably not the last of Katos (shadow whip), Watt and Staley.
    Crisp was the Nationals Whip and will probably run again somewhere.

  7. You’d think so AZ, but it’s not like those in the ascendancy in the Liberal Party are rational political actors, especially when it comes to pre-selections. Who knows what sort of Star Wars bar of dubious RWNJs will be offered up to the discerning Victorian electorate as Liberal candidates for the next election,

  8. Does anyone know if the VEC makes full preference data files available at some point, like the AEC does? (Are the Assembly ballots even data-entered?)

    I’d be interested in seeing who the Condorcet winner in Prahran was.

  9. Max,

    You only have to look at the list of Whitehorse/Monash Councillors who applied to be the candidate for the seat of Chisholm once Julia Banks announced she wasn’t running. Theo Zographos, Blair Barker, Andrew Davenport were all putting their names up. Putting your name up as a Liberal Party candidate may not be a great idea for local council, even in October 2020…

  10. True AZ. Whereas in the far-flung City of Hume I heard from someone in the local ALP, that there will be a much bigger ticket of ALP endorsed candidates for the next council elections, as opposed to a range of nominal independents who are mostly ALP members. I don’t know if that’s the case across the State.

  11. Who knows what Andrew Katos’ future is? He was out-campaigned by Darren Cheeseman, but probably would have lost anyway, due to the electoral tide.

    He’s youngish, but what electorate might he stand in? A lot can change in four years, but if he wants to stay in the Geelong area, South Barwon seems to be well in Labor’s keeping. Geelong & Lara are obviously out, and the Liberal-held Polwarth has a relatively new member. Maybe an upper house sinecure if one is available. He’s not a mover and shaker.

  12. A couple months prior to this election, I was anxious that there would be an “October Surprise” with which Murdoch’s manipulators could destroy public confidence in the Labor government’s hard-earned reputation for stability and competency. The saddening murder of a well respected Melbourne city cafe owner was what Murdoch cynically attempted to exploit as part and parcel of his tabloid’s fear mongering anti-immigration propaganda.

    For Murdoch’s bulldust shovellers to fail epically, as the Coalition plummets to a 30 seat deficit, is a tribute to Premier Andrews and his ministers, but more so to the Victorian citizenry’s sensible rejection of division and fear. As a lifelong NSW Labor Party activist, I tips me lid to what Andrews proudly characterised as “the most progressive state” in the country.

    Also, tipping me olde lid to Mr William Bowe for his illuminating essays on the election. I’m looking forward avidly to his reports on Victoria’s upper house results, the NSW state election and the Federal election. For those who can afford it, please add to the monetary support which many Bludgers have provided to keep this invaluable resource going full steam ahead.


  13. Onebobsworth says:
    Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 10:30 am
    Here’s hoping for more Greens in Federal Parliament after May.

    Not at the expense of ALP because that is usually what happens.

  14. Re: Prahran – “here as in so many other places, the Liberals were not a feature this time.”

    Exactly right, no surprise that William describes it accurately but I’m shocked at how many media outlets – including articles on the ABC (not by Antony Green) and The Age – continued to describe the Prahran count as being a “tight three-cornered contest” and often wording it that the Greens “managed to fend off both the Labor & Liberal candidates on preferences”.

    While technically true that they beat the Liberals on preferences, that makes it sound like it was close when there was really no “fending off” of the Liberal candidate at all. It should have been clear as soon as her primary vote was in the mid-30s that it was never going to be a three-cornered contest, it was only ever a two-horse race that just happened to be at the 3PP stage.

    Although if you read her Twitter account she has also made it sound like she was a victim of preferential voting and that the Greens pipped her at the post as well.

  15. A great result for Labor. Near control of the upper house too means Andrews can reliably enact his program. If Labor is disciplined in office you would think this will give them eight years, since it would be amazing for the Liberals to make up all that ground in four years time. Plus several of the Liberals most obvious leadership successors were booted as well. Of course hubris is dangerous too, so perhaps Andrews should hang a photo of Campbell Newman in his office.

    As well as Andrews efforts and accidental assistance from ScumMo, whoever ran the logistics of the Victorian Labor campaign deserves applause. Andrews provided the energy but the planning and support were spot on.

  16. @Ven – “Not at the expense of ALP because that is usually what happens.”

    The main seat I’m hoping they pick up, and one that will be at the top of their list given the huge swings across Prahran & Malvern, is Higgins off the Liberals. Here’s hoping they can put Kelly O’Dwyer out of parliament!

    The one Labor seat I am hopeful that the Greens can pick up is Macnamara. They have a great candidate there whereas I believe the new Labor candidate is from Danby’s faction, and while this election will favour Labor everywhere it’s not a seat I see them holding much into the future anyway so establishing Greens incumbency is probably preferable to the Liberals winning it off Labor in a future election that isn’t a landslide.

  17. @ Ven 1211pm
    Should clarify “more Greens after the Federal Election”
    I mean in The Senate. I doubt there’ll be any in the HoR. Hopefully Labor will have very good
    numbers there as Government.

  18. “Sitting Liberal MP Roma Britnell has won the South West Coast election by a margin of just 3.8 per cent.
    Warrnambool election manager ​Ian Sadler said the final round of preferences were counted on Wednesday morning.
    He said the official winner would not be announced until declarations later this week.

    But, on a two party preferred basis, Roma Britnell (Liberal) received 21,473 votes.
    Labor candidate Kylie Gaston managed 19,870.

    Mr Sadler said that more detailed figures were expected to be available on the Victorian Electoral Commission website later this afternoon or this evening.”
    http://www.standard.net.au/story/5795205/britnell-wins-south-west-coast-by-38-per-cent/
    (if using noscript, allow standard.net.au, akaimaihd.net and piano.io)

  19. Ven @ #4 Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 – 10:22 am

    Michael
    Thank god ALP only lost Brighton & Caulfield to LNP onslaught in this election. They were able to retain safe ALP seats of Bayswater, Hawthorne, Ripon, Nepean & Burwood by thinnest of margins.
    GG
    No I am not confused & addled. Hopefully you understand that this is a satire.

    Ven,

    You should draw a diagram then!

  20. Anyone know when the upper house results actually come through. What’s on the abc and vec right now just distributed below the line votes as if the person followed the htv cards right?

    Will be interesting to see if druery’s impact is reduced with the final data. A lot of btl votes for some of the leftish minors that might be less likely to flow to the right wing crazies handpicked by druery.

  21. Voice Endeavour

    I’m hanging out for these too. I suspect Druery may not come through with the 10 odd they’re predicting as part of his ‘alliance’.

    I’m interested in what a Hinch team will be all about in state politics. Victoria’s SA Best?

  22. I haven’t seen much local reporting regarding the near existential death experience of the candidate elect in Brighton. I realize that the result in the end was possibly helped by much kneeling, prayer, teeth gnashing and presumably divine intervention, along the lines of my god loves me more than your god loves you, however, how come a 19 year old with less than $2k in his kick came so close to pulling off the upset of the century?
    The chap who eventually took the seat with a 11% swing against him was apparently one of the mover/shakers trying to take over the Victorian Libs so that we could all be saved from ourselves. I know I’ve had far too many unclean thoughts of late and could do with a good clean-out dose of righteousness, but kind of weird that the voters of Brighton didn’t embrace the new lad being forced on them with as much gusto as, well, as the previous member.
    Before Mr. and Mrs. Bastiaan took a sabbatical it was widely reported that the same pressure was brought to bear in the seat of Narracan however the sitting member prevailed and was able to remain in situ with a good showing at the poll. Maybe he should throw his hat in the ring for the Opposition Leader job so a pale pull-through is not gifted the chalice of gloom and doom.
    If things keep going the same direction we may find that a very unhealthy situation arrives.
    Good government needs a good Opposition to keep things kosher.
    Having just managed to save 20 seats in Victoria I would ask the brains trust behind the Libs.
    “How’s that working for you?”
    https://www.afr.com/news/politics/will-michael-kroger-sink-or-save-the-victorian-liberal-party-20170925-gyo5dn

  23. Bemused by the interest in Katos, who has always been hopeless, and whose only chance of re-election lay in Cheeseman also being hopeless, continuing the long and grand tradition of both major parties giving South Barwon to complete numpties. I’d bet on Katos going back to selling fish and never being heard from politically again, unless he decides to go back to the also numpty-filled Geelong council.

  24. It is now possible to drive directly from Stawell (in Ripon, west of Melbourne), through the Melbourne metropolitan area, to Inverloch (in Bass, south east of Melbourne), a distance of 380 kilometres, without going through a single Liberal Party or National Party seat.

  25. The chap (and he is a chap) who took Brighton (but only just) appeared at a Mormon function at Moorabbin with fellow young fogey Senator James Patterson who spoke on “religious freedom”. This appearance was after the election.

    These people aren’t going anywhere. Their operation, to take over the Liberal Party by stacking branches with right wing religious zealots, is not going anywhere, not anytime soon in any case.

    John Pesutto, a Liberal moderate who is now unemployed largely thanks to the crazies who have taken over his party, might chew on that as he wonders where his next job is coming from.

  26. From this distance (Sydney), the result in Victoria represents a defeat for dogwhistling, a defeat for the religious right, a defeat for the forces of fear, ignorance and stupidity and a defeat for Dutton and Murdoch (but I repeat myself). Would love to see a rerun of the result in NSW in March.

  27. @George
    My rellies who live in the electorate,and are all Labor voters, tell me Pesutto is a regular, decent and moderate person who almost carried the seat inspite of the ratbags who ran the Lib campaign. They reckon he was odds-on to become LOTO if he survived, and would have been good competition for Andrews in Parliament. As things are, the troglodytes who absolutely screwed their chances lost a possible capable new leader. With whats left, with no new blood amongst their pitiful few, what choices do the Libs have? The future looks particularly grim.
    Thanks Bastiaan and Kroger…..no Xmas cards for you from the Federal Libs.

  28. I have a question in relation to Prahran. Conceptually, the idea of preferential voting is that if your choice doesn’t get elected, your vote goes to your second choice. But in practice that hasn’t happened for people who voted Liberal first pref. To me it seems likely, even a near certainty, that if there was no Liberal candidate Labor would have won the seat.

    That looks like a real problem to me. Is there an easy solution? I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the numbers, but I’m imagining something like if you get down to 3 candidates during the preference distribution, and still none of them have a majority, you do 3 trials. In each trial you eliminate one of 3, the candidate which wins none of the trials is the one you eliminate in 3rd place.

  29. Surprised no mention of the collapse of the ALP vote in Melton and Werribee.

    If this is a good election, it’s going to be brutal for them next time around in the outer west, north west and even outer east .

    Unless the ALP suddenly improve their attention to these areas.

  30. Trent@12:49pm
    Higgins is the old constituency of Peter Costello. That will be memorable if it happens and reduce one more women seat of Libs.
    Added to that latest polling for Sarah Henderson in Corrangamite is dire.

  31. In the end it was quite a good result for the Greens in the lower house. They won 3/5 of the contests they had a chance of winning. Considering their nightmare of a campaign and the thumping Labor victory and swings across the state that’s quite impressive. Taking Brunswick off Labor was a fantastic result for them. I am pretty certain that Thorpe will be back in parliament some day, be it in Northcote or somewhere else. She managed to receive a positive swing and put in a good showing. Northcote will go Green again in the future. A better candidate in Richmond would probably have seen the Greens win it. Many Greens weren’t too enthusiastic about CM.

    The Greens’ upper house result is quite frankly a joke. Thank …. we implemented those Senate reforms federally to cut down on the ridiculous micro party preference whispering. Vic really needs to fix that ASAP.

    Everything considered, it was a good if not great result for the Greens. With a better campaign it could have been great. As it is they have left themselves in a strong position for next time around when one would think the overall result may be a little closer. Although, considering how the Liberals keep lurching from crisis to crisis, it remains to be seen if they can recover at all, especially in progressive Vic.

  32. Steph Hodgins-May is a superb candidate for the Greens in Melb Ports/Macnamara. Danby the coward retired because he despises the Greens and knows he was a huge chance of losing to them this time around.

    Another seat that is often under the radar is Richmond (federal) in far north NSW. It is developing into a Prahran style three cornered contest between Greens, Labor and the Nationals. The incumbent Labor MP Justine Elliott is from the right faction and is a former police officer representing a very left leaning electorate. The Greens’ policy of legalising cannabis will be a massive vote winner for them here. This is the Byron Bay region we’re talking about after all. The Greens have been gaining ground with big swings to them over the last few elections and are now within striking distance if they run a big campaign.

  33. @Larwood 3:50 pm

    What happened is it came down to a choice between Liberals and Greens and the Liberal voters preferred the Libs over the Greens.

    What I think you are looking for is a Condorcet method of counting.

  34. It’s predictably frustrating to see the Greens’ in denial about their own mess of a campaign after Tim Read’s narrow victory gave them the excuse they were itching to do anyway.

    This was not a successful campaign. Lidia Thorpe lost with a nasty swing (a really unfortunate casualty of their cockups which will now be erased from their narrative), Ellen Sandell also suffered a swing, Kathleen Maltzahn was absolutely thumped, and that a small swing in rapidly gentrifying Brunswick was just enough to tip them over the line and that they won an extra couple hundred votes in Prahran is absolutely not something to write home about.

    Northcote won’t go Green in the future (nor will their current seats be safe) if the Greens don’t learn from a disastrous campaign that fed off a series of continuing problems the party refuses to deal with. Being absolutely reliant on gentrification to save your arse from going absolutely backwards is not a good look for a left party.

    On a similar note, the Greens are absolutely dreaming if they think they’re going to win Richmond (federal) with the state branch split in two over Jeremy Buckingham. They’ll be bloody lucky if Tamara Smith holds her state seat in March, especially considering she’s managed to piss off both sides.

  35. Larwood

    People have considered this question for many years. I think I remember reading a Scientific American article many years ago comparing different voting systems. Ultimately I think they demonstrated that there is no perfect system where if A is preferred to B, and B is preferred to C, this always results in a situation where A is preferred to C.

    For instance in the seat of Prahran which you highlight – the DLP preferenced the Liberals ahead of Labor, and then Labor ahead of the Greens. And in the end most of their 982 votes ended up with the Liberals at the 3CP stage where Labor was eliminated (which would include the ‘donkey’ votes as the ballot paper order was DLP-Liberal-Labor-Greens). It is likely that most of those who truly believed they were voting for the DLP when voting for “Labour-DLP” would have preferred Labor to the Greens, as apparently their party did. But paradoxically their votes going to the Liberals made the Greens the more likely 2nd place getter at the 3CP stage, and therefore the winner at the 2CP stage.

    That Scientific American article gave theoretical examples of where every system could have unintended consequences. I can’t find it right now, but there is an interesting recent one on “ranking” (ie preferential voting like we have) – an anathema to most Americans, but recently used in elections in the state of Maine.

    Of course I think the election in the USA that comes to mind is the 2000 Presidential Election, where Ralph Nader for the Green Party got 2.7% and probably helped George W Bush win. And if the US had a system like France there would have been a run-off between Gore and Bush as neither had obtained 50% of the vote.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ranking-candidates-more-accurate/

    https://www.vox.com/2018/6/12/17448450/maine-ranked-choice-voting-paul-lepage-instant-runoff-2018-midterms

  36. Firefox @ #39 Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 – 4:13 pm

    Steph Hodgins-May is a superb candidate for the Greens in Melb Ports/Macnamara. Danby the coward retired because he despises the Greens and knows he was a huge chance of losing to them this time around.

    Another seat that is often under the radar is Richmond (federal) in far north NSW. It is developing into a Prahran style three cornered contest between Greens, Labor and the Nationals. The incumbent Labor MP Justine Elliott is from the right faction and is a former police officer representing a very left leaning electorate. The Greens’ policy of legalising cannabis will be a massive vote winner for them here. This is the Byron Bay region we’re talking about after all. The Greens have been gaining ground with big swings to them over the last few elections and are now within striking distance if they run a big campaign.

    Last election was 5% which is quite good. The previous 3 elections were about 1% each, so not really.

  37. George
    It is now possible to drive directly from Stawell (in Ripon, west of Melbourne), through the Melbourne metropolitan area, to Inverloch (in Bass, south east of Melbourne), a distance of 380 kilometres, without going through a single Liberal Party or National Party seat.
    ——————
    Pretty impressive – But I’m hanging out for the day when I can drive from Portland to Cann River, Mildura to Corryong and all any places in between, including that pesky little node of blue in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, without going thru a single Liberal Party or National Party seat! Still, a good start.

  38. @Rebecca

    Thorpe actually received a +4.2% primary vote swing to her in Northcote (the count isn’t completely finished so that could change slightly but not much). It’s a marginal seat that the Greens will have a huge chance of winning back next time.

    No argument from me in regards to Richmond (Vic) and KM. Bad candidate and bad result. Lessons can and will be learned from that and the campaign more generally.

    As for Richmond (federal), you’re kidding yourself if you think people aren’t going to keep voting Greens just because of Buckingham. Regardless of which side of that debate we are on (I’m a NSW Greens member who lives in Richmond), we all still believe in the core values of the Greens and are passionate about the causes the party advocates for. I live in the Ballina electorate too and I can assure you that Smith is a very popular local MP. People up here don’t care about what happens in Sydney. We’re far closer to Brisbane and the Gold Coast in Queensland than we are to the rest of NSW. People here will decide who to vote for based on local issues as well as the big issues facing Australia and the World. We don’t care for tabloid politics.

  39. max

    With Ali Cupper beating the Nationals in Mildura – you can also drive from the South Australian border between Renmark and Mildura, all the way to Inverloch. 800km with no Liberal or National seats.

  40. @Autocrat

    The swings to the Greens in Richmond (federal) prior to 2016 show steady growth in their primary vote. You’re right though that the 2016 swing was much bigger. Another similar swing would probably see them take the seat. There’s a chance that if they get close enough to Labor they could jump over them into second on Animal Justice Party preferences (AJP received a pretty large 3% primary for a micro in 2016) and win from third just like they have twice in Prahran.

  41. @Catprog

    That Distribution of Preferences page is for the 2013 election not 2016. The Greens primary jumped 5% in 2016 and the AJP didn’t run in 2013 and received 3% in 2016. That would change things dramatically I would think.

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