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.

172 comments on “Victorian election endgame”

  1. @Larwood: “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. ”

    I think the key misconception in the above statement is where it says “the idea of preferential voting is that if your choice doesn’t get elected, your vote goes to your second choice”. That’s not really true, it’s actually if your choice doesn’t make the top two, your vote goes to whoever you preferred out of them. The idea is that everybody has a say out of the final two candidates regardless of whether they were your first choice or not.

    So in the case of Prahran, Liberal voters very much got a say in the final result because their vote a) Contributed to who was in the final two; and b) Contributed to deciding who won out the final two.

  2. Rocket@4:40 – I like it! just need to check the oil and the tyres and I can hit the road. There must be a compilation of Great Songs of the Glorious Revolution that I could download and play with volume cranked to the max, as I tour the liberated territories…

  3. Interestingly, the One Nation candidate was the last excluded before the Greens and 26% of his preferences went to them. How that works when the two parties are polar opposites I don’t know lol. Maybe it’s the anti-establishment vote against the two majors (including the Nationals in this case). Labor only received 29% of One Nation preferences, so not a huge increase on what the Greens got from them. The rest obviously went to the Nationals, as you would expect.

  4. I am puzzled by postings for Ripon on VEC website.

    I read the following
    Staley De Stantis Total votes
    Total 20178 20099 11 3342 43630
    Percentage of formal vote polled by candidate 50.10% 49.90%
    So on these numbers the Lib Staley has won.

    Then at
    I read
    Results after distribution of preferences
    Candidate Party Votes after distribution % votes
    STALEY, Louise LIBERAL 19999 49.96%

    And there are 43658 total votes (formal and informal) recorded in this part of the website, very close to the 43,650 total recorded above in the 2CP vote.
    I presume the latter is correct as it is based on the full distribution of preferences, but I am puzzled by the discrepancy.

  5. I think all seats have that discrepancy John. There is no full distribution of preferences by voting centre, so the 2PP by voting centre stats are just the provisional quick count where they only counted which of the two leading parties was higher, and most of that was done before the recheck so there are errors in it.

    You’re right that the full distribution is the correct result.

  6. So the wash up is

    Labor. 56 seats
    Liberals. 20 seats
    Nationals. 6 seats
    Independents. 3 seats
    Greens. 3 seats

    The ALP primary vote exceeded the 2PP vote of the Coalition

  7. Re Melbourne Ports or MacNamara: Micheal Danby is 65 (retirement age) and suffering from an increasingly hostile electorate.
    The Greens campaign workers there loathe Danby and would never vote Labor and being lawyers are former Liberal voters
    There is a real tension between Steph Hodginkson ???? and the Jewish voters of that electorate as her partner ??? Simic has been photographed in Hamas headgear and made very pro-Palestine remarks

    The upper house ballots will be data entered into a program then on Thursday next week a button will be pressed and the computer will calculate who has a seat in the upper house.
    I wonder if the VEC uses OCR or ancient data entry operators

    Liberals loss of popularity in the metro area.
    People in Melbourne could see the level crossings being removed in a very quick and have been well well informed of the progress so we live with the traffic congestion in the hope of a brighter future.
    Commuters also see new trains and trams with PROUDLY MADE IN VICTORIA emblazoned on them so we know there is manufacturing work continuing here

    The Liberals have become a nasty fringe group of evangelical narrow minded mean bigots

  8. and actually for all that it was a big win by the ALP, the 2PP swing produced a slightly lower net seat gain than the pendulum would have predicted. There were some big swings in the Eastern suburbs, but there were also seats such as Forest Hill that had fairly modest swings. Most notable was the stability in the country outside the regional centres. Ripon barely swung and Morwell stayed with Northe. Eildon which was on such a close margin only moved by a percentage point or so. Mind you if you are a political party targeting your best prospects you’re definitely going to focus on Melbourne burbs and the regions – and it certainly paid off for the ALP this time around

  9. One BIG take away from the Victorian election is that the lost Liberal primary votes appear to have gone straight to the ALP- by passing the Greens and Independents.
    That is a big deal.

  10. The Greens are being ridiculous by claiming that Thorpe got a swing to her.

    The Greens went from 55.6% of the 2CP to 48.3%, a swing against of more than 7%. That’s a catastrophe.

    Celebrating that she had a swing of 4.3% from the election at which they got so thoroughly thrashed no one considered they were ever in contention is starting to cross from denial territory into being outright delusional. And convincing yourself that a 7% swing against you is a good result is a brilliant way to ensure Kat Theophanous has a long and prosperous career as the Labor MP for Northcote.

  11. There have been a lot of quick count to final count discrepancies this election. The largest one was over 1500 votes, caused by entering numbers the wrong way round, but there have been several substantial smaller ones. Nearly all of them have favoured Labor, probably because Labor are getting more preferences.

  12. Safest Green seat is on margin of <1.5%.

    Wiped out in upper house with second consecutive decline in upper house vote.

    Star candidate defeated in Northcote.

    Labor came close in Melbourne with no campaigning till last week.

    All despite continuous demographic change that favors Greens.

    I agree, Greens had a good result :))) Please keep doing what you are doing.

  13. Ah yes. Here comes the predictable nonsense from the indoctrinated Labor trolls. Now they’re trying to convince us that a positive 4% primary swing is a terrible result. Right… There does seem to be a growing desperation creeping into Labor in regards to losing the left. They’ve got no problems on the right since the Coalition are so pathetic and so similar to Labor anyway, but on the left they keep losing voters to the Greens year after year. I am one of them who stopped voting for Labor around 10 years ago. And they’re trying to tell us that this is a terrible result for the Greens.

  14. Firefox, you could always now vote for the Nationals

    At the very least they will have input into the Opposition agenda being a party to a Coalition

    Then again, they have twice as many seats than the Greens

  15. The Green lower house vote is the lowest it has been since 2002.

    The Green upper house vote is the lowest it has been since 1999.

    This from a party that in the last week of the campaign was loudly proclaiming what they were going to force Daniel Andrews to do when (not if) they held the balance of power.

    Well now they’re left with three utterly irrelevant lower house MPs and one utterly irrelevant upper house MP.

    Is that what success looks like?

  16. Cognitive dissonance – when you feel the need to interpret reality (the results of an election in this case) to bear out what you would like to have happened (your party’s electoral success).

  17. Voluntary euthanasia – Greens policy
    Aboriginal treaty – Greens policy
    Federal banking Royal Commission – Greens raised first
    Eventually the self centred Labor voters (a substantial percentage) will come around to the idea of greater income equality
    Labor & Liberal forever releasing policies that Greens suggested 3, 5 & 10 years earlier
    Us Greens voters call it ‘trickle down intellect’…

  18. Anyone know the alignments of the remaining Liberal MPs, and the alignments of those who lost? Could someone (I mean a Bolt or a Bastiaan, not someone with wisdom) make a case that Moderates did worse compared to Reactionaries? or is the data all over the place, or contradictory?

    Pesutto was obviously a moderate. I think his neighbor in Kew who survived comfortably was a reactionary. But all I have is anecdata, which isn’t particularly useful.

  19. 3z

    The Greens did overplay their hand by demanding ministries before the election. But a lot of objective analysts were predicting that Labor would be a minority government dependent on the Greens.

    Andrews ruled this out from the get-go, presumably because his polling told him Labor would win easily. It’s easy to rule out something you don’t want and don’t need. The Greens should have realised this. They were made to look foolish and naive. Ratnam especially should have realised that if you’re playing poker and you can’t figure out who the sucker at the table is, then it’s you.

  20. To the various Greens celebrating the Victorian election result:

    – Your primary vote fell State-wide;
    – Your Assembly caucus remained static, at an utterly irrelevant 3 seats; and
    – Your Council caucus was cut from 5 members to 1 member.

    With another two election results like that, there won’t be any Victorian Greens MPs! Accept that you stuffed up – massively – and figure out how to do better next time.

    Or don’t, and resign yourselves to being an extra-Parliamentary party.

    Your call.

  21. “Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam told the ABC in a wide-ranging interview that “all options” are on the table in the event of a hung parliament.”
    “All options are on the table, we would enter the negotiations with all those options on the table and we would see what would deliver us the best policy for the state,” Dr Ratnam said.

  22. “All options are on the table, we would enter the negotiations with all those options on the table and we would see what would deliver us the best policy for the state,” Dr Ratnam said.

    That was, and I say this a Brunswick greens voter and supporter, a stupid angle. Even if they’d had the balance of power they shouldn’t have tried to get ministries, it would have been disastrous for their brand. And Labor were never going to give it to them anyway, so it just made them look naive.

    It was a bad campaign and serious time needs to be spent looking and what went wrong, starting with two issues of candidate vetting and Samantha Ratnam’s performance.

    That being said even if performance had been 1% better across the board (which would have been a new record) it would have maybe saved 1 upper house seat, and been the same in the lower house, so to try and directly tie that bad campaign to the loss of seats is a bit disingenuous.

  23. Daniel Andrews could rule out any deals with the Greens not because he knew he was going to win comfortably, but because he knew the Greens would provide Labor confidence and supply no matter what.

    What else would the Greens do? Make Matthew Guy premier and see half their supporter base desert them, never to return?

    So yes, the Greens and their silly demands could be safely ignored. No matter the outcome.

  24. “Us Greens voters call it ‘trickle down intellect’…”

    And it’s that kind of arrogance that will ensure that the Greens vote never rises much above ten percent.

    Honestly, the fairytale of Greens pressure somehow forcing other parties to do things they otherwise never would is super cute. Is that how the Greens try and create a sense of relevance despite never having having achieved anything in their entire existence?

  25. Vern@3.56pm

    Have spent the last 4 weeks with friends there – beautiful spot with lots of history, anti-Trump, beautiful homes but just a tad cold (not unlike Melbourne).

    Love going there and a great part of the USA. Just wish of that country was like it.

  26. Firefox… with the One Nation preferences you were discussing in Richmond, remember that the Donkey vote went AJP, ONP, Green, ALP.

    Could explain why the ONP to Green preferencing looks odd…

  27. A lot more marginals than before, there is redistribution for next state election, i guess the one sided result will make their job harder, as its less likely to be replicated in future.

    Electorate ALP 2PP
    Evelyn 47.30%
    Eildon 47.60%
    South-West Coast 47.70%
    Croydon 47.80%
    Ferntree Gully 48.30%
    Melbourne 48.40%
    Brighton 48.90%
    Forest Hill 48.90%
    Hastings 48.90%
    Gembrook 49.10%
    Sandringham 49.30%
    Brunswick 49.40%
    Caulfield 49.50%
    Ripon 49.90%
    Hawthorn 50.20%
    Bayswater 50.30%
    Nepean 51.00%
    Mount Waverly 51.50%
    Northcote 51.70%
    Bass 51.80%
    Box Hill 51.90%
    Ringwood 52.90%

  28. @3z

    That’s not really fair, the Greens achieved something once, they forced Labor to rush in an emissions trading scheme, ultimately setting back emissions reduction in the country the better part of a decade.

    @firefox, “One Nation candidate was the last excluded before the Greens and 26% of his preferences went to them. How that works when the two parties are polar opposites I don’t know lol.”

    That’s easy to explain if you think about it, they’re the people who believe the “both parties are evil, put them both last” nonsense. Their list of preferences probably had ON near the top, then Greens, Lib, Lab as the bottom 3.

  29. Oh look it’s pick on the Greens day, again. Fantas
    ze about their irrelevance and imminent demise. Maybe flood the blog with tactical talking points and some strawman ‘insights’. And to polish it off, blame them retrospectively for the failures of Liberal and Labor.

    So to get past the trolling, I will just note the LA result since the 2014 election.

    Primary Green vote has dropped by 0.76%. Notably 2 micro parties Animal Justice and Socialists (had a name change) collectively grew their vote by more than double what the Greens dropped. God can verify perhaps but these parties voters tend to preference the Greens at 50% or so. They both ran more candidates than in 2014.
    The drop in Green primary vote can largely be attributed to voters having the choice of sympathetic micro parties. It’s certainly not a rush of Green voters to Liberal and Labor.

    Supporters of Labor or the Coalition have no basis to fantasize that a chunk of the electorate has left them for the ‘majors’.

    As for results The Greens retained both seats from the 2014 election. 1 with a growth in support and one with a drop in support. But they lost a seat won at a by-election, but gained a new seat. An equivocal result excepting gaining a net seat since the 2014 election. Not the drubbing the Liberals received nor the runaway success that Labor received.

    Certainly still around, and more so than any other third party since the second world war, to stay.

    Sure select say the fall in vote in Northcote and project that means demise, but it would be wrong on the evidence.

    LC after the results really come in.

  30. Key things to note with Northcote is that 1) the Liberals ran a candidate and 2) turnout was much higher than the 2017 by-election. It was always going to be tough for Lidia to hold on.

  31. Patrick Murrell
    ‏Verified account @pamurrell
    8m8 minutes ago


    Leader: Michael O’Brien
    Deputy: Cindy McLeish

    Upper House Leader: David Davis
    Upper House Deputy: Georgie Crozier

    @SkyNewsAust #vicvotes #Springst
    0 replies 7 retweets 1 like

  32. The VEC’s update on Assembly counting activities for today states:

    “There are no counting activities listed for Thursday 6 December except for Ripon District. Following the distribution of preferences for Ripon District on Tuesday 4 December, and noting the final margin of 31 votes, it has been determined to conduct further scrutiny of first preference ballot papers and informal ballot papers. It is anticipated that the further ballot paper checks will be completed Thursday 6 December. Any future action will be subject to the outcome of the further scrutiny.”

    So looks like no updates on Melton today, but Ripon is not quite finished yet.

    Data entry for LCo is continuing and scheduled to be completed by Monday 10th, which will clear the way for the pushing of the button!

  33. @disasterboy 10:34 am, spot on.

    To add to this, we have a high tide election for the left with the most progressive Labor government in decades competing on policies that currently significantly overlap with policies that the Greens had previously staked out exclusively.

    As disasterboy notes, allowing for some minor bleed to AJP and the Socialists coming straight back in preferences, the core Greens vote appears to have remained rock solid.

    Next time around, either due to the ‘it’s time’ factor, or some stuffup or another, or Labor’s SL faction premier retires and is replaced with a Right faction or SDA powerbroker, there’s every chance that some not insignificant percentage of the current ALP vote is going to defect to the Greens.

    This isn’t a partisan point, it’s just an observation based on the fact that most voters are much more agnostic about the flavour of their prefered side of politics than the rusted-on party cheerleaders who frequent these forums. We see something very similar with right wing micros and independents competing for the Coalition’s notionally safe seats.

    Obviously there’s many things the Greens could stuff up between now and the next election, but I’m not seeing anything specifically in the Greens vote at this election that suggests the Greens are going anywhere any time soon.

  34. The presentation that there would be a Labor/Greens Coalition with Greens Cabinet representation was a Liberal Party presentation promoted thru principally the Murdoch, Stokes and Costello media outlets

    They looked for such a presentation to advantage the Liberal Party by aligning the unelectable, fringe Greens to Labor

    This was a deliberate ploy

    Elsewhere internal polling predicted the result which was delivered

    Labor. 56 seats
    Liberals 20 seats
    Nationals. 6 seats
    Independents. 3 seats
    Greens. 3 seats

  35. @Observer

    It was both a Liberal and Greens ploy.

    The Greens were loudly talking up the prospect of a Coalition and Greens ministries throughout the campaign.

    That there was no chance of this happening no matter the result didn’t seem to phase them.

  36. @disasterboy and @AngoraFish-

    In my case, I have no particular interest to defend the Greens’ relative merits or lack thereof.

    I will note that something the likes of Matt seem to be willfully ignoring is the fact that the collapse of the Greens in the Legislative Council is chiefly the product of massive preference-whispering by Glenn Druery, whose record demonstrates how unfit he is to have this sort of king-maker power.

    On a purely objective level, the power of Druery should be alarming, but I get the impression that these folk won’t get it until he uses his influence to thwart ALP policy- by which point it will be too late to do anything.

  37. The Greens should not pretend that they did not engage in upper house preference deals that they condemn others for.

    Greens preferences, on the current calculators, are contributing to electing Hinch candidates in Northern Metro and Northern Victoria even though there are Labor candidates still in the count.

    The Greens didn’t get wiped out in the Upper House because of Druery. They got wiped out because of Labor. The Labor vote rose so much that extra members are going to be elected on full quotas in every Metro region bar North, in each case taking the seat from a Green.

  38. The Upper House voting system is utterly unfathomable. Distributions and redistribution’s from Loony A to the ALP to Loony B which are then discarded, and then added on count 19 and so on…. and on.
    Am interested in Fiona Patterns Reason Party. She been elected, unelected, elected
    80 per cent of the vote is counted,so I guess nothing can still happen.
    The system is in serious need of reform. It’s a whispering joke.

  39. It’s the first day of the test cricket season. So what? New Liberal deputy leader Cindy McLeish is married to former test cricketer Jeff Moss.

  40. The Greens did provisionally get wiped down to one seat in the Upper House primarily because of preference harvesting. Under a Senate style system as well as their seat in North Metro they would easily win in East Metro and South Metro. They would probably win W Vic and would have some chances in N Vic and W Metro, though the last two at least could probably be overcome by right-wing micros strategically merging or folding. Their result would have been close to proportional to their vote, Labor’s success notwithstanding. A good PR-STV system should be able to deliver a fair result whether the outcome is lopsided or not.

  41. Birchall out third in Melton by 770 votes with donkey votes a contributing factor (probably not the full cause). McGhie will go on to win and the seat will stay a 2PP seat. Birchall would have needed 83.4% of Liberal preferences which would probably have been a bit much anyway.

  42. Lots of unfocused unhappiness with the ALP in Melton.

    Turner was the most evenly popular independent, but not the most popular independent anywhere except on prepolls, provisionals and absents (although he was the second independent on postals by only 1 vote).

    Birchall does not seem to have been as popular in Bacchus Marsh, likely contributing to his defeat. If he were to run again next time, he may be aided by the likely loss of part or all of Bacchus Marsh-Darley to Buninyong (possibly consequently renamed) in the redistibution.

    Bigham was most popular independent only in Bacchus Marsh, adjoining Darley and postals.

    Ramsey was relatively popular in prepolls, being the only candidate to receive more prepolls than ordinary on the day vote.

    Having 12 candidates on the ballot is likely a contributing factor to the informal voting rate of over 10%.

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