If you’re planning on following the action in tomorrow night’s Eden-Monaro by-election count, I flatter myself that there will be no better place to do so than this website’s live results feature, which you can see ready for service here. For an idea of how it will look when fleshed out, here’s a test I ran on the feed from the Bennelong by-election.
The top half of the display features progress vote totals and booth-matched swings, including a New York Times-style “election needle” recording a probability estimate of the final result. This is based on a somewhat novel projection of two-party preferred that uses estimates of the final primary vote shares and preference flows. The latter is the subject of its own table, which will show how minor party and independent preferences are flowing based on the latest two-party count, and how this compares with the corresponding results from the 2019 election.
The bottom half features the clearest and neatest display of the booth results you will find, in the form of a table in which you can toggle between vote totals, percentages and swings. Not the least of the benefits of this is that the results can be easily cut-and-pasted into a spreadsheet. The table also features separate sub-totals for ordinary election day polling booths and pre-poll voting centres, with swings to match — an increasingly important distinction on election night, when the latter come in quite a bit later than the former and don’t always behave the same way.
With the self-promotion taken care of, here’s the late news:
• The Australia Institute has produced its second uComms robo-poll for the campaign, conducted on Tuesday night from a sample of 643, which shows Labor with a lead of 52-48. This compares with 54-46 at the earlier poll on June 15, although the tightening is more pronounced on the primary votes. After allocating results from the forced-response follow-up for the 3.7% undecided, the poll had Labor up 0.3% to 39.3%, Liberal up 6.2% to 38.3%, the Greens down 1.5% to 7.5%, the Nationals down 1.8% to 5.2% and Shooters down 1.9% to 4.8%. Using preference flows from last year’s election, the new result rounds to 50-50, whereas the earlier poll had Labor leading 53-47. The poll also found 56.4% of respondents thought the ABC should receive more funding, 23.8% less and 19.8% about the same. Kooyong, Wentworth and Warringah were also polled, the latter finding independent member Zali Steggall with a 56-44 lead over a presumably hypothetical Liberal candidate.
• If the result indeed goes down to the wire, it will be a long night tomorrow – as well as processing large pre-poll voting centres whose results are unlikely to be reported well into the night, the Australian Electoral Commission will also be counting what it estimates will be between 5000 and 8000 postal votes, contrary to its usual practice.
• Phillip Coorey in the Financial Review reports sources from both parties say their internal polling is similar to that of the aforesaid Australia Institute poll, “but neither side was prepared to predict how it would pan out on Saturday”. A Labor source is quoted expressing concern that the Victorian outbreak could rekindle a sense of concern about coronavirus to the Liberals’ advantage (“it puts us back in the dynamic of April and May”). Elsewhere, Niki Savva in The Australian ($) writes of Labor concern that lack of awareness of the by-election could depress turnout.
• John Barilaro persists as a thorn in the side of the Liberal campaign, having contradicted the goverment’s line that it had not cut funding to the ABC, refused to rule out running for the seat at the next election and, reportedly, encouraging supporters to preference Labor. A blast from the past also emerged this week in the shape of a post-election Facebook comment in which he told Kotvojs he was glad she didn’t win.
• With scarcely an account of the race failing to note that 1920 was the last time a government gained a seat from an opposition at a by-election, Peter Brent at Inside Story notes the probably more salient fact that 14 of the 91 by-elections since 1918 have swung to the government by more than the 0.9% they will need to win in Eden-Monaro. He also calculates an average swing against the government of just 0.9% in opposition-held seats at by-elections, compared with 4.6% in government-held seats.