South Australian election endgame

Some almost-concluding observations on the South Australian election, where only the upper house result remains to be determined.

Counting of votes for the South Australian state election was completed on Monday, which leaves two milestones outstanding: the full preference distributions, which Antony Green relates will be published “at some time in the next week”, and the resolution of the Legislative Council count, which ditto for “around the Anzac Day weekend”. Some summary observations:

• Labor went from 19 seats in 2018 to 27 after recovering Florey from an independent and gaining Newland, King, Adelaide, Elder, Waite, Davenport and Gibson from the Liberals. The Liberals went from 25 at the 2018 election to 16, losing the aforementioned seven seats to Labor, recovering Frome from independent Geoff Brock but losing Stuart to him, and failing to win any of the three seats whose members moved to the cross-bench mid-term, with the incumbents re-elected in Kavel and Narungga and Waite going to Labor. This leaves a cross-bench of four, up from three after the 2018 election but down from six immediately before the election.

• The last in-doubt seat late in the count was Steven Marshall’s seat of Dunstan, where he held out against a 6.9% swing by 0.5%. Contrary to the usual expectation that leaders will abandon parliament in the wake of an election defeat, InDaily reports that Marshall is publicly resolved to serve out a full term on the back bench. For what it’s worth, former Labor Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has related a suggestion that David Pisoni might not stick around in Unley.

• Antony Green relates that Labor won the two-party preferred by 54.6-45.4, entailing a swing to Labor of 6.5%. However, this is presumably an estimate, since to my knowledge there have been no Labor-versus-Liberal results published for six seats where the Electoral Commission’s notional count was between Liberals and independents.

• The Legislative Council result will clearly see the election of the top four candidates on the Labor and Liberal tickets and the lead Greens candidate, leaving the last two seats as a race between One Nation on 0.51 quotas, Labor’s fifth candidate on a surplus of 0.42 quotas, the Liberal Democrats on 0.39 quotas and Family First on 0.37 quotas. It is hard to see the One Nation candidate losing from here, which raises the question of who she is exactly – I included no biographical details of Sarah Game in my election guide since there were none to be found. What’s known is that Game is the daughter of the much higher profile figure of Jennifer Game, who will be the party’s Senate candidate for the federal election, ran in Mawson at the state election, and is active on social media. Antony Green’s assessment is that it’s within the realms of possibility that mutual preference flows between the Liberal Democrats and Family First could push whichever one survives longest ahead of Labor and into the last seat, but a fifth seat for Labor seems the more likely outcome. This would produce a chamber with nine Labor members, eight Liberals, two Greens, two from SA-Best and one from One Nation.

• The result provided the new YouGov-administered Newspoll with a third solid showing at a state election, with the election eve poll recording Labor at 41%, Liberal at 38%, the Greens at 9% and others at 13%, with two-party preferred at 54-46. This compares with final results of Labor 40.0%, Liberal 35.7%, Greens 9.1% and others 15.2%. Another YouGov poll conducted in the second last week of the campaign for The Advertiser had it at Labor 41%, Liberal 33%, Greens 11% and others 15%, with two-party preferred at 56-44. While this is obviously encouraging with respect to the pollster’s credibility ahead of the federal election, Armarium Interreta finds little evidence of a past relationship between Newspoll’s performance at federal and proximate state elections.

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.

11 comments on “South Australian election endgame”

  1. The Legislative Assembly will be largely determined by the “exhaust rate”.
    To be a valid ATL vote you were only required to give a first preference. Antony Green believes that most voters did only that .
    You could continue to rank parties ATL (as yours truly did), but few will go all the way.
    BTL voters were told they had to give the first 12 preferences, but I believe vote saving provisions mean that a vote would still be valid if there were at least 6.
    With “exhausted votes” I fear PHON will creep up towards a reducing quota without needing many additional votes, but may well get some from some of the minor RWNJ’s.

  2. Any news on the Legislative Council front? I am not that confident about a fifth Labor seat and think Family First or the LDP could snatch it away after preferences, as the declaration vote count really hit the overhang of both the Labor and Green totals and gave the right of centre parties a boost.

  3. Wat all the votes are entered into computer. That will take 2 or 3 weeks. Declaration votes made it closer but still high probability of Labor 5 and ON for last w spots. Study the antony green article if feeling nervous!

  4. Spence, I know. I’ve read the Green article. I just have similar memories of the confidence that Labor’s #4 candidate would beat Family First for the 12th SA Senate spot in the 2016 Double Dissolution election, just to have it go the other way.

  5. Nick McBride declared candidate. David Speirs and Vincent Tarzia likely to put names in as well. I’d think Tarzia likely if “moderates” use their numbers.

  6. I heard one source say the Libs are waiting for the LC results to be final before meeting (I suppose in case of the long shot they win a fifth place???) but, if that’s still a while to go, they will probably need to meet sooner. If we go by the timeframe it took for Labor to elect Malinauskas and Close in 2018, they would meet some time next week (of course, there’s nothing that says they need to do that.)

    I daresay, in the end, a Speirs-Tarzia leadership team will come of it. No, I don’t see them leading the party back into government (unless this government really screws up and it becomes a drover’s dog situation.)

    I also think Ashton Hurn is going to get fast-tracked to the frontbench as there’s already a lot of buzz about her as a future leader. Don’t know if she would become Premier but I definitely see her leading the party at some point.

  7. Asha says:
    Monday, April 4, 2022 at 6:42 pm
    “So, what the heck is going on with the SA Libs leadership? Has anyone even put their hand up yet?”

    Worried it will be seen as “Not waving. Drowning”?

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