US debt limit, UK local and NZ elections

Democrats’ failure to pass a debt limit increase before Congress changed could bite them. Labour way ahead in the UK and gains some ground in NZ after Jacinda Ardern’s resignation.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The US debt limit is a legislative limit on the total amount of debt the US government can incur. As the US keeps running deficits, the debt keeps rising. Congress could deal with this issue permanently by either removing the debt limit, or increasing it to an arbitrarily high number. But instead Congress has only raised the debt limit enough to give about one year’s grace before it needs to be raised again. The last time the debt limit was raised was in December 2021.

The US already hit the debit limit on January 19, but the Treasury is taking extraordinary measures to delay a default; these measures are expected to last until June. While the US has never defaulted, there have been previous debt limit crises in 2011 and 2013.

The key reason for the 2011 and 2013 crises was divided government; Democrat Barack Obama was president, but Republicans held the House of Representatives. This situation applies now, with President Joe Biden, but Republicans holding the House. Republicans have attempted to use the debt limit to demand spending cuts.

Republicans only hold a 222-212 House majority, and it took 15 rounds of voting for Republican Kevin McCarthy to be elected House Speaker in early January. But right-wing Republicans extracted concessions from McCarthy, and the Speaker decides what comes to the floor. To keep the right happy, McCarthy is likely to deny a vote on any debt ceiling increase that does not include major spending cuts, and such cuts would be unacceptable to Democrats.

Democrats had unified control of the presidency, House and Senate until January 3 when the new House commenced. But they made no serious attempt to raise the debt limit, and avert a crisis until after the 2024 presidential election. If there is a default, the failure to raise the debt limit will come back to bite Democrats, the US generally and the world.

It currently appears unlikely that Biden will face a serious primary challenge for the Democratic nomination. Biden will be almost 82 by the November 2024 presidential election, and has had a disapproval rating over 50% in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate since October 2021.

UK Labour retains huge poll lead with local elections in May

Over 100 days since Rishi Sunak became British PM, Labour has about a 20-point lead over the Conservatives, with Labour in the high 40s, the Conservatives in the mid to high 20s, the Liberal Democrats at 7-10%, the Greens at 4-6% and the far-right Reform at 3-8%. On February 9, Labour easily retained West Lancashire at a by-election by 62.3% to 25.4% over the Conservatives (52.1-36.3 at the 2019 general election).

Local government elections will be held in England on May 4 and Northern Ireland on May 18. Most of the English seats up were last contested in 2019, at which Labour and the Conservatives tied on 28% each with 19% for the Lib Dems. If Labour wins these council elections by the crushing margin polls currently give them, there would be a huge number of Conservative losses, and Sunak would be under pressure, with the Conservatives perhaps moving back to former PM Boris Johnson. The next UK general election is not due until late 2024.

Nicola Sturgeon resigned as leader of the Scottish National Party on Wednesday. A weaker SNP would make it easier for Labour to win seats in Scotland, giving them a better chance to win an overall Commons majority if their current lead shrinks to single digits.

NZ Labour improves, but National + ACT still ahead

The New Zealand election is in October, with proportional representation used with a 5% threshold unless a party wins a single-member seat. Chris Hipkins replaced Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader and PM on January 22. Polls taken since this change have shown Labour narrowly ahead of National or tied, but the right-wing ACT is ahead of the Greens. So the combined vote for National and ACT is still ahead of that for Labour and Greens.

Recent election results

In the January 27-29 Czech presidential runoff, the pro-Western Pavel defeated the populist Babis by a 58.3-41.7 margin. At the February 12 Cypriot presidential runoff, the centre-left and nationalist candidate defeated the far-left candidate by a 52.0-48.0 margin after the conservative candidate was eliminated in the first round.

Chris Hipkins to be New Zealand’s next PM

Hipkins will be elected unopposed by Labour’s parliamentary caucus Sunday, but faces a tough task to win at the October general election.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Jacinda Ardern announced that she would resign as New Zealand Prime Minister on Thursday. A meeting of Labour’s parliamentary caucus was called for Sunday, with a two-thirds majority (43 of the 64 Labour MPs) required to win. If nobody had reached this majority, voting would continue.

However, only one candidate gained the seven MP nominations required to stand: Chris Hipkins. As a result, Hipkins will be elected unopposed by caucus on Sunday. Labour holds a clear majority of 64 of the 120 total parliamentary seats, so Hipkins will be New Zealand’s next PM.

Ardern led Labour to a narrow victory over the conservative National in 2017 on the populist NZ First’s support, breaking a nine-year run of government by National. Labour was re-elected in a landslide in 2020 owing to the popularity of measures to keep COVID out.

Ardern also announced that the next NZ election would be held on October 14. The NZ parliament is elected by proportional representation with a 5% threshold, but parties can avoid this threshold by winning a single-member seat.

The combined vote for Labour and the Greens has fallen behind National and the right-wing ACT in the polls. National has led Labour since early 2022, soon after Christopher Luxon replaced Judith Collins as National leader in November 2021. The Wikipedia poll chart suggests a continued trend against Labour.

Hipkins is the education and policing minister, and has a high profile owing to COVID press conferences. He now faces a tough task to win a third successive term for Labour at the October election.

Position still vacant: US House Speaker

Republican Kevin McCarthy still nowhere near the votes needed to become US House Speaker. Also covered: Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s defection from the Democrats.

12:37pm Tuesday January 10: The House rules package that was proposed to get the far-right Republicans to vote for McCarthy has passed the House by 220-213. Just one Republican voted with all Democrats against this package.

4:47pm Rep Kevin McCarthy has been elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives. In the 15th and final round, he defeated Dem Jeffries by 216-212, with the six previous holdouts all voting “present”. That lowered the requirement for a majority to 215 votes, with 428 total votes for all candidates.

3:47pm McCarthy may have done a deal with Gaetz. It was proposed that the House adjourn until Monday US time, but Reps changed their vote against adjournment, so there’ll be another vote today.

3:18pm Two of the remaining six holdouts voted “present”, but the other four voted for other candidates. McCarthy won 216 of the 432 total candidate votes, which put him one short of a majority (217). The present votes were Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert.

9:25am Saturday: It’s been a great day for McCarthy as he flipped 15 of the 21 Rep holdouts in the two rounds this morning, and now leads Dem Jeffries by 214-212 with six votes for another. That’s McCarthy’s first plurality, though he’s still three short of the current 217 needed to win.

The House has adjourned until 10pm US eastern today (2pm AEDT). Two McCarthy supporters were absent this morning, and are expected to return. That will give McCarthy 216 votes, but the votes for a majority will also increase to 218. So McCarthy will need two of the six remaining holdouts to win.

12:17pm House is adjourned until noon Friday US eastern (4am Saturday AEDT).

11:45am Friday There have now been 11 rounds of voting, with five conducted today so far. Dem Jeffries still leads with 212 votes, with Rep McCarthy on 200. McCarthy lost a vote from the absence of Rep Ken Buck. The current threshold to win is 217 votes. There may be a deal between McCarthy and some of the holdouts, and we could see movement to McCarthy in votes later today or tomorrow.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

To win the US House of Representatives Speaker position, a candidate needs a majority of all those voting for a candidate. This is not necessarily a majority of the overall House because abstentions and those voting “present” are not counted. As in Australia, the Speaker position must be filled before the House can consider other business.

At the November midterm elections, Republicans won the House by a 222-213 majority over Democrats, and the death of a Democrat increased that to 222-212 until a by-election is held in February. Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT) was the first sitting of the new Congress since the election.

There have been six rounds of voting for Speaker in two days – the first time the Speaker election has gone to multiple rounds since 1923. Democrat Hakeem Jeffries has united the Democratic caucus to win 212 votes, and is ahead of Republican Kevin McCarthy, who has had between 201 and 203 votes.

McCarthy’s problems are coming from his right, with 20 Republicans voting for another candidate in the latest ballot, and one voting “present”. McCarthy has dropped two votes since the first round to be on 201 votes. In the first three rounds the threshold to win was 218 votes, with that reduced to 217 owing to the “present” vote in the last three.

The longest Speaker election occurred in 1855, when it took 133 rounds of voting over two months for a new Speaker to be chosen. Without a Speaker in place, the House cannot set up committees or start investigations into Joe Biden’s presidency. Republicans want these investigations, so surely they will work out some deal for a Republican Speaker soon?

Senator Kyrsten Sinema switches from Democrat to independent

Most of this section is from this December 19 Conversation article. Shortly after Democrats won the December 6 Georgia Senate runoff election to seal a 51-49 federal Senate majority, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema defected from the Democrats to become an independent.

Slate reported on a September poll that showed Sinema was unpopular with all Arizona demographics sampled. Sinema was at net -17 overall, net -20 with Democrats and net -18 with Republicans. She performed better with independent voters, but was still at net -10 with them.

Sinema is up for re-election in November 2024. Democrats are likely to run their own candidate against Sinema and a Republican. A December poll for Democrat Ruben Gallego’s campaign gave Sinema just 13% running as an independent behind 41% for Republican Kari Lake and 40% for Gallego. If Sinema did not run, Gallego would lead Lake by 48-47.

Other news: UK, Fiji, Brazil and Israel

It’s over two months since Rishi Sunak became Britain’s PM. Labour continues to hold a massive lead over the Conservatives, with Labour at about the mid 40s and the Conservatives in the mid 20s. At a December 15 by-election in the safe Labour seat of Stretford and Urmston, Labour defeated the Conservatives by 69.6% to 15.9% (60.3-27.5 at the 2019 general election).

The 55 Fijian parliamentary seats are elected by proportional representation with a 5% threshold. After the December 14 election, three opposition parties formed an alliance to oust Frank Bainamarama, who had become PM after a coup in 2007. These three parties combined won 29 of the 55 seats, to 26 for Bainamarama’s FijiFirst. At the December 24 first parliamentary session after the election, Sitiveni Rabuka was elected PM with 28 votes to 27 for Bainamarama, with Bainamarama conceding defeat peacefully.

Following his victory at the October 30 runoff election, the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) replaced the far-right Jair Bolsonaro as Brazilian president last Sunday. And in Israel, a right-wing government was sworn in on December 29 under former long-serving PM Benjamin Netanyahu after four right-wing parties won 64 of the 120 Knesset seats at the November 1 election.

US Georgia Senate runoff election live

Live commentary from late Wednesday morning on the final contest of the US midterm elections. Also: polls turn against NZ Labour and Jacinda Ardern.

Live Commentary

3:44pm Thursday I’ve done a Conversation article which includes the Georgia Senate runoff result. The big advantage of Dems holding the Senate is that the Senate alone can confirm Biden’s judicial nominations for the next two years.

4:56pm Warnock’s lead out to 51.3-48.7 with 99% reporting. This result means Dems hold the Senate by a 51-49 margin, with Pennsylvania (a Dem gain) the only state to change hands this cycle. But the Senate races up in 2024 are bad for the Dems, as they will be defending 23 seats to just ten Rep defences.

2:59pm CNN and the AP have CALLED for Warnock, who currently leads by 50.7-49.3 with 98% in.

1:50pm The NY Times Needle is back. Warnock’s win probability is over 95% and his final winning margin is projected to be 3.2%. Warnock has just moved ahead in the live count again, but there’s still lots more votes to come in metro Atlanta.

1:37pm Cook Political Report analyst Dave Wasserman has seen enough.

1:23pm Warnock has retaken the lead in the live count, by 50.4-49.6 with 78% in.

1:16pm Back from lunch, and the Needle is still down. Walker is barely ahead now by 50.12-49.88 with 74% reporting. Metro Atlanta should get Warnock home from here.

12:54pm Walker now up by 51.0-49.0 in the live count with 65% in. It was about this time on Nov 8 that his lead maxxed.

12:44pm Live count has Walker hitting the lead by 50.6-49.4 with 59% in. But there’s still lots left to count in Atlanta, so Warnock should win.

12:40pm NY Times Needle has paused updates while they investigate a data issue. It had narrowed just before pausing.

12:26pm Needle now up to a 79% chance of Warnock winning, with a final projected margin of Warnock by 2.5%. That’s with an estimated 53% in.

12:18pm Needle now giving Warnock a 71% chance to win and a 1.8% lead in its final results projections. Still a range of Walker by five to Warnock by nine.

12:01pm Needle so far says result could be between a seven-point win for Walker and a nine-point win for Warnock. Best estimate is Warnock by 0.8%.

11:54am The NY Times needle so far has Warnock barely ahead by 0.8% when all votes are counted. That would line up well with his November 0.9% margin, but be worse than the polls.

11:35am With 34% reporting according to CNN, Warnock leads by 61-39. This would be early votes so far.

9:59am Wednesday Late polls are good news for Dem Warnock, with two giving him a five-point lead and one from the Rep-aligned Trafalgar group giving him a four-point lead. I have an appointment, but will be back at 11:30am.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The United States November 8 midterm elections are not quite finished, as the Georgia Senate contest has gone to a runoff today, with polls closing at 11am Wednesday AEDT. At the November 8 election, Democrat Raphael Warnock won 49.4% and Republican Herschel Walker 48.5%. A Libertarian, with 2.1%, prevented a majority for either candidate, and so the runoff. Polls for the runoff suggest Warnock is narrowly ahead.

Democrats currently lead the Senate by 50-49. Even if Warnock loses, they will still control the Senate on Vice President Kamala Harris’ casting vote. But this election is important because Democrats face a very difficult Senate map in the 2024 elections.

Of the 33 Senate seats up for election in 2024, 23 are Democrat-held and just ten Republican-held. Democrat-held seats include three states – West Virginia, Montana and Ohio – that Donald Trump won easily in both 2016 and 2020. Democrats need to win Georgia next week to have a realistic chance of keeping the Senate after the 2024 elections.

At the November 8 election, Warnock took a big lead in early counting, but his lead fell back as the Election Day votes were counted. Walker led at various points, but late counting in Democratic areas gave Warnock a narrow win. If the result is close, I would not expect this contest to be called until Wednesday night AEDT.

NZ Labour has slid behind National in polls

The next New Zealand election will be held in late 2023. At the October 2020 election, Labour won a landslide, with 50.0% to 25.6% for the conservative National, 7.9% for the Greens and 7.6% for the right-wing ACT. At that election, PM Jacinda Ardern was assisted by her success at keeping COVID out of NZ.

NZ uses proportional representation with a 5% threshold, but parties under 5% can enter parliament by winning a single-member seat. The Maori party won two seats at the 2020 election on only 1.2% of votes.

National has now taken the lead, and the two most recent polls by media pollsters – Reid Research and Kantar Public – would give National and ACT combined a majority. Other polls suggest Labour could cling on with support from the Greens and the Maori party. Labour’s problems are probably due to the waning of the COVID boost and the rise of inflation.

US Georgia Senate runoff election minus four days

The last action of the midterms is important for Democrats’ chances of retaining the Senate after the 2024 elections. Also covered: the Malaysian election and UK developments.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The first section of this article has been copied from my article Thursday mainly about the Victorian upper house results for The Conversation.

The United States November 8 midterm elections are not quite finished, as the Georgia Senate contest has gone to a runoff Tuesday, with polls closing at 11am Wednesday AEDT. At the November 8 election, Democrat Raphael Warnock won 49.4% and Republican Herschel Walker 48.5%. A Libertarian, with 2.1%, prevented a majority for either candidate, and so the runoff. Polls for the runoff suggest Warnock is narrowly ahead.

Democrats currently lead the Senate by 50-49. Even if Warnock loses, they will still control the Senate on Vice President Kamala Harris’ casting vote. But this election is important because Democrats face a very difficult Senate map in the 2024 elections.

Of the 33 Senate seats up for election in 2024, 23 are Democrat-held and just ten Republican-held. Democrat-held seats include three states – West Virginia, Montana and Ohio – that Donald Trump won easily in both 2016 and 2020. Democrats need to win Georgia next week to have a realistic chance of keeping the Senate after the 2024 elections.

Republicans likely won the House of Representatives on November 8 by a margin of 222-213 over Democrats, the exact reverse of Democrats’ 222-213 majority after the 2020 elections. Republicans lead the overall House popular vote by 50.7-47.8 according to the Cook Political Report.

Update Sunday: The final undecided House seat, California’s 13th, has been called for the Republicans, confirming a 222-213 House win.

US polls understated the left, in contrast to polls at other recent major national elections

At the Australian national election, polls overstated Labor’s primary support and understated UAP, although polls were better after preferences as Labor performed better than expected on preference flows. Polls also understated the right at recent Brazilian and Israeli elections.

Polls for the US midterm elections understated the left (Democrats), particularly in some key Senate contests. In New Hampshire, Democrat Hassan defeated Republican Bolduc by 9.1%; polls gave Hassan only about a two-point lead. Democrat Fetterman defeated Republican Oz in Pennsylvania by 4.9%, but most polls gave Oz the lead, although Marist College (Fetterman up six) was an exception. Democrats also outperformed their polls in Arizona and Nevada.

We should not assume that polls will be biased against Warnock in Georgia, just because they were generally biased against Democrats at the midterms. Poll bias can change from one election to another, and the Georgia runoff is a different election.

Anwar Ibrahim finally becomes Malaysian PM

Anwar Ibrahim was finance minister in Mahathir Mohamad’s conservative UMNO government in 1998, but was removed from all posts that year, and jailed in 1999 after a trial for sodomy and corruption that was criticised by human rights groups. At the 2018 election, Mahathir led an anti-UMNO coalition to victory and became PM, but his coalition broke down, and UMNO returned.

Malaysia’s parliament has 222 members elected by first past the post. The November 19 election produced the first hung parliament in its history, with Anwar’s reformist PKR winning 82 seats on 37.5%, with the nationalist BERSATU on 73 seats and 30.4%, and UMNO on 30 seats and 22.4%. Most parties pledged to join a unity government led by Anwar, with a confidence vote scheduled for December 19.

UK Labour maintains huge poll lead, and receives big swing at by-election

It’s over a month since Rishi Sunak became Britain’s PM on October 25. Labour is maintaining a huge lead with its vote in the high 40s in UK national polls, with the Conservatives in the low to mid 20s in most polls. Some of the Conservatives’ losses recently are benefiting the far-right Reform, which was at 9% in a recent YouGov poll.

A parliamentary by-election occurred Thursday in the Labour-held City of Chester. Labour won by 60.8-22.2 over the Conservatives with 8.3% for the Liberal Democrats and 3.5% Greens. At the 2019 general election. Labour won this seat by 49.6-38.3 with 6.8% Lib Dems and 2.6% Greens. This seat was a safe Conservative seat until Labour won it in the 1997 landslide. The Conservatives regained it in 2010, but Labour won it by just 93 votes in 2015 and expanded that margin greatly in 2017.

Victorian election live

Live coverage of the count for the Victorian state election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Click here for full Victorian election results updated live.

End of evening update (WB)

My results system will continue ticking over through late counting, but until I iron out a few bugs that seem to be having the effect of overrating Greens and independents’ chances in tight races, I recommend favouring the ABC’s projections over mine to the extent of inconsistencies. So while the Greens have easily won Richmond, it seems unlikely they will add further to their existing three seats; and it is unclear that any independents will win, with incumbents losing to the Nationals in Mildura and Shepparton, teals being only possibilities in Hawthorn and Mornington, and a number of hyped independent challengers in Labor seats having made only the faintest of impressions.

I haven’t had time to look at the Legislative Council at all, but the preliminary projections of the ABC suggest the Greens are returning as a force in the chamber, up from one seat to four, with Labor on 15 and having myriad possibilities of assembling the required 21 votes out of 40 from another sprawling cross-bench.

Live Commentary

11:32pm There’s a lot of counting to go in the upper house, but the current results look promising for a progressive upper house.  It’s 15 Labor out of 40, 15 Coalition, four Greens, two Legalise Cannabis, one Animal Justice, one Fiona Patten, one Shooter and one One Nation.  If this holds up (I’m not confident given group voting tickets), then the left side will have 23 of the 40 upper house seats and the right 17.  And with that, it’s time for bed for me.  William Bowe will resume coverage of the Victorian election.

11:16pm I’ve done a short article for The Conversation on the results so far.  The Coalition would have been thrashed given the 54.3-45.7 current statewide numbers, but furthermore they’ve lost seats in net terms to Labor, rather than gaining.  The swing to the Coalition was inefficiently distributed, being wasted on safe Labor seats, while some swings to Labor were on Coalition marginal seats.

9:53pm The ABC has Labor losing Morwell and Nepean to the Coalition, but gaining Bayswater, Glen Waverley, Hastings and Polwarth.  If that holds, Labor would be up two in Labor vs Coalition seats.

9:40pm Labor has clearly won a majority, but I’m not sure yet how large the Greens surge will be.  Early votes are now being reported in some seats, and look better for Labor in swing terms than Election Day votes.

9:13pm Greens leading in seven seats now, but in Albert Park they’ve fallen behind the Libs on primary vote, and this will be a Labor vs Lib contest with Labor winning.  Greens gains have been called in Northcote, Richmond and Footscray, while Preston is close between Labor and the Greens with Labor just ahead.

8:31pm There are two Lib-held seats where Labor is currently leading: Bayswater and Glen Waverley.

8:28pm While the Greens are currently winning Albert Park, the final primary vote projections show the Libs getting into second, in which case it’ll be Labor vs Lib with Labor winning.

8:22pm With 33% counted in Hawthorn, teal ind Lowe is leading the Libs by 52.3-47.7 on projected 2CP.  She has climbed into second ahead of Labor and projections suggest she’ll stay second.

7:58pm Greens now winning EIGHT lower house seats.  But with 9.3% counted statewide, swing against Labor down to 3.1% two party, and they’re winning this count by 54.5-45.5 — exactly what Newspoll said.

7:52pm Daniel Andrews will easily win Mulgrave.  The Libs have made their first gain from Labor in Nepean, with a 6.3% swing.

7:45pm Some bug in the PB results now, but before they went offline the Greens were winning SEVEN lower house seats, which would be a great result for them and up from their current three.

7:35pm With 4.1% statewide counted, two party swing against Labor drops to 3.8%, and they’re now up 53.8-46.2 statewide.  They’re leading or have won 47 lower house seats, enough for a majority.  The Coalition is leading in 24 seats and the Greens in five.

7:29pm Now down to a 9.6% swing to the Libs in Yan Yean, with Labor winning by 57.6-42.4 with 6.3% in.

7:28pm With 5.5% counted in Yan Yean, there’s a massive 14.5% swing to the Libs, with Labor still winning by 52.7-47.3.

7:24pm With 2.7% counted, overall swing against Labor reduces to 5.2%, and they lead by 52.3-47.7.

7:16pm Overall swing against Labor increases to 7.3% two party with 2.0% counted.  Only ahead by 50.2-49.8 now, which would see them lose their lower house majority.

7:08pm Teal Independent Melissa Lowe currently winning Hawthorn 54-46 over Libs.  Problem is she’s currently third behind the Libs and Labor.

7:06pm Back to a projected lead of 51.9-48.1 to the Greens in Footscray with 1.8% in.

7:04pm First booth in Footscray is a strong swing to the Greens, who would gain this seat from Labor if that holds up.

6:59pm PB results now projecting a 5.0% overall two party swing against Labor, though that would still be a 52.6-47.4 win for Labor; this might not be enough for a majority.

6:44pm With 1.5% counted in Euroa, the PB projected swing so far is 1.7% to Labor.  It’s a safe Nat seat, but not a good early sign for the Coalition

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

William Bowe is working for Channel Nine, and has asked me to provide live commentary on the Victorian election. Once a result for the lower house is clear, I will need to write an article for The Conversation. The rest of this intro post is from my article for The Conversation on the large final Newspoll lead for Labor.

There are 88 single-member lower house seats with members elected by preferential voting, and 40 upper house seats in eight five-member electorates. The election in the lower house seat of Narracan has been postponed owing to a candidate’s death.

As at Friday, ABC election analyst Antony Green said 43.4% of all Victorian enrolled voters had voted early in-person, and a further 13.3% had applied for a postal vote. With a likely final turnout of around 90%, that means over 63% have already voted. Early voting has increased since 2018.

The early voting will slow election night counts as early vote centres will likely take until late at night to report their counts. The Poll Bludger said Friday that some postal votes will also be counted on election night. Counting could also be slow owing to the large numbers of candidates.

In the upper house, with eight five-member electorates, a quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. It’s probably not safe to call for anyone not elected on quota on election night as small changes in vote share can give a different result under group voting tickets (GVT).

The ABC will have projections of upper house results using its calculator. But this calculator assumes that all votes are above the line ticket votes. If a party that needs help from other parties’ GVTs is beating a bigger party by a narrow margin, that lead would likely disappear once below the line votes are factored in.

Introductory note by William Bowe.

The VEC is conducting non-standard two-party preferred counts in the following seats: Labor versus Greens in Albert Park, Bruswick, Footscray, Melbourne, Northcote, Pascoe Vale, Preston and Richmond; Liberal versus independent in Benambra, Brighton, Hawthorn, Kew, Mornington and Shepparton; Labor versus independent in Melton, Point Cook and Werribee; independent versus Nationals in Mildura; Greens versus Liberal in Prahran.

At first, the projections in the live results will assume the VEC has picked the two candidates correctly. As it becomes apparent in which seats it has not done so, which these days is just about inevitable in at least some cases, I will have to make a manual adjustment so that preference estimates are used to calculate a two-candidate preferred result (such estimates are also used until a respectable amount of the two-candidate preferred votes are reported). To illustrate this point: until I make such an adjustment, the system will give Labor no chance of retaining Hawthorn, since the count there is between the Liberal and an independent.

The results maps that can be accessed by clicking the button at the bottom of each electorate page indicate the locations of polling booths with white dots when no results are in; colour-coded dots when primary vote results only are available; and, when the booth’s two-candidate result has been reported, colour-coded numbers showing the percentage result for the party that won the booth.

US midterm elections late counting

Democrats are likely to hold the Senate, and still retain hope of an upset win in the House of Representatives. To be updated over the coming days.

10:59am Thursday Reps have just been projected to win California’s 27th. That gives them 218 seats and control of the House, with Dems on 208. If all current leads are retained, Reps will win the House by 221-214. Reps lead in the popular vote is down to 51.3-47.1, a 4.2% margin. Earlier, the Dem won Maine’s second 53.1-46.9 after preferences from an independent were counted. This will be my final update to this late counting thread.

3:27pm In Alaska Senate, with 80% counted, the Trump-endorsed Tshibaka’s lead over the moderate Rep incumbent Murkowski narrows to just 43.3-43.1 with 10.0% for a Dem. Those Dem preferences will help Murkowski. In Alaska’s only House seat, the Dem now has 48.1% of primaries, 8% higher than at the August by-election, and will win convincingly. Preferences will be tabulated Nov 24 AEDT.

2pm CNN has called California’s 41st for the Rep, moving them to 217 House seats and now just one away from the majority.

1:41pm Wednesday In non-counting news, Donald Trump has announced his 2024 presidential campaign. Perhaps that will assist Democratic turnout in Georgia’s Senate runoff election in three weeks. In counting news, the Dem’s lead in California’s 13th has been cut back to 50.3-49.7 today from 50.4-49.6 yesterday, but the Dem lead in California’s 47th has widened to 50.8-49.2 from 50.6-49.4 yesterday. CNN currently has the House at 216-205 to the Reps, wha are two wins away from a majority.

3:03pm Dems have overturned a Rep lead in California’s 13th district, and now lead 50.4-49.6 with 58% in. But trends in other California seats are good for the Reps. Also, New York’s 22nd has been called for the Reps. If current leads hold, the final House will be 221-214 to the Reps.

1:37pm Reps will win the Alaska governor, so the final governors’ results will be 26 Reps to 24 Dems. Dems gained Massachusetts and Maryland after moderate Rep governors retired. They also gained Arizona, while the Reps gained Nevada. All election deniers who ran in key swing states for secretary of state – a state’s chief electoral authority – were defeated.

1:05pm Tuesday With almost all votes counted in Arizona, Dem Hobbs will win the governor, a Dem gain; she currently leads by 50.4-49.6. But Reps will win two House seats by 1% or less, taking their tally to 214 seats to 204 for Dems, with 218 needed for a majority. Reps are near certainties now to win a House majority.

2:17pm While California’s late counting has generally been good for the Dems, the exception is the 41st district. The Rep has extended his lead to 51.3-48.7, from 50.7-49.3 yesterday. The Arizona late counting below would be from mail drop ins on Election Day, which were expected to help the Reps.

12:35pm Monday Today’s Arizona counting has been good for the Reps. In Arizona’s first district, the Rep has taken a 50.1-49.9 lead after the Dem led by 50.4-49.6 yesterday. In the sixth, the Rep has extended his lead to 50.3-49.7 from 50.2-49.8 yesterday. If Reps win both these districts, it’s very likely they will win the House majority. Also some US media, but not yet CNN, have called Oregon’s sixth for the Reps.

1:33pm Sunday Clark counting has put Dem Cortez Masto up by 0.5% or almost 5,000 votes statewide in Nevada Senate, and CNN has CALLED it for the Dems, a Dem hold. Dems now have 50 Senate seats to 49 for Reps, and they will HOLD the Senate on Harris’ casting vote, regardless of Georgia’s runoff result in December.

In the House, Washington’s third district has been called for the Dems, a Dem gain. This is a major upset. Reps now lead on seats by 211-204 per CNN, with some races in Arizona and Oregon still close and set to be decided on late counting.

7:20pm Arizona Senate has been CALLED for Dem Kelly as he leads by 51.8-46.1 with 85% counted. In Nevada Senate, Rep Laxalt retains a lead just over 800 votes after a Washoe batch cancelled out with rural counties. But Clark tomorrow should be decisive. In the House, CNN has called four more seats for Dems, who now trail by just 211-203, even though Reps still lead by 5.2% on popular votes.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

At time of writing on Saturday morning, CNN had Democrats winning 48 Senate seats (including seats not up for election and two independents who caucus with Democrats), Republicans had 49 seats and three races were uncalled.

Of the uncalled seats, Georgia will go to a December 6 runoff after no candidate won at least 50% owing to a Libertarian who got 2%. In Arizona, the Democrat leads by 51.7-46.1, and although Election Day mail drop offs are expected to help Republicans, they are unlikely to be enough to overturn that lead. In Nevada, the Republican currently leads by just 48.5-48.4, or just under 800 votes, but there’s more than enough late mail in Democratic-leaning Clark and Washoe counties to overturn that lead.

If Democrats win Arizona and Nevada, they will have 50 Senate seats, enough to control it on Vice President Kamala Harris’ casting vote. However, as I wrote for The Conversation on Wednesday night, Democrats face a very difficult Senate map in 2024, when they will be defending 23 seats and Republicans just ten.

House: Republican majority no sure thing

In the House of Representatives, CNN has called 211 seats for Republicans and 199 for Democrats, a net gain for Republicans of 12. There are 435 total House seats, so 218 are required for a majority.

Two of the remaining uncalled seats used preferential voting: Maine’s second and Alaska’s at-large. In both these cases, I will call for the Democratic candidates. In Maine’s second, the Democrat is leading by 49.2-43.9, and won’t be caught on preferences. In Alaska, Democrat Peltola is at 47.3%, with Republicans Palin at 26.6% and Begich at 24.2%. Peltola’s vote share is 7% higher than at the by-election she won against Palin in August, and should increase further in late counting.

If we give these two seats to Democrats, the House is currently 211-201 to Republicans, leaving 23 uncalled seats. Twelve of these 23 seats are in California, the most populous US state, with 52 total House seats. California takes about four weeks to count all its votes, and Democrats will hope that late mail assists them to overturn Republican leads there.

According to this spreadsheet, Republicans currently lead in 221 House seats and Democrats in 214, so Democrats would need to overturn four current Republican leads to win the House. Despite the tenuous lead for Republicans in seats, they are winning the House popular vote by 52.0-46.5, a 5.5% margin, according to the Cook Political Report. I believe this popular vote lead is partly explained by Democrats not contesting many safe Republican seats, so Republicans won nearly 100% of votes in those seats.

One other federal contest of interest is Alaska Senate, where the Trump-backed Republican Tshibaka leads the moderate Republican incumbent Murkowski by 44.2-42.8 on primary votes with 9.5% for a Democrat. Murkowski is likely to gain in late counting and Democratic preferences will assist her to hold her seat.

US midterm elections live

Republicans will probably win both chambers of Congress, though the Senate is much closer. Live commentary from late Wednesday morning.

Live Commentary

4:15pm In Nevada Senate, Laxalt’s lead down to 48.9-48.0, or just over 8,000 votes, on more mail from Washoe county.

2:19pm It’s looking very good for Dem Kelly in Arizona Senate. He now has a 51.7-46.1 lead after 79% is counted. Maricopa’s votes increased his lead, but mail drop offs still haven’t been counted.

1:52pm Rep Laxalt’s lead in the Nevada Senate race narrows to under 12,700 votes (49.2-47.8) on more counting from Dem Clark county.

12:21pm In the House, Reps now lead by 209-195 per CNN, a 12-seat net gain so far. They now lead in 221 seats to 214 Dem leads after flipping a Dem lead in Colorado’s third district.

11:52am Friday I’m not sure when we’ll get big mail updates from Nevada today. In Arizona, the most populous county, Maricopa, will be releasing new numbers at 2pm AEDT. Dem Kelly currently leads for Senate by 51.5-46.3 with 76% reporting.

5:16pm In the House, CNN has Reps winning by 209-191, and they’ve gained 12 net seats. But this spreadsheet had Reps only leading by 220-215 at 2pm today AEDT counting leads which haven’t been called yet. Despite the narrow current House margin, the Cook Political Report’s national popular vote tracker currently gives Reps a 6.1% overall lead.

4:57pm Rep Laxalt’s lead in Nevada Senate down to 49.4-47.6, or about 15,800 votes on more late mail. Is there enough late mail for the Dem to overhaul Laxalt?

1:20pm Today’s late mail updates in Arizona have been more favourable for Dems than the overall results in the county they were from. Dem Kelly now leads for Senate by 51.4-46.4 with 76% reporting according to CNN. However, mail dropped off on Election Day instead of posted may boost Reps. In Nevada, Rep Laxalt’s lead for Senate has fallen to 49.6-47.5, a little below 18,000 votes on late mail counting.

9:55am In Nevada, Rep Laxalt leads for Senate by 49.9-47.2 or 22,600 votes. But it looks likely there’s at least 160,000 mail remaining to be counted in Nevada’s two most populous counties, Washoe and Clark, and that mail will probably put the Dem back ahead. In Arizona, the last Election Day votes reduced the Dem Senate lead to 51.2-46.6. We’ll see if late mail helps the Reps.

6:30am Thursday CNN has now called 203 House seats for the Reps and 187 for the Dems, a net gain for Reps of seven seats. With 99% of Election Day precincts reporting in Arizona, Dem Kelly leads for Senate by 51.4-46.4. But there are still lots more late mail to count there. In other developments overnight, Wisconsin’s Senate contest was called for Rep Johnson, and Georgia as going to a Dec 6 runoff.

9:25pm I’ve been writing an article about the US midterm results for The Conversation, but in the meantime Rep Laxalt has overtaken Dem Cortez Masto for Nevada Senate by 49.9-47.2. Dems will hope late mail will give Cortez Masto the win. And in Arizona, Dem Kelly’s lead for Senate has narrowed to 52-46 with 91% of Election Day precincts reporting.

7:43pm In Arizona, Dem Senator Kelly’s lead cut to 53-44 on more Election Day votes. And the race tightens further in Nevada too.

7:30pm Reps are still up five sets net in the House, with eight gains to three for Dems. CNN gives them a 195-176 lead with 218 needed for control. Other US media have called more House races.

7:15pm With 65% counted in Nevada, Dem Senator Cortez Masto leads by 50-47. That lead will shrink as more rurals report, but late mail will help Cortez Masto. A likely Dem HOLD.

6pm In the House, Reps lead by 193-170 with 218 needed for control. But Dems have gained two seats, while Reps have gained seven, for a net gain of five for Reps..

5:17pm With 88% counted in Wisconsin Senate, Rep Johnson’s lead falls back to 50.7-49.1.

5:15pm Pennsylvania has been officially CALLED for Dem Fetterman in the Senate. Dem GAIN

5:08pm Arizona Secretary of State website says 72% of Election Day precincts are already in. Seems like a very good chance for Dem Senator Kelly to hold onto his current 57-41 lead.

4:57pm We finally have some results from Nevada. With 44% in, Dem Senator Cortez Masto leads by 54-43. That includes Clark county, the big Dem stronghold in the south-east, but not much from the Rep landslide rurals or the swing county of Washoe.

4:39pm Dem Warnock back ahead in Georgia Senate by 49.1-48.8 with 93% in. Remember the runoff if nobody gets 50%.

4:26pm In Kentucky, the “no” vote against a constitutional amendment banning abortion is leading 52-48 with 80% counted, even as the Rep Senator Paul won a blowout with 61%.

4:15pm In Wisconsin Senate with 80% counted, Rep Johnson leads Dem Barnes by 51.5-48.3. I’m not sure if late mail can snatch that lead back.

4:07pm With 91% counted in Georgia, Rep Walker leads by 49.1-48.8 with 2.0% for a Libertarian. Remember that if nobody gets at least 50% in Georgia, it goes to a Dec 6 runoff.

4:03pm Nate Cohn on Twitter. This would be a Dem Senate GAIN

3:50pm In the House Reps still lead by 179-146 according to CNN and have gained five seats. The 538 live blog says that some House seats that were expected to go to Reps have been retained by Dems.

3:35pm CNN has also called Washington for Dem Murray, a Dem Senate HOLD. Reps have held Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio.

3:33pm CNN has CALLED New Hampshire for Dem Maggie Hassan, who leads by 55-43 with 60% in. That’s Dem Senate HOLD.

3:14pm Dems have GAINED two governorships in Maryland and Massachusetts after moderate Rep governors of those states retired. Reps have easily held their big states of Florida and Texas, while Dems will hold New York and California.

2:40pm Nate Cohn tweets that Dem Fetterman is doing better than Biden just about everywhere in Pennsylvania. Biden won by 1.2%, so that points to a Dem GAIN in Pennsylvania’s Senate race.

2:18pm In the House, Reps have made five gains according to CNN, and lead by 147-82 so far. But Dems have held their two marginal seats in Virginia.

2:13pm The early mail in Arizona has come in, and Dem Kelly leads by 56-41 with 41% in for the Senate. But Election Day turnout was very good for Reps in Arizona.

2:02pm In Iowa Senate, the Dem has a 13 point lead with 27% in. Iowa is another state where early vote is counted first, and Election Day should allow the Rep to win easily.

1:50pm Dem Bennett has been CALLED the winner in Colorado Senate, a HOLD for the Dems. He leads by 19% with 48% counted. Meanwhile Dem Fetterman’s lead in Pennsylvania Senate narrows to 10% with 32% in, and Dem Barnes is leading in Wisconsin by 2% with 28% in.

1:18pm Dem Warnock has recovered the lead in Georgia Senate by 51.3-46.9 with 64% in.

1:14pm And in Ohio with 44% counted, Rep Vance is now only just behind Dem Ryan for Senate 50.1-49.8. Projection: Vance overtakes Ryan and Reps easily HOLD Ohio Senate.

1:10pm In North Carolina, Rep Budd has overtaken Dem Beasley by 49.2-48.8 with 68% in. Budd will go on to win as Election Day votes now dominate. Projection: Rep HOLD North Carolina Senate.

1:06pm In Georgia, Rep Walker has just overtaken Dem Warnock and leads by 51.5-46.7 with 61% in. Warnock may recover with more counting from urban Georgia.

12:51pm With 51% counted in Georgia, Dem Senator Warnock’s lead narrows to 50-48. Meanwhile, Rep Governor Kemp is leading by 52-47.

12:34pm With 14% counted in New Hampshire, Dem Hassan leads by 61-38.

12:31pm Dems are well ahead currently in Senate contests for Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia. But these reflect early votes, and leads will narrow or be overturned once Election Day votes report.

12:16pm In fact there are now three Rep projected House GAINS from the Dems just in Florida.

12:13pm And in more good news for Reps in Florida, they GAIN the fourth House district from the Dems.

12:09pm In Florida, Rep Senator Marco Rubio and Rep Governor Ron DeSantis are projected winners with Rubio leading by 12 points and DeSantis by 16. That’s with 72% counted, and Election Day votes will make Florida even more Rep. Miami Dade county in the south, which voted heavily for Hillary Clinton in 2016, has been won by both Reps.

12:03pm In North Carolina’s Senate contest, the Dem leads by 54-44 with 45% in. But that’s early vote, and Election Day will favour the Reps.

11:53am In Virginia’s 10th House district, the Dem incumbent has a 52.5-47.4 lead over the Rep with 53% in.

11:45am In Georgia’s Senate contest, Dem Warnock leads Rep Walker by 56-42 with 29% in. That lead will narrow as more Election Day votes are counted.

9:45am Wednesday In many US states, voters register as either Dem, Rep or Nonpartisan/Other. Localities in some of these states report Election Day turnout throughout the day. There’s HEAVY Rep turnout that isn’t being matched by the Dems, and is overwhelming Dem early vote leads. This is pointing to an ugly result for the Dems today, with Reps overperforming their polls.

I have a one hour appointment at 10:30am. We’ll see how early results are looking when I return at 11:30am.

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