State of confusion: day two

An extra cautious Australian Electoral Commission will not resume counting until tomorrow, allowing a helpful breather for those of us trying to keep on top of the situation.

The Australian Electoral Commission is dampening expectations about the progress of the count:

The initial sorting and collation of postal and other declaration votes already received by the AEC will finalise on Monday. The AEC will also check every declaration vote against the electoral roll and other requirements in order to include them to the count. Once this examination process is complete, the counting of declaration votes recently included in the count will begin. This is expected to be on Tuesday. Postal and other declaration votes will continue to be received, sorted and included in the count up until the deadline for receipt on 15 July.

What this amounts to is the AEC taking extra special care to ensure there are no repeats of the Senate fiasco from Western Australia in 2013. Many will grumble about the slow progress, but you can’t have it both ways. So no counting yesterday or today, which I’m personally relieved by as it’s giving me a chance to wrap my head around a complex situation. Here’s how I described it in response to a commenter’s query on the previous thread:

Barring some freaky late count development in a seat currently off my radar, I have the Coalition home in 70 seats, Labor home in 65, others home in five, and ten up in the air (though I haven’t yet absorbed Kevin Bonham’s notion that the Liberals could theoretically win Melbourne Ports, as may the Greens, although a Labor win seems most likely). So they would need to break 8-2 to Labor for them to win more seats than the Coalition (UPDATE: I beg your pardon — make that Coalition 69 and Labor 66, and Labor needing a break of 7-3). Out of the ten, I would, in descending order of degree, rather be in the Coalition’s position in Dunkley, Chisholm, Gilmore and Capricornia, and Labor’s in Herbert, Cowan and Hindmarsh. There are three seats I don’t even care to speculate about:

Flynn, because the LNP would make it home if they did as well on pre-polls and postals as last time, but that was apparently because they did well from fly-in fly-out workers, of which the electorate now has fewer with the end of the mining boom. It’s also possible that Labor has run a stronger postals campaign this time after abandoning the seat as a lost cause in 2013.

Forde, because there looks like being so very little in it.

Grey, because we don’t know enough about the preference flow yet, but the early indications are encouraging for the Liberals.

I’ll have a more detailed paywalled account of the situation in Crikey later today.

State of confusion

Seeking some clarity about the federal election result? Join the club.

At the end of the evening, a surprising election result hangs in the balance, with a remarkably long list of seats still up for grabs. What looked a slightly disappointing result for the Coalition early in the evening kept getting worse as the night progressed, with a number of seats that looked okay for them early on moving Labor’s way late in the night. Anything is possible, but I would now rate a hung parliament of some kind the most likely outcome, and it’s by no means impossible that it won’t be the Coalition forming the minority government.

At the 2013 election, the Coalition won 90 seats, Labor won 55, and others won five: one each for the Greens, Palmer United and Katter’s Australian Party, and two independents. Redistributions then took place in New South Wales, which lost a seat, and Western Australia, which gained one. In New South Wales, the Labor seat of Charlton in the Hunter region was abolished, but in the resulting reorganisation, Charlton’s neighbour Paterson went from Liberal to notional to Labor, as did Dobell on the Central Coast and Barton in southern Sydney. The three notionally Labor seats are now actual Labor seats, bringing the Coalition down to 87. In Western Australia, the new seat of Burt had a notional Liberal margin of 6.0%, but Labor blew the hinges off that with a 14% swing. Now let’s take a Coalition-centric look at what happened state by state.

In New South Wales, the Coalition has lost Eden-Monaro, Macarthur, Macquarie and Lindsay, and are going down to the wire in Gilmore. That brings them down to 83, with one on the endangered list.

In Victoria, there is little or nothing in it in Labor-held Chisholm and Liberal-held Dunkley. So that brings the endangered list up to two, but also brings one on to what I will call the opportunity list (which won’t be getting any longer).

In Queensland, Labor has won Longman and, following a late-evening turnaround, Flynn. Capricornia and Herbert look better for Labor than the Coalition, but I’ll nonetheless assign them to the endangered list, along with the genuinely lineball Forde, and Dickson where Peter Dutton will probably but not definitely make it over the line. Not surprisingly, Fairfax, which Clive Palmer won in 2013, goes back to the LNP. That brings them to 82, and intensifies the headache in trying to assess the situation by making it six on the endangered list.

In Western Australia, besides the previously noted Burt, Cowan could go either way. Now we have seven on the endangered list.

In South Australia, Mayo has gone to the Nick Xenophon Team as expected, bringing the best case scenario for the Coalition down to 81. Furthermore, the endangered list gets still longer with Hindmarsh lineball; Grey looking to me like a show for the NXT, with their candidate second and the Liberal member on an unconvincing primary vote of 41.6%; Boothby a less likely but still possible gain for NXT, if their candidate overtakes Labor by doing 4.6% better than him when the 13.4% Greens-plus-others vote is split three ways on preferences. Now our endangered list blows out to ten.

Tasmania at least is neat and tidy, with a surprisingly poor result for the Liberals costing them all of the three seats they gained in 2013, with Bass going on a second consecutive double-digit swing. And Labor won the Darwin seat of Solomon in a result that bodes ill for the Country Liberal Party government at their election in late August.

That brings the Coalition down to 77, which they can hope to push up to 78 if they win Chisholm. But then there’s that intimidatingly long endangered list of ten, and while they can hope to rely on the traditional tendency of postal votes to favour them, they would need to be very lucky to make it to a majority.

As for the cross bench, Andrew Wilkie, Cathy McGowan and Bob Katter were easily re-elected; Adam Bandt retains Melbourne for the Greens, and the NXT wins Mayo; and both NXT and the Greens could gain an extra two seats each with a bit of luck (quite a lot of luck actually, in the Greens’ case).

Ultimately, the spread of possibilities for the Coalition ranges from 69 to 78, while Labor’s is only slightly weaker at 63 to 75. If Labor falls below 65, it will do so by losing seats to the Greens, who would assuredly favour them to form government.

Now for the Senate.

In New South Wales, the Coalition wins five, Labor four, the Greens one and One Nation one, with the last seat up in the air. Based on my somewhat speculative preference model, Labor gets enough preferences for their fifth candidate to compete with the Liberal Democrats for that seat, but that may be overrating the Liberal Democrats preference flow based on their strong performance from top position on the ballot paper last time. The other possibility is that it goes to the Christian Democratic Party.

In Victoria, the Coalition and Labor get to four; the Greens should make it to two; and Derryn Hinch has won a seat. The last seat is anyone’s guess, but I’m inclined to think it will be a fifth seat for the Coalition.

In Queensland, there should be five Coalition, four Labor, one Greens and Pauline Hanson, and another tough call for the last spot. The Liberal Democrats are a surprisingly good show, but I wouldn’t rule out Family First.

In South Australia, four Liberal, four Labor, three NXT, one Greens. Surprisingly, Bob Day of Family First doesn’t look like he’ll make it.

Western Australia I expect will be five Liberal, one Nationals, four Labor, two Greens. In Tasmania, five Labor, four Liberal, two Greens and Jacqui Lambie.

Federal election live thread

Here is a thread for you to discuss events as they unfold. I’ll be providing commentary this evening on ABC Radio, together with Fran Kelly, Marius Benson and Sandy Aloisi, together with Senator Scott Ryan in the blue corner and Jenny McAllister in the red.

Usual story with exit polling: we’ve got Galaxy saying it’s 50-50 in selected marginal seats, but without knowing what those seats are, it’s very hard to say what that means.

UPDATE: Bug in comments relates what we need to know from Galaxy: 5.4% swing in SA, 3.9% swing in WA, 3.4% swing in Queensland, 3.2% in New South Wales, 3% in Tasmania, 2.9% in Victoria. And there’s a ReachTEL poll for Seven showing 51-49.

Newspoll and Essential Research: 50.5-49.5 to Coalition; ReachTEL: 51-49

Three late polls find the Coalition with a narrow two-party lead, and Labor hanging on in its seat of Chisholm in Melbourne.

First up, the final reading of BludgerTrack, which after the addition of final results from Newspoll, Galaxy, ReachTEL, Ipsos and Essential Research is almost exactly where it was on Wednesday, so far as national voting intention is concerned. However, the Coalition is down a seat in New South Wales and Tasmania, and up one in Queensland and Western Australia. As always, I must stress that this is a two-party model that doesn’t take into account the Nick Xenophon Team factor and strong independent challenges in New England and Cowper, which could potentially cut the projected Coalition majority to the bone. I’m afraid I haven’t found time to update the personal ratings.


With the non-major party vote up 3.6% off an already high base in 2013, a lot depends on the accuracy of the assumption that preferences will flow as they did in 2013. Labor did particularly well on Greens preferences at the last election, and seem unlikely to improve upon that performance this time, but the preferences of “others”, who are treated as a homogenous blob, are something of a wild card, given the effective disappearance of Palmer United – although Palmer United preferences behaved almost identically to the remainder of the “others” preferences (i.e. everyone but Palmer United and the Greens) in 2013. The alternative approach is to go off respondent-allocated preferences, as published by Ipsos, ReachTEL and Morgan (which regrettably stopped publishing national polling results during the campaign), although the previous election method has generally worked better except when there were very substantial changes in the make-up of the non-major party vote. The following chart shows how the Coalition’s share of respondent-allocated preferences has trended since the last election, with the yellow line indicating where it was in 2013:


In other words, Tony Abbott had a remarkably consistent downward trajectory, whereas under Malcolm Turnbull it has broadly reflected the government’s overall standing in the polls. It nonetheless ends the campaign 3.7% below the 2013 election figure, which under the circumstances would make a fairly substantial difference, bringing the Coalition’s two-party preferred down to 50.3% and making as much as four seats’ difference on the seat projection.

The next chart tracks the Coalition vote state-by-state since the dawn of the Turnbull era. The most interesting point to emerge is that the Coalition has recovered strongly in Western Australia after appearing in a dire position there at the start of the campaign, possibly because the campaign has focused minds on the federal sphere and away from their discontent with the Barnett government. There has also been an upward trajectory in South Australia, but the static there from the Nick Xenophon Team is such that this should be treated with great caution. Tasmania also seems to have gone its own way over recent weeks, in this case in favour of Labor, although the small sample sizes here are such that this should be treated with caution as well. Elsewhere, the situation seems to have been fairly stable through the course of the campaign.


Now to polls. For starters, I’ve assembled all of the seat polling from the campaign that I’m aware of on a spreadsheet which (I think) you can access here.

The final Newspoll of the campaign was conducted Tuesday to Friday from a bumper sample of 4135, and records the Coalition with a 50.5-49.5 lead on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Coalition 42% (down one on last week), Labor 35% (also down one) and Greens 10% (up one). Malcolm Turnbull is up three on approval to 40% and down four on disapproval to 47%, while Bill Shorten is up one on both measures to 36% and 51%. Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister is 48-31, up from 45-30.

ReachTEL’s final national poll for the campaign is unchanged on last week at 51-49 in favour of the Coalition on respondent-allocated preferences, although previous election preferences would produce the same result. The forced preference primary votes are Coalition 42.8% (up 0.4%), Labor 34.6% (up 0.8%), Greens 10.7% (up 0.2%). Despite this, and contrary to Newspoll, Shorten’s personal ratings have strengthened and Turnbull’s have weakened. Shorten records his best result yet against Malcolm Turnbull as preferred prime minister, with the latter now leading 52.9-47.1 compared with 57.9-42.1 last week. Turnbull’s combined good and very good rating is down 2.3% to 31.2%, and his combined poor and very poor is up 3.6% to 36.9%, whereas Shorten is respectively up 4.1% to 34.8% and up 0.8% to 38.6%. The survey of 2084 respondents was conducted last night for the Seven Network.

Essential Research has published a special pre-election poll conducted Monday to Thursday, compared with its usual field work period of Thursday to Sunday, which has the Coalition on 42.5%, Labor on 34.5% and Greens on 11.5%. The numbers have been published to the nearest 0.5% because, Essential advises, “nearly all the figures came out very close to the .5”. These are quite substantial shifts when compared with the fortnightly rolling average published on Tuesday, which were Coalition 39%, Labor 37% and Greens 10%, but less so going off the hitherto unpublished result from just last week’s sample, which was Coalition 40%, Labor 36% and Greens 10%. The result is also broken down into results for those who have and have not yet voted, with the former (Coalition 45%, Labor 33%, Greens 10%) more favourable to the Coalition than the latter (Coalition 41%, Labor 35%, Greens 12%). The two-party preferred results are 50.5-49.5 to the Coalition overall, 54-46 among those who have already voted, and 51-49 to Labor among those planning on voting tomorrow. Thirty-eight per cent say Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals ran the better campaign compared with 29% for Bill Shorten and Labor, and 48% expect the Coalition to win compared with 21% for Labor. The poll also finds 14% saying Brexit will be good for the Australian economy, 26% bad and 34% makes no difference, and 15% saying it will make them more likely to vote Liberal, 11% more likely to vote Labor, and 64% makes no difference.

The weekly ReachTEL marginal seat poll is from the Labor-held Melbourne seat of Chisholm, where Labor has been weakened by the retirement of sitting member Anna Burke, and perhaps further by the Country Fire Authority issue. The poll finds Labor hanging on by a margin of 51-49, from primary votes of Liberal 41.5% (down 2.6% on the 2013 election), Labor 37.7% (up 1.8%) and Greens 15.1% (up 5.6%). The closeness of the two-party headline is down to a much stronger flow of preferences to the Liberals compared with 2013. If previous election preference flows are applied, the Labor lead is 54-46. The poll was conducted last night from a sample of 627.

Fairfax-Ipsos: 50-50; Galaxy: 51-49 to Coalition

The final Ipsos and Galaxy polls of the campaign record little or no change, with both suggesting the election is still up for grabs.

The final Ipsos poll for Fairfax has the two parties back at 50-50, after Labor led 51-49 a fortnight ago, although Labor maintains its 51-49 lead on respondent-allocated preferences. The primary votes are 40% for the Coalition (up one), 33% for Labor (steady) and 13% for the Greens (down one). On personal ratings, Malcolm Turnbull is up two on approval to 49% and down one on disapproval to 41%, while Bill Shorten is down one on approval to 42% and up three on disapproval to 50%. Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister shifts from 48-34 to 49-35. The poll of 1377 respondents was conducted Monday to Wednesday.

The News Corporation tabloids have a Galaxy poll of 1768 respondents which give the Coalition a lead of 51-49 on two-party preferred, compared with 50-50 in a similar poll a week ago. The primary votes are 43% for the Coalition (up one), 36% for Labor (down one) and 10% for the Greens (down one).

Today’s Advertiser has two seat polls from Galaxy Research, which find Kate Ellis leading Liberal challenger 53-47 in Adelaide, and Mark Butler reported as leading 76-33 in Port Adelaide (although this really should add up to 100), with the Nick Xenophon Team presumably running third in both cases since the report doesn’t say otherwise. The samples on the polls are a little over 500.

Three polls have emerged from Campaign for Australian Aid, conducted last Thursday to Saturday by Community Engagement – a national one, and seat polls from Sturt and Higgins. The Higgins poll is particularly interesting in that it suggests Kelly O’Dwyer faces a very serious threat from the Greens. Greens candidate Jason Ball leads Labor’s Carl Katter by 26% to 21%, and O’Dwyer’s 44% is low enough that it would be touch and go for her after preferences. The Sturt poll has the Nick Xenophon Team clearing the first hurdle by outpolling Labor 21% to 18%, but with Christopher Pyne’s primary vote of 48% being high enough to keep him safe. The national poll of 861 respondents has primary vote results of Coalition 40%, Labor 31% and Greens 11%.

BludgerTrack: 50.9-49.1 to Coalition

Daylight has finally opened between the two parties on the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, without quite freeing the Coalition from the risk of a hung parliament.

What would normally be the regular weekly reading of BludgerTrack, conducted after Essential Research completes the weekly cycle, finds a late break in favour of the Coalition, who have recorded a stronger result from Newspoll and two successive above-par showings from ReachTEL. The latest numbers also incorporate the Newspoll state breakdowns published on Monday by The Australian, together with state-level numbers from Essential and ReachTEL. The former were chiefly notable in finding a weaker swing to Labor in Western Australia than polling earlier in the campaign indicated. BludgerTrack now records a 5.5% swing in WA with two seats falling to Labor, which finally brings it into line with what both parties say they are anticipating.

The national seat projection now records the Coalition at 80, with gains since last week of two in New South Wales and one each in Victoria and South Australia. However, since this is a two-party model, it fails to account for the threat the Coalition faces from non-major candidates in New England, Cowper and at least three South Australian seats under threat from the Nick Xenophon Team, and hence can’t be seen as definitively pointing to a Coalition majority. Full details at the bottom of the post, together with the latest reading of Coalition win probabilities on the betting markets, which seem to have resumed moving upwards after a ten-day plateau.

The final reading of the Essential Research fortnightly rolling average has the Coalition down a point on the primary vote 39%, but is otherwise unchanged on last week with Labor on 37%, the Greens on 10% and the Nick Xenophon Team on 4%, with Labor leading 51-49 on two-party preferred. There was also a follow-up question on preferences from those who voted for minor parties and independents, with Greens voters splitting 86-14 to Labor (83-17 at the 2013 election) and others going 52-48 to Liberal (53-47 last time), but high “don’t know” results limit the usefulness of these figures.

The poll also records Malcolm Turnbull gaining two on approval since a fortnight ago to 40% while remaining steady on disapproval at 40%, while Bill Shorten is up three to 37% and down one to 39%. Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister is unchanged at 40-29. Of the remaining results, the most interesting for mine is that 50% think it very likely that a Liberal government would privatise Medicare, with only 34% rating it as not likely. The poll also records 30% saying Turnbull and the Liberals have run the better campaign, 28% opting for Bill Shorten and Labor and 8% favouring Richard di Natale and the Greens; 39% expecting a Coalition majority versus 24% for Labor and 16% for a hung parliament; and that 63% would support “phasing out live exports to reduce animal cruelty and protect Australian jobs” (a bit leading, in my view), with only 18% opposed.



With four days to go …

Newspoll state and demographic breakdowns, Senate intelligence, and a strange result from the Northern Territory.

A few bits and pieces to report:

• The Australian has published Newspoll breakdowns derived from its last three polls by the usual range of indicators: state, gender, age and metro/non-metro. The most interesting finding is that the Coalition has recovered in Western Australia, where it records a 4% swing to Labor compared with 7% in the previous breakdown of polling conducted in April and May.

• Appearing on Andrew Bolt’s program on Sky News, Peta Credlin offered an appraisal of the Senate situation that chimes very well with my own Senate analyses, suggesting the Nick Xenophon Team will win three seats in South Australia, Jacqui Lambie’s ticket will win at least one seat in Tasmania, both Glenn Lazarus and Pauline Hanson could win in Queensland (see my post below this one), Derryn Hinch will win in Victoria, David Leyonhjelm is a maybe in New South Wales, and only Western Australia looks unlikely to return any micro-parties or independents.

• The Northern Territory News reported yesterday on an “independent poll” conducted in the Darwin seat of Solomon showed Labor’s Luke Gosling leading Country Liberal Party incumbent Natasha Griggs 61-39, suggesting a swing of 12%. The poll was conducted by MediaReach last Wednesday and Thursday from a sample of 513. If that doesn’t sound entirely plausible, the reports Labor’s polling shows a “51-to-49 per cent two-party-preferred contest”, presumably in their own favour.