Call of the board: Northern Territory

A deep dive into the results for the two seats of the Northern Territory, in the first of many posts that will give the federal election result the attention it deserves.

Over the coming weeks I will be going through the country region by region offering at least some commentary along the way on the result in every seat, a valuable exercise that will undoubtedly pick up a lot of nuances currently still obscure to me. I’m starting with Northern Territory as a target of opportunity, given comments made yesterday by Anthony Albanese brought my attention to the result in Lingiari.

For those not familiar with the situation at the top end, the Northern Territory is divided electorally into Solomon, which neatly accommodates Darwin and its satellite city of Palmerston, and Lingiari, accounting for the remainder. Since the territory’s population leaves it on the cusp of one seat and two when state and territory seat entitlements are determined, these electorates have enrolments of around 75,000, compared with around 120,000 for the average seat in the mainland states.

Not for the first time, Lingiari was perhaps the most under-discussed marginal seat contest in the country at this election. Since the weight of remote indigenous communities in this electorate makes accurate polling essentially impossible, both sides typically make efforts to campaign in the seat but apparently fly blind as to their effectiveness, while the journalistic default is to assume the result will once again be a fairly narrow win for Labor, as has indeed been the case at every election since the seat was created with the territory’s division into two seats in 2001.

Lingiari was of particular interest this time around due to the retirement of Warren Snowdon, who had held it for Labor since its inauguration. How Labor might fare in the absence of a personal vote accumulated through a political career in the territory going back to 1987 was one of the election’s great imponderables. The verdict is now in: Labor’s new candidate, former Deputy Chief Minister Marion Scrymgour, has retained the seat, but by only 0.9% in the face of a swing to the Country Liberals of 4.5%. But there was another aspect to the result: a fall in turnout from 72.8% of enrolled voters in 2019 to 66.8%. Asked about this at a press conference yesterday, Anthony Albanese diagnosed the situation as follows:

It’s not rocket science to know what happened here. They ripped resources out of the Electoral Commission. There was a deliberate policy of the former government to restrict people voting in the territory. They tried to abolish the seat — and we fought very hard to get two seats in the territory — they restricted the numbers of people who were working for the Australian Electoral Commission to get people on the roll. This was straight out of the right-wing Republican playbook. It was an outrage, what occurred. And then there was a lack of resources to enable peeople to vote. We have one vote, one value in this country. It’s an important principle of our democracy. And the fact that 66% of people vote means that one in three people in the electorate of Lingiari didn’t get to vote. That was a part of the former government’s design. It wasn’t by accident, and they should be held to account for it.

The claim that the previous government “tried to abolish the seat” doesn’t seem altogether fair: the seat was set to be abolished because the territory’s population fell below the level required to entitle it to a second seat under the existing formula, and it was a government-sponsored bill that effectively overturned it, although not in terms that formally guaranteed the territory a second seat in all circumstances as per an alternative bill introduced by Labor.

In any case, it’s interesting to observe that it was the remote mobile booths that bore the brunt of the drop in turnout, with the total formal vote down 14.8% compared with 3.3% for the other booths in the electorate, while declaration votes of all kinds were up 4.1%. Labor suffered swings of 1.4% on the other booths and 5.7% on the declaration votes, but of 9.7% on the remote mobile booths. I’m in no position to judge whether the size of the latter swing was fuelled in any way by under-servicing of indigenous communities. I would observe though that Labor had an indigenous candidate and the Country Liberals a white candidate this time, whereas the opposite was true in 2019.

Meanwhile, traditionally marginal Solomon swung heavily to Labor, though here too turnout was down, from 83.1% to 79.5%. The 6.3% swing to Labor member Luke Gosling has left the seat with a margin of 9.4%, comfortably bigger than the seat’s previous record of 6.0% and maintaining a clear break in Labor’s favour over the last three elections. While every booth but one swung to Labor, swings appeared to be strongest around the Darwin central business district, consistent with the broader story of the election.

The same might be said of the fact that the two-party swing was driven by a 13.1% slump in the Country Liberal primary vote rather than a surge in support for Labor, whose primary vote was down 0.6%. Less typically, the slack was taken up by the Liberal Democrats, whose candidate topped 10%. This may have been driven by her position on the top of the ballot paper; the party’s raised profile arising from Sam McMahon running as its Senate candidate after losing Country Liberal preselection; and the absence of any independents to soak up the disaffected conservative vote. For her part, Sam McMahon got 9.2% of the vote for the Senate, which has delivered its usual result of one Labor and one Country Liberal.

Late counting: week three

Progressively updated commentary on late counting of the results from the 2022 federal election.

Click here for full federal election results updated live.

Monday, June 6

In Deakin, some pre-polls broke 53-33 to Labor and some absents broke 13-11 to Liberal, leaving the Liberal lead at 440. It’s the final seat to have dropped from my hyper-cautious results facility’s list of seats in doubt. There are 1033 envelopes awaiting processing, which I would guess will amount to about 800 formal votes. In Gilmore there are just 34 postal vote envelopes remaining to be processed: added today were postals that broke 117-40 to Labor (sufficiently lopsided that I expect there may have been an element of rechecking going on as well), absents that broke 93-63 to Labor and pre-polls that broke 270-235 to Liberal, putting the Labor lead at 348.

Sunday, June 5

The deadline for the arrival of postal votes passed yesterday, leaving the Australian Electoral Commission with only a bit of mopping up to do on a result that very much looks like Labor 77, Coalition 58, independents 10, Greens four and one apiece for the Centre Alliance and Katter’s Australian Party. The only theoretically doubtful seats are Deakin and Gilmore, where perhaps 1000 votes remain to reverse leads of 550 for Liberal member Michael Sukkar and 276 for Labor member Fiona Phillips.

That still leaves the Senate, the resolution of which is likely a fortnight away, and the process of which is helpfully outlined in a video from the Australian Electoral Commission. I have now updated my spreadsheet in which I project a simplified preference count based on flows from the 2019 election. This has not caused me to fundamentally change an assessment I laid it out here in detail on Monday, except that Pauline Hanson’s lead in Queensland over Amanda Stoker has narrowed to the extent that I now have her margin at the final count at 11.9% to 11.1%, in from 12.1% to 10.8%. This is close enough to raise the possibility that changes in preferences flows from the last election will be sufficient to account for the difference, though I personally don’t think it likely.

Late counting: week two

Progressively updated commentary on late counting of the results from the 2022 federal election.

Click here for full federal election results updated live.

Wednesday, June 1

Pardon me for dropping the ball for a couple of days there as I made a fraught transition from Sydney back to Perth. You will now find my results facility regularly updating again as the very last votes trickle in over the next few days. As you’re all no doubt aware, it seems generally accepted that Labor will make it not merely to 76 but to 77 seats, having opened up a 301-vote lead in Gilmore with barely 1000 votes left to go. Since opening the 142-vote lead noted in the previous update, Labor has further benefited from a 181-122 break in its favour on electronic-assisted COVID votes and 1401-1335 on declaration pre-polls. While later batches of absent votes were predictably not as strong for Labor as the first, they did them no actual harm, breaking 690-682 their way, and they even got a 127-101 break from the latest postals.

Monday, May 30

The ABC is now calling Macnamara for Labor, and with it a Labor majority of 76 seats out of 151, with a growing chance that Gilmore will make it 77. The AEC’s three-candidate preferred count for Macnamara has not been updated, showing Liberal on 29202 (33.6%), Labor on 29152 (33.5%) and the Greens on 28657 (32.9%), with Labor to lose the seat if the Greens overcome the 495 deficit against Labor, unless the Liberals also lose their 50 vote lead over Labor. This leaves it lagging 2354 votes behind the primary vote count, with three batches added today accounting for the shortfall:

• The electronic-assisted COVID votes were, contrary to earlier suggestions, neither approaching 1000 in number (perhaps there are more yet to be added, though I’d doubt it) nor especially favourable to the Greens. The 477 formal votes went Labor 169, Greens 154 and Liberals 105. This would have added 10 or so Labor’s lead over the Greens, and erased the Liberals’ 50 vote lead over Labor with half-a-dozen or so to spare.

• There were 1447 pre-polls added to the 1678 that were in the count already, of which 417 went to the Greens, 412 went to Labor and 404 went to the Liberals. This would have cut about 40 from Labor’s lead over the Greens and restored to the Liberals the 50-vote lead over Labor I just said they had lost on the COVID votes.

• The 475 absent votes added today were about half of those outstanding, and were much like earlier batches in that the Greens got 169, Labor got 134 and the Liberals got 114. This would have cut about 45 votes out of Labor’s lead over the Greens and hardly affected their lead over the Liberals.

• No postals were added today. There are 266 of these to be added to the count, plus however many arrive in the post over the coming days, which surely won’t be many.

My best estimate is that this still leaves Labor 420 votes ahead of the Greens on the three-candidate preferred, with the outstanding votes consisting of at most 555 absents, 730 pre-polls (there are about 1000 fewer of these than I suggested in yesterday’s update) and 266 postals, plus the few extra postals that will trickle in over the coming days. Realistically, any cut to Labor’s lead over the Greens here will number in the dozens rather than the hundreds. There are, however, potentially enough to erase a Liberal lead over the Labor that I reckon to be about 44 votes, though whether that happens is academic if Labor stays ahead of the Greens.

There was further good news for Labor today in Gilmore, where Labor’s Fiona Phillips has opened a 142 vote lead over Andrew Constance. This was mostly due to a remarkable 334-145 break in their favour on the first batch of absents, which obviously came for a strong area for them. Labor were further boosted by a 157-132 split on the latest batch of postals, 388-278 from the first declaration pre-polls and 95-63 from the provisionals, plus a net gain of 40 on rechecking of ordinary votes.

Labor’s position further improved in Lyons, where the second batch of absent votes broke 550-306 their way, putting their lead at 932 with no more than 2000 still to come. However, Deakin continues to slip away from Labor, with the latest postals breaking 1112-836 to the Liberals, more than compensating for advantages to Labor of 998-714 and 720-696 on the latest absents and pre-polls. This puts Liberal member Michael Sukkar 619 votes ahead with at most 2500 still to come.

There are now three seats with electronic-assisted COVID results in (Macnamara, Flinders and Graynder), and it seems they typically involve around 400 votes that are roughly 10% below par for the Liberals and 3% to 4% above it for Labor and the Greens. This suggests they will boost Labor by a few dozen votes when reported in Gilmore, Lyons and Deakin.

Sunday, May 29

With the Greens now effectively confirmed as the winners in Brisbane, Labor’s bid for the seventy-sixth seat needed for a majority hinges on three seats: Macnamara, which like Brisbane will be won by whichever out of Labor and the Greens survives to the final count against the Liberals; and the conventional contests of Gilmore and Deakin.

The Australian Electoral Commission’s efforts yesterday were devoted to preparing for a big push of counting in these three seats, meaning I have nothing to add to my updates from Saturday. In Macnamara especially, the result may well prove so close that it may not be definitively known until the final eligible postal votes have trickled in at the end of the week.

Note also the post directly below this one taking a deep and overdue look at the Senate result.

Projecting the Senate

A detailed projection of how things might play out when the button is eventually pressed on the Senate election counts.

After having nothing to say about the Senate count since election night, I now finally break the drought with the following analysis of results that will not be finalised for at least another three weeks. This is based on the current party vote shares from the count, which is lagging about 10% behind that for the House of Representatives, and preference flows from the 2019 election. The latter makes use of the ballot paper data files published by the Australian Electoral Commission, recording every voter’s full order of preference numbering.

The last seats are generally thought to be in doubt in three states: Victoria, which could provide either a third seat for Labor or the Coalition, or the only seat in the parliament for the United Australia Party; Queensland, where the last seat is down to Pauline Hanson or a third seat for the Coalition, the early excitement about Legalise Cannabis’s prospects having faded; and South Australia, which could provide a third seat to either Labor or Liberal or a seat for One Nation. My analysis leads me to conclude that the outcome of these races will be third seats for the Liberals in Victoria and South Australia, and Pauline Hanson will prevail in Queensland.

The full accounting of my projections can be found on this spreadsheet, with one sheet for each state. A bit of creative thinking will be required to ascertain exactly what I’m up to here: exclusions proceed horizontally across the top of the page, grouped together in four columns recording the flow of preferences based on 2019 (depending on the size of the state, I’ve sampled every tenth or fifth ballot paper or used the whole lot), followed by the size of the transfers and the projected totals from the relevant point in the count. Parties disappear beyond the point where they cross the threshold of a 14.3% quota. Only in the case of the Greens in South Australia did I think an elected candidate’s surplus big enough to warrant the trouble of transferring.

To summarise the situation in turn:

New South Wales

The Coalition and Labor win two seats each off the bat, with the Greens close enough that they get there with 41.4% of Animal Justice preferences, 29.3% from Legalise Cannabis and 36.2% from sundry left-wing minor parties. The third Coalition candidate, Jim Molan, starts the race for the final seat with 8.5% to One Nation’s 4.2%, which widens slightly by the end of the count to 12.9% to 8.4%.

Victoria

As it stands, my model has the Coalition and Labor with two seats each right off the bat and the Greens close enough to one that small left-wing party preferences are enough to get them over the line. The race for the final seat starts with the Coalition’s number three on 4.2%, the United Australia Party on 4.0% and Labor’s number three on 3.3%. The UAP drop out after everyone else is excluded, at which point the third Liberal, Greg Mirabella, is on 8.1%, Labor’s number three, Casey Nunn, is on 7.5% and the UAP are on 6.7%. The preferences of the latter and all who fed into them then get Mirabella ahead by 10.8% to 8.5%.

However, it might be argued that the increase of the UAP primary vote from 2.5% to 4.0% will be matched by an increase in preference flows, such that my method of projecting 2019 flows on to the result is short-changing them. For this reason, my final columns show “Scenario 1”, outlined above, and “Scenario 2” which puts the UAP ahead before the final count. This doesn’t look all that promising for the UAP either, showing Mirabella prevailing over the UAP candidate by 9.9% to 7.3%. However, this doesn’t completely resolve the issue, as here too flows to the UAP may be being underestimated.

Queensland

The Coalition wins two quotas off the bat and Labor one, with the Greens close enough that they get there round about the point where Clive Palmer and Campbell Newman are excluded. Next out are Legalise Cannabis, from whom Labor get enough preferences to push their second candidate, Anthony Chisholm, to a quota. This just leaves Pauline Hanson and the third Liberal National Party candidate, Amanda Stoker, in the race for the last seat, which Hanson wins by 12.1% to 10.8%.

Western Australia

As in Victoria, Liberal and Labor get two quotas off the bat and the Greens start close enough to get over the line on the preferences of minor candidates. One Nation are the last minor party standing when the count whittles it down to the third Labor and Liberal candidates, at which point I have them dropping out with 6.5% to the Liberals’ 7.4%. By that time though Labor is on 10.7%, which is too far ahead for the Liberals to close the gap with the One Nation’s exclusion, suggesting Labor’s Fatima Payman should become the first Senator ever elected from third on Labor’s Western Australian ticket at a six-seat election.

South Australia

Here too, Liberal and Labor both elect two Senators off the bat; the Greens do it a little less comfortably off an 11.9% primary vote, but 50.0% of Animal Justice and 40.3% of Legalise Cannabis preferences push them over the line. In the race for the final seat, One Nation drops out with 6.8% to the Liberals’ 9.0% and Labor’s 7.1%, after which the third Liberal, Kerrynne Liddle, makes it home by 10.9% to 9.0%.

Tasmania

The Liberals win two quotas off the bat and the Greens win one, while Labor falls slightly short of a second quota but get there soon enough as minor candidates are excluded. By that point the Jacqui Lambie Network has grown from a base of 8.4% to 10.8%, which shortly grows to a quota off One Nation and other preferences. The defeated third Liberal is Eric Abetz; I have heard nothing to suggest his below-the-line campaign will overturn the order of election from the Liberal ticket.

I am in no doubt that independent David Pocock will unseat Liberal Senator Zed Seselja in the Australian Capital Territory, or that the Northern Territory will deliver its usual result of one seat apiece. Assuming I’m right about everything else, Labor and the Greens will have half the numbers between them, and be able to pass contested legislation with the help of either Pocock or the two Jacqui Lambie Network Senators.

Late counting: rolling coverage

Progressively updated commentary on late counting of the results from the 2022 federal election.

Click here for full federal election results updated live.

Saturday, May 28

As I should have noted yesterday, the AEC has published all-important three-candidate preferred counts for Brisbane and Macnamara, where the results hinge on who will finish second and third out of the Labor and the Greens. With “88% of the total expected ballot papers” accounted for in Brisbane, the Greens lead Labor by 29.55% to 28.56% (with the LNP on 41.89%), which is sufficient for the ABC to have called the result.

Macnamara on the other hand is exquisitely close three ways, with the Liberal candidate on 33.56%, Labor member Josh Burns on 33.50% and Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May on 32.93%. This suggests 46.9% of minor candidate preferences are going to Liberal, 35.9% are going to the Greens and only 17.2% are going to Labor. For the Greens to win, two things need to happen after the remaining 6500 or so outstanding votes are counted: they need to close their 495 vote deficit against Labor, and the Liberals need to not fall to third.

The first of these seems entirely possible. If the outstanding batches behave like those already counted, they should make up around 200 out of 3300 pre-polls and 100 out of 1100 declaration pre-polls. If the 300 or so provisionals behave like they did in 2019, they should make up a further 40 or so. Then there’s the COVID votes, of which there are about 1000, and which are apparently also expected to favour the Greens. Postals are diminishing in number, but each batch continues to be better for the Greens than the last, to the extent that today’s was the first on which they gained on Labor.

As for the Liberals, the 3CP count has them 545 ahead of the Greens and 50 ahead of Labor. There seems no particular reason to think they will either gain or lose in large degree relative to Labor out of any of the remaining vote types, so everything that was just said about the Greens relative to Labor applies to the Greens relative to Liberal as well. The question is whether the chips just happen to fall in such a way that Labor gains 50 votes or so at their expense. I am flying blind here with respect to the COVID votes, and also with how many postals can be expected – postals can arrive until Friday, and I can’t really tell you how many tend to trickle in in the second week.

All of this amounts to bad news for Labor in its quest for 76 seats, with Brisbane now out of the picture and the odds most likely leaning against them in Macnamara, which I for one thought they had in the bag earlier in the week, and which my results system is continuing to call as Labor retain due to its inability to think in three-party terms. The likely retention of Lyons only gets them to 75: they now need a late break in their favour in Gilmore or, less likely, Deakin. A great deal hinges on the absents, declaration pre-polls and COVID votes in these seats, on which we remain none the wiser, with no progress in either count today.

Friday, May 27

My results system is now registering Ryan as a Greens gain from the LNP, as the fresh two-candidate count finally advances enough to tip the probability dial over 99%. Similarly, Wannon has been restored to the Liberals after further booths were added in the Liberal-versus-independent count that was begun yesterday, and Nicholls is now being called for the Nationals as Rob Priestly’s independent bid falls short.

Labor aren’t dead yet in Deakin, where rechecking today gained them 138 on postals and 37 on ordinary votes, while costing the Liberals 169 and 30. However, there was little in it in today’s batches of absents, which broke 236-232 to Labor, and declaration pre-polls, which broke 463-462 to Liberal. Labor will perhaps need about 55% of what’s outstanding to reel in a Liberal lead that today shrank from 1032 to 655.

The contention related yesterday by Antony Green that late counting would favour the Greens in Macnamara was borne out in that the latest batch of 1951 postals were much stronger for them than earlier batches and they also performed well on the first 965 declaration pre-polls, particularly relative to Labor. Their situation will apparently continue to improve from here, but the secret of the final result remains hidden in the preference flows, on which I can offer no hard information.

It seems rechecking of ordinary and postal votes turned up 157 extra ordinary votes for the Liberals in Lyons, but little else. The first absents from the seat broke 696-621 to Labor. That leaves Labor’s lead at 678, down from 784 yesterday. For the second day in a row, the only progress in Gilmore was rechecking, which cost the Liberals 41 votes and Labor five. Counting will continue over the weekend.

Thursday, May 26

The ABC is calling Lyons for Labor after the correction of errors gave Labor a 582-vote fillip on ordinary votes. My system isn’t quite there yet though, in part because each batch of postals so far has been better for the Liberals than the last, the latest breaking 1508 (56.1%) to 1178 (43.9%). However, it may also be because the ABC has formed a more considered view than I have as to how many outstanding votes remain.

I have been assuming for some time that Labor will win Macnamara, which together with Lyons would put Labor over the line to 76 seats and a majority. However, Antony Green has dropped by in comments with an account of his own decision to hold off on such a call, informed by Labor member Josh Burns’ own lack of confidence. Specifically, both Labor and the Greens believe the Greens will enjoy a surge when absents and “an estimated 1000 COVID votes” are added to the count. On top of anything else, this is the first intelligence I have received as to how many COVID votes might be expected, here or anywhere else.

The very first absent and declaration pre-polls were added to the count today, mostly in Deakin, which respectively got 455 and 449 (there were also 787 absent votes added in Lingiari). The absents in Deakin broke 251-204 to Labor, but the pre-polls went 249-200 against. However, there was a turn in Labor’s favour on postals, which broke only 1493 (51.1%) to 1427 (48.9%) in the Liberals’ favour, compared with 58.8% to 41.2% on the previous batches. With the Liberal lead at 1032, Labor will need everything to go right on the remaining postals (perhaps about 3000), outstanding absents and declaration pre-polls (seemingly around 3500 apiece), COVID votes (around 1000, I guess) and provisional votes (a couple of hundred).

I’m not sure of the details, but rechecking of ordinary votes in Gilmore today was to the advantage of Andrew Constance, who gained 25 while Labor lost 149. No new postal votes were added to the count. Another 4095 postals in Brisbane didn’t fundamentally change the situation described here yesterday, with Labor continuing to hold a 0.7% lead over the Greens on the primary vote that I don’t think will be quite enough for them when preferences are distributed. Liberal member Celia Hammond conceded defeat to independent Kate Chaney in Curtin, perhaps because the latest batch of postals sharplhy reversed earlier form in breaking 1955 (52.3%) to 1780 (47.7%) to Chaney.

My system has withdrawn Wannon as a confirmed Liberal retain, not because such a result has become objectively less likely, but because the AEC has concluded Labor will run third and begun a fresh two-candidate count between Liberal member Daniel Tehan and independent Alex Dyson. This has so far accounted for only about 10% of the vote, and is presently giving Tehan a fairly modest lead of 52.2-47.8. Based on the relationship at polling booth level between the Liberal primary vote and the share of preferences, I am expecting this to inflate quite substantially and do not believe Tehan is in trouble.

Wednesday, May 25

My results system today called Dickson for the Coalition, bringing them to 51 seats, to which I think it more than likely that Casey, Menzies, Cowper, Nicholls and Moore will shortly be added. Labor remains on 74, and I don’t think there is any real doubt they will further gain Bennelong. Batches of postal votes are being added to the count in diminish number, but we still haven’t seen any absents or declaration pre-polls, which we can at least make broad guesses about based on past performance, or the COVID-19 electronic assisted voting results, which are anyone’s guess.

Here’s the latest from the seats that may add further to the Labor count, any one of which will get them to a majority:

Brisbane. The result remains at the mercy of unavailable information on how minor candidate preferences are flowing between the Greens, Labor and the LNP. A source familiar with the matter has passed on an informal tally based on observation of pre-poll and postal vote counting that suggests around 50% of preferences are flowing to the LNP, 32% to the Greens and 17% to Labor. If this is accurate, Labor will need a primary vote lead of about 1% when all the votes are in to remain ahead of the Greens during the preference distribution. Currently the gap is 0.7%, having increased today from 34 votes to 528 following a batch of postal votes that was actually weaker for Labor than the previous. However, that’s likely to be sent down rather than up by absent votes, on which Greens do well. So it would appear the Greens remain favourites.

Gilmore. Labor had a better batch of postals today, which only favoured the Liberals by 754 (51.3%) to 715 (48.7%) compared with 5895 (54.5%) to 4913 (45.5%) from the previous batches. With further unfavourable adjustments from ordinary vote rechecking, that increased Andrew Constance’s lead only from 104 to 112, with postals now set to slow to a trickle. This isn’t quite the lead Andrew Constance would have wanted ahead of what’s likely to be a Labor gain when absents are added.

Lyons. There seems to be an improving trend here for the Liberals on postals, the latest batch of which broke 1103 (55.6%) to 882 (44.4%) their way compared with 2966 (50.9%) to 2857 (49.1%) against them previously. If the remaining postals break the same as this latest batch, there’s going to be next to nothing in it.

Further:

Curtin. Liberal member Celia Hammond has brought Kate Chaney’s lead on the raw count inside 1%, but today’s postals were actually a bit weaker for her than previous batches, favouring her by 1075 (55.3%) to 868 (44.7%) compared with 6729 (59.4%) to 4605 (40.6%) previously. They were also notable fewer than number, and have still left her 1640 behind. As noted here yesterday, the 2019 result suggests absents are unlikely to favour her. The dynamic may be a little different this time given the redistribution has pushed the boundary substantially northwards, and many absent votes are cast just outside an electorate’s boundaries, though I can’t specifically think why this would make them a whole lot more favourable to the Liberals.

Federal election live: day five

The three seats that might potentially get Labor over the line to a majority remain up in the air, as more distant prospects for them fade further from view.

Click here for full federal election results updated live.

My system today called Bass and Wannon for the Liberals and Wentworth for Allegra Spender, the latter being the first gain called for the teal independents, although I don’t doubt there will be four and probably five to follow. Postals continue to be added in large numbers, although they will start to diminish henceforth. As noted below, one of the biggest developments today arose from rechecking. Tomorrow we are apparently see numbers from electronic-assisted telephone voting added, which is exciting because I have absolutely no idea about their partisan tendency and how many there will be.

The latest from the three seats that could potentially push Labor over the line to a majority:

Brisbane. Kevin Bonham’s post-count post suggests the AEC is conducting an unusual indicative three-candidate preferred count to determine which out of Labor and the Greens will drop out and deliver the seat to the other. However, I’ve heard no official word on this. Based on the preference distribution in 2019, my earlier assessment was that Labor would need a buffer on the primary vote to hold out against preferences to the Greens from Animal Justice, and even to some extent from the right-wing parties, more of whose preferences went to the Greens than Labor (though a great deal more again went to the LNP). However, as with one or two of my other early assessments, this may have failed to fully account for the substantial increase in postal votes this time, which are being true to form in being weak for the Greens. Labor now leads the Greens on the primary vote, but it will need to further boost the margin if my surmise about preference flows is borne out.

Gilmore. Labor had a very handy boost of 382 votes in rechecking that was mostly down to the Gerringong booth, where the two-candidate figures had been entered the wrong way around. This apparently put Labor in the lead briefly on the raw count, but the Liberals recovered it when a small batch of postals favoured them 701-521, with Andrew Constance currently 104 votes ahead. Postals will no doubt continue to favour Constance, but the bulk of them are now out of the way. Still to come are declaration pre-polls, which should break about evenly; absents, which should boost Labor by maybe 300; provisionals, which should add a couple of dozen for Labor; and electronic-assisted votes, which I continue to have no idea about.

Lyons. This is the first result I’ve looked at where the second batch of postals was observably different from the first, going 1024-910 to Liberal compared with 2966-2857 to Labor. If the outstanding postals break like the latest batch, Labor’s current lead of 703 votes will be cut in half. That makes it very close, but there is no specific reason to expect the other outstanding votes will move the dial in either direction.

Elsewhere, Labor continues to be buried on postals in Deakin, the latest batch breaking 3715-2584 to the Liberals. Yesterday I asserted that outstanding postals should add around 1000 to Michael Sukkar’s lead, but this batch alone adds to 1131. From here Labor will need stronger than anticipated absents and/or declaration pre-polls, and/or for the enigma of electronic assisted voting. I would personally call Menzies for the Liberals now even though my system doesn’t yet have it past the 99% threshold, yesterday’s postals having broken 3715-2584 in their favour.

After a quiet day in Curtin on Monday, a second batch of postals were added that favoured Liberal member Celia Hammond 4464-2950, a similar proportion to the first batch. This suggests the outstanding postals will bite a further 1000 or so out of independent Kate Chaney’s 1842 vote lead. However, the Liberals were relatively weak on absent votes in the seat in 2019, and there’s little reason to think out-of-division pre-polls will be particularly favourable to them.

Federal election live: day four

What now seems a certain Labor win in Bennelong leaves them one short of a majority, with a further three in-doubt seats as candidates to get them over the line.

Click here for full federal election results updated live.

The count failed to progress yesterday in many of the seats I rate as in doubt, but my system yesterday called Lingiari for Labor and Bradfield for the Liberals. It is clear Bennelong won’t be far off, with the second batch of postals reducing the Labor lead at the same insufficient rate as the first. That will leave Labor needing one further seat to get a majority, which might (or might not) be provided by Lyons, Brisbane and Gilmore, on which we are today none the wise.

The fresh two-candidate count in Cowper has dispelled any doubt that Nationals member Pat Conaghan will hold out against independent Caz Heise, whom he leads with 53.2% of the two-candidate vote. I’m projecting that come down to around 52-48 when the two-candidate count has caught up with the primary votes. The fresh count in Ryan records a slight lead for the LNP with about 12% completed, but this is because the booths counted so far lean conservative. My projection of a 2.6% winning margin for the Greens is based on the fact that preferences in the booths added so far are breaking nearly 70-30 in their favour. It is by the same logic that an 11.2% Greens margin over the LNP is projected in Griffith.

New batches of postal votes further shortened the odds on Liberal wins in Deakin, where Michael Sukkar has opened a 55-vote lead; Menzies, where the Liberal lead increased from 624 to 1748; and Sturt, where it increased from 723 to 982. My projection that Labor will ultimately win a squeaker in Deakin fails to properly account for the clear trend on postals, about 40% of which are still to come. That should add around 1000 votes to Sukkar’s margin, only about half of which Labor is likely to recover on absents. I should acknowledge though that I have no idea what the electronic assisted voting results have in store, which will include those in COVID-19 isolation, but my best guess is that they will be few in number.

Federal election live: day three

Ongoing coverage of Labor’s search for a path to 76 seats, which it may or may not reach.

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There were two developments in counting yesterday, one of which was that batches of postal votes were counted in every seat. Taken in aggregate they recorded a bigger swing to Labor than booth and pre-poll votes, consistent with the notion that the 70% increase in applications would make the postal voter population more representative and less conservative than in past years. However, this doesn’t mean Labor can expect a surge in its favour in late counting, since the swing is not so big as to completely eradicate postal voting’s conservative lean and they are in greater in overall number now.

The other development was that fresh two-candidate preferred counts were commenced in three interesting (Griffith, Ryan and Cowper) and seven uninteresting (Bradfield, Calare, Sydney, Hinkler, Maranoa, Melbourne and Grey) races. None of these counts is very far advanced, and for several it was just a case of throwing to new pairs of candidates during today’s counting of postal votes. However, we can presumably expect them to go back through the ordinary votes and publish fresh two-candidate preferred results in fairly short order.

There are another four seats where it is clear the wrong two candidates were picked for the candidate on the night, but in which new counts have not been commenced since it is not clear which candidate will drop out before the final count, of which I rate one to be very much in doubt (Brisbane) and three not so (Richmond, Macnamara and Wannon). We won’t know exactly what’s happened in these races until all the votes are in and the full distributions of preferences are conducted.

My system is definitively calling 72 seats for Labor, 47 for the Coalition, three for independents, two for the Greens and one for Bob Katter, but there are a number involving independents that it is being too slow to give away, which I should probably do something about. These include Mackellar, North Sydney, Wentworth, Goldstein and Kooyong, where the Liberals can hope for no more from postals than to reduce the teal independents’ winning margins, and Fowler, where Kristina Keneally seemingly can’t even hope for that much. Conversely, the presence of independents in the race is making the system too slow to call Bradfield, Nicholls and Wannon for the Coalition.

The only one of the six main teal independent targets I would still rate in doubt is Curtin, and even there Liberal member Celia Hammond will need to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Postals are favouring her, as they are with the Liberals in all such contests, but they are on track to bite only around 2000 out of Chaney’s existing 3350 vote margin. That would leave her needing some dynamic on absent and out-of-division pre-polls to favour her, the nature of which wouldn’t seem clear at this stage.

Then there’s Cowper, where my system is crediting Nationals incumbent Pat Conaghan with a slight advantage over independent Caz Heise. We’re in the very early stages of a two-candidate count between the two in which the only substantial result is the postals, on which preferences are flowing to Heise 67.3-32.7. Applying that split over the projected primary votes, which have Conaghan on 39.6% and Heise on 26.7%, Conaghan would hold on by a margin of 0.6%, which is closer than the 2.0% being produced by the crude estimate of preference slows in my system.

The system is also being slow to call Ryan for the Greens, but I expect that to resolve when the fresh two-candidate count there reaches a sufficient stage that I stop relying on my preference estimates, which cause me to impose a bigger margin of error. There has been some talk of the Greens making it as high as five, but this includes Macnamara which I now can’t see happening. Labor had a very strong result on the first batch of postals, which swung 9.0% in their favour on the primary vote, making it very unlikely they will drop out ahead of both the Greens and the Liberals, which is what it would take for them to lose. The remaining issue is whether Brisbane gets them to four, on which more below.

I don’t imagine my system is too far off calling Lingiari for Labor and Casey, Dickson and Bass for the Coalition, though I’d keep at least half an eye on the latter. Throwing those on the pile, we get Labor to 74, the Coalition to 54, independents to ten and the Greens to three, with Bob Katter still on one, Cowper to either stay Coalition or go independent, and a further eight outstanding from which Labor might get the two extra they need to make it to 76. As I see it, these are, in roughly descending order of likelihood:

Bennelong. Yesterday’s 5760 postals broke 3131-2629 to Liberal, but this marked a 12.2% swing to Labor compared with 2019 and suggested postals will not give Liberal candidate Simon Kennedy the lift he needs to close what remains a 1749 vote Labor lead. Whatever they Liberals gain on remaining postals seems likely to be approximately matched by advantages to Labor on other types of outstanding vote.

Lyons. Labor’s Brian Mitchell had a very encouraging first batch of postal votes here, breaking 2056-1833 his way. Mitchell leads by 0.6% on the raw count, but I’m projecting this to come out at just 0.1% based on an assumption that the outstanding postals will lean conservative, as they did last time. If further batches of postals put paid to that idea, he can start to breathe easier.

Brisbane. As I noted in yesterday’s post, what we need here not a two but a three-candidate preferred count to establish who will out first out of the Greens and Labor, as the seat will go to whichever survives at this point. While I am projecting the Greens to hold a slight lead on the primary vote, and they should get a fillip in the preference count when Animal Justice are distributed, the postals give Labor more than a shred of hope. Postals are always weak for the Greens, but the first batch has only recorded a 1.3% primary vote swing for them compared with 5.6% overall. If that’s maintained over the rest of the postals, it’s likely to be very close. So unless the AEC does something innovative here, this will have to wait until all the votes are in and the full distribution of preferences is completed.

Gilmore. A similar story to Bennelong insofar as a weaker than anticipated showing for the Liberals on the first batch of postals suggests the final result will come in roughly where it is at the moment. That means lineball in this case, with Liberal member Andrew Constance leading by 306 votes.

Deakin. Here on the other hand postals were favourable to the Liberals, swinging 3.7% to Labor compared with 5.0% overall. While my projection still has Labor 0.5% ahead, if the postal count so far continues over what should be at least 12,000 more yet to come, Michael Sukkar will retain the seat.

Menzies. The postals swung similarly to the overall result here, which is good news for the Liberals because the increased number of them means their natural lean to the Liberals should cause the gap to widen as more can come in, by a greater amount than Labor can hope to reel in on other types of vote.

Sturt. The swing on postals here was in line with the overall result, so I’m satisfied with my projection of a 0.5% Liberal lead, which happens to be very close to the raw count. However, there are enough votes still out there that it can’t be given away yet.

Moore. Labor recorded a below par swing on the first batch of postals, suggesting Liberal member Ian Goodenough’s 1138-vote lead is more likely to widen than shrink, and that Labor will have to make do with four gains in Western Australia rather than five.