Rich Liberal, poor Liberal

A beginner’s guide to debate on the conservative side of politics about how the Liberal Party should react to its election defeat, and in particular the loss of its traditional strongholds to the teal independents.

In the wake of the Morrison government’s defeat, a culture war has broken out within the Liberal Party between those who consider recovering the teal independent seats a necessary precondition for a return to power and those who believe they should be abandoned to the political left so the party might pursue different constituencies in seats that have been swinging away from Labor, notably Hunter, Werriwa, McEwen and Gorton. Support for the latter notion has been provided by former Morrison government adviser Mark Briers, who says the party “must move our party’s focus, talent and resources away from Camberwell and Malvern towards Craigieburn and Melton”, and right-wing Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith, who says his party should “stop obsessing with the woke concerns and obsessions with the inner-urban elites”, and “take the focus off Kew” – his own seat, until November at least – “and focus on Cranbourne”.

Repudiating his soon-to-be-former colleague, former Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien told The Australian there was “no path to 45 seats” at the November state election “that doesn’t run through Malvern, Kew and Hawthorn”, the latter of which was unexpectedly lost to Labor in 2018. Similarly, federal MP Paul Fletcher – who has an interest in the matter as member for the Sydney seat of Bradfield, one of only two out of the ten wealthiest electorates that remain with the Liberal Party – wrote in The Australian on Saturday that he has not heard notions to the contrary “seriously advanced by fellow Liberals”, by which I think he means he has not heard it advanced by serious fellow Liberals. However, his prescriptions for accomplishing took pains to avoid seriously criticising his own party and offered no suggestion of any policy reorientation.

Scott Morrison, who clearly isn’t kept awake at night by jibes about him being “from marketing”, proposes a middle course, seemingly based on the notion that brand damage from the Nationals had a lot to do with his government’s defeat. As reported by Sharri Markson of The Australian, Morrison proposes the solution of a re-forged coalition in which a Queensland-style Liberal National Party serves as the main brand, allied to a distinct “new progressive Liberal movement” to run in the kinds of seats lost to the teal independents.

The loss of those seats has prompted much talk about the demise of the socio-economic cleavage that has historically defined the Australian party system, including a claim in a Financial Review headline that “for the first time Labor voters earn more than Coalition voters” – later amended to “Labor electorates earn more than Coalition seats” after it was pointed out that the initial claim was wrong. The issue with such analyses is known as the ecological fallacy, whereby inferences about individual behaviour are drawn from aggregate-level data — in this case the notion that because the electorates held by the Coalition have declined in income, it follows that their support base has as well.

YouGov data scientist Shaun Ratcliff addressed this issue by drawing on the surveying for the pollster’s multi-level regression and post-stratification poll, which reached 18,923 respondents three to five weeks out from election day. Ratcliff found that while the traditional income cleavage was reduced at this election, it certainly did not disappear. Among home-owners on $150,000 a year or more, 44% voted Coalition, 31% Labor and 10% Greens; among those on $50,000 a year or less who did not own homes, 40% voted Labor, 27% Greens and just 16% voted Coalition. While the effect was somewhat weaker among those under 35, Ratcliff provides a series of charts illustrating the clear tendency of wealthier voters to favour the Coalition over Labor and “others” (Greens support did not appear contingent on income).

This was also true within the teal independent seats, with Kooyong and Goldstein in particular having experienced an influx of apartment-dwelling “young middle-income professionals”, as noted by Remy Vega in The Australian. Data from the YouGov poll suggests the Liberal vote in the twenty seats targeted by Climate 200 was around seven points lower among those on $50,000 or less than among those on higher incomes. More broadly, Ratcliff notes that “renters also swung away from the Liberal and National Party more than homeowners and the young more than the old”.

Late counting: week four

Still more on the progress of late counting, most of it relating to whether the last Senate seat in Victoria will go to Liberal incumbent Greg Mirabella or the United Australia Party.

Click here for full federal election results updated live.

There are only a few driblets of votes still being added to the count, but you can follow what remains of it at the link above. One fact worth noting is that a Twitter user has observed what appears to be an anomaly that has inflated the Liberals’ share of the two-candidate preferred vote at the Beaumont booth in Sturt, the correction of which should knock a few hundred votes from their winning margin.

It appears the final turnout rate will max out at 90% or a touch below, compared with 91.89% in 2019. This is actually a function of a higher enrolment rate, largely due to the Australian Electoral Commission’s direct enrolment program. The electoral roll grew by 4.9% between the two elections, where by reckoning the total population grew by around 1.8%. The total number of votes cast, with a handful still to be added, increased by 2.3%.

Now to the genuinely remaining seats in doubt, which are in the Senate. The assessment I posted just under a fortnight still holds, with the remaining points of doubt being who wins the last seat in Victoria out of the incumbent third Liberal, Greg Mirabella, and Ralph Babet of the United Australia Party, and who wins in Queensland out of Pauline Hanson and the incumbent third LNP Senator, Amanda Stoker. This assessment derives from a model that assumed preferences would flow as they did in 2019, based on the Senate ballot paper data from that election, that can be seen in fully updated form here.

Antony Green has now done the same thing with respect to the Victorian count, having calculated how preferences flowed between the Liberals, Labor, the Greens and the UAP. On this basis, he allows that it “can’t be ruled out” that Greens preferences will push Labor’s third candidate, Casey Nunn, ahead of Ralph Babet, resulting in the exclusion of Babet and the election of Mirabella ahead of Nunn at the final count. However, my more elaborate model projects that this will happen, putting Nunn ahead by 7.4% to 6.6% and very nearly overtaking Mirabella on 7.5%. Mirabella would then win the last seat pretty comfortably, since he would benefit from a largely right-wing preference pool upon the exclusion of the UAP.

This is based on how preferences flowed to Liberal, Labor and the UAP in 2019 without the Greens in the equation, something Antony says he hopes to get around to calculating in his post, though it seems he is yet to do so. He ultimately concludes, as I have, that while Mirabella would win if preferences flowed as they did last time, there are reasons to think they will now flow more strongly to the UAP. One is the increase in the party’s primary vote, from 2.48% to 3.96%, which will more than likely be reflected in a better performance on preferences. He also proposes that preferences from the Liberal Democrats, who have polled 2.35%, might not be as favourable to the Liberals this time because of “lockdowns and changes in party registration rules”.

If the UAP indeed gains enough on preferences to make the final count, my projection raises at least a possibility that it could do so by overtaking not Labor but Liberal (whose total vote share has fallen from 33.1% to 32.5% since I last updated the model), or maybe even both. However, this does not entail a path to victory for Casey Nunn – Mirabella would win in any scenario where he made it to the final count, while Ralph Babet would win if Mirabella dropped out. I continue to regard a win for Mirabella as very likely, but upper house preference distributions have been known to surprise.

Other developments of recent counting including a narrowing in the projected winning margin of third Labor candidate Fatima Payman in Western Australia over incumbent third Liberal Ben Small, which has gone from 12.0% to 10.1% to 11.5% to 10.1% – probably not enough for Small to get a look in, but you never know. In Queensland, my projected gap between Pauline Hanson and Amanda Stoker in the race for the final seat in Queensland has widened – 11.9% to 11.1% before, 12.1% to 10.9% now.

SEC Newgate post-election poll (open thread)

A post-election survey finds Labor recovered support among middle-aged men, while women drove the surge to the Greens and independents.

The local branch of international communications firm SEC Newgate has published a post-election survey as part of a regular monthly series that had hitherto escaped my notice. Among its findings are that 28% of Labor voters at the election had voted for a different party or candidate in 2019, and that the party had “regained some traction with its traditional base”, particularly among middle-aged men. Conversely, the flight to the Greens and independents was driven overwhelmingly by women.

The survey also found 54% felt Australia was headed in the right direction post-election, up from 47% in April, and 52% felt the success of independents was good for Australia. Labor was considered the best party to handle housing by 42% to 25%, although its policy for partial government investment in private homes had only 38% support. The Coalition’s policy to allow first home buyers to draw on their superannuation was supported and opposed by 40% apiece, but its “downsizer” reforms were supported by 52% and opposed by 18%. Fifty-nine per cent supported an indigenous voice to parliament, with only 16% opposed. The survey was conducted May 23 to 27 from a sample of 1403.

Note also the post below dealing with the election result in the two Northern Territory seats, in what will be the first of a number of “call of the board” posts. It also marks a new leaf I’m at least planning on turning over in which I will increase the frequency of specialised posts with on-topic discussion threads, distinct from the usual poll-driven open threads like this one. We’ll see if I’m actually able to devote enough energy to the blog to make this viable long term. In any case, the open thread posts will henceforth be designated as such in their titles, as per the above.

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%.


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.


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%.


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.


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.