By-elections three

A quick run through the three state by-elections shortly to be held in Liberal and Nationals seats in Labor-run states.

There are now three state by-elections on the way, one imminent, another three weeks away, and a third on a date yet to be determined. I have election guides for the first two of these, linked two below. In turn:

Callide. A by-election will be held for this rural seat in Queensland on Saturday to replace Liberal National Party member Colin Boyce, who has now gone federal as the member for the corresponding seat of Flynn. Labor has not gone the usual path of forfeiting a seat in which it has never been competitive, at least notionally setting up a contest between LNP candidate Bryson Head and Labor’s Bronwyn Dendle. However, there seems at least as much chance that final count will be between the LNP and One Nation, whose candidate Sharon Lohse achieved as much when she ran in 2017. Lohse was also the party’s candidate in Flynn at the recent federal election. For whatever reason, the party sat it out in the seat at the 2020 state election. Also in the field are Legalise Cannabis, Katter’s Australian Party and Animal Justice – but not the Greens, who tend not to trouble the scoreboard much in this part of the world.

Bragg. This blue-ribbon Adelaide seat goes to the polls on July 2 to choose a successor to former Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman, who displeased her party by pulling the plug on her political career shortly after the March election defeat. Here too Labor is gamely taking the field in a seat it has never held, but given the Liberals’ form in comparable seats at the federal election and its all-time low margin of 8.2% after the state election, it’s easier here to see why they might think it worth a roll of the dice. The Liberals could have had particular trouble if disgruntled political staffer Chelsey Potter had followed through on her threat to don the teal independent mantle, but it seems she was persuaded not to. The by-election thus pits Liberal candidate Jack Batty, who until recently worked at the High Commission in London, against Labor’s Alice Rolls, head of policy and strategy at the Australian Pro Bono Centre. The Greens and Family First have also announced candidates; nominations close on Friday.

North West Central. One of only six seats out of the 59 in Western Australia’s lower house not held by Labor, North West Central is shortly to be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Vince Catania. Catania began his political career with Labor as a member of the Legislative Council in 2005, transferred to the Legislative Assembly in 2008, defected to the Nationals the following year and comfortably retained it through to 2021, when he held out by 1.7% against a swing of 8.4%, one of the lowest in the state. Although anything would seem possible given the loss of Catania’s personal vote, which is of particular significance in a seat where only 8000 voters were cast at the last election, the consensus seems to be that Labor will not field a candidate as it fears a backlash over its one-vote one-value reform to the Legislative Council, expects the seat to be abolished at the next redistribution and already has more MPs than it knows what to do with. The seat could potentially develop into a contest between the Nationals and the Liberals, but the odds on the latter would presumably be rather long.

Honeymoon polling and state by-election news

The first embers of polling since the election record strong support for the new Prime Minister and his agenda.

US pollster Morning Consult, which conducts monthly international polling on world leaders’ domestic personal ratings, has found Anthony Albanese with an approval rating of 51% and a disapproval rating of 25%. Its final result for Scott Morrison was 40% approval and 54% disapproval. The poll was conducted May 23 to 31 from a sample of 3770.

Essential Research published its usual fortnightly poll this week, which had nothing to offer on voting intention or leadership ratings, although it did find that 23% rated themselves more likely to vote Coalition with Peter Dutton as leader compared with 27% less likely. Questions on attitudes to Labor policies found 70% support for increasing the minimum wage and 69% support for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption, with only 9% opposed in each case. Fifty-two per cent felt Labor should “look for opportunities to rebuild relations” with China, with only 19% favouring a more confrontational position and 12% favouring the current set of policies. Support for the Uluru statement was found to have increased significantly since November 2017, with 53% supporting an indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution.

Some notable state news that got lost in the federal election rush:

• A by-election will be held on June 18 for the Queensland state seat of Callide after its Liberal National Party member, Colin Boyce, moved to federal politics as the Nationals member for Flynn. This is a very safe rural conservative seat, but Labor has nonetheless endorsed Bronwyn Dendle to run against Bryson Head of the LNP, a 26-year-old mining industry geologist. Also in the field are candidates of One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party, Legalise Cannabis and Animal Justice.

• The by-election to replace Vickie Chapman in the safe Liberal seat of Bragg in South Australia has been set for July 2. The ABC reports four nominees for the Liberal preselection: Jack Batty, adviser to the Australian High Commissioner in London; Sandy Biar, national director of the Australian Republic Movement and public affairs officer with the army; and Melissa Jones, a law firm director; and Cara Miller, former co-owner of a radiology business.

• Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff has announced he will introduce legislation this year to increase the size of the state’s House of Assembly from 25 seats to 35, reversing a change made in 1998. The move has the support of the Liberals, Labor and the Greens.

Federal election minus 30 days

An audience of undecided voters offers a fairly even verdict following last night’s leaders debate, plus sundry other pieces of polling news and campaign detritus.

Polling and other horse race news:

• The 100 undecided voters selected to attend last night’s Sky News People’s forum included 40 who rated Anthony Albanese the winner compared with 35 for Scott Morrison, leaving 25 undecided.

• A uComms poll conducted for independent Kooyong candidate Monique Ryan credits her with a credulity-straining 59-41 lead over Liberal incumbent Josh Frydenberg. A report in the Herald-Sun relates that primary votes of 35.5% for Frydenberg, 31.8% for Ryan, 12.8% for Labor and 11.7% for the Greens, but there would also have been an undcided component. The poll was conducted last Tuesday from a sample of 847. Conversely, Greg Brown of The Australian reports the Liberals concede a more modest drop in Frydenberg’s primary vote from 47% to 44% over the past three months.

The Guardian reports a Community Engagement poll for Climate 200 in North Sydney found independent Kylea Tink, whose campaign Climate 200 is supporting, with 19.4% of the primary vote to Liberal member Trent Zimmerman’s 37.1%, with Labor on 17.3%, the Greens on 8.7%, the United Australia Party on 5.6% and others on 3.8%, with 8.2% undecided. Respondents were more likely to rank climate change and environment as their most important issue than the economy, at 27.2% and 19.7%, with trust in politics not far behind at 16.2%. The poll was conducted by phone on April 11 and 12 from a sample of 1114.

• The Age/Herald has further results on issue salience from its Resolve Strategic poll, showing cost of living the most salient issue for those under 55 and health and aged care leading for those older.

• I had a piece in Crikey yesterday on the recent history of the gender gap as recorded by opinion polls, and the threat posed to the government by the loss of support by women. Right on cue, Peter Lewis of Essential Research writes in The Guardian today that Scott Morrison’s “low standing with female voters … could well determine the outcome of this election”. It is noted that the gender breakdowns from Essential’s current poll have Morrison at 50% approval and 44% disapproval among men, but 39% approval and 51% disapproval among women. There is also a ten-point gap in its latest numbers for the Coalition primary vote.

Michelle Grattan in The Conversation relates detail on focus group research conducted in Wentworth by Landscape Research, which finds participants tended to rate the government highly on management of the economy and the pandemic, but took a dim view of Scott Morrison and favoured a leadership change to Josh Frydenberg.

Nice-looking things on other websites:

• The University of Queensland offers an attractive Election Ad Data Dashboard that tracks the various parties’ spending on advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Through this medium at least, Labor has thus far led the field with 44.5% of spending since the start of the campaign compared with 26.5% for the Coalition, 12% for the United Australia Party and 10.2% for independents, the latter being concentrated in Kooyong, North Sydney, Wentworth and Mackellar. The $15,000 spend on Josh Frydenberg’s campaign in Kooyong is around triple that of any other Liberal seat. The Financial Review quotes Glenn Kefford of the UQ political science department saying Labor’s 2019 election post-morten was “damning of the digital operation and made it clear that they needed to win the share of voice online if they were going to be successful”.

• Simon Jackman of the University of Sydney is tracking the betting markets in great detail, and translating the odds into “implied probabilities of winning” that currently have it at around 55-45 in favour of Labor. Alternatively, the poll-based Buckley’s & None forecast model rates Labor a 67.2% change for a majority with the Coalition at only 11.1%.

• In a piece for The Conversation, Poll Bludger contributor Adrian Beaumont offers a colour-coded interactive map showing where he considers the swing most likely to be on, based on various demographic considerations.

• A report in The Guardian identifying electorates targeted with the most in “election campaign promises and discretionary grants” since the start of the year had Bass leading the field, with the marginal Labor-held New South Wales seats of Gilmore, Dobell and Hunter high on the list, alongside the seemingly safe Liberal seats of Canning, Durack and Forrest in Western Australia.

Everything else:

• The Liberal candidate for Warringah, Katherine Deves, is standing firm against calls for her to withdraw after her social media accounts turned up considerably more radical commentary on transgender issues than suggested by the initial promotion of her as a campaigner for strict definitions of sex in women’s sport. In this she has the support of Scott Morrison, who decried “those who are seeking to cancel Katherine simply because she has a different view to them on the issue of women and girls in sport” (though Samantha Maiden of News Corp notes she has gone rather quiet of her own accord), together with many of the party’s conservatives. Those who have called for her to withdraw include North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman, New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean and state North Shore MP Felicity Wilson. A Liberal source quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald dismissed the notion the party had been unaware of her record when it fast-tracked her for preselection last month with the support of Scott Morrison. Barring action by noon today, Deves will appear as the Liberal candidate on the ballot paper.

• An increasingly assertive Australian Electoral Commission has expressed concern about the parties’ practice of sending out postal vote applications and advised voters against making use of them, and establishing a disinformation register responding to conspiracy theories about voter fraud, a number of which are being peddled by One Nation and the United Australia Party.

• Perth’s centrality to Labor’s election hopes has been emphasised by Anthony Albanese’s announcement that the party’s national campaign launch will be held in the city on Sunday, May 1.

Also:

• David Speirs, factionally unaligned Environment Minister in the Marshall government, is the new South Australian Opposition Leader after winning 18 votes in a Liberal party room ballot ahead of moderate Josh Teague on five and conservative Nick McBride seemingly only securing his own vote. Liberal veteran Vickie Chapman has announced she will resign from parliament by the end of May, which will result in a by-election for her safe seat of Bragg.

South Australian election endgame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SA election: call of the board

The finer points of Labor’s South Australian election win, and a closer look at the seats still in doubt.

Tuesday night

The Electoral Commission website is finally publishing two-candidate preferred results, but as ever there remains the South Australian peculiarity that the declaration votes are not being broken down into separate results for pre-polls, postals and absents, so we will have little guidance as to why what’s happening is happening as these results inevitably bounce around over the next week or so. After essentially no progress in the count on Monday, declaration votes started being reported in some seats yesterday.

The ABC rates nine seats as being in varying degrees of doubt, but I’m not inclined to agree with respect to Hammond, where declaration votes can only widen Liberal member Adrian Pederick’s 51.3-48.7 lead over independent Airlie Keen, who seems unlikely to make the final count in any case. That leaves clear results of 26 for Labor, 12 for Liberal and four for independents. Not among the in doubt is one seat I should have mentioned in the previous update: Gibson, where the identification of errors and the allocation of saved informal votes in accordance with registered party tickets on Saturday increased the size of Labor’s lead from 486 to an insurmountable 1055. That leaves:

Dunstan. Early indications are that this is going as I thought it might, with the first batch of declaration votes breaking 924-792 in favour of Steven Marshall, reducing the Labor lead from 143 to 11.

Finniss. Despite 1939 declaration votes breaking 1115-824 in favour of Liberal member David Basham over independent candidate Lou Nicholson on the two-party preferred candidate, it remains clear that he will not close the gap. So the issue remains whether Nicholson will indeed made the final count, or whether it will be a Liberal-Labor contest in which Basham will presumably prevail. The declaration votes so far suggest she won’t make it, as they have reduced her overall primary vote from 23.0% to 21.6% while increasing Labor’s from 23.4% to 23.7%.

Morialta. Liberal member John Gardner seems very unlikely to lose from here, the first batch of declaration votes having increased his margin from 145 to 347.

Unley. Another one that will shortly be off the Liberals’ endangered list if the first declaration votes are any guide: they have broken 680-402 in favour of Liberal member David Pisoni, increasing his lead from 92 to 370.

Waite. Liberal candidate Alexander Hyde needed declaration votes to break perhaps 64-36 in his favour to rein in Catherine Hutchesson’s lead on the two-candidate count – implausible as this seemed, he’s come close on the first batch, which have broken 609-376 his way (so 61.8%). Independent Heather Holmes-Ross nudging her way to the final count on preferences should continue to be rated very unlikely.

Sunday night

The news kept getting worse for the Liberals in today’s counting, thanks to two new two-candidate preference counts in seats where the wrong candidates were picked for the count on the night:

Waite. After conducting a preference count between Liberal candidate Alexander Hyde and independent Heather Holmes-Ross on the night, which made it clear Hyde would lose if Holmes-Ross made the final count, today a new count was conducted between Hyde and Labor candidate Catherine Hutchesson that made it clear he would lose to her too. That seems far the most likely outcome, with primary votes of Labor 27.4%, Liberal 24.5%, 18.9% for Liberal-turned-independent incumbent Sam Duluk and 15.3% for Holmes-Ross. Preferences from the Greens (12.0%) and Animal Justice (1.9%) could theoretically cause either independent to reduce the Liberals to third place and leave Labor and the independent at the final account, but that seems very unlikely. Labor thus looks poised to win the state’s second most affluent seat, which has it has neither won before now, either as Waite or in its previous incarnation as Mitcham going back to 1938.

Flinders. Liberal candidate Sam Telfer has 45.3% of the primary vote here, which in a field of six candidates that includes the Nationals would normally be enough. However, a two-candidate preferred count between Telfer and independent candidate Liz Habermann, which has thus far accounted for 10 out of 27 booths, finds preferences splitting 78-22 in favour of Habermann. According to the ABC, this suggests Habermann is ahead according to a method that matches the 10 booths with their equivalent results from 2018. However, projecting the preference flow so far across the primary votes puts Telfer ahead 51.1-48.9. I would also suggest that postal votes are likely to favour him. Should she fall short, the possibility of Habermann running in Grey at the federal election was canvassed on the ABC’s Insiders this morning.

Dunstan. Labor’s Cressida O’Hanlon trailed here 7191 to 7095 at the close on Saturday, but now leads 7376 to 7233. The ABC site explains: “Greens and Family First votes with insufficient preferences that were saved by SA’s unique ticket voting provision have been added today. Both parties lodged tickets flowing to Labor so that has added around 170 votes to Labor’s total.” That leaves him 0.5% behind, but my judgement yesterday that late counting was likely to improve his position by over 1% isn’t affected by this. It remains uncomfortably close for him, though presumably there is a strong chance of him retiring from politics and O’Hanlon getting a second crack at a by-election if she falls short.

Saturday night

Labor went into the election with 19 seats out of 47, had an easy gain in Florey with the departure of independent Frances Bedford, and have made it to a clear majority with five further gains from the Liberals. I count five potential further gains, including Steven Marshall’s seat of Dunstan, though I only reckon them to be ahead in one, and a sixth if they win Waite from a Liberal-turned-independent, which is very hard to call.

The Liberals won 25 seats in 2018, which had reduced to 22 by the election with three members moving to the cross-bench. Two of these three have been re-elected as independents while the third has been defeated – as just noted, it’s not clear whether by Liberal or Labor. If that seat remains with the Liberals and the other close races go their way, they will finish on 17. However, there is one further seat that may yet fall to an independent. Geoff Brock has proved net neutral for the Liberals in that the party gained his old seat of Frome, but have now lost Stuart to him. This leaves three or maybe four independents, or perhaps even five if it’s an independent who gets up in the complex race for Waite.

The display on the ABC site rates the most likely outcome as Labor on 28 seats, when they in fact lead in only 27. This would be the result of a probability-based determination that rates Labor as most likely to get over the line in one of the several seats where it is slightly behind, without any commitment as to which one.

The ABC’s system has booth-matching switched off, so the swings it shows are simply the pre-election margins as compared with the current raw totals. The analysis that follows, by contrast, compares election day booth results with their equivalent from last time, those being the only votes counted as of yet. All we will get today is rechecking and perhaps the reporting of a few straggler booths that didn’t get their two-candidate preferred results in from last night – counting of pre-polls, postals and absent votes, which by my reckoning should account for a bit less than 40% of the total, will begin on Monday. A further complication is that I have consistently used the post-redistribution margins calculated by the Boundaries Commission, which differ from those Antony Green has calculated for the ABC.

Labor gains:

Adelaide: The election day vote was completed at the end of the night, and showed the 0.8% Liberal margin easily accounted for by a 6.6% swing to Labor.

Davenport: The most impressive of Labor’s gains was its first ever win in Davenport, achieved by Erin Thompson with an 11.8% swing against Liberal member Steve Murray, who went into the election with a margin of 8.4%.

Elder: One of the four easy pickings for Labor with margins of less than 2% — precisely so in this case — swung to Labor by 7.5%, with Labor’s Nadia Clancy gaining the seat from Liberal member Carolyn Power.

King: The Liberals’ hope of toughing it out here on the back of Paula Leuthen’s sophomore surge weren’t realised — against a 0.8% margin, Labor’s Rhiannon Pearce scored a 3.9% swing.

Newland: In the tightest of the Liberal marginals, Labor’s Olivia Savvas did it easily with a swing of 5.0% (one booth is yet to report on the two-candidate preferred count, but this won’t matter much). In her bid to move from Florey, which she held for Labor from 1997 to 2017 and as an independent thereafter, Frances Bedford finished a very distant third with 11.9%.

Down to the wire:

Dunstan: Outgoing Premier Steven Marshall leads after counting of election day votes by 7191 to 7095, a margin of 0.3%. I calculate this as a swing of 6.2%, which given his margin of 8.1% suggests he’s likely to prevail. However, that’s the Boundaries Commission’s estimate of the margin — Antony Green only has it at 7.5%.

Gibson: The election day booths swung 10.7% to Labor, exceeding a Liberal margin of 9.9%, but not by so much that you’d call it.

Morialta: Outgoing Education Minister John Gardner had a 9.9% margin going in according to the Boundaries Commission, but only 9.4% according to Antony Green. On the election day vote he copped a swing of 8.6%.

Unley: This has been a pretty safe Liberal seat since 1993, and while David Pisoni looks like retaining it, he suffered a scare in the form of a 9.8% swing to Labor against a margin of 11.2%.

Waite: This one is very hard to read: the two-candidate preferred count has independent Heather Holmes-Ross leading Liberal candidate Alexander Hyde by 55.3% to 44.7%, but this will only apply if Holmes-Ross makes the final count and she’s actually running fourth. It’s theoretically possible that preferences from the Greens (12.0%) and Animal Justice (1.9%) could help her close the 18.9% to 15.3% gap against Liberal-turned-indepenent member Sam Duluk, and that Duluk’s preferences could then push her ahead of Hyde, although a lot of Duluk’s preferences will presumably go straight to Hyde. In that case, it comes down to a race between Hyde and Labor candidate Catherine Hutchesson that could go either way, with the result depending on the preferences of the nearly 50% of voters who voted for neither, about which we can only speculate.

Notable contests involving independents:

Stuart: I personally didn’t like Geoff Brock’s chances against Deputy Premier Dan van Holst Pellekaan, to which he moved after his home base of Port Pirie was transferred to the electorate from his existing seat of Frome. So it was a very substantial surprise that he romped home with 65.9% of the vote on the two-candidate preferred count at the end of the night, albeit that postal votes will undoubtedly rein that in a fair bit.

Kavel: Liberal-turned-independent Dan Cregan scored a thumping win with a majority on the primary vote.

Narungga: Another Liberal-turned-independent, Fraser Ellis, has comfortably retained his seat ahead of Liberal candidate Tom Michael with 58.9% on ECSA’s two-candidate preferred count, from primary votes of 32.4% for Ellis, 28.1% for Michael and 20.2% for Labor.

Finniss: ECSA conducted a count between Liberal member David Basham and independent candidate Lou Nicholson in which Nicholson polled 5590 of the election day votes (54.7%) and Basham polled 4625 (45.3%). However, this only applies if Nicholson makes the final preference count, which would seem to be touch and go — Basham is on 36.9%, Labor’s Amy Hueppauff is on 23.5% and Nicholson is on 22.9%, so Nicholson has a gap to close on preferences. Otherwise the final count will be Basham versus Hueppauff, in which case Basham should win fairly comfortably.

Florey: Worth noting as a Labor gain, but with independent Frances Bedford vacating the seat for an unsuccessful run in Newland, this was a mere formality.

Frome: Similarly, this predictably returned to the Liberals with Geoff Brock’s move to Stuart,

Finally, a bit over half of the count for the Legislative Council has been conducted, and the most likely result looks like being five seats for Labor, four for the Liberals and one each for the Greens and One Nation, the latter being in line for their first ever seat in the South Australian parliament. Taken together with the ongoing members elected in 2018, this will mean a chamber of nine Labor members, eight Liberals, two Greens, two from SA-Best and one from One Nation.

South Australian election live

Live commentary of the counting for the South Australian state election.

10.00pm. ABC now calling King for Labor; Nine now has Labor ahead in Dunstan but the ABC does not concur.

9.20pm. Since next to no attention has been paid to Labor-held seats, it’s worth noting that Leon Bignell has picked up a 13.4% swing in Mawson, and that this maintains an unblemished record of five successive swings since he entered politics in 2006.

9.08pm. Very early days yet with 2.2% counted, but One Nation and the Liberal Democrats look at least competitive for upper house seats. Assuming a starting point of four apiece for Liberal and Labor and one for the Greens, there’s two loose seats available, although presumably Labor will end up in the hunt for a fifth.

8.55pm. The ABC computer is only calling Adelaide, Davenport, Elder and Newland for Labor, but that doesn’t count Florey, so Labor gets to a bare majority on 24 by that reckoning. Labor is now also looking pretty good in King. Gibson is lineball; the Liberals appear to have a slight advantage in Dunstan, Heysen, King, Morialta and Waite.

8.53pm. The independent who by some lights is likely to win Finniss, Lou Nicholson, is actually coming third on the primary vote and will need preferences to run down Labor. Failing that, the Liberals will fairly comfortably win at the final count over Labor.

8.43pm. Labor’s lead in Elder has widened since that previous update, so you can probably call that the magic 24.

8.39pm. In spite of everything, the only Liberal-held seats I would say are nailed down for Labor are Adelaide, Newland and Davenport. Taken together with the easy gain of Florey, this means they need one further seat to close the deal. This could be provided by King, Unley, Elder or Gibson, where Labor is ahead but not it seems to me decisively so, or by Dunstan, Morialta (which I haven’t mentioned yet) and Heysen (where the Liberals’ situation has improved) where they are very slightly behind.

8.24pm. I haven’t mentioned Narungga yet — Liberal-turned-independent Fraser Ellis leads on the primary vote 35.1% to 31.9%, but the count here isn’t very far advanced.

8.16pm. Independent Airlie Keen will be in with a show in Hammond if she can come second, but it seems quite a bit more likely she’ll finish behind Labor.

8.14pm. I hadn’t yet given any thought to Colton, where the Liberals have their nose in front with still only 7.7% of the vote counted.

8.12pm. Labor leads about 55-45 on the raw TCP in King, but the projection has this at 51.6-48.4, which is too narrow to call with only five booths out of 12 in on primary and four in on TCP.

8.08pm. Both the ABC and Nine are calling the election for Labor. The ABC computer is now calling Finniss for the independent, to add to Labor’s four gains in Adelaide, Davenport, Elder and Newland. On top of those, Nine has Labor ahead in Dunstan, King and Unley, plus it seems Geoff Brock is going to win Stuart.

8.02pm. Something I haven’t heard mentioned: independent Lou Nicholson is looking highly competitive in Liberal-held Finniss.

8.01pm. The ABC now calling four seats for Labor: Adelaide, Davenport, Elder and Newland. Which is presumably why Antony is saying he’s almost near calling the election for Labor.

7.56pm. Nine has Labor ahead in the following Liberal-held seats: Unley, Elder, Adelaide, Davenport, Newland and now Black. However, King, one of the four especially marginal Liberal seats, is lineball.

7.53pm. I earlier made the caution there were only three booths in from Stuart and they were all from Geoff Brock’s stamping ground in Frome — now there are 13 booths from a wider sample, and Geoff Brock is still romping in with 42.4% of the primary vote to Dan van Holst Pellekaan’s 34.2%, with preferences sure to go heavily to Brock.

7.51pm. The ABC is no longer calling Dunstan for Labor, but it is calling Elder now, on top of Davenport and Elder.

7.48pm. Early numbers from Adelaide appear to bear out the consensus that Labor will win. King also looks encouraging for Labor, but too early to say. Frances Bedford coming third in Newland, Labor looking good. So while there’s a lot to juggle here, it’s pretty hard not to see Labor gaining four seats. ABC calling Adelaide, well and truly.

7.46pm. For what it’s worth, the ABC computer is calling Dunstan for Labor. But the Nine computer certainly doesn’t agree. It’s also calling Elder on the television, though not on the website — Antony announcing it’s going back and forth.

7.43pm. Overall primary vote swings: Labor up 6.7%, Liberal down 3.7%, Greens up 3.8%. There is a 14.7% SA Best vote that has largely vanished, but much of it has scattered evenly among minor parties (including the Greens, who were subdued last time due to SA-Best’s strength).

7.38pm. The only seat either Nine or the ABC is calling as changing hands is Davenport, called for Labor by the ABC. But the Liberals are at least in trouble in Dunstan, Hartley, Heysen, Elder, Newland and King, and there’s nothing yet from Adelaide which most have pencilled in as a Labor gain.

7.36pm. The view seems to be that Labor have won Elder, but the ABC’s projection looks a bit strange to my eye and is only pointing to a small two-party swing. But the primary swing to Labor is rather a lot bigger than that. Stuart is looking good for Geoff Brock, but I do believe we’re talking three booths and all of them were in Frome before, so this could look very different later in the night.

7.30pm. We’re starting to get advanced enough that I’m trusting what the Nine computer is telling me. Dunstan and Hartley are looking very close, and the Liberals absolutely have to win them both. The system isn’t actually calling any Labor gains, but it has Davenport, Newland and Unley as probable, with seats they will probably win like Adelaide too early.

7.28pm. Antony’s calling a swing of about 8% across the metropolitan area. You could still plot out a worst case scenario there where they get really unlucky and fall short, particularly if they can hold out in King which we don’t know about yet. Against that though, Davenport at least is looking very bleak for the Liberals further up the pendulum, and it’s not the only one.

7.24pm. The most advanced count is Heysen, which looks lineball with a swing of about 7%.

7.21pm. Though better news for the Liberals seemingly from Hartley. The first booth from Dunstan is a little bit less than what Labor would need on my reading.

7.16pm. Two booths in from Davenport — here too a big swing to Labor, around 13%, enough for Labor to win if it keeps up. So there’s definitely a trend emerging and it’s not good for the Liberals.

7.13pm. Three booths in from Unley and the Liberals look in trouble here too — a swing of around 10%, roughly enough to account for the margin. Waite looks complicated with two independents reporting solidly in third and fourth place.

7.07pm. Four booths in now on the primary vote from Elder, and so far at least there seems to be a big enough swing to reel it in.

7.04pm. So far I’ve made it look like a Liberal bloodbath, but the picture is more mixed than that — there are rogue Liberal swings I’m seeing in Enfield, Cheltenham and MacKillop, so overall it’s the usual early count confusion. What is interesting is that Dan van Holst Pellekaan is running third in the first booth in Stuart, which comes from Port Augusta. Again though, small numbers, too early to say.

6.56pm. 173 votes in at Ashbourne in Heysen swing nearly 9% to Labor.

6.49pm. Ottoway booth in from Cheltenham, which is right up near the boundary with (from memory) Port Adelaide. Here there is a 4% swing to the Liberals, who could potentially be above par here because Jay Weatherill was the candidate in 2018. Tom Koutsantonis on the ABC says a booth in Kavel suggests Dan Cregan should beat his Liberal opponent, and that there’s a big swing to Labor in a booth in Lee.

6.41pm. Robertstown booth in from Frome. 10% swing to Labor on the Nine preference estimate. ECSA’s two-candidate count here will be between Liberal and an independent, but the independent is a fairly distant fourth in this booth.

6.36pm. Now a tiny booth in Port Adelaide — Mawson Lakes, 77 votes, similar story in that this is redistributed area. Here too though there’s a huge swing to Labor of over 20% — and the Liberals have come fourth here, behind Family First and the Greens.

6.33pm. The first booth is not in the state is not in the country, as it usually is — it’s Glenunga in Unley, which has been transferred in the redistribution from Bragg. According to the Nine system, it’s swung by 14.5% to Labor — but we’re talking 254 votes here, and the redistribution may have muddied the waters.

6pm. With polls closed, I’m now at liberty to relate the curious decisions the Electoral Commission has made about the two-candidate preferred counts it will conduct this evening, which seem to have been made with a view to testing for surprise independent breakthroughs rather than picking who are objectively most likely to be the two leading candidates. They have been predictably chosen to throw between the Liberals and independent incumbents in Kavel (Dan Cregan), Mount Gambier (Troy Bell), Narungga (Fraser Ellis) and Stuart (Geoff Brock, who is attempting to move to the seat from Frome), but less expected is that they will do the same with non-incumbent independents in Finniss (Lou Nicholson), Frome (Cate Hunter), Hammond (Airlie Keen) and, especially, Heather Holmes-Ross in Waite. The latter will no doubt displease the seat’s actual Liberal-turned-independent member, Sam Duluk.

5.30pm. Half-an-hour until polls close. No exit polls this evening, it seems. I’m spending the evening in the back rooms at Nine, having helped put together the database that will be used for its results projections. As far as I can tell, you can only access Nine’s coverage if you’re in South Australia or able to game the geoblock. How much time I’ll have for commentary as the results come through remains to be seen.

To get the ball rolling, here’s something I wrote in comments on the previous thread regarding how much progress we’re likely to see in the count this evening. It seems to me it may be more than earlier assessments suggested – the increase in pre-poll voting compared with last time ended up being 73%, and not 100% as initially seemed possible.

If the turnout rate is the same as last time, there will be around 1,150,000 votes. There have been 170,081 postal vote applications — if the return rate is the same as last time, there will be around 120,000 of these. There have been 208,136 pre-polls. That leaves around 820,000 election day votes, of which around 85,000 should be absents. That leaves 64% of all votes cast available to be counted tonight, which is higher than some of the earlier estimates – I don’t think pre-polling increased in the final week as much as last time. However, ECSA are apparently pretty strict about ending counting at 11pm, so I’d suggest some of that 64% will remain unreported at the end of tonight.

Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in South Australia

The final Newspoll of the South Australian campaign is a bit closer than the mid-week Newspoll, but still suggestive of a change of government.

The election eve Newspoll for South Australia is a little more moderate than the mid-week YouGov result for The Advertiser, but nonetheless suggests Labor is in a surely election-winning position with a 54-46 lead on two-party preferred. This is from a GhostWhoVotes tweet, so more detail to follow. For further late-campaign news and analysis, see my previous post.

UPDATE: The front page of The Australian further reveals that Peter Malinauskas holds a 44-41 lead over Steven Marshall as preferred premier, and their respective approval ratings are 54% and 47%.

UPDATE 2: Full results now up at The Australian. The primary votes are Labor 41% (up two since the Newspoll three weeks ago), Liberal 38% (up one) and Greens 9% (down one) – the two-party result compares with 53-47 last time. Steven Marshall is down one on both approval and disapproval, to 47% and 46%, while Malinauskas is up three to 54% and down one to 30%. However, Malinauskas’s lead as preferred premier of 44-41 is narrower than his 46-39 lead last time. The poll was conducted Friday to Thursday from a sample of 1012.

Late mail:

John Ferguson of The Australian reports Labor hopes to see a continuation of the dynamic that has been evident particularly in Melbourne, where well-heeled and well-educated electorates that have traditionally been safe for the Liberals move to the left, potentially to the extent of reeling in Davenport (8.2%), rated a possible gain by “multiple Labor sources”. Conversely, Paula Leuthen in King (0.8%) is “widely being seen as a potential saviour for the Marshall government due to her effective on-the-ground campaigning in Adelaide’s sprawling north-east”.

Paul Starick of The Advertiser says the Liberals have all but written off Adelaide (0.8%) based on their tracking polling; that Paula Leuthen in King will be “hard to dislodge”; that #8220;both sides are confident about their prospects in Elder” (2.0%); that Davenport is “considered a prospective Labor gain by some on both sides”; and that Dunstan (8.1%) and Gibson (9.9%) are “dark horses”. However, concern among Liberals that independent Geoff Brock might dislodge Deputy Premier Dan van Holst Pellekaan in Stuart has “abated”.

• With due regard to the fact that their error margins overlap, some methodological distinctions worth noting about the 56-44 YouGov poll and the 54-46 Newspoll, notwithstanding that they were conducted by the same agency. The YouGov poll was conducted earlier, from the Monday before last through to Sunday, whereas the Newspoll was in the field from last Friday through to Thursday. The Newspoll has a sample of 1012 compared with 835 for the YouGov, but both emerged with identical effective error margins of 3.5%. This accounts for the extent to which the data was weighted to match a population profile, which was more elaborate in the case of the Newspoll (accounting for age, gender, location, education and income) than the YouGov (age, gender, location and religious affiliation). It should be noted that I can tell you all this because YouGov fulfils the transparency standards of the Australian Polling Council, which has been established since the last election. Non-members include Resolve Strategic and Roy Morgan. The methodological statements for the polls can be viewed here for the YouGov and here for the Newspoll.

South Australian election minus one day

Late mail on a South Australian election that few now expect the Liberals to win.

We will presumably be seeing a Newspoll this evening, which will be the third test of the poll’s form since the YouGov takeover and the industry-wide failure in 2019. Apart from that, I have devoted a few idle hours this week to fleshing out and prettying up my state election guide, so do take a look if you haven’t already, or another look if you have, and perhaps throw some pennies in the tip jar if you like what you see.

Late news:

David Penberthy in The Australian reports the Liberals remain hopeful, if not confident, that strong local campaigns may yet get them over the line in the four seats the party holds by margins of 2.0% or less: Newland (0.2%), Adelaide (0.8%), King (0.8%) and Elder (although Penberthy also writes in The Advertiser today that “it looks like Steven Marshall is gone”). Conversely, Michael McGuire in The Advertiser says “both sides expect Adelaide to fall to Labor”, and the view in media-land is that the Liberals are vulnerable in such seemingly safe seats as Davenport (8.4%), Black (9.3%), Gibson (9.9%) and Steven Marshall’s seat of Dunstan (8.1%).

• Peter Malinauskas scored an unusually clear win among the 98 undecided voters subjected to the Advertiser-Sky News leaders’ debate on Wednesday, 66 of whom emerged saying they would vote Labor compared with 21 for Liberal and 11 remaining undecided. Some measure of the clarity of Malinauskas’s dominance is provided by the fact that conservative commentator Chris Kenny of Sky News rated that it was “obvious” Malinauskas had won, and that he’d “never seen a better political performance in one of these forums, state or federal”.

• Troy Bell, the once Liberal and now independent member for Mount Gambier, wrote a letter to the SE Voice newspaper earlier this week castigating the Liberal Party for making only $2.7 million in promises for the electorate, and suggesting the party would not have his support to form a government if it did not offer more in the final days of the campaign.

• If the Marshall government does lose tomorrow, it will become the fourth Australian state government to have been voted out after one term since 1990 out of 22 starters, the others being Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party government in Queensland in 2015, Denis Napthine’s Coalition government in Victoria in 2014 and Rob Borbidge’s Coalition government in Queensland in 1998. All these governments have been conservative, though perhaps the more salient fact is that governments of the same stripe were in power federally at the time. Nine of the 18 re-elected first-term governments increased their shares of the two-party vote, none of which were so encumbered.