How green was my tally

Well, there you have it – a day of joy for the Tasmanian Greens as their most endangered sitting member, Kim Booth, just scrapes over the line in Bass by 136 votes. I might modestly note that it was my own gut feeling that this would be the case, as expressed in this post from early last week, despite news reports to the contrary as recently as this morning (in the Mercury and apparently also on the ABC). However, the real prize must go to Kevin Bonham, whose correctness was based not on lucky guesswork, but on psephological modelling that outperformed some formidable competition. Note his running commentary in the Tasmanian Times and contributions to the comments thread from this site’s previous post, in which he boldly predicts an imminent victory for Booth in the face of ongoing scepticism.

The key to Booth’s win was not just the rate of Labor leakage, as was stressed in my earlier commentary, but also the high rate of Labor exhaustion (thanks to Geoff Lambert for making this clear to me). Following the 2002 election, it was widely argued that Labor’s surprise late-count defeat was caused by the fact that they had fielded six candidates, when voters are only required to number five boxes. However, Antony Green argued that the real cause was leakage of Labor votes to Liberal candidates, particularly Sue Napier, and Labor was not discouraged from fielding six candidates again at this election. But this time, it does appear that Labor voters who numbered five of the six Labor boxes and left the remaining candidate hanging really did cost their party an extra seat. This compounded a repeat of Labor’s problem from 2002 when the number of Liberal votes leaking to their own candidates was subdued because only two of them had a sufficiently high profile.

Elsewhere, Paula Wriedt’s victory has been sealed in Franklin, which the Mercury did get right this morning, while all bets seem to be off regarding the final seat in Lyons. The final result is a remarkable status quo outcome in each of the five electorates – 3-1-1 in Denison, Franklin and Lyons, 3-2 in Braddon and 2-2-1 in Bass.

Slicing up the apple: episode two

It really is a shame that the South Australian election has had to take priority in the past few weeks, because a Tasmanian election is a gift that keeps on giving. For the past nine days, fortunes have continued to wax and wane with each elimination and distribution of surpluses. The process has been of particular interest for the Greens, whose election night fear of two lost seats has faded with the progress of counting in Lyons, and who may yet hold their seat in Bass. If so, they will have returned all their sitting members and a great deal of the initial post-election commentary will need to be revised. The count has been less kind to the Liberals who have been the losers out of the Greens’ strengthening position in Lyons, and are watching their second candidate’s lead in Franklin get slowly whittled away by Labor. If that continues at the expected rate, they will have registered no improvement on the 2002 disaster.

Of the five electorates, only Denison (3-1-1) and Braddon (3-2) have never been in doubt. In Lyons, Labor comfortably returned three members while Opposition Leader Rene Hidding was the only Liberal to safely make it home. That left the second Liberal candidate, Geoff Page, playing catch-up with Greens incumbent Tim Morris as counting progressed. However, Morris’s lead has in fact opened slightly, and it is now clear that the result will be 3-1-1. In Franklin, Liberal candidate Vanessa Goodwin has been fighting it out for the final place with Labor incumbent Paula Wreidt, the other seats having gone two Labor, one Liberal and one Greens. Early on Goodwin was thought to be the favourite, but a complicated conjunction of circumstances has Kevin Bonham of the Tasmanian Times forecasting that her current 259-vote lead will become a 700-vote deficit after distribution of preferences from soon-to-be-eliminated Labor, Liberal and Greens candidates.

In Bass, opinion is divided on whether Greens member Kim Booth can still hope to prevail over the third Labor candidate, Steve Reissig. Booth’s main booster seems to be the aforementioned Kevin Bonham, who has calculated that a "plausible" leak to Booth of 12 per cent upon the elimination of Labor’s stragglers will give him the narrowest of victories. Antony Green has arrived at a higher estimate of the required rate of Labor leakage, and will only say that it "could yet be close". First-rate number cruncher Geoff Lambert does not share Bonham’s view regarding the likely rate of Labor leakage, telling the Poll Bludger that the 10 per cent he has factored into his own modelling is "generous" to the Greens. Lambert says the rate of leakage has been far too low in the most recent round of counting, in which preferences have been distributed from excluded Labor candidate Grant Courtney. However, he also says that "we do not know whose votes Courtney had taken away from him", whereas it seems Antony Green does – he tells Upperhouse.Info that they were Courtney’s primary votes (of which there were 1723), and that the remaining 775 awaiting distribution came to him as preferences. Since not all of these will have been first-preference Labor votes, they will presumably be more likely to leak to the Greens.

Slicing up the apple

Better late than never, here is the preliminary summary of the Tasmanian election that was first promised on Saturday evening. Not much remains to be said about Labor’s success in retaining its majority, except that the Poll Bludger bitterly regrets his failure to follow Mumble‘s example by taking a big punt on the absurdly favourable odds that Centrebet was offering on such an outcome earlier in the campaign. Of more interest at present is the universal perception that the result was a disaster for the Greens. There are two reasons why this view has taken root. Firstly, they did not emerge with the balance of power. This in fact has little to do with them, and is actually a mark of the Liberals’ failure rather than their own. Secondly, they once again indulged in their tactic of absurdly over-hyping their prospects to a gullible media, which presumably serves some purpose that I am too simple to understand. In light of this, any result short of two seats in Denison plus one in each other electorate was bound to cause unjustifiable disappointment.

In fact, the Greens have good reason to be content with their performance, if not actively pleased. In terms of votes, this was the party’s third best performance out of the seven in which it has fielded candidates in all seats, and it is not certain that they have lost any seats. It is true that they have failed to improve on the 2002 election, but since that saw an unrepeatably low vote for one of the two major parties, it is beyond me why this should come as a surprise. It needs to be remembered that the Greens won just one seat at the first election held under five-member electorates in 1998, which the major parties introduced with the expectation and intention that the Greens would be reduced to one or two seats if they were lucky.

No further results have been added to the Tasmanian Electoral Office website since the close of counting on Saturday night, nor will they be until 4pm today when "postals received and counted to date" will go up. Presumably there are people out there with some idea of how the count is going, and they are invited to say their piece in comments. For now, the state of play in the five seats is as follows.

Bass: The widespread perception is that Labor’s Steve Reissig will win a seat at the expense of sitting Greens member Kim Booth, improving Labor’s result to 3-2 from 2-2-1 in 2002. However, it should be recalled that the election night results from 2002 had most expecting a result of 3-1-1, as few could see how Labor could fail to win a third seat after preferences when their aggregate primary vote accounted for 2.95 quotas. Leakage of Labor preferences proved them wrong, and it is at least possible that they might do so again this time. The weakness of the Greens’ vote has been of particular surprise in Bass, where they have dropped from 16.5 per cent to 13.3 per cent despite the ongoing significance of the Tamar pulp mill controversy. It is clear where the vote has gone – Labor’s Michelle O’Byrne has obviously garnered significant personal support from left-wing voters, while an anti-pulp mill vote amounting to 1.9 per cent has wound up with independent campaigner Les Rochester. The former factor is no doubt the reason Bass was the only electorate where Labor’s primary vote was up (by 0.6 per cent) and where the Greens’ vote suffered the most (down 3.3 per cent). There seems every reason to believe that erstwhile Greens voters who pumped Michelle O’Byrne’s vote up to a remarkable 23.5 per cent sent their subsequent preferences back home to the Greens. Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times, who is without question more on top of this than I am, reckons that "even in an optimistic simulation, assuming 70% of Rochester’s preferences flow to the Greens, factoring in leakage only results in about 0.92 quotas for the Greens to 2.98 for Labor and 2.02 for the Liberals". But it is not uncommon for unprecedented outcomes to make a nonsense of psephological modelling, and my gut feeling is that this might be one of those occasions.

Braddon: Braddon was the only electorate in which the Greens did not win a seat in 2002, and a 2.0 per cent drop in their vote meant they were well out of contention this time. Labor was well clear of three quotas with 51.2 per cent, the Liberals were well clear of two with 37.2 per cent, and all five sitting members were returned.

Denison: About 3 per cent of the vote shifted from Labor to Liberal and the Greens were down about 1 per cent, but as far as the party aggregates were concerned, this was a status quo result with another 3-1-1 outcome. The intra-party contests were another matter. Jim Bacon overwhelmingly dominated Labor’s share of the vote last time, polling 35.5 per cent out of 50.8 per cent; this time David Bartlett (elected on a recount in 2004 after Jim Bacon’s retirement) was the standout performer with 13.1 per cent, while fellow sitting member Graeme Sturges only performed slightly better than successful newcomer Lisa Singh, 9.8 per cent to 9.3 per cent. With no rival sitting Liberal, Michael Hodgman turned in his best performance since 1992 with 12.1 per cent, defying expectations that he might face a threat from Fabian Dixon (5.9 per cent). Peg Putt can at least console herself with the knowledge that her personal vote of 18.1 per cent was the best in the electorate.

Franklin: This looms as the other cliffhanger along with Bass, with Labor incumbent Paula Wriedt and Liberal newcomer Vanessa Goodwin fighting it out to see if the final outcome will be 3-1-1 or 2-2-1. The Greens’ vote of 19.2 per cent has comfortably re-elected Nick McKim. As expected, Labor’s Lara Giddings comfortably outperformed party colleague Wriedt (10.5 per cent to 7.9 per cent) to secure Labor’s safe second seat, and likely future leader Will Hodgman was the overwhelmingly dominant Liberal with 22.1 per cent from a total of 31.4 per cent. If successful, Goodwin will have won from 4.3 per cent of the vote. Kevin Bonham reads the situation thus:

The Liberals’ Vanessa Goodwin is notionally .055 of a quota ahead in the race with Paula Wriedt for the final seat. This lead is in all likelihood real, since by the time Paul Lennon’s surplus, Ross Butler’s and Daniel Hulme’s votes and the Greens’ preferences have been distributed, Lara Giddings should have reached a quota, preventing any trick results. The Greens’ preferences should benefit Labor to the tune of around .02 quotas, but Labor is also slightly more vulnerable to leakage (6787 votes exposed compared to 5795), potentially benefiting the Liberals by up to .01 quotas. So at present Labor is probably about .045 quotas (c.450 votes) behind. This is fairly unlikely to be bridged on postal votes and Goodwin is best placed at present but it will be several days before this seat is clearer. The fairly low Green vote has made things more difficult than expected for Labor here.

Lyons: The most likely outcome here is a status quo result of 3-1-1, although the Liberals might still get over the Greens for 3-2 if the postal votes favour them heavily. At the close of count on Saturday, the Greens were 0.1 short of their first quota and the Liberals were 0.2 short of their second. Party leader (for now) Rene Hidding is the only Liberal who is clearly home, with their newcomer Geoff Page fighting it out with Greens incumbent Tim Morris. Labor has comfortably returned sitting members David Llewellyn, Michael Polley and Heather Butler, with an aggregate of 52.4 per cent of the vote.

Super Saturday live

11.28pm. Okay, one last thing – Geoff Lambert notes in comments that Labor’s surplus over the fourth quota for the upper house is going steadily down, which suggests it will be their preferences that decide the final spot. If so, it will go to the Greens rather than the third No Pokies candidate. Keep your eye on the comments thread, where Geoff will hopefully keep you posted on further developments.

11.26pm. That will do for me for now, although I might come back later to crunch some Tasmanian numbers. I believe the SEO has wrapped things up for the evening – on present indications, it seems my election guide called all seats correctly except for the independent victories in Mount Gambier (certain) and Mitchell (likely). Not a bad effort, if I do say so myself. No doubt that scoundrel Charles Richardson at Crikey (the only other person silly enough to publish seat-by-seat predictions, to my knowledge) went one better, but I cannot say because my Crikey email mysteriously failed to arrive on Friday.

10.58pm. Graham Gunn is now behind in Stuart by 1.0 per cent, on the reckoning of both the SEO and Antony Green. I’m guessing that the Port Augusta booths followed the broader trend more closely than the small rural and remote booths that were coming in earlier.

10.54pm. Antony Green has Liberal leading by 1.4 per cent in Unley, compared with 0.5 per cent at the SEO.

10.48pm. Finally, some new figures for Mitchell – the count is now up to 73.1 per cent after being stuck on 50.4 per cent for about an hour. The figures haven’t changed much – Kris Hanna is on 25.8 per cent compared with 20.8 per cent for the Liberals, with Labor on 40.7 per cent. Wisely, the SEO has scrubbed its old Labor versus Liberal 2PP figure, but it hasn’t replaced it with anything. Those still look like winning figures for Hanna to me. Antony Green’s computer still has "ALP ahead" on the basis of out-of-date figures. An ABC news report reveals Labor’s candidate sounds less than confident.

10.42pm. I’m still getting a seat for the Greens, and so are the default entries at Upperhouse.Info which have been updated on the basis on recent figures. Geoff is saying almost all Democrats preferences will need to go to the Greens if they are to stay against Labor’s fifth candidate and No Pokies’ third. As useful as the Upperhouse.Info calculator is, it suffers a weakness in that it assumes all Democrats votes will do so. In fact, the total number of candidates is much smaller than at the 2002 election, which means there will be more votes going below the line this time. I would think that more below-the-line Democrats voters would favour No Pokies than Labor – enough to close the narrow existing gap of 0.56 to 0.53, assuming most of them don’t favour the Greens. That third No Pokies candidate is not out of the hunt yet.

10.30pm. Geoff Lambert, who is way better with numbers than I am, questions my earlier calculation that the Greens are up for the eleventh upper house seat. Time for me to do another calculation I think.

10.20pm. I made a good call with my last-minute decision to provide live commentary. I believe we’ve broken a record for most comments on a Poll Bludger discussion thread.

10.12pm. SA: The SEO has the Liberal lead in Unley at only 0.5 per cent on 2PP. Antony Green’s computer, which is rarely wrong from 72.8 per cent of the vote, still has it down as Liberal retain. But could it be that it’s underestimating the strength of preferences to Labor? Does the SEO have actual rather than notional preference figures?

10.06pm. Tasmania: Interesting to hear the victory and concession speeches. Where these are usually given to the party faithful, in Tasmania they are conducted before a crowd of all comers at Wrest Point Casino, and hoots and jeers can be heard amid the amidst the applause.

9.57pm. SA: Things are strangely quiet on the Mitchell front, as far as News Radio and the SEO go. Does anyone know anything? Graham Gunn’s lead in Stuart has weakend to 0.7 per cent on 2pp.

9.44pm. SA: Second-hand reports say the ABC computer has upper house figures with more than 60 per cent counted, and the No Pokies vote has more than held up.

9.37pm. SA: I’ve done my own calculations on the upper house so the percentages make sense. Only two No Pokies now; Labor four; Liberal three; Family First one; Greens take the seat that went missing from No Pokies.

9.28pm. SA: About 18 per cent counted in the upper house – bizarrely, the SEO’s percentage figures add up to more than 100. I have tried plugging them into the Upperhouse.Info calculator regardless and I get THREE seats for No Pokies, who are on a spectacular 19.3 per cent, only three for the Liberals, four for Labor, one for Family First.

9.20pm. SA: Bob Such’s excellent performance in Fisher has been called to my attention. He’s on 49.4 per cent of the vote and the Liberals are in third place, and in no danger of closing the gap over Labor. The SEO’s 2PP figure is Such versus Liberal – understandable, but wrong.

9.17pm. SA: The SEO 2PP figures have added a bit more fat to Graham Gunn’s lead, now on 1.3 per cent. He actually trails 44.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent on the primary vote, but is obviously doing well out of preferences from Family First’s 4.0 per cent (or perhaps, is expected to do well – not sure if the preferences are actual or notional).

9.13pm. SA: They’re about to interview Rory McEwen on ABC Television. Dean Jaensch is pretty much calling Mount Gambier for him.

9.11pm. Tasmania: Another commenter notes that the Labor vote in Bass is boosted by Michelle O’Byrne’s left-wing support base, and that many of these votes will leak to the Greens. So Kim Booth’s position might be brighter than it appears at first glance.

9.09pm. SA: I misunderstood David Walsh’s earlier point. The significance of the high Greens vote in Kavel is not that they will have Family First last behind Liberal, but that they will feed preferences to Labor that will deprive Playford of second place.

9.07pm. SA: Dean Jaensch on ABC Television via News Radio notes a remarkably good overall performance for Family First and the Australian Democrats down by two-thirds.

9.05pm. SA: Hold the front page – a possible shock in Mitchell. Thanks for commenters for pointing it out, I haven’t heard it mentioned elsewhere. Independent incumbent Kris Hanna holds second place over the Liberals by 25.5 per cent to 21.0 per cent, with Labor on 40.7 per cent. Those look like winning figures for Hanna for me, unless Family First (5.1 per cent) and Dignity for Disabled (2.1 per cent) run very heavily against Hanna.

9.01pm. SA: The SEO 2PP from Mount Gambier is making more sense now. McEwen leads the Libs 56.1-43.9 – only 36.8 per cent counted, but it probably still answers my earlier question.

8.59pm. Both: A summary of remaining points of interest. Will Labor win a third seat from the Greens in Bass? Will the Liberals win one from Labor in Franklin? Will Graham Gunn hold Stuart for the Liberals against all odds? Will independent Rory McEwen hold Mount Gambier? What have I missed?

8.52pm. Tasmania: Haven’t heard much about Denison. Apparently Michael Hodgman will win the only seat certain to go to the Liberals. Peg Putt to be returned but her running mate Cassy O’Connor has not pulled a rabbit out of the hat, but the big Greens surplus will presumbly get a third candidate up at the expense of the Liberals’ second.

8.51pm. Tasmania: Someone on ABC Radio, I think Nick McKim, says he’s still confident Kim Booth will hold his seat in Bass.

8.49pm. SA: Maybe those SEO 2PP figures from Kavel were right after all – David Walsh notes in comments that the Greens are on a substantial 9 per cent in Kavel, and these are presumably running hard against Family First.

8.44pm. SA: I’ve been quieter lately because News Radio has been giving us the second half of a call-of-the-board from ABC Radio in Adelaide. Here we go: Labor swing of 5.1 per cent in Morphett. Antony Green says Rory McEwen is likely to retain Mount Gambier (damn – my only wrong call, but the look of it). Labor swing of almost 10 per cent in their safe seat of Napier. Swing to Labor of 12.9 per cent in the formerly Liberal seat of Newland. Labor swing of about 5 per cent in Norwood. Swing of 14.8 per cent in the safe Labor seat of Playford. Swing of only 4.0 per cent in safe Labor Port Adelaide. Mike Rann’s seat of Ramsay swings 7.1 per cent. Reynell, formerly not that safe, swings 14.0 per cent to Labor. Safe Liberal Barossa Valley seat of Schubert swings 7.1 per cent, with Labor’s primary vote up about 14 per cent. A surprise against the trend in Stuart, with Antony’s computer showing Liberal mega-veteran Graham Gunn holding his seat from an initial margin of barely 2 per cent (if so, another wrong call). It’s being noted that a solid One Nation vote from last time has disappeared. Safe Labor Taylor swings 8 per cent. Safe Labor Torrens swings 13.8 per cent. Liberal to hold Unley. Waite stays with the Liberals despite a swing of 8 per cent. Safe Labor West Torrens swings yet further. Marginal Labor Wright swings heavily to Labor.

8.42pm. Tasmania. Charles Richardson corrects me on Bass. It seems Labor are winning that seat from the Greens, not the Libs. The Greens will be down to two seats if so.

8.34pm. SA: Not sure how seriously to take these 2PP figures from the SEO (neither is one of the commenters), but Labor’s margin in the formerly Liberal seat of Light is 14.1 per cent.

8.27pm. While in SA, the star female performer has been Chloe Fox, who has won Bright with a swing of nearly 15 per cent.

8.25pm. Tasmania: At last – I can hear Antony Green on News Radio (they’re flitting around from radio to television coverage, and Antony’s on the latter). It indeed looks like the Liberals might drop a seat to Labor in Bass. He seems to be backing Labor to win a seat off the Liberals in Bass and is not writing off their third candidate in Franklin. The star of the evening looks to be Michelle O’Byrne, who might just end up being responsible for an increased Labor majority despite an overall 2 per cent drop on the primary vote and a 4 per cent increase for the Liberals. Christine Milne sounds very unhappy about the Exclusive Brethren business.

8.22pm. SA: Commenter Scott says Kevin Foley has said Labor leads every booth in the marginal Liberal seat of Morialta on the primary vote. An extraordinary result – Labor had put it about earlier in the campaign that they weren’t doing so well there.

8.19pm. SA: You may recall talk of Tom Playford, Family First candidate and son of the legendary Liberal Premier, might win the seat of Kavel. The Liberals are on 47.0 per cent, so it’s not likely, but he is at least looking good to clear the first hurdle as he leads Labor 20.0 per cent to 19.6 per cent. I’m not sure about these SEO 2PP figures – they have the Liberals leading Playford 64.4-35.6. Still, there’s only 11.2 per cent counted and maybe they’re factoring in booth variations. Yet more talk of extrordinary results for Nick Xenophon in the upper house.

8.17pm. SA: Nationals candidate Kym McHugh has faded in Finniss and now trails Labor 20.6 per cent to 29.4. The SEO 2PP has McHugh ahead of Liberal 1.9 per cent, but it’s looking like the final contest will in fact be between Liberal and Labor, with McHugh’s preferences giving it to the Libs.

8.15pm. SA: The SEO has Labor ahead just 50.1-49.9 on 2PP in Stuart.

8.13pm. SA: Does anyone know anything about Mount Gambier? The SEO has the Liberals leading Rory McEwen 55.1-44.9 on 2CP, but that’s not my reading from the primary vote with McEwen well ahead of Labor and only slightly behind the Liberals.

8.11pm. SA: First, very small figures from the upper house reportedly show an extraordinarily high vote for Nick Xenophon and the Liberals, in the words of Chris Schacht, possibly struggling for a fourth seat – an unprecedent failure if correct.

8.10pm. Tasmania: Big figures now up in Franklin, with nearly 70 per cent counted. Labor’s primary vote is now down to 47.0 per cent while the Liberals are on 31.2 per cent – so Labor are 3.0 per cent short of a third quota and Liberal are 2.1 per cent of a second. I personally would not be writing off Labor from holding off a third seat, but that doesn’t seem to be the general perception.

8.04pm. Tasmania: ALP apparatchik David O’Byrne says Labor is likely to win a seat off the Greens in Bass because the popularity of his sister, Michelle O’Byrne, is likely to bring another member across the line at the expense of Kim Booth. That member would almost certainly be Steve Reissig. So the most likely overall outcome as far as I can see is that the Labor loses a seat to the Liberals in Franklin and gains one from the Greens in Bass, and the total goes from 14-4-7 to 14-3-8.

8.00pm. Tasmania: Taking a step back, the only variation from the status quo that anyone is discussing is the possible loss of a Labor seat in Franklin. So unless I’m missing something, Labor look likely to retain their majority.

7.58pm. SA: Newland is clearly a shocker for the Liberals – a third of the vote counted and Labor on 61.2 per cent of the primary vote.

7.57pm. SA: It’s certainly not clear that Labor will win Stuart, from what I can see. The website has 16 per cent of the vote counted and Graham Gunn on 51.9 per cent. But that could be because the big Port Augusta booths are not in yet, and the tide will turn heavily when they are.

7.55pm. SA: Early figures from Mount Gambier, 6.0 per cent, and independent member Rory McEwen is doing better than expected with 46.2 per cent of the vote. It’s hard to see how he could lose from there, given that Labor are on 22.3 per cent. The ABC computer apparently predicts two independents, which I gather does not include Karlene Maywald. It also has Labor on 29 seats, which suggests that one of my calls for Labor is not looking certain. No idea which one though.

7.53pm. Tasmania: Finally more figures from Franklin, the count up to 17.9 per cent. Labor are down to 48.9 per cent, so still at least some chance of retaining three seats, although Paula Wreidt is definitely in danger. The Greens’ Nick McKim looks secure. Vanessa Goodwin would most likely be a new Liberal member.

7.51pm. Tasmania: The ABC says the swing against Labor is fading from about 4 per cent to 2 per cent, with the Liberals up 4 per cent, with the Greens down 2 per cent.

7.51pm. SA: Clearly my guess about that early Unley booth was on the money. Commenter Scott says the swing is only 3 per cent (from just 3.2 per cent of the count) and Dean Jaensch is saying Liberal retain.

7.5opm. Tasmania: Bearing in mind that the ABC has twice as many votes counted as are being published on the Electoral Commission site.

7.49pm. Tasmania: Labor’s vote is coming down in Bass, now down to 48.9 per cent. A 2-2-1 result is looking more likely, but 3-1-1- is still possible.

7.47pm. Tasmania: Results are slow to come through in Denison and Franklin. ABC Radio says 26 per cent is counted and Labor’s total vote is down about 4 per cent and the Liberals up about 6 per cent.

7.45pm. SA: A commenter (onya Scott – anyone else out there?) says the swing to Labor in the marginal Liberal seat of Mawson is a relatively subdued 5 per cent, still enough to cost them the seat.

7.44pm. SA: Only 3.2 per cent counted in Unley, but Labor leads 47.0 per cent to 40.5 per cent. Maybe this is from the Labor-leaning Goodwood area of the electorate. Liberal Hartley MP Joe Scalzi is on ABC Radio and doesn’t sound too confident. One of his interviewers is telling him he’s lost.

7.42pm. SA: Antony Green’s computer says the overall swing to Labor is 8.4 per cent, and their commenter is talking of 30 seats which is what I had predicted.

7.41pm. SA: Chris Schacht is only talking of a maximum of 28 seats, although he may be restraining himself. He says Hartley is not in the bag.

7.40pm. SA: The Liberals are all but conceding defeat in Norwood, which had been the subject of excited talk of a Liberal gain in the past few days.

7.36pm. Tasmania: Greens member Nick McKim says they are confident they will hold their seat in Bass.15 per cent in from Lyons – Labor holding up well, down only 1 per cent, but the Liberals are up 7 per cent. Perhaps this is where that overall swing is coming from. Labor will win three seats if they stay above 50 per cent, so it’s possible that the Greens will lose their seat despite a solid 14.2 per cent. A second Liberal winner would most certainly be Geoff Page. Someone has just said on ABC Radio that the Greens will not win a seat in Braddon, the only electorate where they do not do so currently, and that it will again by three Labor, two Liberal.

7.33pm. ABC Radio is talking about an overall Liberal increase of 7 per cent, which is more than what I’m seeing.

7.32pm. Tasmania: We’re now up to an almost meaningful 16.5 per cent of the count in Bass. The Liberals have only picked up about 1 per cent from Labor and the Greens are down 1 per cent. Last time the Liberals were very lucky to win two seats here, and may only narrowly do so again. If there is a third Labor winner it is likely to be Steve Reissig. On the Liberal ticket, Peter Gutwein leads former party leader Sue Napier 1386 to 990, with Napier having an uncomfortably narrow lead over David Fry, a former member who lost his seat in 2002.

7.30pm. SA: A talking head on ABC Television (I’m hearing this from News Radio so I can’t see who it is) is stalking as if Liberal veteran Graham Gunn is going to lose Stuart. The figures on the website have Gunn on 55.4 per cent, but that’s from 6.2 per cent of the vote and probably from booths away from the big towns.

7.28pm. Tasmania: About 5 per cent counted in Denison and the Greens are leading the Liberals, by enough to put a second Greens candidate (Cassy O’Connor) well into contention if it keeps up. Labor’s vote has plunged from 51 per cent to 39 per cent, but it’s too early to reach definite conclusions.

7.25pm. A closer look at Finniss: the Nationals are ahead of Labor, 19.9 per cent to 17.9 per cent, and presumably will pull in most of their preferences. The Liberals are on 41.2 per cent, still a winnable position, but this seat is one to keep an eye on.

7.23pm. Chris Schacht says there is a double-digit swing to Labor in Newland, held by the Liberals by about 5.5 per cent. Clearly we have a massacre on our hands here.

7.23pm. A bombshell from Finniss: Chris Pyne says Nationals candidate Kym McHugh is taking it right up to the Liberals.

7.22pm. Antony Green now on ABC Radio reeling through consistent Labor swings across various electorates of between 6 and 14 per cent.

7.20pm. SA: Stuart (the outback plus Port Augusta) reportedly swinging only slightly to Labor. The margin’s roughly 2 per cent, so this one could be tight.

7.17pm. Tasmania: 5 per cent now in from Franklin, and Labor’s primary vote is actually unchanged on 51 per cent despite the talk from earlier exit polls. Also little change for the Liberals (up about 1 per cent to 24 per cent) and the Greens (up about 1 per cent to 21 per cent). So talk of either Paula Wriedt or Lara Hiddings losing their seat may have been premature. Hiddings leads Wriedt, so the latter is indeed likely to be the casualty if there is one.

7.15pm. Pyne concedes the booth in question (the info here is from scrutineers, so these figures are not through yet) is quintessential middle class, and Chris Schacht says Labor has not won it in 20 years.

7.13pm. Federal Liberal MP Chris Pyne says there is a double-digit Labor swing in the marginal Liberal seat of Bright. Goodnight Irene.

7.13pm. South Australia: talk of a 7 per cent Labor swing in the marginal Labor seat of Croydon.

7.12pm. Still no meaningful results from Franklin in Tasmania, but now up to 7 per cent in Lyons. That exit poll’s looking good – Labor is indeed down by 5 per cent, but the Liberals are up 7 per cent and the Greens are down 1.5 per cent, but again, these are probably conservative booths. The distribution of the Labor vote among the candidates has remained the same.

7.09pm. Only 2.6 per cent counted, but in South Australia’s safest Liberal seat, Flinders, the Nationals vote is doubling from about 8 per cent to about 16 per cent. But Liberal member Liz Penfold is still well over 50 per cent.

7.05pm. In South Australia (I’m using Tasmanian time here, I’m afraid), former Labor Senator Chris Schacht says the Collinswood booth, in the only area of Enfield that is not extremely safe for Labor, is widely seen as a litmus test, and has swung heavily to Labor.

7.03pm. 2.73 per cent counted in Lyons. Labor incumbent Heather Butler is only slightly ahead of the other two Labor candidates, whereas Michael Polley and David Llewellyn look sure to be re-elected. Incumbents from the other parties (Rene Hidding for Liberal and Tim Morris for the Greens) comfortably lead their tickets. Overall, Labor are down 4 per cent, Liberal up 9 per cent and the Greens down 3 per cent, but these are probably conservative booths.

7.00pm. With 2.45 per cent counted in Braddon, there is no indication yet that either of the two Labor newcomers overcoming sitting member Brendon Best, as has been suggested. The main story in this seat is whether the Greens can win a seat, which they did not do last time. Overall, Labor is well down here and the Liberals well up, such that the Liberals lead 47.2 per cent to 40.5 per cent, but this is almost certainly because the results are from small conservative rural booths.

6.54pm. Results are starting to trickle in in Tasmania, though only 1.04 per cent counted. Michelle O’Byrne leads out of the Labor ticket in Bass with sitting member Jim Cox second and daylight third. On the totals, Labor are down about 3 per cent to the Greens with the Liberals stable. No idea where these booths are unfortunately.

6.48pm. Liberal Senator Guy Barnett is conceding Labor is likely to retain three seats in Denison, as they will need an extra 10 per cent of their vote. So the return of Labor’s David Barnett and Graeme Sturges and Peg Putt seems a foregone conclusion. There will be intra-party contests between a number of Labor candidates and Michael Hodgman and Fabian Dixon of the Liberals.

6.46pm. That exit poll reportedly has Labor down 5 per cent across the state and the Liberals up 3 per cent.

6.35pm. What the hell, I’ll do live commentary. I might get bored and give up, but we’ll see how we go. Polls closed in South Australia five minutes ago, and in Tasmania 35 minutes ago. ABC Radio says exit polls show Labor will lose one of their three seats in Franklin. The talk is that Paula Wriedt is more likely to lose her seat than Lara Giddings – obviously Paul Lennon is safe. If Labor loses two seats, they will lose their majority.

The late mail

It’s way past my bedtime, so readers will have to make what they will of the following last-minute poll results. Tomorrow I will reconsider my South Australian election guide assessments one last time, and most likely make a few adjustments in Labor’s favour.

Firstly, today’s Newspoll for South Australia:

Secondly, today’s Advertiser poll:

Thirdly, yesterday’s Newspoll for Tasmania:

Finally, yesterday’s Taspoll results from The Mercury.

Tasmanian election: Lyons form guide

Known until 1982 as Wilmot, the electorate of Lyons is made up of what’s left over after the north-west coast (Braddon), north-east coast (Bass), western Hobart (Denison) and eastern Hobart (Franklin, which also includes towns to the south to make up the numbers) are grouped together into communities of interest. It thus includes small towns on either side of Tasmania’s pronounced north-south divide, respectively including New Norfolk outside Hobart and Launceston’s southern outskirts, along with tough mining towns on the west coast, fishing towns and tourist centres on the east coast and a lot of farming land in between. Its profile has made it slightly conservative leaning by Tasmanian standards, though it has otherwise moved with the state’s distinct electoral rhythms over the decades.

The recent Liberal decline kicked in early in Lyons when former Premier Robin Gray took his personal vote into retirement at the 1996 election, which saw the Liberal vote drop by 16.3 per cent from its high point of 1992 (compared with a statewide average of 12.1 per cent). This cost them a seat and contributed to the Rundle government’s loss of a majority; another loss in 1998, when the number of seats was reduced from seven per electorate to five, helped cost the Liberals government. But the electorate had still not finished with them, and another dive in support in 2002 (which was actually fairly muted when compared with other electorates) saw the fall of yet another seat, this time to the Greens, who came back into the game after party leader and future Senator Christine Milne lost her seat in 1998. That left Deputy Leader Denise Swan fighting it out for the sole remaining Liberal seat with Rene Hidding, a bitter opponent of both Swan and leader Bob Cheek, who lost his seat in Denison. Hidding began with a slender lead of 3958 primary votes to 3905 but fell behind at one point during the distribution of preferences, recovering late in the count to prevail by just 82 votes.

David Llewellyn was first elected in 1986 and has served as a cabinet minister under Michael Field, Jim Bacon and Paul Lennon. His prestige grew as he handled the notoriously difficult health portfolio without serious incident, and he became Deputy Premier when lung cancer forced Jim Bacon to stand down as Premier in February 2004. This was despite resistance from the Left, which favoured Braddon MP Bryan Green. Weighing up the two contenders at the time, Ellen Whinnett of The Mercury listed Llewellyn’s strengths as being "hard-working, sincere (and) able to get across the detail of the portfolios", and his weaknesses as being "soporific", a "poor public speaker" and "lacking in aggression". Llewellyn has kept a low profile during the election campaign, which the Liberals say is due to his anger at a "shady factional deal" which they claim will cost him the deputy leadership after the election.

Michael Polley has had by far the longest uninterrupted run in the House of Assembly of any current sitting member, having first been elected in 1972 at the age of 22. He held fairly minor portfolio responsibilities until the Labor-Greens accord government of Michael Field came to power in 1989, when he began his first stint in the Speaker’s chair, a position he resumed when the current Labor government came to power in 1998. His sister, Helen Polley, was elected to the Senate at the 2004 federal election. The above table compares his performance on the primary vote with that of Llewellyn since the latter entered parliament in 1986.

Labor’s third successful candidate in 2002 was Ken Bacon (no relation to Jim), who won a seat in 1998 at the expense of sitting Labor member and now Franklin MP Lara Giddings (Christian Kerr of Crikey, then travelling under his Hillary Bray pseudonym, speculated that voters had him confused with Jim) and was returned with 14.3 per cent of the vote. Bacon retired in April 2005, ostensibly due to health problems associated with diabetes, although he had recently resigned as Tourism Minister after stumbling through parliamentary hearings into huge losses incurred by the TT-Line’s ferry service from Sydney. The Mercury later reported that Bacon felt he had been undermined by Michael Polley, suggesting this was the reason he endorsed former Liberal candidate Russell Anderson for his run against Polley’s wife Kim for the mayoralty of Northern Midlands.

With Llewellyn, Polley and Bacon dominating the Labor vote in 2002, not much was left for their remaining candidates, but one of them was needed to fill the void created by Bacon’s retirement. The recount was won by east coast tourism operator Heather Butler, who polled just 3.1 per cent in 2002 and is said by Sue Neales of The Mercury to have "not exactly been a parliamentary star performer". Concerns that a stronger candidate was required to retain three seats for Labor prompted Paul Lennon to poach Wendy Kennedy, a television and Hobart social identity, but she withdrew at the last minute citing family pressures. The newcomer Labor candidates are Sorell councillor and former mayor Kerry Degrassi (said to be backed by the Left faction) and teacher and football coach Malcolm Upston.

Dutch-born Rene Hidding (first name pronounced "reen", although his foes delight in doing otherwise) ascended to the Liberal leadership after the disastrous 2002 election result deprived the party of both leader Bob Cheek and deputy leader Denise Swan, who stood together at the other side of the schism that rent the parliamentary party throughout the previous term. Hidding does not come off well in Cheek’s recently published memoir, Cheeky: Confessions of a Ferret Salesman, in which Cheek complains of persistent acts of betrayal and delights in revealing that Hidding has avoided financial portfolios because he was declared bankrupt while working as a used car salesman in 1981. Hidding had better luck in business after setting up a building industry company with his four brothers, and served on Launceston City Council from 1985 to 1992. He was elected to Lyons from 7.6 per cent of the vote in 1996 and has been an unspectacular electoral performer since, polling 11.2 per cent in 1998 and 7.0 per cent in 2002.

The new Liberal candidates are Richmond businesswoman Jane Howlett, whom Sue Neales of The Mercury rates a strong chance if the Liberals pick up a second seat; Sorell businessman Andrew Wright, also reckoned to be running a "strong campaign"; Meander Valley transport operator Geoff Page, who as the federal candidate for Lyons in 2001 was the only Liberal candidate in the state to achieve a swing; and Richard Shoobridge, Timber Communities Australia branch president and former Tasman councillor.

Former tourism operator Tim Morris came to parliament via Derwent Valley Council, comfortably topping a ticket of untried Greens candidates in 2002 with 9.1 per cent of the vote. He is considered likely to retain his seat and is unlikely to be threatened by his party running mates: state party convenor Karen Cassidy, Buckland grazier Helen Gee, Dunally businesswoman Frederika Perey and former Kentish councillor Annie Willock.