Of plagues and houses

Results finalised on Queensland’s two status quo state by-election results, and COVID-19 question marks over looming elections in New Zealand, the Northern Territory and for two Tasmanian upper house seats.

Counting has concluded for the Currumbin and Bundamba by-elections of a fortnight ago, with Laura Gerber retaining Currumbin for the Liberal National Party by a 1.5% margin against a 1.8% swing to Labor, and Lance McCallum retaining Bundamba for Labor by a 9.6% margin ahead of second-placed One Nation (UPDATE: Make that a 1.2% margin in Currumbin and 9.8% in Bundamba). As noted previously, the flow of Greens preferences to Labor in Currumbin was relatively weak, though not quite decisively so. Deep within the innards of the ECQ’s media feed, it says that Greens preferences were going 1738 to Labor (72.8%) and 651 (27.2%), though this can’t be based on the final figures since the Greens received 2527 rather than 2389 votes. Had Labor received 79.17% of Greens preferences, as they did in the corresponding federal seat of McPherson last May, the margin would have been pared back from 567 (1.5%) to 215 (0.5%).

I have three tables to illustrate the results in light of the highly unusual circumstances of the election, the first of which updates one that appeared in an early post, recording the extent to which voters in the two seats changed their behaviour with respect to how they voted. Election day voting obviously fell dramatically, as voters switched to pre-poll voting and, to only a slightly lesser extent, outright abstention. What was not seen was a dramatic increase in postal voting, which will require investigation given the considerable anecdotal evidence that many who applied for postal votes did not receive their ballots on time — an even more contentious matter in relation to the mess that unfolded in Wisconsin on Tuesday, on which I may have more to say at a later time.

The next two tables divide the votes into four types, polling places, early voting, postal and others, and record the parties’ vote shares and swings compared with 2017, the latter shown in italics. In both Currumbin and Bundamba, Labor achieved their weakest results in swing terms on polling day votes, suggesting Labor voters made the move from election day to pre-poll voting in particularly large numbers, cancelling out what had previously been an advantage to the LNP in pre-poll voting. This is matched by a particularly strong swing against the LNP on pre-polls in Currumbin, but the effect is not discernible in Bundamba, probably because the picture was confused by the party running third and a chunk of its vote being lost to One Nation, who did not contest last time.

In other COVID-19 disruption news:

• The Northern Territory government has rejected calls from what is now the territory’s official opposition, Terry Mills’ Territory Alliance party (UPDATE: Turns out I misheard here – the Country Liberal Party remains the opposition, as Bird of Paradox notes in comments), to postpone the August 22 election. Of the practicalities involved in holding the election under a regime of social distancing rules, which the government insists will be in place for at least six months, Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison offers only that “the Electoral Commission is looking at the very important questions of how we make sure that in the environment of COVID-19 that we do this safely”.

• After an initial postponement from May 2 to May 30, the Tasmanian government has further deferred the periodic elections for the Legislative Council seats of Huon and Rosevear, promising only that they will be held by the time the chamber sits on August 25. Three MLCs have written to the Premier requesting that the elections either be held by post or for the terms of the existing members, which will otherwise expire, to be extended through to revised polling date.

• The junior partner in New Zealand’s ruling coalition, Winston Peters of New Zealand First, is calling for the country’s September 19 election to be postponed to November 21, which has also elicited positive noises from the opposition National Party. It might well be thought an element of self-interest is at work here, with Peters wishing to put distance between the election and a donations scandal that has bedeviled his party, and National anticipating a short-term surge in government support amid the coronavirus crisis. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be softening in her opposition to the notion, saying earlier this week it would “depend on what alert level we are at”. There has regrettably been no polling of voting intention in New Zealand in two months, although the government recorded enormously encouraging results in a Colmar Brunton poll on handling of the pandemic in New Zealand and eight other countries, conducted last week.

Another three things

A bluffers’ guide to Saturday’s elections in Queensland, plus further items of marginal interest.

No Newspoll this week it seems. News you can use:

• Queensland’s elections on the weekend are covered in extensive and ongoing detail here. To cut a long story short: the state by-elections of Bundamba and Currumbin resulted in victories for the incumbent parties, namely Labor and the Liberal National Party respectively; Adrian Schrinner of the LNP was re-elected as lord mayor of Brisbane; and the LNP have almost certainly retained a healthy majority on Brisbane City Council. In Bundamba, the LNP ran third behind One Nation (and probably shouldn’t have bothered to run), whose presence in the field also took a bite out of the Labor primary vote. Labor did manage to improve their primary vote at the LNP’s expense in Currumbin, where One Nation is a lot weaker, but the latter’s presence means they will get a lower share of the combined preferences and thus fail to bite into the LNP’s existing 3.3% margin. There has been no notional two-party count, but scrutineers’ figures cited by Antony Green suggest Labor received an uncommonly weak 71% share of Greens preferences.

• Roy Morgan’s promise that it would provide further detail on its half-way intriguing findings on trust in political and business leaders (see here and here) has borne disappointing fruit. Rather than provide the trust and distrust scores as most of us would have hoped, a follow-up release offers only blurry impressions as to the specific attributes that caused the various leaders to be trusted or distrusted, in which “honest/genuine” and “integrity/sincerity” were uselessly listed as distinct response options.

• The Tasmanian government has delayed the date for the periodical Legislative Council elections, which this year encompass the seats of Huon and Rosevears, but only from May 2 to May 30. The Tasmanian Electoral Commission says this will give it more time to “ensure electors have access to the voting process and to maintain the integrity of the 2020 Legislative Council elections during the COVID-19 pandemic”, which presumably means a greater emphasis on postal, pre-poll and maybe telephone voting.

Pestilential as anything

Democracy battles on in the face of adversity in Queensland and (at least for now) Tasmania, as a poll finds most Australians believe the media is exaggerating the crisis (at least for now).

The campaigns for Queensland’s local government elections and Currumbin and Bundamaba state by-elections next Saturday are proceeding in the most trying of circumstances. My guides to the by-elections can be found on the sidebar; I’ll find something to say about the Brisbane City Council elections, which I have thus far neglected entirely, later this week. Updates:

• The Electoral Commission of Queensland relates that 560,000 postal vote applications have been received for the statewide local government elections, which compares with 260,680 postal votes cast at the previous elections in 2016. However, not all applications will result in completed votes being returned – the conversion rate in Queensland at last year’s federal election was 86.0%. There have also been more than 500,000 pre-poll votes, exceeding the 435,828 cast in 2016 with a week left to go. To those understandably reluctant to turn out on so-called polling day next Saturday, the commission has been expanding opening hours at pre-poll booths. All of which will make the results that come in on Saturday night particularly hard to follow.

• A ban has been imposed on the dissemination of how-to-vote cards and canvassing for votes at polling booths. Booth supervisors may allow the material to be displayed at the booths “in a manner deemed appropriate”.

Elsewhere:

• An international poll by Ipsos on attitudes to coronavirus finds 34% of Australians strongly agree, and 35% somewhat agree, with closing borders until the virus “is proved to be contained”, which is about average among the twelve nations surveyed. The survey has been conducted over four waves going back to early February, in which time the number of respondents identifying a very high or high threat to them personally has risen from around 10% to 23%. However, Australians recorded among the highest response in favour of the proposition that the media was exaggerating about the virus, which actually increased over the past fortnight from the high forties to 58%. A notable outlier in respect of all questions is Italy, where only 29% now say the media is exaggerating the threat, slumping from around 80%.

• Tasmanian Attorney-General Elise Archer announced this week that May 2 elections for the Legislative Council seats of Huon and Rosevears are “safe to proceed”, with “significant measures being put in place to maintain public safety”.

• A Roy Morgan SMS poll of 974 respondents asked whether respondents trusted or distrusted a list of current and former politicians that included Jacinda Ardern, but was apparently otherwise entirely Australian. All we are given at this stage is a top ten list of the best net performers, which is headed by Jacinda Ardern and otherwise notable for not including a single male conservative. However, this is all pretty useless without hard numbers, which will apparently be forthcoming “in coming days”.

Tasmanian upper house: Nelson, Pembroke, Montgomery

Live coverage of the count for elections in three of the 15 seats in Tasmania’s Legislative Council.

Live commentary

8.34pm. Still a few booths to come in from Nelson, but I’m ready to summarise and wrap it up for the night. In short, the Liberals retained Montgomery, and did so off a better result than they managed at the 2016 election; Labor retained Pembroke, and ditto (although their primary vote was lower). In Nelson, what we have at this stage is votes widely scattered between ten different candidates, and little idea of knowing what might happen when preferences are distributed – although Kevin Bonham, who knows a lot more about how preferences behave in these elections, thinks it unlikely that the Liberal will win. The seat will more likely be won by one of two independents (Vica Bailey or Meg Webb), neither of whom is former Labor MP Madeleine Ogilvie.

8.03pm. All booths in but the mobile one in Montgomery, plus a batch of postals, and here Liberal leads Labor 43.2% to 25.8%. And again for what it’s worth, the booths here went Labor 41.8%, Liberal 39.6% at the 2016 federal election.

7.58pm. The count has been quick in Pembroke – all polling booths in plus a batch of postals. Labor leads Liberal 45.7% to 24.8% — for what it’s worth, the booths here went Labor 50.0% and Liberal 35.9% at the 2016 federal election.

7.38pm. Montgomery. Leonie Hiscutt is looking good now, on a number of fronts. She has done well in three newly added town booths, essentially maintaining her 2013 vote after falling by around 6% in the rural booths, where she lost votes to Shooters Fishers and Farmers. My projection for her is up to 41.4%, and I’m now inclined to think she will do well on Shooters preferences, if these are voters who supported her formerly. Furthermore, the town booths have put Labor well ahead of independent Cheryl Fuller, setting a final Liberal-versus-Labor count that Labor can’t win.

7.34pm. Nic Street keeps falling in Nelson, now down to 24.0% with nine booths in out of 13.

7.33pm. Nineteen booths out of 29 from Montgomery, and there’s a big disconnect between Leonie Hiscutt’s raw 45.7%, which looks safe for her, and the 6.2% drop in her primary vote out of those 14 booths that can readily be booth-matched from last time. This partly because Hiscutt has weak booths to come in Ulverstone. The projection suggests around 40%, which could be dangerous for her if independent Cheryl Fuller gets ahead of Labor. However, Labor’s lead in that respect continues to widen, increasing the rate of preferences Fuller will need from Shooters to take the fight up to Hiscutt, if her primary vote indeed ends up as low as I’m projecting it.

7.23pm. Six out of 12 booths in from Nelson, and Liberal candidate Nic Street is down to 26.5%. One vote separates Vica Bailey and Madeleine Ogilvie for second place, though the matter will obviously be decided by preferences. Voters are only directed to number a minimum of three boxes, so with 10 candidates in the field there will be a fairly substantial exhaustion rate. Flows of preferences in these circumstances are an arcane subject on which I can offer little insight.

7.10pm. Labor’s Jo Siejka headed for an easy win in Pembroke, now up 19.6% on her vote in 2017 with two booths in out of 12.

7.05pm. My projections for Montgomery with 15 booths in still have Liberal member Leonie Hiscutt inside 40% on the primary vote, which looks dangerous for her, but there are four booths out of the mix which I’m not booth-matching because they weren’t in use in 2013, and those are stronger for her. Labor has pulled into second ahead of Cheryl Fuller, so it looks like Fuller will need a solid flow of Shooters preferences to make it to second, but for which Hiscutt should be able to hold. However, I’m less clear now that she won’t prevail in a final count between herself and Fuller.

7.03pm. First booth in from Nelson is Sandy Bay Beach. With the vote scattered among ten candidates, this is going to be very difficult to read. Liberal candidate Nic Street is well clear on the primary vote on 30.4%, but preferences will presumably flow heavily against him. Independent and former Labor MP Madeleine Ogilvie is only in third place on 14.2%, the behind Vica Bailey on 15.2%, who perhaps not coincidentally drew first place on the ballot paper.

7.00pm. The first booth in Pembroke, Mornington, looks very good for Labor incumbent Jo Siejka, who scores 55.4% in a booth where she got 41.1% in the 2017 by-election. This is a strong booth for Labor, so I’m projecting it to 47.5%, though that’s still enough for a comfortable victory. The Liberal vote is steady at 21.4%.

6.45pm. Eight booths in now from Montgomery out of 29, and the previous assessment pretty much still holds – Liberal headed for 39%, Fuller’s raw lead over Labor at 20.7% to 18.8%. I should note however that Shooters are on 16.2%, and their preferences may very well keep Fuller ahead of Labor. If Labor makes second, the Liberal (and we’re talking about an incumbent here, Leonie Hiscutt) should win. Otherwise, she risks losing to the independent, Cheryl Fuller.

6.40pm. There are five booths in from Montgomery, and from the four that can be booth-matched, the Liberals would appear to be down 8.1%, which projects to a total of 38%. I’m guessing that would be too low if an independent finished ahead of Labor, and on that score it’s touch and go, with independent Cheryl Fuller on 20.5% to Labor’s 19.7%. My feeling would be though that Labor might pull ahead as larger booths come in.

Overview

Polls have closed for Tasmania’s there upper house elections. To the lay observer, Pembroke and Montgomery may be respectively read as a barometers of partisan sentiment in the south and north of the state, but otherwise these are, psephologically speaking, rather boutique affairs. Live commentary will follow here, but Kevin Bonham will do it better. Precis for the three electorates:

Nelson. Hobart’s riverside southern suburbs around Sandy Bay and the satellite town of Kingston. Jim Wilkinson is retiring after 24 years as independent member, and an uncommonly large field of ten has stepped forward hoping to fill his place. The Liberal Party has a candidate, Nic Street, and Labor has a proxy of sorts in independent Madeleine Ogilvie, which is the opposite of what ususally happens. Both are former members of the lower house – Street got a seat in Franklin on a countback in 2016 when Paul Harriss (a former upper house independent who went lower house and Liberal in 2014) retired, but failed to retain the seat in 2018, and Ogilvie was elected in Denison in 2014 but defeated in 2018, having alienated Labor supporters through her opposition to same-sex marriage. The rest of the field consists of the Greens, Shooters Fishers and Farmers and six further independents.

Pembroke. The Hobart suburbs on the eastern shore of the Derwent River. This has had a particularly partisan record, having been held for Labor by Allison Ritchie from 2001 to 2009; then being won for the Liberals by Vanessa Goodwin at the resulting by-election; and then being won for Labor by Jo Seijka at another by-election in November 2017, held when Goodwin retired after being diagnosed with brain tumours (of which she died on the day of the March 2018 state election). Siejka is opposed by a Liberal, Kristy Johnson; two independents, including Tony Mulder, who held the upper house seat of Rumney from 2011 to 2017, when he was defeated by Labor’s Sarah Lovell; another independent, Ronald Cornish; and Carlo di Falco of Shooters Fishers and Farmers.

Montgomery. Part of Burnie and the coast immediately to its east, including Penguin and Ulverstone. Liberal member Leonie Hiscutt is defending the seat, which she won at the last periodical election in 2013 upon the retirement of Sue Smith, who had held it as an independent for 16 years. She is opposed by Labor’s Michelle Rippon, independent Cheryl Fuller, and Brenton Jones of Shooters Fishers and Farmers.

EMRS: Liberal 47, Labor 30, Greens 14 in Tasmania

A fairly typical post-election honeymoon poll result for Will Hodgman’s Liberal government in Tasmania, which has also laid claim to a seat in the Legislative Council after the recent periodic elections.

EMRS has published its first poll of Tasmanian state voting intention since the March election, and it records the Liberals on 47% (compared with 51.2% at the election and 46% in the pre-election poll in February), Labor on 30% (32.6% at the election, 34% in the last poll) and Greens on 14% (10.3% and 12%). Will Hodgman holds a 47-41 lead as preferred premier, little changed on 48-41 in February. The poll was conducted from May 7 to May 10, from a sample of 1000.

While on the subject of matters Tasmanian, the results for the upper house elections on May 5 have been resolved, and the contested seat of Prosser ended up being a win for the Liberals, who again have a second seat in the chamber after losing Vanessa Goodwin to cancer. The threat to the Liberal candidate, Jane Howlett, appeared to be from independent Steve Mav, but he ended up falling well behind Labor candidate Janet Lambert to be excluded before the final count, at which case he had 5392 votes to Lambert’s 5910 and Howlett’s 6885. With the distribution of Mav’s preferences, Howlett finished ahead of Lambert by 8776 to 7889, a margin of 2.7%.

In the seat of Hobart, independent incumbent Rob Valentine’s re-election has been confirmed by an 11.0% margin over rival independent Richard Griggs, with Valentine recording 11,032 votes to Griggs’ 7051 at the final count.

Tasmanian upper house elections: Prosser and Hobart

Live count commentary and an overview of today’s elections for two seats in Tasmania’s Legislative Council.

Live counting

Prosser results

#
%
Swing
Jane Howlett (Liberal)
4972
26.1%
-20.0%
Janet Lambert (Labor)
4184
22.0%
-15.8%
Steve Mav (Independent)
3765
19.8%
Tony Mulder (Independent)
1847
9.7%
Others
4288
22.5%
Formal
19056
Booths reporting (out of 27)
27

Sunday night. A few more pre-poll, postal and other votes have been added in Prosser, with no more than 421 votes still outstanding. None of this provides any illumination on what we need to know, which is whether Steve Mav can overtake Labor to finish second, and if he can gain enough preferences to overhaul Jane Howlett if so. We won’t know that until next Tuesday, as the TEC apparently has no plans to conduct an indicative preference throw. In Hobart, it has been determined that Rob Valentine has a 61-39 lead over Richard Griggs after preferences.

8.23pm. Prosser: Not quite as good a result for Mav from 1411 postals, but he’s definitely still in the hunt. Hobart: Only one booth outstanding, and the only point of interest is the size of Rob Valentine’s final winning margin over Richard Griggs.

7.59pm. Prosser: Sorell, one of the electorate’s three large booths, has now reported, and the numbers are exactly those provided to Kevin Bonham.

7.54pm. Kevin Bonham again: “I’ve seen a scrutineering sheet from prepoll with prefs of Mav and Mulder estimated to be 60-70% to Liberal and those of Playsted even.” So Howlett will clearly win if Mav doesn’t make it to second place.

Continue reading “Tasmanian upper house elections: Prosser and Hobart”

Tasmanian upper house by-election: Pembroke

Preview of today’s dry run for a Tasmanian state election due in March.

Live counting

# %
Doug Chipman (Independent) 4122 19.7%
Carlo Di Falco (SFF) 645 3.1%
Bill Harvey (Greens) 1964 9.4%
Richard James (Independent) 1538 7.3%
Jo Siejka (Labor) 6802 32.5%
James Walker (Liberal) 5388 25.7%
Hans Willink (Independent) 492 2.3%
Formal 20951
Booths counted on primary (out of 11): 11
Total as % of enrolment: 65.4%

Sunday

9pm. Labor’s Jo Siejka has romped home in the provisional preference distribution with a winning margin of 11,709 to 8674, or 7.4%. The TEC has also published a Labor-versus-Chipman throw in which the winning margin is 2.4%. For that to take effect, Chipman will have to close a 200 vote deficit against Liberal candidate James Walker to make the final count, but the maximum possible number of outstanding postals is only 394.

4.50pm. There turns out to be not much in it between Chipman and the Liberal at the second last exclusion: 6174 to 5974, a margin of 200. I’m not sure about the situation with postals, but it wouldn’t seem likely that the gap is going to close. How Chipman might have done in a final count against Labor will never be known, but he would have needed something like three quarters of all preferences to have won.

4.30pm. Nothing further from the Electoral Commission, but the word on Twitter is that Labor has won comfortably, the surprise packet being Doug Chipman’s preferences, which broke about evenly.

3pm. A preliminary progressive preference count is being published exclusion by exclusion on the Electoral Commission site. So far the two independents and Shooters candidate have been excluded, and slightly more preferences have gone to Labor than Liberal. Still more have gone to Doug Chipman, who now trails the Liberal 5961 to 5311 and needs the distribution of 2387 Greens votes to close the gap – since most will presumably go straight to Labor, this probably isn’t going to happen. That will bring the final count down to Labor and Liberal, with Liberal needing as much as 80% of Chipman’s preferences – and the word from those at the coal face on Twitter is that he’ll barely manage 60% (not allowing for exhaustion, which will raise the bar still higher).

Continue reading “Tasmanian upper house by-election: Pembroke”

Tasmanian upper house elections live

Live counting of today’s three upper house elections in Tasmania, the most interesting of which pits a Liberal-identifying independent incumbent against a Labor challenger.

Rumney results and projection

# % Swing Projection
Cheryl Arnol (SFP) 1220 6.7%
Sarah Lovell (ALP) 6268 34.3% +1.2% 34.0%
Steve Mav (IND) 3549 19.4%
Tony Mulder (IND) 4760 26.0% -2.2% 26.1%
Shelley Shay (IND) 1455 8.0%
Debra Thurley (IND) 1023 5.6%
Booths counted (out of 19): 19

Sunday

11pm. We now have a “completed” preference distribution — bearing in mind that this is provisional, unlike every other full preference distribution (as distinct from notional two-candidate preferred count) I’ve ever seen, and that late arriving postal votes will still be added to the result — and Sarah Lovell has emerged with 52.3% of the two-candidate preferred vote. This is more than enough, as Mulder has acknowledged by conceding defeat.

6.30pm. The TEC has published the first stages of a provisional preference distribution, with three candidates excluded and three left in the count, and so far Sarah Lovell is getting more preferences than Tony Mulder rather than less — 1676 to 1396, with Steve Mav receiving 1501. Even if none of the votes from the Steve Mav exclusion exhausted, Mulder would need to receive two-thirds of them to win, which seems highly unlikely given what we’ve seen so far. In Launceston, a completed preference distribution finds Rosemary Armitage retaining the seat from Neroli Ellis by a margin of 2.1%.

Saturday

End of night. Kevin Bonham in comments relates that Labor scrutineers believe they will do it easily in Rumney, with a margin of around 53-47 after preferences. However, the Mulder camp disputes this, and believes it will be lineball. Kevin also disputes my assessment that there will be more than a handful of exhausted votes, based on how things panned out in Rumney in 2011.

8.12pm. Rumney: All booths are now in, together with slightly over 1000 postal votes, and the distinction between the raw count and my projection has now more or less disappeared. Labor performed well in the late performing larger booths, presumably suggesting a tendency to perform will on the edges of Hobart, a pattern that was also evident at last year’s federal election and in Western Australia. The upshot is that Mulder has an 8% gap to close with distribution of preferences from the excluded candidates, who collectively accounted for around 40% of the vote. Past form suggests about 8% out of that 40% should exhaust, so Mulder will be counting on non-exhausting preferences to break about 20% to 12% in his favour.

7.40pm. Murchison and Launceston: Ruth Forrest has clearly retained Murchison, where her lead is now 6.6%. The picture in Launceston is stable, with Armitage leading about 34% to 30% and the result to be decided by preferences, on which I can offer no insight.

7.38pm. Rumney: Two big booths, Lauderdale and Cambridge, have now reported, and the results are very good for Labor, particularly in Cambridge where they’re up 5.0% on 2011, while Mulder is down 10.4%. My projected Labor lead on the primary vote is now 7.7%, which is perhaps enough to make Mulder sweat.

7.27pm. Murchison: Ruth Forrest’s lead continues to inflate, now at 5.1%. Launceston: Neroli Ellis pokes her head about 30%, Rosemary Armitage at 34.0%.

7.26pm. Rumney: Labor gets a good result at Seven Mile Beach and an okay one at Clarendon Vale. Still tracking to win the primary vote by 4% to 5%, with everything down to preferences. For those who have just joined us, voters in these elections are required to number at least three boxes.

7.25pm. Launceston. Norwood both puts both the leading contenders about two points higher on the primary vote, with Armitage’s lead at a presumably sufficient 5.5%. Murchison: Ruth Forrest’s lead now at 4.9%, with six booths still to come.

7.21pm. Rumney: Dodges Ferry and Sandford now in, the two biggest booths so far at 1884 and 1137 votes. Sandford is quite a good result for Labor, Dodges Ferry less so.

7.18pm. Murchison: Evidently Smithton is a focal point of support for independent challenger Daryl Quilliam, as it’s broken 1024-562 his way and cut Ruth Forrest’s lead all the way back from about 9% to 3.9%.

7.15pm. Launceston. Three more booths in (Hadpsen, Five Ways and Youngtown) push Armitage’s lead over Ellis out from 33.6% to 27.2%, which would presumably be sufficient for her.

7.11pm. Launceston. A third booth, Launceston, is consistent with the first two. Murchison: 21 booths in out of 29, Forrest’s lead now more like 59-41.

7.09pm. Rumney: Four booths report all at once — Dunally, Forcett, Primrose Sands and Richmond — and do little to change the overall picture, which is that Tony Mulder is steady and Labor is down slightly. Mulder is only slightly clear of independent Steve Mav in second place, but probably far enough, and I can only assume that mostly conservative preferences will win the day for him.

7.05pm. Launceston: A second booth is now in, Summerhill, and Armitage still has only a slight lead over Neroli Ellis of 410 to 373. So a lot will depend on preferences from Labor and the Greens.

7.02pm. Rumney: Another booth added, Nubeena, is a weak result for Labor, although that may be influenced by the fact that I’ve folded the result from out-of-use Saltwater River booth into the 2011 result for my swing calculation. In any case, Labor leads 32.4% to 25.2% on the primary vote, but the equivalent results from these booths in 2011 was 39.0% to 25.4%.

6.56pm. Murchison: Over half the booths are now in, and Ruth Forrest is maintaining her 57-43 lead over independent challenger Daryl Quilliam.

6.54pm. Rumney: Two more results in, South Arm and Taranna. I’m now projecting a tight race on the primary vote, but presumably preferences, all of which come from independents or Shooters and Fishers, will favour Mulder.

6.52pm. Launceston: The first booth in, South Launceston with 477 formal votes, suggests incumbent Rosemary Armitage (148 votes, 31.0%) is under at least some pressure from independent challenger Neroli Ellis (123 votes, 25.8%).

6.42pm. Murchison: Fourteen booths in now, Forrest leads 1333-1032.

6.39pm. Rumney: Much fewer votes were cast in Port Arthur this time — 107 compared with 185 — and Labor’s share dropped from 43.8% to 27.1%.

6.38pm. Murchison: Ruth Forrest’s early scare had faded. She now leads 452-281 with six booths counted out of 29.

6.36pm. Rumney: The Port Arthur booth is a lot less good for Labor than Copping. But we’re talking 199 votes in Copping and 107 in Port Arthur, whereas Lauderdale, Rokeby, Dodges Ferry and Sorell should be approaching 2000.

6.30pm. The first booth in from Rumney is Copping, and while it’s only 199 votes, it’s encouraging for Labor — their candidate has outscored Mulder 57 votes to 54, which is 5% higher than Labor managed in this booth at last year’s federal election. As you can see, I’ve got my table in action now. The projection is based on booth-matched swings from now compared with 2011.

6.23pm. I don’t know anything about Daryl Quilliam, independent candidate in Murchison, but he’s doing rather well in the two-horse race against incumbent Ruth Forrest — with two booths in, Forrest leads 146-129.

6pm. Polls have closed for today’s Tasmanian elections for the upper house seats of Rumney (running from Hobart’s eastern outskirts through Sorell to Port Arthur), Murchison (covering the west of the state) and Launceston (self-explanatory). Rumney is the most interesting, because it’s a battle between a Liberal-identifying independent incumbent, Tony Mulder, and a Labor candidate, Sarah Lovell, less than a year out from a state election. I will have a table showing swings and a projected primary vote final result when we get some numbers in, which should be reasonably early given there are a lot of small booths involved here, except in Launceston.