Ends and odds

Recent matters to report that aren’t state poll results.

It’s been a big couple of days for state opinion polls: a shock Newspoll from South Australia three weeks out from the election, a YouGov poll showing Labor still in front in Queensland, and a Resolve Strategic finding that Labor is back in the game in New South Wales. As well as all that, I can offer the following summary of miscellaneous developments to hang a new open thread off:

• The Age/Herald has related that the small sample of 170 Western Australian respondents from the recent Resolve Strategic poll had 64% supporting Mark McGowan’s decision to scrap the originally proposed date of February 5 for reopening the state’s border, with only 32% opposed. This compares with 39% and 47% respectively from the national sample of 1604.

• The Liberal National Party candidate for the Labor-held marginal seat of Lilley in Brisbane, Ryan Shaw, has announced his withdrawal. Shaw is an army veteran who served in East Timor and Afghanistan, and said he had made the decision to focus on his mental health.

• Lara Alexander will become one of the three Liberal members for Bass in the Tasmanian state parliament after winning the recount to succeed Sarah Courtney. This involved counting the ballots that elected Courtney at the election last May, which found Alexander prevailing over rival Liberal candidate Simon Wood by 5671 votes (52.9%) to 5051 (47.1%).

• The Poll Bludger, individually and collectively, was greatly saddened to hear of the death of Zoe Wilson, a.k.a. Lizzie, an unfailingly civil contributor to the forum of long standing, as was related yesterday in comments by Zoomster.

Polls: federal Liberal leadership and Mark McGowan approval

One poll offers a new take on Scott Morrison’s declining standing, while another finds Mark McGowan’s approval down from phenomenal to outstanding.

No further national voting intention polls this week after the weekend Newspoll. Presumably this means the monthly Resolve Strategic will be along next week in the Age/Herald. Roy Morgan has for some time come along fortnightly and did not report last week, but the manner of its reporting is notoriously hard to predict. Together with the ongoing New South Wales by-elections count, which is covered in the post below this one, that just leaves the following:

• Roy Morgan did have an SMS poll of 1080 respondents conducted on Monday and Tuesday which found Josh Frydenberg favoured to lead the Coalition by 38.5%, ahead of Scott Morrison on 31% and Peter Dutton on 12.5%. The question specifically asked, “if you were a Liberal or National Party voter and helping to choose the Coalition Leader for the next Federal Election, who would you prefer”.

• The West Australian had a poll by Painted Dog Research on Wednesday which found Mark McGowan’s approval rating in Western Australia had fallen from 77% to 64% since December, having peaked at 91% in September 2020, with disapproval up from 14% to 25%. The poll was conducted Friday to Tuesday from a sample of 654.

• Recommended viewing and listening: Antony Green explains the dark art of election night results projection, while pollsters Peter Lewis and John Utting discuss the even darker art of opinion polling on 2SER’s Fourth Estate program.

Polls: leadership ratings, WA border closure, Australia Day

Scott Morrison’s ratings continue to head in the wrong direction, all and sundry sinking on COVID-19 management, WA voters supportive of the protracted border closure, and the regular annual Australia Day barrage.

Nothing on voting intention, but there’s a bunch of polls around the place, the most useful from my perspective being the first fortnightly Essential Research survey of the year, as it includes the pollster’s monthly leadership ratings. Scott Morrison is at 46% on both approval and disapproval, respectively steady and up two since last month, which is the first time he has failed to record a net positive result since immediately before the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Anthony Albanese is likewise equal on approval and disapproval, in his case at 39%, with approval down one and disapproval up three. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is at 42-34, in from 42-31 last month and likewise his weakest result since March 2020.

There’s more bad news for Morrison on COVID-19 management, with the federal government recording a net negative result for the first time, its positive rating down six to 35% and negative up six to 38%. There has also been a sharp decline in the positive ratings for every state government except Victoria, most noticeably in the case of Western Australia, where the positive rating is down twelve to a new low of 66%. This remains nineteen points higher than nearest rival Victoria, up four points to 47%. New South Wales is down seventeen to 37%, now the lowest of the five, with Queensland down eleven to 46% and South Australia down fourteen to 43%. The results for the smaller states especially should, as always, be treated with caution here, but the near-uniformity of the sharp downward turn is impressive.

Respondents were also asked if various matters related to COVID-19 were likely to influence their chances of voting Coalition, an exercise I’m dubious about since it’s clear that many party loyalists respond without regard to the fact that their vote choice isn’t in doubt. For what it’s worth, 37% rated themselves less likely on account of Scott Morrison’s recent performance and 19% more likely; 30% and 15% ditto because of recent case numbers; 38% and 12% because of the shortage of rapid antigen tests (note the perversity of being more likely to vote Coalition on this basis); 22% and 19% because of reduced border restrictions; and, in the one net positive result, 23% and 27% for the Novak Djokovic affair.

The poll also finds 37% believe the choices of those who wish not to be vaccinated should be respected versus 63% who don’t, of whom 41% consider the unvaccinated ill-informed and 22% selfish. It was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1062.

Various other polling around the place:

• A poll by Painted Dog Research for The West Australian recorded a 71-29 split in favour of the McGowan government’s indefinite postponement of the reopening of the state’s border. Respondents were also offered a poorly framed question as to whether they “agree the McGowan government could have done more to prepare to open up on February 5”, to which 51% agreed and 29% at least purported to disagree, notwithstanding the obvious absurdity of such a position. The poll had a sample of 637 Western Australian respondents; no field work date was provided, though obviously it was done after Thursday’s announcement.

• YouGov has conducted a poll for the News Corp tabloids that covers an extensive range of issues, but not voting intention, results for which are seemingly being published bit by bit (the full questionnaire is here). There have been two reports from this that I’m aware of, one dealing with state government COVID-19 management. Thirty-five per cent of New South Wales respondents rated their government’s performance positively, 28% neutrally and 34% negatively; Victorians, 42%, 21% and 36%; Queenslanders, 61%, 20% and 19%; Western Australians, 85% positively, 6% neutrally and 8% negatively; South Australians, 48%, 29% and 21%; and Tasmanians, 65%, 21% and 11%. Another report related results on election issue salience, in which respondents were asked to pick two issues out of eight, with 58% choosing cost of living, ahead of 37% for health care, 34% for the economy and 32% for climate change. The poll was conducted December 27 to January 10 from an overall sample of 2297, with state sub-samples ranging from 257 in Tasmania to 507 in New South Wales.

The Conversation reports on a Deakin Contemporary History Survey of “a representative, random sample of more than 5,000 Australians” finding that 60% overall believe the current date of Australia Day should be maintained, but with a clear age effect in which 53% of those born 1986 or later felt otherwise, with 46% favouring no change.

• According to an AAP report, a CoreData survey of 1292 respondents finds more than 80% of those under 26 and more than 70% of those aged 27 to 41 “support moving the date for the sake of improving relations with the Indigenous population” – a formulation that presumably elicits a more favourable response – which plummeted to “just over 30%” among the 56 to 75 cohort and 25% of those over 75. All that’s revealed of those of in the middle is that “the majority still supported keeping the holiday on its current date”.

• A Roy Morgan SMS poll of 1372 respondents posed the not-all-that-useful-to-my-mind question as to whether as to whether January 26 should be identified as Australia Day or Invasion Day, breaking 65-35 in favour of the former. Cross-tabs here if you’re interested.

Western Australian Legislative Council reform plan announced

Western Australia’s Legislative Council set to lose its system of six six-member regions under a new proposal for one-vote one-value.

The Western Australian government has declared its hand on reform for the state’s Legislative Council, with the release today of the report of the Ministerial Expert Committee on Electoral Reform. It recommends abolishing the state’s system of six six-member regions and having the entire chamber elected at large, similar to the situation that applies in the New South Wales and South Australia, but without their staggered eight-year terms.

Whereas the system currently allocates half the members to the metropolitan area and half to the non-metropolitan area, despite the former claiming roughly three-quarters of the state’s population, the proposed reform offers “one-vote one-value”. It naturally does so at the expense of existing regional representation, and is sure to alienate country voters who were repeatedly told by Mark McGowan before the March election that such reform was “not on our agenda”.

With the government apparently also planning to increase the number of members from 36 to 37 (it doesn’t say this in the report, but Attorney-General John Quigley said this was the plan at his press conference today), this means the quota for election will be a mere 2.63%, compared with the 14.28% quota that applies under the existing system, as well as at half-Senate elections; the 7.69% quota that applies for the Senate at double dissolutions; the 4.54% quota in New South Wales has when electing half its 42 members of the Legislative Council; and the 8.33% quota in South Australia when electing half its chamber of 22.

However, the report also predictably recommends the abolition of group voting tickets, so we may at least be assured that parties elected on small vote shares will be the most popular of their kind and not simply beneficiaries of preference harvesting, as was notoriously the case with Wilson Tucker of the Daylight Saving Party, who won a seat in the Mining and Pastoral region at the March state election from 98 votes.

As was done in the Senate, this will be complemented by optional preferential voting, so that abolishing the group voting ticket option does not oblige voters to number ever box on what threatens to be a very large statewide ballot paper. Whereas the Senate ballot paper advises voters to number a minimum of either six boxes above the line or twelve below it, while actually allowing as few as one or six respectively to constitute a formal vote, the recommendation is to direct voters to number any number of boxes above the line or at least 20 below it.

To mitigate against the dramatic expansion that looms in the size of the ballot paper, there are recommendations that the hurdles should be raised for parties wishing to seek election: a $500 registration fee; a requirement that parties be registered for more than six months before the election; tightening the requirement that parties have at least 500 members by requiring that none of them be members of other registered parties; hiking the nomination fee from $250 per candidate to $1000; requiring 200 electors to nominate independent candidates; and requiring at least three candidates for above-the-line groups.

This must all now go through parliament, and while it is more than possible the details will be refined during the process, Labor’s massive parliamentary majorities ensure that it is unlikely to amount to much.

Western Australian Legislative Council endgame

Running commentary on the resolution of the Western Australian Legislative Council results.

Update: 8/4

The preference distributions are available from the WAEC here. Of note:

Agricultural. The final seat in Agricultural ended with second Nationals candidate, Martin Aldridge, elected with 13,310 and Stuart Ostle of Shooters Fishers and Farmers defeated on 11,329.

East Metropolitan. Brian Walker of Legalise Cannabis prevailed because their candidate remained in the count at what the ABC calculator identifies as Count 19 by a margin of 12,403 to 11,712 over the Western Australia Party — a margin of 691, a fair bit more comfortable than the 212 projected by the ABC.

Mining and Pastoral. The decisive point in the count here was where, in the race for the last two seats, Wilson Tucker of the Daylight Savings Party had 6007 votes, Neil Thomson of the Liberals had 5304, Jacqui Boydell of the Nationals had 5211 and Matt Priest of Shooters Fishers and Farmers had 4473. Because it was Shooters that fell out at this point, their own preferences boosted Daylight Savings Party and Australian Christians and One Nation preferences flowed on to the Liberals over the Nationals. If the Nationals had dropped out, the last two seats would have gone to the Liberals and Shooters; if the Liberals had done so, they would have gone to the Nationals and the Shooters.

North Metropolitan. The second elected Liberal, Tjorn Sibma, had 52,748 votes at the final count, with defeated Greens member Alison Xamon finishing on 41,512.

South Metropolitan. This came down to which out of the elected Greens candidate, Brad Pettit, or the fifth Labor candidate, Samantha Helps, survived the second last exclusion, at which Pettit held out by 27,942 votes to 27,032, a margin of 910. With its assumption that all votes behaved as above-the-line, the ABC projection had him 60 votes behind.

South West. When Rick Mazza of Shooters Fishers and Farmers was excluded, Sophia Moermond of Legalise Cannabis, James Hayward of the Nationals and fourth Labor candidate John Mondy were the three remaining candidates in the race for the last two seats. The distribution of Mazza’s preferences pushed Moermond and Hayward just clear of the 29,300 vote quota with 30,724 and 29,307 votes respectively, with Mondy just missing out on 27,590.

Update: 6/4

The results for the three metropolitan regions have been finalised, and related on Twitter by Antony Green. Both the close races went against Labor, who were thus denied extraordinary fifth wins in East Metropolitan and South Metropolitan. This meant in the former case a second seat for Legalise Cannabis, and a result of four Labor (Alanna Clohesy, Samantha Rowe, Matthew Swinbourn and Lorna Harper), one Liberal (Donna Faragher) and one Legalise Cannabis (Brian Walker).

South Metropolitan has narrowly returned the Greens’ only member, leaving the party with fewer seats than Legalise Cannabis. The result there is Labor four (Sue Ellery, Kate Doust, Klara Andric and Stephen Pratt), one Liberal (Nick Goiran) and one Greens (Brad Pettit). North Metropolitan played out as anticipated, with four for Labor (Pierre Yang, Martin Pritchard, Ayor Makur Chuot and Daniel Caddy) and two for Liberal (Peter Collier and Tjorn Sibma).

Final result: Labor 22, Liberal seven, Nationals three, Legalise Cannabis two, Greens one, Daylight Saving Party one. The WAEC will hopefully publish preference distributions for all six regions shortly.

Original post

Buttons are being pressed on the three non-metropolitan regions for the Western Australian Legislative Council this afternoon, with the metropolitan regions having to hold out until Tuesday. If I’m reading the WAEC website correctly, none of the preference distributions will be published until all of them are, which means next week. Hopefully though they will be informally doing the rounds sooner than that.

Note that you can view my Legislative Council election results display here, which features party vote totals broken down by lower house electorate, together with my Legislative Assembly results here. These are up to date with the WAEC website and media feed, but presumably aren’t final based on what Antony Green is saying about the Daylight Saving Party’s winning vote tally.

To be updated as more information becomes available:

South West

Antony Green tweets that South West has gone three for Labor (Sally Talbot, Alannah MacTiernan and Jackie Jarvis) and one each for Liberal (Steve Thomas), Nationals (James Hayward) and Legalise Cannabis (Sophia Moermond). There was some doubt as to whether Legalise Cannabis would jump through the required hoops and win a seat off 2.11% of the vote, as per the ABC projection, but it’s happened, with knock-on effects that gave the last seat to the Nationals rather than a second Liberal.

Mining and Pastoral

As expected, this has produced the group voting ticket system’s most perverse result yet, with four for Labor (Stephen Dawson, Kyle McGinn, Peter Foster and Rosetta Sahanna), one for Liberal (Neil Thomson) and one for the Daylight Saving Party (Wilson Tucker), the latter elected off a base of 98 votes, or 0.2% of the total.


The pressing of the button was in this case a formality, confirming a clear result of three Labor (Darren West, Shelley Payne and Sandra Carr), two Nationals (Colin de Grussa and Martin Aldridge) and one Liberal (Steve Martin).

Western Australian election: late counting, week two

Counting for the Western Australian election nears its resolution, with final determination of the upper house results still a few days away.

Click here for full results for the Legislative Assembly and here for the Legislative Council.

Monday evening update

I’m told buttons will be pressed on the Legislative Council counts today and/or tomorrow. The WAEC’s electorate results pages now have preference distributions for, I believe, all seats, and are headlined with two-candidate preferred totals, although these remain absent from the media feed and hence from my own results pages (for now at least).

Original post

As you can see above, I am now publishing results for the Legislative Council as well as the Legislative Assembly, although not a great deal remains to be counted in either case. The former exclusively features tables in which the ordinary votes are grouped by lower house electorate, which I hope someone out there finds useful. I have also restored to the Legislative Assembly display the two-candidate preferred counts that the WAEC removed from the system last week, which they did for all but a handful of seats (still excluded are eight other seats whose two-candidate preferred counts got pulled at an earlier time). Among other things, this means my statewide two-party preferred projection is now nearer to what should be the final result.

I’m not sure if there are any votes at all remaining to be added to the count for the Legislative Assembly, or if there are a few handfuls of postals still to come, but in no case is the result in doubt. There are 1,410,357 formal votes in the count for the Assembly, compared with 1,386,398 for the Council, suggesting there are only around 24,000 votes still to be added to the tallies for the latter.

With the few outstanding votes unlikely to change the party vote tallies, the greater point of interest is whether the 5% or so of ballot papers with below-the-line preferences end up overturning the ABC’s projections, which assume all votes to be above-the-line with preferences duly following the parties’ group voting tickets. That will not be known until the WAEC completes its data entry and presses the button on the preference distribution, which will be at the end of the week at the earliest.

The ABC’s projections will assuredly not be overturned in Agricultural region (three seats to Labor, two to the Nationals and one to the Liberals), Mining and Pastoral (four Labor, one Daylight Saving Party, one Liberal) and North Metropolitan (four Labor and two Liberal). That leaves some doubt over the following:

East Metropolitan. The ABC projection is five Labor and one Liberal, due to Legalise Cannabis dropping out at Count 19 with 3.16% to the Western Australia Party’s 3.22%. The question is whether Legalise Cannabis can close the gap through the below-the-line preferences of everyone other than Labor, Liberal, the Greens and Australian Christians: fifteen minor parties and independent groups who between them account for 8.48% of the vote, reducing to maybe about 0.7% when reduced to the below-the-line votes. If so, Labor’s fifth seat goes to Legalise Cannabis instead. Antony Green thinks this more likely than not, since preferences inflate the Western Australia Party from a primary vote of 0.80% to 3.22% at Count 19, whereas Legalise Cannabis goes from only 2.49% to 3.16%. This means there is a lot more potential for the projected WAP vote to leak away through below-the-line votes behaving differently from group voting tickets.

South Metropolitan. Brad Pettitt of the Greens has dropped out on the ABC projection, which has him excluded at Count 27 by the tiniest of margins: 6.67% to Labor’s 6.68%. That would produce a result of five Labor and one Liberal. However, the Greens typically outperforms projections that exclude consideration of below-the-line preferences, and Antony Green’s assessment is that Pettitt will more likely than not get up.

South West. I have been portraying this count as a game of musical chairs between Legalise Cannabis, the Nationals and Labor at Count 25 on the ABC projection, in which the loser will drop out and the last two seats will go to the other two. On that basis, Labor’s fourth candidate looks set to miss out, with the three parties’ vote shares at 14.72%, 14.29% and 13.76% respectively, producing a result of three Labor, one Liberal, one Legalise Cannabis and one Nationals. However, since the projection has Legalise Cannabis snowballing from a base primary vote of just 2.11%, there is considerable potential for the preference accumulation to dissipate through below-the-line votes. So much so indeed that Antony Green countenances not only the possibility of Legalise Cannabis dropping out at Count 25, in which case a fourth seat would go to Labor, but even for it to drop out at Count 23 behind Shooters Fishers and Farmers and the Greens. Should Legalise Cannabis go under at this point, the Nationals as well as Legalise Cannabis will miss out, and the result will be four Labor, one Liberal and one Shooters Fishers and Farmers.

Western Australian election: late counting

Progressively updated post tracking late counting from the WA state election.

Click here for full Western Australian election results updated live.
Friday evening

Both Antony Green and my system are now calling Churchlands for Labor, as late postals continue to slightly favour Labor, by 140-131 in the case of today’s batch. This increases Labor’s lead to 223, and there can only be a few dozen votes left to add. I’ve now set it so my results display says 100% counted for all seats, which isn’t exactly correct, but it’s less incorrect the guess-timates I had before now.

Upper house:

Agricultural. Yesterday I noted the last count was fairly close between the Nationals and the Shooters, at 14.79% to 13.78%, but today it’s widened to 14.94% to 13.63%.

East Metropolitan. The gap between the Western Australia Party (from 3.15% to 3.23%) and Legalise Cannabis (from 3.12% to 3.13%) at the ABC projection’s Count 19 widened today; Labor wins five seats if it stays open, otherwise one of them goes to Legalise Cannabis. I estimate that 82% of the count is in now, up from 77% yesterday.

Mining and Pastoral. Big progress in the count today, pushing my estimate of the count from 73% to 84%, and it’s looking increasingly like the Daylight Saving Party travesty will indeed play out. At the ABC projection’s Count 22, Shooters have faded from 9.56% to 9.22%, putting them behind both the Nationals on 10.63% and the Liberals on 10.87%. That means the preferences will unfold in such a way that the last two positions will go to the Daylight Saving Party and the Liberals, rather than Shooters and the Nationals. The other four seats go to Labor.

South Metropolitan. Only a little progress in the count today, from about 87% to 89% of my estimate of the final total. But it was slightly favourable to Brad Pettitt of the Greens, who is ahead of the fifth Labor candidate at Count 27 by 6.69% to 6.60%, out from 6.66% to 6.62% yesterday.

South West. With the count progressingly only slightly from around 89.5% to around 91.5%, Labor has fallen back in the game of musical chairs for the last two seats: Legalise Cannabis are on 14.34% (unchanged on yesterday), the Nationals are on 14.30% (up from 14.25%) and Labor are on 14.16% (down from 14.27%).

Thursday evening

If you thought Labor had done well enough for one week, think again — today they moved into the lead in what the Liberals might have hoped would be one of their three lower house seats; the ABC projection in the South West upper house region flipped to giving them a fourth seat at the expense of the Nationals in South West; they’re now breathing down the neck of what looked like being the only Greens seat in the upper house, potentially giving them two regions in which they win an unholy five seats out of six; and their aggregate primary vote in the lower house now tops 60%, reflecting their generally improving trend in late counting off what was, to put it mildly, a high base. Fifty-three seats out of 59 in the lower house now looks more likely than not, and their best case scenario in the upper house is 25 out 36.

Lower house count developments:

Churchlands. Yet another bleak day of counting for the Liberals, whose 31 vote lead yesterday has turned into a 214 vote deficit today, with the trends running all one way. All of today’s batches broke to Labor: pre-polls by 787-679, absents by 241-131 and postals by 359-332. If there’s any hope for the Liberals from here, it’s that absents and pre-polls are now pretty much done and that today’s postals will prove an aberration: they have 54.3% out of 4357 postals overall. Labor candidate Christine Tonkin provided a detailed assessment of the situation on her Facebook page.

Nedlands. After a big day of counting, it’s time to stick a fork in this one: Labor’s lead is out from 574 to 1052, after pre-polls broke 1391-1085, absents broke 609-440 and postals broke 198-195.

North West Central. The Nationals lead fell from 244 to 233, but the flood of votes coming in has now reduced to a trickle, suggesting the lead is unlikely to be overturned. Today saw absents break 78-71 to Labor, pre-polls break 91-72 to Labor and postals break 35-20 to the Nationals.

Warren-Blackwood. Today’s postals broke 595-452 to the Nationals, but the diminishing flow of absents (189-119) and pre-polls (138-108) continued to favour Labor, such that their lead reduced only from 654 to 611.

In the upper house, five of the six regions counted around 7% to 9% of what I expect to be the total vote today, the exception being Mining and Pastoral where little progress was made. The situation has proved more fluid than I anticipated, mostly due to the general trend of improving fortunes for Labor, so I offer below reviews of all six regions:

South Metropolitan. The ABC projection’s current call of Labor four, Liberal one and Greens one depends on the Greens candidate, Brad Pettitt, surviving at Count 27, at which he currently leads Labor by just 6.66% to 6.62%. If he drops out here, the result becomes five Labor and one Liberal, matching the currently projected result in East Metropolitan (see below). Over the past two days, Labor’s vote here has risen from 63.1% to 63.8% while the Greens have fallen very slightly, from 6.6% to 6.5%.

East Metropolitan. The gap at the decisive point of the count (Count 19 on the ABC projection) narrowed again today, with Legalise Cannabis up from 3.09% to 3.12% and the Western Australia Party down from 3.16% to 3.15%. If the gap closes, what is currently projected as Labor’s fifth seat goes to Legalise Cannabis instead.

South West. The ABC projection has gone from three Labor, one Liberal, one Nationals and one Legalise Cannabis to four Labor, one Liberal and one Legalise Cannabis — but as was explained in the previous entry, the last two seats will go to any two out of Nationals, Legalise Cannabis and the fourth Labor, and there was and remains nothing in it. As of yesterday, the score at all-important Count 25 was Legalise Cannabis 14.46%, Nationals 14.25% and Labor 14.15%; today it’s Legalise Cannabis 14.34%, Labor 14.27% and Nationals 14.25%. The trend is Labor’s friend — two days ago they were at 13.65%.

Mining and Pastoral. There wasn’t much progress here today, with only 954 votes added. This went against the trend noted yesterday of a narrowing gap at the decisive Count 22, with Liberal up from 10.43% to 10.45% and Shooters down from 9.56% to 9.53%. If the gap stays open, the last two seats go to the Daylight Saving Party and the Liberals; otherwise they go to Shooters and the Nationals.

Agricultural. I’ve had my eye off the ball here, assuming Labor three, Nationals two and Liberal one, but the second Nationals candidate has only a 14.79% to 13.78% lead at the final count over Shooters, with a bit under a quarter of the vote still to be counted.

North Metropolitan. Only here has the situation appeared stable at four Labor and two Liberal.

Wednesday evening

In the lower house, Churchlands remains seriously in doubt, but the other three I’m still tracking are definitely leaning one way or another. If the latter go as expected, the final result is Labor 52, Nationals four and Liberal two, with one seat going either to Labor or Liberal. Either way, it’s hard seeing the Liberals holding as many seats as the Nationals, notwithstanding the latter’s apparent loss of Warren-Blackwood.

North West Central. A batch of absents broke 64-48 to Labor, cutting the Nationals margin from 260 to 244. There might be enough of them left to gouge a further 100 or so, but there should also be outstanding postals that are all but sure to favour the Nationals.

Churchlands. Today’s counting continued to chip away at the slender Liberal lead, with batches of absents breaking 116-90 and pre-polls breaking 82-88 in Labor’s favour, reducing the margin from 63 votes to 31. There were 2317 formal absent votes here in 2017 compared with only 520 counted so far — if that portends a significant amount of absents still outstanding, their 59-41 split to Labor obviously doesn’t bode well for the Liberals. However, absent voting, being like all election day voting, was down significantly across the board, and numbers can vary from one election to the next due to different polling booth arrangemnets. Furthermore, the Liberals should get a boost from last postals.

Nedlands. A batch of 574 absents were seriously unhelpful for the Liberals, breaking 287-140 and pushing the Labor lead from 427 to a probably insurmountable 574.

Warren-Blackwood. Today’s pre-polls were less bad for the Nationals than previous batches, but still bad enough, breaking 172-102 to Labor, and were compounded by absents breaking 172-102. This inflated the Labor lead from 522 to a probably decisive 654.

In the Legislative Council, around 10% of what is likely to be the final vote was counted today, pushing the progress from around 70% in the case of Agricultural and Mining & Pastoral to around 80% for the others. My in doubt list has grown since yesterday with the addition of South West.

South West. I no longer think a result of three Labor, one Liberal, one Legalise Cannabis and one Nationals “reasonably firm” here, as Labor is in contention for a fourth seat at the expense of one of the latter two. Today’s counting resulted in a surge in Labor’s vote share at the second last count (Count 25 on the ABC projection) from 13.65% to 14.15%, which is just a fraction shy of the 14.29% that would make for a fourth quota. There is almost nothing to separate Labor at this point count from Legalise Cannabis and the Nationals, making it an open question which of the two would miss out if Labor prevailed. Legalise Cannabis’s lead over the Nationals, which was 14.52% to 14.40% yesterday, widened slightly today, to 14.46% to 14.25%.

East Metropolitan. With the count progressing today from around 66% to around 79%, the gap at the decisive point in the count (Count 19 on the ABC projection) narrowed. Yesterday, Legalise Cannabis dropped out here with 3.03%, behind the Western Australia Party on 3.15% — today Legalise Cannabis is up to 3.09%, with the Western Australia Party up fractionally to 3.16%. If Legalise Cannabis stay alive here, they take a seat from Labor in what will otherwise be a result of Labor five, Liberal one.

Mining and Pastoral. The situation here is that the last two seats go to the Daylight Saving Party and the Liberals if, as per Count 22 at the current ABC projection, Shooters drop out behind the Liberals at Count 22, but they go to Shooters and Nationals if the Liberals drop out first. The margin here narrowed today — currently the Liberals are ahead 10.43% to 9.56%, whereas yesterday it was 10.70% to 8.84%. If the remainder goes exactly as today’s batch — and there are all sorts of reasons they might not — Shooters will gain make a net gain of about 800, where the currrent margin is 321.

Tuesday evening

It was a bad day all round for the conservatives in lower house counting:

Churchlands. The Liberal lead was cut from 206 to 63 as three types of vote broke in Labor’s favour: a batch of pre-polls broke 1633-1556 (the previous batch had split almost exactly 50-50); a batch of postals went 72-70; and the first absents went 189-125.

Nedlands. The latest batch of postals broke 1055-1022 to the Liberals, but less well than the first batch yesterday (50.8% compared to 53.1%), which I suggested at the time was unlikely to be enough. On top of that, the Liberals copped a small but unhelpful batch of pre-polls, which went 200-139 to Labor. Labor now leads by 427, out from 399.

Warren-Blackwood. A remarkably bad day at the office for Nationals member Terry Redman, who went into it with a 270 vote lead and came out with a 522 vote deficit. This resulted from a 1604-812 savaging on the pre-polls, or 66.8% to Labor, compared with 59.3% in the first batch. The first absents also broke 132-81 to Labor.

North West Central.. Labor lead grew by five to 260 as absents broke 82-41 their way, countering a 96-77 advantage to the Nationals on today’s pre-polls and 256-251 on the postals.

In the Legislative Council, I’m not seeing anything to disturb the conclusions I reached about four out of the six regions. In the two that remain in doubt, the odds have shortened on the scenario where the Daylight Savings Party and the Liberals win the last two seats in Mining and Pastoral region, rather than Shooters Fishers and Farmers and the Nationals. But the last seat in East Metropolitan remains hard to call between Legalise Cannabis and Labor. Assuming the former proves accurate, Labor wins 22 seats and perhaps 23 if East Metropolitan goes their way; the Liberals win seven; the Nationals win three; Legalise Cannabis wins one, or two if East Metropolitan goes their way; and the Greens and the Daylight Saving Party get one each.

Mining and Pastoral. There was a flurry of media interest today in the race as the ABC flipped from projecting the Nationals and the Shooters to win the last two seats to the Daylight Saving Party and the Liberals, despite the former having all of 57 votes to their name (I’m quoted on this in this report on The West Australian’s site). Indeed, the odds on this outcome shortened considerably as the vote count progressed from (I estimate) from 47% of what will be the final total to 63%, which as noted in the previous entry depends on whether Liberal or the Shooters drop out at what the ABC calculator identifies as Count 22. Yesterday it was the Liberals who did so, by a margin of 10.0% to 9.6%, but now it’s Shooters by a margin of 10.70% to 8.84%.

East Metropolitan. With the count progressing from 51% to 66%, the crucible of the count as projected by the ABC remains Count 19, where Legalise Cannabis is projected to drop out with 3.03% versus 3.15% for the Western Australia Party. If this gap remains, the final result will be five Labor and one Liberal. But if Legalise Cannabis remains in the hunt, its preference snowball will continue and it will ultimately win a seat at the expense of Labor’s fifth.

Monday evening

My live counting facility had the day off today (by which I mean Monday), but it’s back on now. Rather considerable progress was made, with the total primary vote going from around 650,000 at the close on Saturday to 934,605. The two-party count advanced still further, since many booth results remained unreported on Saturday night – although the WAEC has removed the two-party results for all but the five in-doubt seats from the systems. This means the statewide projected two-party vote on my entry page now means very little, as the only numbers it’s working off are for those five seats.

To summarise the day’s progress in the five in-doubt seats:

North West Central. My call on this has flipped from Labor gain to Nationals retain, because a) 1860 pre-polls were added today and favoured the Nationals 1098-762, converting an 81 vote lead for Labor into a 255 vote lead for the Nationals, and b) there were issues with my earlier projection which no longer apply because I have switched off booth-matching and am going off raw results. The issues were an error in my historic data that was causing the projected Labor swing to be exaggerated, and a failure to account for the fact that a bigger share of the late vote will be postals this time and a smaller share will be absents, the latter having been strong for Labor in this seat in 2017.

Carine. Labor looks to have closed the deal here, with a lead of 2.3% or 941 votes. This follows the addition today of the outstanding two-party booth votes; 5017 pre-polls, which broke 2661-2356 to Labor, giving them 53.0% compared with 51.1% out of the 3625 that were counted on election night; and the first batch of 1529 postals which failed to do the Liberals any good, breaking 768-761 to Labor.

Churchlands. The Liberals have opened up a 206 vote lead here after trailing by 54 votes on election night. The booth two-party vote was already complete; today’s additions were 1602 postals, which broke 927-675 to the Liberals, or 57.9% compared with 53.9% out of the 1922 counted on election night; and the first 2363 pre-polls, which broke 1187-1176 to Liberal.

Nedlands. Labor’s lead here increased from 220 to 399 due to the addition of 4833 pre-poll votes which broke 2508-2325, about the same ratio as the election night batch (51.9% to Labor compared with 51.1%). Also added were the first batch of postals, which broke 590-521 to the Liberals (53.1%) — good, but not quite as much as they will probably need.

Warren-Blackwood. The Nationals hold a lead of 270, which outstanding postals are likely to widen, although Labor can hope to claw back around 200 on absents. However, Labor did extremely well on today’s pre-polls, which broke 1038-711 their way (59.3%) compared with a 1725-1589 split in the Nationals’ favour (52.1%) of those counted on election night. I imagine though that that’s the significant pre-poll vote accounted for.

About half the primary vote has been counted in four of the six Legislative Council regions, with North Metropolitan and South West a little more advanced at around 60%. Lord knows I may be missing something, but the results look reasonably firm to me in North Metropolitan (four Labor and two Liberal), South Metropolitan (four Labor, one Liberal, one Greens), South West (three Labor, one Liberal, one Legalise Cannabis and one Nationals) and Agricultural (three Labor, two Nationals and one Liberal, although Shooters might get a look in at the expense of a National or the Liberal if their collective vote crashes for some reason). That leaves question marks over:

East Metropolitan. In my Saturday night overview I noted the potential for Labor to win a scarecely believable five seats here, which is indeed what the ABC projection now shows. However, this comes down to a fine point at Count 19, at which Legalise Cannabis is projected to drop out with 3.26% behind the Western Australia Party on 3.30%. If this very narrow gap is closed, they get Greens preferences ahead of Labor and Legalise Cannabis win a seat; but if they don’t, Greens preferences elect Labor’s number five, one Robert Green.

Mining and Pastoral. The ABC projection has consistently said four Labor, one Nationals and one Shooters (and, yes, zero Liberals). However, if Shooters drop out after Count 22 rather than Liberal — and it’s currently a close run thing at 10.0% to 9.6% — the Nationals miss out too, because the unlocking of the Shooters’ accumulation would deliver the last two seats to the Daylight Saving Party (receiving preferences directly from the Shooters) and the Liberals (whom Australian Christians and One Nation have ahead of the Nationals). The perversity of a Daylight Saving win here, off a current primary vote total of 43 votes out of 24,235 so far counted, has been widely noted.

Taken together, that gives Labor 22 seats and potentially 23; the Liberals six and potentially seven; the Nationals three and potentially four; Legalise Cannabis one and potentially two; the Greens one; and Shooters potentially one.

Elsewhere, I had a paywalled piece in Crikey today that hunted for angles that hadn’t been done to death elsewhere, and found them in the persistence of micro-parties and the strong performance of YouGov, the only pollster that had published polling appear during the campaign. I would also note the observation of local journalist Gareth Parker on the ABC’s Insiders that Labor didn’t believe the strength of its internal polling, which proved in the event to be accurate.

YouGov achieved about the best thing any pollster can hope for, which was to publish seemingly unbelievable results that turned out to be right. Effectively a newcomer on the Australian polling scene, YouGov’s hands are clean of the 2019 federal election debacle, and its scorecard so far consists of an acceptable result in Queensland and an excellent one in Western Australia.

I also roused my self from post-election night exhaustion on Sunday to discuss the result with Ben Raue at The Tally Room, which you can listen to here:

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End of Saturday night

The two-party projection on the entry page to my live election results facility currently credits Labor with a 13.7% swing, which if uniform would have left the Liberals only with Cottesloe and Vasse, both on margins of less than 1%. Those are indeed the only two seats the Liberals have clearly won – that they’re ahead by a fair bit more than 1% there reflects a general tendency for the swing to be a little milder in their own seats, which may yet save them in Churchlands, Carine and Nedlands. It should be noted that a very great proportion of the vote remains uncounted, with last night’s proceedings only scratching the surface of the unprecedented postal and pre-poll count. A dynamic may yet emerge which favours the Liberals in the in-doubt seats, but there hasn’t been any evidence of it in the pre-polls and postals that have thus far been counted, which have actually been even worse for the Liberals than the election day votes.

Whether the Nationals will emerge with more seats than the Liberals remains to be established. They look to have lost North West Central to Labor, who get belated revenge for Vince Catania’s defection to the party way back when, although the Nationals wouldn’t be conceding yet. A loss here would bring to an end the regional empire the party built under Brendon Grylls. The South West region seat of Warren-Blackwood has swung 11.7% to Labor and has not definitely been retained, which could potentially reduce them to three.

Nonetheless, the Nationals’ performance in their traditional Wheatbelt heartland was the only bright spot for conservative politics last night. Happily for the Nationals, the four electorates here are accommodated by the boutique Agricultural upper house region, which has three-and-a-half times as much voting power as the metropolitan area, and in which they have retained their two seats. The party’s primary vote was up in all four of these seats (and was down only slightly in Warren-Blackwood), but a slump in support for the Liberals and One Nation powered two-party swings to Labor of roughly 10%. This gained them Geraldton, where former Liberal member Ian Blayney had defected to the Nationals since the last election.

Now to the upper house, where I don’t see Labor winning less than 21 seats out of 36, and could get another three besides; the Liberals will get five to seven; the Nationals four or five; the Greens one to three; Legalise Cannabis one to two; and Shooters should have one.

Agricultural. Looks like being Labor three, Nationals two and Liberal one.

East Metropolitan. The ABC computer has this as four Labor, one Liberal and one Legalise Cannabis, but with Labor on 64.7%, there could be a scarcely believable result of five Labor, one Liberal if the micro-party vote fades in late counting.

Mining and Pastoral. The ABC says four Labor, one Nationals and one Shooters, but depending on where the uncounted votes are from, the Liberals may take the Nationals seat. The Daylight Saving Party could potentially take the Shooters seat, though I would expect late counting will reduce the micro-party preference snowball.

North Metropolitan. Labor clearly has three and Liberal one, with the last two seats a game of musical chairs between Labor, Liberal and the Greens, with the Greens seemingly behind the eightball. However, there’s another scenario in which Australian Christians take the seat that might go to the second Liberal.

South Metropolitan. The ABC says four Labor, one Liberal and one Green, but the Greens have only a slight lead over the micro-party preference snowball which leaves an outside chance of another fluke another win for Aaron Stonehouse of the Liberal Democrats.

South West. Three Labor and one each for Liberal, Nationals and Legalise Cannabis, according to the ABC, but a bit of playing with the calculator suggests the situation to be a bit fluid: the Legalise Cannabis seat could go to the Greens or a fourth Labor, and I’ve managed to concoct a scenario where the Nationals vote goes to Australian Christians.

Election night commentary

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