D-day plus 2

Remember to keep following the late count action in the Photo Finishes threads below. In lieu of any new commentary on the current situation, now might be a good time to draw attention to the fact that I wrote a conference paper last year on minority government formation and the rise of the Greens. Meantime, here’s a new thread for general discussion.

D-day plus 1

As you can see by the threads below, there are five seats still in doubt as far as I’m concerned, though it’s not unknown for outsiders to emerge on the radar late in the count. In post-redistribution terms, Labor has lost Bennelong, Macarthur, Macquarie and Gilmore in New South Wales; Bonner, Dawson, Dickson, Flynn, Forde, Herbert, Leichhardt and Longman in Queensland; Solomon in the Northern Territory; and Swan in Western Australia. In Victoria, Labor gained McEwen and La Trobe and lost Melbourne to the Greens. Also in Western Australia, as a notional count conducted late in the evening has made clear, Wilson Tuckey has lost O’Connor to Tony Crook of the Nationals, who has promised to sit on the cross-benches rather than join the Coalition party room.

This produces a base result of 70 seats for Labor and the increasingly complex beast known as the Coalition (42 seats for the Liberals, 21 for Queensland’s Liberal National Party, six for the NSW and Victorian Nationals and one for the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party); one seat for the non-Coalition Nationals WA; one for the Greens; and three independents. Of the five seats in doubt, as many as four could go to the Coalition (three to the Liberals and one to the LNP), with the other being the contest between Labor and an independent in Denison. Labor’s best case scenario involves an independent in the Speaker’s chair and a bare majority on the floor (with Adam Bandt of the Greens as a further safety buffer). At the other end of the scale, a loose arrangement with Tony Crook could allow the Coalition to achieve something similar. In between are various scenarios involving a collective kingmaker role for Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott. The best guess at this stage is that the four Labor-versus-Coalition undecideds will break two-all, while Denison is impossible to read.

One imagines the independents’ most pressing concern would be the deep conservatism of the electorates; however, Labor has in its hand the prospect of Labor-Greens Senate majority that would complicate any Coalition claim to offer the greater stability. If a minority Coalition government eventuated – and this intuitively seems the most likely outcome – it would presumably be keep to set up some double dissolution triggers with an eye to another election about 18 months down the track. For the time being it would have available to it the existing Senate configuration until the middle of next year, in which it could pass legislation provided it had the support of Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon.

Which should give you all plenty to chew on. This thread is for general discussion of the situation: I ask, more in hope than expectation, that emotional and rhetorical overkill of one kind or another be kept to a minimum. If you wish to discuss late counting, please do so in the thread below.

Photo finishes: Denison

Saturday, August 28

The AEC has published its provisional distribution of preferences which makes it very clear that Andrew Wilkie will surpass the Liberal candidate in very fine style, recording 20,430 votes to the Liberals’ 15,695 after distribution of Greens and Socialist Alliance preferences, and then comfortably winning the seat on Liberal preferences.

Friday, August 27

The Australian Electoral Commission announces it will conduct a “provisional” distribution of preferences in Denison to ascertain whether the Liberals are likely to be excluded from the count before Andrew Wilkie, a necessary precondition for the latter winning the seat.

Tuesday, August 24

6pm. Indicative preference count finished for real now, with pre-polls and hospital booths added, and Wilkie’s lead has risen to 1.2 per cent (1375 votes).

3pm. The indicative preference count for ordinary votes has been completed, and it puts Andrew Wilkie 1091 votes (1.0 per cent) clear of Labor. That’s a big hurdle for Labor to clear on absents and postals, but there are too many imponderables to say it can’t happen.

Monday, August 23

11pm. “Only one seat now in doubt as Wilkie loses bid for Denison”, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, and it’s probably not alone. This misapprehension is based on the ABC computer’s projection of the Labor-versus-Wilkie indicative preference count, which assumes the 20 booths that haven’t been counted will follow the preference pattern of the 26 that have. There is a three-sided problem here: Labor’s share of the preferences is not as high in areas where they are weak generally; the booths are being counted in alphabetical order; and the strongest Liberal booths begin with an S. Antony Green’s modelling to account for this turns the projected 0.6 per cent Labor lead into a 1.1 per cent deficit (subject to a margin of error), a view shared by PB commenters who know their way around a linear regression. However, Labor is likely to at least close that a little on postal votes.

6pm. Labor might appear to have the advantage superficially at present, but Sykesie in comments has produced a model accounting for the association between Labor’s primary vote in booths that have reported and the share of their preferences in them. The upshot is that as counts are added for booths less preferable to Labor are added, their share of the preferences will come down, Sykesie projects them to finish on 48.4 per cent with an error margin of only 1.3 per cent. However, that doesn’t factor in the likelihood that Labor’s position will improve as postal votes come in. That still makes it too close to call, but Wilkie would probably be favoured.

2.30pm. The Electoral Commission is conducting a thrilling indicative preference count between Wilkie and Labor to ascertain what will happen if they are indeed the final candidates. Wilkie currently looks to be just slightly under the share of preferences he needs, but it’s been back and forth as booths have been progressively added in alphabetical order.

Sunday, August 22

Accomplished Tasmanian psephologist Kevin Bonham, who closely observed the behaviour of Greens preferences in relation to Wilkie when the latter ran at the March state elections, disagrees with Possum’s assessment that Greens preferences will not necessarily put Wilkie ahead of the Liberals, and thinks a greater threat to Wilkie would be that he might be overtaken by the Greens, who will have run a better resourced postal vote campaign. If he’s right, the surprises in Denison might not be over. It is mostly being taken for granted that Liberal preferences will allow Wilkie to ride home over Labor if he finishes ahead of them, but a WA Labor source advises caution on this count based on the precedent of Kwinana at the September 2008 state election. It was widely thought after election night the seat had been won by independent Carol Adams, but victory slipped away from her due to the surprisingly high number of Liberal voters who had Labor second.

Saturday, August 21

This post will be used to follow the late count in Denison, where independent Andrew Wilkie superficially looks well placed to win a Labor seat vacated by Duncan Kerr and contested for them by Jonathan Jackson. At issue is the distribution of preferences from the fourth-placed Greens, who polled 19.01 per cent. Wilkie needs them to close what at present is only a 0.1 per cent deficit over the Liberals, but Possum at least believes the fact preferences are splitting three ways between Labor as well as Liberal and Wilkie will land him short, especially after factoring in a likely weakening of his position as postal votes come in. However, the ABC reports “Labor scrutineers are predicting a desperately close result as preferences are distributed”.

Photo finishes: Lindsay

Friday, August 27

3pm. 968 postals favour Labor 518-450, lead out to 1508.

Thursday, August 26

5pm. 1373 postals have also favoured Labor 774-599: Labor now looking home and hosed with a lead of 1442.

3pm. 955 postal votes added, and they’ve surprised slightly by favouring Labor 486-469. Labor now leads by 1267, and my projection says much the same.

Wednesday, August 25

11pm. 1887 postal votes have broken 1005-882 to Labor, increasing the margin to 1250.

1pm. They seem to be taking their time with this one. No non-ordinary votes added yet, but rechecking of ordinary votes has added 131 to the Labor lead, which is now at 1136.

Saturday, August 21

This post will be progressively updated to follow the progress of late counting in Lindsay, where Labor member David Bradbury finished the night with a 1012 vote (0.69 per cent) lead over Liberal challenger Fiona Scott. This lead narrows to 0.2 per cent on Antony Green’s projection.

Photo finishes: Corangamite

Saturday, August 28

Corangamite is back on the AEC undecided seats list (a list of one), but given not much has actually changed, this suggests the current margin is right on their dividing line. 1877 abent pre-polls have gone 996-881 the way of the Liberals, but 1299 absents have favoured Labor 697-602: a net gain for the Liberals of only 20 votes. Labor leads by 884, while my projection has it at 644.

Thursday, August 26

6pm. Absent votes continue to flood Labor’s way, a batch of 924 going 557-367 and blowing the lead out to 895.

12noon. The first 938 absent votes have been added and they’re a good batch for Labor, breaking 535-403 in their favour and widening the lead from 573 to 705. However, I’m told Labor are worried about what the remainder of the absent count might have in store – much of it might come from the snowfields and Queensland, producing a different absent vote trend from what might be expected at a summer election. The expectation was that Labor would still slip over the line, but only just. I was told this before this present batch of absents was added – possibly it has soothed nerves a little.

Wednesday, August 25

2pm. Another 1466 postal votes have been added, and while they have split 766-700 in favour of Liberal and narrowed the Labor lead to 571, they have reduced the overall Liberal share of the postal votes counted from 57.67 per cent to 56.19 per cent. This means my projection of the final Labor margin has increased from 240 to 315.

Tuesday, August 24

11pm. I had not previously been considering absent pre-polls, which unlike ones cast within the division remain to be counted. The AEC says there are 3508 of these, and if they behave as pre-polls overall did in 2007 my projection of Labor’s winning margin narrows to 240.

7pm. Another 1960 postal votes haven’t favoured the Liberals to quite the same extent, although they have narrowed the margin in absolute terms by 280 to 637. The Liberal share of the postal vote has dropped from 58.2 per cent to 57.7 per cent.

4pm. A surprise from the first batch of postals, with 1955 votes favouring the Liberals even more heavily than in 2007: 1134-821, closing the gap from 1237 to 917. If the trend continues, the gap could narrow by maybe another 700 or 800. However, absent votes are likely to favour Labor, and none have been added yet.

Sunday, August 22

Special hospital team votes have cut 99 votes from Cheeseman’s lead, now at 1189 (0.76 per cent).

Saturday, August 21

This post will be progressively updated to follow late counting in Corangamite, where Labor member Darren Cheeseman finishes the night 1288 votes (0.83 per cent) ahead of Liberal challenger Sarah Henderson. Owing to the extraordinarily strong performance by defeated Liberal member Stewart McArthur on postal votes in 2007, which is used as the benchmark for the projection, the ABC computer has it at 0.0 per cent.