Monday, March 30, 2015

New South Wales Postcount: Ballina

Ballina (Nat 24.6) Kris Beavis (Nat) vs Tamara Smith (Greens) vs Paul Spooner (ALP)
Outlook: Greens favoured but seat not yet called.

This thread follows post-counting in the NSW seat of Ballina.  On election night this was widely called as a certain Green gain, the Greens being only slightly behind the Nationals on primaries.  However extremely strong post-counting performance by the Nationals has both placed the Green win in doubt and also created a possible exclusion order issue.  As absent votes have not been included yet, it is probable the seat now looks closer than it actually is and the Greens will still win fairly easily.  However we need to see if this will actually be the case.

Ballina is one of the two far north coast seats where the Nationals have copped an enormous swing over coal seam gas issues and because of demographic change, the other being Lismore where the Greens' position in the postcount is somewhat weaker.

The ABC has been projecting Ballina as a certain Greens win, but what the ABC is showing for the Ballina Nationals vs Greens two-candidate contest are not real figures.  Rather, they are ABC estimates of preference flow.  It is very difficult to know exactly what the preference flow will be, other than that it is safe to assume it will be stronger than in 2011.  In 2011 the net flow of all preferences in Ballina was that 58.8% of third-party preferences exhausted, and those not exhausting split 77% to the Greens and 23% to the Nationals.  That gave the Greens a gain rate of .191 votes per preference.  The gain rate required is the key statistic that I monitor for these contests.

On election night the gain rate required for the Greens in this seat was only .113 which was a piece of cake by comparison.  At this election the Greens have campaigned more strongly, CSG is an issue, Labor has preferenced them on its how-to-vote card, and the Nationals have no incumbent.

However an extremely strong performance (even by conservative post-count standards) has seen the Nationals increase their primary lead.  They now have a primary vote of 37.1% to the Greens' 26.5% and Labor's 24.9%.  Independent Jeff Johnson has 7.9%, Independent Matthew Hartley has 1.6%, the Christian Democrats have 1.4% and No Land Tax has 0.6%.  This has moved the Greens' required gain rate up to .290.  In the Lismore article I argued that given the strength of the backlash in the area and given that Labor are preferencing the Greens, something like .350 should be achievable, while over .4 may be too difficult.  I would think .290 would be achieved (though gain rates in two similar inner-city contests in 2011 were much lower), but I'm not certain.

Jeff Johnson is a Ballina Shire councillor originally elected as a Green in 2008.  On that basis his preferences should somewhat help the Greens, meaning that unless the Greens' primary position relative to Labor deteriorates further they should still be second after the exclusion of Johnson and the three minor candidates.

The other advantage for the Greens is that absent votes are now a major part of the uncounted vote total.  In 2011 the Greens outperformed their electorate total by eight points on absents, and the Nationals underperformed by the same amount.  This is likely to be repeated.

So while I still favour the Greens winning this seat, I think there is enough uncertainty to keep an eye on the gain rate and the gap to Labor in case of any further surprises.

9:05 See also Antony Green here for an explanation of what is going on with the ABC's assessments. Antony notes that the Greens' preference flow on election night was 47% to Labor, 9% to Nationals, the rest exhausted.  (That's a gain rate of .38). If the Labor to Green flow is as strong as Green to Labor, or nearly so, then the Greens will win comfortably.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

New South Wales Postcount: Lismore

Lismore (Nat, 24.3%): Thomas George (NAT) vs Adam Guise (GRN) and Isaac Smith (ALP)
Current Assessment:  Most likely between National and Green.  No clear favourite.

Original Article:

As my paragraph about the Lismore postcount got longer I decided to give it a thread of its own so the potentially many updates do not swamp the main postcount thread.

Lismore is one of the far north-east NSW seats where there have been massive swings to Labor and the Greens as a result of a combination of demographic change and concern about coal-seam-gas and other mining projects. 

This seat caused a lot of confusion on the night as it swayed between being projected to the Greens and Labor on the ABC website.  Today it has swayed between being projected to the Greens and the Nationals.  

What is known is that current primaries as of Sunday are 39.9% Nationals, 29.4% Green, 25.4% Labor, 2.9% Christian Democrat, 1.5% Animal Justice and 1% No Land Tax.  

While the gap between the Greens and Labor may narrow in post-counting, four points is too large to close down and the preferences of the tiddlers (especially the AJP) will most likely be slightly worse than useless to Labor in that regard.  So the seat is between the Nationals and Greens.  

We know that Labor were leading the official 2PP count against the Nationals roughly 52:48 before it was taken offline.  Unfortunately I don't have a record of the primary votes at that point.  I infer that the votes added today would have decreased that lead to about 50:50.

What we don't know is the Nationals vs Greens 2CP.  Currently, the figures showing on the ABC site are ABC estimates only.  Hopefully we will get an official Nat-Green 2CP sooner rather than later, but I don't yet know if or when that will occur.

The key stat here is the gain rate: the rate at which Guise must gain votes over George for each preference cast.  At the moment it's .342 and 82% of the preferences to be thrown are Labor's.  Under compulsory preferences this would be a piece of cake as only a 67% flow would be needed.  Under optional preferencing, if half the Labor and minor party preferences were to exhaust, Guise would need 84% of the rest, which is still quite possible, as we saw in Prahran.

The only comparable situation involving competitive candidates as opposed to lopsided seats last election was in Balmain, where the gain rate to the Greens was only .191, with 58.8% of Labor preferences exhausting and the rest splitting 77:23.  But there was a lot of ALP-Green scrapping in that contest, and it's entirely possible for many reasons Guise will do very much better than that.  Labor's how to vote card in Lismore recommended numbering all boxes with Guise second, and stressed "TO STOP CSG NUMBER EVERY SQUARE".  That and the mood of the electorate seem capable to me of generating a flow from Labor to the Greens similar to the Queensland flow from the Greens to Labor, which is about the scale of flow required to win the seat.

I should also mention Ballina.  Currently the Greens' required gain rate there is only .113.  At the previous election in Ballina the Greens recorded a gain rate of .150 from all third-party preferences, a higher proportion of which were non-ALP than this time, without the assistance of CSG and with a Nationals incumbent.  The Greens' task in Ballina (on current primaries) is a piece of cake by comparison to Lismore.  

At the moment, pending any scrutineering insights or informative official re-throws, I see the asking rate in Lismore as gettable.  With the large size of the postcount it may blow out further - for instance if it goes over .4 that should be too hard.

Poll Bludger relates that postals counted so far have been exceptionally helpful to the Nationals incumbent, and if this continues to be the case the Nationals lead may blow out to uncatchable proportions.  However, very few booth prepolls have yet been counted in Lismore.


30 March 12:15: Nothing to see by way of new figures yet, but note the comment by reader Ifonly re the strong 2011 differences between the on-the-day vote and the prepolls/postals etc in this seat.  It is especially a poor sign for the Greens that in 2011 prepolls were 10 points more favourable to the Nationals, and 8 points less favourable to the Greens, than booth voting.  Prepolls will make up a greatly increased proportion of the remaining votes.  However I would expect at least that the Nationals advantage on prepolls will be proportionally lower than in 2011, simply because of the greater and more representative range of prepoll voters.  The question is how much the picture will have changed and how hard Labor and the Greens campaigned for prepolls in this seat.

A way of looking at it is this: if things stay roughly as they are the Greens are slight favourites, but if it blows out significantly they will have no chance.  Without knowing which of these will be true yet, the Nationals seem more likely to retain the seat.

2:30 I am currently reviewing Ballina where a massive postcount blowout in the Nationals' favour has made the Greens' task much more difficult, with the required gain rate climbing to .290 and the Green candidate in mild danger of being relegated to third.  A separate thread will be added on Ballina later.

5:00 The scathing pre-election comment by poster Nick C on the Tallyroom thread for this electorate suggests we shouldn't expect too much from the Greens' prepoll effort here.  That plus the prepoll blowout in Ballina (which is at a more advanced count stage) suggests this one is about to go pearshape for the challengers.

5:05 Yes and checking for new figures I see now that it has.  With most prepolls in the Nationals have jumped to 41.82% with the Greens on 27.28 and Labor on 25.61.  The required gain rate for the Greens is now 0.471 votes per vote.  That will almost certainly come back when absents are added, which tend to favour the Greens and hurt the Nationals, but I greatly doubt that it will be enough.  The Nationals are highly likely to retain this seat.

5:40 With the gap between Labor and the Greens closing, the ABC has now gone back to modelling the contest as Nationals vs ALP.   With the gap between the two down to 1.1 points now, I'm not so sure anymore that the Greens will be second, but if absent votes help them as usual they still should.  Anyway it makes little difference.  The required gain rate is now .486 if the Greens are second, or .503 if Labor is, both of which are too steep under OPV.

8:55 Or maybe not!  Antony Green has the example of Noosa in Queensland at which a gain rate of about .5 was in fact recorded by the Greens on ALP preferences.  He also notes that on the night combined preferences from the Greens and minor parties in Lismore were flowing 62% to Labor, 8% to Coalition, and 30% exhausting, a gain rate of .54.   On that basis, if they flow about the same from Labor to Green (as was the case in Prahran) it can't be ruled out that the Greens might win even from about as far back as they are now, and will have serious chances if the gap closes on absents.

We're actually not going to know much of use for a while because, as Antony relates, Elections NSW are conducting computerised entry of ballot papers.

11:40 Tally Room projects that there will be little change in the primaries from here, and projects the Greens still winning narrowly on the assumption that the ALP-Green preference flow is as strong as the other way around.

New South Wales Postcount Thread

Legislative Assembly seats apparently won: Coalition 52 Labor 32 Green 2 Ind 2
(Includes some seats not absolutely certain)

Seats in doubt and not included in tally above:
East Hills: likely Liberal retain
Gosford: Labor leading but Coalition favoured to win
The Entrance: likely Labor win
Lismore: National vs Green vs Labor, unclear mainly between National and Green
Ballina: National vs Green vs Labor.  Probable Green win.

Expected outcome Coalition 54-5 Labor 33 Green 3-4 Ind 2

This seat follows post-counts for undecided or otherwise interesting seats in the NSW state election, including the Legislative Council.  Each seat has an overview with updates scrolling to the top. I've decided that Lismore, while not quite as thrilling as Prahran, is juicy enough to merit a thread of its own, so that's here: Lismore Postcount.

My review of the result can be found at New South Wales: Decisive Win For Coalition.

I am going to start by posting the Legislative Council and then edit the remaining unclear seats into the post progressively later today.


Legislative Council

Assessment: Likely Coalition 9 Labor 7 Green 2 Shooters+Fishers 1 Christian Democrat 1
Contest between 10th Coalition candidate, No Land Tax, Animal Justice Party and Greens for final seat.

Monday 2:00 An excellent piece at Tally Room on this count.  Ben Raue notes that the booths included in the count so far have a slight pro-Coalition skew and also (not surprisingly) that the Greens will do better on below the line votes once included.  So there is some prospect that the Greens can get up into the mix for a third seat though they are well behind at present.  And also, there's the elephant in the room: the AJP were potentially disadvantaged by an iVote bungle that could result in them challenging should they narrowly miss out.

Monday 12:45 ABC figures currently show Coalition 9.475 quotas, Labor 6.80, Green 2.24, Shooters and Fishers 0.83, CDP 0.58, No Land Tax 0.407, Animal Justice 0.385.  Both No Land Tax and AJP have improved substantially, though the Coalition has also improved slightly.  If this continues it will be worthwhile having a close look at the possible flows to the AJP especially.  The Greens how to vote card preferenced them third, after Australian Cyclists who will be eliminated.

Opening comments for Legislative Council (29 March):
The NSW Legislative Council is elected on a very different system to the Australian Senate.  21 seats at a time - half of the Council - are elected statewide with a quota of about 4.5%.  Voters can vote above the line, but if they just vote 1 then their vote exhausts when the party they have voted for leaves the count.  Voters can also distribute preferences to multiple parties above the line, or between candidates below the line (which requires voting for at least 15).

Many of the seats are filled by the Coalition, Labor and the Greens based on whole quotas.  Then, while preferences have some influence in close contests, the remaining seats tend to be filled on a first-past-the-post like basis to the parties with the largest remainders.  

There was confusion on election night between the totals provided by the ABC and the totals provided by Elections NSW, which had the Coalition and Labor with noticeably lower percentages of the vote.  However the explanation for this is that the percentages shown by Elections NSW are of all votes including informal votes and unallocated below-the-lines, while those shown by the ABC do not include informals.  

With this taken into account Elections NSW currently have figures of Coalition 43.03%, Labor 31.58, Greens 9.96, Shooters and Fishers 3.91, Christian Democrats (Fred Nile Group) 2.77, No Land Tax 1.67, Animal Justice 1.59 etc.  The ABC has slightly higher vote totals and insignificantly different figures from these.

On current figures the Liberals win nine seats off whole quotas, Labor six and the Greens two.  This leaves four seats for remainders and the highest remainders are currently Labor (.94 quotas), S+F (.86), CDP (.61) and Liberal/National (.467).  

The Shooters and Fishers and Christian Democrats votes shouldn't move around a lot compared to the votes of the Coalition and Labor, so I see no reason to doubt that those parties will each win a seat.  The real issue here is that if the Coalition vote falls from the current 43.0% to around 42.6% then the tenth Coalition candidate drops into a battle for the final seat with No Land Tax (.368 Q) and the Animal Justice Party (.349 Q).  That could get complex, especially since the Greens currently have a leftover .19 of a quota, and some Greens voters will preference the AJP.  The Green vote might also rise as the trivial number of below-the-line votes are entered in, though it is hard to see them getting a third seat at this stage.

More likely the Coalition vote will stay the same or rise slightly in late counting, but with such a high percentage of votes in the post-count we do not know that yet, and there is still a long way to go.  The current figures have the Coalition on a surprisingly good primary vote, only a few points below what they got in the lower house.  

It matters little to the new Upper House - the Christian Democrats and Shooters and Fishers will each be able to pass government legislation by themselves whether the Coalition win the tenth seat or not.  But it is interesting to see if a micro-party can get in from one and a half percent of the vote.



Lismore has its own postcount thread.

Gosford (Lib 11.9%) Chris Holstein (Liberal) vs Kathy Smith (Labor)

Monday 11:45 Along similar lines to Ifonly's comments, Tally Room projects the Liberals taking the lead by as much as half a point.  I agree that the Liberals are now well placed to defend this seat.

Monday 5:20 As Ifonly notes in comments, prepolls added to the primary vote (but not yet the 2PP vote) are ugly for Labor in this seat and we should expect the Liberals to take the lead soon.  Absents may then turn things around for Labor but Labor's position is shaky.  I'll try to do some more serious number-crunching of Labor's chances here later tonight.

Monday 12:40: The ABC site is running slightly ahead of the official site on preferences but not primaries and has Smith's lead down to 272 votes (50.45%).  I believe that this means the preferences for the iVotes have been added.

Sunday midnight: This is a straightforward two-party contest.  First-term incumbent Liberal Chris Holstein leads on primaries but is presently trailing after preferences.  At present Smith's lead is 328 votes, giving her 50.58% 2PP. 1738 postals and 2155 iVotes have been counted for primaries but are not yet in the 2PP count.  Holstein's postal vote is running 14 points above his booth vote so when those postals are added the gap will narrow.

The Entrance (Lib 11.5%) Michael Sharpe (Liberal) vs David Mehan (ALP)

Monday 5:20: A bunch of prepolls have been added to the primary count but not yet the 2PP.  Labor is roughly holding station in terms of gap to the Coalition on these compared to the booth votes.  We'll have to see the preference spread but this is looking better for Labor than Gosford at present.

Sunday midnight: This is the seat left vacant by Chris Spence, who retired facing ICAC investigation over electoral funding issues.  It's another straightforward two-party contest where the Liberals have a slim (2.2%) lead but are currently being overhauled on preferences.  At present, Mehan's lead is 402 votes, giving him 50.65% 2PP. His gain rate on (mostly Green) preferences is .234 votes per minor candidate vote cast.  2187 iVotes and 1417 postals have been counted for primaries but are not yet in the 2PP count.  Sharpe's postal primary is running 7% above his booth primary.

East Hills (Lib 0.2%) Glenn Brookes (Liberal) vs Cameron Murphy (ALP)

Monday 11:45 pm: Tally Room projects the margin to close from here but not by enough.

Monday 12:35 pm: The ABC site is way ahead of Elections NSW and has Brookes leading by 622 (50.76% 2PP).  However it is not clear what kinds of votes have been added.

Sunday midnight: Murphy is not quite done for yet, currently trailing by 420 votes, with Brookes on 50.75% 2PP. Murphy is not getting a very strong preference flow, but a large Christian Democrats vote isn't helping there.  As with the above seats the Liberals will benefit when the 2PPs are added for postals, in which Brookes is currently running 10 points above his booth primary vote.  It is common for conservative incumbents to strengthen in post-counts but in this case the greatly increased proportion of prepoll voting, and the introduction of iVote, mean we have to wait to see if those patterns hold.

The hope for Murphy is that because the smear campaign came late in the piece that prepoll votes would be better for him and not reflect it.  No evidence of this so far in the postals.

Background: It's quite surprising that the most marginal Liberal seat appears on track to be retained, but on polling day it was revealed that Murphy, the son of former High Court judge and Attorney-General Lionel Murphy, was the target of a smear campaign in which his "corflutes were plastered with stickers" calling him a "paedophile lover".  I am unaware of any basis for the campaign other than Murphy jnr's former presidency of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties.  In that role, he, for instance, opposed laws allowing for the "relocation" of convicted sex offenders living in public housing.  Another such example issue involved "outing" of child sex offenders.

Murphy's Liberal opponent has denied any knowledge of the smear prior to seeing media coverage, and also noted that some of his own posters had been vandalised. Being unauthorised, the stickers are clearly illegal, but I doubt Murphy has any effective redress if he loses, at least unless some link between the stickers and the Liberal Party was shown.


Ballina has its own postcount thread.

New South Wales: Decisive Win For Coalition

Seats apparently won: Coalition 52 Labor 32 Green 3 Ind 2
(Includes some seats not absolutely certain)
Seats in doubt and not included in list above:

East Hills: likely Liberal retain
Gosford: Labor leading
The Entrance: likely Labor win
Lismore: National vs Green, Nationals currently slightly favoured

Expected outcome Coalition 53-54 Labor 34 Green 3-4 Ind 2

Normal Programming Resumes

The Liberal-National coalition under Premier Mike Baird has won the NSW state election comfortably and decisively despite a large swing back from the massive margin in the 2011 poll.  On present counting, both the primary votes and the seat distribution will finish up about as predicted before the election.  The main surprise is a strong seat performance by the Greens, who without much increasing their statewide vote have won three or perhaps four seats.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

NSW Election Live Comments


Coalition wins with seat tally in the low to mid-50s.

(Estimate Coalition 53 Labor 34 Green 4 Ind 2.  Includes at least four seats in doubt)

Exceptions to template pattern (Coalition losing seats below 8%, holding seats above):

Seats below 8%:
Oatley: Liberal retain
Monaro: National retain
East Hills: Liberals ahead

Seats above 8%:
Port Stephens: Labor gain.
The Entrance, Gosford ALP leading narrowly
Ballina: apparently lost to the Greens
Lismore: unclear Nationals vs Greens

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Poll Roundup: Onion Edition

2PP Aggregate: 52.5 to ALP (-0.4 in one week, -0.6 in two weeks)
ALP would win an election held "right now" with small to moderate majority

'"Of course," Cantling said. "The onion had a dual function.  On one level, you did it just to prove how tough you were.  It was something none of the others hanging out at Ricci's could manage.  It gave you a certain status.  But on a deeper level, when you bit into an onion you were making a symbolic statement about your appetite for life, your hunger for it all, the bitter and the sharp parts as well as the sweet."'

For the source of this week's mystery quote, read on ...

Six weeks ago, the Coalition was in all sorts of trouble.  The bizarre decision to knight Prince Philip, the unthinkable loss of the Queensland state election, a leadership spill motion attracting almost 40% support, a regular barrage of leaks and appalling 2PP polling all combined to make it look like Tony Abbott would not be long for the top job.

As last fortnight's edition noted, the polling blowout caused by these events was surprisingly brief, and within a few weeks polling had reverted to modest, 53:47-ish ALP leads. There was some thought that the blowout, rather than the reversion, was the new normal, based on the idea voters were factoring in Malcolm Turnbull becoming PM, but that idea has clearly been refuted.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New South Wales: The Final Week

NSW Primary Aggregate (updated 27 Mar) Coalition 45.4 Labor 34.0 Green 10.7 Others 9.9
2PP By 2011 Preferences: 55.8% to Coalition
Estimated 2015 Preferences: 54.0% to Coalition
Seat Projection (estimate): Coalition 53 Labor 36 Green 1 Ind 3

It's time to kick off my rolling post for the last week of the NSW election, which will be updated an unknown number of times through the week.  Before posting too much detail and getting into some of the finer modelling detail - I've posted provisional figures above, but these will be revised through the week - I want to get something up about the big picture of where the polling is at.

From their position last week I thought there were three things Labor needed to do all of to still win the NSW election:

1. Reduce the primary vote gap to the Coalition compared to what polling was showing at that time.
2. Increase their preference flow from the Greens and minor parties compared to what polling was showing at that time.
3. Get lucky on the distribution of seat swings.

There is some evidence that 2 may be occurring.  There is still some evidence that 3 is unusually likely.  But as concerns 1, the four polls out in the last week don't provide cause for hope; indeed they suggest the gap is widening.  No amount of preferencing or uneven seat swing magic will win it if the primary vote gap is too big.  And so, based on current polls, Labor starts the final week in a losing position and needs a late swing back to have a realistic chance.  The extent to which dramatic swings occur in most election campaigns is overstated and Labor's task if they want to win is very challenging now.