Sunday, October 27, 2013

When Is The Next State Election Due? (And Other Stories)

 When Is The Next State Election Due?

This is the kind of subject matter you're normally much more likely to find on Antony Green's site than mine, but this time I just couldn't resist!  Today's State Leader's Address by Opposition Leader Will Hodgman contained the following comment:

"And the next election - due in just 138 days - will be the most important election in a generation for our state.  Because the decision that Tasmanians make in March, will define our state's future for the next generation."

The concept of an election being "due" or "overdue" got a lot of running in the leadup to the 2013 federal election, based on the possibility that Kevin Rudd would seriously run down the clock by going into October or even November in search of time to re-establish himself.  Given the confused nature of the campaign Rudd and Labor eventually ran, and especially the lack of a developed quality control mechanism for policy announcements, he might have done better had he done so.  In the end, the 2013 federal election was held a few weeks after the government's third anniversary, which was not unusual.  As Antony Green notes, 13 of 43 federal parliaments went beyond three years.  Governments that went more than a month over their three years typically did so because they were likely to lose anyway and either hoped something might save them or just felt like extending their tenure.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Senate Reform: Change This System, But To What?

As noted at the top of the previous post, the pace of new material will be slow for the next few weeks because of work commitments, but there will still be new posts from time to time. Aggregate, Fairfax and WA Senate updates may also be a bit slow - I'll be aiming for daily, in the evenings (when there is actually anything to report), but don't guarantee to meet that target.

The Senate post-count isn't over yet as we've barely started the laborious WA Senate recount, which may well be followed by a court case depending on the margins and the outcome.  News on that process will be posted here.  But the results are final enough to make some observations on what the elections told us about the faults of the current Senate electoral system.  There will be a standard Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters review of the election and this is likely to pave the way for a process leading to reform including opportunities for public submissions and hearings.  Now is a good time for those interested in reform to be discussing ideas and priorities for alternatives to the current system.

In my view, the overwhelming priority is the abolition of group-ticket voting.  The various alternatives have their strengths and weaknesses, but all of them pale into insignificance compared to the importance of having preferences directed (or perhaps in cases exhausted) through the actions (or inactions) of voters, rather than by preference deals between parties.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2PP aggregate restarted: transitional arrangements

Transitional phase closed (Dec 10): This article is no longer current as new 2PP estimate methods have been released.


There has been a small trickle of federal polling under the new Abbott government, all of it so far from Essential (three polls that did not include any pre-election data) and Morgan Multi-Mode (two polls).

I'm restarting my 2PP aggregate in the sidebar, but these early readings will be extremely rough,  because of the paucity of polling and the lack of precise 2013 preferencing data.  Essential have been using 2010 preference data while Morgan's calculations stated to be based on 2013 election data look extremely dubious to me given their primary results.

The methods for the aggregate I started early this year can be found here.  The aggregate was experimental and underwent a lot of mostly minor changes through the year; the aim was to create a simple aggregate method, capable of quick hand calculation where needed, that would reasonably accurately capture the national 2PP based on a range of polls at any given time.  As the aggregate's final projection of 53.5% 2PP to Coalition proved very close to the final outcome I will be retaining the basic method.  However some small changes will be made.  Most of these will not be determined until I have seen the final preference flows by party from the 2013 election, and conducted a detailed review of all polls.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WA Senate Squeaker

Original Provisional Result: Pratt (ALP) and Wang (PUP) defeat Ludlam (Green) and Dropulich (Sports) by 14 votes at key exclusion.

Recount: Recount of above the line and informal votes granted Oct 10.  Recount ran from Oct 17 to Nov 1.  Various corrections were made but 1370 votes were lost, could not be rechecked, and were excluded from the recount.

Declared Result: Ludlam (Green) and Dropulich (Sports) declared winners by 12 votes at key exclusion.

But There's A Problem: The lost votes would have advantaged Pratt (ALP) and Wang (PUP) by 13 votes, meaning that if there were no errors in the counting of those votes, Pratt (ALP) and Wang (PUP) could have won by one vote.  

Where to from here? Outcome referred to Court of Disputed Returns by AEC requesting that election be ruled void.  Petitions also filed by Zhenya Wang (PUP) and Simon Mead (ALP state secretary).  The arguments for voiding the election were accepted and the election was ruled void, triggering a full WA Senate by-election to be held on April 5 under the existing system.

Updates to this post appear with the newest at the bottom.

Democracy in action! Screenshot of the critical point of the preference distribution.

Just a post to explain what is going on with the Western Australian Senate count to those not already aware of it.  The button was pressed today on the most exciting of the eight Senate post-counts.

Through the complex process of modelling the outcome undertaken by Truth Seeker, Antony Green and others, one point of the long list of exclusions of minor candidates became increasingly crucial and incredibly close.  That point concerned which of the Shooters and Fishers and the Australian Christians was excluded first.  Neither of these parties had the slightest chance of winning, but because of their different group voting ticket preferences, which one was excluded first would have a great impact on the outcome.  If the Australian Christians were excluded, this would then lead to the exclusion of the Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich, and this would in turn result in Labor's Louise Pratt and Palmer United Party's Zhenya Wang getting the final two seats.  If the Shooters and Fishers were excluded, this would then lead to Dropulich winning on a preference snowball and taking the Greens' Scott Ludlam with him.

The Shooters and Fishers had a lead on the ABC Calculator, but it assumes all votes are above the line votes, and ignores the impact of below the line votes that do not follow the script.  If only reliably "locked in" votes (ticket votes and a share of votes from a party's second and subsequent candidates) were included then the Christians had a wafer-thin lead.  But modelling by Truth Seeker here suggested that the Shooters and Fishers were slightly more likely than not to do just well enough on below-the-lines from other parties to beat the Christians at this point.  The final Truth Seeker projected margin was 54 votes to S+F, but with a large degree of uncertainty, such that "Is this significantly different to zero? No."