Sunday, June 28, 2015

Singh Dumped To Fourth On Senate Ticket

Summary Of Where We Stand (As Of 30 August)

With more figures coming through from this ballot I thought I should put a summary of some of the claims that have been made and their status:

CLAIM 1: That a factional deal caused Lisa Singh to lose preselection for a winnable spot. 
STATUS: False.  (Whether a deal existed or could have caused Singh to lose is beside the point. Factions voting for their own preferred candidates, and Singh not having enough primary votes, explain the outcome without any such deal being taken into account).

CLAIM 2: That had only the rank and file voted, Singh would have been preselected third instead of fourth, meaning that Singh was effectively demoted by union delegate and state conference voters against the will of the rank and file.
STATUS: Apparently true.

CLAIM 3: The outcome was determined by the preferences of rank-and-file voters.
STATUS: Misleading, since it was only the presence of other votes in the ballot that caused rank-and-file preferences to be distributed before Lisa Singh could win the third place.  

Also, this article maintains that the choice of quota for the ballot was incorrect.

Today Labor in Tasmania announced the remainder of its federal preselections.  None of these came as any surprise, but the one attracting by far the most attention is the dumping of sitting Senator Lisa Singh to the stereotypically "unwinnable" fourth position on the party's ticket.

While there was grassroots party involvement in the preselection via a state vote of members, it did not shift a long-expected outcome: the other sitting Senators Anne Urquhart and Helen Polley retained the first two positions and the Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary John Short was placed in the third position occupied by Singh at the 2010 election.  While it was widely claimed Singh was the victim of a left-right factional deal in which in return for Short being supported for the third position, the Left agreed to encourage its members to support Polley, the real cause of Singh's demise seems to be the Left supporting Short ahead of Singh, and Singh basically just not having enough primary support to withstand a preference flow from Anne Urquhart to Short as a result of that.  (See the detailed comments by Adam Clarke below, although I am not currently as of 30 August convinced that the result would have been the same based only on the rank-and-file votes.  I have also made some comments about the voting system.)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Could A UK-Style Mass Pollster Fail Happen In Australia?

Advance Summary

1. Recently all major final polls and the vast majority of analysts failed to predict the UK election correctly.

2. Random sampling error, "shy Tory effect" and late swing probably did not make major contributions to this outcome.

3. More likely causes include herding (although this has not been conclusively shown to have happened), the difficulty of estimating turnout, and the abundance of essentially non-random "panel polling" methods.

4. Australian elections are easier to poll for because almost everyone votes and because there is very little tactical voting in the Lower House.

5. Despite this there is a greater risk of high average polling errors at the next federal election because of a rapid turnover of polling ownership and methods, which will make it more difficult for pollsters to detect issues with their methods.

6. Potential for Labor support to be soft even in very late polling also appears at this very early stage to be likely to be higher than normal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Poll Roundup: Hockey Gaffe Breaks The Monotony

2PP Aggregate: 52.4 to Labor (+0.6 in a week)
Labor would probably win election "held now" with small majority

Finally we have some movement at the station.  After four consecutive weeks of 51.8% to Labor my polling aggregate has finally moved on, with a modest step in Labor's direction.  The move is not large enough to be completely certain it is real, and there is enough going on to be unsure what is causing it if so, but it's most likely Treasurer Hockey's remarks on housing affordability (and some faltering and ill-judged attempts by his colleagues to put that genie back in its bottle) have contributed to a small-scale revival of perception that the government is out of touch.

This week's polls

Four polls have come out so far this week.  Fairfax-Ipsos opened procedings with a 53:47 to ALP (by 2013-election preferences, 54:46 respondent-allocated), which was interesting because Ipsos has usually thus far leaned to the Coalition by about a point.  There was some scepticism about it based on a premature perception that Ipsos is very bouncy (see below).  However the Ipsos result was more or less totally backed in by a 2.5 point move to Labor in Morgan, to 54.5 - bearing in mind that Morgan skews to Labor.  2-0 for the proposition that Hockey had really put his foot in it, but this was contradicted by a 51:49 Newspoll, while Essential did as Essential usually does (ie very little) and stayed at 52:48.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Would Proposed Senate Reforms Increase The Risk Of A Blocked Senate?

Advance Summary:

1. A previous article on this site showed that proposed Senate reforms to eliminate preference-harvesting disadvantage only preference-harvesters.

2. There apparently remain concerns that the proposed new system would lead to an increased chance of a blocked Senate with the Coalition (or the Coalition plus clearly right-wing crossbenchers) holding half the seats when Labor came to power.

3. Preventing the election of micro-parties off very small shares of the vote does increase the chance for either "side" to from time to time win exactly half of the seats.

4. However, if such a situation does happen, it would be very unlikely to persist beyond a new Labor government's first term.

5. Furthermore, it is only likely to arise in the first place in a case in which Labor is thrashed at one election then wins narrowly at the next (a situation that cannot apply to Labor if it wins the next election narrowly, because of the crossbenchers elected in 2013).

6. Based on the actual votes cast at elections, Labor would actually have had an easier road to passing legislation during its 2007-10 term under the proposed new system than under the current system.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ReachTEL: Liberals Consolidate, But Who Should Lead Labor?

ReachTEL (state) Liberal 48.5 Labor 29.9 Green 15.8 Other/Ind 5.8
Interpretation: Liberal 48.5 Labor 32.9 Green 13.8 Other/Ind 4.8
Result based on poll taken as read: Probable Liberal majority (about 13-9-3, with 12-9-4 or 13-8-4 also possible)
Result based on adjusted interpretation: Liberal Majority (13-10-2)

Not long since the last EMRS poll suggested the Hodgman Liberal government was emerging from a period of disappointing polling, The Mercury has commissioned a large-sample ReachTEL that has recorded an even stronger reading for the party.  Indeed, this ReachTEL is not very much different from the only other one taken since the last state election (see ReachTEL: Liberals With Solid Lead).  It provides some very useful electorate-by-electorate data, the first since September, and also some very revealing polling on who should be the state Labor leader.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Poll Roundup: Whole Lotta Nothing Going On

2PP Aggregate: 51.8 to Labor (unchanged for last two weeks)
Labor would probably win election held "right now", in minority or with small majority

Yep, it's a no-change fortnight!  For the first time since the Abbott government was elected, my aggregate has shown exactly the same reading three Tuesdays in a row.

This week's polls were a 52:48 Newspoll, a 52:48 Essential and a 52:48 Morgan (by last-election preferences; 53-47 respondent-allocated).  The Newspoll and Morgan had effectively identical primaries (41-37 in the Coalition's favour with 13 for the Greens) while the Essential gave Labor three more points and the Greens three fewer, making the 52% 2PP look a little stingy.  (The usual explanations doubtless apply.)  I am still adjusting Morgan by one point based on evidence of its skew throughout this term (I don't yet assume that its apparent loss of most of that skew in the past few months is permanent) and so I aggregated these polls as follows: 51.1 for Morgan, 52.1 for Newspoll and 52.3 for Essential.  None of them did much by themselves, and between them they did nothing.  Here's the smoothed tracking graph:

This week's results are consistent with the Budget driving a small gain to the Coalition a few weeks back, but they don't exactly prove the Budget was the cause either.

For those who follow betting markets, there's been a move to the Government in recent weeks and months, with the probabilities implied by punters moving from more or less 50-50 to about a 62% implied chance of the Coalition being re-elected.