Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Bass

This is the Bass electorate guide for the 2018 Tasmanian State Election.  (Link to main 2018 election preview page, including links to other electorates.)

Bass (Currently 3 Liberal 1 Labor 1 Green). 
North-east Tasmania including most of Launceston
Mixed urban/small-town/rural

Declared Candidates

Note to candidates: As the number of candidates is large, continually changing link and bio details could consume a lot of my time.  It's up to you to get your act together and have your candidacy advertised on a good website that I can find easily well ahead of the election.  On emailed request I may make one free website link change per candidate at my discretion; fees will be charged beyond that.  Bio descriptions and other text will not be changed on request except to remove any material that is indisputably false.

I am not listing full portfolios for each MP, only the most notable positions.


Peter Gutwein, incumbent, Treasurer and Minister for Local Government
Michael Ferguson, incumbent, Minister for Health, former federal MHR for seat
Sarah Courtney, incumbent, backbencher
Bridget Archer, Mayor of George Town
Simon Wood, Launceston councillor


Michelle O'Byrne, incumbent, Deputy Opposition Leader, Shadow Minister for Education, former federal MHR for seat
Adam Gore, Army musician, former university tutor, staffer for Michelle O'Byrne, also 2014 candidate
Jennifer Houston, sociologist, community development officer, ALP candidate for Windermere in 2015
Owen Powell, farmer with a PhD in hydrogeology (check this out!)
Brian Roe OAM, prominent sports administrator, ALP candidate for Launceston in 2016


Greens candidates for Bass are listed in endorsed ticket order

Andrea Dawkins, incumbent, previously ran vegetarian restuarant Fresh
Emma Anglesey, musician and staffer for Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, 2017 Launceston LegCo candidate
Emma Williams, Launceston councillor
Tom Hall, anaesthetist
James Ireland, town planner

Jacqui Lambie Network

Michelle Hoult, Navy veteran, teacher, lead Nick Xenophon Team candidate for Senate 2016
Joshua Hoy, healthcare professional, rehabilitation consultant
Gary Madden, Army veteran
Daniel Groat, branch supervisor at Ullrich Aluminium

Prospects for Bass

Federally, Bass is a volatile seat with a long history of booting the incumbent at almost every election.  Outer Launceston suburbs and the north-eastern timber towns (foremost Scottsdale) are especially swing-prone.

The Liberals' third seat in Bass is almost certainly a must-hold seat if the party is to retain majority.  The Liberals won three seat in 2014 with a 57% primary vote, and about an 11% swing against them is required before the seat becomes likely to fall.  However the exact swing needed depends a lot on where the other parties finish.

The Greens held off Labor for the final seat by just 1.6% in 2014, although it would have been 3.3% but for the even split between the two leading Labor candidates (an advantage Labor will not have this year).  Coming off a primary of just 23.3%, Labor seems well-placed to gain enough to at least keep their eventual second candidate ahead of the Greens this time, which if so would pitch the Greens into a battle with the Liberals that would depend on the Liberals falling well below three quotas.

A wild card is the Jacqui Lambie Network with Hoult as a fairly well known lead candidate with some political experience.  One seat poll suggests JLN is vaguely competitive here, but I don't see them as a major threat at this stage (Jan 21).

In the event that the Liberals do lose a seat, some have suggested Gutwein, or more commonly Ferguson, might fall.  I think these comments are more wishful thinking given the huge votes both amassed last time, although Ferguson's Health portfolio is famous for not doing wonders for its holder's vote.  At more risk in my view is Courtney, who has been marketed heavily but little seen on anything of substance - which is surprising given her credentials.

For Labor, O'Byrne will be returned but it's hard to pick who would be joining her from a fairly evenly matched ticket, assuming the party wins two.

The Greens have held Bass since 2002, but famously saved it by just 136 votes in 2006, and came pretty close to losing in 2014 too.  Incumbent Andrea Dawkins polled few primaries in 2014 and was elected on countback after ex-leader Kim Booth resigned.  Unless the Greens vote lifts markedly statewide she will be very dependent on the breakdown of the other parties, but can retain if the swing against the Liberals is really on.  I am unsure if her profile is high enough if she gets involved in a close preference battle for the final seat.

A Bass-specific poll was discussed here.

Outlook: Most likely 3-2-0 or 2-2-1, with 3-1-1 (status quo) also a realistic chance.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Main Page

Welcome to the main page for my 2018 Tasmanian state election coverage.  This page will carry links to all the other articles about the election that I write prior to the close of polling, and will contain general big-picture stuff and links to all the specialised articles (once these are written).  It will be updated very frequently.  However, one thing I am doing differently from my 2014 guide is that each electorate will have its own guide page.  The electorate guide pages will be rolled out over coming days and I aim to have them all up by the end of Monday 22 January.  Note that these are my own guides and I reserve the right to inject flippant and subjective comments whenever I feel like it; if you do not like this, write your own.

If you find these guides useful, donations are very welcome (see sidebar), but please only give me money if you can afford to.

Article links

Articles relevant to the election and written during the linkup will have links to them posted here as they are done.  

Electorate guides
(rest to be added as written)

Other articles


The election must be held by May 19, 2018.  Premier Hodgman has repeatedly stated the election will be in March, four years to the month since the last state election.  The previous three Tasmanian state elections have been held on the same weekend as South Australia (to the intense annoyance of the election-watching community nationwide), which in this case would mean March 17.  However, at the time of writing (Jan 18) there are widespread rumours that the election may be called within days for March 3.  March 10 is unsuitable as it falls on a public holiday weekend and March 24 is probably too close to Easter.  The time between the gazetting of the election and the election date can be between 27 and 61 days, meaning that in practice a four-week campaign is the minimum.

The Backdrop

At the 2014 state election, Will Hodgman's Liberal Party thrashed the fourth-term Labor government led by Lara Giddings.  For most of its term, Giddings' government had operated in an unpopular coalition with the Greens, creating internal tensions within both parties to the deal.  The Liberals won 15 seats to seven for Labor and three for the Greens.  They also held two upper house seats at the time, so the new government started with a 17-seat party room and plenty of MPs to form a front bench from.

Mr Hodgman's government has generally been impressively united and has done a good job of keeping its internal disagreements over social issues friendly.  Despite this it has lost four ministers during its term - one for health reasons, one to a work-email scandal and two retirements from politics.  Those who have remained have received a wide range of reviews.

Bryan Green was left to pick up the pieces as Labor leader after the 2014 defeat, but his compromised past meant he was only ever a stop-gap until someone younger was ready to take over.  After making no impression on Hodgman's 30-odd point preferred premier leads, Green resigned in March and was replaced by Rebecca White.  White will be the youngest ever Tasmanian Premier if she wins.
The Labor Party is on a roll after gaining three Legislative Council seats during the term (from the Liberals, an "independent liberal" and an unaligned independent).  

The System

The Tasmanian lower house is elected by the multi-member Hare-Clark system, a form of proportional representation with similarities to the Australian Senate system.  Five candidates are elected in each of the five electorates.  Voters must number at least five squares and can number as many as they wish.  There is no above-the-line voting and how-to-vote cards cannot be handed out near booths on polling day.

The system favours candidates with high profiles and hence high name recognition, because these are most effective in obtaining preferences both from their ticket-mates and from other candidates.  In cases where all a party's candidates have been elected or excluded, a high proportion of that party's vote will exhaust from the system because some voters just vote 1-5 for their chosen party and stop.

The system allows candidates to compete with and in cases displace others from their own party as well as from other parties.  Projecting results from opinion poll data and even from primary vote totals is a complex and difficult task, and this is the place where such projections will be found.

Tasmania formerly had seven-member electorates, but this was changed to five from the 1998 poll onwards as part of a process to attempt to reduce costs but also with an eye to increasing the chance of majority government.  See Tasmanian Lower House: 25 or 35 seats? if interested in detailed discussion of the impact of this change.

To win majority government, a party currently needs to win 13 seats.   Since the number of seats became odd in 1959, the lowest vote share to have won a majority was 44.79% (ALP in 1998) and the highest vote share to not have done so was 47.68% (ALP in 1969).

The Issues

The government has benefited from an improving economy and booms in tourism and construction, but has struggled to contain resulting "growing pains".  Traffic congestion and housing affordability/availability problems have been significant in and around Greater Hobart (the latter resulting partly from conversion of rental properties to Air BnBs).  The government has also sometimes struggled to be seen as focused on what matters to voters - especially the state's often difficult health system - and has sometimes seemed to be still fighting the last election with culture war politics over forestry, mandatory sentencing and discrimination law.

Poker machines - a source of modest employment but a cause of significant gambling-addiction related problems and financial losses for gamblers - are a major policy difference between the parties.  The Liberals intend to reform the industry while allowing pubs and clubs to retain poker machines, while Labor wants to transition the industry out of pubs and clubs and restrict it to casinos.  In this Labor has largely fallen into line with long-standing Greens policy, and the Lambie Network is also anti-pokies.

Majority government is an issue in almost every Tasmanian election campaign, and at this one each side will be keen to insist that it can govern in majority, or at least that its opposition can't.  The issue is especially acute for Labor both because of the difficulty they have in convincing voters they can win outright and also because of their recent history of governing with the Greens.

Other issues likely to come up include salmon farming (unpopular in areas where it is planned, and an environmental issue in Macquarie Harbour), forestry (another perennial, this time in the form of the government's plans to re-open temporary reserves left over from the previous government's much-hated "peace deal" for logging), education and infrastructure.  At this stage, the majors are in lock step on introducing light rail to Hobart's northern suburbs.

The Strategy

The Liberal Government will not be able to run purely on its record at this election.  After a mixed bag of a first term it will also need to drag voters away from the popular Opposition Leader Rebecca White by scaring them off a return to Labor.  A vote for Labor is being portrayed as a vote for another Labor-Greens government, and also a vote for job losses as a result of Labor's anti-pokies campaign.  The government is also attacking White as too inexperienced (replicating the L-plate Latham imagery from the 2004 federal election, albeit less effectively without the alliteration), though defenders of White may consider such arguments against an MP with eight years' experience to be sexist.

Labor will try to make it clear that they will not go into government with the Greens, but what exactly then happens should no party win a majority is a road that has not been mapped out.  Thus far Labor have said they will not do deals with the Greens or other minority parties, but have yet to address whether they might accept minority government without any deals.  The Government has also not commented on this, but knows from 1996 that if no party has a majority and no deals are done, it will be left holding the baby.

The Labor Opposition is attacking the Government by linking it to the federal Turnbull government, which was making Tasmanians feel vulnerable before the 2016 federal election (where the Liberal result was appalling) and has since been accused of ignoring the state.  Labor is also attacking the government over the health and housing situations (both of which it labels as crises).

Oxygen sources for the Greens at this election are few and far between, with a left-wing young female Labor leader likely to appeal to their voters and Labor having covered them off more than they'd have expected on pokies.  Salmon farming has been one issue that has offered them chances to expand their base, but polls don't suggest much success there so far.

Lambie? Strategy? I'm sorry, what was the question?

The Debates

Negotiations for a TCCI debate currently (Jan 21) appear to have fallen through with Will Hodgman refusing to debate against Rebecca White if Cassy O'Connor is also included.  There is a long history of leaders of both major parties refusing debates involving the Greens, though some debates including them were held in 2009-10.

The Prospects

In general it is much harder for state governments to remain in office when they are of the same party as the party in power in Canberra.  Only around half do so, while around 85% of state governments that are not in power federally are re-elected.  However, state governments are more likely to survive when relatively young.

The Liberals won two seats narrowly in 2014.  In two-party swing terms the fourth seat in Braddon sits on 0.4% and the third seat in Franklin on about 2%.  With polls generally pointing to a swing of at least 9% and the November EMRS as high as 17%, these two are gone unless there is a great improvement in the government's fortunes or a major polling fail.

To retain majority then, the government needs to hold all thirteen remaining seats.  Swings of several percent into low double figures could possibly account for the government's third seat in Lyons, second in Denison and third in Bass, while the third seat in Braddon might be at risk from the Jacqui Lambie Network.

The complexities of Hare-Clark may work in the Government's favour in Lyons if it can again split the vote of its three MPs more or less evenly.

Labor has good prospects of winning at least ten seats, but winning three in any electorate will be difficult, with realistic chances so far apparent only in Denison and Lyons.  At the time of writing (19 Jan) no credible path to a Labor majority has been sighted, but the possibility of Labor plus a fourth party (such as JLN) winning a combined 13 seats cannot be ruled out.

The Greens' fortunes appear critical to whether or not the government keeps its majority, since if Labor wins two in Bass and Lyons then the Greens are likely to fight the Liberals for the final seat in both.  However the Greens are struggling for profile in both (especially Lyons) and for this reason if the Liberals can keep the swing down below baseball-bat proportions then they might survive.

Opinion polls conducted in the period 2015-8 has including twelve quarterly EMRS polls, four statewide ReachTELs (one commissioned) and a small number of individual electorate samples.  Roy Morgan Research also polled the state frequently between late 2014 and late 2016 but its samples were small, volatile and conducted using a method that has yielded poor results in other states (SMS panel polling).

Taking into account the tendencies of both EMRS and ReachTEL to underestimate Labor and overestimate the Greens in Tasmanian elections, my interpretation of the polls has varied, but there has been a generally downhill trend for the Government.  In 2015 most of the polls (on my analysis) would have produced a Liberal majority government had they been reproduced at an election, in 2016 polls were evenly split, and in 2017 polls leaned towards a hung parliament.  The EMRS trend tracker shows an especially pronounced downwards trend.  In early 2018 the government released internal polling to try to claim that it had turned the corner. 

The Parties

Beyond the obvious Liberal, Labor and Greens, the following parties are registered or registering and could contest the election as parties:

Animal Justice Party - Applying for registration but intention to run unknown

Australian Christians - Intentions unknown

Jacqui Lambie Network - candidates declared for Bass and Braddon and Lyons, not expected to run in Franklin or Denison

Pauline Hanson's One Nation - Intentions unknown

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers - Running a small number of candidates in various electorates

Socialist Alliance - Intentions unknown and irrelevant

Independents may also run either as grouped or ungrouped candidates.

The Betting

Betting in Tasmanian elections has a poor predictive track record.  In 2006 Labor's odds of retaining majority government were as long as $9; not only did they do this, but they did so easily and nearly gained a seat.  In 2014 odds-on favourite candidates to top the poll failed to do so in three of the five electorates.

As of January 19, Sportsbet have for some time displayed Labor 1.20 Liberal 4.00 Green 15.00 to provide the Premier, and for type of government formed Labor Minority 1.22 Liberal Minority 4.00 Labor Majority 17.00 Liberal Majority 15.00.  Some of these are waaaaaay too long and I'll be surprised if they remain as lopsided through to election day.

The Gaffes!

Every campaign has them!  Most are harmless but some can be damaging. Gaffes will be added as I hear about them. 

Felix Ellis was accused of a gaffe over this social media incident but in my view it was a beat-up based on a misunderstanding of the material posted, and does not merit gaffe status.

Note: Comments will not be cleared quickly today (20 Jan) as I am in the field.

Other Guides and Resources

Note that candidate guides on external sites are not necessarily up to date.  Several links are likely to be added through the campaign.

Tally Room guide, including some very detailed past history for each electorate.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Commissioned Tasmanian Polls

Tasmanian state election season is heating up with regular policy announcements (at least from the government) and rumours that the election could be called this weekend for March 3 (what, not the same day as South Australia again?  Surely too good to be true!)

I expect we will have some public polling before too much longer so we can see if the Liberals have recovered from an utter stinker from EMRS late last year, but in the meantime the shady forces of commissioned polling are out there doing their stuff.  This week Tasmanians were treated to not one but two rounds of robo-bombardment.  A diabolically odd anti-pokies question left many scratching their heads (especially pokie opponents) while reports of the warm fuzzy niceties of the other poll on offer sparked Twitter responses like this:

OK, there was actually only one response like that, but this poll even asked voters if they liked Tasmanian political leaders as human beings!  It also asked if voters thought Jacqui Lambie was good at her job, which came as a surprise to me, because I didn't know she had one anymore.  

MediaReach Liberal Poll

Anyway, the long and cuddly robopoll has seen the partial light of day first, and what this is is a MediaReach internal poll commissioned by the Liberals, with a sample of a whopping 3,000.  Methods details are bereft - I've seen a claim it only canvassed landlines, but I constantly see the same claim about other pollsters who ceased doing so years ago - so there's not much more to say about it yet.  

Now, I'm not sure if ReachTEL weren't available (they're prim and proper about refusing dual commissions if they have a conflict in a market) or if the Liberals just don't trust them anymore, but MediaReach was a novel selection indeed.  This pollster hasn't been seen in Tasmania before and its only previous testable public results have been in the NT, where it was out by about five points 2PP in an electorate poll and a territory election poll.  So what do we know about its accuracy in the Tasmanian or indeed any similar context?  Diddly-squat.  Add to that that it's a commissioned poll that wouldn't have seen the light of day had the Liberals not liked the result, and the only weight I can aggregate it at is zero.  Still, it will be fascinating to see how it scrubs up on election day.

Actually, if I did aggregate this poll it wouldn't make much difference anyway.  Oddly giving results to two decimal places (not that there is anything actually wrong with that) the poll has the following results:

Liberal 41.12
Labor 34.29
Green 12.81
Lambie Network 6.19
leaving 5.59 for others.

Compared with my most recent published state aggregate (from the EMRS piece), the poll has the Liberals up 2.2 points, Labor down 2.7 and the rest more or less exactly where I do.  If these results were accurate, they would most likely point to the familiar story of polling over the term reasserting itself - seats could go 12-10-3 or they could go 13-10-2, and it probably comes down to Lyons.  (Speaking of which, has anyone actually heard from Fraser Brindley?  I've seen no media from him since he was endorsed back in April.)

And that's the perfect story for the Government in terms of the line it wants to play: that only the Liberals can win majority government, but that the election is close enough that every vote matters.  Liberal strategists are reported as claiming they could hold up to 14 seats, but this poll doesn't provide support for that.  Assuming uniform swings, they would need about 49% statewide to retain three in Franklin.  

Not only would the Liberals not have released these numbers if they were much worse, but they probably wouldn't have released them if they were much better either, since nobody would have believed them.  The numbers are therefore totally convenient, but that doesn't mean they are wrong.

(The Mercury's report on this poll, by the way, contains a howler.  The results it claims to have been ReachTEL polls in 2010 and 2014 were actually from the real elections.)

The other thing is that not for the first time, the Liberals are finding that their internals have Premier Hodgman doing better in the beauty contest than the nasty stuff we've been seeing from EMRS.  (As noted in my articles on EMRS, if one treated EMRS as equivalent to Newspoll, one would have sound historic reason to declare Rebecca White Premier already, but luckily for Hodgman the two are not the same.)  The MediaReach apparently has Hodgman up 48-41.4, which by Newspoll standards would denote a struggling Premier rather than a stuffed one, but without any benchmark for MediaReach, who knows?

Bass ReachTEL (updates to follow)

As for the commissioned ReachTEL of Bass, I have seen that poll and, ignoring the pokie troll-poll section, it's fascinating.  Want a lucky number? 58. I will update this article (in the evenings because of work) with comments on such of it as sees the light.

Thursday: The first media report is out for this Australia Institute poll, which finds the Liberals with remarkably good numbers in Bass compared to the general run of recent polling.  After distributing the 4% undecided (the media report just gives the raw numbers), the poll has the Liberals on 49.4% in the seat, Labor on 27.6, the Greens on 10.5, the Jacqui Lambie Network on 10.1 and others on a paltry 2.3.  ReachTEL polls prior to Tasmanian elections have in general underestimated Labor substantially and overestimated the Greens.  The evidence on the Liberals from past polls is mixed (severe overestimates at federal elections but underestimates at the last state election).  Taking all this into account, the most likely reading of the poll is 3 Liberal 2 Labor.  (If the poll is assumed to be exactly accurate, then the Greens' Andrea Dawkins might hang on given that Labor has no obvious number 2 candidate and hence could well suffer significant losses on leakage.  The Lambie Network would be less likely to win because they would be more exposed to leakage issues and would have nowhere much to get preferences from.)

The poll asked voters to report whether Will Hodgman and Rebecca White are the best people to lead their parties.  Hodgman smashed it on this question with a 72.2-14.9 net result (51% strongly agreeing) while White - who EMRS showed as super-popular late last year - did a little less well at 53-36.9.  As well as Hodgman getting a rousing endorsement from his own party here, there was also a pretty strong tendency among Labor voters to agree he was the best choice of Liberal leader.  A cynic might say that Hodgman's strong result here reflects disdain for his party colleagues, but I've seen a lot of reflexive partisan dislike of opposing leaders in my time and I'm not seeing that for Premier Hodgman here.

The Advocate also mentions the issues questions with "fixing the health system" at 37.3%.  "Ensuring a majority government" scored 21.5 and "getting pokies out of pubs and clubs" scored 10.9.  For completion, education on 9.3% and "creating secure jobs" on 21% were the other options.  Probably, education was disadvantaged in comparison to the other options by not being described dynamically - it is usually in the low double figures in such polls.   The well would have been poisoned for the pokies component of this question by a more contentious question about pokies coming before it, but on the other hand the issues question could underestimate interest in pokies issues since a voter who supports keeping pokies in pubs and clubs would probably have picked another option.

I have included the voting intention results for this poll in my aggregate with a weighting of 20% for Bass only, and they significantly firmed up a 3-2 result in the aggregate, though the Greens are by no means out of it yet.  I'll continue reporting on this poll as results dribble out, but I won't release data from any question that hasn't been at least partly reported in the media.

(Note: I will be rolling out election guide material on Sunday and Monday, if not before.  I have a field trip on Saturday.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Johnston Team Routs The Old Guard In Glenorchy Council Elections

In tonight's counting we've seen the sequel to the Kafkaesque demise of the previous Glenorchy City Council, and it's worth briefly explaining what has gone on, if only so that people understand what a provisional distribution is.

Kristie Johnston has been re-elected Mayor with 86.4% of the vote to 13.6% for sole opponent Steven King.  That election has been declared.  I cannot remember a larger win in a mayoral contest in Tasmania, but there has probably been one.  There have been larger wins in Legislative Council contests sometimes.

Matt Stevenson has been elected Deputy Mayor with 56.4% of the primary vote in a field of six.  That election too has been declared.  The runner-up, Simon Fraser on 13.8%, has finished ahead of two incumbent aldermen.  Incumbent Deputy, Harry Quick, has polled 9.6%, a 20-point swing against his 2014 result.  I am unsure if any incumbent deputy has ever polled such a low primary vote in such a contest in Tasmanian council voting.

What is not finished yet is the aldermanic count.  The TEC has released a sample result based on the counting of 45% of the ballots counted.  Also, those ballots have yet to be checked by being entered again.  This is labelled as a "possible result" only, because if the breakup of the 55% of ballots not yet entered is different then the results may be a bit different.  When this process was introduced in 2014, we reliably saw that the candidates near the top of the winner lists always won, but the interim winners in the last few positions didn't always all make it.

In this case, there is a fair chance that we are looking at the final composition of the new Council, because Steven King currently wins the final place by 91.7 votes, and that is a lot to make up with 45% of the sample counted.  There also don't seem to be any obvious exclusion order tricks at the end.  But we do need to wait for the final button press to see if any of the defeated candidates can make a comeback on what remains.

The status of Quick in the count has also caused some confusion.  In the interim sample he is shown as "Remaining in the count".  However, if he remains in that position, he loses.  The term "remaining in the count" means the last candidate left without quota who isn't elected but doesn't have their preferences thrown either - 11th in a race for 10 seats in this case.

In the interim distribution, Kristie Johnston has a staggering 59% of the vote (6.6 quotas).  It may be that an aldermanic vote this high has been recorded on a Tasmanian council but I am not aware of such a case.  The nearest I know of is Terry Martin getting 56.5% in 1999, and that was only an election for half the Council, against a field half the size.

The nearest primary vote to Johnston's is Melissa Carlton's 3%, meaning that the candidate in first has nineteen times the vote of anybody else.  Johnston's surplus in the interim distribution actually elects her most prominent ticket-mates Stevenson and Jan Dunsby, and then the remaining candidates trickle in as others are excluded.  At present, eight of the ten "Team Kristie" candidates win, and only King and Fraser are elected from outside the ticket.  If that holds up, that will make King the sole survivor from the seven-Councillor grouping that dominated the previous Council.  (Four didn't recontest, and Quick and Jenny Branch-Allen are currently on track to lose.)

The results are remarkable even by the standards of the lead-up, but it is worth noting that the Johnston team has run with little obvious opposition outside of their former opponents.  The former majority grouping has been the subject of adverse findings (caution: 313 page PDF link!), and the insurgents have had an excellent run in local media.  Johnston has long had the support of Denison federal independent Andrew Wilkie, and the state Liberal government won't be distressed about this result at all (especially as they can say that they fixed up the mess, and it spares them from having to face Johnston at the state poll in March.)

A few more notes:

* I am not sure why the Greens bother running for this council, at least while Johnston is there competing for their voters.  Their two candidates in this case so far have a combined 1.7%.

* The informal vote on the Councillor ballots currently appears to be extremely low at only 1.3%.  It will be interesting to see if this remains the case or perhaps if obvious informals might not have been included in the initial data entry.  If it does remain this low then a possible explanation is a high number of voters voting 1-10 for the Team Kristie candidates.

* Turnout was quite high at 54%.  Aside from the apparent interest among voters in putting the nonsense of the past few years to rest, it's logical that while this would have been a very bad time for some voters (my concern about holding an election at this time), it would also have been a good time for many who had more time to vote because of time off work.

I'll add a note on the final result when the final button is pressed in a few days.

Final result: Nothing changed in the winner list.  Johnston's final primary was 58.4%. Oh and informal votes finished at 5.3% so my suspicion some were being held back there was correct.  Too high since most would have been unintentional.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Site Review

Another year down in the just-over five-year history of this site.  2017 did not have either a federal election or a Tasmanian state election but there was still a fair amount of interest, especially in the Queensland election.  Indeed traffic by unique pageviews was only down 40% on last year despite the lack of a federal election, and up 25% on the last year without a federal or Tasmanian election (2015).  Moreover, there were more total pageviews than in the last state election year, 2014! Here's the activity graph for the year (the units are sessions per week):

The major event of the year on the site was the Queensland election, and quite aside from Queensland elections being always so interesting, I think the real reason for this is that the flow of information from official sources was very poor.  Other spikes included two rounds of Tasmanian legislative council elections and the Marriage Law Postal Survey, but there was also a continuing run of Section 44 fun that meant there was generally something to talk about in the second half of the year.

In 2017 I published 77 articles, down nine on 2016.  The main reason for the slight drop is the reduction in the number of Poll Roundup articles, of which ten came out this year, compared to 18 in a federal election year the year before.  I expanded out Tasmanian Legislative Council previews so that each seat had its own page, but on the other hand I only did one post-count thread for Queensland.  As well as poll roundups, the same-sex marriage postal vote (ten articles) and Queensland (nine) were covered fairly heavily.  I'm pleased to have been able to keep the volume somewhere near previous years in a year when my professional workload again increased.

As usual a number of things got partly written but never finished, sometimes for lack of time or sometimes because I thought better of finishing them or lost my temper with the subject matter.  Pieces started but not yet (and in some cases probably never to be) finished included:

* The Lower House section 44 piece foreshadowed in the most recent Senate piece.
* Does Voting For One Nation Help Labor Win Elections? (Answer: Very rarely.  Somebody tell Turnbull that we do have preferences in this country.)
* An untitled piece arguing that the personal life of Barnaby Joyce is a matter of legitimate public interest and commending the Herald-Sun and Daily Telegraph for reporting on it.
* "A Statement About Respectful Debate", commenced on September 9.  This piece was to argue that respectful debate about opposition to same-sex marriage was an unrealistic expectation as opposition to same-sex marriage was both itself innately disrespectful and itself unworthy of respect.
* "The Greens and the Rhiannon Mess" concerning the situation in which Senator Rhiannon was excluded from the Greens party room.  I largely forget where this one was going but it was probably just going to tip a bucket over all involved.
* "The Legislative Council Blocking Bills: Is This A Problem?"  The answer was to be, not when the bills are stupid.
* A media FAQ that was going to answer such questions as "Why isn't my phone number on this site?" (because I don't want to be rung up by retired randoms who don't understand that time matters to working people) and "Am I connected with the University of Tasmania?" (no.)

Top of the pops

The following were the ten most popular articles of the year by number of unique readers:

1. 2017 Queensland Election Postcount (Main Thread)

An easy winner, attracting over three times more unique readers than any other article and ranking seventh in the site's all-time history so far.  This piece followed the postcount in many undecided and often confusing seats in the Queensland state election.

2. Pembroke By-Election: Live And/Or Post-Count

Written largely from fallback internet devices from the town of Miena on Tasmania's Central Plateau, this piece covered the count in the Tasmanian legislative council by-election for Pembroke, spectacularly won by Labor's Joanna Siejka from the Liberals after the Liberal campaign attacked independent local mayor Doug Chipman alleging he was too old for the job.

3. Recent Polling On The Same-Sex Marriage Postal Survey

What it says on the label.

4. Legislative Council 2017: Launceston, Murchison and Rumney Live

Followed the count in three Tasmanian LegCo seats with Ruth Forrest retaining Murchison comfortably, Rosemary Armitage holding Launceston narrowly and Labor's Sarah Lovell unseating "independent liberal" Tony Mulder in Rumney.

5. Postal Plebiscite: Australia's Biggest Bad Elector Survey

As the graph below shows, this one attracted modest interest in April then suddenly went a bit viral months later.  Covered some issues with a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage at a time when it was but a twinkle in Peter Dutton's eye.

6. Section 44: Could Parry Peril Unelect McKim?

This piece covered the bizarre potential for the forced resignation of Senate President Stephen Parry to unelect Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim.  It ended up being a non-issue because Jacqui Lambie was wiped out as well and the Section 44 special count minus both of them no longer replaced McKim with One Nation's Kate McCulloch.

7. Legislative Council 2017: Pembroke By-Election 

Preview of the exciting, not to mention incident- and policy-rich, Pembroke contest.  Correctly flagged Labor's Joanna Siejka and indie Doug Chipman as the serious chances, but underestimated the success of the Liberals' age-attack on Chipman in trashing both his vote and their own preference flow.

8. Marriage Law Survey Turnout Is High ... But Not That High!

Covered the progressive release of ABS turnout estimates for the marriage law postal survey, compared with some polling that seemed to be over-representing politically engaged voters and hence overestimating turnout.  Turnout did eventually finish much higher than I initially expected, but those polls still had it too high too early.

9. Legislative Council 2017: Rumney

The most visited of the regular LegCo previews, and correctly predicted that Labor's Sarah Lovell would give Tony Mulder the boot.

10. Queensland 2017 Live

Standard live commentary thread.

The top ten is the same if counted by page views, but the live threads naturally move up the order in that case.

Some other stats

The ten biggest days of the year in order were Nov 26, Nov 5, Nov 27, May 6, Nov 28, May 7, Dec 1, Nov 4, Nov 29 and Nov 30.  Those in late Nov and early Dec were Queensland, early Nov was the Pembroke by-election and May was the regular LegCo contests.

The most popular pieces written in a previous year were the current Field Guide, Why Preferred Prime Minister/Premier Scores are Rubbish, the bio page (might do a new one soon), the previous Field Guide edition, and the aggregate methods page.

The most clicked tags were Tasmania, Legislative Council, pseph, same-sex marriage, Queensland, Senate reform, Western Australia, Newspoll, Ehrlich Awards and silly greens.

The top ten visiting countries (as defined by Google Analytics, which includes quite a few sub-country units) were Australia, the USA, the UK, NZ, Canada, Germany, Japan (+1), Singapore (+1), India (re-entry) and Hong Kong (new entry). I can't be bothered with the visiting-by-population stats this year; it's obvious that lots of people read this site in airports.  125 Google countries visited in 2017 and in all 175 have now showed up, but we're still waiting for the first hits from the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea and Madagascar - the three most populous yet to arrive.  Outside of Africa, the only countries large enough to see on the map that have not scored are North Korea, Paraguay, Cuba, Haiti, French Guiana, Kosovo and Turkmenistan. The least populous units to visit are now Norfolk Island (sorry Google, that's not a country), Anguilla and Cook Islands.

The most visiting cities this year were Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth (+1), Adelaide (-1), Launceston, London (+1) and Gold Coast (new entry).

The most common search terms this year - my name excluded - related predictably to the same-sex marriage survey and Pembroke. Among the odder ones to find their way here were:

1 to 40 lucky number pattern

greens party for the rich

gay exsort line

left wing stealing postal vote

mark mcgowan unpopular (this was on May 30.)

tasmanian nielsen poll

8% of searchers by name misspelled my name, but none by more than one letter.

The biggest hit sources for the year vary quite a bit depending on whether I count them by users or by sessions.  Going mostly by the latter I have the list at Google, Twitter, Tally Room (+1), Facebook, Tasmanian Times (+1), Bing (+3), Poll Bludger (old and new site combined) (-4), The Guardian (-1), Chesschat (re-entry) and The Conversation (re-entry).  If I go by users, Reddit makes the list instead of The Conversation. It may seem odd that Poll Bludger has dropped so low - I believe the reason is that it no longer has a list of links in the sidebar.

Thanks again for all the support through another crazily busy year, especially from those who have donated $$$.

Orders of the year

In 2018 there will be a Tasmanian state election and a South Australian state election.  They will probably, annoyingly, again be on the same day meaning that coverage of the former on this site will eclipse the latter, but I'll try to pay the lingering demise of the two-party system over there some kind of attention.  Late in the year there will be a Victorian state election.  There may or may not be a federal election as well, and there could well be federal by-elections, with Batman currently a plausible prospect.  There will be Tasmanian Legislative Council elections for the new seat of Prosser and the greenish inner-city seat of Hobart, where Rob Valentine is up for his first defence.  I may decide to cover the count for Glenorchy Council in a few weeks' time, though I have no current commitment to be involved with it.  Later in the year there will be Tasmanian Local Government elections, and I may even cover the FIDE (world chess federation) Presidential Election.  I also expect there to be more Section 44 nonsense.  Looks like another busy year!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Ehrlich Awards For Wrong Predictions

Welcome to the sixth annual Ehrlich Awards for Wrong Predictions.  I have to say from the outset, what a right bunch of wallies we have lined up this year for your amusement.   Around the start of each year here I obtain and provide cheap gratification by outing the most amusingly, instructively or staggeringly foolish calls that I observe in or relating to the previous twelve months, in any field of interest to this site.  The Ehrlichs are named for Paul Ehrlich, who not only lightened his bank balance when losing his famous bet with Julian Simon, but also lightened his credibility by making poor excuses for his defeat.  For the groundrules see the first edition and for previous years click the Ehrlich Awards tab.  A fairly common theme this year involves statements that can be taken literally as simply false claims of fact, but that also imply certain predictions about what will or won't happen down the track (in an election post-count for example).