Thursday, March 31, 2016

Legislative Council Voting Patterns 2012-6

Advance Summary

1. This article presents a revised analysis of voting patterns in the Legislative Council (the upper house of Tasmanian Parliament) based on contested divisions in the last four years.

2. Although there is a degree of independence in all Legislative Council voting, the Council continues to have a clearly defined "left wing" consisting of Craig Farrell (Labor), and independents Mike Gaffney, Ruth Forrest, Kerry Finch and Rob Valentine.

3. Excepting Adriana Taylor and Rosemary Armitage, the remaining MLCs have leaned significantly to the right to varying degrees over the past four years.  However, Tania Rattray displayed a centrist voting pattern in the last year specifically.

4. Voting in the Legislative Council in 2015-6 was much less polarised than in previous years, probably because of a low proportion of high-profile partisan political issues.

5. The revised analysis again shows most of the conservative MLCs to be between Liberal and Labor positions, albeit closer to the Liberals.

6. The Liberal Government lost very few divisions in the 2015-6 Council, however this will change should Labor win the two seats being elected this year.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 Federal Election Seats Model: What 2PP Vote Does Labor Need To Win?

Advance Summary

1. This article seeks to model what two-party preferred vote Labor would on average need to win the 2016 federal election, based on known information about personal vote advantages, retirements and optionally state-level federal polling.

2. A simple reading of the Mackerras pendulum projects Labor as requiring about 50.3% 2PP to form government and 50.55% to govern in majority.

3. However, the pendulum is prone to over-predict how many seats a party will gain for a given swing if that party lost many seats at the previous election.

4. The reason for this is that the new personal votes of sitting MPs in marginal seats make them more difficult to defeat.

5. With this considered, my current model estimates that Labor requires a 50.9% two-party preferred for an even chance of forming government at all, or 51.4% for a 50-50 chance of a majority.

6. These numbers are estimates only and it is possible Labor could form government with a slightly lower figure or fail to form government with a slightly higher one.

7. These numbers also don't take into account the possibility of a substantial number of new non-Green crossbenchers in the Lower House, as it is not possible to model the chances of that happening yet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: And They're Off! (Probably)

2PP Aggregate: 51.3 to Coalition (-0.2 since last week)
Coalition would win election "held now" with much reduced majority

In this issue:
Voting intention and aggregation
Leaderships: Turnbull Goes Negative
Metapoll Or Metaparasite?
New England
Polls Fail In Brisbane
Other Polling (Includes worst poll of the week)
Betting Watch

After one of those days constitution junkies love, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may have just started a 103-day countdown to a July 2 double-dissolution.  We won't know for sure until we see whether the recalled Senate goes to water over the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation, but the early noises from the crossbench are defiant.  Should the crossbench indeed refuse to pass the bills, we're looking at at least eight weeks in which the election date will be absolutely clear, but perhaps a few more.  We can also expect a 53-day formal campaign. Long campaigns have been in disrepute since Bob Hawke bored the nation into liking Andrew Peacock in 1984, but it was not always thus.  Menzies called a long campaign in 1958 and the experience didn't scare him off doing it again three years later.  (See Malcolm Farnsworth's tabulation of formal campaign lengths).

The government enters this new phase of the leadup in a reasonable but not stellar polling position.  A rapid plunge in its standing in February shows signs of levelling out short of actually gifting Labor the lead.  However, there's a fair bit of variation in the individual poll results.  This fortnight we've seen 2PP scores for the Coalition of 53 from Ipsos, 52 from ReachTEL, 51 from Newspoll, two 50s from Essential and 49.5 from Morgan.  The 50.5-49.5 lead to Labor in Morgan was the first time Labor has led the 2PP in any of the 55 polls taken since the removal of the previous PM Tony Abbott.  Morgan has tended to lean to the Coalition since Turnbull took over, to a recently reducing degree, but the evidence of this result has caused me to now treat Morgan as neutral on average. Perhaps it will soon return to its old ways and start again skewing to Labor.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Senate Reform Has Been Passed

It's all over bar the High Court challenge(s).  On Friday, the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 finally passed both houses of parliament and was quickly whisked off to receive royal assent.

I've never been a fan of the now presumed-dead group ticket system, but my own campaigning to change it really dates from 30 August 2013.  On that day I discovered that the Family First candidate who had a dream run on the Tasmanian preference allocations, including from Labor, the Greens and various left micros, was an anti-gay extremist.  There was a high risk that socially progressive voters innocently voting above the line for their preferred parties would elect someone whose views would horrify them.  So I wrote this article.  In the end the disaster was avoided by just 821 votes.

I found it was uphill work convincing people to vote from 1 to 54 below the line (let alone the number of squares required in the larger states!) and that party operatives were concerned that I might cause their voters to vote informally.  Around the same time the Truth Seeker site was predicting Senate chaos with numerous micro-party wins based on tight preference flows between micro-parties.

What was most concerning, when the votes were finally counted, was not just that Truth Seeker had been right in a big picture sense, but also that the micro-parties that actually won or nearly won were frequently those that were not even on the radar of those trying to model the election in advance.  Trying to alert people to the consequences of their preference flows and do background checking on which micro-party Senators were going to win was a nightmare when not even expert modellers and not even preference whisperers could determine which micro-parties were going to get up.  Other results of the 2013 election showed that the system was not only absurd on a massive scale, but also a sovereign risk.  The voiding of the WA election would not have happened under the same circumstances but with voter-directed preferences.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A New Species Of Strangeness In The West

It's a familiar polling story.  The long-serving government is looking rough around the edges and the Opposition has a moderate but handy polling lead.  The Premier is on the nose and has been rating badly for years, the Opposition Leader is well regarded and leads as preferred Premier.  There are rumours and rustlings, and finally a challenger indicates potential interest in the job, should his/her colleagues so desire it, and says that the current leader can't win the election.  We all know how this story ends.

Only in Western Australia, it's the Opposition Leader, not the Premier, who has been informally challenged - and even more strangely, the putative challenger isn't even in parliament.  In an extension of the Campbell Newman doctrine (in which a new leader can be drafted by the party from outside the parliament in order to take over), it is now possible for someone to raise an interest in the leadership when they:

* aren't in the parliament or serving in any current political role
* have no seat for which they are reasonably assured of preselection
* aren't being drafted by the party's current organisation or the parliamentary party, and whether anyone involved in the drafting is even a member of either isn't totally clear

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Poll Roundup: How Far Will Turnbull Slide?

2PP Aggregate: 51.0 to Coalition (-0.3 in a week, -2 in three weeks)
Coalition would win election "held now" with much reduced majority

The downwards trend I've been tracking in the Coalition's aggregated federal polling has continued. It's not so much the case that the polls keep getting worse, but more that it was longer since they got a really good one.  In the last two weeks Essential (which has leant to Labor on the whole since Turnbull became PM) has put out a couple of 50:50s, and Newspoll (which in its new incarnation has also leant to Labor, though not by much) has followed up its shock 50:50 from a fortnight ago with more of the same.  Morgan had a very slight improvement for the government, up to 53:47 by last-election preferences, but this may be more evidence that its house effect is hanging around than anything in the government's favour.  Anyway with all these included my aggregate now falls to 51.0% to Coalition - more or less exactly where it was in the immediate aftermath of last September's removal of Tony Abbott.  Here's the smoothed tracking graph:

There's increasing talk of a July 2 double dissolution, which would mean the election is now less than four months away.  Normally, if you offered a new first-term government a 51:49 poll lead four months out from an election it would take that in a shot, since governments of any age in such a position have a very high historic chance of re-election.  Again though, it's the pace at which the Coalition has shed support that would be causing a lot of concern. Some of what has happened in polling this year is the natural coming down from any leadership transition bounce, but that far from guarantees that that process is even finished.

Friday, March 4, 2016

EMRS: Libs Could Have Copped A Whacking, But ...

EMRS Liberal 46 Labor 27 Green 18 Independent 8 Others 1
Interpretation (provisional) Liberal 47 Labor 31 Green 15 Others 7
Result of poll if election "held now": Probable Liberal majority government (13-9-3)
Aggregate of all state polling: Liberal majority government (13-8-4)

The new EMRS poll of Tasmanian voting intentions is out (PDF link) and the results are surprisingly harmless for the Hodgman Liberal government.  Given that the gloss has come off the federal Turnbull bounce which probably helped the Liberals to such a good result last time, there were many reasons to suspect this poll could be a shocker.

In the last few months the state has been beseiged by bushfires, drought, floods, traffic congestion in Hobart, energy issues and talk of a crisis as a result of a still-unfixed fault in the Basslink power cable, and even an outbreak of mass oyster death.  While most of these are just "natural disasters" that shouldn't hurt governments (and might even help them if their response was good), responses to both the energy and traffic issues have raised the question of preparedness.  While the preparedness question applies to previous governments at least as much as this one, and goes to the question of whether government generally is all that good these days, one might expect the current government to cop some blowback from it all.  Perhaps in the energy case we'll need to wait and see whether it actually affects consumers first.