Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Animal Justice wins final NSW upper house seat, and NSW poll performance

The Animal Justice Party (AJP) has won the final New South Wales upper house seat, defeating No Land Tax (NLT) and the Coalition. The final count had the Coalition winning 9.375 quotas, Labor 6.84, Greens 2.18, Shooters & Fishers 0.86, Christian Democrats 0.62, No Land Tax 0.418 and AJP 0.392. Earlier, the Coalition had appeared very likely to win 10 seats, but this was before below the line votes were added, on which the Coalition performed very badly.

The AJP won the final seat by 3,177 votes over NLT owing to a strong flow of Greens and other party preferences. Ben Raue illustrates the AJP’s victory both graphically and with tables. Even before the third Greens candidate was excluded, NLT’s lead over the AJP had fallen to 2004 votes from 5235 at the start of the count, and the AJP’s lead over the tenth Coalition candidate was 3674 votes, up from 3212. The Greens exclusion put the AJP 2883 votes ahead of No Land Tax.

Of the 21 seats up at this election, the Coalition won 9, Labor 7, Greens 2, Shooters 1, Christians 1 and AJP 1. That gives the right 11 seats to 10 for the left. Of the 42 total seats, the Coalition now holds 20 (up 1), Labor 12 (down 2), Greens 5, Shooters 2, Christians 2 and AJP 1 (up 1). The Coalition will need the support of either the Christians or the Shooters to pass legislation opposed by the left parties; previously they needed both the Christians and Shooters. The Coalition gained a seat because seats up at this election were last contested in 2007, when Labor won the election.

In 2019, the seats elected in the Coalition’s crushing 2011 victory will be up for election. The 11-10 right-left split at this election will thus give the left parties a much better chance to tie or take over the upper house following the 2019 election.

The NSW upper house system is far preferable to the current Senate system. In NSW, voters can choose their own preferences, while the Senate still uses the group voting ticket, which gives parties almost complete control over preferences, as few people vote below the line. In NSW, you have to win a reasonable share of a quota to have a chance of winning a seat; the AJP won with almost 40% of a quota. Parties that won less than 20% of a quota would still have been in the race if they had good preference flows under the Senate system, but in NSW they had no hope.

Final lower house results

The [Coalition won 54 of the 93 lower house]((http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2015/04/final-nsw-election-results-preferences-and-a-new-pendulum.html) seats, to Labor’s 34, 3 Greens and 2 Independents; the Coalition thus won a 15-seat majority. Compared with the 2011 election, the Coalition lost 16 seats, Labor gained 14 and the Greens gained two.

The Coalition won 45.6% of the primary vote, down 5.5% on 2011. Labor won 34.1%, up 8.5%, and the Greens were steady at 10.3%. After preferences, the Coalition won by 54.3-45.7, a 9.9% swing to Labor. While the swing to Labor was big, this was from the 2011 annihilation, when the Coalition smashed Labor by about 64-36.

Changes in preference flows helped Labor. In 2011, overall minor party preferences went 24.1% to Labor, 20.7% to the Coalition and 55.2% exhaust. In 2015, Labor won 33.6% of minor party preferences, the Coalition 14.8% and 51.6% exhausted. Thus Labor gained almost 19 votes per 100 minor party votes, up from 3.5 in 2011. However, preferences were not as strong for Labor as at the recent Queensland election.

At this election, Labor won three seats from behind on primary votes: Strathfield, The Entrance and Gosford. This was the first time since 1995 in NSW that Labor had won seats where they trailed on primary votes.

Not counting Independent-held Sydney, there are 13 seats held by the Coalition on margins between 6 and 10%. On the new pendulum, it looks as if Labor would need a 6.6% swing, or 52.3% Two Party Preferred (2PP) for the Coalition to lose its majority. However, swings in individual seats have a random component, so it is likely that the Coalition would lose its majority on a lower Labor 2PP. Also, the swing to Labor in Sydney at this election was well below the regional swing, and a recovery in the Sydney Labor vote would bring many traditional marginal seats back into play.

Poll Performance

The table below shows the performance of all the pre-election polls from the various pollsters. It is sorted by fieldwork date, from farthest from the election to closest to the election. Bold indicates a poll estimate that was within 1% of the election result.

final NSW polls.

Robopollster ReachTEL had an outstanding final poll, coming within 0.3% of the actual results on all measures. Galaxy was also very credible, while Newspoll slightly underestimated the Coalition vote. Most other polls gave the Coalition a much bigger primary vote lead than they actually obtained. Morgan’s final SMS poll was the worst, giving the Coalition a 20-point primary vote lead. Morgan’s second last poll, which gave the Coalition a 13-point primary vote lead, would have looked much better.

Only Galaxy and ReachTEL took polls of individual seats at this election, and both pollsters got the winner wrong in four of the six total seats they assessed. While ReachTEL’s final NSW poll was excellent, they had a HUGE miss in their Newtown poll, predicting a Labor win by 56.5-43.5; in fact the Greens won by 59.3-40.7. It appears that polling the inner city has become more difficult owing to many young people only having mobiles.

Labor’s Huge Improvement in the Eastern Seaboard States

At elections for state lower houses held between 2010 and 2012, Labor and the Greens combined won 43 of 89 seats in Victoria, 21 out of 93 in NSW and a mere 7 out of 89 in Queensland. This meant the two left parties had a total of 71 out of 230 seats in the eastern seaboard states.

At elections held between November 2014 and March 2015, Labor and the Greens combined won 49 of 88 seats in the Victorian lower house, 44 out of 89 in Queensland and 37 out of 93 in NSW. That takes them to a combined 130 of 270 seats in the eastern seaboard.

The table below illustrates this improvement. The current Labor/Green total includes two Greens in Victoria and three in NSW.

Labor Green seats.

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