Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Can the Sex Party Win a Senate Seat in Tasmania?

The ABC’s Senate calculator currently shows the Sex Party winning the final Senate seat in Tasmania. However, the ABC’s calculator treats all Senate votes as above the line ticket votes, though in Tasmania a significant proportion vote below the line; the below the line rate was 20% at the 2010 election. Although this below the line rate will probably drop at this election due to the numbers of candidates, it will remain high compared to the national below the line rate, which was only 4% in 2010.

Below the line votes are not controlled by their party’s Senate voting ticket, and are thus free to flow as the voter wishes. As a result, parties that depend on preferences from other parties’ tickets are exposed to below the line leakage from voters who do not follow their party’s tickets.

A critical point in the Tasmanian Senate count is reached when six candidates remain. The ABC calculator currently shows the Sex Party beating Labor by 157 votes at this point. However, only 1.4% of the Sex Party’s 4.5% is its own vote, with the rest coming via ticket votes from other parties. In contrast, all of Labor’s 4.4% is its own vote, after electing two Labor candidates. As a result, the Sex Party needs to beat Labor by much more than the 157 votes the calculator currently shows. Kevin Bonham is the expert on Tasmanian electoral behaviour, and he thinks the Sex Party needs to lead at this point by about 1000 votes on the calculator to actually pass Labor and win the final Tasmanian Senate seat.

If the Sex Party fails to pass Labor, the final seat is a toss-up between Palmer United Party (PUP) and the Liberals. Two Labor, one Green and two Liberals are certain of election in Tasmania.

WA Senate

Wayne Dropulich of the Sports Party will win a Senate seat in WA on just 0.22% of the WA Senate vote, but only if he survives the early stages of the count. The critical point is reached when Dropulich receives 0.09% in ticket votes from the Australian Voice Party. At the moment, Dropulich has a 215 vote lead over Rise Up Australia (0.31% to 0.28%). He then benefits from Rise Up Australia preferences, and goes on to win a WA Senate seat on both left-wing and right-wing party preferences. However, at the key point where either Rise Up Australia or Dropulich are excluded, Dropulich’s vote includes Australian Voice below the line votes. The Senate analyst Truth Seeker says that the below the line rate for micro parties was 10-30% in 2010, so it is likely that a significant number of Australian Voice votes are below the line. This means that Dropulich’s lead over Rise Up Australia is not as big as it would be according to the ABC calculator.

If Dropulich falls at this early stage, the most likely winner is PUP, and a second Labor Senator would be likely to replace the Green. Three Liberals and one Labor candidate are certain of election in WA.

All other states are likely to elect the same candidates who were leading on election night, though there is a slight chance that an Australian Democrat could beat Liberal Arthur Sinodinos in NSW. This means that the Motoring Enthusiast Party will win a Senate seat in Victoria with just 0.5% of the vote!

House of Representatives

My prediction on the day after the election was that the Coalition would win 92 seats, Labor 54 and all others 4. It is now clear that Independent Cathy McGowan has defeated Liberal Sophie Mirabella in Indi, and it is increasingly likely that Labor has held McEwen, which I had tipped to fall. The one seat that is still very unclear is the Liberals vs Clive Palmer contest in Fairfax. Palmer currently leads by just three votes, with approximately 1500 left to be processed.

As a result, the new House will have 90 Coalition members, 55 Labor, one Green, one Katter’s Australian Party, two Independents, and one seat still too close to call.