Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

Final Tasmania and SA Election Results

In Tasmania, the Liberals won a decisive majority with 15 of the 25 Tasmanian seats. Despite winning a clear majority of the vote in SA, the Liberals failed to win government, with Labor clinging to power with the support of Independent Geoff Brock.

Tasmanian Election

According to Antony Green, the Liberals won 51.2% of the vote, Labor 27.3%, the Greens 13.8% and Palmer United Party (PUP) 5.0%. The Liberals won 15 of the 25 seats, up 5 on 2010, with Labor down 3 to 7, and the Greens down 2 to 3. This means that the Greens will lose official party status in Tasmania, where four seats are needed for this status. PUP failed to win a seat.

I will discuss the outcomes of two seats which were undecided on election night: the Liberals vs Labor contest in Braddon, and the Labor vs Greens contest in Lyons. The Tasmanian Electoral Commission gives the distribution of preferences results for each electorate at the top of that electorate’s page, and the primary votes below this.

In Braddon, the Liberals started with 3.53 quotas to Labor’s 1.39. It was clear on election night that the contest would be between Labor’s Brenton Best, known as an anti-Green rebel, and two Liberals. As minor party preferences were distributed, both the Liberals and Labor gained votes, and Labor was actually ahead in the race for the last seat on party quotas, with 1.77 quotas to 3.70 for the Liberals. However, a quirk of the Hare-Clark system is that if two candidates from one party are evenly splitting that party’s vote, they can both beat a candidate from another party that is closer to a quota when that party’s vote is not split. Kevin Bonham has called this the Ginninderra effect after it occurred in the 2012 ACT election. In Braddon, the final count showed three candidates with less than a full quota: two Liberals and Labor’s Best. Best trailed the second Liberal by 451 votes, and so both Liberals were elected, meaning that Braddon split 4 Liberals, 1 Labor.

In Lyons, Labor started with 1.66 quotas, and the Greens with 0.68. It seemed an even contest for the final seat. However, preferences from all other parties heavily favoured Labor, as they gained 2,863 votes to the Greens 897 in the distribution of preferences. Labor ended up with 1.92 quotas to the Greens 0.76, with Labor’s David Llewellyn defeating the Greens’ Tim Morris by 1,715 votes for the final seat. Lyons elected three Liberals and two Labor members.

SA Election

According to Antony Green, the Liberals won the SA statewide Two Party Preferred (2PP) by a 53.0-47.0 margin, a 1.4% swing to the Liberals from the 2010 result. Antony Green also has a pendulum which shows that the Independent held seats of Frome and Fisher are Liberal on a 2PP basis, respectively by 10.8% and 7.2%. The pendulum shows that there are 5 seats that the Liberals hold by over 20% margins, while Labor holds no seats by such a margin.

On a 2PP basis, the Liberals hold 24 seats to 23 for Labor, but 2 of those Liberal seats are in fact held by Independents. With Independent member for Fisher Bob Such absent for at least two months due to ill health, the other Independent Geoff Brock effectively had to support Labor if he wanted stable government. Had he supported the Liberals, a 23-all tie would have led to a new election. As a result, Labor clung to power in South Australia.

On the post-election pendulum, the two most marginal Labor seats are held by 1.4% and 1.5% margins. This implies that the Liberals would need an extra 1.5% in a uniform swing to take majority government, assuming the current Independents retain their seats. It does not look very democratic if one party needs 54.5% 2PP to win power.

South Australia has a fairness clause that requires the Electoral Commission to draw boundaries following each election such that a 50% or higher 2PP should win an election. However, Labor has won government at the last four elections, three of those with a minority of the 2PP. There will need to be major changes to the boundaries as a result of this election. Antony Green thinks the Commission will create many Liberal marginal seats in Adelaide by making safe Adelaide Labor seats even safer, while there will not be many safe Liberal seats left in Adelaide.

The final primary votes in SA had the Liberals winning 44.8%, up 3.1%, Labor 35.8%, down 1.7%, the Greens 8.7%, up 0.6%, and Family First 6.2%, up 0.9%. It is clear that the swing to the Liberals on 2PP was mitigated by a stronger flow of Greens preferences to Labor than occurred at the 2010 election. Newspoll underestimated the Liberal primary vote by 4%, and overestimated the Others primary by 5%.

A result for the Upper House has not yet been declared, but it appears certain that Labor will win 4 of the 11 seats up at this election, the Liberals 4, the Greens 1, Family First 1 and there will be one Independent from the Nick Xenophon group. That will mean the 22-member Upper House will have 8 Labor, 8 Liberals, 2 Greens, 2 Family First, 1 Dignity for Disability and 1 Nick Xenophon Independent.