Making sense of the polls

Making sense of the polls

WA Senate Results: Labor Crashes to Below 22%

After a very long election night, the Liberals currently lead the WA Senate count with 33.7% of the vote, down 5.5%. Labor has 21.8%, down 4.8%, the Greens have 15.9%, up 6.4%, Palmer United Party (PUP) has 12.5%, up 7.5%, and the Nationals have 3.1%, down 2.0%.

A quota for half-Senate elections is 1/7 of the vote, or 14.3%. The Liberals currently have 2.4 quotas, Labor 1.5, the Greens 1.1, PUP 0.9 and the Nationals 0.2 quotas. As a result, 2 Liberals, 1 Labor and 1 Green can be immediately declared elected. PUP is certain to win election on some micro-party preferences, and the final seat is a race between the second Labor candidate, Louise Pratt, and the third Liberal candidate, Linda Reynolds. On the ABC’s Senate group voting ticket calculator, the Liberals currently win the final seat by 14.32% to 14.25%.

There are still many more votes to be tallied, but Labor has a tendency to underperform on post-election counting, and is thus likely to fall further behind. Labor may hope that a late swing against them was caused by the revelations that Labor’s No. 1 candidate Joe Bullock had expressed highly non-progressive views. Since the Bullock news only appeared the day before the election, the postals may not reflect this.

In general, this election was a disaster for both major parties, and a huge win for both the Greens and PUP. The combined Liberal/National vote was at 36.8%, down 7.5% on the 2013 election. However, due to Labor’s weakness, the combined Labor/Green vote was 37.7%, up only 1.6%, and well short of the 42.9% required for three quotas. The combined Coalition vote was short of three quotas for the first time since 2001, when One Nation was strong.

However, it is Labor’s further fall from what was already a post-1977 low vote at the 2013 election that will be the talking point. As Kevin Bonham wrote last night, there was a time when Labor was expected to have a primary with a “4” in front of it. For a major party to win less than 22% of the vote is truly shocking - it is worse than when Labor was thrashed at state elections in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania. It appears that Senate candidates do matter at Senate-only elections, and Labor’s No. 1 candidate was not their best possible choice.