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It is now almost a year since the last Australian Federal election, which saw the centre-right Liberal/National Coalition defeat the governing centre-left Labor party and take a 90-55 seat advantage into the 44th Parliament of Australia.

Since then things have not gone especially well for the Coalition. By the start of December they had slipped behind in the opinion polls and haven't been back in front since. Polling looked particularly dire in the months following the handing down of a budget that was widely seen as deeply unfair for retirees, students, and low-income earners. Whilst they were successful in repealing the Carbon Tax successive Senates have proven hostile to most other reforms.  

In recent weeks a number of overseas incidents have dominated the news and the Government has narrowed Labor's persistent lead in the polls. Nevertheless my modelling gives Labor a 24 seat gain and a 79-66 majority in the next parliament. The model assumes that all five independents/minor party Representatives will hold their seats. The timing of Federal elections in Australia is not fixed so the Government is able to call an early election if they so chose, however a late 2016 election is most probable.

Voting in Australia is compulsory and uses a preferential ballot (this means that in certain seats the way parties direct their supporters to allocate their preferences will be crucial) in single-member seats for the House of Representatives.

Finally before we get to the numbers I'll just mention a few details in regards to the model I am using. The model takes into consideration the prior voting history of the electorate, incumbent strength (where applicable), and public polling.

Tables in this diary are colour coded. Shades of red reflect Labor held seats and predictions, shades of blue represent Liberal held seats and predictions (the occasionally different party names and abbreviations are courtesy of local party branches having inconsistent names), independents are grey, Greens are light green (shocker), and Nationals are dark green. The percentage is the odds of the Coalition winning the seat. I've dropped the predicted two-party preferred vote for now, it's just a bit cluttery this far out from an election.

New South Wales will be undergoing a redistribution before 2016 where it will lose a seat. This is on balance better news for Labor than the Coalition as currently the Liberals hold most of the state's marginal seats and incumbents are stronger if they don't have to represent new areas.

In non-federal news my home city of Newcastle has had both its State MP and its Lord Mayor resign over corruption issues (envelopes full of $100 bills) in the last couple of weeks. So that's something.  

If Labor are to regain government at the next election they will need to make gains in Queensland. Eccentric billionaire Clive Palmer and his eponymous Party poll by far the highest in Queensland which presents a modelling problem because it's somewhat hard to say whether Palmer's United Party (PUP) is drawing votes from the Coalition or Labor and how these voters will direct their preferences. PUP's policies are broadly populist but also profoundly unpredictable. The party seems to draw mainly those voters who feel alienated from the traditional parties.    
Labor are unlikely to make significant gains in Victoria but polling doesn't give the Coalition much hope of winning back anything to counter-balance probably losses elsewhere. Freshman independent MP Cathy McGowan seems popular enough and I'd consider her likely to hold Indi.
Western Australia is the other state that will be redistributed before 2016, this time gaining a seat. This is probably good for Labor as the new seat is likely to be competitive. But you never can tell with redistributions.
South Australia is not a state of marginal seats. Labor will hope to regain Hindmarsh and maybe win Boothby but South Australia is not likely to be where a Government will be won or lost.
Labor won the two party preferred vote in Tasmania in 2013 and came home with one seat for their troubles. Gains are probable in 2016 but it isn't a big state and Andrew Wilkie has Denison locked down.  
I'm, as always, completely lacking in confidence that the model has the Northern territory seats correct but right now it seems plausible enough that Labor would win both Solomon and Lingiari. Labor is perpetually safe in the ACT seats of Fraser and Canberra.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  As a matter of interest (0+ / 0-)

    I presume the federal elections are for fixed terms of office (three years?) which would take the current Parliament up to the 2016 figure in your title.

    On the other hand, you have put a question mark by it so are you predicting that an election will be held before then?

    Would there be a large enough majority for a vote of no confidence or is this unlikely on the "turkeys don't vote for Xmas" principle? Or are you envisaging resignation or dismissal by the Governor General (is this still law after the "Kerr's cur" episode)?


    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 05:19:21 AM PDT

    •  Terms of office (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sky Net

      I wasn't entirely clear on that point. Sorry about that. Federally the term of the House of Representatives is not fixed. The Government is able to request an early election at their pleasure. I very much doubt this particular Government would be particularly keen for an early election but the option is there.

      More complexly, senate terms are fixed (six year terms, half the senate every three years). Except if the Senate blocks the same legislation passed by the House on two separate occasions. In that case the Government can call a simultaneous House and (entire) Senate election. The current Government is threatening to do that in an effort to force Senators to pass legislation they would otherwise be opposed to. Hence the question mark in the title.    

      My non-data based prediction is that the current Government continues on until 2016 without passing many large pieces of legislation or getting through much "reform". It will trail Labor in the polls far more often than not but in the last few months before the election people will decide the Coalition hasn't done anything they hate (because the Senate blocked everything too terrible) and re-elect them for a second term.

      •  sounds about right (0+ / 0-)

        It's pretty early to be talking about 2016, but your analysis looks solid.  The PUP is the wild card.  What do you think the odds are that Clive goes bankrupt and leaves Parliament?

        Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

        by Sky Net on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 05:49:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's early (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sky Net

          But I figure a 1/3 through the term of parliament update is pretty reasonable. I agree the whole PUP thing is the wildcard as far as modelling goes. I'm not sure how much faith to have in Queensland at the moment. I'll feel a lot more confident after the Queensland state election next year.

          I doubt Clive goes bankrupt, but gets bored or frustrated and quits? About 1 in 3 I'd say. Nothing he does surprises me at this point.

          •  I think what everyone is waiting for... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Alizarin Indigo

            Is for the PUP senators to go renegade and turn independent... Just like the One Nation MPs in Qld.

            Their senator from Tasmania Jacqui Lambie is a disgrace and seems certain to go rogue.

            Acting Assistant Vice Chair of the DKE international cheer squad

            by CF of Aus on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 02:11:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        I think it was helpful to clarify a few things for US readers not used to a multi-party parliamentary system rather than the two chamber/two party system but with the President as both head of state and head of government, all elected for fixed terms.

        In the UK where there is only one (and a tiny bit) elected chamber, the mechanism for calling a general election before the end of a fixed 5 year term has changed. Before it was just down to the PM, now it has to be by a super-majority of 60% in the Commons.

        "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 06:50:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That can be manupulated (0+ / 0-)

          As it was in Canada in 2011, when Tory MPs suddenly voted for a routine opposition motion of no-confidence.

          •  Haha (0+ / 0-)

            I guess the lesson here is that you shouldn't start a motion of no confidence unless you are happy for it to pass!

            •  It got more absurd (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Alizarin Indigo

              The Liberals and the NDP tried to challenge the constitutionality of their own No-Confidence vote in Court, claiming it was an illegitimate effort to get around the fixed-terms law for the Tories to vote for it in order to trigger an early election. Neither the Governor General nor the Court were particularly persuaded.

              Given that the easiest way out of any sort of constitutional or political crisis in a parliamentary system is to hold a new election, litigation to try and halt one tends to be invariably unsuccessful, because the more the plaintiffs prove the government is behaving underhandedly, the stronger the case for the voters to be able to weigh in.

          •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

            Unless I missed something the no confidence motion that triggered the election was passed with only NDP, Liberal and Bloc Quebecois votes. In fact Michael Ignatieff was boasting the government was going to be toppled in the run up to the vote.

            The Republican party is now an extreme right-wing party that is owned by their billionaire campaign contributors. - Bernie Sanders

            by ehstronghold on Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 05:14:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Very interesting (0+ / 0-)

    Will be good to see the various updates to this model as time goes on.

    Your model seems to predict that Queensland is where things will be won or lost for Labor.

    Abbott could well be lucky if Qld voters take their anger out on the Newman Government in the meantime.

    I am just not sure how things will go for the Abbott regime... They are pursuing policies that are not popular with the mortgage belt seats where Howards middle class welfare was aimed at.

    I agree with assuming the independents win their seats, particular as it would be tough to model those seats, but I think Clive will struggle to retain Fairfax...

    Acting Assistant Vice Chair of the DKE international cheer squad

    by CF of Aus on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 02:19:34 PM PDT

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CF of Aus

      Queensland is probably the most important state next election just because Labor can will a lot of seats just by getting close to a 50-50 vote there. Abbott and the Federal Coalition definitely need the state LNP to lose next year. That would help them a lot down the track.

      The problem is that their policies aren't popular with just about anyone. But if they don't actually pass any of those unpopular policies the Government can always just be a little bit less aggressive before the next election and they should be fine. I'd be happy to be wrong about that though!

      I also think Clive will struggle in Fairfax. Bob Katter only won in 2013 by the skin on his teeth as well, but I think he should be ok next time around. It's nearly impossible to model independents because we don't do seat level public polls (usually) here.

    •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

      Palmer is going to have a hard time retaining Fairfax the next election if he doesn't get bored before then. The Queensland branch of PUP has well melted down with Alex Douglas leaving the party and Carl Judge hellbent on retiring Steve Stockman style by running against Jarrod Bleijie in Kawana.

      Of course Palmer is well unpredictable. Who knows what he'll do. If he does run again I hope he works the advance vote hard unlike 2013 when he nearly lost because his LNP opponent ran up the score in prepoll votes.

      The Republican party is now an extreme right-wing party that is owned by their billionaire campaign contributors. - Bernie Sanders

      by ehstronghold on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 09:55:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alizarin Indigo

    diary as always. Your model was pretty spot on last year. Oh by the way since you live in the Hunter how are those two by elections in Charlestown and Newcastle going? Is Labor just going to waltz to victory in both of those by elections or are some well known independents going to step up to the plate and try to at least make Labor work for both seats?

    Also it's pretty cowardly for the Liberals to not even contest both seats. They weren't going to win both of them anyway, but hell even Labor contested the Penrith by election even though they were going to lose (though I don't think anyone expected the Liberals to romp in without breaking a sweat).

    The Republican party is now an extreme right-wing party that is owned by their billionaire campaign contributors. - Bernie Sanders

    by ehstronghold on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 10:07:29 PM PDT

    •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Labor should waltz in both Charlestown and Newcastle. There aren't any high-profile independents who could both win and are suggesting they will run. At this point anyway. The Greens should draw an increased vote. A lot of Liberal voters in the Merewether area prefer them to Labor.

      Whilst it is cowardly for the Liberals not to run at all Labor don't always run in seats they are sure to lose either. But not running in a seat you held is nearly unprecedented.

  •  What is your opinion of compulsory voting in U.S.? (0+ / 0-)

    Without the "preferential ballot" you mentioned. We need something to get people to vote, especially in mid-terms, so I can imagine that is a long way from becoming a reality?Also, what is the deal on keeping Tuesday as Election Day. Why not Saturday, so working people would not have to interrupt their work day to vote?

    The US ranks 138th out of all 169 voting countries in actual voting. Since 1974, mid-term % of eligible voters who vote avgs. 37%. Democrats would dominate if they did one thing- GOTV. They never do. Curious.

    by Incredulousinusa on Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 09:11:14 AM PDT

    •  Compulsory Voting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Generally Australians are pretty tolerant of compulsory voting. I manage a polling place each election, and whilst there are always plenty of people who complain as I give them their ballot about having to vote, last year we had same day enrollment and every single person who wasn't pre-enrolled and I told could just go home if they didn't want to wait to vote was prepared to wait for me to enroll them (~40 people). It's part of our culture.

      I'm not sure Americans would be so accepting of the government forcing them to do something.  

      Whether it is a philosophically good thing or ensures more representative outcomes is another question entirely. Personally I favour compulsory voting. It reinforces the social contract. But there are good arguments against it as well.

      The preferential ballot on the other hand is straight-up a good thing. First-past-the-post is close to indefensible.

      As is voting on a Tuesday. Elections should absolutely be held on a Saturday. Australia allows early voting with an excuse (like if it's against your religion to vote on Saturdays). Switching elections to Saturdays seems to me the easiest way to boost participation.  

      •  Thank you. See, we have 40% voting in mid-terms (0+ / 0-)

        and that just favors the Republicans, because the Christian Right vote disproportionally. Then we get people like Michelle Bachmann and all kinds of goofballs who just spout off about National Days of Prayers to Stop Obamacare, and stuff like that. I think it forces people to take at least a passing interest in their government, leaders, future wars, how our money is spent. America likes to prolong the agony, is all I can come up with.

        The US ranks 138th out of all 169 voting countries in actual voting. Since 1974, mid-term % of eligible voters who vote avgs. 37%. Democrats would dominate if they did one thing- GOTV. They never do. Curious.

        by Incredulousinusa on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 08:47:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting assessment (0+ / 0-)

    Noted one small error. The NSW North Coast seat of Page is currently held by the Nationals, not the Libs.

    Coalition governments in QLD AND VIC are currently looking distinctly "smelly" and the narrow nature of the VIC majority hints they are looking at being a one term wonder. The "landslide" nature of the last NSW election virtually ensures them a 2nd term but the corruption scandals/replacement of Premiers hints that it will be a distinctly reduced majority with many seats reverting to more normal voting patterns.

    To further explain AUS politics; the Liberal Party is a misnomer and has historically been a moderate conservative/centre-right party that was somewhat akin to the UK Conservative party. Over the past 20 years, however, under the leadership of John Howard and now moreso under Tony Abbott; it has largely turned "Hard Right" and is very much a clone of the US Republicans and tactically from the same "playbook".

    I take it your model is working arithmetically form polling figures rather than taking the specific history of the seats into account as there are certainly some in your likely ALP/Likely Lib-NP that I'd be switching about.

    Re compulsory voting; am in favour. You are not obligated to cast a valid vote; you can write "none of the above" across your ballot paper or just walk out of the polling booth after having your name crossed off the record.

    Re our system; there is provision for "pre-poll" voting before the election date with at least one voting centre in each electorate. There are booths at public hospitals and voting teams go around to nursing homes and the like in the preceding weeks. In remote areas such as aboriginal settlements, similar teams from the electoral commission are sent out. You can vote absentee at any polling station in your state and there is wide provision for postal vote.

    •  Fixed up Page (0+ / 0-)

      In my database for next time but fixing the diary is more trouble than it's worth. Thanks for that!

      You don't think the LNP will win a second term in Queensland? I've got no idea myself!

      The model uses both current polling figures and past election results as inputs, the order of seats in any given state will only change now if someone retires, once the redistributions are completed in NSW and WA, or if a former MP recontests territory they used to represent. Were there any particular seats you think are giving wonky predictions? In my opinion Greenway is too optimistic for Labor. This is because the Liberals have run an awful candidate twice in a row leading the model to mistakenly consider Michelle Rowland to be incredibly strong. I'd be sorely tempted to override that and adjust her back to average in strength if the Liberals nominate someone half-reasonable.  

      Technically you are obliged to take a ballot paper and put it in the ballot box as well as having your name marked off. It seems a bit silly but names marked off have to match collected ballots or else counters could be pocketing votes they don't like.

      •  Greenway is a tricky one but the Libs in that part (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alizarin Indigo

        of Sydney have made it an art of making hard work of winnable seats. John Aqualina was always formidable in the state seat of Riverstone but the fact that it took until 2011 for the Libs to win with it's changed demographics is total WTF material.

        Questionable listings ? The south coast seat of Gilmore has proven to be "fools gold" for Labour for the best part of 20 years after a fluke win in 1993. The return of the Hawkesbury region to Macquarie basically renders it a Lib seat in all but landslide situations. The Lib corruption issues on the coast may also impact Robertson (Gosford based). Banks' demographics are moving against ALP long-term but I'd certainly rate it, Robertson & Eden-Monaro ahead of Gilmore & Macquarie.

        QLD state election ? The current majority SHOULD ensure LNP return power but Newman is incredibly on the nose in Brisbane which can swing back violently the other way. Newman probably needs to find a new seat as the Ashgrove's history in recent times has been ALP and seat polling has been "sayonara Campbell". As to how it plays out outside of Brisbane is speculative but prior to the previous election, ALP was holding the majority of seats on the Gold Coast & it's hinterland. Agree that PUP & it's impacts remain unpredictable.

        QLD seats ? Forde's history, especially with it's current boundaries, is that it's a seat ALP can only win at "high-water mark"; Bonner is a seat that tantalises ALP but has often proven elusive & Herbert has been "resistant" since 1996. Chances for a big pick up are there but it may be much smaller.

        VIC ? Deakin, Corangamite & Latrobe are the only likely one's in play .Dunkley IS possible if ALP can carry Frankston with big majorities .... or if the sitting member retires. Indi WILL be interesting if Mirabella chooses not to re-contest thus removing a major impetus for a non-LIB vote.

        SA & WA: Hindmarsh the only seat in play ...... Boothby has proven "fools gold" and I can only see falling in a landslide election. In WA, much will depend on the redistribution ...... Hasluck has proven "resistant" in the past so no great confidence there unless it's given a very friendly reshaping. In a good year with a great candidate, Cowan is possible. Some of the redistribution talk is of diddling around with Canning and Forrest boundaries to weaken ALP in Brand.

        TAS & NT: Lyons is a seat with no real populations centres and once you can establish incumbency, you can be hard to shift. Bass has actually proven "twitchier" than Braddon; much may depend on how quickly young Hodgman fouls things up as the Greens (and by association ALP) are still massively on the nose in northern Tassie. Solomon (being Darwin & Palmerston based) is CLP under most circumstances with Palmerston generally being a CLP "fortress"

        •  Questionable listings? (0+ / 0-)

          So I agree with you almost entirely (except in NSW)! Thanks for putting in so much detail!


          The model considers that Joanna Gash herself was the reason that Labor were unable to win Gilmore. You disagree? Macquarie is a mess of a seat communities-of-interest wise, I hope it gets broken up in the redistricting. I suspect Liberal corruption on the central coast will be old news by 2016 and won't weight them down much at all.

          If NSW wasn't being redistricted. I would have take your bet that Labor do will better in Banks, Robertson and Eden-Monaro than in Gilmore and Macquarie.

          QLD, VIC, and SA

          Sounds like you more or less agree with the model on the order of seats but see a smaller swing? This early state based swings can be a bit sketchy. Not a huge amount of data goes into them and Newspoll (which supplies most of it) can bit twitchy. This applies doubly to SA, right now the model does see a Labor landslide there. On a non-modelling level Indi will be interesting. I'd assume a local independent who doesn't do much wrong will win as an incumbent so unless there is a scandal I'd probably leave it as likely independent right through to the election.

          WA, Tas, and NT

          If Labor can get back to 50% in the state they aren't going to only win three seats. Obviously redistribution will need to happen before we have a good idea which 5-6 it will be though. The NT is basically beyond the ability of the model to do anything with (little polling data) but I don't think Solomon is quite so safe for the CLP as all that.

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