Archive for the ‘Federal elections’ Category

Force me to bet on the Australian election and I’d back the Coalition

December 8th, 2014 Comments off

The opinion polls showing Labor with a comfortable lead over the Coalition keep coming. At the weekend there was Galaxy putting the twp party shares at 45% for the Coalition and 55% for Labor. This morning Fairfax-Ipsos had it 48% Coalition 52% Labor.

It is an uncommon thing to have a government so consistently behind the opposition for such a lengthy period in its first year or so in office but would you really like to put your own hard earned on Labor winning? I certainly wouldn’t and if you forced me to have a wager I’d be backing the Coalition. To me the Owl’s federal election indicator considerably overstates Labor’s chances of being the majority party come polling day.

Australian federal election indicator

Now don’t get me wrong. Tony Abbott is an unpopular Prime Minister. It’s just that with almost two years to go one of two things will most likely happen. Abbott will change his ways or his party will dump him. In both cases the voting public will start to look more closely at Labor’s Bill Shorten.

To my mind Shorten is a man who will fall short under real scrutiny, bringing the Labor vote down with him.


The barnacles really are dragging the Abbott coalition down

November 28th, 2014 Comments off

The opinion polls have been showing it for some time and now the markets are catching up. The current Owl’s election indicator shows the Coalition’s chances of re-election have dropped considerably in recent weeks. The probability of a Coalition victory is now just 53.6%.


The market unmoved by criticism of Coalition budget

May 18th, 2014 Comments off

The Coalition government remains the firm favourite to be returned at the next Australian election whenever it might be held. Last Tuesday’s budget left the market assessment as measured by the Owl’s election indicator largely unchanged.

Chances of winning:



Categories: Federal elections Tags:

Will the left handers give Wikileaks a Senate seat from West Australia?

March 26th, 2014 Comments off

It appears we all have a tendency to veer to the left when it comes to voting. Not towards some philosophical left. Rather an actual geographic one. And left handed people veer left much more strongly than right handers.

That, at least, is the finding of a recent experiment published in the journal Political Psychology.  The paper, Moderators of Candidate Name-Order Effects in Elections: An Experiment by Nuri Kim, Jon Krosnick and Daniel Casasanto, was based on an experimental election of two hypothetical candidates, each diverging on issues and each randomly sorted into a left or right spot on the ballot. Just as previous studies have shown a donkey vote favouring the first named candidate when people vote down a list,  candidates listed on the left-hand side of this experimental ballot enjoyed a distinct advantage in gaining votes compared with those on their right. What made the finding different came when comparing the votes of left handed people with right handed ones. “Everyone, even righties, had a bias to select the candidate on the left, but that tendency was stronger in lefties,” author Casasanto says.

The paper itself is behind a pay wall but this is the abstract:

Past studies of elections have shown that candidates whose names were listed at the beginning of a list on a ballot often received more votes by virtue of their position. This article tests speculations about the cognitive mechanisms that might be responsible for producing the effect. In an experiment embedded in a large national Internet survey, participants read about the issue positions of two hypothetical candidates and voted for one of them in a simulated election in which candidate name order was varied. The expected effect of position appeared and was strongest (1) when participants had less information about the candidates on which to base their choices, (2) when participants felt more ambivalent about their choices, (3) among participants with more limited cognitive skills, and (4) among participants who devoted less effort to the candidate evaluation process. The name-order effect was greater among left-handed people when the candidate names were arrayed horizontally, but there was no difference between left- and right-handed people when the names were arrayed vertically. These results reinforce some broad theoretical accounts of the cognitive process that yield name-order effects in elections.

A report in the National Journal gives more details.

Let’s break down the results of the Political Psychology paper. Righties showed a bias for the candidate on the left because it is the first name they read. That’s consistent with other research on primacy, that there’s a bias for the first in a list. Lefties showed that effect, as well as an additional left-hand bias: Lefties chose the candidate on the left because his was the first name they read and because they have a positive association with things on the left. Whereas among righties, the candidate on the left showed a 21 percent advantage, among lefties, that jumped up to a 36 percent advantage.

There’s a huge caveat here. These results were pulled from an experiment on a fictitious election. And they are the first of their kind—it takes years of repetitive results to nail down a phenomenon. So take caution in extrapolation. “I don’t expect that we would see anything like that enormous, ridiculous, percentage point difference in real elections,” Casasanto says of the 21 percent and 36 percent advantages. “But in light of Jon [Krosnick]’s previous data. I think we have every reason to believe that these effects are and can be found in real elections.”

That previous data is contained in a forthcoming paper in the journal Public Opinion Quarterly that, analyses all statewide California elections between 1976 and 2006. California rotates candidate ballot order district by district. The analysis found when candidates were listed first (no matter the ballot type), “on average, across all contests, candidates received nearly half a percentage point of additional votes compared to when they were listed either in the average of all later positions.”

In Australia the Wikileaks Party will be encouraged by this kind of research. In the new Western Australian Senate election it has drawn the prized Column A on the left hand side of a very wide ballot paper.

Last time around, when it was positioned elsewhere on the paper, Wikileaks managed only a paltry 0.73 per cent of the WA vote. That saw it eliminated quite early in the shuffling of minor party preferences that enabled a small primary vote to end up electing one of the political tiddlers in both versions of the counts that were finally held invalid leading to next month’s new poll.

Add half a percentage point because of the favourable draw and the chances of Wikileaks start looking a lot better. Add on a bit more for the impact of lefties and the Antony Green Senate Calculator: Western Australia shows them really in the race taking into account the latest lot of minor party wheeling and dealing over preferences.

Some examples:

The Wikileaks vote remains unchanged at 0.73%

2014-03-26_waresult1Wikileaks would make it to the 17th count before being excluded.

The Wikileaks vote improves by 0.5 percentage points to 1.23% – the same six elected with Wikileaks surviving until the 19th count before being eliminated.

The Wikileaks vote improves by 0.6 percentage points to 1.33%


And there we would have it: a Wikileaks Senator. A good reason for Julian Assange and his followers to get those left handers into the polling booths.

Categories: Elections, WA Senate new election Tags:

Antony Green’s guide to making sense of WA’s forthcoming Senate poll

March 18th, 2014 Comments off

Antony Green’s Election Blog: A Summary of Preferences and Candidates for the WA Senate Re-election.

If you re-run last September’s Western Australian Senate election with the same votes but using the new Senate preference tickets, then the result of the WA Senate re-election on April 5 would be 3 Liberal, 2 Labor and 1 Palmer United.

This is the same as the result of the first count last September, the subsequent re-count and disaster of missing ballot papers changing the result to 3 Liberal and one each for Labor, the Greens and Sport Party…

For the re-election, several micro-parties have directed preferences in a way that now helps Labor to reach its second quota and makes it harder for the Green’s Scott Ludlam to win without a significant rise in his vote.

Understanding the consequences of the WA Senate election – thanks to Antony Green

February 20th, 2014 Comments off

I give thanks to the ABC’s election analyst Antony Green for guiding me through the permutations and combinations thrown up by the need to have a new election to fill the West Australian Senate seats after 1 July. You will find the full Green analysis on his blog but this is the summary:

On the Federal election results, from 1 July the Coalition will have 33 seats, Labor 25, the Greens 10, with eight cross-bench members holding the balance of power. The cross bench Senators represent Palmer United two Senators and one each from the Nick Xenophon Group, the DLP, Liberal Democrats, Family First, Motoring Enthusiasts Party and the Sports Party.

Assuming the first four seats in WA will split two to the right for the Liberal Party and two to the left for either Labor or the Greens, the question is how the final two seats will split.

If a third seat is won by the Liberal Party, then it is likely the final seat will be won by a minor party, maybe Palmer United, from a seat normally won by the left. This would be a status quo result compared to last September’s election.

Another possibility is that as well as a minor party winning a seat from the left, one could also be lost by the right. The Liberal Party would hate to lose its third seat to the National Party for instance, but might find that a better prospect than some other party.

But if the left in Labor plus the Greens won back their traditional third seat, and a minor party won the third Coalition seat, the Senate balance of power would be changed.

A Labor or Green gain would give 36 seats to the left in the Senate, meaning only two votes from the cross bench would be needed to block government legislation. That is only a minor change from the three seats required in the Senate that had been due to take its place on 1 July, but could be an important influence on certain types of legislation.


Griffith by-election prospects

February 7th, 2014 Comments off

Governments normally do not do well at by-elections but then again they normally don’t have the advantage of an opponent with a considerable personal following retiring. It’s the departure of Kevin Rudd that adds some interest to tomorrow’s Griffith poll.

The Owl’s Election Indicator, based on what the market expects, assesses the chances this way:


Categories: Elections, Federal elections Tags:

Job creation memories – a note on economic forecasting

January 6th, 2014 Comments off

This item from the Sydney Morning Herald this morning brought back some memories of election campaigns long past.

6-01-2014 jobmemories

In 1983 an earnest young economist who had spent months working seriously on Labor policy matters presented me with his final conclusions as to what should be promised about employment growth under a new government. I forget the recommended figure – 350,000 new jobs over three years or something – but it didn’t have the right ring to my well honed economic ears. So a much more grandiose 500,000 new jobs appeared in the shadow Treasurer Paul Keating’s election manifesto. The real surprise to me came a few years later when I heard the then proper Treasurer Keating boasting about how he had done even better than he had promised. So much for forecasting.


Categories: Economic matters, Federal elections Tags:

Record Vote for Minor Parties at 2013 Federal Election

November 19th, 2013 Comments off
Categories: Elections, Federal elections Tags: