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Balance of Power: Federal Election 2016 – Day Five

Update at 9:00 am, 7 July 2016 (with mini-update at 6:30 pm below)

At 9:00 am on 7 July, in my increasingly ill-named ‘Election night’ tracker – since my most recent update, more postal results have come in which have firmed up the outcome for a number of doubtful seats, and continued the swing towards the LNP that I wrote about last night.

Based on my calculations, there are now only six seats in doubt, plus two others we need to keep an eye on – Grey and Cowper – where the AEC is taking a while to do a two-party preferred count on the Green/Independent candidates. This means that while it’s probable both will be held by the incumbent LNP MP, it’s not completely certain.

Based on my projections – and assuming that both Grey and Cowper stay with the incumbent LNP MP – this is where we currently stand:

  • The LNP have likely won betweeen 74 and 77 seats – with 74 seats being fairly firm and 3 seats leaning heavily in their direction. There are also another 3 seats which I’m not attributing either way – Capricornia, Cowan and Melbourne Ports – meaning their best possible outcome is 80 seats.
  • Labor have likely won 65 seats. Unfortunately for them, the postal swings in the ‘too close to call’ seats have all gone the LNP’s way, and as more postals are counted, the probability of them picking up more seats is narrowing. There are still the 3 seats I noted above which could go their way – but that would only take them to 68 seats.
  • Our Independents/Minor parties continue to hold 5 seats between them:
    • Katter party – 1
    • Xenophon party – 1
    • Greens – 1
    • Independents – 2 (Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan)

Mini-Update at 6:30pm

It’s 6:30pm and during the day the count of postal votes and the few small outstanding polling booths has continued in our undecided seats. This has had the expected effect of tipping the scales further and further in favour of the LNP.

In terms of updates to my ‘where we currently stand’ statement above and the graphic below, the only thing that has happened since this morning is that one of the three seats I classified as ‘too close to call’ this morning – Capricornia (discussed further below) – has slid further into LNP territory, and is now arguably likely to go to the LNP.

Just how close is close?

I mentioned above that there are three seats that are too close to call. These are Capricornia in Queensland, Cowan in WA and Melbourne Ports in VIC. If you’re interested in understanding why these seats are too close to call, I’m going to break down the current numbers for Capricornia.

So far for Capricornia the numbers from the AEC website at the time of writing this are 75,067 formal (or valid) votes counted – of these:

  • 37,899 (or 50.49%) of the votes are in favour of the ALP in two-party preferred terms and 37,167 (or 49.51%) of the votes are in favour of the LNP.
  • 73,119 are ‘ordinary’ votes (or votes cast on election day) and 1,948 are ‘declaration’ votes (which includes all other votes – including postal votes).

At a glance, those numbers look good for the ALP. However, if you split out the voting trends for ordinary votes and postal votes – you see a different story. While 50.62% of ordinary votes were cast in favour of the ALP (in two-party preferred terms), for postal votes it is only 45.64%. This difference between ordinary and postal votes is common, and in fact is more pronounced in other seats as I wrote last night – where Flynn had 51.5% of ordinary votes in favour of the ALP but only 34.7% of postal votes.

So of course the outcome for Capricornia will depend on how the remaining votes not yet counted and/or received by the AEC pan out. At this stage, all but one small group of ordinary votes are counted – one of the polling stations that go around to hospitals, which based on the other hospital polling stations probably has less than 200 votes. However, in regards to postal votes there are:

  • 1,948 postal votes received AND counted,
  • 8,245 postal votes received but NOT counted by the AEC,
  • another 7,330 declaration votes (includes postals, absentee votes and pre-polls) issued but not yet returned by voters (or not yet received).

If we assume that the remaining postal votes received but not yet counted by the AEC fall out in a similar manner to those received so far – then the outcome would be 41,662 votes to the ALP and 41,649 votes to the LNP – a victory to the ALP, but only by 13 votes.

But if we then factor in all declaration votes that have not yet been returned to the AEC (which won’t happen), then if the current postal voting trend held across all declaration voting types, the outcome would be 45,007 votes to the ALP and 45,635 vote to the LNP – a victory to the LNP, but only by a margin of 627 votes.

The numbers of potential outstanding votes are also not final – there could be other votes yet to be received and factored in, further complicating the potential to determine an outcome when the margins are this tight.

So how close is close? It’s too close to call – so stay tuned for an update later today…

Original post from Saturday evening….

The following commentary was written last Saturday – but the graphic has been updated along with the commentary about safe seats at the end.

The Deciders rule

As I’ve written previously, while there were technically 150 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives this election, the reality is that the vast majority of electorates are considered to be ‘safe’ seats – meaning they won’t be changing hands, because, well, they almost never do. This means that the outcome of yesterday’s election will actually be determined by just over a third of electorates – the Deciders. These are typically electorates which either have a high proportion of swinging voters in them (marginal seats and a few fairly safe seats) plus electorates where there is a well-known and well-liked Independent/Minor-party candidate running.

As a result, when you’re looking at the election outcome from last night, it’s really only the outcome in the Decider seats that matters. So I’ve created the following Balance of Power Meter to track how the election outcome is going based primarily on the results in the Decider seats – rather than all seats – as it’s a more accurate proxy of how both parties are tracking. (I am keeping an eye on the safe seats as well and adjust the chart if any of them decide to perform out of character. So far the LNP lost one – Wyatt Roy’s seat – and may possibly lose Peter Dutton’s seat.) I am continuing to update my Balance of Power Meter – so check back in (make sure you refresh the page) for regular updates on progress.


Decider seats

My list of 54 Decider seats shown below is based on the ABC’s Antony Green’s list of Key seats plus I have added:

  • Cowper – Rob Oakeshott’s seat – as recent polls suggest he’s in within cooee of an upset in this seat; and
  • Warringah – Tony Abbott’s seat – enough said.

I’ve included running totals for each group to show where they end up, which I will update as the night progresses.

a) Decider seats won by the LNP in 2013 – 32 seats

This includes: Banks (NSW): Bass (Tas); Bonner (Qld); Boothby (SA); Braddon (Tas); Brisbane (Qld); Burt (new seat in WA); Capricornia (Qld); Corangamite (Vic); Cowan (WA); Cowper (NSW); Deaken (Vic); Dunkley (Vic); Eden-Monaro (NSW); Forde (Qld); Gilmore (NSW); Herbert (Qld); Hindmarsh (SA); La Trobe (Vic); Lindsay (NSW); Lyons (Tas); Macarthur (NSW); Macquarie (NSW); Mayo (SA); Murray (Vic); New England (NSW); Page (NSW); Petrie (Qld); Reid (NSW); Robertson (NSW); Solomon (NT) and Tony Abbott’s seat – Warringah (NSW).

b) Decider seats won by the ALP in 2013 – 18 seats

This includes: Barton (NSW); Batman (Vic); Bendigo (Vic); Bruce (Vic); Chisholm (Vic); Dobell (NSW); Grayndler (NSW); Greenway (NSW); Lilley (Qld); Lingiari (NT); McEwen (Vic); Melbourne Ports (Vic); Moreton (Qld); Parramatta (NSW); Paterson (NSW); Perth (WA); Richmond (NSW); and Wills (Vic).

c) Decider seats won by minor parties and independent candidates in 2013 – 4 seats

This includes: Denison (won by independent candidate Andrew Wilkie in Tas); Fairfax (won by Clive Palmer of PUP fame in Qld); Indi (won by independent candidate Cathy McGowan); and Melbourne (won by Andrew Bandt from the Greens in Vic).

Safe Seats

For a full list of all 150 seats up for election see the AEC’s list. Any seat that I haven’t listed above, is classed as a Safe Seat in my Balance of Power Meter (although the AEC may have classed some of them as ‘Fairly safe’).

Update: The LNP have lost a Safe Seat – Wyatt Roy’s seat – to the ALP and the seat of Flynn in Queensland is also in doubt, but thanks to postals is likely to stay with them. Peter Dutton’s seat was also up for grabs for a while, but he seems to have slid in by the skin of his teeth.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.


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  1. Kate M

    In case you’re following the ABC election tracker – it’s showing 66 to Labor and 72 to the LNP – whereas I’m showing 65 to Labor and 74 to the LNP.

    The differences in my seat count to the ABC’s seat count are:

    a) The ABC are giving Capricornia to Labor – but as I outline in my article above, I think it’s too close to call. But have a read through my logic and make up your own mind 🙂

    b) I have given Forde and Gilmore to the LNP – whereas the ABC still has them as too close to call – because using the methodology I outlined above, I can’t find any scenario – failing a remarkable change in trend – where these don’t go to the LNP.

  2. OldWomBat

    Sadly it would appear another ~3 years of the same push to make Australia a clone of the US, privatise everything, increase the divide between the haves and the have-nots, and further entrench the fate of the country in a small elite. Hopefully the senate can restrict the worst of their efforts.

  3. Kate M

    OldWomBat – by the looks of things yes – although what’s really scary is that the Far Right of the party are agitating to take more control – so despite the fact that the Australian electorate has swung to the left, the LNP are going to try and swing right.

  4. Kaye Lee


    The ABC have Capricornia in the “in doubt” category – it is not counted as one of the 66. They have given Melbourne Ports to Labor. The 72 includes Grey and Cowper for the Coalition.

  5. Kate M

    Kaye – hold on, let me check. When I had a look early this morning, they had it as one of the 66 – but let me see where it’s at.

  6. Pilot

    12 months and the libs will rip themselves apart. Their fascist views do not allow them to negotiate, they are not honest enough. Their draconian, “poor beating” legislation that is still on the Senate books will not get through the Senate and they will again throw a hissy fit, blame everyone except themselves and call another DD.

    One has to remember that the forefathers of this mob of misfits were those involved in UAP, the old guard and the new guard. Their illustrious leader RG Menzies was a traitor to this country and a coward. This current mob are no better, they are cowards, liars, cheats and traitors, doing nothing except looking after themselves and their rich, greedy fascist mates. They are a disgrace.

  7. Kaye Lee

    ABC count 72-66

    7 seats in doubt

    Cowan 81.4% counted Labor leading by 722 votes
    Capricornia 82.5% Labor by 732
    Forde 81.7% LNP by 264
    Flynn 79% Labor by 1,065
    Herbert 84.4% Labor by 620
    Hindmarsh 83.9% Labor by 151
    Gilmore 88.9% LIB by 979

  8. Kate M

    Kaye – you’re right, they’ve got Capricornia as too close to call now, but have Melbourne Ports as Labor retaining it, but I’ve got Melbourne Ports as too close to call. Its similar to Capricornia in that if no more postal votes were received, and the current uncounted votes continued along the same trend as current counted postals, then Labor would win by a margin of 805 votes. BUT if all the outstanding postal votes came i, the LNP would win by a margin of 2,150 vote. So it will come down to how many postals come in. So I think it’s too close to call.

  9. Kaye Lee

    They have only counted 68.2% of votes in Melbourne Ports – Labor ahead by 3087

  10. Kate M

    I’ve got six seats too close to call:
    Melbourne Ports (that’s the one they don’t have – see my note above)

    With the two that I don’t have as close to call – but the ABC do:

    Forde – while the vote tally is close, they have counted all ordinary votes now, so its only postals to go. And with the postal votes counted so far, only 43% of them have been going to Labor. There’s enough of them to consider that statistically signficant, so I can’t see how the ALP can win that one.

    Gilmore – it has a handful of hospital booths still to come in for ordinary booths, but that’s a tiny number of votes. And the postal votes are only going 42.3% to Labor. Again, there’s enough of them to be statistically signfiicant, and I can’t see how the ALP can win it.

  11. Kate M

    Kaye – I’m not sure where you’re getting the 68.2% of the votes from. I’m looking at the AEC site, and they’ve counted all the ordinary votes, and there are only postal votes left. Postals are only going to the ALP at a rate of 41.3%, whereas the ordinary votes – which are all counted, went to them at 52.8%.

    Here’s the link:

  12. Kate M

    Kaye – I see where the percentage of votes counted now is coming from – but the problem is that there is a high proportion of postal votes in Melbourne Ports. There were 31,983 declaration votes issud. So far nearly half of them have been received – but there’s nearly 16990 still potentially to come back. By contrast there were 59817 ordinary votes – so postals will have a huge impact on Melbourne Ports.

  13. Kaye Lee

    The Greens got a very large vote in Melbourne Ports. I assume their preferences are very significant in giving Danby a pretty good margin at this stage.

  14. Kate M

    I know! That’s the wild card I noted above. The AEC numbers are only two dimensional They can only do one count at a time – and currently they are showing LNP/ALP – but I wonder what the impact of Greens will be. They only show first preferences. Melbourne Ports could be one of those seats that takes the full two weeks to determine.

  15. Kate M

    I’m not saying Melbourne Ports won’t go to the ALP – just that based on the high proportion of postal votes, many of which are still to be counted – it’s too dicy to say they’ve got it. I suspect that as they count more postals today, the lead Danby currently has will unfortunately be narrowed.

  16. Kate M

    The ABC have now called Gilmore for the LNP.

  17. Kaye Lee

    The LIB’s lead in Forde has increased slightly. With 83.5% counted, they are now 440 in front. That will be theirs too presumably. Hindmarsh, with 85.3% has the ALP in front by 8 votes. This will also likely end up Coalition. That’s 75.

  18. Kate M

    Yep. That’s one of the ones that I had already called for them as I couldn’t see a scenario unfortunately where they don’t win Forde.
    There’s enough data now to make some fairly educated guesses. Earlier in the week there wasn’t.

  19. Kaye Lee

    I note that the updates on the ABC are on the seats where the Coalition have their best chance. The 4 (or 5 if you count MP) where Labor are in front haven’t been updated today.

  20. townsvilleblog

    I’m not much chop at the chances of more Labor seats but living in Herbert, I sincerely hope the tory gets the chop at last, it’s been a tory seat since the Keating government was voted out I think. I’d love to see Labor pick it up, we have a good candidate here in Cathy O’Toole.

  21. townsvilleblog

    Kaye and Kate, it looks as though we have another tory government then, bugger!

  22. gee

    i distrust all postal votes that go from the voter to the party HQ before being passed on to the AEC. I may be paranoid but i wouldn’t put it past particularly the LNP to “massage” the vote on the way through.

  23. kerri

    Kate M, thanks again for your hard work and tireless efforts in keeping us informed beyond what the MSM and ABC want us to believe is a clear LNP victory.
    Personally I am hopeful for another ballot!

  24. kerri

    Could not agree more! My elderly parents are in Andrews electorate. Every year they have been sending postal votes via his office and in spite of my warnings. Finally the reality of their pension reduction has hit home and this election I took matters into my own hands making sure their votes were cast without the help of Kevin. I don’t know who they voted for as they have never ever told us and that is their right.
    Mum claims no one in her Probus group will admit to voting for Andrews and cannot believe he remains?
    Royal commission maybe???

  25. Bacchus

    gee – the actual votes go direct to the AEC, not via the parties (Labor and Greens do this too).

    It’s only the application for a postal vote that goes to the AEC via the parties…

  26. Jason

    The whole delay in postal votes and the swing to the LNP from them has me suspicious too. Why don’t they go straight to the AEC? Why do they go via a member? While we are at it why do we use pencils not pens?

    Is it legal for politicians to hand them out at retirement homes and others fill them out for them? How many senile people have votes cast for them? I’m highly dubious as it all seems dodgy.

  27. z

    well organized post voters and can be easily predicted result they already said most post votes are their votes

  28. Osiris

    “The whole delay in postal votes and the swing to the LNP from them has me suspicious too.”

    Jason it’s possible that there is fraud involved. It sounds odd that postal votes tend to favour the LNP. I see no reason for this.

    According to Dr. Lawrence Britt: “Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.”

  29. Bacchus

    It sounds odd that postal votes tend to favour the LNP.

    Probably because a large chunk of postal votes would be from the elderly who vote overwhelmingly for the conservatives.

  30. Freethinker

    The Liberal party in all the past elections was more organized to distribute postal votes. The ALP again have not done the home work and now are paying for that.

  31. Kate M

    I’ve just posted a mini-update section in today’s post. The LNP postal vote slide continues……

  32. Jack Russell

    As an aside, I postal voted. It was a first for me, but will be every time from now on. I applied to the AEC – it arrived in the mail – I researched the candidates thoroughly – drew up my proforma and copied it carefully onto the ballot papers in biro – mailed it back to the AEC – got a reciept email from them advising it had arrived. It was a great process. I recommend it.

    Didn’t recieve one from a political party but, if I had, I would have regarded it as contaminated and binned it anyway. The only valid postal voting papers are those direct from the AEC, full stop.

    As to vote counting, I was quite invested in landslide for Labor but, on reflection, not so much. Let the Coalition stew in the excrement they’ve engineered for another term, or however long they last before we are called to the polls again.

    Labor laid excellent groundwork this campaign and will continue to expand their policies, and the understanding of those policies, into the consciousness of the polity over the next period in opposition and bring the population with them to the next election – to win a war, not a piddling battle.

  33. Kaye Lee

    Morning update


    Cowan 83% counted Labor leading by 534 votes
    Capricornia 84.2% Labor by 476
    Forde 86.2% LNP by 687
    Flynn 81.1% Labor by 646
    Herbert 85.4% Labor by 449
    Hindmarsh 85.3% Labor by 68

    (Melbourne Ports is included in Labor’s 66 – 70.5% counted, Labor in front by 2,999)

  34. paulwalter

    We are not even going to get Capricornia and Cowan. Welcome to Don’s party.

  35. paulwalter

    Sorry, wanna throw up at many aussies just now.

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