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Balance of Power Tracker: 2016 Federal Election Results Update

Update at 7:00 pm, 6 July 2016

At 7:00 pm on 6 July, since my update at 8am this morning, there’s been a lot more counting of postal votes which has changed the flavour of things materially in favour of the LNP.

Postal votes are tipping the scales to the right

The big news today is the impact of postal votes on the outcome as the AEC makes inroads into counting these votes. As expected, postal votes are leaning heavily towards the LNP – but to quite a serious extent when compared to ordinary (polling booth) votes. For example, in Flynn (Queensland), 51.53% of ordinary voters chose the ALP candidate over the sitting LNP candidate, but only 34.74% of postal voters did.

The impact of postal votes being factored into the outcome has meant:

  • At least one ‘safe’ seats that had been deemed decided is now back in the likely category. This is Flynn in Queensland, which I referenced above. It was held by the LNP prior to this election, but had been deemed as won by the ALP candidate in this election. Thanks to nearly two in three postal voters picking the LNP over Labor, the LNP is slowly clawing back this seat.
  • One undecided seat – Dunkley – which was leaning towards going to the ALP, has now been called as going to the LNP thanks to 60.5% of postal vote counted so far going their way.
  • Of the nine remaining undecided seats:
    • Three that were leaning towards the ALP are now borderline, and could cross over into LNP territory if the trend continues. These are Capricornia, Herbert and Hindmarsh.
    • Only two are now leaning towards the ALP – Cowan and Melbourne Ports. This morning it was six – so this is a dramatic shift.
    • Four undecided seats are leaning strongly towards the LNP – and unless the trend in postal votes changes, they will go to them. These are Chisholm, Cowper, Forde and Gilmore.

Where does this leave us?

This materially changes the complexion of the possible outcome. This morning, the ALP were potentially in contention of forming a minority government – and the Independents/Minor parties were looking like the Kingmakers. However based on the strong LNP count in today’s postals, the ALP winning has gone back to being a Steven Bradbury affair – it’s not impossible, but it will require a significant shift in the current direction.

In terms of actual numbers here is where I believe we are at right now in terms of seats – and this remains a movable feast, because this is one election where every vote (at least in a ‘Decider’ seat), really does count:

  • The LNP have likely won 70 seats – and 5 seats are leaning heavily in their direction. There are also another 3 seats which I’m not attributing either way. This makes the LNP’s probable outcome (at this stage) between 75 and 78 seats.
  • Labor have likely won 65 seats – and 2 seats are leaning heavily in their direction. Taking into account the 3 seats which I’m not attributing either way, Labor’s probable outcome (at this stage) is between and 67 and 70 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)

That’s the state of play at 7pm on 6 July. Stay tuned for further updates.

The following commentary was written last Saturday – but the graphic has been updated:

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 two seats – Wyatt Roy’s seat and Ken O’Dowd’s seat – and for a while looked like it would 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 later 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. Steve Laing -

    Thanks Kate. The MSM’s desire to sew this up for the LNP in their reporting is palpable, so its good to get an independent perspective. In some ways, I hope they make it over the line as they deserve the hard yakka of governing this mess of their own making. Plus they have snookered themselves on Medicare, and any movement to undermine it should ensure electoral obliteration at the next election which I suspect might be soon given they couldn’t pass a budget with a massive majority in the house of reps, far less the anticipated battleground!

  2. economicreform

    My prediction is that the LNP will secure 75 seats and Labor will secure 71 seats. In this scenario, Katter will be the king maker.

  3. z

    is this slow counting ever been happen before? because every election has been a mail ballot exist not slowdown the counting much

  4. Athena

    Cathy McGowan said last Sunday that she won’t be helping either party to form a government.

  5. Athena

    economicreform, I thought the LNP still needed one more seat for the Speaker?

  6. Freethinker

    IMO the key is in the senate.
    What can happens if the senate do not approve the main government policies in the budget?
    For how long the government can be in power with policies from the 2014-15-16 budgets not approved?

  7. economicreform

    Yes Athena, a speaker needs to be appointed. So even if the LNP manages to get 76, they really need to have 77 in order to secure an effectively workable majority. I am still predicting 75 or 74 seats for the LNP and 70 or 71 seats for Labor, Clearly the Katter party and the NXT party will play a crucial role in helping to get the LNP over the line. If that does not happen then presumably we are headed for another early election. And even if it does happen, it would only take an LNP loss due to illness, death, resignation or whatever to throw the whole scenario into a state of instability.

  8. Kate M

    The final counting is always this slow. It’s just that it doesn’t normally matter as the margins are big enough in the seats to be able to comfortably determine the winner of most seats. Last election it took nearly two weeks to determine the outcome of Fairfax – Palmer’s seat – but we already knew who was in government, so it didn’t matter that much. This time there are around ten seats where the margin is too tight and could go either way. That’s why it’s taking so long.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Antony Green is saying 74 to 71 is likely. This wouldn’t be a bad result. To defeat a motion, all 5 crossbench would have to agree – anything really silly can be blocked by them. For something to pass, the Coalition would need someone other than Katter to agree – insurance.

    It is possible that a combo of Labor, Greens and NXT in the Senate might have a voting majority.

  10. Matters Not

    economicreform, appointing a Speaker does not translate to a loss of a vote. While the Speaker does not have a ‘deliberative’ vote, the Speaker has a ‘casting’ vote. It’s the ‘casting’ vote that matters when the ‘crunch’ (tied count) comes.

  11. townsvilleblog

    Kate, It seems a painfully slow process, a fortnight to produce a government from an election, why are we still doing this manually, why can’t a secure server be established so we can vote digitally? I guess if we ever get a superb version of the NBN Co we might then be in the race, sadly not under LNP rule though.

  12. Möbius Ecko

    townsvilleblog I just searched but could not find it. ABC local radio had an IT security specialist from Wollongong university on this very subject.

    Several states and local governments at various times have attempted e-voting and I think there are still a couple of systems in play.

    Apart from the flaws and security holes in all of them, the problem appears to be in trying to marry together the registration to vote and being crossed off with the requirement to then caste an anonymous vote. Systems can do one or the other quite well but have failed to do both successfully.

  13. Kate M

    There is actually online voting for certain classes of pre polling – but only if you are disabled or meet certain other criteria. It’s an alternative to postal. Maybe they’ve been testing it to see how well it works.

  14. Kate M

    Kaye – if the above scenario is right, and I will look again later tonight when hopefully more postals will be counted – they would need both NXT and Cathy McGowan. Turns out there’s never been a more exciting time to be an Indi or a Mayo resident!

  15. Freethinker

    I hope that the ALP have learn the lesson regarding their work on looking after postal; votes.
    They need to put equal or more effort than the Liberals in next election.

  16. cornlegend

    The ALP scrutineers phone in reckons LNP will get 76

  17. Freethinker

    cornlegend that it is close to what I was hoped as a possible result (67).
    IMO a senate as it is will be not very good for any of the 2 parties and I prefer to be the Coalition in chaos that the ALP.
    My only worry is the senate and how many senators is going to have the Greens to stop any draconian laws and the main policies in the budget.

  18. Kaye Lee

    The ABC site says 71-67 with Labor slightly in front in 4 of the 7 still in doubt. They are suggesting the Coalition will get two pretty much for sure. That means they need 3 of the remaining 5 – they are only ahead in 1.

  19. Kaye Lee

    72 – 66 Labor slightly ahead in 5 of remaining 7

  20. Lotharsson

    Partial postal vote counts on the AEC website are running strong enough to the Coalition in at least 3 of the 5 where Labor are slightly ahead to win the seat for the Coalition.

    It’s almost certain now they will get a majority, most likely 77 seats but possibly 78, or 76 if they don’t quite fall over the line on one of those close seats.

  21. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee,
    that was the combined wisdom of scrutineers the 76.
    They usualyl have the figures much earlier than AEC and ABC base their predictions on Antony Greens interpretations of the current positions.
    You will note AEC say “currently leading” in their numbers
    Right now they {AEC}have LNP 73 ALP 68 while ABC have, at 7.44pm LNP 72 ALP 66
    The scrutineers figures at the time they report in is usually hours in advance of the AEC or ABC as the AEC [at snail pace} collate the figures at the Electorate, then forward figures on to a central processing then they do their updates. It is terribly slow and delays happen and ABC use their figures but put their interpretation on the likely outcomes.
    Just in Gilmore yesterday counting was suspended because they couldn’t find the electric letter opener

  22. Kate M

    Hi all. I’ve just updated the numbers in the commentary. As Lotharsson mentions – the impact of postals today has been huge. Have yet to update the graphic – but will do so in a few minutes

  23. Athena

    AEC website is now showing 74-71 with no seats left undecided.

  24. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee,
    I have everything crossed hoping they [LNP} get 74 and have to sign up an Independent or 2
    Question Time will be a hoot then.
    I’m looking for a unit in the ACT to save me driving so much 😀

  25. Athena

    I’m looking at the same page and have refreshed.
    Updated: Wed, 06 Jul 2016 8:38:42 PM AEST
    The table is showing nationally 74 seats to LNP, 71 to ALP and 0 to be decided.
    The table doesn’t agree with the bar chart. The chart shows 73-68 for me too.

  26. Michael Taylor

    I keep reading stories that some polling booths ran out of voting slips. I don’t know what happens there. Could a candidate force a new vote?

  27. cornlegend

    It is contradictory and confusing as, even on the updated page ,if you scroll down under the who is leading you will see the seats listed “Who is close” and click on Hindmarsh, with about 80% of votes counted and a difference of under 150 it says “Two candidate preferred (TCP) for Hindmarsh (SA) 49 of 51 polling places returned ”
    With about, 80% counted, less than 150 margin, 2 polling places “not returned” and postal and absentee votes open till 15th July I certainly would have that in an “undecided” column

  28. cornlegend

    Michael Taylor
    “ran out of voting slips” that happened in a few places.If I was a candidate and was real close I’d be looking at the legality. If this gets to 1 or 2 seats I would expect a Party to question it legally
    AEC also sent about 150 blank Victorian Senate ballot papers to W.A.

  29. Athena

    Agreed, cornlegend. I don’t know how they can say those close seats are no longer undecided when counting hasn’t finished. (There are so many negatives in that sentence I hope it makes sense.)

  30. cornlegend

    105 senate votes cast at a hospital in WA have been declared informal because AEC staff accidentally gave voters VICTORIAN ballots

  31. cornlegend

    “There are so many negatives in that sentence I hope it makes sense.” There are so many negatives with the AEC, they never make sense !!

  32. Kate M

    Athena – The AEC website is just showing who is leading in each seat – not who has won.

    If you have a look at the top right hand side of the screen you will see that it says”0 of 150 House of Representatives seats have been declared.”

    The AEC doesn’t declare seats until they have finished counting – and that isn’t until all postals are in which is two weeks after the polling. In the meantime, the numbers they show are just whether ALP or the LNP currently has more votes in a particular seat.

    They really do need to look at how they report it – as it is misleading. But to be fair – most elections, people don’t need to look at it.

    Here’s a link to the page:

  33. Kate M

    Michael – lack of ballot papers seems to have been a problem across the country. Apparently Glenn Lazarus was getting people to contact him to get details, and I know it was also an issue in Cowper. Given how close the numbers are in some seats, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that they call a rerun within some of the affected seats. K

  34. Athena

    Kate, the table does show the 5 other seats that have been won.

  35. Kate M

    Athena – they haven’t been won. They are just who is leading.

    The top of the table says “House of Representatives – who is leading?”

  36. Kate M

    Here is a quote from ABC commentator Antony Green on why the AEC’s numbers are misleading;

    “I have received numerous questions about why the ABC website is not using the current seat totals on the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC’s) website.

    The reason is that the AEC’s current seat totals are not totals of seats won, but simply totals of seats where a party is leading. This is not an indication that a party has won these seats.”

  37. Athena

    Thank you Kate. I did assume that since counting hasn’t finished they haven’t been officially won. My point was that the information being displayed in the table is different to the bar chart. Both are displaying who is leading, with different totals for LNP and ALP.

  38. Kate M

    It is really confusing Athena. I got caught out yesterday when I was looking at the Cowper results – and I thought Rob Oakeshotte had taken the lead.Turns out they had just started a recount – and the numbers had reset to zero – and there were only a few thousand votes in there!!

    In the numbers I’ve done I’ve looked at trends for vote type and the number of uncounted votes to see where it’s heading, to factor in what could happen yet.

  39. corvus boreus

    Kate M,
    The Cowper issue was a reported lack of absentee forms in a few polling stations in the south neighboring electorate of Lyne.

    Although both the booths mentioned are in solid ‘Oakeshott country’, based just on the margin by which the incumbent has seemingly kept his seat, I doubt that this possible case of small scale disenfranchisement through ineptitude would be seen as having likely effected the result enough to warrant holding a rerun of the ballot.

    Ps, I hope that I am wrong, or that subsequent information alters the situation.

  40. Lotharsson

    Athena, both are displaying who is leading in some sense, but the sense is different for each site. The AEC displays who is leading in each seat based on how far the count has got, but that can be a very poor indication of who is most likely to win the seat in the end and the AEC doesn’t do anything to suggest when the indication is poor.

    Other sites attempt to provide better indications of who is most likely to win the seat, and they often take care to distinguish those seats where the confidence in that indication is too low to be very useful.

  41. Athena

    Lotharsson, I’m only looking at one page on the AEC website. But I have solved the puzzle of the discrepancy. If I hold the mouse over the dark section on the chart, it shows LNP leading 73 seats, and over the pale section it shows LNP leading 1 close seat = the 74 seats they’re leading in the table.

  42. Lotharsson

    Yes, that’s the page that’s awfully easy to misinterpret. Distinguishing between the close seats and others is a good start, but you still have to remember that those bars are based on partial counts which provide varying levels of confidence (down to as little as “very little”) that seats won’t change hands as the count continues. That even applies to the not close seats – Flynn was not close yesterday in the Labor bar, and now is close in the Labor bar, and will probably switch to the Coalition bar when the postal vote count gets far enough.

  43. Kaye Lee

    I heard at some stage, I think maybe from Lazarus but can’t be certain, that funding for the AEC was cut for this election. I know at my polling booth they only had two officials handing out ballot papers which led to a line out the door and well down the street. Would be interesting to have that confirmed.

  44. Athena

    I also heard that funding had been cut and that in SA there were 10 less polling booths than previously (not sure if that is true). There were certainly less people handing out ballot papers at the booth where I voted. People who regularly vote at the booth where I handed out how to vote cards said the same of their booth. The queues were long all day until late in the afternoon. Many people said they’ve never experienced such long queues.

  45. Kyran

    As I understand it, Rob Oakeshott has already lodged a complaint with the AEC regarding the shortage of forms and Glen Lazarus is currently obtaining stat dec’s from complainants around the country regarding the absence of forms at booths. He also posted one of those tweety thingy’s, which attributes the ‘reduced number of booths’ and shortage of forms to cuts in funding to the AEC.

    (I hope that works!)
    There have been ‘snippets’ on radio regarding ‘irregularities’ in AEC processes, all of which have reported the problems as ‘administrative’. It appears the AEC have stored some ballots improperly according to their own rules but, as the ballots remained in their control, no harm, no foul.
    In addition to ‘short staffing’, the number of booths that did not operate this time around hasn’t been widely reported, but from what I’ve seen the greatest impact is in remote communities (It’s not like our First People need to be represented).
    Like Mr Taylor @ 9.28, I wonder if this entire debacle will have to be re-enacted. Given how many seats have been very close, it is an entirely appropriate question.
    On a lighter note

    I don’t know if you’d call these interesting times, but they sure are curious. Thank you Ms M. Take care

  46. 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 265
    Flynn 79% Labor by 1,065
    Herbert 84.4% Labor by 620
    Hindmarsh 83.9% Labor by 151
    Gilmore 88.9% LIB by 991

  47. cornlegend

    Complaints growing in WA’s north about late changes and limited polling options

    “There were issues … there was not interstate voting,” Mr Kerr-Newell said.

    “Halls Creek has a very large population of tourists at this time of year and they were denied the opportunity to vote.”

  48. Kaye Lee

    “We discovered we were running out of ballot papers by late morning. The officer in charge told me he could not request any more until after 11am when “the store opened”. The extra ballot papers did not arrive until 5pm.”

  49. Athena

    The booth where I handed out how to vote cards ran out of senate ballot papers in the morning. They had 2 deliveries of extra papers and ran out again late in the day.

  50. Athena

    The ballot papers had to be printed before the election. Extras can’t be photocopied on the day as needed. So if they’re being stored somewhere, why weren’t they all distributed to the booths in the first place? It’s not like spares can be kept and used for another occasion.

  51. Kyran

    Funny you should mention “Extras can’t be photocopied…”, Athena. There was one radio item that mentioned informal voting at this election which, at that time, was running about 5% in the HoR and 5.9% in the Senate. This was amidst ‘anecdotal’ reports that voters may have been ‘inadvertently misinformed’ by booth attendants on the new Senate process. Part of the report detailed the ‘watermark’ on the forms which is verified on the AEC website (Scrutineers Handbook);
    “Authentic ballot papers
    Generally a ballot paper will carry an official mark (watermark or printed security pattern) and the initials of the issuing officer.
    However, ballot papers that do not carry these markings are not necessarily informal. They should be presented to the DRO in the case of HoR or Referendum ballot papers or to the AEO in the case of Senate ballot papers to decide on their formality.”
    The news report went on to state that all ‘informal’ votes will be rechecked due to the disparity in the ‘informal’ votes between chambers.
    As the forms are unique, wouldn’t you print extra’s for each booth (particularly when there are less booths)?
    If the choice is between a ‘conspiracy’ and a ‘cock up’, my money is on the ‘cock up’, exacerbated by cutting of funds.
    Take care

  52. Athena

    “As the forms are unique, wouldn’t you print extra’s for each booth (particularly when there are less booths)?”

    Apparently the specifications for the paper used was to enable scanning.

    If a ballot paper does not contain the watermark or the initials of the issuing officer, would you like to have your vote declared informal when someone arbitrarily decides it is a fake?

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