October 2023

NSW Redistribution Submissions – which seats could be for the chop.

As outlined in a previous post, NSW is set to lose a seat at the next Federal election.

The AEC has released submissions to the redistribution that will reduce the state from 47 to 46 seats. In this post I’ll run through some of the major features of party proposals. You can find the submissions at this link.

Read More »NSW Redistribution Submissions – which seats could be for the chop.

Northern Territory Redistribution – Take 2

The Northern Territory Electoral Commission has released its first draft of the Territory’s new electoral boundaries. The boundaries are now open for public comment. Once the redistribution is finalised, the new boundaries will apply for the next Northern Territory election in August 2024.

Those who have been paying attention will know this is actually the second time a first draft set of new boundaries has been released. A very embarrassing “administrative oversight” meant the first attempt at the redistribution had to be abandoned for legal reasons I outline inside this post.

The abandoned redistribution had reached the second draft stage of the process before being terminated. This new first draft is the same as the previous second stage draft though with updated enrolment numbers. I previously analysed these boundaries at the abandoned second stage. You can read about the new margins in this post from August.
Read More »Northern Territory Redistribution – Take 2

Projected Enrolment Data released for the Victorian Federal Redistribution

This post was prepared last year based on an initial release of projected enrolment numbers. The data proved to have a major fault and a completely new data set was released at the end of January 2024. I have written an entirely new post based on the corrected data that you can read at this link. The old post with the wrong data has been retained for posterity.
Read More »Projected Enrolment Data released for the Victorian Federal Redistribution

The Voice Referendum Results by Vote Type and Electoral Division

10 November – The AEC has carried out its final adjustments to the roll to take account of deaths, re-instated voters and several other causes of adjustment. This reduced national roll by around 5,000 voters and lifted the final turnout figure from 89.92% to 89.95%.

In this post I’m publishing several charts dissecting the referendum result by Vote Type and by electoral division. The post includes a table of Referendum Yes percentages and comparison columns for Labor two-party preferred percentage from the 2022 election, plus the gap between these two figures.

The electorate table shows how much lower the Yes% vote was in many traditional Labor seats. The seats where the Yes% was higher are clustered in seats won by Greens and ‘teal’ Independents at the 2022 election, and also several Liberal seats gained by Labor.

The ‘gap’ column shows a similar pattern to the 1999 Republic referendum. Both the 1999 and 2023 referendums saw Yes support distributed very differently from two-party preferred patterns at the preceding Federal election. The 1999 referendum pattern was also very different to the 2001 Federal election, which suggests the 2023 referendum is unlikely to be a guide to voting patterns at the 2025 Federal election.

That’s with the possible exception of the result in seats lost by the Liberal Party in 2022. Of the 17 Liberal seats that voted for the Republic in 1999, only five were won by the Liberal Party in 2022. The other twelve seats are now held by Labor, the Greens and ‘teal’ Independents. Eight of these seats voted for The Voice in 2023.Read More »The Voice Referendum Results by Vote Type and Electoral Division

Projected Enrolment Data Released for Redistribution of WA Federal Electoral Boundaries

This post has been retained for posterity, but it was written based on incorrect enrolment data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and released by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Corrected projections were released in January 2024 and a new analysis of redistribution prospects based on the corrected data can be found in this post.

Read More »Projected Enrolment Data Released for Redistribution of WA Federal Electoral Boundaries

The Most Meaningless Graph I’ve Ever Drawn

Below is the most pointless, meaningless and useless graph I’ve ever drawn in my life.

It plots the % No vote by electoral division on the vertical axis against the percentage of Indigenous residents in each electorate on the horizontal axis.

And by using Indigenous residents on the x-axis, I am overstating the number of Indigenous voters. I didn't get chance to extract the data for aged over 18, or deal with turnout issues, both of which reduce the percentage of Indigenous voters compared to residents. Read More »The Most Meaningless Graph I’ve Ever Drawn

A few Regional Tables on The Voice Referendum Results

The older I get the harder I find it to pull my brain together and write analysis pieces the day after an election broadcast.

I thought the option that required the least writing effort was to publish some of the total tables from the ABC’s election computer. These category totals are not available on the ABC website but I did present them as graphics at various times on Saturday night.
Read More »A few Regional Tables on The Voice Referendum Results

How Might the Referendum Results Come In

Where to find referendum results? Google points a lot of people looking for election result here to my blog on election night. Currently I’m busy on television so can’t be of much assistance. If you are live results, check out the ABC’s Referendum results site for everything you need to know after 6pm eastern time.

When results for ‘The Voice’ referendum report on Saturday night, they will arrive in a fearsome rush.

In preparation for Saturday night’s coverage, I’ve been digging back through some of my working documents for the 1999 Republic referendum. I also checked out the television coverage through ABC archives.

My memory was that results poured in, but checking the archives proved the rate of reporting was faster than I remembered. By 7:30pm in the 1999 count, half the national vote had reported and NSW had reached 68% counted and Victoria 65%. That is around twice the first preference votes that would have been reported by that time at a general election.

The results will report just as quickly on Saturday, though they may not reach the same percentage counted by 7:30. As I pointed out in a previous post, 80% of votes were cast on election day in 1999 where the equivalent figure in 2023 will be under 50%.

But fewer votes in polling places means the votes will be quicker to count, so the votes reported may reach 50% very quickly. From there it may slow down for a while given how long it takes to count some of the giant pre-poll centres. It has been a feature of recent by-election counts that there is a pause between the point when all polling places have reported their results, and when pre-poll counts are completed and reported.

But what will the early figures look like on election night? For that I again went back to my 1999 figures.Read More »How Might the Referendum Results Come In

How Referendum Results Relate to Levels of Party Support

The Voice Referendum is being put by and overwhelmingly backed by the Albanese Labor government. It is opposed by the National Party and is opposed by large parts of the Liberal Party including Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. It is largely supported by the Greens and ‘teal’ Independents, and opposed by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

It is a pattern of party support that suggests referendum night results might follow traditional party divides. This is despite the referendum being held away from a general election, away from a campaign with how-to-votes advocating a vote for or against the government as well as for or against the referendum.

To examine the role of partisanship in referendum voting patterns, I look back at two very different referendums and the relationship between Labor/Coalition election voting by electoral division, and Yes/No referendum results.

The first is the Simultaneous Elections referendum held in conjunction with the 1984 Federal election. With both Labor and Coalition how-to-votes having clear Yes and No referendum recommendations, there was an extremely strong relationship between two-party preferred results by division and Yes/No referendum results.

But the second case, the 1999 republic referendum, was a very different campaign and produced results with a much weaker link between party voting and Yes/No results. Held separately from a general election, the republic referendum was not combined with the partisanship inducing vote for or against the government. The Republic referendum is also unique in being the only referendum put by a Prime Minister who advocated a No vote.

Like The Voice referendum, the Republic was backed by Labor and generally opposed by the Coalition, though with some significant Liberal supporters of a republic. The result produced a confusing mosaic of results where safe Liberal seats voted Yes and safe Labor seats voted no.

As I outline in this post, you can explain more about the pattern of Republic referendum results by looking at the social status of electorates rather then the level of Labor or Coalition support at the previous year’s Federal election.

So are these high social status Republic supporting electorates the ‘elites’ campaigned against in 1999 and so often mentioned again in The Voice campaign? The majority of voters have more interest in getting by day to day than worrying whether ‘The Voice’ will improve the position of First Nations Australians. Does railing against ‘elites’ tap into resentment against those with more time and money to worry about such issues?

Having covered the 1999 Republic campaign and written on the results at the time, I see strong similarities with the current Voice referendum. And on Saturday night I expect to see a very similar pattern of results, with Yes results strongest in high social status metropolitan seats irrespective of whether they are Labor, Liberal, Green or Independent held.

A quick technical point before the post. Most of this post is written comparing Labor two-party preferred percentages by electoral division to Yes percentages at referendums. It could have been written comparing Coalition 2PP% to No% and produce the same findings. You just have to choose one of the two methods of measure, and focussing on the smaller number of Yes voting divisions is easier to measure and explain.
Read More »How Referendum Results Relate to Levels of Party Support

Vote by Type at the 1999 Republic Referendum PLUS how Referendum Night will Unfold.

Several times in the last fortnight I’ve been asked how I think Postal and Pre-poll votes will split at the referendum.

As a general rule at Australian elections, postal votes significantly favour the Coalition compared to polling day votes. Pre-poll votes slightly favour the Coalition though by how much varies from election to election. The smaller categories of Absent and Provisional votes tend to favour Labor.

At referendums, it is fair to say a No vote is for the status quo and a Yes vote for change. On that basis you would expect postal voting to display the same pattern as at a general election, favouring the conservative position. Pre-poll voting could also have a small lean to the status quo.

This observation on postal voting is backed by the chart below that shows the Yes/No percentages by vote type for the 1999 Republic referendum. (I’ve co-opted the common colours being used by Yes and No in 2023.)

As the column showing percentage votes in each category makes clear, the past two decades have seen a massive shift away from voting on election day. So will the same trends be evident in 2023? Here are a few important points. Read More »Vote by Type at the 1999 Republic Referendum PLUS how Referendum Night will Unfold.