Today I have launched my Legislative Council calculators for the Western Australian election.
At the 2017 election, more than 95% of votes in all six regions were cast as single ‘1’ above the line tickets, meaning those votes were counted according to each party’s lodged group voting tickets.
The asymmetry of effort between casting a single ‘1’ for a party above the line, or laboriously numbering more than 50 preferences below the line, herds voters into accepting the preference deals and voting above the line for a single party. That sends their vote off on a preferential magical mystery tour across the ballot paper.
As usual there are complex micro-party preference harvesting deals, though not as locked together as at some previous elections. Each of the micro-parties has been allocated a region in which they will be favoured. These are –
- East Metropolitan – Western Australian Party
- North Metropolitan – Liberals for Climate
- South Metropolitan – Liberal Democrats
- Agricultural – Health Australia Party
- Mining and Pastoral – Daylight Saving Party
- South West – Sustainable Australia
However, the deals are so complex that candidates attracting fewer votes than expected at a critical point in the count can easily upend even the best organised deals.
There is a high probability that the major parties or the Greens, despite getting very close to a quota, will be run down on preferences by these complex deals.
One party worth watching is Legalise Cannabis who do well on preferences in some regions, and on name alone may do better than expected. There are one or two regions where a poor Green vote could end up flowing to Legalise Cannabis.
The Australian Christians may also do well out of a preference huddle with the WAxit Party and No Mandatory Vaccination. Many times over the decades I’ve seen a collapse in Liberal support produce a higher Christian party vote than you would normally expect. The Liberal Party may have a surplus that helps the Australian Christians if the party can stay live in the count for long enough.
Below I’ll go through each of regions and look at the prospects.
East Metropolitan Region
The key question in East Metropolitan is how strongly Labor polls. In 2017 Labor polled 46.5% or 3.26 quotas and the Greens 8.9% or 0.62 quotas. Labor elected three MLCs and its surplus elected a Green MLC. With a better ballot draw in 2021 and with polling indicating Labor’s vote has risen, Labor’s surplus beyond three quotas could be above the total for the Greens. If Labor’s vote passes 52% or 3.64 quotas, it would have a better chance of gaining a fourth seat at the expense of the Greens. Either way, Labor and the Greens look certain of four seats together, it’s just a matter of whether it is a fourth Labor or a Green candidate winning the fourth seat.
On the other side, the micro-party alliance is favouring the Western Australian Party’s candidate Charles Smith, who was elected for One Nation in 2017. One Nation have put him last, which may yet be important in deciding whether Smith or someone else wins the final seat. The Liberals polled 25.0% or 1.75 quotas in 2017, and if the party polls below 21%, it will elect one member and have half a quota over. That could help the Australian Christians, who get One Nation preferences and are in a preference huddle with WAxit and No Mandatory vaccination. Any Liberal surplus could help the Australian Christians.
The Greens are in their own preference swaps with Animal Justice and Legalise Cannabis, but Legalise Cannabis put the Western Australian Party ahead of the Greens.
The region looks like 4 Labor or 3 Labor one Green, one Liberal with the final seat determined by preferences with the Western Australian Party looking well positioned.
North Metropolitan Region
In 2017 the Liberal Party polled 36.5% or 2.55 quotas, Labor 37.2% or 2.61 quotas, and the Greens 10.0% or 0.7 quotas. The Liberal Party reached its third quota via One Nation preferences, One Nation polling 6.5% or 0.45 quotas. The Greens reached their quota on Labor’s surplus.
Everything points to Labor’s vote being up and the Liberal vote down, which suggests Labor will win three seats and the Liberal Party two. If Labor’s vote approaches 50%, it could have enough of a surplus to re-elect the Greens.
But preferences will decide the last seat. The micro-party alliance are pointing preferences to Liberals for Climate (previously known as Flux) but the party has drawn poorly at the right hand end of the ballot paper. So it gets complex to work out the beneficiary of preference harvesting if Liberals for Climate don’t get up. A wild card in determining who wins is One Nation who have drawn Column A and whose preference ticket hops all around the ballot paper.
It all depends on the first preference votes you assign, which is why I publish the preference calculators so people can model their own results.
South Metropolitan Region
In 2017 Labor polled 44.9% or 3.14 quotas, the Liberal Party 24.8% for 1.74 quotas, the Greens 9.3% or 0.65 quotas. The Liberal Democrats polled 3.9% for 0.27%, and benefiting from appearing to the left of the Liberal Party on the ballot paper, elected its candidate Aaron Stonehouse to the final seat.
A rise in the Labor vote raises chances of Labor winning a fourth seat, or more likely helping the Greens regain the seat the party lost in 2017. The micro-party alliance is arranged to re-elect Stonehouse for the Liberal Democrats, but he has had a very bad ballot draw well to the right on the ballot paper. A beneficiary in his place may be Liberals for Climate who have drawn Column B and may garner a few extra percent out of confusion over party names.
The micro-party alliance in Agricultural Region is structured to elect Bass Tadros of the Health Australia Party, and his prospects could be helped by the Green putting Health Australia ahead of Labor. If Labor falls short of two quotas, Labor’s hopes of two seats could be cut off by Green preferences flowing to Tadros.
Agricultural is Labor’s worst region, polling 24.0% or 1.68 quotas in 2021. Green preferences delivered Labor’s second seat. Having drawn Column B, Labor may reach two quotas in its own right in 2021. The 2017 election was the first time Labor had elected two Agricultural Region MLCs.
In 2017 the Nationals elected two MLCs with 30.7% or 2.15 quotas, the Liberals 1 from 18.7% or 1.31 quotas. One Nation polled 11.7% or 0.81 quotas but lost out to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers who polled 5.7% or 0.4 quotas, everyone else favouring the SFF’s Rick Mazza over One Nation. Note that Mazza will be contesting South West Region in 2021.
The odds are on 2 Labor, 2 National, maybe one Liberal plus someone else. Once again, try the calculator to make your own estimate.
Mining and Pastoral Region
In 2017 Labor polled 34.2% or 2.39 quotas, its surplus electing the Greens who polled only 5.7%, 0.40 quotas. You would expect Labor’s vote to increase and approach three quotas, though it has drawn a bad column far to the right of the ballot paper. Any Labor surplus is more likely to help the SFF and micro-party alliance than the Greens.
The micro-party alliance is arranged to help the Daylight Saving Party, though the arrangement might be upended by Liberals for Climate having drawn Column B.
In 2017 one seat each was won by the Nationals with 19.0% for 1.33 quotas, the Liberals 15.7% for 1.10 quotas, and One Nation 13.7% for 0.96 quotas. There would only be two seats between these three parties in 2021 with One Nation probably the biggest loser in vote share.
Best to try your own estimates on the calculator. With fewer than 60,000 votes to be taken in this region, there are real quirks in how this region’s count could unfold.
South West Region
Labor polled 36.4% or 2.55 quotas for 2 seats in 2017, and the Greens 7.6% or 0.53 quotas for one seat with the help of Labor preferences. The two parties will get three seats between them again in 2021, but as Labor’s vote approaches three quotas in its own right, it leaves the Greens battling for preferences from elsewhere to win. Without an increase in Green vote, the Greens might be corralled and lose a seat on preferences. Legalise Cannabis does well on minor party preferences, and if they stay in the count long enough, receives Green preferences ahead of Labor.
The micro-party alliance in South West region is structured to elect Daniel Minson of Sustainable Australia, or as the party appears on the ballot paper, “SUSTAINABLE AUSTRALIA PARTY – STOP OVERDEVELOPMENT”.
The Liberals polled 22.7% or 1.59 quotas in 2017, the Nationals 12.0% or 0.84 quotas, One Nation 10.6% or 0.74 quotas. It seems unlikely that all three would elect an MLC in 2021 with One Nation weakest placed. The Shooters Fishers and Farmers polled 4.12% of 0.29 quotas in 2017. This time they have a worse ballot position but are helped by Rick Mazza switching from Agricultural Region.