Welcome back to our second post looking the effects of Labor preferencing the Greens last in at an Australian federal election.
To estimate the effect of Labor preferencing the Coalition ahead of the Greens, we will revisit a previous exercise that we undertook at estimating the next Senate on current polls. We will estimate a half Senate election based on current polls, taking into account Labor preferencing the Greens second or last and any retaliatory action by the Greens. However, before we start this exercise we shall look at the effect of above the line voting, a feature of the ballot that is available for voters in Senate elections.
Above the Line Voting and Split tickets
The Senate’s Hare-Clark Voting system which allows for to above the line voting which allows voters to just number one box for a party which acts as a vote cast in uniformity with the Group Voting Ticket lodged by the party. As 95% of mainland voters vote above the line this effectively means that parties can control their preference flows in the Senate.
If Labor preferences the Coalition above the Greens, it is open for the Greens to retaliate with a split ticket. The effect of the split ticket is to send all above the line votes into equal preference flows in accordance with the different tickets lodged. The Greens could lodge two tickets, one placing Labor above the Coalition and the other placing the Coalition above Labor. The effect of lodging two such split tickets would be to not prefer the Coalition or Labor and effectively leave which ever candidate is in front at that stage of the count in the lead. It is of equivalent effect of “just vote 1” in a single member Optional Preferential Voting contest and open tickets in Compulsory Preferential Voting.
As in our previous post estimating a likely Senate based on the current polls, we have estimated the next Senate using the following steps:
- For the mainland states we use the state average primary vote from the Poliquant Australia Poll Averages as the hypothetical House vote.
- For Tasmania and the Territories we add the implied national swing from the Poliquant Australia Poll Averages to the 2010 election House vote as that state/territories’ House vote.
- For each party we added the difference between the House and Senate vote in 2010 in each respective state/territory. An exception was made for South Australia, where we used the 2007 House/Senate differential to account for Nick Xenophon, who is likely to run again in 2013.
Our hypothetical Senate vote estimation for each state and territory is set out below.
We again have the same table, this time as a number of quotas.
We will then estimate the flow of preferences for the remainder to determine which candidates will win the remaining Senate spots after deduction of full quotas. We will conduct this estimation on the basis of a Labor preferencing the Greens above the Coalition and vice versa. We shall also conduct this estimation on the basis of any Green retaliation to Labor directing preferences away from it. Such retaliation will be assumed to be an open ticket as described above.
We shall also assume that the Coalition and minor right parties will preference Labor ahead of the Greens
As in our previous post on estimating the Senate on current polls, we shall split the minor party vote 75-25 between minor right-wing parties and minor left-wing parties. We assume that these parties preference each other first to attempt to create a snowball effect to propel them to a quota. This was how Family First in 2004 and the Democratic Labor Party in 2010 won their Senate seats. However if these groups cannot overtake Labor, Coalition or the Greens, then we assume that minor right preferences flow, 1 Coalition, 2 Labor, 3 Greens and minor left preferences flow 1 Greens, 2 Labor, 3 Coalition.
Now that we have outlined our assumptions, on to the state by state breakdown.
New South Wales
The seats that fall straight from the quotas are Liberal/National 3, Labor 1, leaving 2 seats to be decided by preferences. If we split the minor party vote between right and left 75/25, we get the following simplified quota remainders.
Labor 0.99, Minor Right 0.84, Greens 0.82, Minor Left 0.28, Liberal/National 0.07
The minor left vote will flow to the Greens and the Liberal/National remainder will flow to the minor right parties, giving us the following state of play.
Greens 1.1 (elected), Labor 0.99, Minor Right 0.93
The Greens and Minor Left surplus will flow to Labor electing its no.2 candidate. In this event Labor’s preferences do not matter as it is vying for a second senator. If the Greens split their ticket between Labor and Liberal-National, it will not matter as the last spot will be between Labor and a minor right party such as KAP, Shooters or Outdoor Recreation Party, in all likelihood even on a split ticket, Labor will be above these parties on a Green GVT.
NSW Estimate (all circumstances): Coalition 3, Labor 2, Greens 1
The seats that fall straight from the quotas are Coalition 2, Labor 2, Greens 1, leaving 1 seat to be decided by preferences. If we split the others between right and left 75/25, we get the following simplified quota remainders.
Minor Right 0.87, Liberal/National 0.64, Minor Left 0.29, Labor 0.12, Greens 0.08
The Greens surplus would flow to a minor “left” party as would the Labor surplus, however this would not be enough for the lead minor left candidate to overtake the third Liberal/National candidate and the lead minor right candidate. The winner between the Liberal/National third candidate and minor right party candidate is down to surplus votes of Labor, Greens and the minor “left” parties. Where these votes will fall depends on the minor “right” party that comes out on top (most likely the DLP).
As Labor and the Greens both have small surpluses they cannot effect the outcome with their preferences with respect to each other.
Victoria Estimate (all circumstances): Liberal/National (2-3), Minor Right (0-1), Labor 2, Greens 1.
The seats that fall straight from the quotas are LNP 3, Labor 1, leaving 2 seats to be decided by preferences. If we split the others between right and left 75/25, we get the following simplified quota remainders.
Minor Right 1.03, Greens 0.82, LNP 0.48, Minor Left 0.34, Labor 0.33
Based on this estimate, a minor right party should get a Senator up if the preferences flow between these parties. We should note this what occurred with the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party which was the party of the last candidate eliminated in the 2010 Queensland Senate count. However in 2013, we would expect the Katter Australian Party to be the lead minor right party. Any surplus minor right vote would flow to the LNP giving the following quota remainders to determine the final senator.
Greens 0.82, LNP 0.51, Minor Left 0.34, Labor 0.33
The next phase of the count will depend how tightly the minor left parties preference each other, if the lead minor left candidate can stay in front of Labor until the second Labor candidate is excluded then they will reap Labor’s preferences and leapfrog the LNP. The LNP preferences will flow to the minor left candidate electing them over the Greens.
If the lead minor left candidate is overtaken by Labor, their preferences can elect the Green to the last Senate seat. However if some minor left parties preference Labor over the Greens, it is possible that some of the minor left party vote will be locked with the Labor candidate until the end of the count. If this is the case, Labor can leapfrog the LNP and ride their preferences to win over the Greens.
We really are playing 3-dimensional chess here, but no matter what Labor does with its preferences, the sixth Senator will be either, Labor, Greens or a minor left party. Greens preferences will also not matter as they will have the lead candidate for the last senate seat, and thus their preferences will not be distributed.
Queensland Estimate (all circumstances): LNP 3, Labor 1-2, Minor Right 1, Greens 0-1, Minor Left 0-1.
The seats that fall straight from the quotas are Liberals 3, Labor 2, leaving 1 seat to be decided by preferences. We note we are assuming the WA Nationals will have their own separate Senate ticket and we shall treat them as a right wing minor party. If we split the others between right and left 75/25, we get the following simplified quota remainders.
Greens 0.77, Minor Right 0.70, Minor Left 0.23.Liberals 0.22, Labor 0.07,
This gives us straight race for the final spot between the Greens and a minor right wing party, in all likelihood the WA Nationals. Left minor party preferences can elect the Greens but they have to flow as a block to get the Greens to a bare quota. If there is any leakage to the minor right lead candidate (WA Nationals), then the final Senate spot it is down to Labor preferences. If Labor preferences the lead right minor party candidate over the Greens, they may be able to get the last spot.
If Labor places the Coalition above the Greens strategy, it is quite possible that hey will put the WA Nationals above the Greens. In this case it is quite possible for WA Nationals to snatch the last Senate seat from the Greens.
WA Estimate (Labor put Greens second): Liberal 3, Labor 2, Greens 1.
WA Estimate (Labor puts Greens last): Liberal 3, Labor 2, Minor Right (0-1), Greens (0-1).
Once again we are assuming that Nick Xenophon will run again as an independent and that he will get 1.03 quotas of the vote on first preferences, as in 2007. The seats that fall straight from the quotas are Liberals 2, Labor 1, Xenophon 1, leaving 2 seats to be decided by preferences. If we split the others between right and left 75/25, we get the following simplified quota remainders.
Labor 0.8, Liberals 0.75, Greens 0.67, Minor Right 0.56, Minor Left 0.19, Xenophon 0.03
Even if the all of the “left” minor party votes and Mr X’s flowed to the Greens, they would still be short of a quota. The count would be as follows:
Greens 0.89, Labor 0.8, Liberals 0.75, Minor Right 0.56,
While the Greens, followed by Labor lead the count at this point, the action is on the right. There are not enough combined minor right votes to overtake the Liberals. These minor right party votes will flow to the Liberals, electing the third Liberal candidate. This Right remainder will then flow to Labor electing its second candidate. The Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young would lose her Senate seat.
Once again as the Greens and Labor are fighting for the last spot, their preferences will not be distributed and there the direction of such preferences will not matter.
SA Estimate (all circumstances): Liberal 3, Labor 2, Xenophon 1.
The seats that fall straight from the quotas are Liberals 2, Labor 2, Greens 1, leaving 1 seat to be decided by preferences. If we split the others between right and left 75/25, we get the following simplified quota remainders.
Liberals 0.66, Minor Right 0.43, Greens 0.38, Labor 0.38, Minor Left 0.14.
The Minor Left vote will flow to the Greens creating the following count:
Liberals 0.66, Greens 0.52, Minor Right 0.43, Labor 0.38.
At this point, it is Labor preferences that decide where we go from here. If Labor preferences the Greens above the Liberals and other minor right wing parties, then the Greens would rise to 0.9 quotas and would require leakage of minor right preferences to win. In this scenario, the Liberals are favourites to win their third senator and the sixth senate spot overall.
However if Labor preferences the Liberals above the Greens then the Labor remainder would elect a third Liberal senator. In either event a third Liberal Senator is likely.
Tasmania Estimate (all circumstances): Liberal 3 Labor 2, Greens 1.
In the ACT both majors get a quota outright and elect one senator each.
ACT Estimate (all circumstances): Liberal 1, Labor 1
In the Northern Territory things get interesting if there is breakdown in the Labor-Green preference exchange. The CLP will easily win one quota, while Labor will fall short of one quota and require preferences to win. This leaves us with the following remainders for the last Senate spot.
Labor 0.81, Greens 0.39, CLP 0.37, Minor Right 0.32, Minor Left 0.11.
The left minor party preferences will flow to the Greens, while the right minor party preferences will flow to the CLP, giving us the following count,
Labor 0.81, CLP 0.69, Greens 0.50.
If the Greens run a split ticket between Labor and CLP in retaliation from Labor referencing the CLP above the Greens, then we get the final outcome of:
Labor 1.115, CLP 0.885
Labor gets the other NT Senate spot on a worst case scenario of the Greens lodging a split group voting ticket, but they are run close for it.
NT Estimate (all circumstances): CLP 1, Labor 1
We set out a recapitulation of the state by state outcome below.
The pivot contest on this projection between the left and right is the last spot in Western Australia. Labor preferences will go a long way to deciding whether the last spot goes to the Greens or the WA Nationals.
If the Greens win the last Senate spot in WA, the Senate will probably be Coalition 35-36, DLP 1-2, KAP 1, Labor 26-27, Greens 10-11, Minor Left (Dems or ASX) 0-1, Xenophon 1. The Coalition could pass legislation in the Senate without any Labor, Greens or Minor Left votes, but they would need to harness every non-left vote to do it.
If the WA Nationals win the last Senate Spot in WA, the Senate will be Coalition 35-36, WA Nationals 1, DLP 1-2, KAP 1, Labor 26-27, Greens 9-10, Minor Left (Dems or ASX) 0-1, Xenophon 1. Presumably given Tony Crook’s current arrangement to sit inside the Federal Coalition the same would apply to an elected WA Nationals Senator. The Coalition could end up having 37 votes on the Senate floor. It would then require any two of the DLP, KAP or Xenophon to pass legislation.
The other doubtful Senate positions are; an intra-left contest in Queensland between the Greens, ALP and a minor left party; and a intra-right contest in Victoria between the Liberals and a minor right party (likely the DLP).
Effect of Labor preferencing the Coalition ahead of the Greens
On a Senate election based on the current polls, Labor preferences will have a limited and vital impact on the make-up of the Senate, specifically in WA. Conversely, Green preferences will not influence Senate contest as the Greens score either just under a quota, which leaves them in the count until the end ensuring their preferences do not matter, or just over a quota, where their remainder is insignificant to effect the final outcome.