Saturday, July 02, 2016

Election Thread

Sadly, while there was a cake stand, there was no sausage sizzle where I voted. I wasn't the only one who noted the absence. There were almost universal complaints!

Mr Shorten managed to find one, but its an usual way of eating! Usually you start from the end!

While I don't intend to live blog the vote, I thought that I would create a post for anybody who wanted to comment as the evening went on.

18:00 The polls have closed. Following the lead from Sue, beef casserole on, red wine opened.

18:20. Pauline Hanson reported to be polling well in Queensland Senate.

18:50 Swing on, but size not yet clear

18:52 Labor looking good in Eden-Monaro.

19:10. Would ABC 24 stop the talking heads and give us some numbers! It's crappy coverage. There are 3 "others" awarded seats but no info

20:02 Coalition returned although a minority Government still an outside possibility. Joyce holds New England. Interest now in individual seats. One Nation polling well in Queensland.

20:17 Barry Cassidy: strong chance of a hung Parliament. Labor doing better than expected in Queensland

20:27 mmmm. Closer than I said at 20:02

21:17 Tony Windsor not conceding. Carried Armidale and Tamworth. Waiting for pre-poll vote.

The Morning After

I fear I ended up going to bed last night while the count was still on. The opinion polls were right in projecting a close election!

At the moment, the most likely outcome is a slim Coalition majority followed by a hung parliament with a Coalition minority government followed by a hung parliament with a Labor minority government. I say this with a degree of caution, for the numbers are bouncing around. Whoever forms Government will face an uncertain Senate.

One of the complicating issues is the large number of pre-poll and postal votes still to be counted. Around 20% of votes remain to be counted. So what can I say that might add value to the commentary?

The ALP has had a very good election. They have done better than anybody really expected. You can see this in the polls where the the voting intentions showed even steven, but the majority expected the Coalition to win. Mr Shorten deserves and will be given credit for his performance.

The National Party has had quite a good election. The Party won one seat from the Liberals and have apparently held off the challenges from the returned New England independents in Cowper (Rob Oakeshott) and New England (Tony Windsor). Rob did better than I expected given his very late start, Tony worse. I know that his failure will disappoint some of my younger friends and colleagues.

You have to remember with Tony that his campaign attracted great interest and support including cash from those outside the electorate. In the end, I think that this finally alienated many locals. I base this view especially on Facebook discussions and other feedback in the last week of the campaign.

Looking at the current booth votes in New England, Tony had an especial problem in the new areas added to the electorate and in some rural areas. However, he also failed to attract the vote he expected in Tamworth and to a lesser degree in Armidale where he did win some of the booths. .

One of the things that interested me was the extent to which the environmental wars especially on the Liverpool Plains might affect the vote. This has been a huge issue, one of the things that drew Tony back into the fray. Measured by social media coverage, this was the dominant election issue.

The electoral redistribution that split the Liverpool Plains between the Parkes and New England electorates probably blunted the focus given the geographic size of the Parkes electorate. Even so, looking at the booth figures I was hard pressed to identify any impact outside the small Breeza booth that the Greens appear to have won.

This was not an especially good election for the Greens, although they did increase their share of the national vote. A lot of the commentators have said that the result has to be seen in the context of the Green's strategy of building up their vote in inner city areas. Maybe. That's been a Green strategy for some time.

I haven't had the time to look at all the individual seat details, but I have the impression that the Greens did not do well outside inner Melbourne. In the inner Sydney seat of Grayndler, for example, a seat that they had hoped to win, the Party is actually in third place behind the Liberals.

The Liberals had a very bad election. The decision to go early with a double dissolution election and a long campaign always involved risks. It's interesting looking back at my own remarks and those of our commenters. This is an example: Monday Forum - Australia's messy politics. We did see the risks of the decision, but I for one underestimated Bill Shorten.

One of the very real difficulties for the Coalition in the campaign lay in the ideological splits within the Liberal Party. The Liberal right contains the type of inherent contradiction that we have seen in the US. We can see this along three dimensions:
  1. There is a neoconservative wing that places weight on markets, a reduced role for Government, less regulation, greater self reliance, greater freedom
  2. This overlaps and sometimes conflicts with a socially conservative wing that places weight on security, preservation and indeed enforcement of conservative values. The conflict arises because the socially conservative wing supports state controls that actually conflict with the underlying premises of neoconservative beliefs.
  3. Then there is a populist statist wing that has much in common with the socially conservative wing but is in fundamental conflict with neoconservatives beliefs.
Reconciliation of these conflicts requires the wisdom of Solomon!

This was a very regionalised election in which conflicts in general perceptions and beliefs overlapped with considerable regional variation in needs and perceptions.

The Nick Xenephon team is central statist in its attitudes, with a powerful bias towards one area, South Australia, and its needs. One Nation is populist right, nationalist, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, drawing support especially from the disadvantaged and disadvantaged areas, those who have failed to benefit from the changes that have taken place in Australia.

Earlier on, I underestimated the extent of the challenge to the Coalition from the populist right, the extent to which the Coalition base was threatened. This drove some of its political responses. I think Tony Abbott would have been more effective in limiting the rise of the populist right, but this would have come at a cost.

The new Senate itself is interesting. I am going to miss Ricky Muir, by the way.

Derryn Hinch and the Xenophon team would seem to me to form something of a natural alliance in the Senate. Jacqui Lambie is more of a wild card. Now I am going to stick my neck out a little. If there is a Coalition Government, I think that the Senate probably won't be a problem in terms of effective government. I think that this holds true for Labor as well. The purists would say that this, the need for compromise, affects government. But that's true in all cases, for government is about compromise.

Concluding, one of the things that has stood out in the post election period is the inward looking nature of the debate, especially in the Liberal Party. The world hasn't ended. It's just entered a new phase!


Anonymous said...

Bill Shorten, however, managed a "democracy sausage", even if his technique of eating it was somewhat unconventional. Anthony Albanese has been exposed as a closet Taylor Swift fan, as well as a dad dancer. Which the kids loved at Annandale Public apparently.

Jim Belshaw said...

Loved the comment, GL. Brought Mr Shorten's sausage eating up. Strong supporter of dad dancing! Can Mr Albanese survive the Green challenge?

Anonymous said...

Who knows. Jim Casey (Greens candidate) was also trying his luck on the DJ deck but it seems that Albo was the king of the kids on this occasion.

Jim Belshaw said...

Good to have on-ground reporting, GL. Does Jim Casey have kids?

Anonymous said...

Had to scratch about a bit, but yes he has children.

Jim Belshaw said...

:) He should be used to Dad dancing!

Sue said...

That is the correct way to eat a Saigon roll folks!

Sue said...

Hi Jim

My stepson has called in.

Watching the ABC...

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Garry. And a sausage role? Hi Sue. So am I!

Anonymous said...

Pleased I went to bed early with a good book.

What a waste. If gross, crass personal political ambition is a vanity, then we have just seen a Bonfire.


Jim Belshaw said...

Good morning, kvd. A bonfire indeed. Just digging through the details now.

Anonymous said...

Mentioned Christian Porter yonks ago as foreman material. If not this time, then keep watching; generational change at some point will be necessary.


Anonymous said...

In Grayndler, unsurprisingly Albo is the clear leader. What is interesting however, is that the young Liberal guy so far on the primary vote is outscoring the Greens candidate. All the Mickey Mouse candidates have so far scored under 1000 votes each. Take that Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow. That some of them got a single vote is a little worrying. GL

Anonymous said...

On the expertise of the expert commentariat, lest we forget:

I think they spend too much time interviewing each other, rather than actually getting out to voterland to get a sense of mood from those people they sneeringly refer to as 'the punters'. All very jolly; not very helpful; certainly not accurate.

NXT is now being written up as a 'kingmaker'. Pretty good for a less than 2% share of the national vote.

And also, anyone got a reference for even one opinion piece which sought to analyse any LNP or Labor policy proposal? Thought not.


Jim Belshaw said...

You have mentioned Christian Porter before, kvd. I know very little about him beyond the bare bio details. That, I suspect, is a feature of modern reporting in combination with presidential . Have brought the linked graphic up in the post.

There actually was quite a lot of policy analysis, more so than in the last election, if often from a very particular viewpoint. I'm not sure how much was on line as compared to the print papers.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Sue. Missed your comment on the correct way to eat a Saigon Roll. I had to look them up. Actually, have them for lunch sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you say the Nats had quite a good election.

If you look at the first prefs on a national basis, the Nats achieved an increase of 0.6% - which translates to 3,289 of 548,268 - as of Sunday night.

However, if you look at the seat of Murray - which you mention as being taken from the Libs - you see a Nats vote of 27,846. In other words, in 'taking back' from the Libs what had traditionally been a Nats seat, their overall national count was increased, and the Libs decreased probably similarly. (I'm assuming here that during the incumbency of Sharman Stone (Lib) in Murray, the 'natural' Nat vote flowed to Stone because of no Nat candidate)

So in summary, as of Sunday, the Nats (re)gained one seat (from the Libs) and suffered a 4-5% drop in first preference nationally, which was masked by the re-entry of the successful Nat candidate in Murray.

Of course, this analysis will change as the vote is finalised - but I don't think the Nats had a particularly great result nationally.


Jim Belshaw said...

A few points, kvd. The National vote is limited to NSW, Victoria and WA. In Queensland with its particular arrangement, the vote goes to the Liberal National Party, in the NT to the Country Liberal Party. In both places, I think, the candidates can choose which Coalition Party to sit with. So in the NT, Scullion sits with the Nationals in the Senate.

In WA, the National were late getting their candidates into the field and ran a pretty lacklustre campaign. One side effect of that is that they did not get a National Senator up as had been expected.

We don't know what the final Queensland break-up will be nor the Senate . In NSW/Victoria, the National Party went into the election with nine Reps seats. Three of those - New England, Cowper and Page - appeared under serious threat. The Party held those and picked up one new seat. In the circumstances, that's not a bad result.

Anonymous said...

B-gger - beat me to it :)

To be fair, I was just about to use my same logic, and add back to the Nats those votes Windsor picked up in your electorate of interest, and also Oakeshott's in Cowper.

So, regardless of your above 'excuses', I now withdraw my comment as to the Nat's overall performance.


- or as you now say, not a bad result :)

Jim Belshaw said...

:) A convergence!

Anonymous said...

On my comment 8.55 a.m. Jul4: "And also, anyone got a reference for even one opinion piece which sought to analyse any LNP or Labor policy proposal?" - to which Jim replied "There actually was quite a lot of policy analysis, more so than in the last election".

Lots of links below, but these relative outsiders seem to be saying in more words what I was simply asking:

Each make reference to a SMH article by Matthew Knott so I won't link it separately - but read it if you have access.


Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you for this, kvd. It was good of you to take the time.

As an opening comment, I interpreted your remark far too narrowly. In the lead up to the last election there was almost no policy debate anywhere. This time, there were some policy differences, while there was also some external policy analysis in parts of the press that went beyond the you must do what I (we) think is self-evidently right to an actual examination of what was involved in particular issues. To my mind, this was something closer to a real election campaign.

The first criticism thread went to the nature of journalism and especially political journalism. Leaving aside those who have ceased to be journalists and have become advocates or just commenters, many political reporters have become the sports reporters of politics. They report on a game in which winning and losing a particular play is the thing to be written about in an entertaining way or indeed become involved in.

It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that they were wrong sided by a result in which the key player, the individual voter in a particular area, was outside their ken or control. In many cases, they were actually commenting not just on the game but the way that the game and play were perceived by people that they did not know and indeed had little knowledge of.

The opinion polls showed two things very clearly. The first was that the aggregate vote was level pegging. The second, that most people expected the Government to be returned. The journalists expected the Government to be returned. In that, they were like the majority in the polls. They did not actually ask what the discrepancy might mean.

If they wanted to be political sports reporters on the way the political game was being perceived in particular areas and by particular people, then they had to leave the campaign trail or at least find a way of accessing alternative views. If they had politically ALP FB friends, for example, across several electorates, they would have picked up a basic fact. Whereas at the previous election Labor was demoralised and struggled to find booth workers, this time the volunteers were there.

On the other side of the spectrum, if they mixed with some on the right and especially those outside the metros, not the politico or the activist, they might well have realised that Hanson had a following. As reporters, the issue is not whether or not that following was "crazy' but what it meant and, more importantly, where it was concentrated. I knew Halal was biting when a friend said to me you might want to get into this - she thought that I would see it as a cause.

Where does policy reporting fit into all this?

Political journalists and especially those reporting on the sport of it all, do not have time to really analyse. In any case, it's not their role. Their role is to ask questions, summarise and report. That may sound as boring as batshit, a topic of profound interest to those interested in bats, so they also need to find an angle to make it as interesting as possible. If they do their job properly others will pick up and extend.

Over a number of years now we have discussed the influence of the one-liner and the photo op for the evening TV news. Interestingly, the latest internet developments will force changes here. In the meantime, can you imagine the impact if a news station ran a story of a polly in high vis with the announcer saying that the PM visited another factory, repeated the same message, but added nothing?

I'm out of time. Over to you.