Monday, February 19, 2018

Poll Roundup: Barnaby 1, "Momentum" 0

2PP Estimate By 2016 Preferences: 53.3 to ALP (same as end of last year)
With historical One Nation adjustment: 52.8 to ALP
Labor would win election "held now"

With six new federal polls released in 2018 so far it's time for another federal Poll Roundup, a series which I issue roughly every second Newspoll.  As noted in a piece I did about second-term Opposition Leaders, the year began with widespread predictions of a painful year for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and many people reading a lasting Coalition recovery into, well, a single Newspoll really.  However it has taken the Coalition just two weeks to hit another speedbump in the form of a multi-faceted scandal involving Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.  The scandal, involving both his relationship with a staffer and various arrangements arising from it, escalated into an exchange of insults between the Prime Minister and his Deputy late last week.

In all this Joyce's behaviour has been that of the ultimate entitled politician, who has even claimed that he himself would never comment on Liberal Party leadership matters when in fact he's been doing so, and frequently, for years. Some of Malcolm Turnbull's comments in response to Joyce's situation have agitated Joyce into retaliating and encouraged Tony Abbott supporters to do their usual thing.  However, the idea that Joyce's lack of moral standards and spectacular political hypocrisy should cause the Liberals to replace their own leader with someone better able to work with such a person is ridiculous.

Polling And Aggregation Changes

There has been a significant change over the break with Essential switching from weekly to fortnightly.  This will mean less frequent polling data and that in some weeks there may not even be any federal polls, but it will also be a lot less work for my aggregate as I will no longer need to be alternately deleting and reinstating successive Essentials to prevent the same datasets from influencing the total twice.  Also following the acquisition of Galaxy by YouGov, the pre-existing YouGov-Fifty Acres poll (which persistently produced extremely strange 2PP results) has yet to reappear, and I would not be too surprised if it has gone.  Some people have been confused about this and have thought the characteristics of the YouGov-Fifty Acres poll would now carry on into Galaxy and Newspoll, but this is not the case - YouGov's ownership of Galaxy has so far had no impact on its polling methods.

There has also been a significant change in polling aggregation land with Bludger Track going over to a hybrid measure of last-election and respondent-allocated preferences.  I won't be doing that here, partly because of an aim to keep the maths of my aggregate simple for easy calculation and checking, and partly because, historically, differences between last-election preferences and respondent preferences often close up as election day approaches.  As a result, readers can expect there to now be a substantial average difference between the two aggregates (currently a point).

What I am doing, because of the evidence that the One Nation preference flow in the few seats they contested in 2016 was unrepresentative, is also publishing an adjustment figure for those who want to measure One Nation preferences at historic levels.  I'll also be using the adjusted figure myself for seat projections.  Another part of the difference between respondent and last-election preferences is that it may be that 2% or so of voters nationwide are favouring Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives.  Said party preferenced the Liberals extremely strongly at the Bennelong by-election.  As Australian Conservatives are a new party, should any useable measure of their national support become available in polling, I may in future carve off part of Others to them and use their flow from the Bennelong by-election as the next best thing going to a "last election" flow.

Voting intentions

The first Newspoll this year came out at 52-48 to Labor, ending a run of 14 consecutive results of 53% or more.  This had been the third longest such run in Newspoll history, after runs of 29 such results under Julia Gillard in 2011-2 and 25 such in the last year of the John Howard era.  One Nation dropped from 7% to 5% with the party seemingly in decline after not living up to the hype in two state elections last year.  However, this week's Newspoll came out at 53-47 with the points lost to One Nation returning to sender (indeed One Nation also gained a further point from Others).  That was the Coalition's 27th consecutive 2PP loss under Turnbull, compared to the famous 30 in a row under Abbott, and the probability of Turnbull jagging a 50-50 in the next three polls would now have to be very low indeed.  The other polls out have been three Essentials (a 53-47 followed by two 54-46s), and also one ReachTEL which was 52-48 by respondent preferences, but I got 54.2 to Labor by 2016 preferences.

So really the evidence for the Coalition's New Year polling momentum that spawned numerous op eds consisted of voting intention movements well within movement of error in a solitary Newspoll and not backed up by any other pollster, plus leadership polling fluctuations that are generally much more volatile.

Moreover, the last four Newspoll 2PPs in a row have all been very generous to the Coalition by last-election preferences, with the readings of 47, 47, 48 and 47 coming from primaries that would normally have given 46.3, 46.3, 47.3 and 46.3 respectively.  While these differences are individually within the range of rounding and state-based preference calculation issues, I do wonder if the calculation may have been changed to adjust for One Nation issues.  For now I've aggregated these as three 46.6s and a 47.6 pending clearer evidence on this.  Another curiosity of this Newspoll, as noticed by @sorceror43 on Twitter, is that it was the 11th in a row where the combined ALP/Green primary vote was 47%.

Overall my aggregate started this year with a mini-blowout when it only had the first Essentials and the ReachTEL in the mix, but it has settled down to a current last-election value of 53.3 to Labor (52.8 with One Nation adjustment), which is where it ended last year.  Here's the smoothed tracking graph:



Since its initial blowout phase, which ended in early 2017, the aggregate basically hasn't done anything sustained in either direction.  If it isn't a random walk, it may as well be.  Absent of something causing either a sustained or a quick and major shift in one direction, the blue line will simply random-walk to a defeat, probably on a similar moderate scale to the 1983 and 2007 losses.

It may well surprise people that this week's Newspoll wasn't worse after all that has happened with Joyce.  However Joyce is a National, and Nationals as such only make up about 3-4 points of the Coalition's primary vote polling.  One would expect Joyce's behaviour to rub off on his own party, but it won't necessarily rub off on the Liberals and the Queensland LNP.

Leaderships

The leadership figure of most interest this fortnight involves Barnaby Joyce, with 65% wanting him to resign from the leadership, with 23% wanting him to stay and the other 12% uncommitted.  Among Coalition supporters, 58% want him to go and 35% want him to stay (it was initially misreported that only 33% wanted him to go).  In total 21% want Joyce to quit parliament immediately,  15% want him to quit as leader and retire at the end of his term, and 29% want him to quit as leader but continue as a backbencher.  There are many more damning findings.

A ReachTEL of the seat of New England had Barnaby Joyce's primary vote crashing to 43% in a hypothetical contest including former MP Tony Windsor (26.1%), which came out to 52-48 to Joyce by respondent preferences.  However Joyce's vote would be more like 45% once undecided voters were redistributed, and that's only a 7% swing against his 2016 election result, most of which has probably gone to One Nation (who didn't contest the seat).  Bearing in mind also that polls had New England as a close contest in 2016 when it eventually wasn't, I think not that much can be read into this result yet.  The poll also featured a stunning demonstration of the extreme uselessness of polls that ask an elector whether something makes them "more likely" to vote a certain way, with 25.4% lying that Barnaby Joyce's affair had made them more likely to vote for him.  It is really time outlets stopped bothering with a form of polling that just encourages partisan responses.

In defence of Joyce various myths are circulating about him having saved the Coalition's bacon or at least its majority at the last election.  In fact, while the Nationals gained a seat at the 2016 election, that was at the expense of the Liberals.  While the Nationals did avoid losing any seats, only two of their MPs were on margins below 6%, compared to 25 other Coalition MPs.  One of the Nationals on below 6% was an LNP MP caucusing as a National (public awareness of which LNP members are Liberals or Nationals is not that strong).  Most of the Nationals-as-such occupy safe rural seats where the only threats are sporadic independent uprisings.  This is less the case for LNP Nationals, but some of those including George Christensen and Ken O'Dowd copped quite nasty swings against them and their seats are now very marginal.

In Newspoll, PM Malcolm Turnbull is at a net rating of -20 (34-54) this week (down from an unusually high -13 last fortnight) while Bill Shorten again had exactly the same figures as Turnbull.  These were initially (and at the time of writing still are) graphed by the Australian at -18.  As noted in the opposition leaders piece, Shorten has now been in negative double digits continuously since March 2015, a record for any Opposition Leader or PM.  Meanwhile, Turnbull's lead as "better Prime Minister" is back down to seven points (40-33) having climbed to 14 points in the previous poll.  While that should have pulled the rug out from under the "momentum" and "Shorten pain" narratives, it is still worthwhile pointing out that Shorten has never led Turnbull as better PM, although Shorten led Abbott slightly more than half of the time.

I thought I would have a look at some multiple regressions for Turnbull's lead as better PM over Shorten, compared to Abbott's.  In both cases, virtually all variation (93-95%) is explained by a combination of the 2PP polling, the PM's netsat and the Opposition leader's netsat (in that order).

For Abbott the equation was:

Abbott better PM lead = 58.4+0.49*Abbott netsat - 0.96*Labor 2PP - 0.18* Shorten netsat

For Turnbull:

Turnbull better PM lead = 73.5+0.45*Turnbull netsat - 1.13*Labor 2PP - 0.36*Shorten netsat

On this basis, even taking into account differences in ratings for the individual leaders and shifts in two-party preferred polling, Turnbull's better PM ratings vs Shorten have still been much better than Abbott's.  Had Abbott still been PM, Shorten would probably have led him as "better PM" on every Newspoll since the last election.  (Some of this could be seen as a smoke signal that the post-election 2PPs are wrong, but in fact this Turnbull effect was stronger before the 2016 election than after it.)

Essential last week gave Malcolm Turnbull a net rating of -3 and Bill Shorten a net rating of -13, with Turnbull leading Shorten as better PM by 15 points.

Bonkban and other polling

The other Newspoll question of note concerns Malcolm Turnbull's "bonkban" against Ministers having "sexual relations" (whatever that is) with their own staff.  The Newspoll question goes further and asks:

"In the United States politicians are banned from having sexual relations with any employee that works under their supervision.  Would you be in favour or opposed to a similar law being introduced in Australia?"

This question then finds a 64-25 support rate for a measure that is much stronger than the "bonkban" in two regards - firstly it applies to all politicians, not just Ministers, and secondly it would carry the force of law, not just the force of dismissal from Cabinet.  However, I don't like the question design as the information that such a ban exists elsewhere is an argument in favour of supporting it here.  It would be better to ask:

Would you be in favour of or opposed to a law banning politicians from having sexual relations with any employee that works under their supervision?

On some other matters, Essential finds voters thinking the Adani coal mine will both create jobs and take away jobs.  It also finds substantial improvement for Labor on some party trust indicators, including "political leadership" (which is interesting in light of Shorten's poor scores on this front.)  Comments are welcome on any other issue polling out there that anyone has found of interest; I need to get back to finishing an overdue piece on the mess that is the SA state election!


Monday, February 12, 2018

Tasmania 2018: More Internal Polling Games

The 2018 Tasmanian state election (see my guide) is three weeks away, but still we have had no neutral public polling in the state for over two months.  In contrast, by this stage in 2014 we had had a recent public EMRS, a recent public ReachTEL, and also a Liberal-commissioned ReachTEL of which detailed results were released.  All we've had this year is a dribble of internal polling snippets and one commissioned seat sample by the Australia Institute.

This makes it rather hard to tell what's going on.  The Hodgman Liberal Government, which appeared to be asleep or in a holding pattern for most of 2017, has been quick out of the blocks with a large number of policy announcements covering most (perhaps even almost all) of the many issues in play at this election.  Insiders claim what they're doing (especially claiming there could be a return to a Labor-Green government) is working.  Could it be a repeat of 2006, when a seemingly ailing government that was widely considered doomed to lose its majority in fact surged through the campaign and ended up winning very easily?  While there are some differences between 2006 and 2018 in polling terms (especially the severe volatility of the late 2005 polls) majority government is a major issue for some voters, and a party that can establish that only it can win in majority has an important advantage.

In the absence of a public poll, we are seeing a high level of reporting of party internal polls in the media.  In general, parties only release internal polling to the extent it suits their purposes, but whether it suits a party to say it is winning easily, winning narrowly, trailing narrowly or losing hopelessly all depends on the scenario.

Before I go any further, a comment about the language journalists use in reporting internal polls parties have given them.  It is common to see party polling described as "leaked".  But a poll isn't leaked if someone on the inside has given it to a reporter with the tacit approval of the party's campaign team or leadership, and if indeed the option of feeding it to the media was part of the plan all along.  Both parties in Tasmania have a long history of releasing internal polling whenever it suits them, and this is several times commoner than unwanted releases of party polling information.  Leaks are the stuff the commissioners of sensitive information don't want the public to know.

In this election, the internal-polling strategy is pretty simple.  Each party wants to release results that "show" that it, and better still only it, can win majority government.   What's been interesting is that so far we have seen just the Liberals supplying quite a lot of detailed data that supposedly shows them either capable of winning a majority or actually set to do so.

We have not seen any such figures from Labor, though they have said (paywalled) their polling shows Rebecca White ahead as Preferred Premier (44.2% to 42.8%), and have also made various claims (not linked to any specific figures) about "strong dissatisfaction with the record of the Hodgman Government".  State secretary Stuart Benson has also claimed that "Labor is very competitive and Labor's response to the health crisis is resonating in the community. Labor can win majority government."

I suspect Labor don't have numbers showing a serious primary vote lead over the government.  Even if Labor has numbers pointing to a clearly hung parliament if the election were held right now, to release such numbers would just invite the Liberals to say that "even Labor's own internal polling says they cannot win a majority".  So it's really just the Liberals' polling we are getting lots of detail from at this stage.

 The other, less likely, possibility is that Labor might be putting data out there but having trouble getting reporters to pick up on it.  I list that one only for completeness.  Print media love free data, however dubious.

MediaReach: An Unknown Player With Some Very Long Polls

As mentioned in my previous article, MediaReach, which the Liberals have been using for regular polling since mid-January, is a pollster of unknown quality in the Tasmanian context.  Poll quality is not just about the questions the poll asks, the length of its interviews and so on, but also about the secret herbs and spices - how well the pollster samples an electorate, and how well they adjust for the fact that response rates to phone polling these days are so low that any raw sample won't be representative.

The length and content of the MediaReach polls has varied slightly, but some of them have been very long indeed.  One sent to me by a reader on 30 January had 22 questions.  After three introductory questions it then moves into:

* Voting intention (Labor/Liberal/Green/One Nation/"Jacqui Lambie's Network"/"some other party"/undecided)

* Likelihood of changing vote

* Whether the voter's (i) local area and (ii) state are moving into the right direction or the wrong direction

* Whether the voter firstly likes the leaders as people and secondly thinks they are good at their job.  The canvassed leaders are Will Hodgman, Rebecca White and Jacqui Lambie.

* Preferred Premier Hodgman vs White

* Whether the Liberal Government is doing a good job of running the state

* The importance (or not) of majority government for Tasmania's future

* Who will win the election (Hodgman Liberal majority/White Labor majority/"some form of minority government")

* Poker machines

* Most important issues for voter and their family from a set list:
- health and hospital funding
- cost of living pressures
- protecting our local identity
- fixing water and sewerage services
- major roads in all regions
- encouraging businesses to grow and employ more people
- tackling illicit drugs
- upgrading infrastructure, services and amenities
- some other issue/undecided

* Most important issues for the state (ditto)
- strong economy and jobs
- stable majority government
- investing in health services
- investing in education services
- funding major infrastructure projects
- keeping Tasmanians safe
- some other issue/undecided

* Regardless of the voter's voting intention and expected result does the Hodgman Government deserves re-election

* Regardless of [everything under the sun] which party is the voter normally closest to?

My source took six minutes and ten seconds to get through all of this, though I've seen comments from one industry professional that anything over two minutes is risky in poll design.  (On the other hand, polls with dozens of questions seem quite common in the US.) The poll also promised "one final question about the state" with eight questions to go, then "almost done" with six left, suggesting some questions may have been added on to the end.

Another oddity is that at the end of the poll it refers to a privacy policy available at MediaReach's website, but I can't actually find any website for MediaReach.  There's "Reach Media" but it doesn't seem to be the same thing.

Some people have tried to call these MediaReach polls push-polling, but they are quite simply not even close to it.  The poll is clearly a case of a party asking genuine questions because it wants to know and track the answers.  The question designs generally aren't skewed and don't seek to train the respondent into responding a certain way (and in most cases aren't capable of doing so), though there's one possible exception which I discuss further below.  The questions don't even engage in any dodgy "message-testing" in which the voter is asked if some questionable statement makes them more likely to vote one way or the other.  Neither of these things would make a poll push-polling anyway (as discussed last election and so many times before.)

The results

While the question designs of these MediaReach efforts appear to have been OK apart from the length issue, the shortage of past benchmarking for this pollster in Australia (let alone Tasmania) means we can have no idea how accurate it is.  It could be correct, it could all be a total load of rubbish.

The most recent reports in the Mercury say the Government polled a 46-29 primary vote lead over Labor on Monday last week and a 47-31 lead on Thursday, with the Greens on 12% and the Lambie Network on 5% across the two nights.  It's a little hard to credit Labor would only have gained 2.7 points from the 2014 election disaster, especially given the drag effect of the none-too-popular Turnbull federal government, so I wonder if this is yet another poll that has the Labor vote too low (an issue for most pollsters who have polled within the state in the last decade).

If the Government beats Labor by 16 points on primaries it will retain its majority easily.  The Liberals failed to win a majority with a 12.2 point lead in 1989 but that was with a rather high Green vote.  Labor won a majority in 1998 with a primary vote lead of just 6.7 points.

Given that the Government has three incumbents to Labor's none in Franklin, it would have some chance on these numbers (if accurate) of retaining its 14th seat in Franklin, but it is very hard to credit that it could win 15 seats on such numbers.  David Beniuk's report says "The party also expects to hang on to three members in Lyons, with Labor to win one, and the fifth to be fought out by the major parties, with high-profile JLN candidate Michael Kent an outside chance."  Four Liberals in Lyons, Rebecca White's home seat and which the Liberals lost in last year's federal election?

(There's a long-term problem with Tasmanian seat samples of a few hundred voters per seat producing nonsense results.  In theory the margin of error for a 50% result and a sample of 300 is 5.7%, which is enough to make nonsense of a lot of Hare-Clark projections by itself, but polls are not true random samples anyway, and more importantly when you do several seat samples at a time there's an increased chance that one of them will be outside the margin of error by chance.)

Last week the Liberals also sought to counter the Rebecca White phenomenon by claiming Will Hodgman had a 57-27 lead as Preferred Premier over White in Braddon.   It is possible that the structure of the MediaReach polls - which asks voters to distinguish between whether they like a leader as a person and whether they are good at their job before asking them which leader they prefer - is producing some skew to Hodgman compared to if voters were just asked straight out who their preferred premier was.  It's also the case that Braddon is the electorate in which one would expect Hodgman to do best.  The Liberals also referred to a 48-40 verdict against Labor's anti-pokies policy, which given that it's Braddon isn't that crash hot for them, but the most important thing with this policy is not what voters think of it generally, but whether it works the same way as forestry in driving the votes of a sector of crucial and swinging voters.  On that, we have no evidence.

Hopefully we will soon get some public polling from a pollster with a public track record so we can get a more reliable idea of how the parties might be travelling!  It's getting tempting to commission some myself!

Update - 13 Feb

Today the Liberals released further figures from their internal polling - a five-sample aggregate since late January that has them on 44.2, Labor 29.9, Green 13.6, JLN 5.8, One Nation 2.1 (not confirmed as running candidates), other 4.4.  On those numbers if accurate the Liberals would be likely to win 13 seats.  The same cautions apply as for the rest of their polling.  Incidentally I believe the start date of the tracking is Jan 30 not Jan 20.

Update - 14 Feb

More of this in The Australian with the Liberals claiming their polling shows the Lambie Network is tanking (paywalled).  The Liberals claim their tracking has JLN down from 15.5% to 6.1% in Braddon, 11.7% to 6.1% in Bass and 12.4% to 5.7% in Lyons.  The Lambie Network's Glynn Williams has objected to the polling "relying on landline calls".  While major pollsters no longer risk landline-only polling, it is not necessarily severely distorting since scaling can be used to get around issues with it to a degree.  Thus the old Newspoll recorded an outstanding result at the 2013 federal election using only landline polling.

Assuming these are the five polls used in the aggregate, it seems the poll includes JLN in the readout for Denison and Franklin (where they are not running) but that the party only averages about 2% in those seats.

Update - 15 Feb

More of this in the Mercury today with Labor claiming White has a 46-41 lead as preferred Premier in their internals but again not releasing voting intention figures.  Meanwhile the Liberals have also released results showing 72% of respondents believe majority government to be important.

Two things might be hypothesised here: Labor aren't releasing their voting intention figures because they are ugly, and the Liberals are continuing to release vast amounts of detail because if they give the media free polling data the media will be discouraged from spending money on its own polls.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Is It Hard For Opposition Leaders To Win At Their Second Election?

Especially after a benign opening offering from Newspoll, there's been a lot of speculation that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is set for a nasty year.  Shorten's net personal Newspoll ratings have been in the negative double digits for almost three years now - that's longer than any other Opposition Leader or PM in Newspoll history. While Labor's two-party-preferred polling has remained strong, a lot of left-wing voters see Shorten as too safe and uninspiring, while right-wing voters distrust his union background.

Also, in pundit circles there is a lot of focus on Better Prime Minister scores, which Paul Kelly has called all-important in the Australian's usual ignorance of the historic evidence otherwise. There Shorten's failure to close the gap as much as Labor's 2PP leads suggest he should remains a focus of discussion.  And it's not just wishfully thinking right-wing commentators saying Bill Shorten has problems. One betting market is saying it too, with Shorten $1.80 to be challenged for the Labor leadership before the next election (the "Rudd rules" notwithstanding), to $1.90 not.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Tasmanian Senate Seats Filled At Last

On Friday, Tasmania returned to its normal complement of Senators, having been down two since Stephen Parry and Jacqui Lambie resigned because of citizenship issues in November 2017.  It's been a long strange trip which started with the possibility that Parry's special count might unelect Nick McKim.  That was cancelled out when Lambie was also removed, only for two new issues to arise.  The first concerned whether Lambie's #2 and #3 candidates, Steve Martin and Rob Waterman, were even eligible, and it turns out Martin is and wants the seat.  The second, which is still to be resolved, is what happens with the Tasmanian term lengths, and I'll discuss this a little more below.

Lambie Network "Expels" Martin

A dramatic, if widely expected, event this week was that Jacqui Lambie announced that Steve Martin was being expelled from the party.  To be precise she announced that "the management committee of the Jacqui Lambie Network has moved to expel you from the party".  That has been universally taken that Martin has been expelled from the party, although it is capable of being interpreted as just saying that expulsion proceedings have been commenced.  This is no great surprise after Lambie told Martin to give up the seat, and also threatened to expel Martin if he re-employed Rob Messenger (which Martin says he is not doing anyway).  

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Batman: A Unique Federal By-Election

Batman (Vic): ALP vs Green 1.0%
Ged Kearney (ALP) vs Alex Bhathal (Green)
Incumbent David Feeney (ALP) resigned over eligibility issues
Outlook: Greens favoured if Liberals do not contest

A by-election will be held for the Victorian seat of Batman in the near future after David Feeney became the first confirmed Labor casualty of the Section 44 citizenship fiasco.  Feeney threw in the towel when he was unable to find any positive evidence that he had renounced his UK citizenship circa 2007. Some Labor insiders believe the seat is now unsaveable while some are more upbeat that they may just hold it.

This could be the last time we'll be referring to the seat by the name "Batman".  There's a significant campaign to rename it after Simon Wonga, but that won't be decided until the redistribution process concludes later this year.

The heavy lifting by way of preview has already been done at Tally Room and Poll Bludger with their excellent by-election guides.  The seat's dramatically split voting pattern was laid out by Michael McCarthy in his pieces (here's the latest) on the "hipster-proof fence" (aka Tofu Curtain, Great Wall of Quinoa, Corduroy Line) around Bell Street, which divides the Green-friendlier and Labor-friendlier sides of the electorate.  Also of interest may be Kosmos Samaras' analysis of why Labor is getting trashed by the Greens in inner-city seats like the state seat of Northcote (the southern half of Batman) and what they can try to do about it.  A convenient step-up in attacks on the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland probably isn't it (at least, not by itself).

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Best Prime Minister Of The Last 45 Years: Grand Final!

Image result for gough whitlam     VS  File:Paul Keating 1985.jpg
(image source, licence)                                (image source, licence) 


Round 5: Whitlam and Keating tie, Gillard eliminated
Disputed Returns adjusts Gillard total following stacking (result not affected)

The last round is upon us.  These two dashing gentlemen (actually both pictured several years before they became Prime Minister) are the final contestants for this site's multi-stage Best Prime Minister of the last 45 years.  Hmmm, I think there might be a lot of Tasmanians voting in the final round somehow.  These two are the last left standing after they tied for first (following four previous outright Whitlam wins) at the end of a cracking round which had the following raw final totals:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tasmania 2018: What Happens If No Party Wins A Majority?

UPDATE 28 Jan: Parts of this article relating to Labor are now out of date with ABC TV News tonight clearly showing Labor leader Rebecca White saying that Labor will not govern in minority.   See update at bottom of article.

UPDATE 31 Jan: And I missed it at the time but Will Hodgman also on the first day of the campaign said "We will govern in majority or not at all [..]"
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Advance Summary 

1. Despite widespread reports to the contrary, neither major party appears to have given an explicit commitment that they will not govern in minority should no party win a majority at this year's Tasmanian state election.

2.  The leaders have only given various, often ambiguous, commitments that they will only govern "alone" or that they will not govern via deals with, or with the support of, minor parties.

3. A widespread belief that if there is no agreement between parties the Liberals would be forced to keep governing appears to follow instead from a direction from Governor Underwood to Premier Bartlett to form a government in 2010.

4. In theory, a government in such a position could instead resign, but this seems unlikely in practice.

5. In the absence of at least a tacit arrangement between parties, the most likely outcome of a hung parliament would be the Liberal Party continuing in minority unless/until the government was defeated on the floor of the House.

6. For this reason, a parliament without any party holding a majority might (if all parties stuck to their pre-election commitments but no party gave any new ones) be unusually unstable.