Projections for an Australian Double Dissolution

There has been much speculation around town for quite some time now that Rudd may call a Double Dissolution, either using the ETS or IR legislation as a trigger. Whilst I personally find such a thing highly unlikely, I was rather surprised that Australia’s online psephology community has not really made any attempts into projecting a post double dissolution Senate composition. While such predictions this far out are always fraught with a large amount of danger – after all, how can you account for preference flows which may see someone get a fraction of a quota and still be elected – I thought it would be fun to do anyway. Please note this is my first attempt at something like this, so there may be errors in calculation as well as projection, and maths was never my strong suit.  Plus my excel skills are rather weak. Sorry.

I also note that a half-senate election can’t constitutionally be called at this point anyway, making this whole exercise even more moot.

A double dissolution is be fraught with dangers for a government, as the quote for minor parties to be elected is significantly lower. So. What can we expect?

This is our current Senate:


Now. The fun begins when we try to project what will happen at the next election – Double Dissolution or not.

I shan’t go into the algorithms I used here, however shall make a few brief notes on each state. If anyone is interested in more details as to the particular results, I’ll be more than happy to discuss. Please note I am working on the basis of current opinion polling, modified under the assumption that the gap between opposition and government narrows slightly throughout the election campaign (as such, I do not expect the ALP to get something like 51% of the primary vote!). Plus, I think an early DD would annoy some people resulting in a slight anti-Labor backlash.

New South Wales:

Half-Senate election will see the increase in ALP vote insufficient for them to capture a 4th spot, with preferences ensuring the 6th spot goes to the Greens. 3-2-1. In the event of a double dissolution, there is a possibility a strong combined ‘Christian’ vote (ie CDP with Family First preferences) will see them gain an extra spot, as well as one going to the greens (obviously). Assuming this is at the expense of a Coalition senator, 6-4-1-1.

Queensland: With minor parties rather weak, I doubt that any half election will result in anything other than 3-3. however, with a half election, both the Greens (who received half a quota in the senate election – enough for a full quota in a full election) and One Nation (provided Pauline herself runs and combining the one nation/Pauline vote with shooters/fishers preferences) should be enough to get one each. 5-5-1-1

Victoria: Realistically the Greens should have received one at the last election, if not for the way preferences were structured. Will revert to 3-2-1 in half election. In a full election, I doubt Family First will be able to secure the great deal it did in 2004, similarly I doubt that the DLP will be able to mount a successful comeback. Liberal vote will also be relatively weaker in Victoria than in other states based on current trends. Last spot will come down to the wire between Liberals and the Greens, but I think that Family First and DLP preferences will just, just put Liberals over the line (note: I initially had the last spot going to greens, but tweaking my algorithm changed it around – but only barely).

South Australia: Despite (I’m told) not running a No Pokies ticket in SA when in the senate when he was not up for re-election, my gut feeling is Xenophon will run a ticket. Although his galactic-sized ego might make him want to be the only person on his team, I think he will recognize the stronger position he would be in if he had others will him. On the assumption therefore he will field a team, Xenophon’s vote will go up but not enough for him to win a second spot in a half election. 3-2-1. In a full senate election though, he’ll easily pick up two spots, and the Greens one. 5-4-1-2

Western Australia: While the Federal Liberal polls in WA have nosedived recently, I think with the current economic climate in WA the Greens will just, just fall short of a spot, and 3-3 is still the most likely outcome at a half-senate election. The possibility of a Green pickup however remains very very strong. Having said that,  at a Double Dissolution, the Greens will easily pick one up at the expense of the Libs. 6-5-1

Tasmania: I doubt we’ll see anything out of the ordinary in Tasmania. 3-2-1 in half election, 5-5-2 in full.

ACT and NT: No change. Each will elect one from each party. Greens won’t pick up Gary Humphrey’s spot, despite their dreams.

So. What will this give us.

If Rudd chooses to call an early election, with only half the Senate going to the polls, the result shall be:


Whereas if a Double dissolution was called, the result would be:


Significant wins for minor parties, primarily at the expense of the Coalition. Not as bad for Labor as I thought going into this, I have to say. It would, however, give Labor a significant advantage in the Senate over the current situation. As such, although it wouldn’t give them as strong a result as a half-senate election if they waited, they may not want to take the risk as it is an improvement over the current situation.

So. Start ripping this to shreds 🙂

UPDATE: Ben Raue has proposed an alternative analysis here. Check it out.


22 Responses to “Projections for an Australian Double Dissolution”

  1. Justin Says:

    If there’s a DD we need to push that a senate vote for Labor is a vote for Internet Censorship

  2. Tim Says:

    Would be funny as hell if they decided to make that the trigger! LOL

  3. Justin Says:

    Rudd’s not that stupid. Alcopops tax would be pretty lul as well though

  4. Murray Says:

    I think that you have got WA wrong. The Nationals will run on a seperate ticket to the Libs and thanks to Brendan Grylls team in the State, they should pick up one possibly two seats.

  5. Tim Says:

    The nationals ran as a separate ticket last time around. They only received 1.44% of the primary senate vote (17,365 votes).
    I couldn’t see any reason this will change much – not knowing the WA situation at all though – so if you can elaborate would be much appreciated!

    Having said that, one thing I didn’t factor in would be what would occur if they preferences the greens, which would push the greens above the libs for the last spot in a half election quite possibly.

  6. Natalie Says:

    Tim, I do not agree with your projections about Nick Xenophon. I do not think he would run a ticket and even if he did, I would say the following:

    1) Outspoken independents are usually able to secure a spot for themselves, but rarely are they able to get a second spot. Steve Fielding (although from a minor party) is an example of that. Family First was a one time phenomenon. Even Fielding will barely get in again, and will only do so because of his profile. Once again, the same could be said of Xenophon. He would be able to secure his spot because of his profile only. Although that claim is tenuous at that.

    2) You fail to take into account the psychology of the voter. It is no secret that a majority of Australians are apathetic. Moreover, the voter is more bothered with voting for minor parties at actual scheduled elections when there is sufficient coverage of their policies, profiles etc. and they are made to vote by compulsion.

    However they will resent the fact that they must vote again at a half senate election and are less bothered with politics at that time. Hence, they tend to vote for who/what they know, with the most common parties taking the lion’s share of the vote. In this case that would be Liberal, Labor and the Greens. Note that there is also a higher propensity for them to cast a donkey vote due to their apathy and resent.

    3) Xenophon is not as secure as you think. Even though he did nearly achieve 2 full quotum, the people of SA are largely dissatisfied with Xenophon’s decision to initially delay the passing of the stimulus package by voting against it. This is particularly so in SA where there is a higher aboriginal population and a higher rate of people on welfare payments. They are also feeling the effects of the recession than other states as they do not have the same resources/services that attract business and boost their economy. As a result, they see Rudd’s package as granting them some sort of financial relief, not as irresponsible fiscal spending. Because of all of these factors, Xenophon’s position is not water-tight.

    Finally, I think that if there is a backlash, it will be against the Liberal Party than the Labor Party. Rudd is a master of spin and will essentially convince voters that they had no choice but to call another election due to the Liberal Party’s supposed unwillingness to negotiate with the government. They will also remind voters of Whitlam. While older generations remember Whitlam, younger generations idolise him which is problematic. They will see Turnbull as another Fraser and try to prevent him from wresting power from Labor.

  7. Jake the Muss Says:

    Natalie what do you base your SA comments on?

  8. Natalie Says:

    Unemployment, while listed by the 2006 census as at the aus national average of 5.2 % at the time, if you look at the rate of unemployed people by geography, they fall above 6% outside of Adelaide, and indeed a majority of the state. They would be receiving welfare assistance. The same goes for the aboriginal population, while the SA average is listed as 1.6%, under the national average, the population of indigenous people exceeds 7%, with some areas being 10% in a majority of locations outside Adelaide.

    These people are not concerned with the economics of the package, they just want the money!

  9. JaketheMuss Says:

    Yeah what I was getting at was whether you were basing this on some sort of source like a poll or even news articles, or simply what you think SA thinks.

    I take it that it’s the latter.

  10. Pete Says:


    I think you have got the essence right, in that in either situation the coalition will lose out, and the greens plus labor will make the independents rather redundant. Whatever I and others will argue over the minor details in whatever states, the end result shall be the same.

    While on paper a dd and 12 seats up for grabs should mean the minor parties will benefit greatly, I don’t have the confidence that will exactly be the case. As with a half election, the last one-two seats will be decided by preferances regardless of whether there is 10 or 4 decided before that. The increase to 12 only helps those who can get close of to a quota when there is 12 – i.e. the greens and the x-factor. I don’t think even with a dd that the CDP (or anyone outside the ALP, coalition or greens) in NSW can win one, and same with One Nation in Queensland. The CDP quota in NSW was just 0.138 and the ONP quota in QLD was just 0.012. (As seen here)

    I am therefore predicting 3-3 or 6-5-1 in both NSW and QLD. Other than this, I think it is fairly correct. Being an Engineering graduate, I am very impressed with your mathematical skills, and enjoyed your article greatly!

    Finally Natalie, i believe Xenephon would definitely have two spots with his quota in the case of a DD. With 14.85% of the primary at the 2007 election, the party would be a shoo-in with those figures

  11. Robert Candelori Says:

    Menzies was clever enough to exploit the weaknesses of his opposition by calling snap elections. It is a wonder why Howard never did so.

  12. James Says:

    Tim, have you factored in the fact that there is often a significant number of people who vote against the incumbent party in the first election following a change of government (as well as the early election backlash)? Or have you balanced that out with people voting to keep Labor because of the economic times?

    Personally, I think you actually underestimate the coalition vote, notwithstanding the opinion polls – whether that translates into a change of seats is another matter though…

    But I will disagree on the CDP and One Nation. I doubt they’d get enough support for a Senate seat even with a double dissolution. In QLD the One Nation vote would more likely to go to LNP preferences and get the extra coalition seat across the line. In NSW the same perhaps…

  13. Natalie Says:

    Jake, I understand your reasoning for thinking that, however it is well known that SA has had deep economic troubles. Granted, a lot of what I said was opinion based (this is a blog) but census data does substantiate a lot of it. Also, the comments I make as an outsider of the party, looking in, not as somebody involved with the party. What I suggest is the general sentiment in the air, propagated by the media. It is also based on past election history where minor parties have whirlwind runs for their first election but then are voted out at the next election. I am not saying that Xenophon is going to lose his spot, but I think it would be a stretch for him to gain 2 spots for the reasons I proposed in the first comment I made. I would be happy to find more research to back up these claims.

    Pete, in 2007, in my opinion voters had a different outlook on politics and were in different economic circumstances.They tended to be more optimistic about their prosperity and thought that it would not hurt to change leadership, just to give somebody else another go in government. That, in combination with Howard’s centralist industrial relations platform, led to the Liberal Party’s downfall, a party that was seen as stagnant.

    In times of financial need such as now, people unfortunately look to the incumbent for a vision to assist them in dealing with their individual monetary situations. These people usually give the incumbent a grace period (an extra election cycle in power) and when they do not see their economic prospects improving and an increasing centralisation of power, they cast their votes in favour of the opposition. These have been the experiences of previous recessions, and during wartime.

    The fact that we are heading for a recession (some would argue that we are already in one), means that people are more conservative in how they vote, tending to opt for a major party that can utilise their previous experience in government to offer financial security, and a resultant feeling of closure.

    The rise of a minor party or an independent is usually based on opposition to a particular pressing issue, or due to a general dissatisfaction with the major parties, and these votes are directed towards such parties as a means of protest against these factors. During recessions, however, I believe that there will be more people voting for major parties as a trigger reaction to the effects of the financial crisis.

  14. Ben Raue Says:

    I don’t think by the time an election comes around people are going to be blaming Xenophon for delaying the economic stimulus for 12 hours. After all, he was successful. Everyone’s gonna get their money, and once they do their not gonna worry about the inside baseball of what went on last week.

    On the contrary, he’s demonstrated that he’s very effective at getting what he wants for South Australia, but I agree that even if he ran a ticket when he isn’t up for election the ticket would not poll anywhere near as well as it would with Xenophon topping it.

  15. Natalie Says:

    Ben,you make a fair point about the time frame the stimulus package was delayed. And I also agree with you on your second point. Although might I make the suggestion that the Democrats were also seen in a similar light to Xenophon as an effective party delivering results and keeping the bastards honest,so to speak? I believe that by the time Xenophon is up for re-election he will have the same fate as the Dems and be seen as irrelevant. But once again, agree that without him heading up a ticket, they would not get a second spot. Besides, what sort of preference deal could he really get? Thats not a criticism, by the way, that’s a question for you all. What sort of preference deals do you envisage being made?

  16. Tim Says:

    1)Pete – thanks for complimenting my maths – as one of those statistical abberations who didn’t even do it in years 11&12, certainly nice to know I can still occasionally get something right!
    Regarding Queensland, you have missed the fact that Pauline ran on a separate ticket to One Nation, receiving 0.2936 quota in her own right. Adding this to the One Nation Party vote, and assuming some preferences from the Fishing/shooting/christian parties, you easily get quota.
    2)James – Yes I have factored that in. I mean obviously there’s a large amount of guesstimation involved, but i’ve tried to as best as I could. I do think though that much of this protest vote will go to minor parties and not the coalition though. As for whether I I underestimate the coalition vote, perhaps, but my estimates for them are still considerably higher than what they are currently polling!
    3)Robert – mainly because howard never led in the polls I would suspect! lol. Plus was probably warned off it by 83.

  17. Chris K Says:


    Have you assumed that Rudd remains PM?

    In QLD in 2007 he swept up in the house yet actually received less votes in the senate.

    In WA libs polled 3.2 quotas. You are predicting a huge swing against.

    I don’t see any advantage in a DD for labor. It will merely strengthen Mr X and maybe some other random.

  18. Tim Says:

    Re WA, I would simply note that a Westpoll released a few days ago has Labor leading 55-45, after trailing 51-49 in October, and his lead as PPM has gone from 54-35 to 63-22. The result in WA at the 2007 election was about 53-47 in the Coalition’s favour (

  19. Chris K Says:

    Yes but 3.2 as a primary is closer to 60-40 2pp

  20. Tim Says:

    I don’t have my calculations with me at the moment, but just looking at the AEC website now I’d say that 3.2 quota is still only 45% of the vote though. Assuming a swing of 5% against the libs, you’ll get about 2.8 quota. Enough for three seats at a half election, or about 5 and a half quota in a DD. And with the greens guaranteed a senate spot in a DD, and assuming most of the swing away from Liberals goes to Labor, the libs won’t have enough to pick up that final seat.

  21. Jerms Says:

    I’m going to propose an alternative-alternative DD scenario:

    NSW 5 ALP, 5 Lib, 1 Green, 1 CDP
    Q 5 ALP, 5 LNP, 1 Green, 1 Hanson
    VIC, 6 ALP, 4 Lib, 1 Green, 1 FFP
    SA 4 ALP, 4 Lib, 2 Xenophon, 1 Green, 1 FFP
    WA 5 ALP, 5 Lib, 1 Green, 1 CDP
    Tas 5 ALP, 4 Lib, 2 Green, 1 FFP

    30 ALP, 27 Lib/Nat, 7 Green, 3 FFP, 2 Xenophon, 2 CDP, Pauline Hanson

  22. Jerms Says:

    More coming…

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