This post will be progressively updated to follow the late counting in the undecided seat of Fairfax.
Friday 3pm. Absents have now been wrapped up: 298 were disallowed, and the last 105 counted have broken 59-46 to Palmer, increasing his lead from 98 to 111. Still to be processed are 415 pre-polls and 155 postals, of which Ted O’Brien would need nearly 60%. However, the comment from Julian T below suggests that a number of the pre-polls will likewise be disallowed, and have been left out of the count to this point pending a final determination on the matter. If that’s so, Palmer looks to have it wrapped up, pending what might show up on a recount.
Thursday 5pm. The race that’s stopping the nation has today seen the addition only of 201 provisionals, which were the biggest imponderable of the remaining count. It turns out that they have broken very handily to Clive Palmer, 148-53, boosting his lead from three to 98. Still outstanding: about 650 absents and as many pre-polls, and about 150 postals. If they break as such votes have until now, the LNP will only be able to carve about 50 votes out of Palmer’s lead. UPDATE: Julian T in comments observes that a number of the supposedly outstanding pre-polls and absents will not in fact make it into account by virtue of being disallowed, as they involve voters submitting votes for Fairfax when they actually turned out to be enrolled elsewhere in Queensland. Ballots from such voters can be admitted for the Senate, but not the House. That likely makes the hill very difficult for Ted O’Brien to climb.
Wednesday 4pm. Clive Palmer lost the lead earlier today but at the time or writing has recovered it by three votes. Troublingly for Palmer (assuming he does actually want to win), a batch of 395 absents were less good for him than those admitted previously, going 52.6-47.3 his way against a grand total of 56.6-43.4. By contrast, 474 pre-polls have maintained their trend of going 58-42 against him. Still to come: about 650 absents, on which he would hope to gain maybe 80; 550 pre-polls, on which he should lose them again; a trickle of postals (100, perhaps) that would then be likely to put him behind; and about 200 provisionals which will do who-knows-what.
Tuesday 6pm. From 502 on the weekend to 362 yesterday, Clive Palmer’s lead has now worn down to 65 after today’s counting of pre-polls went 830-588 against him and postals went 436-378. However, the postals were somewhat less bad for him than previous batches, and there’s now very few of them left. The bulk of the outstanding vote consists of about 1000 absents and pre-polls each, which appear likely to cancel each other out with the former going 57.0-43.0 for Palmer and the latter going 57.5-42.5 against. There are also likely to be about 200 provisional votes, which are an unknown quantity. Assuming the latter go 50-50, I’m currently projecting Palmer to win by 34 votes.
Monday 7:30pm. The AEC explains the Coolum Beach anomaly. Clive Palmer sought a Federal Court injunction today to have counting suspended, though to what end I’m not quite sure. As the AEC notes, the normal practice would be to petition the Court of Disputed Returns. The court has so far reserved its decision.
Monday 7pm. It appears the Coolum Beach PPVC mystery has finally been resolved. The votes for that booth had incorrectly been entered for the Buderim PPVC and vice-versa, and only now has the error been corrected. Since there are still no Senate votes recorded for Buderim PPVC, my earlier scatterplot did not show up a corresponding error for that booth. While it doesn’t look like there will be salvation for Clive Palmer in the form an uncovered vote count anomaly, he has gained ground with the addition of 1291 absent votes which continue to favour him quite strongly, in this case breaking 722-569 his way and giving his faltering lead a badly needed boost from 209 to 362.
Monday 4pm. Looks to be going right down to the wire, with another 1223 postal votes slashing Palmer’s lead by 293 to 209. There remain to come 2400 absents and a similar number of pre-polls, which have respectively been heavily favouring Palmer and O’Brien, along with maybe 500 postals which have been favouring O’Brien 62-38. My projection of where this is headed leaves nothing in it. In other news, Clive Palmer has today been raising the issue of the Coolum Beach PPVC discrepancy, though not in a way that might inspire the casual observer with confidence in his claims.
Saturday 8pm. Another 1306 pre-polls have gone badly for Clive Palmer, favouring Ted O’Brien 762-544 and cutting Palmer’s lead from 718 to 502. My projection of the share of the outstanding 7200 or so votes needed by O’Brien is down to 53.5% (assuming once again that nothing comes of this Coolum Beach PPVC anomaly).
Friday 3pm. Another 1792 postals have been just as favourable to Ted O’Brien as earlier batches, cutting 414 into a lead for Palmer that now stands at 718. There should be a bit over 2000 to come, which should further cut into Palmer’s lead by about 550. That leaves the result well and truly down to absents and pre-polls, the likely behaviour of which is a bit of a mystery at this stage. As to the apparent Coolum Beach anomaly, the commenter who raised the matter has received what to my mind is an unsatisfactory response from an AEC worker who appears not to have properly grasped the issue.
Thursday evening. Leaving aside the Coolum Beach PPVC issue, which is yet to acquire a life independent of this website, postals are flowing heavily enough to LNP to suggest an extremely close result. The addition of 2363 have cut 611 votes from Palmer’s lead, and could potentially take out a further 1000 of the remaining 1132 if there are indeed 4000 of them outstanding and they continue to behave like the previous batch. However, Palmer has done much better out of 855 absents, on which he has gained 79 votes and of which there are about 2000 more to come. There are also around 2000 pre-polls, which look likely to favour the LNP.
Wednesday evening. Michal Klaus in comments notes that the Coolum Beach pre-poll voting centre booth, the addition of which did so much to swing the count in Ted O’Brien’s favour, “could be one of the most extreme outliers anywhere in Australia”. He’s not wrong:
As the above chart clearly shows, the 55.87% primary vote recorded for Ted O’Brien at the booth is entirely out of whack with its 36.27% Senate vote for the Liberal National Party. There are also 575 more votes recorded there for the House than the Senate. Clearly there is an Indi-style error waiting to be uncovered here, either in relation to the House or the Senate vote. Given there are ballpark similarities between the Coolum booths for the Senate and a strong discrepancy with Coolum Beach PPVC on the House numbers, it seems safe to assume that the error is with the House results, and that Ted O’Brien’s tally is consequently higher than it should be. To shift the Coolum Beach PPVC data point to where it should be in the above chart, about 1000 votes need to be deducted from O’Brien’s total.
Wednesday 5pm. The count continues to trend away from Clive Palmer overall, who perhaps faces a further headache from the yet-to-report “BLV Fairfax” pre-poll voting centre in Maroochydore. If it’s anything like the other PPVCs in Maroochydore, it could cost Palmer as much as 1000 votes of a lead which currently sits at 1664 (UPDATE: LTEP notes in comments that the BLV booths in fact do very limited business). Other late counting has been a mixed bag, with absent votes favouring Palmer 827-565, but pre-polls going 381-328 the other way. The total number of such votes should perhaps be around 4500 and 2500, and there should further be about 5000 postals, none of which have been counted yet. So a fair bit of life in this one yet.
Election night. I don’t believe Antony’s projection of 50.9% to Clive Palmer is based on anything other than a guesstimate as to preferences. It’s still clearly the best thing available, but the 0.9% figure would be well within its margin of error. I’m guessing the AEC will conduct a preference throw in fairly short order that will put the issue beyond doubt one way or the other.