It’s been an interesting week for psephologists and election nerds. The Australian Electoral Commission has been formally declaring the Senate results, with perhaps the most interesting result being in Western Australia. Where it was previously believed that the Australian Sports Party and the Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam would take the fifth and sixth Senate seats, it now looks like Palmer United Party and the Australian Labor Party will take them instead.
The question that erupted on Twitter was: ‘To what extent was the Wikileaks Party’s insanely lunatic preference-swapping strategy to blame?’
Senator Ludlam hit Twitter to declare Wikileaks blameless:
Prima facie, Ludlam looks like he has a point. In the updated count, all of the votes cast for the Wikileaks Party ended up with the Greens Party in Western Australia.
On closer look of the results, Ludlam is incorrect. To work out why, you have to come to grips with one question: ‘Why is it that Senator Ludlam gets a seat when Wikileaks preferences go to another party (Australian Sports Party) but he loses his seat when Wikileaks preferences go to him?’
I promise that my answer does not reduce to ‘Because Wikileaks is freaking cursed.’