Happy Beattie vs Sad Beattie

Some recent polling in Forde suggests Peter Beattie has a tough fight on his hands, with an estimated 2PP 60-40 against him. As of August 17, the Sportsbet odds give him a 36% chance of victory. Characteristically of betting markets, the market appears to have noted the polling but hasn’t swung as hard against Labor as might be naively expected for such a bad poll. This is consistent with the fact that polls and betting odds are measuring different things.

The electorate of Forde. Source: Wikipedia.

The electorate of Forde. Source: Wikipedia.

But overall, the news doesn’t look good for Beattie. He only has a 36% chance of winning the seat. But wait, for Peter Beattie, it gets worse. There are worse things in politics than not winning the seat. Let’s look at the full range of possible outcomes for Beattie:

(a) Beattie loses, ALP wins

(b) Beattie loses, Coalition wins

(c) Beattie wins, ALP wins

(d) Beattie wins, Coalition wins

Clearly, (a) and (b) are bad for Beattie. But also, even though Beattie wins in (d), he would then need to serve in opposition for at least three years, since he has pledged to serve a full term regardless of the overall election outcome. For a former Premier used to governing, that would really suck.  Let’s combine (a), (b) and (d) into one scenario: Sad Beattie. Call the other scenario, (c), Happy Beattie.  What are the implied probabilities of Sad Beattie and Happy Beattie?

Sad Beattie vs Happy Beattie

Sad Beattie vs Happy Beattie

As with our previous scenario analyses, we ran lots of simulations for two extreme cases using data from August 17. The implied probability of Happy Beattie is somewhere between 0% and 22%, for the independent and maximum covariance cases, respectively. The true value lies somewhere between these two probabilities.

For the independent seats model, the probability of Happy Beattie is zero. This is because the independent seats model gives Labor an effectively zero chance of winning the election. Under this model, even if Beattie is elected, he will automatically be part of the opposition. For the maximum covariance model, Labor victory is possible: around 22%, the same as the maximum covariance probability of Happy Beattie. So the limiting factor on Peter Beattie’s happiness right now isn’t his performance in his own seat; it appears to be the overall performance of the ALP. Note, therefore, that the probability of Happy Beattie is even less than the probability of Beattie winning his seat. With just under three weeks till election day, Sad Beattie is looking more likely than Happy Beattie.