Crystal ball gazing

The Poll Bludger has meticulously sifted through his House of Representatives election guide to determine the likely outcome in each of the 150 seats, which will no doubt be revised many times between now and October 9. It is certainly to be hoped so, because the current assessment is for the nightmare scenario of a hung parliament in the true sense of the word, with the Labor and non-Labor forces gridlocked on 75 seats each.

In New South Wales, Dobell, Parramatta and Richmond are nominated as Labor gains. Despite margins of just 1.5 and 1.7 per cent, Paterson and Eden-Monaro are tipped to hold against the tide due to the advantages of incumbency and popular local members, although most would say these were bold calls at this stage. Labor will recover Cunningham, lost to the Greens at a 2002 by-election.

A status quo result is predicted for Victoria, except that Christian Zahra is tipped to hold McMillan which became notionally Liberal with a margin of 2.9 per cent in the recent redistribution. Here the advantages of incumbency will work in Labor’s favour, but in three seats on narrower margins I am tipping the Coalition to get over the line. The bravest of these judgements is Dunkley, an outer suburban mortgage belt seat where Coalition scaremongering over interest rates, combined with the local issue of the Bracks Government’s tolls for the Scoresby Freeway, will bite as the campaign develops.

Queensland is universally reckoned to be the danger zone for the Coalition, and so it appears on this assessment – Labor will even up the ledger in this state by winning Herbert, Hinkler, Moreton, Longman, Bowman, Petrie and Dickson.

Three seats are there to be won for Labor in South Australia – Adelaide, Hindmarsh and Makin – and the current tip is that all of them will be, the first two by natural correction, the second with help from a retiring Liberal member, and the second with help from a sitting Liberal member (Trish Draper).

Labor will win a third successive clean sweep of Tasmania, win both seats as usual in the Australian Capital Territory and gain the Darwin seat of Solomon.

So on the current hypothetical election night, that will leave all eyes on Western Australia which would need to deliver three seats to the Liberals late in the evening to keep John Howard in the Lodge – or two to confuse the situation. The latter seems the most likely outcome at this stage, a projected 2 per cent swing to the Coalition in Perth delivering them Stirling and Hasluck with Swan to remain out of reach due to a slightly bigger margin and a comical pre-election performance from Liberal candidate Andrew Murfin.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.