In an election campaign in which both sides have nominated trust and honesty as the major themes, the Poll Bludger got off to a poor start yesterday with his assertion that he had "meticulously sifted through his House of Representatives election guide" in producing his Election Projection outcome (see left). In fact this was done in such haste that the Victorian seat of La Trobe was lazily marked down as "Liberal retain" despite a long-harboured expectation to the contrary, owing to the loss of retiring Liberal incumbent Bob Charles’ personal vote and the high profile of Labor candidate Susan Davies, who held the state seat of Gippsland West as an independent from 1997 to 2002 (many thanks to reader Barney Langford for pointing this out). Thus does the Election Projection now record Labor at the all-important 76-seat mark at which they can form a majority government, however narrowly. Hopefully this stunning breakthrough will give the Opposition Leader the shot in the arm he needs following this morning’s disappointing Newspoll result.
Another dubious aspect of yesterday’s entry was an implicit assumption that all three existing independents would line up with the Coalition if push came to shove. In fact the most likely outcome in the event that Labor wins 75 seats would be that Peter Andren, the independent member for Calare, would accept a Labor offer of the Speaker’s position, thereby giving them a majority on the floor. Andren’s seat was held by Labor before he won it in 1996 and unlike his cross-bench colleagues he has no history of involvement with the National Party.