Mug’s game

Brian Burke and Noel Crichton-Browne appeared on Paul Murray’s 6PR program this morning discussing the state of play in important marginal seats. On balance, Burke expects a narrow win for Labor, Crichton-Browne a narrow win for the Coalition, and Murray stands by his assessment of a minority Coalition government. Meanwhile, Charles Richardson at Crikey has made a detailed prediction that adds up to Labor maintaining its current seven-seat majority.

Murray (Labor 0.7%): Burke and Crichton-Browne both agree that the Liberals will win this seat, in part due to local hostility over the fact that Labor candidate Nuala Keating does not live in the electorate. Richardson tips this as the only Liberal gain out of what he sees as the five "battleground" seats. Labor people have expressed pessimism owing to demographic change from the area’s rapid population growth and a concentrated swing to the Coalition at the federal election. The Poll Bludger does not like being this far out on a limb and has amended his initial assessment that Labor would retain the seat, which for the time being reduces his projection of Labor’s majority from five seats to three.

Kingsley (Liberal 2.5%): Burke and Crichton-Browne agree this is the one seat that Labor has a serious prospect of picking up from the Liberals. Crichton-Browne criticises the process of Liberal candidate Colin Edwardes’ preselection, saying little time was given for others to nominate. He also argues that voters feel one parliamentary superannuation payment should be enough for the Edwardes household, but ultimately concludes that the Liberals will narrowly retain the seat.

Mindarie (Labor 1.2%): Burke says Labor polling showed the Liberals with a substantial lead going into the campaign, but feels the Liberals have frittered it away. Crichton-Browne tips the Liberals to win, citing the strength of evangelical churches in the area and the importance of Family First who are directing preferences to Liberal. Richardson nominates it as one of five "battleground" electorates but tips Labor to hold, as does the Poll Bludger.

Swan Hills (Labor 0.3%): Crichton-Browne is one of a number of observers who have noted that Liberal candidate Steve Blizard does not seem popular in the electorate, but still expects him to win the seat from Labor member Jaye Radisich. Burke thinks the local popularity of Radisich might make the difference. Another battleground seat where Richardson thinks the Liberals will fall short; the Poll Bludger concurs.

Joondalup (Labor 3.1%): Burke says Liberal candidate Dean Solly is one of two candidates whose personal strengths will improve the Liberals’ chances (the other being Andrew Partington in Albany) and believes this puts them in contention here. Crichton-Browne notes doubtfully that "Labor is defending a big margin", an assessment shared by Richardson and myself.

Geraldton (Labor 2.7%): Paul Murray reckons the strength of Shane Hill’s performance since he won the seat for Labor in 2001 will make the difference here, and Crichton-Browne roughly agrees. Burke cites heavy pork-barrelling by the government but sounds less sure of the outcome than Murray and Crichton-Browne. Richardson and the Poll Bludger say Labor.

Riverton (Labor 3.1%): Burke is critical of Labor for making its contentious promise to divert road freight traffic from Leach Highway too late in the campaign. Crichton-Browne thinks this and the dummy candidate controversy should deliver the seat to the Liberals, but Burke is less sure. Richardson says Labor and so does the Poll Bludger.

Alfred Cove (Independent 8.2% vs LIB): Crichton-Browne thinks it "still possible" that Graham Kierath could defeat independent member Janet Woollard. Richardson says "it’s a toss-up, but I’m tipping Woollard to hold on". The Poll Bludger’s money has always been on Woollard.

Albany (Liberal 3.7%): While Noel Crichton-Browne calls it for the Liberals, Burke merely says it will be "very difficult" for Labor. Charles Richardson warily tips Labor to hold. It remains in the Liberal column for the Poll Bludger but late opinion polls might change his mind.

Darling Range (Liberal 0.6%): Richardson rates this as an outlier in the event of a Labor blowout, but all concerned have their money on the Liberals holding on.

Bunbury (Labor 0.2%): Nobody is tipping that Labor will retain this seat.

Unless I missed something, the 6PR panel did not rate Collie-Wellington (Labor 2.6%) or Wanneroo (Labor 3.1%) worth a mention, and both myself and Richardson have them in the Labor column. Richardson includes Serpentine-Jarrahdale among the seats to watch if there’s a swing on to Labor, and Labor apparently think themselves in with a chance. Richardson also concurs with my judgement that the Liberals will win Roe from the Nationals, and that no other seats will change hands between the Coalition parties.

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.