Today’s Herald-Sun carries extraordinarily detailed data from a Galaxy survey of 942 voters, including "weighted sample" figures of a type that polling agencies normally keep very quiet about. The primary vote figures are Labor 42 per cent, Coalition 39 per cent and Greens 12 per cent, with Labor’s lead ballooning out to 55-45 after preferences. This compares with 52-48 from Galaxy’s survey at the beginning of the campaign.
In other result prediction news, assessments for each seat have finally been added to the Poll Bludger’s election guide. The biggest call is that Health Minister Bronwyn Pike’s seat of Melbourne will indeed fall to the Greens, a conclusion I have been hesitant to reach, but the weight of the consensus has finally worn me down. I am also tipping that Labor will lose every seat it holds by 2.8 per cent or less, namely Evelyn (0.3 per cent), Hastings (0.9 per cent), Gembrook (1.6 per cent), Kilsyth (2.1 per cent), Ferntree Gully (2.3 per cent), Mount Waverley (2.3 per cent) and Bayswater (2.8 per cent). There follows a 1.6 per cent gap in the electoral pendulum, beyond which I am tipping Labor to lose Eltham (4.8 per cent) and South Barwon (5.0 per cent) but hold Prahran (4.4 per cent), Mordialloc (4.5 per cent), Bentleigh (4.8 per cent) and Morwell (4.9 per cent). I am fairly confident about the first set of judgements and less so about the second, although exceptions in the latter case include South Barwon (where numerous unrelated sources point to a Labor defeat) and Morwell (where Labor suffered even graver local problems last time). Beyond that, I will be keeping an eye on Ballarat East (7.6 per cent) and Bellarine (8.3 per cent), but am tipping them to stay with Labor.
On the other side of the pendulum, I am hesitantly predicting an upset Labor win in former Liberal leader Denis Napthine’s seat of South-West Coast (0.8 per cent) due to perceived federal government plans for a nuclear reactor in Portland. I will also be keeping an eye on Bass (0.6 per cent), which might behave unpredictably given the exceptional circumstances in 2002, when independent MP Susan Davies polled 22.2 per cent as she attempted to move on from her abolished seat of Gippsland West. Davies was a once and future Labor candidate, and Labor played dead in the ultimately forlorn hope that Davies would outvote them. Nonetheless, the prospect of a Labor gain here has been little mentioned. I have also heard the Wodonga-dominated seat of Benambra (4.0 per cent) mentioned as a roughie, due to the retirement of long-standing Liberal member Tony Plowman, Labor’s preselection of Wodonga mayor Lisa Mahood and the complication of Nationals candidate Bill Baxter, member for the corresponding upper house region of North Eastern. Even so, both have been tipped to stay with the Liberals.
Nationals seats threatened by the Liberals are hard to call without firm knowledge of Labor’s how-to-vote cards. Reports have indicated that Labor will preference the Nationals in Shepparton (4.3 per cent) and Gippsland South (10.9 per cent versus Labor), but nothing has been said of Rodney (10.0 per cent). Accordingly, Rodney alone has been tipped as a Liberal gain, and then only conditionally. So, with rights reserved for changes of heart prompted by new information or further opinion polls, I predict that the Liberals will gain nine seat from Labor and one from the Nationals, Labor will gain one from the Liberals, the Greens will gain one from Labor, and independent members in Mildura (18.5 per cent versus Nationals) and Gippsland East (11.8 per cent versus Nationals) will be untroubled. This would change the current numbers of Labor 62, Liberal 17, Nationals seven and independents two to Labor 53, Liberal 26, Nationals six, independents two and Greens one. Detailed assessments for the upper house will follow later in the day, so do stay tuned.