Victorian election guidance

The Poll Bludger’s Victorian election guide is now open for business, sort of – profiles are available for all Labor-held seats, but only the two most marginal Coalition seats have been completed at this stage. The others will be mopped up over the coming days. Also:

• The Geelong Advertiser has surveyed 245 voters in South Barwon, but we aren’t told how the poll was conducted. Labor’s Michael Crutchfield, who holds the seat on a margin of 2.3 per cent, was found to be trailing Liberal candidate Andrew Katos 32 per cent to 48 per cent, with the Greens on 10 per cent.

• Newspoll and Nielsen have both published further results from the polls which appeared in The Australian and The Age on Saturday. Newspoll finds health rated a very important issue by 86 per cent of respondents, compared with 67 per cent during the 1992 campaign and 79 per cent in 2006, with education roughly steady on 73 per cent, law and order up from 57 per cent in 2002 to 68 per cent and public transport up from 54 per cent to 64 per cent. For some reason, water planning is down from 87 per cent in 2006 to 65 per cent, and environment from 68 per cent to 49 per cent. Labor has a 10 point lead as best party to handle education, but the Coalition leads by 10 points on public transport, eight points on law and order and six points on the economy – although the latter hasn’t translated to the leaders, with 50 per cent rating John Brumby better to handle the economy against 39 per cent for Ted Baillieu. The two leaders were fairly evenly matched on a range of personal attributes, but Baillieu performed better as trustworthy (nine points ahead) and arrogant (eight points behind), while Brumby had a 19 point lead as experienced. Full results can be viewed courtesy of GhostWhoVotes. Nielsen inquired about the growth rate of Melbourne, which 50 per cent deemed “too fast” and 43 per cent “about right”, with effectively zero opting for “too slow”. There was a striking uniformity in these responses among Labor, Coalition and Greens supporters. Respondents were fairly evenly divided as to whether Labor (27 per cent) or the Coalition (29 per cent) were better to handle growth, with 14 per cent opting for the Greens.

• The Peter Mickelburough of the Herald-Sun reports Labor polling shows voters resisting the Liberals “because they view Mr Baillieu as lacking leadership, having a weak and negative personality, being out of touch with real people and being ‘part of the boys’ club’”. I’m not sure what the paper means when it refers to “the latest betting, exclusively for the Herald Sun”, but it apparently shows “the Coalition could pick up six seats or more in Melbourne, while the Greens are hot favourites with bookies to win the inner seats of Melbourne and Brunswick” (this was before the Liberal preference arrangements were announced). That would leave Labor with a small majority of 47 seats out of 88.

James Massola of The Australian reports the Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters, claims to have seen polling for Melbourne, Richmond and Brunswick which puts his party’s primary vote in the forties, giving them a good shot of winning each even without Liberal preferences. However, we are not told on whose behalf the poll was conducted.

• Many a column inch has been spent on the Liberals’ bombshell preference announcement, further enhancing the campaign’s status as the most Greens-centric in mainland Australian history. Liberal sources quoted by Patricia Karvelas and Milanda Rout of The Australian describe the decision as “suicidal”, and say they are “convinced it will condemn them to another four years in opposition”. One source quoted in the article said the decision was largely motivated by “rising anger among grassroots members” about the existing practice of favouring the Greens over Labor, and the need for the party to retain said members “to do basic tasks such as man polling booths”. Writing in The Age, Paul Strangio of Monash University emphasised the Nationals’ bearing on the decision, in light of the recently formalised coalition arrangement between the two parties.

• As John Brumby prepares to officially launch Labor’s campaign in Bendigo today, Stuart Rintoul of The Australian writes of a “fierce bidding war” for the city’s electorates of Bendigo East and Bendigo West. Labor and the Liberals have respectively promised $528 million and $630 million for a new hospital, while Labor “has also pledged $91m for four new junior secondary schools (a $19m blowout on 2006 estimates), and has spent big on highway and rail infrastructure”.

• Labor has also targeted Geelong with a $165 million health plan that will fund a new $85 million hospital in Grovedale, which is of particular interest to the electorate of South Barwon. The remainder of the money will fund an expansion of Geelong Hospital.

Antony Green weighs up the upper house preference tickets, and offers a projected outcome in which Labor and the Democratic Labor Party each lose a seat and Liberal and the Nationals each gain one, with the Greens retaining three seats and the balance of power.

• With the closure of nominations and ballot paper draws having transpired at the end of last week, Antony Green also surveys the field and finds an increase in the number of lower house candidates from 459 in 2006 to 502, driven by the entry of the Democratic Labor Party (36 candidates after having only contested the upper house in 2006), the Country Alliance (29 candidates) and the Sex Party (17 candidates), and a near doubling in the number of independents from 33 to 75.

• In late candidate announcement news, the Liberals have endorsed Cindy McLeish as their candidate for the regional seat of Seymour, which Ben Hardman holds for Labor on a margin of 6.7 per cent. Their original candidate, Mike Laker, withdrew a week into the campaign for “personal reasons”, which few doubt revolve around a talk radio caller’s claim that Laker had told him that the government was planning to house 50 Somali families in the electorate and provide them with free cars. McLeish ran against Laker in the original preselection vote, but lost by 45 votes to 12. She was reportedly backed in the original ballot by local electorate chairman Mike Dalmau and upper house MP Donna Petrovich, and Laker has declared himself “frustrated” by the lack of support the two had been giving to his campaign.

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.

81 comments on “Victorian election guidance”

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  1. William, you’re lucky I saved this long post in Notepad before posting it… 😛


    In WA in 2008, there were two seats where the Liberals came third, both wildly different from either trendy inner-city Melbourne or each other. For anyone’s interest, I plugged the WAEC figures into a spreadsheet and got the following (spread across two posts for readability).


    It’s a heavy industrial area on the coast south of Perth, sorta like Altona, so it’s obviously one of Labor’s safest seats… most of the time anyway. The local mayor was defeated for Labor preselection, ran as an independent, and damn near won.

    Initial primary votes:
    ALP 42.03, Adams 22.96, Lib 18.88, Grn 10.68, FF 3.78, Lambert 1.67

    Distributions like so:

    Adams 44.65, Grn 27.36, ALP 11.64, FF 8.49, Lib 7.86

    Family First:
    Lib 35.12, Adams 24.66, Grn 22.12, ALP 17.83

    Adams 57.41, ALP 31.86, Lib 10.43

    Adams 81.36, ALP 18.49

    Labor’s progressive vote after exclusions was:
    42.03 (initial)
    42.93 (Lambert + FF)
    46.77 (Greens)
    50.79 (Libs)

    That’s quite similar to Denison 2010, where the Liberals went about 80% to the left-wing independent and the Greens / SA only about 55% (which is the main reason Labor held on here). I reckon it’s fair to say the same would happen for Footscray and Brunswick, should the respective independents end up in the 2cp count against Labor. Albert Park, I’m not so sure.

    (Any chance of Kevin Bonham poking his head into the thread? 🙂 )

  2. OK, now the next one. This might give you a headache.


    It’s up north, got lots of rocks at one end and the ports that ship ’em out at the other. You’ve heard of it. Generally safe Labor, and the Nats don’t usually run in northern WA. (Also, one member quit the ALP in the 90’s and held it as an independent for a term and a half, winning one election and then resigning at the next.)

    Initial primary votes:
    ALP 44.38, Nat 22.93, Lib 17.57, Grn 9.63, FF 5.48

    Distributions like so:

    Family First:
    Grn 44.9, Nat 21.12, ALP 18.93, Lib 14.81

    ALP 37.07, Nat 36.3, Lib 26.51

    Nat 83.12, ALP 16.82

    No, I haven’t stuffed up my figures – almost half the FF prefences went straight to the Greens, and then only a bit over third of the Green preferences (augmented by FF, but not by that much) went to Labor. Figure that one out. The Liberals, meanwhile, did exactly the same as the other example: >80% to the non-Labor candidate.

    Labor’s progressive vote after exclusions was:

    44.38 (initial)
    45.42 (FF)
    49.91 (Greens)
    53.55 (Libs)

    This obviously tells you nothing useful that could be applied to Melbourne. Interesting, though.

  3. The Geelong Advertiser’s poll not only has a margin of error of 6.4%, but there is another problem:

    The poll also featured a large number of older respondees, with 24 per cent being over the age of 70, which could have also affected the result.

    The above quote shows that the results haven’t been weighted and that they didn’t even try to get a balanced sample.

  4. Greg Barber using crude language on the record. Green’s feeling the heat?

    The Liberals’ decision to put the Greens last came after Labor agreed to preference the Greens in all upper house seats and put the Greens second in 79 of 88 lower house seats. In return, the Greens will preference Labor in 13 of the ALP’s 15 most marginal lower house seats.

    Upper house Greens MP Greg Barber said his party would stick to the deal. ”The Greens don’t f—ing rat,” he said

  5. Thats right Rod: the VEC study of Melbourne inner city voters suggests none of them – even the Libs – follow HTVs at all.

    [Surprising figures published by the Victorian Electoral Commission show that at the 2006 election, most inner-city voters – including most Liberals – ignored how-to-vote cards and wrote their own preferences. …it found that less than 50 per cent of voters followed the party how-to-vote cards. Only 49 per cent of Labor voters did so, 48 per cent of Nationals, 46 per cent of Liberals and 31 per cent of Greens.]

    This partly explains the Libs apparent decision to volunteer to lose the election – the implications of HTVs are rather less than they might appear in these 4 four seats.

    On this basis, I think the Greens will take Melbourne and Richmond quite easily. Not ruling out Brunswick. Northcote was probably never going to fall.

  6. Mumble on the Liberals decision to put the Greens last

    More importantly the decision allows the ALP to devote all its resources and energy to fighting the Coalition rather than protecting its flank. It also means in the long term they will less likely to ‘move to the left’ to meet the Greens challenge, which would make them less electable overall.

    And in the short term Brumby may have been tempted to make wacky last minute announcements next week to shore up support in those inner Melbourne seats.

    Antony Green makes the excellent point that the Libs are likely to hand out as few how to vote cards as possible in the relevant electorates.

    Antony also reckons the preference flow from Liberals to Labor will be less than 60 percent. I don’t know about that, but if it’s true the Greens may still win a seat or two.

    If the Victorian Libs had adopted this policy at this year’s federal election, Labor’s Cath Bowtell would have won Melbourne. If they do at the next federal election, Adam Bandt will find re-election difficult.

    One final variant in all this is the statewide Green vote. The latest Newspoll had them down to 14 percent. The party does have a record of not quite meeting general expectations at elections.


  7. [On this basis, I think the Greens will take Melbourne and Richmond quite easily. Not ruling out Brunswick. ]

    I wouldn’t go as far as ‘quite easily” lefty, though I think they are pretty close to even money in melbourne and not far behind that in Richmond. If the Greens win the seats, of course, the Libs get the best of both worlds – the anti green vote in the bush and the loss of a couple of seats by labor in the city. If the Greens lose it doesn’t really reduce the chances of an overall Lib victory, as the Greens would have sided with Labor anyway.

    Far from cutting their own throat or operating on the basis of “principle”, the decision was actually the best tactical move they could make in this situation to maximise their chances in the election.

  8. I’m really enjoying Greg Barber’s contribution to the campaign

    First he declared “I am the Greens think-tank for policy costings.”

    and now he says

    ”The Greens don’t f—ing rat”

    Keep up the good work Greg 😆

  9. [Antony Green makes the excellent point that the Libs are likely to hand out as few how to vote cards as possible in the relevant electorates.]

    Yes, that’s a very good point. They might have “accidental” delivery mix-ups and run out of them by 8.30 am in the crucial electorates.

  10. Triton 14

    Or they do what the ALP did in SA, and dress as Family First and hand out HTV cards for the Greens

    GG 13

    I am in total agreement with you

  11. If the Greens have half a brain cell they’ll be printing how to vote cards of their own encouraging Liberal voters to preference Green.

  12. #17 If the Greens did that they would look as pathetic as John Brumby did when he was appealing to Liberal voters to preference ALP above the Greens.

    Gotta be in it to win it.

  13. Rod, I’m not convinced the Libs move was tactically sound (ALP currently sending all funding and troops to the suburban marginals) – strategically, in the long run, maybe.

    That VEC study makes me quietly confident about Melbourne and Richmond. That said, Balance of power in the Council is the six-pointer. Ill be trying to hold up the upper house vote with HTVs in whats regarded by Greens as the ‘least winnable’ terrain of SE Metro.

  14. As I’ve pointed out before, unless the Liberals want to risk losing an Upper House member, they’re going to be handing out just as furiously in Brunswick and Melbourne as they ever did.

    They may struggle to do so, but it won’t be for strategic reasons.

  15. @24

    Dunno about that. Antony points out that Libs hold their one Northern metro seat comfortably and have very little chance of picking up a second. No loss to them by not campaigning.

  16. Becaise most Greens only focus on pinching Labor seats and making popularism coments anti Labor to steel Labor votes i Greens focus is NOT to reduce chanses of a Liberal Govt at all

    so they’re blinkered on what Liberal Party itself want Libs want Govt , see Labor as its enemy Its brand is tarnishd by any assoc with impractol Greens polisys In fact Greens Party is to Libreals what One Nation Party is to Labor

    Libs brand is now clean to outer mel metrop & Country voters & decision is shown as decisive , Libs will gain voters in both as a result (and prob puts some rural seats a ? espec around ballarat & north Labors vote also would surge if such a decision made against Greens in both areas & more so if more of there extremists polisys were xposed

  17. Lefty e
    Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    “That VEC study makes me quietly confident about Melbourne and Richmond”

    that study now is flawed on 2grounds

  18. 30

    I assume your post means “that was then, this is now and factors have changed assuming the Liberal don`t run dead”.

    It is still the best evident to go on.

    If the Liberals campaigned in Melbourne like they do in marginals then they would probably come 2nd with the Greens 1st winning big on the majority of ALP preferences.

  19. dotif 16: didn’t the Libs in Ryan pose as Greens to divert votes from the ALP at the recent federal election?

    Anyway, does anyone know what happened to Pete Steedman?

  20. [Ghosts of the past – where is Pete Steedman these days?]

    I used to see him driving around Hurstbridge fairly regularly in one Yankee convertible or another, TT, but I have noticed him in a while!

  21. Just test driving my Legislative Council calculators to go on the ABC website tomorrow. A couple of interesting points.

    In Northern Victoria, Labor wins the last spot as long as its surplus above its first quota is greater than the Greens. So if the Greens poll 0.6 quotas (10%) Labor must have more than 1.6 quotas (26.7%). Another way of saying that is that Labor must poll more than 16.7% higher than the Greens. If they don’t, then the second Labor candidate has less than the Greens at some point and the Country Alliance can win the last seat.

    In Northern Metropollitan, Group A does very very well on preferences. From 2% and using the Federal election results, they leapfrog everyone else and win the final spot from Labor.

    Labor also wouldn’t want its first preference vote to fall below 50% if the Greens is above 13%, otherwise the Sex Party preferences will elect the Green and all the right-of-centre preferences could put the second Liberal into the final seat ahead of the third Labor candidate.

  22. [They’re too busy lying in the foetal position calling for their mummies.]

    The major political parties are kidding themselves if they think that a vote for the Greens Party is a protest vote. My vote for the Greens Party is not a protest vote and has not been for a few years now. Other people feel the same as evidenced by the steady increase in the Greens vote, as well as its steadily increasing party membership. In contrast the membership of both major parties is declining.

    For those of us who believe that politics can be different, and that the current political duopoly must be challenged, what, as a voter, can we do to send such a message?

    An informal vote or a protest vote in the LA seems to be my only choices. At the moment I am considering casting a strategic protest vote – #1 Greens, #2 Liberals.

    I live in the Forest Hill electorate where Kirstie Marshall was elected in 2006 on a margin of just over 500 votes on the back of Greens preferences so my vote matters.

    For the first time I have just made a financial donation to the Greens Party campaign and am now thinking about joining the party.

    No, I am not curled up in a foetal position. On the contrary, I am energized and taking what action I can to challenge the status quo!

    I worked tirelessly for two years in the Your Rights at Work campaign to get ALP Mike Symon elected, despite the campaign advocating a #1 Labor vote rather that a #1 Greens vote.

    I was a committed ally of Labor.

    Yet, in the space of three years I am now prepared to cast a protest vote for the Liberals in the upcoming state election. If I carry through on this, I will not be alone.

    Gus Face understands the long game. Unfortunately other Labor supporters who declare “war” on the Greens do not.

  23. William,
    I’m not sure if there is a more efficient way of advising you, but there are a couple of errors in your “guide” for the seat of Ferntree Gully.
    One is an obvious typo, where 2002 is written twice – one of which obviously should be 1992; the other is the geographic reference to the suburbs at the extremities- Boronia is the northern boundary, while Rowville is at the southern end.

  24. Antony at 35:

    [ In Northern Metropollitan, Group A does very very well on preferences. From 2% and using the Federal election results, they leapfrog everyone else and win the final spot from Labor. ]

    The Carers Alliance? That would be a bolt from the blue.

    How do their chances compare to the other small fry like Stephen Mayne or the Sex Party?

  25. Thinking of parties at war and at peace – has anyone thought about the next UK election, where the Liberal Democrats will presumably be running a separate campaign with the possiblity of forming a government with either Labour or the Tories? This will produce the bizarre spectacle of the PM and Deputy PM campaigning against each other!

    I mention this because I was thinking that the same thing could happen in Tasmnia at their next election. I think the Greens generally should never rule out dealing with the Liberals or anyone else, even to the point of supporting a minority government as they did in Tasmania from 1996-1998. To do so decreases their “currency” in any bargaining processes. In the upper houses such as the Senate the Greens have had to deal with conservative parties, they should also be prepared to deal with them in lower houses.

    They otherwise will be shunned by the conservative parties and be taken for granted by the Labor Party, and tread water.

  26. pegasus,

    Threats of self harm by hysterical children are not unusual. You must be entering a second childhood.

    As I always say, “Go ahead, make my bed”.

  27. 35

    In Southern Metro a vote for the Greens would be more effective at reducing the chances of a 3rd Liberal because they get preferences from group A and group E before the Liberals while the ALP does not. All that has to happen is for the Greens to get enough votes for a surplus big enough for the 2nd Green to get those Group A preferences and then Group E preferences (if/once distributed from the DLP and FF) and then overtake the ALP 2nd candidate.

  28. [
    Gus Face understands the long game. Unfortunately other Labor supporters who declare “war” on the Greens do not.

    What’s the long game? Is that the one where Labor stands by and watches the Greens try and take Labor seats while it does nothing? No thanks

  29. Pegasus

    [My vote for the Greens Party is not a protest vote]

    [An informal vote or a protest vote in the LA seems to be my only choices.]

    [I am now prepared to cast a protest vote for the Liberals in the upcoming state election.]

    Your vote isn’t a protest vote but it is?

  30. Rocket

    With regards to the UK General Election (next) then it may not end up as Deputy and PM campaigning against each other.

    Should they fight the election as The Coalition.
    Lib Dems would run as Coalition Liberal Democrat and Tories as Coalition Conservative. They would not run against each other for incumbant seats and then decide in Labour seats who got the highest vote and therefore the highest chance to win and then let either Lib Dem or Tory run against the Labor MP.

    However this causes problems in seats that are Tory v Lib Dems.

    With regards to the VIC Election.

    I’m voting for an Independent and preferencing the Liberal Party. That is my small protest against the rubbish effort of the State Libs to bring down an incompetent govt.

  31. Gus


    I do indeed

    but healthy debate, within reason is good

    I enjoy your posts as equally as any others]

    It’s time for a visit from someone wearing jackboots. You are too reasonable.

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