Victorian election minus one week

Press reports continue to indicate that both sides believe it to be very tight in the crucial sandbelt seats, but statewide published polls still show Labor on course for a comfortable victory.

First up, the arrival of two new poll results – one from Galaxy and one from Morgan, both of which are detailed here – has enabled my first update in some time to the Victorian election poll tracker on the sidebar. I’ve tinkered a bit with my methodology, which is the reason the Greens are off a little despite more than holding up in the latest polls. Other than that, the poll tracker has never failed to show Labor on 50 seats since it opened for business at the start of the campaign.

The charts get a bit messy with the flurry of polling to hit during the election campaign, so to allow you a closer look (and to illustrate the point that you’re not really missing much), here they are with the x-axis limited to the start of August (click to enlarge):


John Ferguson of The Australian offered yet another review of the seat-level state of play as seen by his sources in the major parties on Wednesday. Both sides are said to have detected a “small but significant” swing back to the Liberals in Frankston, with the Liberals apparently hopeful that a double-figures result for Geoff Shaw will send a strong flow of preferences their way. Furthermore, the Liberals are reported to be hopeful or better about the other sandbelt seats of Bentleigh, Carrum and Mordialloc, which I list in what I take to be descending order of confidence. However, Labor is doing “better than expected” in Ripon, although it is still expected to fall to the Liberals (not, be it noted, the Nationals).

• One place where early Liberal hopes appear to have faded is Ballarat, particularly the seat of Buninyong, formerly Ballarat East. Further complicating their task is Nationals candidate Sonia Smith, who has criticised Liberal candidate Ben Taylor over comments he made at an Australian Christian Lobby forum concerning late-term abortions, saying he “should be running for Family First”. While the Nationals’ official how-to-vote card for the electorate directs the second preference to Taylor, Smith has registered her own card instructing voters to determine the matter for themselves. Smith illustrated her rejection of her party’s how-to-vote card through a dramatic photo opportunity for Fairfax.

• Inform your upper house speculation with Antony Green’s preference calculators. Part of me would be sad to see reform to our broken upper house electoral systems purely because it would put an end to these delightful contributions to Australian psephology.

UPDATE: Another Morgan SMS poll, a very current one conducted from Friday to today from a sample of 1173. While one might be tempted to take this series with a grain of salt, the results are interesting: the Coalition is up no less than 4.5% on the last poll to 39.5%, with both Labor and the Greens down two points to 33.5% and 17.5%. However, Labor maintains a 52-48 lead on two-party preferred, down from 55-45. Denis Napthine has gained the lead as preferred premier, now 51.5-48.5 ahead after Daniel Andrews led 52.5-47.5 last time. The previous poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, so I guess Morgan will be doing this polling every down from now on.

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.

192 comments on “Victorian election minus one week”

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  1. Kevin. Why would Greens bother lodging open HTVs at the last minute across the state if there was no poosibility of using them?

    And any conceivable use seems to have bad consequences for the state.

    That does strike me as suspicious in itself.

  2. 98

    We shall have to see what the Liberals preferences do. The Liberals have not put up how to vote cards that preference the Greens and so there is no chance they could be gifting seats, other than possibly Melbourne, to the Greens. The Greens still need to do campaigning for votes.

  3. ” If they wanted a preference deal with the Greens, they should have accepted the preference deal with the Greens.”

    Labor did not want a preference deal with the Greens. If you worked in the outer east of Melbourne like me you may realise that that would be electoral poison in those areas.

    I am happy for the Greens to preference who they like in both houses, but I am still waiting for an explanation of why the Greens would prefer PUP in the Upper House to Labor.

  4. Phoenix green 95
    You are absolutely right that political decisions have consequences. And Rocket Rocket is right that the Greens are entitled to deal with the Libs. The issue is the strategic consequences for the Greens (and the rest of us) of such a tactical decision. If the Lib – Green discussions do culminate in a deal and if that lets the Libs retain government by holding marginals as a result of improved preference flow, which of the Flemington East West link exits should be named after Greg Barber?

  5. 99

    the point I was making is that Labor lower house preferences make no difference to anyone. If the Liberals do badly enough in Prahran Labor not the Greens will win. the only times in the past where Labor prefs made a difference was some three-cornered contests in rural seats when Libs and Nats fought each other.

  6. Re preferences…

    In my lower house seat of Forest Hill which is a marginal seat…

    At he beginning of the week, according to the early voting booth poll manager where I am handing out HTVCs for the Greens, Labor workers were handing out authorised but unregistered HTVCs. This lower house HTVC preferenced Country Alliance above the Greens who were number 4.

    The Greens ticket preferenced Labor at number 3 below the Animal Justice Party.

    The Labor volunteers handing out HTVCs were unaware of this preference order until I informed them. They were very unhappy about this preference order, especially as several had ‘sotto voce’ admitted they had voted Greens before and were going to again in the upper house.

    Unsurprising, as usual, both major parties do not identify candidates’ party affiliations on their HTVCs except for their own candidates.

    In contrast, the Greens HTVC identifies the party political affiliation for each listed candidate.

    I had also been told by a couple of ALP sources (impeccable insiders) that the ALP candidate, Pauline Richards, was “ropeable” about the preference decision imposed by Labor HQ.

    I had also been told on Tuesday that a different Labor lower house ticket was going to be issued.

    Labor has indeed issued another ticket that preferences the Greens candidate above the Country Alliance candidate.

    The Greens have registered a second open preference ticket.

  7. pegasus – 106 – the order is irrelevant. Not one Labor vote in Forest Hill will be “distributed” in the count. This is the point I have been trying to make. Labor HTVs in lower house seats are essentially meaningless past the “1 – Labor Candidate”.

  8. Tom 102

    The Liberals have registered (at the last moment at the same time as the Greens did theirs) open HTV cards across a range of inner city ALP/GRN contests.

    If the Liberals hand these out (instead of the Greens last ones) then that will increase the possibility of Greens winning across those seats.

    That is the pound of flesh that the Greens are (or may be or are thinking about) taking in exchange for giving the Liberals government again.

  9. The idea that Labor should form some sort of “progressive” alliance with the Greens is utterly absurd considering key portions of their voter base is about as progressive as Dubya Bush.

    Honestly, I’m generally pretty pro-Green but the whinging from handfuls of their supporters about Labor not giving them handouts is so grating. You’re a big boy party now, Greens fans, nobody is giving you the kid glove treatment. Earn your votes.

  10. 105

    The Greens are trying very hard in Prahran, this time, to put the ALP into third place and them win on their preferences. They may well succeed in one or both objectives. If they succeed in the first but not the second objective it will be because of a minority ALP voters preferencing the Liberals over the Greens.

    If the Country Alliance do as well or better in Shepparton as they did last time (the boundary changes may well hurt their chances), they may well win on ALP preferences.

  11. [the point I was making is that Labor lower house preferences make no difference to anyone.]

    It might affect some previous Labor voters now and in future elections if they are totally p$issed off by some preference deals locally. The same goes for some Greens voters.

    It will be interesting to see if the informal vote increases and / or the turnout decreases.

  12. 109

    I did not say Liberal open tickets would not increase the Greens chances of winning, however they do not gift Richmond, or Brunswick, let alone Northcote because the flows would not be good enough to ensure a Green win.

  13. 113

    The Greens are apparently campaigning better than the ALP in Prahran and the non-distribution of the ALP is no sure thing.

  14. ___cog___@101

    Kevin. Why would Greens bother lodging open HTVs at the last minute across the state if there was no poosibility of using them?

    And any conceivable use seems to have bad consequences for the state.

    That does strike me as suspicious in itself.

    The Greens are claiming they routinely register open cards as a backup. I haven’t been able to verify this claim. If it is true then a sound explanation might be that it gives them the option to pull preferencing in any seat where it turns out they’ve unintentionally preferenced someone their supporters wouldn’t like – an indie who turns out to be a homophobe for instance.

    If it’s false on the other hand then it would suggest a deal with the Liberals was being explored, or that they wanted something policy-wise from Labor.

  15. It will also be interesting to see if there is an increase in BTL voting as only a minimum of 1 to 5 boxes need to be numbered. This option was told to every voter at my early voting centre.

    Also, will this instruction be given to every voter on polling day? As someone who exercised this option, I hope so.

    How many others will let their upper house vote exhaust?

  16. p 119 – I was thinking of only numbering 10-15 but then after some discussion here by Kevin Bonham I realised that doing that would possibly nullify my ability to have a say in the last person elected.

  17. [She said the party always registers open and preference how to vote cards, with local branches then able to choose.]

    Read more:

    This has been my experience with my local Greens Branch where there are spirited discussions regarding whether to have an open or preference HTVCs at an election.

    I support open tickets.

  18. I do not accept that our upper house voting systems are “broken”. The sudden triumph of the micro-parties has created consternation across the land and predictable calls to “reform” the system. Some are thoughtful but most are knee-jerk, designed to advantage one particular party and/or deeply undemocratic. They are basically a great big whinge that several outsiders got to be insiders by the same rules that the insiders have used for 30 years. We know this is a whinge because the outrage that greeted Ricky Muir’s election from, not on, a primary vote of .5 per cent was not paralleled by outrage at the election of Stephen Conroy of the ALP from 0.03 per cent, Julian McGauran of the National Party from 0.04 per cent and Judith Troeth of the Liberal Party from 0.03 per cent in 2004 or Bridget McKenzie of the National Party from 0.03 per cent in 2010.

    I say at a lot more at:

    Then there are my submissions to the Senate voting review, Nos 131 and 131.1 at:

    There is a case for optional preferences after a certain number below the line for the Senate where we have 110 candidates, but that it the only change required. In Victoria there is a requirement to put only five preferences below the line, so the idea that there is something illegitimate about allowing voters to choose a group voting ticket by voting above the line when voting below the line is so easy is illogical.

    The reason parties run five candidates in a system that requires only five preferences when they know they will never win five seats is to increase the influence of the above-the-line preference deals, so it is quite amusing that many voters opposed to above-the-line preference deals increase the value of those deals by exhausting their own preferences below the line and think this is a blow against those very deals that they have just empowered. It’s a bit like running in a relay but refusing to hand your baton over to the next person in your team as a way of getting at the team whose members all hand the baton over at each stage. We know who will win that race.

    As far as Labor’s preference strategy goes, the Victorian branch of the ALP woke up to the Greens a decade ago, when it first used preferences to put Family First rather than a Green into the Senate. It confirmed its stance when it used preferences to put Peter Kavanagh of the new DLP into the Legislative Council in 2006 and again when it tried to put the Country Alliance into the Legislative Council in 2010. It knows the Greens are not Labor’s friends, even if the commentariat does not. After all, the Greens helped destroy two Labor governments and two Labor prime ministers.

    The Greens have every right to attempt to replace the Labor Party. Labor has no duty to co-operate in its own destruction.

    Labor does not want to be dependent on the Greens in the Legislative Council, so of course it is preferencing parties like the Country Alliance and the new DLP ahead of the Greens, hoping to repeat its 2006 success of getting a new DLP MLC and denying the Greens the balance of power in their own right. Labor wants and needs a Legislative Council that provides a path to legislation that does not require the agreement of the Greens. Given the likelihood of a Labor victory in Victoria, smart Coalition voters should be giving their first preferences in the Upper House to minor parties other than the Greens to give the Labor government that path to get legislation through. An Upper House result of 19 Labor, 2 others, 3 Greens and 16 Coalition would be better for Victoria than a result of 19 Labor, 3 Greens and 18 Coalition. It’s simple maths.

    The opposition to Labor’s preferencing parties other than the Greens is, on the part of the Greens, pure self-interest. Others who oppose it simply regard certain parties as illegitimate. I have discussed this before:

    Now, I don’t advocate putting the Greens last. There are worse parties than they are (e.g., the Citizens Electoral Council, the Socialist Whatever They Are Now), but I see no reason to put them second.

  19. I’m not entirely sure why you think the Coalition’s goal in this election should be to help elect a LC that promotes Labor passing legislation.

    “Dear Coalition voters, we might lose so please do your best to help Labor, cheers, Libs/Nats.”

    That’s a winning message alright.

  20. p 123 – In the senate I usually start at the bottom, but it gets very hard to decide who to put lower, then you realise you missed a column and “Nazis against Muslim immigrants” end up higher than you intended. The columns I really hate are the ones who don’t even say who they are (and I realise sometimes it has to do with non-party registration and timing etc).

    I used to think that this was sort of a pointless exercise that just made me feel good, but after the last few Senate elections you never can tell who is going to get elected after all!

  21. I think I missed Family First at the last election and ended up having them in the 30s instead of right before the more rabid right wingers.

    Not that it mattered, as my preference wouldn’t have made it past #4.

  22. td 125 – It is a difficult balancing act for the Coalition. Many of them would believe that a Labor-Green Lower House (and to some extent Upper House) is more likely to be unstable, considering recent Australian political history. So they may be tempted to try and help this along if they think they are going to lose.

    The problem is, suggesting that they are doing this would probably ruin any chance they have of winning the election themselves. Their late decision in 2010 to put the Greens last is recognized by many as the masterstroke that won a tight election.

    So who will prevail? The Liberal hard-heads who know they are cooked or the Nationals who hate the Greens with a vengeance?

  23. the drewski,

    The goal is not a Legislative Council that helps Labor pass legislation. The goal is a Legislative Council that helps Labor pass legislation that the Greens do not support.

    Coalition voters have a choice of a Labor government dependent on the Greens or a Labor government not dependent on the Greens. They ought not complain after the election if it is dependent on the Greens because they did not take the option open to them to make it not dependent on them. They may of course think that a Labor government dependent on the Greens is in the Coalition’s interest because, whatever damage they see it doing to the state, it makes a Coalition return to power more likely.

  24. Exactly. The best option for a losing Coalition is a dysfunctional Labor government; the second best outcome is one that depends on the Greens for functionality.

    They get no (political) benefit at all from promoting Labor being able to distance itself from the Greens by ignoring them in passing legislation.

  25. the drewski,

    The Coalition would get no political benefit from Labor’s being able to pass legislation without the Greens, but I am not talking about the Coalition or expecting it to promote Labor’s independence from the Greens. I am talking about Coalition voters, who may not want a Greens-reliant government in power and who have the power to make sure we do not have one.

  26. 124

    The current system of GTV encourages as many parties as possible to stand and thus makes the ballot papers big, and in Commonwealth elections the ballot paper print small and hard for some people to read. This is not good.

    It also causes preference flow the voters would not make if they those them themselves. Nobody could reasonably claim to be surprised that ALP ATL votes elect other ALP candidates or Coalition and Liberal tickets elect Coalition candidates. It is the ability for votes for one party to go off in all kinds of strange directions that causes problems.

    What is needed is to switch to allowing ATL preferencing, like in NSW. This could either be optional preferential above the line like in NSW or Compulsory Preferential ATL preferencing. This would reduce the power of backroom deals and increase voter power.

  27. Is it over yet? Do the Libs actually have a strategy to try to win in Vic. Do they already believe they have lost. Seriously the polls are looking very consistent and things like a Lib green deal to sandbag the Senate may be smart at one level but have a defeatist smell at another level.

    Apart from having no idea how to restart the Vic economy except build a road to nowhere, the Liberal campaign can do without stories like this.

    Personally I don’t care if a candidate is associated with a porn star, and it is not illegal. But it is a funny look when you are chasing the fundy religious vote for all it is worth.

  28. @103, 111

    For the same reason you describe in 111, your question in 103 is moot. There will be few regions where the Greens preferences will be distributed, and fewer still where the distribution will be meaningful.

  29. With Labor victory looking very likely, they need to have a few plans ready to go. Regarding that stupid road to nowhere, there is one obvious move for Andrews upon taking office. The business case for the EW link tunnel should be released. There are several good reasons:
    1. If it is full of holes, Napthine’s reputation for financial management will be shot and the decision to cancel the project fully justified. There may be grounds for an inquiry into the process.
    2. If it is credible (highly unlikely) it will raise questions as to why it was not released. In this case Labor should ask the former head of transport modeling from Vicroads, who reportedly resigned during the process.
    3. Either way, it will better inform the public of the real cost of the road, and the fair cost of any compensation to the winning bidder.

  30. It may well be the case that the Liberals registered the open how to vote cards only to divert ALP resources to seats the Liberals cannot win.

  31. Pegasus@122

    She said the party always registers open and preference how to vote cards, with local branches then able to choose.

    Read more:

    This has been my experience with my local Greens Branch where there are spirited discussions regarding whether to have an open or preference HTVCs at an election.

    I support open tickets.

    A shame the comment that the Liberals admitted it was part of negotiation appears as a paraphrase not a direct quote from anyone.

  32. Tom 136.
    Really? So the ALP wasn’t aware that the Greens are a threat in the inner city? Not even after reading your posts on the Prahran campaign? Occam’s razor provides the solution. The Libs and Greens both lodged open tickets so they could pursue discussions about a “swap” of open tickets. And, if you’d like a side wager, if the deal is done the Greens will say that the decision in marginal seat x (and/or y and z) was a “local decision” over which the people who did the deal had “no control”. Poor, politically impotent, dears. Can’t even convince their own members not to support Dennis. And if you believe that, I’ve got a nice new freeway to sell you.

  33. Hi, The Silver Bodgie.

    Thank you.

    I found that there were far too many comments to keep up with so I restrict myself to Victorian threads and even those I rarely appear on, just because of time.

    I also get provoked by certain claims (e.g., those re the voting system and preferences), so I hop in with my view. I find the ignorance of the principles of STV disturbing. I’d blame teachers except I was one myself! It does not matter whether or not those who voted above the line know where their preferences go. They do not care, as is shown by the WA Senate rerun when the vote for micro parties increased despite the outrage that had greeted the 2013 results. They choose to trust their party, and they are entitled to do so because the group voting tickets have halved the informal vote.

    People may be interested in reading some of the comments after the last state election:
    Victorian election live

    After the blast page 11

    After the blast page 20 (21 too).

    The Victorian ALP platform for the coming election is now posted on the website at:
    Victorian Labor Platform. I have not read the whole platform, but the education chapter, “Skills and Knowledge”, is very good.

    I will be really disappointed if Labor does not win. Until this year, I expected that the Coalition would get two terms, but now that I expect Labor to win (c48-40), its not doing would be a blow.

    I’m off doing other things for the evening now.

  34. But if there is indeed a Lib-Greens deal, it doesn’t make sense. The Greens win and the Libs lose in this case. Even more the reason the EW link will not get implemented which both parties are at odds with.

    The poll points to the fact that whether the Libs preference the Greens or Labor first, it will not change the outcome that Labor will not win an outright majority in the Council

  35. “The analysis shows that directed preferences from the Greens to the ALP as against a Greens open ticket results in an increased flow of Greens preferences to Labor of 1.11% or 0.12% of the total vote. This translates into a net gain to Labor in State Legislative Assembly seats of 45 to 51 votes. Therefore it will only be in seats decided by the narrowest of margins, (less than 0.15% of the vote), that directed Greens preferences as against an open Greens ticket will be crucial in delivering the seat to Labor. Consequently, the threat by the Greens that in future they will run open tickets rather than direct preferences to Labor will have little or no impact on the final electoral outcome in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. This also highlights that we should not act to meet Green Party demands on the basis of a preference agreement. It is of extremely limited value and should be treated accordingly.”

  36. [I find the ignorance of the principles of STV disturbing.]

    It is precisely because of the principles of STV that GVTs are so objectionable because we know for certain that they cause preferences to be distributed in a way that actual voters never allocate them.

    I’m all for more parties being represented in parliament but that opinion doesn’t extend to support for gaming the electoral system to induce it. (Apart from anything else I’d rather let them in the front door with a single statewide electorate for the upper house.)

  37. Assuming the ALP wins the lower house but the greens have the BOP in the upper house.

    What are points at which the ALP will find both the both the LNP and the Greens oppose them in the upper house? It strikes me that, in reality, there’s not much. Maybe, I wrong, but the highly likely outcome of the greens having the BOP in the upper house doesn’t really seem that big a deal as long a the ALP is prepared to do a bit of work… and that may be a good thing.

  38. [What are points at which the ALP will find both the both the LNP and the Greens oppose them in the upper house?]

    There are, of course, all of those points going to extending executive authority and government’s manipulating parliament, the kind that Labor habitually oppose in opposition and support in government.

  39. Martin B@144

    What are points at which the ALP will find both the both the LNP and the Greens oppose them in the upper house?

    There are, of course, all of those points going to extending executive authority and government’s manipulating parliament, the kind that Labor habitually oppose in opposition and support in government.

    I’d put that in the positive side on the ledger 🙂

  40. Chris Curtis@140

    It does not matter whether or not those who voted above the line know where their preferences go. They do not care, as is shown by the WA Senate rerun when the vote for micro parties increased despite the outrage that had greeted the 2013 results.

    I don’t agree for a number of reasons:

    1. Excluding PUP, the Greens and the Nationals from “micro-party” status – which I believe is correct – the vote for micro-parties actually decreased from 14.61% to 13.41%, despite the number of micro-party groups increasing from 22 to 28.

    2. Despite the increased number of candidates, the proportion of micro-party voters who voted BTL actually increased slightly in the by-election, from 7.66% to 8.86%.

    3. The relatively small decrease in micro-party ATL voting doesn’t prove those voters who voted ATL for micro-parties didn’t care. A voter might care about the issue but be more concerned with making sure their vote was formal and for the micro-party that they most supported.

    GVTs do indeed cut the informal rate compared to the inflexible system that existed before, but no-one really is proposing a return to that system as an alternative.

  41. Sex Party have put the Greens below the Liberals in Albert Park, Richmond (Maltzahn) and Frankston, between Labor and the Liberals in Bellarine, Mordialloc and Wendouree and ahead of both Labor and the Liberals in Bentleigh, South Barwon and Cranbourne. These are the only seats they have cards registered for.

  42. Morgan says a 55/45 PP
    with the Greens on 19%…giving a House of 51 Lab/34 Libs/3 Greens(the latter must be the inner city seats,with a big surge to Greens being indicated)

    BTW The ABC tonight said their poll on Euthenasia showed a 75% vote ion favour,and the Greens made the point that public opinion is supressed by the two major parties which are in many cases in the grip of the religious groups within ,and a fear of confronting the major christi

  43. Can I ask if Cris Curtis is the same Chris Curtis,,,,once a DLP candidate… who ran against the ALP Member David McKenzie in Diamond Valley in the time of the Whitlam Govt,and who did all he could to help defeat a Whitlam-.supporting ALP Member .in the 1970ies in Diamond Valley ?

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