Opinion polling for the Victorian election campaign has been nothing if not stable, and Galaxy has emphasised the point by ending the show with a poll putting Labor’s lead at 52-48, just as it was in its last two statewide polls. The poll of 1090 respondents, published in the Herald-Sun, finds the primary vote identical in every respect to the last such poll conducted a week ago, with the Coalition on 40%, Labor on 39% and the Greens on 13%. There is even better news for Labor from the preferred premier rating, which has Daniel Andrews vaulting eight points to 38%, and Denis Napthine down one to 41%. Further questions find 60% supporting the building of the East West Link, with only 29% opposed, and 46% considering Labor too close to the CFMEU, against 33% who say otherwise.
UPDATE (Morgan SMS poll): Now we’ve got a Morgan SMS poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday night from a sample of 1163, which maintains its late trend to the Coalition to the extent of having two-party preferred at 50-50. The Greens vote, which this series had long had at an implausibly high level, is down no less than four points to 13.5%, which causes me to suspect that there may have been some methodological tinkering going on. Both major parties are well up on the primary vote, Labor by 2.5% to 36%, and the Coalition by 4.5% to 44%. I’d take a Galaxy phone poll over this one any time, but it’s at least made me interested to see what the other late polls might come up with.
UPDATE 2: I’ve updated BludgerTrack on the sidebar, and as you can see, there’s quite a sharp move to the Coalition although I wouldn’t get too excited about it until I’ve seen a few more polls. In any case, the seat projection has finally budged from 50-38.
The Seven Network this evening reported that an exit-poll conducted by Galaxy at pre-poll booths in the sandbelt marginals of Frankston, Mordialloc, Carrum and Bentleigh showed Labor with a collective lead of 52-48, suggesting a swing to Labor of about 5% when compared with the equivalent results from the 2010 election. The poll captured a sample of 602, and was conducted for Victorian Trades Hall.
As of last night (Wednesday), 578,628 pre-poll votes had been cast and 187,835 postal votes received, compared with final totals of 543,763 and 247,642 in 2010, with may more yet to come. Antony Green has a post on the impact of the ongoing upsurge in pre-poll voting and its implications for election night. At federal elections, pre-poll voters voting within their division cast ordinary votes by placing them in a ballot box, while those casting absent pre-poll votes must fill out declaration envelopes. This means the former kind of vote can be counted on election night (although the task at the larger centres is such that they’ve been struggling to get through it on the night), while the latter require closer scrutiny to see if they are eligible to be admitted to the count. But in Victorian elections, all pre-poll votes go straight into the ballot box regardless of what electorate they are for. This means they must be sorted into different bundles for each electorate before they can be count, which can’t be accomplished on the night. As such, only about two-thirds of the votes stand to be counted by the end of Saturday night.
On a related note, James Campbell of Herald-Sun reports the upsurge in pre-poll voting is gravely alarming Liberal strategists, who see a late swing in their favour as their last remaining hope.
The Australian reports Liberal sources are now reduced to talking up a best-case scenario of minority government, although it’s far from clear who is envisioned as holding the balance of power. A slight narrowing of the polls in key marginal seats several weeks ago has evaporated, and a much-vaunted regional seats strategy looks set to deliver only the low-hanging fruit of Ripon. Contrary to earlier optimistic talk from party sources, the Liberals are now said to be trailing Labor in the so-called sandbelt seats. The motif in Labor television advertising of constructing a merged image of Tony Abbott and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine is apparently hitting the mark harder than Liberal assaults on union power and the record of the last Labor government.
According to James Campbell of the Herald-Sun, Labor folk are exuding a quiet confidence, while Liberals just seem to want it to end. Labor reportedly has Bellarine, Monbulk, Wendouree, Yan Yean and Cranbourne in the bag, and is upbeat about the Mordialloc. The Liberals are now said to regard Prahran, which I hadn’t previously heard mentioned, as a worry. Frankston and Bentleigh are tight, but the Liberals remain confident about Carrum, and hopeful that Craig Langdon’s spoiler role will deliver them Ivanhoe. Campbell also notes that Denis Napthine has been campaigning in Burwood and Eildon, which would be locked down by now if the Liberals were even remotely competitive.
Shout out to two online endeavours doing fine work in election modelling. One is Alizarin Indigo’s Venom at Daily Kos, which uses polling aggregation to model the lower house outcome in much the same way that Kevin Bonham and myself have been doing. The other is Geeklections’ simulations for the upper house, for which the individual region pages can be accessed here. The projections concur with my recently expressed view that the Country Alliance and Shooters and Fishers are extremely well placed in Northern Victoria and Eastern Victoria (but not that Vote 1 Local Jobs is likewise for Western Victoria, as it goes off a base vote of 0.2%). However, a series of boilovers are also projected for the metropolitan regions. I suspect that this is based on excessive assumptions about the vote for micro-parties and especially for Palmer United, but who knows.