Welcome to part two in a hopefully six part series on the Senate contests. My political and recent historical overview of the Senate for Victoria can be found here – in this post, I shall stick to a one-shot attempt to model the result. The basis of the model and its assumptions are mostly as they were in the earlier New South Wales post. This time there is no complication of the mistaken Liberal Democrats vote to deal with, so the guide for determining vote shares is the swings currently recorded by BludgerTrack of -4.0% for the Coalition, -0.1% for Labor, +1.7% for the Greens and +6.1% for others.
The two immediately difficulties are in estimating the base votes for Derryn Hinch and the NXT and the flows of preferences they stand to receive, since the last election does not offer a guide. State-level polling suggests NXT is on around 2.5%, so for simplicity’s sake I’ve granted that much to both of them. The flow of preferences to Hinch is based on Palmer United’s, while the NXT gets what Xenophon received in South Australia at the 2013 election divided by three. I’m afraid I haven’t provided Ricky Muir with special treatment – no doubt he’ll do better than his 0.5% in 2013, but it’s my judgement that he won’t be seriously competitive and will be excluded in early rounds.
As shown in the table below, the result is five seats for the Coalition, four for Labor and two for the Greens, with the last seat to be won by a micro-party candidate – the Australian Sex Party on my projection, by the barest margin over Derryn Hinch. However, I strongly suspect I have underestimated Hinch’s vote, whereas I’d doubt I’ve gone too far wrong with the Australian Sex Party. The Sex Party, Hinch and NXT each start in reasonably close proximity on the primary vote, so the matter then comes down to the preference flows, which in the case of Hinch and especially the NXT are highly speculative. Hinch performs more strongly than NXT partly be virtue of receiving a preference recommendation from both major parties, but less strongly than the Sex Party, which did particularly well on below-the-line preferences in 2013 (which are used to estimate preference flows in the model), and also had a preference recommendation from Labor.
The availability of a seat for a micro-party is itself a close-run thing, as illustrated at Count 45, at which point the fifth Labor candidate is excluded in a very tight result against the NXT. Had Labor snuck its nose ahead at this point, the model projects their candidate ultimately winning the seat. This is based on the behaviour of Xenophon preferences in South Australia, of which the major parties were the biggest beneficiaries. Instead, the model finds the exclusion of Labor and the distribution of its preferences nudging the Sex Party clear of Hinch. It should be noted that Labor preferences had considerably more bearing on the result than Liberal preferences, since the fifth Liberal candidate had next to no surplus to distribute at the point of their election.