Victorian election minus eight days

Liberal candidate hassles, upper house preference shenanigans and (a bit) more.

News and observations:

• In a campaign in which far too much news space has been spent on so-what indiscretions by who-cares candidates in no-chance seats (more on this by ousted Greens candidate Joanna Nilson in The Guardian), the Liberals have suffered a genuinely consequential setbaack with their disendorsement of their candidate for Yan Yean, an outer northern Melbourne seat held by Labor on a margin of 3.7%. Meralyn Klein had appeared in a video by the far right Australian Liberty Alliance in which she complained of an incident involving two youths who were “of a culture that didn’t accept white Australian women”, which was used to promote the party’s call for a “ban” on Muslims. When Klein sought to distance herself from the party, one of its candidates, Avi Yemini, said the party had “numerous meetings with her”, and was hoping she would defect to it once elected. The deadline for nominations having passed, Klein remains on the ballot paper as the Liberal candidate.

• I had a piece in Crikey yesterday on Labor’s curious reluctance to reform group voting tickets for the Legislative Council. The definitive guide to the preference deals and their potential electoral consequences is provided by Kevin Bonham; Antony Green’s ever-reliable election calculators are available here; and Nick Casmirri offers revealing colour-coded summaries of Labor and Greens tickets across the eight regions.

• Liberal state president Michael Kroger was in unusually bullish form in assessing the situation for Patrick Durkin of the Financial Review. On Kroger’s telling, the confluence of Bourke Street and James Gargasoulas had voters primed for the Liberal law-and-order campaign just as they began flocking to the pre-poll booths in unprecedented numbers (see below). Kroger went so far as to say that Daniel Andrews would be “lucky to win his own seat” of Mulgrave, which he holds on a margin of 4.5%.

• The Victorian Electoral Commission relates that 238,559 votes have been cast in the first three days of pre-poll voting, compared with 119,640 at the same point in 2014.

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.

141 comments on “Victorian election minus eight days”

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  1. I have spent 2 days this week at an safe(is) labor seat. My very unscientific report is that this is general support for the government and most importantly, no real negative comments, which is often a sign of a move for change. I don’t know where Kroger is getting his ideas from but it doesn’t equate to my on the ground experience.

  2. Guy’s election promises are also not as strong as Labor’s at the moment. Trade in TV’s! Who was even calling for that and it will have such a small benefit overall. The fridges are a better idea I feel as these can really chew through the power but I’m sure there is a better way.

  3. Kroger’s basically playing a poker strategy to gee up the troops.

    Until they show us some numbers, it’s got a big element of bluff. He knows full well that the early voters are either political tragic who can’t wait (and whose votes don’t change too much) and old farts. The second category probably will break his way, but as to the first, all the people I know voting early are Labor or Greens voters who are getting antsy. I’m one of them – this is the first year I’ve come early (on the first day even!!).

  4. How is the Lib candidate in Yan Yean being sprung probably planning to defect to the nazis not getting more airtime? Outside the Gaurdian there’s been almost nothing.

  5. The TV and Fridge trade, brought to you by Harvey Norman – hope Gerry is getting value for his donation cash here. As for the Yan Yean candidate, she was interviewed on ABC radio yesterday, made Jaymes Diaz sound coherent.

  6. That article by Patrick Durkin in The AFR was:
    1) Nothing more than an attempt to repair the bridge he burnt when he pronounced the Coalition’s campaign DOA a few weeks back, by simply parroting Kennett and Kroger’s talking points.
    2) In any case, ludicrously bad; for example:
    a) On what basis can *anyone* say that “early voting is breaking in favour of” one party or another? Anyone who says they know that is talking balls.
    b) Don’t even get me started on Kennett’s views on opinion polls and undecided voters.
    c) The idea that Scott Morrison’s presence would’ve “boosted” anything is risible.
    d) The second-last paragraph contained the following howlers:
    i) It said that the Liberals hoped to pick up Geelong because of Ian Trezise’s retirement – he retired in 2014.
    ii) It implied that Oscar Yildiz would help the Liberals win Pascoe Vale – pigs will fly when that happens.
    iii) It said that Monbulk (James Merlino) was “in doubt” because of the redistribution – which happened before the 2014 election.
    Not worth the paper it was written on.

  7. Interesting policy with the heavy discount on TV and Fridges. I haven’t ready any detail other than 50% discount on TV & 40% on fridge for anyone in Victoria with a concession card?
    I don’t know how that is only costed at $40 million?
    It is a massive give away, not a very Liberal policy idea.

  8. “In a campaign in which far too much news space has been spent on so-what indiscretions by who-cares candidates in no-chance seats”

    The fact that the party of self-righteous moral outrage is standing by a candidate who as recently as this year is rapping misogyny purely for reasons of political expedience, is very news worthy.

    There is still a very real chance that we will end up with a minority labor government dependent of Greens confidence and supply. There platform in pursuing Labor lower house seats is their superior morality is required to keep Labor on the progressive path.

    They have shown themselves massive hypocrites

  9. The cheap electrical goods promise will win the Libs the election unless labor matches or betters it immediately or can effectively point out that the eligibility criteria will mean most households will not qualify for it and offer to expand it to more households – and sell it is both a cost saving and climate change policy.

    the lib know that swinging bogans that have no interest in politics can decide elections and there are many marginal seats in the bogan belt of outer eastern and south east melbourne. This is a masterstroke and will receive only praise and no criticism from murdoch media (imagine their cries of socialism and tax and spend government if labor proposed this).

  10. Libs promising to build a new brown coal power station.

    Central command avoiding saying what fuel, but candidates in the bush are publicly saying brown coal.

    Basically admitting they’re worried about holding Morwell.

    Trying to hide the announcement behind the cheap TVs bullshit.

  11. Toby

    Remember how many times howard turned around voters with ‘bonus payments’ in the weeks before elections.

    Labor needs to point out that the lib scheme will only apply to very old TVs (the howard bonus bought many flat screen TVs, and you have not been able to buy cathode tube TVs for over 10 years) and low income households. All the scheme will do is see people drag unused TVs out of storage and holiday homes to get a discount on new TVs. But – given the hun headlines today, there will be many voters who think they’ll be up for a half-priced TV and fridge and I think this could swing enough voters in marginal seats. This election is going to be close and I think a hung parliament with many right wing indies in the upper house is likely. It is going to be a tough gig governing whoever wins.

  12. That AFR artcle is for the benefit of donors to the Coalition. That’s why its in the AFR, not the Herald Sun or The Age. Keep them keen, telling them they are in with a shot. Some big donors commit during the campaign but actually pay in the last week. You don’t want them pulling out because they think your side has no chance, or you’ll be stuck with campaign debts. It may or may not reflect any real info Kroger has on their chances.

    On Leader debates, see this in the Guardian. If you read through it looks like there will be a second TV debate after all, as apart from the Sky News event the ABC will broadcast their radio debate on TV as well. I suppose that means it’s an old style three people in a room moderated debate, rather than one with a panel and an audience as we’ve become used to.

  13. The power station update is mentioned here, but oddly even the Guardian seems to be burying it:

    Seriously – the Coalition know that the vast majority of the populace want to get away from coal power. They will pay for it over and over again in the loss of seats like Wentworth. Hence a trashy “throw in a new TV” to fight climate change offer, which sounds like a fricken Demtel ad from the 80s.

    This – plus the neo nazis hoping to catch defecting Libs – should be what hands the election to the ALP. Why Andrews isn’t going hard on this, I don’t know.

    70% of the electorate support the GFNP – and the Libs think doing a “the Reds are really Greens” act is the best course?

  14. It’s almost as if a certain party is positively gleeful at the prospect of innocent people being murdered in our streets. Sickening.

  15. I’m an interstate visitor to Ripon. My host is basically a lifelong Liberal but he’s thinking of voting Labor because of all the Canberra stuff and his preference for the Labor candidate in Ripon. However, he’s with Jeff Kennett in thinking the Libs will win handily.

    Be wary of these quiet elections. Electricity prices and Somali gangs can be vote changers, even though the feds are supposed to be on top of ‘terror’ and energy policy.

    Labor deserves to be re-elected because of euthanasia alone, but don’t bet on it. Kennett knows better than most that there are no certainties.

  16. Take out “it’s almost as if” from the start of that sentence.

    Curious to see if that’s backfired though. The Guardian certainly implies voters looked upon Morrison and Guy’s act as pretty insulting, and there were certainly quotes from people there that the crowd in attendance though Morrison in particular was acting like a callous prick.

    But unfortunately no hard data on that. Give us a flarkin poll, you bastards.

    This month is going to be bad for my mental health no matter who wins. After Nov 24 I promise I won’t be back on PB until the new year…

  17. @Toorak

    Kennett has form in making bad calls on election results, but that aside, I don’t think he actually believed what he wrote in the paper. It was about geeing up the base, pulling in the donors. A “you can do it” quarter time speech to your under-15s. The absence of numbers proves that – you show the poll results that you’ll lose 53-47 then Gerry Harvey doesn’t give you cash for TV trade-ins. If they had real numbers saying they were going to win, it’d be front and centre in the Herald Sun.

    Basically, Kroger and Kennett just reckon they’re in with a chance. They aren’t really “quietly confident” of anything.

    You’re right that in a “quiet” election, crime scares and power prices can a couple of %, but ultimately I’m expecting a situation like Queensland last year. Lots of noise about the Libs being a shot (on the back of ON), but then conservative tantrums on election night when it turns out Labor are returned in a tightish one, even if it took 10 days of counting the preferences to get to that stage.

  18. @ sustainable future
    No, I don’t – because he was never silly enough to do it with less than two weeks to polling day; Howard’s middle-class welfare was always doled out at Budget time. This just looks like a transparent attempt to bribe voters. You’re obsessing over what’s a pretty low-rent tactic.

  19. Wow. Vic Libs offering discounts on new electrical goods- a concerted effort to save the planet… well as proposing a new (brown coal fired) power station.
    The new tvs are an old trick- the Romans bought support the same way- but called it “panem et circum.”

  20. There was a uComms/ReachTEL VIC state poll of 1,527 residents, 13 Nov.

    TPP of ALP 56 L/NP 44 (respondent allocated)

    Seems high and hard to believe? Maybe its rogue, maybe its not. Its a privately commissioned, Victorian National Parks Association poll. Their press release focuses on the Parks questions, not the how will you vote questions.

  21. There hasn’t been a single bit of good polling news for the Coalition so far, unless you count seat polls suggesting they’ll lose by the same margin as last time as good news. If they were in with a genuine chance, surely there’d be at least one unreliable dubious-methodology special-interest-group-commissioned survey showing them in front by now. Or at least level. In even one seat.

    Edit: One seat held by Labor, that is. Obviously.

  22. This in the Grauniad today:

    One issue that people in the infrastructure biz are looking closely at: in theory, both Lab and Lib are (theoretically) promising to extend the suburban trains from Cranny to Clyde. Key difference – Labor are promising to first spend $750mil to duplicate Dandy-Cranny, with a little extra for preliminary works on the Clyde extension, whereas Libs are going to jump straight into Clyde for $487mil, but not duplicating the existing track.

    Infrastructure and rail industry people are pretty confident that the Libs’ plan here would be a pretty bad idea – you might win votes on the promise of the extension being built sooner, but the service frequency of what they’d end up with would be terrible. But I don’t know what Joe Voter in Cranbourne is seeing on the daily basis, or how they’d interpret it.

    Anyways, trains aside, I love the last paragraph, quoting Prof Economou from Monash:

    Hermans was even looped into a visit by the former prime minister John Howard, still his party’s most popular weapon on the campaign trail.

    Howard led a phalanx of state Liberals, including Guy and Hermans, around Fountain Gate shopping centre, the mall popularised by the Australian television sensation Kath and Kim.

    “How’s business?” Howard asked one shopkeeper, according to a report in local paper the Cranbourne Star News. “It will be even better when Matthew Guy becomes the premier.”

    His appearance is a sign of a campaign under pressure, Economou said.

    “Trundling out federal leaders is a sign that the state leader is not cutting through,” he said.

  23. Expat,

    Howard isn’t even a federal leader. He’s a former federal leader. And he was never popular in Victoria. Kinda makes a bloke wonder why the current federal leader isn’t being trundled out instead of busing/planing around Queensland.

  24. @Ante Meridian,

    Tell me about it 🙂 It’s probably because wheeling Howard out worked so well in Wentworth. So clearly they know what they’re doing. Tactical geniuses.

    I think there’s some saying about people doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result… We can dream of Matt Guy putting his face on an empty bus and driving it around country Victoria, because that also seems to work great and doesn’t at all make you look like a buffoon.

  25. I think I would just about volunteer to personally drive John Howard in the Liberal bus to visit every marginal electorate in Victoria over the next nine days.

    I think such a road trip would dramatically boost Labor’s chances in many Coalition-held seats.

  26. there is NO WAY labor will be on 56% 2PP with 37.6% of the primary vote. If anything, that will roughly translate into the 52% they got last time. Ignore for a simpler life.

  27. That new poll is interesting, and gives more credibility to a lot of the huge anti-LNP swings in privately commissioned seat polls.

    Even though these polls are being commissioned by clearly left-leaning groups (National Parks, Goongerah environmental group, Bike Australia, etc) having been polled in one and read the order of questions for the new report, that really has no influence on the voting intention questions which are asked first before you even know what the rest of the poll is about, or who has commissioned it.

    Every poll is consistently pointing to an LNP wipeout next week, although in Victoria a huge 2PP thumping won’t necessarily translate to a big seat swing because so much of the state is rusted-on to one side or the other with very few swinging marginal areas.

    Although that most recent poll certainly shows why the Liberals would be so concerned about their 4-5% margins in the eastern suburbs..

  28. Looking into the VNPA poll, if allocating the undecided the primaries are 40.4 ALP 36.8 LNP 10.3 Green 5.9 Ind 4.6 Other.

    The very high TPP is basically because the preference flows are significantly higher to ALP tham at the last election. The actually figures come out as 55.8 to 44.2.

    I am little bit troubled by the weighting to match ABS figures. But generally I can’t see to much wrong with it. It was cnucted by ReachTel so it might be ok.

  29. @ Unitary State
    As usual with ReachTEL, those primary vote figures *exclude* undecideds (of 6.7%). Given that Labor’s primary vote of 37.6% is matched by the Coalition’s 35.2%, a 56-44 TPP’s quite plausible given ReachTEL also finds that:
    1. When pressed, 41.5% of the undecideds would choose Labor to only 24.4% choosing the Coalition, with 29.3% choosing a minor party.
    2. Of those who didn’t say they’d vote for Labor or the Coalition, 67.5% said they’d preference Labor over the Coalition.

  30. @ B.S. Fairman
    I think Kevin Bonham – who may well be reading and could clarify – has tweeted that Labor actually did receive about 70% of all preferences in 2014.

  31. I don’t mind asking the voters their preference in polls. It just gives a different polling result. Particularly “others” at one election is likely to be a different cohort than “others” at another.

    Where Labor jump into lead on this poll is they were getting 41.5 to 24.4 of the undecided leaning to them.

  32. Kevin Bonham has observed that the two biggest danger factors for state governments are long incumbency and being the same party as the federal government. The weight of history doesn’t bode well for the LNP given those factors.

  33. From the Tim Colebatch article linked by Pegasus above.

    In Victoria, a government has not been re-elected since 2006.

    That sounds impressive until you realise there have only been two elections since then.

  34. Reading a lot of analysis I find the automatic linking of wealth and Liberal voting to be a bit lazy and outdated. I think the Wealthy = Right / Working Class = Left divide exists far less than it once did. Take this excerpt from Tim Colebatch’s piece for example:

    “Richmond, once solidly working-class, now comprises mostly professional/business couples in which both work full time, giving it the third-highest median household income in Victoria. In the long term, it is a potential Liberal seat.”

    Richmond contains the suburbs of Richmond, Abbotsford, Collingwood & Fitzroy and there is just no way possible that the Liberals will ever been in with a chance there, regardless of the expensive house prices and high incomes.

    Firstly there is a big difference between “old wealth” and “new wealth”. Those raised in traditional blue-ribbon wealth suburbs such as Toorak, Malvern, Balwyn, Kew & Camberwell comprise the “old wealth” demographic which I agree is far more likely to vote Liberal. However, the affluent young professionals moving into the ‘funkier’ inner city suburbs like Richmond, Fitzroy, St Kilda, Prahran and even fancier suburbs like Albert Park & South Yarra are affluent due to high income occupations and may have come from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, potentially growing up in rusted on Labor families, and often working in occupations which make up the typical Greens demographic.

    The affluent demographic moving into gentrifying/gentrified suburbs are much more likely to be of that “new wealth” demographic which is not necessarily a Liberal leaning one and most likely didn’t come from old wealth in the Liberal heartland. The “old wealth” types really have no reason to move from Toorak to Richmond unless they are more attracted to the suburb’s cultural profile. Which brings me to my next point….

    People with the economic mobility to pick & choose whatever suburb they want tend to move to suburbs that have a character or culture that aligns with their own personality, interests or world view. There is a tribalism attached to a postcode or region, particularly in Melbourne. Somebody with enough money to buy in Fitzroy (with house prices exceeding South Yarra these days) is unlikely to choose to Fitzroy over Camberwell if they identify more with the conservative character of Camberwell.

    If a wealthy demographic of high income professionals are moving into once working class or even slummy suburbs like Richmond, Fitzroy, Windsor & St Kilda instead of the more prestigious Hawthorn or Camberwell, it’s most likely the progressive attitude & culture of their chosen suburb that attracted them in the first place.

  35. Yes Labor got c.70% of all preferences last election. Off primaries of Labor 38.1 Coalition 42, they ended up winning the 2PP 52-48. I haven’t adjusted for seats contested by both Liberals and Nationals but there weren’t many of them so it makes little difference.

  36. “TPP of ALP 56 L/NP 44 (respondent allocated)”

    To be read in context. This context:
    Last 4 consecutive opinion polls results for the Vic State election:

    14 Nov………… 56% ALP….ReachTEL
    24-28 Oct……54% ALP…..Newspoll
    22-24 Oct……53% ALP…..YouGov
    3 Oct…………….52% ALP….ReachTEL

    Is it just me or there is a trend there?

  37. To support my last argument, St Kilda’s demographics have changed dramatically over the past 15-20 years and its median incomes skyrocketed. However, the Liberal vote in St Kilda has remained stagnant and even after 20 years of gentrification pricing out the lower socioeconomic groups, the Liberal vote in St Kilda is still in the 20-25% range, practically unchanged.

    Why? Because wealthy people with conservative leanings are unlikely to be attracted to a staunchly progressive bohemian red light district; but young, idealistic high income earners with progressive values are.

  38. Bang on Trent with your analysis.

    According to a number of comparison calculators, our household income makes my partner and I better off than more than 90% of Australians. We both earn a very good salary, with additional investment incomes.

    Yet, we chose to buy a house and live in Footscray.

  39. serious question – did howard’s libs ever win a majority of federal seats in Vic? Even in the 1996 election I think only two vic seats went from labor to lib, and I don’t think any changed hands to them after that – they just lost seats. My recollection is that the federal libs TTP in Vic was rarely >50% in polls or at elections through the entire Howard era. Why would they think rolling out the desiccated old scroat would win votes here? I bet he demands to turn up and nobody has the heart to tell him to fuck off. Let’s hope abbott decides he need to help too – he is actively loathed by most Victorians.

    I don’t know why I am so nervous about the election – I guess it is the sense that the electorate is a bit bolshie generally and may just lash out at any government in power. the collaborative murdoch media campaign and fed gov intervention against labor is the worst I have seen – we need a royal commission into media bias and collusion with political parties.

  40. Anyone have any thoughts on the swing of Metro vs Regional/Rural ?

    Antony Greens calculator currently shows with 0 swing, a 2PP of 52% to Labor, with Metro 55.1% Labor and Regional/Rural 55.5% to Coalition

    If there was a 4% swing as per Reachtel, and it was even, that puts it at 59.1% Labor in Metro, and 51.5% Coalition in Rural/Regional, which seems pretty unusual to me.

    It would be easier to believe there are bigger swings in the region and smaller swings in Metro, just because 59% is too big a number… (but thats not a very good argument)

  41. sf – courtesy of

    1996 – Labor 16, Liberal 19, Nationals 2
    1998 – Labor 19, Liberal 16, Nationals 2
    2001 – Labor 20, Liberal 15, Nationals 2
    2004 – Labor 19, Liberal 16, Nationals 2

    Continuing post Howard wins

    2007 – Labor 21, Liberal 14, Nationals 2
    2010 – Labor 22, Liberal 12, Nationals 2, Greens 1 (Labor winning Latrobe, McEwen to survive)
    2013 – Labor 19, Liberal 14, Nationals 2, Greens 1, Independent 1 (Cathy McGowan)
    2016 – Labor 18, Liberal 14, Nationals 3, Greens 1, Independent 1 (Cathy McGowan)

  42. sf

    I am nervous about all elections. In this one Labor’s ‘problem’ is that there is very little low hanging fruit – ie Coalition seats on 1% or less. But I am not having any of the feeling I had the day before the 2010 State election when I had this sudden realisation that Labor were going to lose (even though the Coalition were still at that stage $3.00 or something with the bookies).

    That stat about no Vic government getting re-elected since 2006 is so stupid! To put it another way – since 1955 there has only been ONE single term government in Victoria. That was the Coalition 2010-2014.

    1955-1982 Liberal = 9 terms
    1982-1992 Labor = 3 terms
    1992-1999 Coalition = 2 terms and extraordinary upset loss going for third
    1999-2010 Labor = 3 terms
    2010-2014 Coalition = 1 term
    2014- Labor = 1 term so far

    With a Federal Coalition Government which is on the nose especially in Victoria (hence very few Federal Liberals seen during the campaign), I can’t see community angst to throw out a one term Labor government. I cannot see the Coalition in any scenario gaining the 7 seats from Labor they need to form Government. I expect Labor to improve their position by a few seats to at least 48.

  43. (not sure if my maths is correct, but)
    Margin between Metro and Regional/Rural is currently 11.6%, if that was reduced to 5%, and assume 3/8ths of seats are outside Metro (based on Leg. Council), so a 1% swing in Regional/Rural = 0.6% swing in Metro (because 3 voters in regions for every 5 in metro), or 0.375% across the state (3/8)

    Reducing Metro/Regional difference by 6.6 would be equivalent to a 2.5% (actually 2.475%) state wind swing.

    Add another 1.5% swing statewide to get to 4% swing, and 56% 2PP, and we could see 56.6% Metro (+1.5%) and 52.5% to ALP in Regional/Rural (+8.1%)

    It seems like a ridiculously large swing again, but keep in mind at last state election in Victoria the CFA/Union dispute was a major factor in the election, so that will be less of an influence on regional/Rural seats now, so it makes sense that margin between metro and Regions should reduce. And also farmers are starting to embrace renewables now, some probably realize now that they had been mislead by the Nats and Liberals which could hurt them.

    Result 5 seats gained, Bass, Eildon, South Barwon, Morwell, Ripon. (but maybe at least two of three Green seats could be winnable to Labor as well)

  44. What was a slaughter to Labor before last Friday’s terror attack, things are now tightening up. The next poll may be more interesting than you expect. The Coalition are on the improve.

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