Victorian election minus three days

In the absence of new polls, we can only guess at the impact of a news agenda dominated by terrorism – although betting markets are favouring Labor more strongly than ever.

The Victorian election campaign continues to chug along poll-lessly. There hasn’t been a single statewide poll since the Newspoll at the start of the campaign, and all we’ve had from the media was last week’s modestly sampled YouGov Galaxy seat polls for the Herald Sun. Roy Morgan has had some qualitative material based on 626 SMS surveys last Tuesday and Wednesday, of which you can make what you will. Not much, would be my recommendation.

The election campaign, narrowly defined, has also been battling for space with terrorism in the news media. Presumably this is bad news for Labor, but punters seem to have other ideas: Ladbrokes has had Labor in from $1.18 to $1.14 over the past few days, with the Coalition out from $4.33 to $5. Labor’s odds have shortened in a number of Liberal-held seats, with nothing or next-to-nothing separating the parties in Bass, South Barwon and Ripon. Conversely, Ladbrokes now rates the Greens as favourites to gain Richmond, and is suddenly offering $4 on an independent to win the Labor seat of Altona – although neither of the two relevant candidates (Tony Hooper, a Wyndham councillor, and Maria Aylward, sister of a murder victim running on a law-and-order ticket) has attracted much media attention.

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.

144 comments on “Victorian election minus three days”

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  1. Would have thought that police tracking down and arresting extremists planning a mass killing would be good for the governing party. Am I missing something?

  2. “In the absence of new polls, we can only guess at the impact of a news agenda dominated by terrorism”….

    Actually, William, you are most welcome to talk about something else and not terrorism unless, of course, you have joined the Liberal party campaign to put TERRORISM and LAW-‘N’-ORDER high on the agenda in order to help that poor hopeless Guy and his Neoliberal-Conservative rabble in Victoria…. But I am sure that you have not joined the campaign, of course……

  3. “Am I missing something?”

    Good point. Unfortunately, the media spin doesn’t work that way. If it’s a Liberal Government, then your interpretation would be exactly equivalent to the spin in the media, but if the anti-terrorism action occurs under a Labor Government the spin is this: “We are unsafe under Labor, look all those terrorists plotting to destroy us because Labor is weak on law-‘n’-order…. etc.”.

    But once you are aware of the trick, the trick becomes ineffective. Fortunately, more and more Australians are becoming aware of the Media as Weapons of Truth Destruction.

  4. I live in Prahran and have polled polled remorselessly for the past month

    So the polls are happening

    Question is why aren’t they being published. I hope it’s because Liberals don’t have a hope but I live in an area where even the women on age pensions with arthritis vote Liberal

    When analysing Prahran remember that some census collection districts are 80% female – especially the housing commission flats

  5. I recall the Murdoch press headlining that Kennett won a landslide victory

    Labor won the subsequent Burwood by election following Kennett’s resignation

  6. So the Greens entire “promised” spend is entirely in metropolitan Melbourne and overwhelmingly public transport that would primarily service the inner city whose votes it covets?

    The practice of the non news limited publications of raising analysis of Greens Political Party’s election platform to the same plane as the parties of government is symbolic of how intellectually crass the “serious” press is nowadays

  7. Socrates

    If you are talking about these promises ( I think you’ll find that the Labor Government (and likely the Liberals however I am not sure) have the same policy and have been working in the last term procuring trams and upgrading stops.
    In fact, the greens in Moreland blocked an upgrade of some DDA stops as it didn’t have a bike lane included.

    I have also been amazed at the reporting of promises. There are many Labor projects that haven’t been included as promises however have been announced, such as Higher Speed Rail to Geelong and major upgrades in urban areas to allow improved regional services. Melbourne Metro 2 is as far advanced by Labor as the suburban rail loop, yet the Greens have been credited with this and no other.

    One of the biggest complaints from the past is that we haven’t built for the future and we can’t keep up with infrastructure to support the population. Then when it’s proposed, it’s too expensive and we shouldn’t do it.

    The biggest need in my opinion for the tram network is to consider how to grade separate it or remove the traffic from competing with road space. From what I can tell, no party has promised this and Labors policies go the closest to suppressing this demand.

    Edit: I think these 2 charts are very telling: and
    Whilst Labor has the biggest spending if everything goes through (and over a 40 year period), most of this is just a promised business case. and they are the party that has prioritised the business case process the most.

  8. Billie, I think the dominant theory (supported by the betting odds) is that internal polling of both majors is showing a comfortable Labor victory, or at least next to no chance of a majority Liberal government

    Particularly with the Greens lower house numbers creating an awkward chasm, neither major has an incentive for that information to get out there.

    The Libs do not want a sense of inevitable defeat to take hold and demotivate its foot soldiers. Labor does not want a sense of inevitable victory to potentially lead the marginal red/green voter in the inner city and red/blue voter in the suburban marginals to switch their votes.

  9. Socrates,

    In addition, I think if you looked at cost for the first 20 years of election promises, the amounts would be looking very similar between all 3 parties.

  10. What was that arrest of ‘Terror suspects’ about? They were under surveillance like many other suspects but a preventive arrest is made before elections & The trial is in April.

  11. Steve,

    “How accurate are the betting markets in predicting election outcomes!?”

    Not very. Kevin Bonham has a few posts that are scathing of anyone who uses betting markets as election predictors. You can find them on his blog (sorry, but I’m too lazy to find them myself). The nadir was the S.A. election before last when the Liberals lost after being at $1.01.

  12. Dr Kevin Bonham:

    Labor has preferenced a range of, for progressives, dubious parties above the Greens in what looks like an attempt to replace the Greens with Druery parties:

    Adrian Beaumont:

    The Greens in particular appear likely to lose seats that they would win with a sensible system. Labor may well have shot themselves in the foot by sticking with group ticket voting; with a sensible system, Labor and the Greens would probably win an overall upper house majority. Conservative micro party members are likely to stall progressive legislation.

    It is easy to vote below-the-line in Victoria, as only five numbers are required for a formal vote, though voters can continue numbering beyond “5”. I recommend that voters number at least five boxes below-the-line, rather than voting above-the-line, where parties control their voters’ preferences. If enough people vote below-the-line, the micro parties’ preference harvesting could be thwarted.

  13. Ven – There was increased ‘chatter’ from the suspects following the recent Bourke St incident. They will have had a ‘line’ which was crossed, likely the discussion moving from ‘we should buy a weapon’, to ‘let’s find someone who can sell us a weapon’. Things can obviously move quickly at that stage so the AFP and Victoria Police have to make a call. Not one you’d want to get wrong…


    The upper house also presents uncertainty for the Greens. The party was keen to negotiate a preference deal with Labor because it secured all but one upper house vacancies with a full quota in 2014. However, Labor ignored its overtures, focusing its energies on ill-fated preference negotiations with the Liberals. In this election, the group ticket votes lodged by Labor place the Greens behind right-tending parties in several regions.

  15. In response to the borish Green spammer shill

    Labor and the Greens have preferenced ahead of each other in upper house seats
    -The anti vaxxer HAP
    -The lock em up Justice party
    -the immigrant 10 year bond Aussie battler party
    -I’ve probably missed some

    Labor has preferenced the SFF and LDP ahead of the Greens in two seats each

    Forever the hypocrites

    Also, Labor has a clear incentive to, in the event of winning majority government, have multiple paths to passing legislation

  16. At the last Victorian election, Labor had a cunning plan to achieve multiple paths to passing legislation. The result was an upper house where the coalition plus Greens have a blocking majority but Labor plus Greens don’t have a passing majority. To put it another way, instead of needing support from just the Greens, Labor needs support from the Greens and two other members. Putting it another way, Labor has multiple paths to passing legislation alright, and they all involve the Greens.

    Now, undeterred by this disaster, the Labor brains trust has decided to try the same brilliant ploy again. And unless the Greens’ vote falls significantly, they are likely to achieve the same result.

    Really, you’d think they would have learned from the experience with Steve Fielding.

  17. It is, of course, absolutely correct that betting markets don’t really tell us much. We’re just all dying of thirst here.

    Maybe even we should be worried that some people could e.g. know that the Libs look the goods, but are dropping large amounts of money tactically on Labor in order to drive up the odds, then they can drop a massive bet on the Libs as near 10-1 and clean up.

    FWIW – I’ve got a small tidbit in the form of an overheard conversation at Carrum pre-poll. Old guy (Herald Sun reader) chatting with the Lib volunteers, says “You guys are a shoe-in, surely”. Lib volunteer shuffled his feet awkwardly and said “well, actually, I’m not so sure of that…”

    Probably meaningless, but I thought volunteers were meant to sound positive and repeat Kennett’s “we got this” line? Or maybe the tactic they’ve been asked to use is to low-ball expectations to make it seem absolutely critical that every last blue-leaner votes?

  18. WRT to the terror raids – I know a couple of guys who’ve worked in the biz. They’re too professional to let anything major slip any details, but I know that firstly, there is always a lot of monitoring of scary stuff going on that the public probably doesn’t want to know about, and secondly they can get pretty peeved when someone like Abbott etc come out blasting the Muslim community as a whole… as a key part of counter-terror is getting tip-offs from within the community. If they completely alienate the Muslim community and set them up to hate the rest of us (which the Lib narrative implies they already do anyway), then the tips to police dry up, then it’s extremely bad news for everyone.

  19. It’s my view that the electorate is pretty much terrorismed and law-and-ordered out. Seventeen years of relentless scaremongering has meant that a single deranged lunatic attacking people with a knife just doesn’t have much impact anymore. So not many votes will be swayed one way or the other.

  20. Ok, my lower house prediction….
    I am predicting a majority ALP win.

    The Sandbelt seats will not move as much as else where. The population is a bit more stable here and the crime scare campaign seems to be targeting here more. Can’t see any seat falling to Libs however. (also since when have seats been name after Golf courses?)

    Bass and South Barwon to fall. Both have had massive population growth in the areas which are more Labor friendly.

    Ripon to fall as there has been some movement of people into the south east corner from Ballarat seeking cheaper housing and the unemployment rate has fallen significantly in the area over the last four years (mostly due to a major rail project).

    Eastern Suburbs will swing to Labor but it will generally not make difference as most are safe Liberals but Burwood and Bayswater might fall. There are certainly patches that have made major demographic shift too with many more migrants…. so Box Hill and Forest Hill to become more marginal.

    Morewell could go either to Nationals, the ALP or the sitting member. Not going to call it. Narracan will narrow in margin as Drouin-Warragul have grown massively in the past 4 years.

    James Purcell might win in South West Coast. Sheed will retain in Shepparton. I give Cupper a 30% chance in Mildura but she will get there one day.

    Can’t see the indies in Ovens Valley or Benambra getting up. Benambra is more of a chance but the youth of candidate will put some voters off. Ovens Valley should have been easier with a member under a dark cloud of criminal charges but it is covered by three different media markets (Shepparton, Wangratta and Wodonga) which makes it difficult.

    As for the Greens vs ALP contest…. I am not going to call it but I suspect the result could be bad for the Greens. Brunswick will be interesting as Denvey for the Reason party will interesting. Northcote is hard to use the byelection result to judge as the voter turnout was lower than the General election. Prahran will be either Labor or Green as I can’t see the population increase help the Liberals.

    Eildon will say with the Liberals even if there is a wipeout swing to the ALP.

    The LC will be a mess and will be reformed before 2022.

  21. Ante- indeed the LNP have really over egged their supposed strong areas (and I would add the military and anzacery as well)….when hysterical fear mongering doesn’t match the lived reality, reality wins.

  22. Sorry to be cynical and pessimistic, but…

    The Legislative Council voting system won’t be reformed unless and until the coalition (most probably the Liberal Party) suffers from it.

    For years the old Senate system hurt Labor (mostly because of the Labor strategists’ uncanny aim at their own feet) and so there was no interest on the right of politics for reform. That changed in 2013 when, for the first time, the Liberals lost a couple of key seats to preference-harvesters. Suddenly the coalition decided the system was undemocratic and something had to be done.

    Sadly, the LC will follow the same pattern. It will take a coalition government that has suffered from the system to implement change.

  23. A couple of interesting articles:

    No results listed but this alludes to Labor having encouraging internal polling in Melbourne.

    This one is just amusing. Very contradictory for the Liberals to be so quick to disendorse this candidate, but then fight tooth & nail to still be able to use How To Vote cards endorsing her as a Liberal candidate. If they truly disendorsed her, they wouldn’t want their brand associated with her at polling places.

  24. It may be in the major parties’ interests not to release polling, but what about our magnificent free and impartial media? Surely they have an obligation to publish and be damned.

  25. Why the hell woukd Labor ever consider promoting the Greens?

    Simply, this would give the Conservatives the attack they want – Vote Labor and you get the Greens

    Put the Greens last

    Then rely on your mandate to fulfill the agenda which has seen you elected

  26. Long time first time.

    The public polls are absent but you can be sure that the parties are doing their own.

    Why is Andrews so adamant that he won’t do a deal with the Greens? Probably because his polling is telling him that the voters don’t like the idea of a Labor-Greens quasi-coalition. Consistent with this conclusion is Guy hammering away ad nauseum about a Labor Greens coalition. The Liberal Party polls the same voters who are saying the same things to their pollsters. Also consistent with this conclusion is Labor attacking the Greens over their treatment of women problem. But this also probably means that Labor has all its contests against the Liberals in the bag and it is now concentrating on winning back what it sees as its property, the inner city seats the Greens hold.

    Labor to win comfortably.

    The upper house is a lottery, but Labor probably doesn’t care that much. It managed to get its program through in the last parliament and will again.

  27. At the top of his priorities, in his first 100 days just announced, Matthew Guy promised to close the safe injecting facility in Richmond. Is it here where we highlight that the Liberals aren’t officially running a candidate in this seat?

  28. The Liberals have just launched a website called – I kid you not: There’s even a press release about it on Matthew Guy’s website!
    You don’t try something like that unless you’re desperate.
    Also, I wonder if they’ve become shitscared about Caulfield: Guy says he’ll move Victoria’s tourism and trade office in Israel from Tel Aviv – where most of that tourism and trade would come from – to Jerusalem!

  29. Well, here’s what I posted on this site in March 2016 regarding Labor’s reaction to the Senate voting reforms. I’d say it’s probably aged better than most of my stuff.

    Of course, the real issue here is most probably that Conroy et al are far closer in their view of the world to “bestiality boys” such as Bob Day and Steve Fielding than they are to the Greens, and so would much rather see them holding the balance of power. If that means the difference between keeping and scrapping policies such as compulsory student unionism or a price on carbon… well, I suspect that they’re actually pretty cool with that, too.

  30. @Rocket

    That’d be 1999 😉 I remember it very well, as I was in Europe at the time, and in the days before social media and easy access to internet news (and Vic state politics not being super high on the German news media’s list of priorities) it was a few days before I heard the good news. I had more or less forgotten about politics back here, as I was resigned to seeing Kennett get back in again.


    “indeed the LNP have really over egged their supposed strong areas (and I would add the military and anzacery as well)…”

    They’ve got nothing, literally nothing else of substance to offer.

  31. That is very desperate!

    I’m tipping a very close race in Caulfield, pardon the obvious (but unintended) racing pun, so you could be right. The local MP there seems to be a bit of a dud and I don’t think he’s particularly popular.


    The Victorian Liberals are considering legal action against Premier Daniel Andrews and Victorian Labor secretary Sam Rae for conspiracy to injure and breaches of the Electoral Act after a series of mysterious how-to-vote cards were distributed in Northcote.

    The Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal yesterday struck out a series of how-to-vote cards circulated in Northcote and printed by a little-known group called Citizens for Stable Government, which featured similar colours, fonts and slogans to the Liberal Party.

    The Liberal Party and the Greens both filed complaints with the VEC on Sunday after finding the cards, which used the same colour blue and many of the same “Control” slogans of the Liberal campaign, but directed preferences to the Liberal Democrats and the Labor Party.

    The Liberals are campaigning in the Greens-held seat, but have issued their own how-to-vote cards with an open ticket in which they number their candidate John McIsaacs first, and leave out all other candidates.

    The Greens were incensed by the cards, which advantaged Labor over the party and incumbent Greens MP Lidia Thorpe, who was placed last.

    Following the VEC ruling, the Liberal Party wrote to Mr Andrews, Mr Rae and Northcote candidate Kat Theophanous to request information, saying it was considering legal action relating to how-to-vote cards.

    “Our client may have claim against you, Premier Daniel ­Andrews and Katerina Theophanous, ALP candidate for Northcote, for conspiracy to injure by unlawful means, given the tribunal’s findings in relation to the how-to-vote cards issued by Citizens for Stable Government,” the letter from HRLegal to Mr Rae read.

  33. And Labor bunting is being vandalised with stickers placed over the top trashing labor in Brunswick and Richmond etc. Are we to assume this is the Greens work given they are the only party that stands to benefit?

  34. Expat

    No it was the 1996 election – the presumption being that the Coalition had won so massively that they would definitely win again in 2000 (when the next election was due). We were living in the NT in 1999 and missed the Bracks win – I remember listening to Antony Green on ABC radio on the Friday the night before while I was getting petrol in Darwin and he was predicting Labor to do OK, but definitely very unlikely to win.

  35. Kennett lost in 1999 thanks to a swing against the Coalition in regional and rural seats, which were more or less off the radar of the pollsters and the metropolitan media.

  36. Corio

    There was one Age writer who travelled through regional Victoria in 1997 or 1998 and wrote about this phenomenon, predicting that it could undo Kennett. I can’t remember who it was, but he was subsequently promoted up the ranks. (though with all the Fairfax cuts he may have been culled later)

  37. I see Matthew Guy says he will shut down the safe injecting room in Richmond within days if elected.

    If he were so concerned about the people of Richmond surely it would have been appropriate to give them a Liberal candidate to vote for so that he could get a ringing endorsement of his policy from the very people who live there?

    Possibly the embarrassment of performing poorly in Richmond when this is really your only policy aimed at the electorate is the real reason that this is the ONLY seat not being contested by the Coalition.

  38. those betting odds are pretty stark – if the demographic that bets on such things (I’m assuming, white herald-sun reading, MMM-listening males aged 18-40 are the Ladbrokes main client base? does anybody know?) are all hearing that labor is going to win, then perhaps I’m worrying over nothing. My own antennae make me feel there could be a bit of a backlash against Andrews – although the libs have run a pretty lame campaign and Morrison’s muppet show will hurt them. Overall, I don’t think many are inspired by either candidate/party and labor might win just by default – with people feeling Guy is a tad dodgy. I predict the lowest combined first preference vote for the two main parties.

    Labor could have run a much better campaign and hammered the libs on climate change with the aim of taking a few ‘safe’ lib eastern/SE seats held by climate-science deniers. Their preference deals with RWNJ parties over the greens will come back to bite them badly – have the stupid fuckers learnt nothing from steve fielding? They could have won and governed as a progressive force, but they have chosen to lumber the state with BoP by micro-minority dickheads. I guess it suits the dominant right wing of the labor party and CFMEU to have shooters and fishers with balance of power rather than the Greens.

  39. And on the Liberals website they have their “last minute” candidates –

    Northcote – usual bio
    Melbourne – no bio
    Brunswick – candidate has disappeared (was there with one line bio, now vanished) – running dead?

    Fairly safe to assume they really had not planned to run in Melbourne or Brunswick.

  40. “I guess it suits the dominant right wing of the labor party and CFMEU to have shooters and fishers with balance of power rather than the Greens.”

    No, it suits Labor, and the cause of progressive politics longer term, for a Labor government to not look like they are in cahoots with the Greens political party.

    It suits Labor to not empower a party that has an explicit reason detre of displacing it and almost exclusively campaigns against it

    It suits Labor not to validate a political movement that obsessively aims to undermine its moral validity and claim anything good Labor does as some how its doing

  41. the sooner that Labor faces the fact that it is often going to have govern in formal or de facto coalition with the Greens (and the Greens drop this bullshit about replacing Labor) the better off we’ll all be. If turnbull and son get a liberal democrat party going at the cost of the LNP, then labor will have the option of government with them too – and if the lib democrats are all like Cathy McGowan (who has a significant support base of people otherwise active in the greens) then this would be fine with me. it saddens and angers me when labor cosies up to RWNJs just so they won’t have to govern with the greens).

  42. @ Rocket

    Ah ok – that makes sense then.

    @ Corio

    Indeed it was – it was safe Nationals areas that sank Kennett. Before moving to Europe at the start of 1999, I’d spent most of my life growing up in East Gippsland. People in the city don’t seem to remember (or maybe they didn’t fully grasp at the time) that amongst East Gippslanders, even though it’s one of the most rusted-on Nats voting areas in the country, Kennett was deeply, deeply hated. It was conservative Nats voters hijacking the train at Bairnsdale to stop it leaving, and Kennett’s school closures utterly destroyed many of the farming and timber communities around there. For people who lived down there, Craig Ingram winning as an indy in 1999 wasn’t a surprise to the locals, despite stunning viewers in Melbourne.

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