Amid the ongoing opinion poll drought, quench your thirst with the following intelligence from John Ferguson and Ewin Hannan of The Australian.
• Pre-poll voting continues to be conducted at an unprecedented clip, which will potentially make life different for prognosticators on Saturday night. The Victorian Electoral Commission reports just shy of a million pre-poll votes have been cast, with the trend suggesting upwards of 350,000 are still to come over the next two days, eventually accounting for nearly 40% of all votes cast. Taking postal votes into account as well, little more than half the votes are likely to be cast on election day. This will be the first Victorian election at which pre-poll votes are counted on the night, and if there is indeed a different dynamic on pre-poll votes, the picture that emerges early in the count may be upset later in the night. The VEC site offers full data on the number of pre-poll and postal votes cast by day and by electorate.
• Last night’s apparently incident-free leaders debate was deemed to have been won by Daniel Andrews by 49 members out of the audience of 100 swinging voters hand-picked by Galaxy Research, with 33 favouring Matthew Guy.
• Fourteen months after it came to light and two days before the election, the Herald Sun reports Russell Northe, Nationals-turned-independent member for Morwell, received a $5000 donation ahead of the 2010 election which, a Nationals official says, never made its way to the party’s campaign account. Northe’s departure from the party in August last year occurred against a backdrop of personal and financial difficulties, among which was a gambling problem. The seat is a complicated contest in which Northe might equally lose to the Nationals or Labor (or perhaps even former Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator Ricky Muir, now with Shooters Fishers and Farmers).
• Noel Towell of The Age reports Labor believes it is “close enough to justify extra spending” in Melbourne, which Ellen Sandell of the Greens won from it by a 2.4% margin in 2014. While Labor believes it is drawing blood in its attacks on the Greens for standing by Angus McAlpine, erstwhile gangster rap homeboy and now candidate for Footscray, a party source says it is “treating its research in Melbourne with caution, because of the shortcomings of single-seat polling and the difficulty of accurately gauging voter intentions in inner-city seats”.
• The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has prohibited the dissemination of how-to-vote cards in Northcote disseminated by “Citizens for Stable Government”, having determined that they look rather too much like Liberal Party material. Helpfully for Labor, the cards recommended the Greens be placed last, whereas official Liberal material advises voters to make up their own minds.
• Not unsurprisingly, Labor has failed in a legal bid to have fresh ballot papers printed in Yan Yean to acknowledge Meralyn Klein’s new-found status as an independent candidate. Klein was disendorsed by the Liberal Party after the closure of nominations over her links with the far right Australian Liberal Alliance.