Victorian election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s guide to the November 26 Victorian state election.

The Poll Bludger’s guide to the November 26 Victorian state election is now open for business, featuring comprehensive detail on all 88 lower house seats – their histories, boundaries, demographics, redistribution effects and main candidates, together with interactive booth results maps from 2018 and tables and charts summarising past election results – and an overview page. All that’s missing is a guide to the Legislative Council, which will follow in due course. If this is of any value to you, a reward for the extensive effort involved in the form of a donation would be much appreciated – these can be made through the “become a supporter” button at the top of this page.

To summarise the situation, I repaste below the “redistribution and electoral arithmetic” section from the overview page:

The parliament has ended its term with the same party representation in the lower house that it started with, as an otherwise highly eventful four years passed with no by-elections or party members moving to the cross bench. The results at the 2018 election were 55 seats for Labor, 21 for the Liberals and six for the Nationals, three for the Greens, and three for independents. However, the election will see no fewer than thirteen of Labor’s lower house members retire, and while few of these are in seats that represent strong opportunities for the Liberals, they will complicate Labor’s efforts to defend Richmond and Albert Park from the Greens and Bellarine from an independent. The four seats where Liberals are retiring include highly marginal Hastings and historically blue-ribbon Kew, where the departure of Tim Smith has probably done the Liberal cause more good than harm in the face of the teal independent threat.

After two terms and eight years on the same set of electoral boundaries, the election will give effect to an extensive redistribution that has abolished three seats in Melbourne’s stagnant eastern suburbs and created new ones in the city’s west, outer north, and outer south-east. While two seats held by Labor and one held by the Liberals have been replaced by corresponding numbers of notional Labor and Liberal seats, the changes are to Labor’s advantage in that two of the new seats are highly safe for Labor while the abolished Labor-held seat of Mount Waverley is a normally Liberal-leaning marginal. The redistribution has also produced notional Labor margins in four Liberal-held seats (Hastings, Caulfield, Ripon and Pakenham, the latter having replaced Gembrook), while sending only two seats the other way (Bayswater and Bass).

Another complication to the arithmetic arises from the retirement of Russell Northe, one of the chamber’s three independents. Northe’s Latrobe Valley seat of Morwell gave Labor 54.0% of the two-party preferred vote in 2018 against the Nationals, such that it can be treated as a notional Labor seat in his absence. Adding this to its net gains and losses from the redistribution, Labor goes into the election with a notional 58 seats compared with the 55 it won in 2018, while the Liberals are down from 21 to 19. The Nationals remain on six, each on margins safer than any enjoyed by the Liberals, while Mildura and Shepparton are held by independents who will re-contest their seats.

On the assumption of a uniform swing and no change to the status quo in terms of minor parties and independents, a Coalition majority government would require a daunting gain of 20 seats and a swing of 10.4%. While the Greens could make inroads into the Labor majority, with the inner-city seats of Richmond, Northcote and perhaps Albert Park rated as strong possibilities, a uniform two-party swing to the Coalition of nearly 10% would still be needed to cut deeply enough into Labor’s numbers to reduce it to a minority.

The federal election result has also inspired a wave of candidates hoping to follow in the footsteps of the teal independents, many drawing support from the same local networks and the fundraising efforts of Climate 200. As at the federal election though, where teal independents cost the Liberals the Melbourne seats of Kooyong and Goldstein, the risk here is largely on the Liberal side of the ledger. Seats where independent campaigns have enjoyed substantial media attention include Kew, Brighton and the country seat of South-West Coast, which respectively correspond largely or entirely with Kooyong, Goldstein and Wannon, the latter also having produced a strong result for an independent at the federal election. However, well-organised independent campaigns have also emerged in the Labor-held seats of Hawthorn and Bellarine.

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.

216 comments on “Victorian election guide”

  1. The Liberal Party have a problem attracting desirable candidates – no matter gender

    This is just another example

    The presumption is that being from Victoria Police and its right wing Union this candidate ticks the boxes

    Except ……….

  2. The SMH has published another article where they seem to think 59:41 reflects the ALP government’s “woes”! Good grief. Another mere flesh wound.

    Incredibly Lobster Guy could lose more seats.

  3. Labor primary vote falls 4% from last resolve and down 5% from last election. Are seats like Preston, Pascoe Vale and Footscray going Green while seats like Hawthorn, Bellarine, Melton and Point Cook going independent? What an intriguing election. Still calling minority Labor. Could yet be minority Labor with Coalition losing seats. WOW. 15 plus crossbenchers.

  4. Does anyone know of Liberals intentions of preferencing Greens over Labor on their “how to vote” cards? Also anyone know the percentage of Greens voters preferencing “teal” independents over Labor at the federal election? What a fascinating election 26th November will be. Throw in Benambra and SW Coast into the mix of close seats.

  5. @Jeremy: Good question about Liberals preferencing Greens or Labor. To my knowledge, no official materials or position has been made public yet, however there is a “Put Dan last” campaign and flyers going around, so it would seem inconsistent on one hand to distribute a “Put Dan last” flyer but then preference Labor ahead of the Greens.

    My guess is that given the incredibly bleak numbers for the Coalition who are clearly nowhere near government, they might preference the Greens (against their usual instincts) to play the long game and assume that if Labor are forced into governing with the Greens, they could weaponise that as a line of attack in 2026 which would probably resonate in the outer suburban seats they’re targeting.

    Regarding Greens preferencing teals or Labor, at the federal election it was teals, but there were some specific reasons for that which may be different this time. The main two are:

    1. Federal teals were entirely funded by Climate 200 and had a united 60% emission target versus Labor’s 43%;

    2. Federal teals were entirely running in otherwise “safe” Liberal seats that neither Labor or the Greens were competitive in, so strategically, the teals had to finish higher than Labor for any chance of unseating a Liberal which was the Greens’ main goal

    By contrast, this time around:

    1. The teals are less of a united group and not all funded by Climate 200. You have a rag-tag bunch of Climate 200 teals (Kew, Hawthorn), recent Labor Party members (Caulfield), current Liberal Party members (Brighton), a male ex-mayor (Sandringham), etc. They don’t all share a united view on climate or any other policy like the federal teals did.

    2. State Labor have just announced a much more ambitious climate policy including a state-owned energy company which is actually a Greens policy too, the teals’ position on that is unknown but given they try to appeal to economically conservative voters are likely to be less enthusiastic about that idea

    3. Every seat the teals are running in, other than Kew, is already a very tight LIB v ALP contest. So electing a teal isn’t the only way to unseat a Liberal (although a teal could entrench themselves in the seat more long term).

    They are just some factors that I think mean the Greens’ preferencing decisions won’t necessarily be the same as federal. They may very well do it on a seat by seat basis; eg. Preference the teal in Kew & Hawthorn, but then preference Labor in Caulfield and Brighton, based on the candidates and long term outlooks.

    Regarding independents winning though, there aren’t a whole lot of Labor-held seats that I think independents could win. The obvious ones are Hawthorn, Caulfield (only notional Labor), and maybe Point Cook & Melton, but I think we’d be looking at a maximum of 4 IND and 2 GRN gains from Labor, which with a 13 seat majority would still require the Liberals to dramatically improve their position to pick up the remaining 8 seats required to reduce Labor to 44.

    That said, if the Libs preference the Greens in Footscray & Pascoe Vale they could be two surprises on election night too.

    And just to reiterate too, I would actually LOVE to see a Labor/Greens minority government because I am a Greens voter myself. I just don’t think it will happen.

  6. @Trent

    I don’t see the Libs preferencing the Greens over Labor. They have been captured by the right-wing fringe and are incapable of centrist pragmatism. Pushing Labor to defend against the Greens would create space for the Libs to position themselves in the centre, but the Lib’s base would never allow such a re-positioning.

    In the 2018 election, the Libs tried to get around the policy of preferencing the Greens behind Labor by not running a candidate in Richmond.

    If you don’t have a candidate, you don’t produce how-to-vote cards, you can remain silent on the issue.

    The plan failed and the Libs missed out on a chunk of election funding by giving away the 20% primary vote they would have otherwise received. So far, they are not looking to repeat that strategy.

  7. Trent, agree with all you say in your last comment. l would add though that independents and Greens find it a lot easier to win seats at state elections(obviously enrolment is smaller per electorate) for a few reasons thus my expectations of 15 plus on the crossbench and a likely minority Labor government even if Coalition don’t gain any seats. Minor parties and independents are going to get circa third of votes cast.

  8. I agree they will do well but the main problem is that not enough of the seats that Greens & Independents are a genuine threat in are Labor-held.

    Minors & independents are very likely to increase their vote quite a lot, and you’re right they are likely to get about a third of the vote, but that is actually only about a 10% swing from 2018 which is likely to be at the expense of both Labor & the Coalition pretty equally; and the seats where Greens & Independents are a genuine threat (around 10, excluding those already held by by the crossbench) are also pretty evenly divided by Labor & Coalition seats.

    So realistically that GRN/IND surge is only worth 5-6% of Labor’s vote which in most seats wouldn’t make a difference to the outcome; and probably only presents a genuine threat in about 5-6 Labor held seats.

    I understand your point that a lot of disaffected voters will rush to independents & minors, at least half at the expense of Labor, and in some elections that would make a big difference but the current electoral map is just extremely friendly to Labor and provides them with a really big buffer against large swings in any direction.

    And as I’ve said, I’m not saying this as a one-eyed Labor fanatic. I am, and will be, one of the estimated third of electors not voting for a major party.

    I think a minority government is definitely a possibility, but not a probability. I wouldn’t rule out a minority, but the conditions are stacked in favour of a majority: the map, the margins, the seat count, the polls, the quality & profile of independents, even the restrictive funding/donation laws which are one area where state-level is actually harder for independents than the federal election was.

  9. If anything was learned at the Federal election, it’s that not even the majors can pour millions into every seat. Well organized independent/small party campaigns targeting safe seats (like SFF in rural NSW) can win them. Liberals at federal level had too many bullets to dodge and ended up losing a ton of their heartland AND missed all of their own targets. I would imagine it isn’t just ideology that makes a lot of these safe seats the way they are, but the fact that nobody else bothers to show up. Put in some effort and see where it takes you. The freedom parties put in effort in Melbourne federally and obviously while they didn’t come close to winning any, they absolutely tanked the ALP’s primary in certain seats. I bet the people in those seats hadn’t seen any non-ALP canvassers in the area for ages.

  10. Some people here really need a cold shower. No way will there be anywhere near 15 cross-benchers in the Legislative Assembly come 27 November. (That’s almost 20% – even the House of Reps’ cross-bench isn’t that big!) The most will be another Green (likely Richmond) or two and another independent (likely Benambra) or two (and not counting Russell Northe’s retirement).
    Oh, and Labor would just *love* for people to bang on about the possibility of a minority government: it’ll send waverers sprinting into their arms – just as it did last time. (Some people never learn.)

  11. I agree with you Toby.

    While I think there are 10 seats or so where a non-major’s chances are being hyped up, I think only a handful will actually win.

    The Greens ones will be Labor seats; but any independent gains are more likely to be Coalition seats.

    As I’ve said to Jeremy, if you look at the map and the margins, and you don’t look at the total % of support INDs & GRNs will get (the lower house is not a proportional system) but instead look at what swing that actually is from the last election, it’s not that much and is nowhere near enough to actually change the 2CP race in almost any seats other than a handful.

    The Greens are a strong chance in 2 Labor seats. Rural independents are a good chance in 2 regional Coalition seats. A teal independent may have a decent chance in Kew. That’s about it, and is nowhere near minority government territory.

    Remember too that Zoe Daniel and Monique Ryan announced their candidacy a year in advance. Had massively funded campaigns. Door knocking for months & months by an enormous volunteer army. Teal t-shirts everywhere. National coverage. Frydenburg & Ryan even had a televised debate! By election time, it was crystal clear that those two seats were purely Frydenburg v Ryan and Wilson v Daniel contests, where Labor & Greens voters went into the booth only thinking about that contest, and voted for who had the best chance to oust the Liberal.

    These teal/independents in the state election probably only have 10% of the profile, funding, volunteers, momentum or media coverage that Ryan & Daniels had. And they’re running in seats where the ALP v LIB margins are within 0.6% either way. It’s just not the same situation and my prediction is that it will fizzle out.

  12. If you follow the money there is a 60% probability of the Independent winning Kew

    $3 million did not win a seat for Frydenberg

  13. What I find morally reprehensible are the blatant lies exhibited by the Liberal Party in their ads and billboards. 1. Dan Andrews CANNOT access your super. If Super funds want to invest in the new SEC, they will, if they don’t they won’t but as Super Funds tend to invest in Infrastructure that is connected to ALL the people, such as Airports and Mobile Phone Towers (two major super funds have bought half of Telstra’s Mobile Phone Towers and associated equipment) and the other, half of Optus’ Phone Towers, I expect Super funds would invest if they could into power infrastructure because it simply makes sense. Every Victorian pays a power bill. Why wouldn’t they invest in that? Guaranteed return. Overseas governments invested in our power infrastructure, Loy Yang, Hazelwood and the Singapore Govt via its cleverly Australian sounding name Ausnet, owns our poles, wires and distribution. 2. The suburban loop is “not just a railway line” as Matthew Guy refers to it and knowing how important it is for the future he has now changed his commentary to “shelve” rather than “Cancel”. We know full well that a Liberal government will never build this. Remember that the Liberals ran Red Rattler trains from 1910 to 1983…..they never invested in anything for decades. They removed FOUR level crossings. Dan has removed 65…..all fully funded by lease of the ports. 3. Matthew Guy wants to make all metro train fares $2. So how does he expect to pay for new trains when the demand increases? How does he expect to increase services when there is no revenue to pay for them? How does he expect to upgrade the signalling to provide more frequent services when he has cut the revenue from transport? Jeff Kennett’s Liberal government closed the regional rail lines to places like Mildura and put on a bus. They ripped down the overhead wires to Traralgon. Labor has had to put them back at $200 Million a kilometre to Pakenham. Never shut rail lines as they are expensive to put back. 4. The ambulance workers and nurses have already backed Labor this election. Does Matthew Guy forget that his last Liberal government had unresolved disputes with; the Police, Nurses and Ambulance workers? Ambulances had writing all over them. Police parked police cars in front of speed cameras to deny the Liberals revenue. Does Matthew Guy forget that Dan Andrews; resolved the nurses dispute. Resolved the Ambulance dispute and fed $100M in pay rises to Police, employed 6000 additional recruits, provided the police with Tasers and automatic weapons, 4 new helicopters and state of the art BMW Police vehicles and why was that? Because the Liberals CLOSED the car industry here with another lie that wages were too high. Well they are higher in Germany and France and they BOTH just like the USA get more government subsidies than Australia ever did. 5. Liberals are notoriously bad at health. Liberals are the only party that has closed hospitals and converted public hospitals in regional areas to Private, then as most people are on Medicare and not in Private Health funds these hospitals closed leaving them with nothing. 6. Those very Liberal voters that criticise Dan for Ambulance ramping (the same ramping as happened in every state due to the pandemic) they actually contributed to the ramping by refusing to be locked down, continued their Mother’s Day celebrations, forced their way through blockades, spread this virus far and wide (which caused more lock downs) and now have the gall to blame Dan Andrews for spread of this virus, pressure on hospitals and nurses leaving the industry. Liberals caused this not Labor. Matthew Guy asks where 4000 ICU beds are? Well is he offering them? Of course not because that “promise” was in the event of severe pandemic where thousands and thousands were hospitalised. Fortunately Dan Andrews pressured Scott Morrison to buy vaccines then when Scott fell over, provided State Hubs even though it was a Federal Medicare “thing”as did other Premiers and thus avoided the need for thousands of ICU beds. But certainly go ahead Matthew Guy and buy those 4000 ICU beds we don’t need now. Go on. I dare you. 7. A car accident 9 years ago involving Dan Andrews car traversing a straight road is hit in the side by a wayward cyclist who T Boned the car from a side track it is somehow Dan Andrews fault? They were exonerated in that accident but still the bike rider received $80,000 as no fault from the TAC. The Herald Sun fails to mention this but still digs the story up day after day. The other innuendo is the stairs that Dan Andrews fell down. Had Labor criticised a Liberal for narrowly avoiding a paralysing back injury you would be hearing about it yet the Liberals and the Herald Sun get down in the gutter and continue to raise a severe injury as an issue. 8. And about the Herald Sun, on average there are 8 attack stories on Dan Andrews on their webpage every day. All day. Every day. Innuendo, misinformation, lack of information, devoid of facts. It is a constant theme. Only under extreme pressure by other publications reporting actual facts against Liberals does the Herald Sun relent and provide some feeble acknowledgement of Liberals misdoings. Maybe one a fortnight. 9. Has Matthew Guy matched Dan Andrews free Kinder? Free TAFE? No. His plan is small business. That’s where you and I pay in GST and our expectation is that it goes back to education and health when really it gets handed to a small business to buy a new Mazda 323. Someone stupidly said, well, it helps the car industry. Well let those that PAY tax get the car not the small business that gets handout after handout then goes broke anyway. 4 out of 5 go broke in 10 years handout or not. If a small business cannot stand on its own 2 feet then GET OUT. 10. The attack stories on Labor are disgraceful. I compare them to a prosecution by LABOR that has the facts to make a conviction and the Libs, defending their accused muddy the waters with disinformation and untruths in a blatant attempt to distort the truth and provide doubt so that voters start to believe that Labor is all bad and Liberal is all good. You will certainly wake up with a hangover if the Libs get in and the hangover will last 4 years. If the Liberals do get in then their defence worked and the public lost…

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