Photo finishes: South Australia

Thursday, April 8

The result from the upper house has been declared, although ECSA’s consistently hopeless website offers no indication of the fact (UPDATE: Okay, I have managed to locate this. But it tells us very little: compare this with the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, which offered regularly updated PDFs with complete figures from the preference distribution as the count was conducted). From media reports we learn that the count turned up no late surprises: there were four seats each for Liberal and Labor, and one each for the Greens, Family First and Dignity for Disability. The numbers in the new house will be Labor eight, Liberal seven, two each for Family First and the Greens, two independents elected off Xenophon’s 2006 ticket and one Dignity for Disability.

Tuesday, March 30

I’ve finally gotten hold of a preference distribution from Mitchell, which you can see on the second page here. Kris Hanna did substantially less well out of Greens preferences than most were assuming: they split about 46-36-19 Labor-Hanna-Liberal. The Family First votes went 50-20-17-13 Liberal-Hanna-Labor-Greens. At the final exclusion Hanna was 213 votes astern of the Liberal, 7091 to 6878, with Labor on 8275.

Sunday, March 28

The Advertiser reports Chloe Fox has won Bright by 167 votes, and that Kris Hanna has conceded defeat – or rather, it says he has “told AdelaideNow he does (sic) expect to keep the seat of Mitchell as he is 200 votes behind Labor candidate Alan Sibbons and Liberal Peter McCance”. That 200 vote margin need only have defeated him if he was unable to chase it down on Greens preferences, which he evidently does not expect to happen. Since this was all apparently finalised some hours ago, you would rather hope that ECSA would have found a way to publish this information, but apparently it can’t be done. The upshot is that Labor has a very clear majority of 26 seats out of 47, with no need to bother themselves by appointing an independent as Speaker. There will be 18 Liberals and three independents – Bob Such in Fisher, Geoff Brock in Frome and Don Pegler in Mount Gambier.

It also leaves the Boundaries Commission with an interesting job on their hands with they set to work on a redistribution a year from now. This will have to produce a situation in which Labor will lose three seats even if they pick up a uniform swing of 1.2 per cent (based on Antony Green’s provisional estimate of a two-party split of 51.3-48.7 in favour of the Liberals). To do that it will have to redraw the boundaries in such a way as to gouge at least 1.7 per cent from the Labor margin in Bright, 3.6 per cent in Hartley, 3.7 per cent in Newland and about 4.8 per cent in either Florey or Elder (or perhaps Mitchell, depending on what the final margin is there). This could perhaps be done by extending Bright north into Morphett, Hartley south into Bragg, Newland south into Morialta or east into Schubert and Kavel, and Elder east into Waite and Davenport. Florey would seem likely to be spared as it is neighboured entirely by Labor seats. There would then be a chasm of 5 per cent to the next most marginal seat, unless a way can also be found to penalise Labor in a knot of seats in the 5 to 10 per cent range.

UPDATE: Scott in comments relates, via Mike Rann on Twitter, that Alan Sibbons won Mitchell by 945 votes over the Liberal candidate, though what really mattered to us in pseph-land was how much Kris Hanna fell short of overtaking the Liberal candidate at the second last exclusion. That suggests the Labor margin in the seat is 2.1 per cent. So from my discussion of the redistribution above, you can scratch Florey and Elder and expect that Mitchell will be pulled eastwards into Davenport and Fisher.

Saturday, March 27

What I believe will be the final declaration votes have been added to the count ahead of tomorrow’s distribution of preferences. Only 71 votes have been added in Mitchell, which is just as well for Kris Hanna because they’re his worst batch yet: he’s received 12 (16.9 per cent) to the Liberal candidate’s 27 (38.0 per cent), meaning he must make up 159 votes when Greens and Family First preferences are distributed – a touch and go proposition. We seem to have had only rechecking of declaration votes done in Bright (which I believe has happened in other seats as well), so perhaps there are still a few last postal votes to come. Chloe Fox’s lead is 165, so unless the distribution of preferences turns up an anomaly, she’s home. In Mount Gambier, a final 144 votes have narrowed Liberal candidate Steve Perryman’s deficit over independent Don Pegler by eight votes to 172, and that too should be that. Labor’s winning margins in Hartley and Newland look to be 905 and 998 votes respectively.

Friday, March 26

Another 438 votes in Bright have increased Chloe Fox’s lead by 14 votes to 158, so barring some late correction she should be home now. In Mitchell there have been another 860 votes, which is more than Kris Hanna would have liked given that they have been only slightly better for him than yesterday’s batch (there also appears to have been a recheck of polling booth votes, though it’s only changed small numbers of votes). He is now 144 votes behind the Liberal candidate: word is that he should be able to chase down 200 to 250 when Greens and Family First preferences are distributed. In Mount Gambier, 750 votes have gone 434-316 the way of Liberal candidate Steve Perryman, narrowing his margin over independent Don Pegler from 298 to 180. However, as Enjaybee notes in comments, the number of votes counted is only about 1500 short of the number enrolled, suggesting there can’t be much more than about 300 more to come. Figures in Newland have finally been updated with the addition of 3213 declaration votes. These have increased Tom Kenyon’s lead, showing he has f**ked ’em to the tune of 989 votes. Presumably a small number of extra votes will dribble in tomorrow, followed by the preference counts on Sunday.

Thursday, March 25

A fascinating day of counting, with big totals added and two significant surprises. In Bright, Chloe Fox’s bacon has been saved by 1224 votes which have broken 683-541 her way, increasing her lead since yesterday from two to 144. In Mitchell, it’s been a very bad day at the office for Kris Hanna, who has polled just 269 votes out of 1548 compared with 464 for Liberal candidate Peta McCance, who now leads him 6101 votes to 6035. If preferences go as they did last time Hanna will still end up 138 votes ahead at the decisive second-last count, but the composition of candidates is slightly different this time (in 2006 there was a Democrat, Dignity for Disability and a green independent as well as the Greens and Family First) and he might fall a little further behind as the last votes trickle in tomorrow. On the other hand, the Greens vote is higher this time and Family First’s lower, which should prove favourable for him. One way or another, the result won’t be known until the preference count is conducted on Sunday. A big batch of 2379 votes is in from Mount Gambier, and while it has Liberal candidate Steve Perryman continuing to narrow the gap on independent Don Pegler, it doesn’t look like enough: the votes have gone 1276-1103 in favour of Perryman, but Pegler is still 298 ahead. In Hartley, Labor’s lead is down from 897 to 857. For some reason there has been no update from Newland since Tuesday, not that it matters.

UPDATE: Two accounts in comments on scrutineers’ views of preferences in Mitchell: one saying Hanna is getting 60 per cent of Greens and 30 per cent Family First preferences, the other putting it at 50 per cent and 35 per cent. That suggests to me he should be able to chase down about 200 to 250 votes on preferences. If that’s accurate, Hanna should still get up, unless there’s more outstanding votes than I would assume (well over 1000) and they continue to break as they did yesterady.

Wednesday, March 24

6pm. Exciting new figures in from Bright: I had expected the postal count to trend away from Labor, but the latest batch has broken 1020-1012, putting Fox back in front by just two votes. 679 votes in Mitchell have increased Kris Hanna’s lead over the Liberal candidate by 27 votes to 129. Labor’s lead in Hartley down from 957 to 897, probably with about 2000 to go. Antony Green has this to say about the upper house count:

I double checked the Legislative Council results using amy own enate Calculator that can use the South Australian individual bundle method of distributing preferences. This also elected Kelly Vincent of Dignity for Disability to the final vacancy. Unless the final results see a significant lift in the Labor vote, or there is a higher than expected proportion of below the line votes, then Vincent should win the final vacancy.

1.30pm. The ABC reports Isobel Redmond has conceded defeat. She says two further seats could still be gained, presumably meaning Mount Gambier and Bright, with Hartley and Newland conceded. No new figures have been added so far today.

Tuesday, March 23

11pm. Mount Gambier: 1023 declaration votes have favoured Liberal candidate Steve Perryman over independent Don Pegler 575-448, narrowing the latter’s lead from 598 to 471. If the remaining declaration votes divide the same way, and if the total number of them is the same as in 2006, Pegler will prevail by 192 votes. Throw an extra 1000 postal votes into the mix, as the increase in applications suggests you should, and it comes down to 77.

Mitchell: The addition of 1573 declaration votes has reduced Kris Hanna’s lead over the Liberal candidate from 131 to 102. Hanna gained ground on the Liberal candidate after minor candidates’ preferences were excluded in 2006, and there’s no reason I’m aware of to expect different this time, so he remains well placed. Interestingly, David Bevan and Matthew Abraham of ABC Mornings said on yesterday’s program that Liberals had told them they were still in the hunt in Mitchell themselves, but this seems immensely unlikely: as well as getting ahead of Hanna, they would need a reversal of Hanna-plus-minors’ preferences from 63-37 to Labor in 2006 to 57-43 against, a “swing” of 20 per cent.

Newland: 1026 declaration votes, which should be maybe a quarter of them, have been added on primaries but not preferences. If they split the same way as the other votes, the Liberals will claw back a grand total of 15 votes, reducing the lead to 819. It’s high time they conceded defeat here.

Hartley: Only 481 declaration votes added here, reaping the Liberals a meagre harvest of seven votes, leaving Labor with a plainly insurmountable 957 lead.

1pm. ECSA has now added what I presume to be the ticket votes to the Mount Gambier preference count, and the figures are a bit different from the ABC’s: the margin is 598 rather than 676. Preference results have been added from those 1482 declaration votes in Bright, and where my projection had the scores dead level, Kourtesis has actually pulled six votes in front.

Monday, March 22

With one exception, late counting so far has been limited to rechecking and the addition to preference counts of incomplete votes saved under South Australia’s unusual provision which treats such votes as conforming with the relevant party’s registered ticket (where it has seen fit to lodge one). The exception is Bright, where 1482 declaration votes have been added. These are bad news for Chloe Fox, having given Liberal candidate Maria Kourtesis 758 primary votes to 579 for Fox. They have not yet been added to the preference count, but if they are distributed using the preference split from the ordinary votes, Kourtesis and Fox emerge dead level. Unfortunately, the Electoral Commission unusually neglects to distinguish between postal, pre-poll and absent votes in its published figures.

Elsewhere the ticket votes also favoured Liberal in Hartley, but not in Newland. The latter result might have been obscured by rechecking taking 89 votes from one booth from the Greens and shifting them to Save RAH and Family First. In Hartley, Labor’s lead is up from 864 votes to 964; in Newland it is down from 857 to 834. In Mount Gambier independent Don Pegler’s lead over Liberal candidate Steve Perryman is up from 634 to 676. The addition of ticket votes to the preference count in Mitchell is not significant, because what matters there is the primary vote gap between Kris Hanna and the Liberal candidate, which has been little changed by the recheck.

Sunday, March 21

3pm. Antony Green notes that as well as the recheck of votes that traditionally gets conducted the day after, we will also see “ticket votes” added to the count: i.e. incompletely filled ballot papers that will be treated as conforming with the registered tickets of the relevant parties, where applicable. This will amount to “several hundred” votes in each electorate, and my instinct is that they will lean to Labor. Antony also notes a potentially significant intricacy of the Legislative Council system which I’m not on top of, requiring a note of caution to predictions of a seat for Dignity for Disability:

The calculator is using the Senate couting method wherevotes are bundled by transfer value, where the South Australian method is to bundle votes by individual counts. This affects the way that surplus to quota votes of elected candidates are distributed. There are a lot of votes yet to be counted, and the victory of Ms Vincent requires her to be ahead of other candidates at key points of the count. Those key points have leads narrow enough to yet bechenged by the counting method and the number of below the line votes.

Saturday, March 20

This thread will be used to follow the progress of late counting over the next week or two. To start off with, a summary of the state of play as it stands at the end of election night. It is beyond any shadow of a doubt that Labor has won 22 seats out of 47. I think I’m being very generous to the Liberals here in leaving Newland and Hartley off the list, but as the stakes here are Labor’s majority I guess it pays to be cautious. Personally, I suspect there is an inclination to treat these seats as in play so the election itself can be treated as still in doubt, which provides hope for the Liberals and excitement for the media and election watchers generally. On any other night, we’d have given up on them. The scores are 8543 to 7686 in Newland, a Labor lead of 857 (2.6 per cent), and 8543 to 7686 in Hartley, a lead of 864 (3.0 per cent). Less contentiously there is Bright, where Labor’s Chloe Fox holds an eminently surmountable lead of 7931 to 7887 – 44 votes, or 0.1 per cent.

The Liberals have won at least 18 seats, up from 14 (they won 15 in 2006, but lost Frome at the January 2009 by-election). They have gained Norwood and Morialta from Labor, neither of which came as a surprise, and Adelaide, which did. Adelaide’s 15.2 per cent swing was the biggest of the evening in Labor-versus-Liberal terms, but it was one of no fewer than 21 which was in double digits. The lack of bang for the Liberals’ buck is illustrated by some numbers crunched by Antony Green: the swing was 1.7 per cent in marginal Labor seats, 7.7 per cent in safe Labor seats and 11.3 per cent in very safe Labor seats. There was also an average 8.3 per cent swing in the 14 seats already held by the Liberals. The Liberals did at least gain Chaffey from Nationals member Karlene Maywald, whose 16.2 per cent margin was demolished by a 20.5 per cent swing.

The defeat of Maywald leaves only independents on the cross-benches, with at least two – Bob Such as usual had no trouble in Fisher, and Geoff Brock easily retained Frome – and perhaps as many as four. Kris Hanna is struggling to stay ahead of the Liberal candidate in Mitchell, which he will need to do to ride home over Labor with their preferences. The primary vote figures are 5948 (33.9 per cent) for Labor, 5111 (29.1 per cent) for Kris Hanna and 4971 (28.3 per cent) for the Liberals, with preferences to be distributed from the Greens (811, 4.6 per cent), Family First (710, 4.0 per cent). They will heavily favour Hanna and the Liberals respectively, but it might be expected the Liberals will gain ground on postals, so this should go down to the wire. The Liberals were counting on Mount Gambier returning to the fold with the retirement of independent Rory McEwen, but it appears a new independent, Don Pegler, has upset their applecart. He finishes the evening leading Liberal candidate Steve Perryman 8892 to 8258, a lead of lead of 634 (1.8 per cent).

The upper house looks straightforward, unless there’s some subtlety of the preference carve-up I’m missing: four each for Liberal and Labor, and one each for the Greens, Family First and Dignity for Disability, assuming the Liberals can’t find a spare 1.5 per cent of the vote somewhere. The last one is obviously a turn-up, having been achieved from 1.14 per cent and an avalanche of preferences from micro-parties (I’m sorry to say that now includes the Australian Democrats), 11 of whom polled between 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent. It means Kelly Vincent, who emerged as the party’s de facto lead candidate following the sudden death of Paul Collier during the campaign, joins Ann Bressington and John Darley in a posse of accidental members with whom the government will need to negotiate. I’m a bit surprised Labor’s upper house vote has matched the lower: the differential was 3.4 per cent in 2002, and a lot higher when they had Nick Xenophon to contend with in 2006. The numbers in the new house will be Labor eight, Liberal seven, two each for Family First and the Greens, two independents elected off Xenophon’s 2006 ticket and one Dignity for Disability.

NOTE: Can we please make an effort to keep this thread on the topic of late counting. If you would like to discuss the result more generally, please use the live coverage thread which is still open below.

South Australian election live

10.31pm. Antony Green on Twitter writes the swing was 1.7 per cent in marginal Labor seats, 7.7 per cent in safe Labor seats and 11.3 per cent in very safe Labor seats.

10.28pm. As the upper house count has progressed to 43.6 per cent, the ABC projection has consistently pointed to four Labor, four Liberals and one Greens, with Family First and Dignity for Disability taking the last two seats. The final seat in particular is often a lottery, so I expected Dignity for Disability might fade from the picture, but it’s looking firm.

10.10pm. Isobel Redmond says they’re only three votes behind in Bright, but the ABC computer is now saying Labor retain. However, the current score is 7931 to 7887, which is surely close enough that the Liberals might claw it back on postals.

9.00pm. For those who have just joined us. Labor have a clear 23 seats of 47, plus have almost certainly won Newland and have their nose in front in Bright (ABC computer now says Labor ahead). The Liberals have a clear 18 seats, having gained Norwood, Morialta and, in the big surprise for the night, Adelaide, plus Chaffey from Karlene Maywald. Labor have surprisingly managed to retain in Light and Mawson, plus held on well in Hartley. It is still unclear whether Mount Gambier will be won by the Liberal candidate or independent Don Pegler. It looks like all three independents are back: Kris Hanna looks home in Mitchell, Geoff Brock has retained Frome, and Bob Such as expected retained Fisher.

8.45pm. Psephos in comments points out that all four defeated candidates are women, which could become five if Fox loses in Bright.

8.43pm. On raw figures, Chloe Fox is 1.8 per cent ahead, with preferences from five booths in.

8.42pm. Kevin Foley on ABC says a big final booth in Mawson has put to rest any doubts there.

8.34pm. There are no actual preference figures in from Bright, so who knows.

8.29pm. See-sawing ABC computer now has Liberal ahead in Bright, so it’s clearly right down to the wire there.

8.27pm. ABC now calling Chaffey for Liberal.

8.21pm. Liberal now ahead in Mount Gambier, according to ABC.

8.21pm. ABC now has Labor ahead in Bright.

8.20pm. The ABC isn’t calling it, but it doesn’t look real good for Karlene Maywald in Chaffey, with the Liberal candidate on 46.9 per cent of the primary vote.

8.18pm. Unless there’s a late surprise, a real happy evening for the Labor party room, a lot of whom didn’t care for Jane Lomax-Smith.

8.14pm. Bothersomely slow counts in three non-major party contests: Mount Gambier, Mitchell and Chaffey. Very good result for Geoff Brock, easily home.

8.12pm. ABC actually has Liberal ahead in Bright. If you were a Liberal optimist, you could add that to Adelaide, Morialta and Norwood and hope for a late surprise in Newland or Mawson.

8.07pm. And Davenport back in the Liberal column.

8.06pm. ABC computer calling Chaffey a Liberal gain.

7.55pm. Finally word for Bright, and it seems to be going according to script, with Chloe Fox set to hold albeit narrowly. Bruce Hawker says with all booths in they are fractionally behind on the primary vote.

7.48pm. In a huge boilover, the ABC computer calls Adelaide for Liberal: 20.6 per cent counted, 13.9 per cent swing, 10.2 per cent margin. So the Liberals have gained Adelaide, Norwood and Morialta. Mawson swinging still further to Labor.

7.47pm. Bruce Hawker has newer figures for Mitchell: Labor 32, Hanna 29, Liberal 29. So we’re back to a tight situation where Hanna vs Liberal for second will decide it.

7.45pm Peter van Onselen discussing Davenport: their figures have the Liberals 3.5 per cent ahead. However, this is still only two booths.

7.43pm. ABC calls Mitchell for Kris Hanna – Labor is in THIRD place, meaning their preferences would call teh result. Sky News has newer figures for Mawson than the ABC: 9.7 per cent counted, and Labor still ahead.

7.42pm. Light continuing to firm for Labor. However, it’s frustratingly slow going in Mawson and Adelaide.

7.41pm. However, their Liberal talking head says they’re still hopeful in Newland, although that certainly isn’t borne out by the ABC figures.

7.40pm. Bruce Hawker says Labor has won, with at worst five seats lost.

7.39pm. Err … ABC computer calls Davenport for Labor.

7.34pm. Count still very slow in Adelaide.

7.27pm. The ABC computer says 8 per cent swing to Labor in Hartley, which makes me wonder.

7.26pm. ABC computer calls Frome for Liberal.

7.24pm. ABC computer calls Light for Labor. Their primary vote is up 5 per cent in Gawler East. So the figures on which the ABC is basing this represent all the areas of the electorate.

7.23pm. Taking a step back. Labor have held Hartley and Newland, but lost Norwood and Morialta. They’re ahead in Light and Mawson. However, Adelaide is apparently a problem for them, and they’re not out of the woods in Florey. They might of course gain Mitchell, but it’s too early to say. So after a scary start, you can’t rule out them scraping home.

7.20pm. ABC computer calls Hartley for Labor.

7.16pm. Even with 17 per cent counted in Light, Labor are still just ahead. Furthermore, I would have thought outer-suburban Smithfield Plains would be the sort of area that was swinging heavily to the Liberals, but the figures are in and it’s largely budged.

7.15pm. First booth from Norwood has 13.5 per cent swing – I’d say you can write that one off already.

7.12pm. Independent Don Pegler doing very well in Mount Gambier, though too close to call.

7.11pm. ABC computer calls Morialta for Liberal.

7.10pm. First booth in Mawson swings big to Labor, but this is an area where a lot of new housing developments are appearing.

7.09pm. First figure from Adelaide bears up what van Onselen said: 13.6 per cent swing to Liberal, against 10.2 per cent margin.

7.08pm. Good news for Labor at last: ABC computer calls Newland for them.

7.05pm. Labor has edged ahead in Newland; Morialta swing back below double figures.

7.03pm. Still encourage for Labor in Light, but I expect that to reverse once we get Munno Para and Smithfield Plains in: Gawler itself might be a wild card.

7.01pm. Peter van Onselen says scrutineers tell him Labor is in very big trouble indeed in Adelaide.

7.00pm. Overall 2PP swing at the moment is 4.2 per cent, but that doesn’t tell you much: clearly the huge swing to Labor in Adelaide in 2006 is bouncing back, whereas the country is remaining relatively stable as it did last time.

6.58pm. Swing coming down in Chaffey: now extremely close.

6.55pm. Double digit swings in all Adelaide seats unless you count Light, which has turned from swing to Labor to slight swing to Liberal, and Newland, which is still a 7.0 per cent swing in a 5.2 per cent seat Labor needed to hold.

6.54pm. Should still be adding a note of caution on the earliness of these figures. One booth and 1.5 per cent counted in Florey.

6.53pm. First figures provide no evidence of a Nationals boilover in Flinders.

6.52pm. Double-digit swing to Liberal in Florey, enough to make a safe seat marginal.

6.44pm. ABC computer has a result for Frome, but ECSA doesn’t. It’s clearly the sort of booth where Brock barely registered at the by-election – he’s no 13.6 per cent but has a big swing.

6.43pm. The Light booths are Gawler River and Sandy Creek, exactly where Labor would expect to be doing well demographically as they change from rural to peri-urban.

6.41pm. First results from Chaffey not good for Karlene Maywald – 25.9 per cent swing against 17 per cent margin, although still only 2.2 per cent counted.

6.37pm. Actually a swing TO Labor in Light, but that was with 1.0 per cent counted. ABC computer is struggling.

6.30pm. First booth in Light swings 7.4 per cent to Liberal.

6.20pm. Tim Gartrell on Sky News says on the basis of the exit poll that there is “something in the thesis” of strong swings in inner Adelaide, with smaller ones on the fringes. That might be good news for Labor in Hartley, Morialta and Mawson, but it could also mean they’re in trouble in Adelaide.

6pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the SA election. Sky News has an exit poll showing 53-47 to Liberal, but this is presumably of marginal seats so it’s hard to say what it means. If anyone’s been discussing this in the previous comments thread, please provide any intelligence you may have on this in this new thread.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Liberal in SA

The Australian reports the final South Australian Newspoll result has the Liberals 52-48 ahead on two-party preferred. Labor’s primary vote is 35.3 per cent (decimal places are apparently the thing in pre-election Newspolls, as are large sample sizes – this one is 1600, for a margin of error of about 2.5 per cent), while the Liberals are on 42.5 per cent. Isobel Redmond leads Mike Rann as preferred premier 45 per cent to 43 per cent. Mike Rann’s approval rating is 43 per cent, and his disapproval rating is 48 per cent. Redmond’s figures are 59 per cent and 23 per cent. We are also told Labor’s primary vote in Adelaide is 38 per cent, down from 50 per cent in 2006, while the Liberals are on 40 per cent.

My concluding round of campaign news nuggets:

• Better late than never, I now offer a guide to the Legislative Council election.

• The one consoling thought for Labor from the Newspoll is that it was conducted before Shadow Treasurer Steven Griffiths’ disastrous interview with Mathew Dunckley of the Financial Review, the fruit of which you can see here. The cornerstone of Liberal health funding announcements has been the $1 billion that will be saved from expanding rather than relocating the Royal Adelaide Hospital, but such savings were absent from the Liberal costings released this week as they would not be available until 2016. Griffiths argued that linking imminent promises to distant savings was a method to contrast the two parties’ approaches. When asked if this amounted to “spin”, he responded: “In essence, yes”. Isobel Redmond offered a less-than-inspiring attempt to finesse the comment by saying the Liberals had been engaging not in spin, but “oversimplification”.

• The Liberals’ costings have also failed to provide for its promise to match Labor’s $445 million promise to duplicate the Southern Expressway, which The Advertiser reports was “quietly put on the Liberal Party’s website (on Wednesday) without a public announcement”. According to the aforementioned Financial Review report, Steven Griffiths declined to comment when asked how a Liberal government would fund the project. The issue has been a problem for the Liberals since they canned an initial announcement in the week before the election campaign began, because Labor gazumped them with a promise costed at $165 million more than an earlier estimate which had been used by the Liberals. The most important seats directly affected by the issue are Mawson and Mitchell.

• During an interview with Antony Green on Tuesday (which you can listen to here), David Bevan or Matthew Abraham of ABC Mornings quoted Labor sources saying they had “no idea” what was happening in Adelaide, except that the Liberals were throwing “everything they had at them”.

• Electoral Commissioner Kay Mousley reports 99,500 postal vote applications have been received, an increase of 51 per cent from 2006. This perfectly replicates the situation at last year’s Queensland election, although the number of postal votes actually received was only up 28 per cent.

• For what it’s worth, Labor goes into the election with the editorial endorsement of both The Advertiser and the Sunday Mail.

Finally, a pre-match report I had in Crikey yesterday:

When the South Australian election campaign began four weeks ago, the conventional wisdom was that the Rann government would lose a bit of skin, but was likely to be returned for a third term. However, the trend to the Liberals which began when Isobel Redmond became leader last July has continued to gather pace, to the extent that Labor now hopes for little more than to hang on as a minority government.

If that’s so, the composition of the lower house cross-bench will take on immense significance. This was no doubt why The Advertiser chose to conduct its latest electorate poll in the southern suburbs seat of Mitchell, rather than one of the eastern suburbs marginals on which the election was previously thought to hinge. Mitchell is a traditional Labor seat currently held by independent Kris Hanna, who in the previous term parted company with a Labor Party he deemed insufficiently idealistic. After briefly signing on with the Greens, Hanna contested the 2006 election as an independent and scored a surprise win, credited in part to the backing he received from then state upper house member Nick Xenophon.

As the Advertiser poll makes clear, this time Hanna faces a grave threat from the resurgence of the Liberals, which perversely promises to deliver his seat to Labor. Hanna’s win in 2006 was achieved by overtaking the Liberal candidate and coasting home on his preferences, but the Advertiser survey has the Liberal vote up about eight points, a result consistent with statewide polls. If borne out tomorrow, that would reduce Hanna to third place and have his preferences decide the seat in Labor’s favour.

While such a result would give Labor the invaluable buffer of an extra seat, the poll carries a sting in its tail. In Labor-versus-Liberal terms, the two-party result published by The Advertiser shows an anti-government swing of 10 per cent, although that reduces to 7 per cent when using the normally more reliable method of applying preference flows from the last election. It thus chimes perfectly with recent Newspoll and Galaxy figures showing Labor set to suffer a swing which, if uniform, would cost it its majority.

With little chance of turning the ship around, Labor’s hope is that the swing will not indeed be uniform. Their two most marginal seats are at the top and tail of Adelaide: Light, based around Gawler in the north, and Mawson, consisting of McLaren Vale and suburbs at the southern edge of the metropolitan area. Labor was hopeful at the start of the campaign that its promised duplication of the Southern Expressway could salvage the latter, but the poll result from neighbouring Mitchell underscores the point that this prospect has receded. That takes care of two of the four seats Labor can safely afford to lose, assuming it doesn’t gain Mitchell.

The decisive electoral battleground thus becomes the eastern suburbs, where the next four most marginal Labor seats are all located next door to each other: Norwood, Newland, Hartley and Morialta, held by margins of 3.7 per cent to 6.8 per cent. Most observers have Norwood pencilled in as a Liberal gain, but varying degrees of ambiguity surround the remainder. Morialta is technically the safest of the four, but that’s because Labor over-performed there in 2006 for reasons which don’t apply this time. An Advertiser poll earlier in the campaign had the Liberals 52-48 ahead, and the word from both parties is that this is about on the money.

That leaves Labor needing to hold both Newland and Hartley, about which it is respectively hopeful and pessimistic. Any further Labor losses beyond that would be a surprise. The southern coastal suburbs seat of Bright looks vulnerable with its margin of 6.9 per cent, but Labor member Chloe Fox is believed to be safe. Despite its 10.5 per cent margin, the Liberals are said to be putting more effort into the seat of Adelaide, although Labor has spent a lot of political capital keeping the electorate on side and has a locally popular member in Jane Lomax-Smith.

For the Liberals to govern in their own right, they would need to gain all the aforementioned seats and another two besides. They can be confident of gaining Mount Gambier, a conservative seat being vacated by independent member Rory McEwen. There are two other country seats which could conceivably fall their way: Frome, the Port Pirie and Clare Valley seat they lost to independent Geoff Brock at a by-election in January 2009, and Chaffey, the Riverland seat held by the parliament’s sole Nationals member, cabinet minister Karlene Maywald. The one cross-bencher who is not in danger is Bob Such, a former Liberal who represents the southern suburbs seat of Fisher. There are schools of thought which say Mount Gambier could pass to a new independent, or that the Eyre Peninsula seat of Flinders could fall to the Nationals, but most scenarios for the new parliament involve cross-benchers we’re already familiar with.

All are keeping their cards close to their chests. Despite her association with the Rann government, Maywald is directing preferences to the Liberals, and would be mindful of the resistance the WA Nationals faced from their constituency when they were considering sustaining the Carpenter government in office. Such says he will seek the views of his constituents, having attracted 3000 responses to such an appeal when he was similarly placed after the 2002 election. Given that he serves a naturally conservative electorate, that’s unlikely to bode well for Labor.

The other independents are more specific. Brock has indicated the price of his support would be natural gas pipelines and improved water security for his electorate. Kris Hanna also says he will seek commitments to local projects, along with “detailed policy imperatives” concerning “water, democracy and pokies”. However, both would have to consider the internal state of the parties they were dealing with: on the one hand, a demoralised Labor Party with question marks over the long-term viability of its leader; on the other, a rejuvenated Liberal Party under a leader with unchallenged authority born of a success which few were anticipating even six months ago.

Advertiser: Kris Hanna trailing in Mitchell

The Advertiser has made the rather odd decision to target the independent-versus-Labor contest of Mitchell for one of its precious electorate-level opinion polls. The poll’s headline figure is a 54-46 two-party lead to Labor, but that’s not the real issue here. What matters is who finishes second out of Liberal candidate Peta McCance and independent member Kris Hanna, and it points to the former: on the primary vote after distribution of the 8 per cent undecided, Labor is on 36 per cent, Liberal 29 per cent and Kris Hanna 26 per cent. Family First are on 5 per cent and the Greens are on 3 per cent, which in each case is where they were in 2006 if rounding is taken into account (5.4 per cent and 3.4 per cent).

The minor party preferences in 2006 broke 40.7 per cent to Hanna, 32.1 per cent to Labor and 27.1 per cent to the Liberals, which if applied to these poll figures would only see Hanna make up a small amount of ground on the Liberals and thus be excluded at the second last count. That being so, Kris Hanna’s preferences would be distributed between the Labor and Liberal candidates. The Advertiser went to the trouble of asking his supporters who they would support, which ultimately found Labor set to take the seat with a 4 per cent margin. However, the usually more reliable method of using the results from the previous election makes it 7.4 per cent. The Electoral Commission found the Labor-versus-Liberal margin in 2006 was 14.4 per cent, so the anti-Labor swing in this poll is either 10.4 per cent or 7 per cent depending on which figure you use.

However, in considering minor party preferences, consideration must be given to the different make-up of the field this time, with only Hanna, Labor, Liberal, the Greens and Family First contesting. Last time there was also Travis Gilbert, who ran as a “true Green” and polled 0.9 per cent; independent Michele Colmer, who polled a donkey vote-boosted 2.2 per cent; and the Australian Democrats, who polled 1.7 per cent. Family First and the Greens are both doing as they did last time, directing preferences to Liberal and Labor respectively. The consequential point is that most of the preferences of the former will go to Liberal over Hanna, and most of the latter will do the opposite. Hanna might take solace in the fact that 3 per cent seems an unrealistically low figure for the Greens, who are now spared competition from the Democrats and Gilbert.

The sample from the poll is The Advertiser’s biggest yet: 714 respondents, for a margin of error of around 3.5 per cent.

UPDATE: At 1.30pm South Australian time, Crikey will be hosting a CoverIt Live chat room featuring me, Possum, Charles Richardson, Greg Barns, Hendrick Gout, Peter Tucker Michael Jacobs “and more”. You will be either to access it on this site, or here.

UPDATE 2: Better late than never, here’s a Legislative Council election guide.

Educated guesswork

After much indecision, I have finally appended my South Australian election guide entries with predictions for each seat. To cut a long story short, I am tipping Labor to win 24 seats (loss of four), the Liberals to win 20 (gain of six), independents three (loss of one) and the Nationals zero (loss of one). I thus find myself tipping a one-seat Labor majority for the third state election in a row. In Western Australia I was only a seat or two out, but my error was crucially in the wrong direction, such that I missed the change of government. The Queensland election prediction was not one of my better performances: I made from memory seven wrong calls, each being a seat I wrongly thought the Liberal National Party would gain from Labor. Third time lucky, perhaps.

What follows are detailed rationales for the choices I’ve made. Two pieces of terminology which appear throughout require explanation: one familiar to election buffs the world over, the other of which I just made up. “Sophomore surge” refers to the advantage known to accrue to candidates who were first elected at the previous election, and are thus enjoying the advantages of incumbency for the first time. The effect is particularly pronounced where the member unseated a candidate of the opposing party at the previous election, as the incumbency advantage moves from one party to the other. So it was in most of the seats on which the election will hinge, which is a major advantage to Labor. In calibrating this effect I examined results from the 2002 and 2006 elections in Victoria, the former of which delivered Labor a mother lode of seats at the expense of their opponents. Of the 19 such seats, 16 delivered Labor better-than-average results in swing terms in 2006, the average swing to the Coalition being 1.6 per cent less than the statewide result.

“Donkey flip” refers to circumstances where the donkey vote favoured one party in 2006, but favours the other in 2010. The conventional wisdom says about 1 per cent of the electorate wantonly numbers the candidates in ballot paper order, so under preferential voting the vote ends up with whichever of the Labor or Liberal candidates is higher on the ballot paper. If it’s the same party at both elections, the value of the previous election as a guide to the current one is undiminished. But when it changes, a 1 per cent bonus must be factored in to whichever party picks up the benefit.

Light (Labor 2.4%): There are a number of reasons Labor has remained vaguely hopeful about Light in more optimistic moments, despite it being their most marginal seat. Labor member Tony Piccolo gets both the sophomore surge and donkey flip, so his natural margin might be said to be more like 5 per cent. Labor also believes the rapid growth of the area puts some wind in its sails because it has changed the electorate’s once-rural character, although the booth swings over the past decade have in fact matched the statewide results quite closely. In any case, the narrowness of the margin is such that a Labor win would be an upset. Those watching the seat’s progress on election night should note that it might behave erratically: it combines the heavily Labor outer suburbs of Munno Para and Smithfield Plains, the growing rural towns of Roseworthy and Angle Vale and the satellite city of Gawler which dominates it. Each of these might swing in different ways: even within Gawler itself there might be a division between the growing outer suburbs of Hewett and Evanston and the town centre, where voters might be taking unkindly to their region’s rapid transformation. In the final analysis though, this goes down as a Liberal gain.

Mawson (Labor 2.7%): Labor member Leon Bignell has sophomore surge going for him, but he has lucked out on the donkey vote both times. Mawson is also a growth area, but not necessarily in ways reassuring to Labor. Hackham in particular has been trending away from them as new housing developments emerge, while remaining strong in absolute terms. The trump card for Bignell, Labor would hope, is the Southern Expressway, on which Labor snookered the Liberals shortly before the campaign began. At that time the Liberals were compelled to put their own planned announcement on ice, saying details of its promise would be made available later in the campaign. That will presumably happen over the next few days, allowing them to at least neutralise the issue. Mawson might ultimately be a tougher nut to crack for the Liberals than other seats with bigger margins, but the margin being what it is I have it down as a Liberal gain.

Norwood (Labor 3.7%): Norwood went down to the wire in 1997 and 2002 before giving Labor its smallest swing of any Adelaide seat in 2006. The conventional explanation for the latter result was the popularity of the Liberal candidate, Adelaide Crows star Nigel Smart. Given that Smart is not the candidate this time, it might be thought the seat is safer for Labor than the margin makes it appear. However, long-term sitting member Vini Ciccarello is one of the few marginal seat defenders who won’t enjoy a sophomore surge, and the Liberals also get the donkey flip. Labor should also cop the brunt of the evident public preference for the Liberals’ Royal Adelaide Hospital policy, both due to the hospital’s proximity to the electorate and the large proportion of older voters (16.9 per cent of the population compared with 13.3 per cent nationally). Labor was also deeply concerned at how the land tax issue was playing in this and other eastern suburbs electorates, hence the government’s announcement at the end of January of $52 million in cuts that would in future spare 75,000 people out of 121,000 from having to pay it. The Save RAH and Fair Land Tax parties both have candidates in the field who are directing preferences to the Liberals. While the seat is not a lay-down misere, the weight of the evidence seems to favour a Liberal gain.

Newland (Labor 5.2%): The margin in Newland is below the statewide swing indicated by Newspoll and Galaxy, but there are a number of reasons to believe Labor has it sufficiently sand-bagged. Most obviously there is the 53-47 Advertiser poll from earlier in the campaign, notwithstanding that the paper’s methodology is believed to be less sophisticated than that of the established polling agencies. Labor member Tom Kenyon gets both sophomore surge and donkey flip, although the former is diminished by the fact that he was not opposed by a sitting member in 2006, which contributed to his massive 12.3 per cent swing. The electorate is distant from Royal Adelaide Hospital, although the much nearer Modbury Hospital carries dangers of its own for the government. Land tax was biting as an issue here, but the government’s aforementioned giveaway might have taken some of the sting out of it. Most significantly, the Liberals have almost certainly made a mistake in nominating the baggage-laden Trish Draper as their candidate. All that being so, Labor retain.

Hartley (Labor 5.6%): A difficult one. Grace Portolesi will benefit from sophomore surge, but it might be mitigated by the fact that she faces Joe Scalzi, the defeated Liberal member from the last election, who by all accounts has since kept up his profile in community groups and the locally numerous Italian community. Against that, there may be a stigma attached to a “recycled candidate”, and it appears Portolesi has worked her turf very effectively over the fortnightly garbage collection and Chelsea Cinema issues. Portolesi had the donkey vote both times, so that won’t be a factor. The Royal Adelaide Hospital is close enough to be a problem for Labor, and the electorate was an epicentre of discontent over land tax: it goes without saying that Save RAH and Fair Land Tax both have candidates here. Factoring all that in, the margin is right where you wouldn’t want it to be if you were trying to make a prediction. After swinging back and forth over the past few days, Vickie Chapman’s foolishness has brought me down on the side of Labor retain.

Morialta (Labor 6.8%): Adelaide has a reputation for swinging in a fairly uniform fashion, so it’s a remarkable fact that a seat this far down the pendulum is reckoned by some to be the likeliest Liberal gain. Some background to the 2006 election can help explain this. Observers on both side of politics speak in tones of wonder at the scale of defeated Liberal member Joan Hall’s surrender during the campaign. Always averse to door-knocking, she is said to have retreated entirely to the central campaign headquarters and was almost never to be seen in her own electorate. On the other side of the ledger, Morialta had not been part of Labor’s strategy in either 1997 (the electorate was then called Coles) or 2002, but was attacked by the party with a vengeance in 2006. Cultivating territory it had previously ignored, Labor found low-hanging fruit to be particularly abundant in the Housing Trust-dominated territory around Paradise, where it recorded awesome swings of over 15 per cent. This time it’s the Liberals whose campaign efforts have switched from moribund to frenzied. An important factor here is the resources and campaigning expertise brought to bear on the electorate by Christopher Pyne, member for the corresponding federal seat of Sturt, whose office is described by Labor sources as an “aircraft carrier” for the Liberals’ campaigning efforts. Joan Hall didn’t get much help from Pyne as she had made an enemy of him and other moderates when she switched her allegiance from Dean Brown to John Olsen in 1996, enabling the latter to depose the former as Premier. By stark contrast, current Liberal candidate John Gardner worked until very recently as a staffer to Pyne, who is understandably doing his best to smooth his protégé’s passage into parliament. There are still a few points in Labor’s favour: Lindsay Simmons is said to have worked the electorate conscientiously, and there is surprisingly no Fair Land Tax candidate in the field. However, the Liberals get the donkey flip. Early in the campaign The Advertiser produced a poll which had the Liberals 52-48 in front – the consensus is that this was about on the money. Liberal gain.

Bright (Labor 6.9%): The Liberals’ apparent failure to make inroads in this seat, demonstrated by last week’s 55-45 Advertiser poll result, seems to be largely down to the popularity of local member Chloe Fox. I suspect the Liberal strategy has been to concentrate efforts in a minimum number of specific seats to be in a position to form government, and Bright hasn’t been one of them. Chloe Fox of course should get a sophomore surge, although like Tom Kenyon in Newland she did not face a sitting member in 2006. She has had the donkey vote advantage on both occasions. By overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom, Labor retain.

Mitchell (Independent 0.6% versus Labor): I might as well toss a coin here. The consensus view is that Kris Hanna won’t be able to keep his head in front of the Liberal candidate, but they said that last time as well (myself included). The argument goes that the Liberal resurgence gives him too great a hurdle to clear, and he won’t be able to piggy-back as effectively off Nick Xenophon as he did last time (the Liberal candidate rather than Hanna will also get the donkey vote this time, but that’s a relatively minor consideration). Against that, when Labor sheds votes many of their erstwhile supporters prefer parking their vote with a neutral candidate to getting in bed with the enemy. On the basis that I wrongly wrote off Hanna last time, Independent retain.

Frome (Independent 1.7% versus Liberal): Whereas Mitchell is almost certain to be determined by who finishes second, it seems very likely in the current environment that Frome will finish as a straightforward two-horse race between independent member Geoff Brock and Liberal challenger Terry Boylan. Here too there is very little hard data to go on, but my intuition is that a Liberal resurgence will be too much for Brock, and that he will struggle to appeal outside his home base of Port Pirie and in the very different electoral terrain of the surrounding rural areas and Clare Valley. That being so, Liberal gain. UPDATE: In the warm light of the late morning (Perth time), I’ve thought better about this one. That “Liberal resurgence” should be cancelled out by the general tendency of oppositions to do better in by-elections, and Geoff Brock will have a lot of low-hanging fruit in the Clare Valley even if he doesn’t poll hugely well there in absolute terms: his vote in many of these booths at the by-election was below 10 per cent. So make that Independent retain.

Chaffey (Nationals 17.2% versus Liberal): The decline of Labor’s fortunes has changed Karlene Maywald’s association with the government from asset to liability. With Labor’s re-election in 2006 a foregone conclusion, it made sense for the Riverland to vote for a seat at the cabinet table. This time it’s a case of conservative rural voters facing a clear opportunity to contribute to the defeat of a Labor government. It’s been suggested this week’s announcement on River Murray flows will be a boon for Maywald, but my guess – and that’s all it is – is that irrigators would sooner credit the forces of nature than Mike Rann. Against that, the advantages of incumbency in a rural seat should never be written off: but on the other hand, independent Russell Savage lost his Victorian state seat of Mildura just over the border in 2006, which I didn’t see coming. The Advertiser poll at the start of the campaign showing Maywald ahead 50.5-49.5 doesn’t make my life any easier, but I’m told the Liberals are confident. That swings it for me: Liberal gain.

Elsewhere, it’s by no means unthinkable that independent Don Pegler will upset the Liberal applecart in Mount Gambier, a naturally conservative seat being vacated by retiring independent Rory McEwen. However, the Liberals probably did what needed to be done in endorsing local mayor Steve Perryman, despite the knowledge that he might emerge as a loose cannon. The retirement of Liberal veteran Graham Gunn in Stuart made it a hypothetical Labor gain, but that prospect has surely receded. The Liberals are heartened by the fact that Gunn is managing the campaign of their candidate Dan van Holst Pellekaan, and has been working hard to introduce him around the electorate. The Nationals might nab Flinders from the Liberals now that sitting member Liz Penfold is retiring, but I’m thinking it must be significant that I haven’t heard it discussed lately. Finally, the perception that the swings don’t seem to be landing in the marginals where the Liberals need them most raises the prospect that swings in non-marginal seats might be on a sufficient scale to deliver Labor a nasty surprise. Adelaide‘s margin of 10.5 per cent is less than the federal Coalition suffered in some Queensland seats in 2007, but the government has spent a lot of political capital keeping it happy and has a locally popular incumbent. Beyond that I could only speculate, but it would certainly take a brave punter to tip a swing of over 12 per cent in any seat without hard evidence.

Finally, a couple of snippets of campaign news.

• Déjà vu all over again in Mount Gambier, with occasional Poll Bludger comments contributor Michael Gorey resigning as editor of the Border Watch newspaper and journalist Sandra Morello being banned from covering the election campaign. Renato Castello of the Sunday Mail reports the latter event was occasioned when “the Liberal Party complained her husband and former Border Watch editor Frank Morello was writing media releases for (independent candidate Don) Pegler”, with three such releases said to have formed the basis for Morello’s stories (a common enough practice at hard-pressed suburban and regional newspapers, as I can state from personal experience). However, Gorey gave notice six weeks earlier, so the two events are presumably not related. Pegler denied suggestions his campaign was being bankrolled by the paper’s publisher, the Scott Group, which was owned by recently deceased trucking magnate Allan Scott. Frank Morello was himself stood down by Allan Scott during the 2006 campaign after the paper ran a number of articles seen to be critical of Liberal candidate Peter Gandolfi, whose well-financed campaign was believed to have been financed by Scott. This prompted the sudden resignation of Lechelle Earl, the writer of the articles and the paper’s chief-of-staff. When Gandolfi was defeated for preselection ahead of the current election by Steve Perryman, Scott wrote to the then Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith threatening to back “any independent who might contest the seat”, according to Greg Kelton of The Advertiser.

• A timely “in-principle agreement” between the South Australian, New South Wales and Queensland governments will deliver South Australia 400 gigalitres in Murray River flows, courtesy of recent flooding in Queensland. This will be a boon to irrigators in the Riverland, and thus to Karlene Maywald in Chaffey. However, Shadow Water Minister Mitch Williams says Rann is claiming credit for being granted water that New South Wales “physically cannot keep”. The announcement came shortly after irrigators had their allocations increased to their highest level since October 2006 on the back of earlier flooding in New South Wales. Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has promised to hold a referendum on referring powers over the Murray-Darling Basin to the federal government if the states don’t agree to refer the powers voluntarily.

• Brad Couch of the Sunday Mail reports Labor strategists are considering a “whirlwind rural tour” for Mike Rann in the final week, the chief virtue of which is that such a tour paid handsome dividends for Anna Bligh at the end of last year’s Queensland campaign. One problem with this is that in stark contrast to Queensland, Labor in South Australia has no marginal seats it needs to defend in rural areas – unless Giles has emerged as a problem, or the party still holds out hope of gaining Stuart. Nonetheless, it is reckoned such a move might “portray Mr Rann as energetic and statesman-like”, thus countering the widespread perception he has looked tired during the campaign.

• That hardy perennial parish pump issue, the Britannia roundabout, has been targeted by the Liberals with a promised $12 million upgrade that will include the installation of traffic lights. An $8.8 million proposal to regulate the knotty five-way traffic snarl was scrapped by the Rann government in 2005. The roundabout is located at the junction of the electorates of Adelaide, Norwood and Bragg.

• Lauren Novak of The Advertiser reports the Greens have drafted laws to replace above-the-line voting with optional preferential voting for the upper house, apparently without a minimum number of boxes that must be numbered as usually occurs in similar cases elsewhere.

Galaxy: 51-49 to Liberal in South Australia

It appears today’s Galaxy poll in the Sunday Mail shows the Liberals with a 51-49 lead on two-party preferred. Mystifyingly, we learn the Liberals are ahead from the paper’s editorial as carried on the Herald-Sun site: and thus have to fill in the blanks ourselves. The two-party preferred figure was provided to me by a reader who also says Isobel Redmond has a 49-42 lead over Mike Rann as preferred premier. It can be presumed Galaxy has followed its usual practice of polling 800 voters, and that the margin of error is thus about 3.5 per cent. Be it noted that this is exactly the result they produced a week out from the Western Australian election, which came in nearer the money than either Newspoll or Westpoll.

UPDATE: Big thanks to Inner Suburbia in comments for relating the following:

The poll is of 800 people.

Primary votes: Liberal 42, ALP 36, Greens 10, Family First 6, Other 5
2PP: Liberal 51, ALP 49
Better Premier: Redmond 49, Rann 42, Uncommitted 9
“Which party, Labor or Liberal, do you believe would be best for SA’s economic prosperity?”: Liberal 49, ALP 43, Uncommitted 8

Then some questions comparing the leaders:

Arrogant: Rann 70, Redmond 13
“More talk than action”: Rann 61, Redmond 23
Understands SA’s problems: Rann 40, Redmond 45
Easy to understand: Rann 38, Redmond 48
Committed to their beliefs: Rann 34, Redmond 45
TELLS THE TRUTH: Rann 21, Redmond 52
Inexperienced: Rann 8, Redmond 79

Then some questions on policy alternatives:

Labor’s Adelaide Oval redevelop: 47, Libs new stadium: 33
Labor’s stormwater plan for gardens: 36, Libs stormwater plan for everything: 59
Labor’s new hospital: 34, Libs keeping RAH where it is: 61
Labor’s national ICAC: 43, Libs state ICAC:46.

Advertiser: 55-45 to Labor in Bright

The Advertiser’s latest marginal seat poll covers the southern coastal suburbs electorate of Bright, and it finds Labor incumbent Chloe Fox set to be easily re-elected against a Liberal swing of 2 per cent. After distribution of the 4 per cent undecided, the primary votes are 44 per cent for Labor, 41 per cent for Liberal, 9 per cent for the Greens, 2 per cent each for Family First and Save RAH, and 1 per cent for the Fair Land Tax Party. Nonetheless, Isobel Redmond is found to lead Mike Rann in the electorate as preferred premier by 47 per cent to 45 per cent. Interestingly, the poll finds Fox – who had a baby in January and has declined to publicly name the father – trailing among women voters, although the margin of error on the gender breakdowns is around 5.5 per cent. The margin of error overall is around 4 per cent.

In other news, the upper house preference tickets have been published, and can most easily be viewed at ABC Elections. I hope to get an upper house election guide happening at some point next week.

South Australian election minus nine days

Noteworthy happenings from the past five or six days’ worth of South Australian election action:

Antony Green summarises the preference tickets which have been lodged for purposes of South Australia’s unique provision to save incomplete ballots, which in other jurisdictions would be ruled informal (it does not necessarily follow, but can reasonably be inferred, that this will reflect the how-to-vote cards handed out on election day). Labor has done very well out of the Greens, who are not only directing preferences straight to Labor ahead of the Liberals across the board, but are also favouring them over independent and one-time Greens member Kris Hanna in Mitchell, as they did in 2006. Hanna’s own preferences will be split between Labor and Liberal, but the Liberals are unlikely to be competitive in the seat. The Greens are also favouring competitive independents and Nationals candidates over Liberal in Mount Gambier, Frome, Chaffey and Flinders. Whereas Family First cut a deal with Labor in 2006 which resulted in split tickets in the key seats of Mawson, Light, Morialta, Newland and Mitchell, this time they favour the Liberals across the board – not only in Labor-versus-Liberal contests, but also where independents (Mitchell, Frome and Mount Gambier) and Nationals (Chaffey and Flinders) are in play. Karlene Maywald is directing preferences to the Liberals in Chaffey, which will not be electorally significant but might be seen as a useful pointer to her attitude. Save RAH, Dignity for Disability, Gamers 4 Croydon and the DLP also seem to be directing all preferences to the Liberals ahead of Labor. The Free Land Tax Party has not lodged tickets. Mount Gambier independent candidate Nick Fletcher favours the Liberals over independent Don Pegler; Chaffey independent David Peake favours the Liberals over Karlene Maywald; Stuart independent Rob Williams in Stuart favours Liberal over Labor; Newland independent Ryan Haby favours Labor over Liberal.

• David Bevan and Matthew Abraham’s Mornings program on ABC Radio yesterday featured an interview with the three re-contesting independents about their likely attitude in the event of a minority government. Mitchell MP Kris Hanna said he would present the parties with “detailed policy imperatives” concerning water, democracy and pokies, and “projects for his community” including Glenthorne Farm and the Oaklands railway crossing. Frome MP Geoff Brock said he would be seeking upgrades of natural gas pipelines into cities in the upper Spencer Gulf, and commitments on water security. Fisher MP Bob Such said he would not be asking for specific commitments in his electorate, but would instead do as he did in 2002 and write to constitutents to gauge their views. However, he said he was not expecting the matter to emerge as he believed Labor would win. All were pressed by the presenters on their attitude to an Independent Commission Against Corruption; none said it would be a “deal-breaker”.

• Graham Young of Online Opinion wrote in The Weekend Australian of qualitative polling he has conducted in South Australia, which found only 36 per cent of a sample of 252 (which he freely admits was likely to have had a Labor bias) believed the state to be ahead in the right direction, against 44 per cent who felt otherwise. The sample was particularly concerned about water, followed by health – which loomed as a negative for Labor as the Royal Adelaide Hospital relocation was “wildly unpopular”. Underlying both concerns was a perception the government was concerned with “spin over substance”. However, the Liberal Party continues to be viewed as “extreme” despite positive perceptions of Isobel Redmond, who voters feel they do not know well enough.

• At the Liberal campaign launch on Sunday, Isobel Redmond promised $47 million out of a claimed $1 billion in savings from rebuilding the Royal Adelaide Hospital on site would be used to return obstetrics services to Modbury Hospital, located in the electorate of Florey and of significance to its marginal neighbour Newland. Redmond also promised upgrades to the hospital’s paediatrics, intensive care and emergency departments. Labor responded by promising a $44 million upgrade including a new emergency department at the hospital. In 2007 the government removed obstetric and pediatric services and had pathology and radiology services at the hospital downgraded, while adding more elective surgery and palliative care. Redmond also promised to spend $75 million on country health services.

• Paul Collier, the lead upper house candidate for Dignity for Disability, died yesterday after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Since nominations have closed his name will remain on the ballot paper, but votes for him will be passed along to the voter’s next preference. In most cases this will mean the second candidate on the party’s ticket, Kelly Vincent. If any of the 73 remaining candidates dies between now and polling day, the entire upper house election will be deemed to have failed, and a separate election will have to be held at a later time.

Brad Crouch of the Sunday Mail reported Liberal internal polling of 14 marginal seats conducted at the start of the campaign showed 49 per cent found Isobel Redmond the more trustworthy of the two leaders, compared with 25 per cent for Mike Rann. A repeat of the exercise after the debate found Redmond’s rating had risen to 54 per cent while Rann’s remained steady. A question on whether respondents were confident in the government elicited a 57 per cent negative response in the first survey, rising to 66 per cent in the second.

• Mike Rann has called for the second debate which both he and Isobel Redmond have agreed to in principle to be held on pay TV. Redmond wants it held in Port Augusta or Renmark, in an environment where audience members can ask questions, but Greg Kelton of The Advertiser writes that Labor “will not have a bar of that”. Sky News says it is engaged in discussions and hopes to screen the debate.

• Also in the aforementioned Greg Kelton article, Labor strategists are reported saying momentum to the Liberals had stalled, such that they believed Labor might only lose Morialta.