Two days to go until an election that is, in a sense, already half over, thanks to the extraordinary growth in pre-poll voting.
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.
In the absence of new polls, we can only guess at the impact of a news agenda dominated by terrorism – although betting markets are favouring Labor more strongly than ever.
The Victorian election campaign continues to chug along poll-lessly. There hasn’t been a single statewide poll since the Newspoll at the start of the campaign, and all we’ve had from the media was last week’s modestly sampled YouGov Galaxy seat polls for the Herald Sun. Roy Morgan has had some qualitative material based on 626 SMS surveys last Tuesday and Wednesday, of which you can make what you will. Not much, would be my recommendation.
The election campaign, narrowly defined, has also been battling for space with terrorism in the news media. Presumably this is bad news for Labor, but punters seem to have other ideas: Ladbrokes has had Labor in from $1.18 to $1.14 over the past few days, with the Coalition out from $4.33 to $5. Labor’s odds have shortened in a number of Liberal-held seats, with nothing or next-to-nothing separating the parties in Bass, South Barwon and Ripon. Conversely, Ladbrokes now rates the Greens as favourites to gain Richmond, and is suddenly offering $4 on an independent to win the Labor seat of Altona – although neither of the two relevant candidates (Tony Hooper, a Wyndham councillor, and Maria Aylward, sister of a murder victim running on a law-and-order ticket) has attracted much media attention.
The Liberals continue to talk up their chances ahead of next week’s Victorian election, but betting markets appear unimpressed.
The Victorian election has been remarkably light on for opinion polls: the Herald Sun has had only the four YouGov Galaxy seat polls it has published over the past week; The Australian appears to be content with top-and-tailing the campaign with Newspoll results; and The Age has had precisely nothing. We do, however, have a uComms/ReachTEL poll conducted privately for the Victorian National Parks Association, although one might well look askance at the result, which credits Labor with a two-party lead of 56-44. After allocated results from a forced response follow-up for the 6.7% who were initially undecided, the primary votes are Labor 40.4% (38.1% in 2014), Coalition 36.8% (42.0%) and Greens 10.3% (11.5%). The poll was conducted on Tuesday from a sample of 1527.
Oddly enough, there has also been movement to Labor on the betting markets, with Ladbrokes now offering $1.18 on Labor to form government after the election, in from $1.25 a week ago, and the Coalition out from $3.50 to $4.33. Notable movements on Ladbrokes’ seat markets include “independent” – of which there are two, Jenny O’Connor and Jacqui Hawkins – being slashed from $13 to $4 in Benambra. This presumably has something to do with a report by Gay Alcorn in The Guardian relating that polling conducted for O’Connor showed Liberal member Bill Tilley’s primary vote falling below 40%.
Ladbrokes also has “independent” as favourite in the crowded field in Morwell, where Russell Northe is seeking re-election after quitting the Nationals, although it has little separating independent, Coalition (which could mean either the Nationals or the Liberals, both of whom are running) and Labor. It would seem there has also been money coming in on Labor to recover Northcote from the Greens – the latter are still favourites at $1.20, but this is out from $1.14 a week ago, and Labor has been cut from $5 to $3.75. Odds for each electorate are displayed on the bottom-right of each page of my election guide; if you would like your gambling losses to go to a good cause, you are encouraged to sign up to Ladbrokes using the links there or on the sidebar.
John Ferguson of The Australian offers the following assessment:
The word increasingly out of the Liberal camp is that it can win. Labor believes this is a deliberate attempt by the Coalition to inject some life into the Liberal campaign team and the media, and that the optimism is not backed by reality. Guy was campaigning yesterday morning in the seat of Wendouree, part of Ballarat, about an hour’s drive west of Melbourne, which until late this week was not much on people’s radar. Despite a pro-Labor margin of 5.7 per cent, the Liberals think it is a possible gain, something Labor is not prepared to concede. The Liberals remain optimistic they can pick up four seats in Melbourne’s sandbelt, starting at Frankston in the southeast, which has a margin of just 0.48 per cent. It is a crime seat. The other three seats the Liberal Party is talking up are Carrum, Bentleigh and Mordialloc, all with margins of 2.1 per cent or under. But even on this scenario, the Coalition needs to pick up four more seats and so far the evidence of this happening has been lacking …
There are also at least three outlier seats that could cause the Liberal Party heartburn as independents try to unseat Guy’s candidates. The first is Benambra in the state’s northeast, which the Liberals hold with a margin of less than 10 per cent; the second is Ovens Valley, held by the Coalition partner with a margin of 16.6 per cent; and the third is South-West Coast, with a margin of 11 per cent.
While Noel Towell of The Age has the following:
The Coalition is losing this state election … Liberal Party elders Jeff Kennett and Michael Kroger are in denial, the first stage of political grief, while some of the people around Guy have moved onto anger and even the leader himself has been getting a little tetchy in recent days. But this is not over. Kennett has had a lot to say these past couple of days and even managed to be right about one thing; Victorian elections can confound the pollsters.
Liberal candidate hassles, upper house preference shenanigans and (a bit) more.
News and observations:
• In a campaign in which far too much news space has been spent on so-what indiscretions by who-cares candidates in no-chance seats (more on this by ousted Greens candidate Joanna Nilson in The Guardian), the Liberals have suffered a genuinely consequential setbaack with their disendorsement of their candidate for Yan Yean, an outer northern Melbourne seat held by Labor on a margin of 3.7%. Meralyn Klein had appeared in a video by the far right Australian Liberty Alliance in which she complained of an incident involving two youths who were “of a culture that didn’t accept white Australian women”, which was used to promote the party’s call for a “ban” on Muslims. When Klein sought to distance herself from the party, one of its candidates, Avi Yemini, said the party had “numerous meetings with her”, and was hoping she would defect to it once elected. The deadline for nominations having passed, Klein remains on the ballot paper as the Liberal candidate.
• I had a piece in Crikey yesterday on Labor’s curious reluctance to reform group voting tickets for the Legislative Council. The definitive guide to the preference deals and their potential electoral consequences is provided by Kevin Bonham; Antony Green’s ever-reliable election calculators are available here; and Nick Casmirri offers revealing colour-coded summaries of Labor and Greens tickets across the eight regions.
• Liberal state president Michael Kroger was in unusually bullish form in assessing the situation for Patrick Durkin of the Financial Review. On Kroger’s telling, the confluence of Bourke Street and James Gargasoulas had voters primed for the Liberal law-and-order campaign just as they began flocking to the pre-poll booths in unprecedented numbers (see below). Kroger went so far as to say that Daniel Andrews would be “lucky to win his own seat” of Mulgrave, which he holds on a margin of 4.5%.
• The Victorian Electoral Commission relates that 238,559 votes have been cast in the first three days of pre-poll voting, compared with 119,640 at the same point in 2014.
Good news for Labor in seats where they face challenges from the Greens and a high-profile independent.
The Herald Sun has two more YouGov Galaxy robopolls of individual electorates for the Victorian state election, with samples of 500 to 550. There’s good news for Labor from Richmond, where it had been thought Labor had been damaged by the Liberals’ decision not to field a candidate. The poll suggests Labor member Richard Wynne should be able to survive regardless, recording a 49% to 42% lead over Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn (33.3% to 31.5% in 2014, when the Liberals polled 20.7%), and a 54-46 lead on two-party preferred.
There is also a poll for the Geelong electorate, where the Herald Sun seems inordinately keen on the independent candidacy of Darryn Lyons, who was mayor of Geelong at the time of the council’s sacking in April 2016. The poll has Lyons on an actually quite modest 15%, ahead of the Greens on 11% but well behind the Liberals on 28%. Labor incumbent Christine Couzens is on 40%, and leads the Liberal candidate 56-44 after preferences.
Like the Mordialloc and Frankston polls published on Monday, these ones were conducted on Saturday and Sunday.
Two Victorian election seat polls suggest a repeat of cliffhanger results from 2014.
The Herald Sun has two YouGov Galaxy seat polls for the Victorian election, these being robopolls conducted from sample of around 550 on Saturday and Sunday. Both target bellwether seats in the “sandbelt”, and both land bang on their 2014 election results. Labor leads 52-48 in Mordialloc (52.1-47.9 in 2014), from primary votes of Labor 41% (38.7%), Liberal 42% (43.8%), Greens 7% (7.9%). In Frankston, Labor clings to a 51-49 lead in a seat where they won 50.5-49.5 in 2014, but there is substantial movement on the primary vote, owing to a weaker independent presence this time. Labor is on 42%, up from 35.0%; the Liberals are on 43%, up from 35.8%, while the Greens are on 6%, down from 8.0%.
Also out today were the Legislative Council group ticket votes, on which I have a separate thread
Group voting tickets have been unveiled in Victoria, one of the two jurisdictions that persists with them.
The group voting tickets for the Victorian election are available for viewing here. There is as always a lot to parse here, and Antony Green’s calculators will be needed to make better sense of it all. A few immediate take-outs:
• Glenn Druery’s fingerprints are everywhere to be seen, with tightly interlocking preferences from a vast array of micro-parties who leave the ballot papers looking more like those for the Senate than what prevailed pre-2014. Even Fiona Patten’s Reason Party appears to have reached accommodations with a number of micro-parties, despite her police complaint against Druery.
• The Greens have not done at all well: the Druery network parties have them last or near to last, as usual; Labor has them behind a number of left and, in places, not-so-left concerns (Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, Shooters Fishers and Farmers and the Liberal Democrats); Animal Justice favours left-wing micro-parties over them.
• The Coalition has tended to give priority to the more competitive of the right-of-centre micro parties, and has Labor ahead of (in this order) the Greens, Victorian Socialists and the Australian Liberty Alliance.
The Liberals opt to sit it out in Richmond, as a frenzied weekend behind the scenes looms ahead of Sunday’s deadline for upper house preferences.
With the arrival of today’s deadline for nominations, the campaign action cranks up a notch:
• With party nominations closing yesterday (independents have until noon today), the mystery of the Liberals’ intentions in the inner-city seats is solved: candidates will be fielded in Melbourne, Northcote and Brunswick, but not in Richmond. According to The Australian, the Liberals believe this deals a “near unassailable blow” to Labor’s Richard Wynne in Richmond. Another report in The Australian relates that the Liberals’ high hopes of recovering Prahran, into which they have “poured huge resources”, are looming large in their strategic calculations, the hope being that Labor will take the foot off the pedal in Prahran due to its need to focus efforts on Richmond.
• Reports suggest the Liberals will not make a preference recommendation in the inner-city seats where they are running, which is a happier state of affairs for the Greens than their previous practice of putting them last. The Herald Sun reported Labor had sought Liberal preferences as part of a swap in which they would direct preferences to Coalition candidates ahead of independents in Benambra, Ovens Valley and SouthWestCoast.
• Also confirmed is that Nationals-turned-independent MP Russell Northe will run again in Morwell, which has developed into a highly complex contest that also encompasses Labor, Liberal and Nationals candidates, along with Ricky Muir, the former Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator now running for Shooters Fishers and Farmers.
• The closure of nominations will kick off a frenzy of negotiations over preferences ahead of the deadline for submission of group voting tickets noon on Sunday. The Greens are briefing journalists that they fear losing three of their five seats, leaving them with their core of Northern Metropolitan and Western Metropolitan. While such fears may be sincerely held, publicising them puts pressure on Labor by raising the spectre of a right-wing lockout if they prioritise deals with micro-party preference networks.
• Upper house preferences are again placing the spotlight on Glenn Druery, staffer to Senator Derryn Hinch and freelance preference broker. Druery has been the subject of a police complaint from Fiona Patten, upper house member for the Reason Party (formerly the Sex Party), who raises concerns about the $5000 fee he charges small parties to be privy to his preference networking, and his $50,000 “success fee”.