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 While two seats held by Labor and one held by the Liberals have been replaced by corresponding numbers of notional Labor and Liberal seats, the changes are to Labor’s advantage in that two of the new seats are highly safe for Labor while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.