Preferences, promises and pre-polling, as the South Australian election campaign enters the home strait.
Miscellaneous South Australian state election news:
• I had a piece in Crikey yesterday (paywalled) about the loss of momentum, actual and/or perceived, in Nick Xenophon’s campaign. Among the issues covered are the harsh treatment SA Best has received from preferences, including from the Greens, who have the Liberals ahead of them in 15 of the 36 seats in which they are running. This includes the seat of Waite, where the SA Best candidate is Graham Davies, a former vice-president of the South Australian Conservation Council and chair of the Sustainable Engineering Society. Labor has SA Best behind the Liberals in around half the seats where they are running, although these tend not to be the ones SA Best appears most likely to win. Thanks to South Australian electoral law, you can see all the preference orders that the parties have registered here, for purposes of “saving” votes from ballot papers where not all the boxes were numbered.
• The major point of policy differentiation between the major parties relates to Labor’s proposed tram extensions to North Adelaide and Norwood, for a combined cost of $538 million, and its longer term vision of a network of tram lines through the inner suburbs. The extensions are directly of interest to the seats of Adelaide, which Labor is hopeful of taking from the Liberals, and Dunstan, the marginal Liberal seat held by Steven Marshall. A North Adelaide extension is one of four proposals the Liberals say they will look into in government, the other three of which involve loops within the central business district. Marshall says residents in his electorate fear the loss of street trees and parking from a Norwood line, and the Liberals’ broader position is that trams are “not viable, workable or needed beyond the Adelaide Parklands and North Adelaide, except for the existing Glenelg line”.
• Pre-poll voting has been in swing since Monday, a fact Steven Marshall unusually chose to highlight by casting his own vote on Thursday. The Liberals clearly think they are on to something here, as they have launched a voteearly.com.au website to publicise pre-poll booth locations and the eligibility requirements (Marshall went with work commitments). By the reckoning of Tom Richardson of InDaily, the motivation is to ensure as many votes as possible are cast before the Oakden nursing home scandal fades from view.
• With the apparent decline in SA Best’s fortunes, betting agency Ladbrokes now has Labor very slight favourites to form government. Its seat polling has the Liberals as favourites in 22 seats, Labor in 20, SA Best only in Hartley and Heysen (just barely in the latter case), and independents in Florey, Frome and Mount Gambier. Aside from Labor’s Tom Kenyon being favourite to retain Newland, which has a 0.1% Liberal margin post-redistribution, no seat is favoured to change hands between Liberal and Labor, although little separates them in Lee and Torrens (Labor-held), Adelaide (Liberal-held) and Mawson (Labor-held, but Liberal post-redistribution). There remains a wide zone of uncertainty in relation to SA Best, who are at $3 or less in Chaffey, Davenport, Finniss, Kavel, Morialta and Colton – all Liberal seats, though Colton is only so on the post-redistribution margin.
• A model for projecting seat outcomes from statewide party vote totals based on Senate preference flows at the 2016 federal election has been developed by Jack Larkin. A similar effort was made before the Queensland election by Alex Jago, and while a thoroughly worthy experiment, it ended up badly overestimating Labor, who did not do nearly as well on One Nation preferences at the state election. The Jack Larkin model’s projections look pretty extraordinary in their expectations for SA Best, who end up with twice as many seats as the Liberals based on their supposedly disappointing numbers from the recent Newspoll.