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EXPERT POLITICS TIPS: VICTORIA STATE ELECTION

2022 VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION UPDATE – NOVEMBER 22

An ugly election campaign on both sides of politics shows no signs of abating as we enter the final week before voting on November 26. It’s been a treacherous campaigning period, which has had a lot of heat despite the result looking all but certain to go one way. A major point of note is that early voting is at record numbers. Early voting tends to favour incumbents and has historically skewed towards the party of younger voters so should provide a steadier base for Labor. There has been leaked “polling” from the Liberal Party suggesting Dan Andrews’ popularity has tanked over the backend of the campaign but this is most likely nothing but a desperate attempt to carve out some potential swaying media analysis to drive Liberal support.

At the end of the day, Dan Andrews is marching to another term. It will be a Labor majority. The interest will be in the strong protest vote expected to help the Greens and Teals as well as a convoluted and compelling Upper House.

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A very safe Labor seat at face value, a number of factors have brought the Greens right into this including a very favourable redistribution and the Liberal Party decision to preference the Greens over Labor. Nobody has summed the redistribution up better than poll analyst Kevin Bonham who said “it kicked 18829 true believers in the north of the district into Broadmeadows while importing 14371 communists from the People’s Republic of Brunswick”. A combination of the Greens vote, the strong independent vote from the last election and cleaning up a lot of the minor party vote would put the Greens in front. This is an absolute coin toss to the huge price available is delightful.

Labor should be winning Werribee despite a strong independent vote last time out. It is a messy seat with 15 candidates but worth noting the high-profile Labor candidate has drawn the one slot. Sandringham is on a razor-thin margin for the Liberal Party but they are not expecting to lose the seat as they work hard to sandbag their current holds.

Fiona Patten has won a seat in the Upper House at both the 2014 and 2018 elections, firstly for the Sex Party and most recently for the Reason Party. She has an established profile and will thrive in a climate where voters are likely to turn away from the major parties.

The Greens currently have three seats they are in no danger of losing: Melbourne, Brunswick and Prahran. They are heavily favoured to win Northcote and Richmond. As noted above, they are huge overs in Pascoe Vale and are over the odds as well in Albert Park. The over 5.5 is excellent value.

2022 VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION OVERVIEW

There has been little doubt that this century Victoria has become the jewel in the Labor crown. This has held particularly true at the state level, with the Coalition winning just one of six elections since 1999, gripping to power with just a one-seat majority during that four-year run.

Labor’s dominance is expected to continue in 2022 despite the depths plumbed by Dan Andrews’ popularity during the COVID-19 lockdowns. An uninspiring Coalition led by Matthew Guy and a current advantage of 55 seats to the Coalition’s 26 (with three Greens seats and one Independent) have the Andrews Government all but certain to be returned. They are helped further by the fact Guy led the Coalition to the landslide defeat in 2018 and serious internal dysfunction has seen him return to the top job.

There has been a significant redistribution since the last election with two seats abolished (Ferntree Gully and Keysborough), one seat created (Laverton), one merged (Forest Hill and Mount Waverley to become Glen Waverley) and two seats being split in two (Gembrook becoming Berwick and Pakenham and Yuroke becoming Greenvale and Kalkallo). The notional redistribution gives Labor a 58-26 advantage.

Classically the ALP have dominated Western and Northern Melbourne while having an advantage in the South-East corridor. The Coalition’s strong-hold in Melbourne has always been the Eastern Suburbs. The ALP does have a strong regional presence from Geelong to Bendigo, but has traditionally been a heartland for the Coalition with the odd rural independent showing up.

One look at the pendulum that shows how difficult it is to build for the Coalition in normal circumstances is a comparison of safe seats. Labor hold 43 seats with a margin of 7% or better against the seven of the Coalition. The advantage is 20-4 when it comes to seats with a margin of 15% or larger. The Coalition need a very big swing to even get a sniff.

‘Teal’ Independents dominated the last Federal Election, sweeping in on a wave of disaffection with not only the Morrison Government, but a party they felt had betrayed them. With eight seats being held on a margin of less than 1% and the need to make significant inroads, the last thing the Coalition needs is to put resources into sandbagging their own seats. Kew is one such seat; despite holding a 4.7% margin, the independent candidate Sophie Torney has firmed into favouritism in an open seat following the retirement of controversial MP Tim Smith.

This is also a concern for Labor here with seats like Werribee, Point Cook and Melton a chance of falling, as are other inner-city seats to the Greens. All should remain red, but any resentment towards Andrews and the COVID-19 shutdowns could see some strange results.

Outright Winner & Type of Government formed

Despite the very short prices in play six weeks out from Election Day, the prices are not short enough. This is not only a quote on the back of a popular government, but structurally it is hard to see how the Liberal Party have any chance of winning this election from their current position.

The wave is with Labor and any forecast dislike of Andrews or backlash against the very popular Albanese Government simply did not eventuate. Even with a notable move against Labor, there is next to no chance of Dan Andrews not being returned with a majority – and potentially an increased one at that.

Independent Seats Won

There has been a decided movement to a third way in Australian politics, particularly in affluent areas where voters are off the Liberal Party but refuse to vote Labor or Green.

That should see this number sail over the 4.5, with 10 not out of the reckoning. Shepparton is already in the hands of popular rural Independent Suzanna Sheed. Mildura looks to be heading the same way after Aly Cupper won the seat in 2018.

Independents are now favoured to take Kew, Caulfield and Benambra, with Jacqui Hawkins going again in the latter after only narrowly missing out in 2018. Hawthorn, Mornington, Point Cook and Sandringham are also given better than 35% chances of going Independent.

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