Morgan have the ALP up 53 to 47.
Galaxy have the ALP up 55 to 45.
But then again, "Last poll tips easy Kennett victory"
If both polls are accurate and the swing is consistant across the state, they'll lead to a return of the Bracks government, albeit with a reduced majority. Which sounds about right. Bracks will win the election, but this is as much a result of the commanding victory he had in 2002 as it is a ringing endorsement of the previous four years of his Premiership.
Voters aren't thrilled with Bracks, but they see him as a reasonably harmless bloke, even if he occasionally appears paralysed by indecision. It's a reflection on state and local politics more generally that voters are looking for decent administrators rather than real visionaries. When schools, hospitals, roads and water are at stake, the worst offence is rocking the boat. Mediocrity is a virtue.
Politically, there are three very different styles of battles going on.
Firstly, there are the country electorates. These are the ones made up of lifelong conservative voters who swung to Labor in 1999 and have stuck with them. It's interesting to note that these are areas with little historical tradition of voting Labor, and the Labor trend certainly hasn't carried over to Federal elections. If the working class suburbanites who voted for Howard in 1996 and never looked back are "Howard's Battlers", then perhaps these voters are "Bracks' bumpkins".
It will be interesting to see if they stick with Bracks this time around. They've got every reason to desert him. The drought is hitting regional Victoria hard, water restrictions are harsher in the country than they are in Melbourne and the Fast Train has become the Farce Train. Most likely some of these voters will return to the conservative fold, however the bitter divisions between the Liberals and Nationals are hardly encouraging. Watch for some of these seats to fall from Labor to Liberal. For the Nationals, their days are numbered.
My prediction: Ripon, South Barwon, Ballarat West, Hastings, Gembrook to fall to the Liberals.
Secondly, there are suburban electorates. The northern and western suburbs have always been Labor heartland, and nothing their will change. In the south and the east, Bracks might be on the nose, Pinnocio-style, because of his Bracksflip on tolls for the Mitcham to Frankston Freeway. But these are voters who have fallen under the charms of St Steve, and the toll reversal will be too long gone to hurt him. These seats will stay with the ALP. There are, though, a few that will fall from Labor's grasp, because the of slender margin by which they're held, and the strength of the local campaign.
My prediction: Evelyn, Kilsyth and Mount Waverley to fall.
Thirdly, there is the intriguing battle in the inner-city, where the ALP are under threat from a relentless Greens campaign. There was talk that these seats might fall in 2002, but then the Labor sitting members achieved a primary vote which was too high for the Greens to leapfrog to victory. This time, though, the primary vote will be lower for Labor and those seats look under real threat. The ALP have tried incredibly hard to publicise the preference deal the Greens have reached with the Liberals. It's a message, though, that means very little to the cynical, disengaged and Green-loving voters at which it is targeted.
My prediction: Richmond, Brunswick and Melbourne will all go Green.
So all in all, here's what I predict will happen:
- Labor will lose five seats in the country, mostly to the Liberals.
- Labor will lose three seats in the inner city, to the Greens.
- Labor will lose three seats in the eastern suburbs, to the Liberals.
Therefore, Labor will be returned with a significantly reduced majority:
Labor 51 (-11)
Liberal 25 (+8)
Nationals 7 (=)
Greens 3 (+3)
Independents 2 (=)
As for the Upper House, in each of the eight regions, Labor will win two seats, and the Liberals will win two seats. As for the final seats, here's how I think they'll fall:
- Southern Metro, South Eastern Metro, Western Metro, Northern Metro: Greens
- Eastern Metro: Family First
- Western Vic, Northern Vic and Eastern Vic: Nationals
Which leaves us with 16 Labor, 16 Liberals, 4 Greens, 3 Nationals and 1 Family First. This fine balance will make things extremely tricky for the ALP if they are returned in the lower house. Even if they were to reach an agreement with the Greens, one one of their number is elected as Speaker, they no longer have a majority on the floor of the house. Perhaps the single Family First member will become Spring Street's very own Steve Fielding. Oh the joy.