Last Sunday Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited the Governor General and offered advice that an election be held for the Federal House of Representatives on Saturday the 7th of September.
In the first polls released following the Governor General's acceptance of this advice the Coalition have jumped out to an early lead, though most of the polling was actually performed prior to the election date being known.
My modelling now gives the Coalition a 77% chance of winning government in their own right (at least 76 seats in the 150 seat House). Labor have just a 0.4% chance of winning majority government (1.5% if you assume, as the model does not, that Labor will win Melbourne from the Greens). The remaining 22% of the time no party will have enough seats to form government without the support of one or more independent or minor party Representatives.
The median outcome is 78 seats to the Coalition and 69 to Labor.
Labor is in red and the Coalition in blue.
While in an election held tomorrow the Coalition would expect to win quite comfortably there are still four weeks to go until election day and Labor could, in theory, easily overcome the Coalition's lead in that time.
As previously the model assumes that the Independent Andrew Wilkie in Denison, Adam Bandt of the Greens in Melbourne, and Bob Katter of an Australian Party of the same ilk in Kennedy will all win reelection. This is not an entirely safe assumption and I'll talk about them again later under their respective state profiles.
The next few paragraphs are basic Australian background and housekeeping related information. If you've read my previous Australian Election modelling diaries you might like to skip straight to the state breakdowns where you'll find the usual tables now include percentage chances for the Coalition to win each seat (rather than just general ratings) and maps showing which parts of each state are predicted to vote for each party. The state-by-state breakdown text is also updated rather than rewritten from scratch, there is only so many times you can say the same thing.
Currently Australia is governed by the Labor party (centre-left, loves unions) with the support of a number of independents (3 conservative, 1 Laborish, 1 idiosyncratic but left-leaning) and the Greens (progressives). The opposition is known as the Coalition, with an uppercase C as their coalition is permanent, and is composed of the Liberals (centre-right, hates unions, loves free markets) and Nationals (conservative agrarian socialists, loves protectionism). The Labor party need the independent and Green support as they do not have enough seats to govern in their own right (and in fact have less seats (71) than the Coalition (72)).
Voting in Australia is compulsory and uses a preferential ballot (this means that in certain seats the way parties direct their supporters to allocate their preferences will be crucial) in single-member seats for the House of Representatives.
Finally before we get to the numbers I'll just mention a few details in regards to the model I am using. The model takes into consideration the prior voting history of the electorate, incumbent strength (where applicable), and public polling. It doesn't account for potential asymmetric swings within states (not enough polling data available). I'm interested to see how much that ends up mattering.
Tables in this diary are colour coded. Shades of red reflect Labor held seats and predictions, shades of blue represent Liberal held seats and predictions (the occasionally different party names and abbreviations are courtesy of local party branches having inconsistent names), independents are grey, Greens are light green (shocker), and Nationals are dark green.
New South Wales
Independents Rob Oakeshott in Lyne and Tony Windsor in New England have both announced they will not be running for reelection this year and the model now rates both these seats as safe for the Nationals. Both Independents supported Labor in the current hung parliament and the Coalition gain of these two seats is a first step toward the Coalition retaking government.
Scandal soaked Laborish MP Craig Thomson (union money, hookers) is technically running for reelection as an independent, for pension related reasons, though he will be receiving, within the margin of error, zero votes. Nevertheless Labor hopes to retain Thomson's central coast seat of Dobell with a less awful candidate and have suggested that internal polling has them ahead.
The model is bullish on Labor's chances of finally taking Gilmore from the Liberal party now that ultra-popular incumbent Joanna Gash is retiring. However it also considers Labor to be in considerable trouble in a good number of seats.
Polling still suggests a swing away from Labor and the model considers the Liberals to have a solid edge in Corangamite and Deakin but Labor looking good to hold on everywhere else.
Melbourne is the sole house seat held by the Greens and predictions will depend on which party the Liberals choose to preference. I currently regard Melbourne as lean Greens but if the Liberals preference the Greens it will move to safe Greens. Conversely if the Liberals decide to preference Labor Melbourne will become a tossup. The Greens released internal polling during the week showing them leading Labor 66-34. There were some issues with this polling (didn't use party names, only candidate names, and assumed previous election preferencing) and it's safe to say the the Greens will not win Melbourne by anything like that margin.
Katter's Australian Party currently holds the seat of Kennedy (which they will retain) and may be a threat throughout rural Queensland with their locally popular brand of agrarian socialism.
Palmer's United Party (or whatever it is called this week) has been established by mining billionaire Clive Palmer to... do something. I'm not inclined to think that it will matter much.
We really need to wait and see how Katter's Australian Party plans on allocating it's preferences to know what effect it might have in seats where it gets a significant vote but doesn't win. For now I've assumed it will preference the LNP (Coalition local name) in every seat and win nowhere except Kennedy, pending press releases or public polling (there is tell that this may be an assumption subject to change in future).
Labor appear to be struggling in Queensland after having earlier looked likely to win quite a few seats from the Coalition. If Labor can't do well in Queensland then they will not win the election.
This week Labor announced that outstandingly popular former Queensland Premier (the equivalent of the Prime Minister of a state) Peter Beattie will be standing for the seat of Forde. The model very likely underestimates his chances in this seat. It's a very unusual situation perhaps a bit as if a popular US governor from a decade ago decided four weeks before the election to run for a swing seat in the House.
The model considers that Labor is still ahead, though under threat, in Hindmarsh and Adelaide. The Liberals will still have to keep an eye on extremely marginal Boothby which could reasonably fall to Labor even in a statewide swing against them.
The model can't really handle the unique situation in Denison but I have Wilkie listed as likely to win Denison once again based on the assumption that both the Greens and the Liberals will preference him once again and that he will beat the Greens on primary vote. Should either party announce that they will be preferencing Labor instead then Denison's rating will move to safe Labor.
Solomon makes up the city of Darwin and will probably be retained by the Country Liberal Party (The local Liberal branch) but patchy and poor quality polling makes this a seat one that I don't feel as comfortable with as my model does.
The rest of the territory lies within the Labor held division of Lingiari. The model considers it to be a slight lean to Labor and that seems about right to me.