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Friday, 20 August 2010

Coalition to win the Australian Election?


Yesterday online betting agencies were reporting that Labor was still firm favourite to win tomorrow's federal election, with odds around 1.5 compared to 4 for the coalition picking up enough seats to form government. This was despite the coalition being favoured to pick up a large number of marginal seats in NSW and Queensland (where state Labor governments are decidedly unpopular after years of over-promising and under-delivering). So I placed a $10 bet with Betfair for the coalition to win at odds of 4-to-1), although I'm still doubtful that the coalition will be able to get over the line on the day.

Today the odds on a coalition win have shortened to around 3 (glad I placed my bet yesterday), but Labor is still favourite to win the election. By all appearances this election really will be a close one (they say that nearly every election, despite many of them turning out to be a "landslide" in the end), with the coalition (Liberals and Nationals) having a solid primary vote (over 40%) and likely to pick up a handful of marginal seats in both QLD and NSW, but Labor likely to pick up a couple of seats in NSW (due to a recent redistribution) and also gaining some seats in VIC and SA. Labor is suffering a substantial "protest vote" due to many policy implementation snafus under Rudd (you don't see many "Kevin '11" T-shirts these days!), with their primary vote down in the low 30%'s. However, most of that protest vote is disillusioned socialists giving their vote to local independent or green candidates. Under our preferential voting system the second preference votes will mean that most of these green votes flow back to Labor (usually around 60% of Green votes flow to Labor, this time I expect the Green primary vote will be higher, and that Green preferences will flow 70%+ to Labor).

If the coalition does manage to pick up a dozen marginal NSW and QLD seats, and loses a few seats in NSW and a handful in VIC/SA we are quite likely to be staying up late on Saturday night waiting for the early results to flow in from WA. With the housing affordability and mining tax issues having a big impact in WA (and neither Rudd, Gillard or Abbott coming from WA) the final result may hinge on how many seats the coalition can gain in WA.

While Labor still appears to be favourite to remain in power, the coalition may have sufficient momentum to close the gap by election day. Although Green preferences will offset Labor's poor primary vote to a large extent, in the event of a hung parliament the Libs/Nats have better prospects of doing a deal with the 3-4 independent Representative MPs and being able to form a government in that situation.

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