Will the electorate reward Bill Shorten and his bold social policy program, underwritten by major changes to tax? Or will the electorate forgive the Liberals and their revolving door leadership, to give Scott Morrison his own mandate to govern.
Make no mistake, this election is close. Where once the Liberals saw themselves as no chance, there is now some hope. For Labor, having previously seen this election as a sure thing, they now have a sense of nervousness.
The first week of the campaign was a shaky one for Labor. After week 2, Labor was able to steady their campaign and, on balance, deliver a solid performance alongside the Liberals.
What has become apparent from the published polls is that neither side has been able to break away from the other.
Labor will take some heart that in every major published poll during the campaign it has shown them consistently, if only narrowly, in front on a two-party preferred basis. In saying that the polls are not infallible.
The interesting takeout from all the polls, is that neither side has had a primary vote to guarantee victory.
Labor needs a primary vote of 38-39 to be confident of a win, however they haven’t once reached those numbers during the campaign. The Liberals on the other hand need a primary vote of around 43 but have also been able to reach that number. This makes any outcome for this election complicated to predict, with certainty.
Come this evening when the votes will be counted, it will be the battle of the preferences, with key states in Queensland and, followed closely by Victoria, likely to determine who forms government.
Some seats in Queensland are likely to see a combined vote for the minor parties of around 30% or possibly more. The question the everyone will be asking will be, ‘where do those preferences go?’
It’s worth noting that, based on all the published polls, the average combined vote for minor parties across the country is 25% in the House of Representatives, and even higher in the Senate.
This election is unique for some key factors as well. It will be the first campaign where a third-party (Clive Palmer) will probably have outspent the major parties thanks to an estimated $50 million advertising carpet bombing.
According to the AEC over 4 million (approximately 25% of the total number of register voters on the electoral roll) people have cast their ballots in early pre-poll voting – this is unprecedented.
So, who will be crowned the victor come election day?
If the polls are to be believed, Bill Shorten and Labor would eek out a narrow win, and with 76 seats required for a majority, that narrow win looks to be only 78-80 seats.
For the Scott Morrison and the Coalition, while their path to 76 looks incredibly difficult and on balance a stretch, a hung Parliament followed by a minority Morrison Government supported by crossbench independents, would be their best-case scenario for re-election.
Enjoy your democracy sausage!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jody Fassina is the Managing Director of Insight Strategy and has served as a strategic adviser to MedTech and pharmaceutical stakeholders.