Election-night upset remains a possibility as Victorians head to the polls

The driving age would be lowered to 17 in Victoria under a coalition government.

The driving age would be lowered to 17 in Victoria under a coalition government. Photo: TND

Dan Andrews’ unassailable lead in the Victorian state election is, for the first time in this campaigning period, looking more doubtful than it has ever been.

Senior figures in the Liberals, Greens, independent and Labor camps have all cited tracking polling that had shown a walk-in victory for Mr Andrews’ government.

As Saturday’s state election inches nearer, that is now suggesting a more complicated election than earlier polling suggested.

If there is an upset on Saturday night – and such a prospect remains an upset – it would require a particular constellation of local factors to combine to deny Labor a majority government

“The overwhelming narrative is that both major parties have a brand issue with the electorate,” said Kos Samaras, a former assistant general-secretary of Victorian Labor turned pollster for ‘teal’ independents at RedBridge Group.

simon holmes a court

Simon Holmes a Court says there remains a possibility that was unthinkable just a few weeks ago.

Climate 200 founder Simon Holmes a Court, who co-ordinated the crowd-funded campaigns that subverted expectations at the federal election in May, believes a surge from the crossbench is again a real possibility.

He told TND on Sunday that late developments in political research had now opened a possibility – though not a likelihood – that had seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago when campaigning had begun.

“Labor could lose seven to 10 seats to the Libs, three to independents and three to the Greens,” he said.

But the financier behind the candidates who effected a now-famous “teal bath” said that would require a bad day – to see one any observer has to “squint a little”.

“That’s the worst-case scenario,” he said.

“It’s unlikely to be that bad for Andrews, but anything from 11 seats puts Labor out of majority government.

“That wouldn’t be enough to put the Libs in the lead, raising the prospect of a minority government.”

Victorian federal Liberal Senator David Van said “The election will be much closer than polls and commentators are saying.

“There is a lot of anger towards Andrews in the outer suburban electorates. Guy has won the policy battle but whether it’s enough to get him over the line is too close to call.”

But senior Labor sources said that while elections were increasingly volatile it was not believed that the coming election would produce swings of the same magnitude as the federal election.

A senior MP added: “Who knows what will happen in the final week.”

One source said polling showed Labor was under pressure in seats such as Packenham, Nepean, Bass, Ringwood, Box Hill, Ashwood, Monbulk and others.

“You get a sense that the swing is definitely on,” said Liberal Senator for Victoria Jane Hume.

“Seats like Nepean and Box Hill feel like they’re coming back. Even in seats like Bentleigh and Oakleigh, Point Cook and Werribee there is clearly a mood for change.
“As we get closer to election day, in spite of the seemingly insurmountable task for the Coalition I wouldn’t underestimate the extent of anger out there towards Dan Andrews.”

But Mr Samaras said that Labor enjoyed a margin of more than 9 points in 40 seats, something that would prove the party’s greatest bulwark in the election.

He said that local factors would likely play a role in an election in which local MPs “have a massive standing” in the electorate.

Victorian Labor did not respond to a written question.

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