Two Victorian polls have large Labor leads 12 days before election; US Democrats hold Senate at midterms

Victoria’s state election will take place in 12 days, on November 26. A Freshwater poll for The Financial Review, conducted November 3-6 from a sample of 1,012 people by online methods, gave Labor a 56-44 lead, out of 37% Labor primary votes , 34% Coalition, 14% Greens and 15% for all Others.

This is Victoria’s first freshwater survey; a New South Wales Freshwater poll in October gave Labor a 54-46 lead. The cost of living was seen as one of the top three issues in Victoria by 74%, well ahead of 48% for health and social services.

Voters were asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of various personalities. Victorian Labor was a net +10 in favour, the Liberals at -6, Labor Prime Minister Daniel Andrews at -9 and Liberal leader Matthew Guy at -16. Andrews led as preferred premier over Guy by 40-28.

A Victorian Morgan SMS poll, taken on November 9-10 among a sample of 1,030 people, gave Labor 57-43, a gain of 3.5 points for the Coalition since the last SMS poll in August. Primary votes were 40% Labor (down 0.5), 29% Coalition (up 1.5), 11.5% Green (down 2.5), 4 .5% for teal independents (down 0.5) and 14.5% for all others (up two).

The Victorian Morgan poll conducted during October by telephone and online methods was also released which gave Labor a 60.5 to 39.5 lead, a 0.5 point gain for Labor since September. So any turn against Labor seems to have started in early November.

Applying SMS poll primary votes to preference streams for 2018 election would give Labor a bigger lead, analyst says Kevin Bonham estimating 59.5-40.5 at work. This poll implies that other preferences weigh against Labour.

Andrews had an approval rating of 58.5 to 41.5 in this SMS poll, up from 62.5 to 37.5 in August. But he still had a 65.5-34.5 lead over Guy as the best premier, down slightly from 66-34 in August.

A Newspoll last week gave Labor a 54-46 lead. Both of these polls put Labor further ahead, but there was a coalition shift in Morgan. Labor remains likely to win the election in 12 days.

Read more: Victorian Newspoll has Labor lead but would still win with three weeks to go

Record of 740 candidates in the lower house and 454 in the upper house

State election candidate nominations closed Friday and early voting begins today. ABC election analyst Antony Green said there would be 740 candidates in total for the lower house’s 88 seats, an average of 8.4 candidates per seat.

This is the highest average number of candidates per seat recorded for any Australian federal or state election, beating the average of 8.0 per seat in the May federal election. The previous Victorian record was 543 candidates for the lower house in 2014, an average of 6.2 per seat.

In addition to the Labour, Coalition and Green candidates, all seats will be contested by Animal Justice and Family First. The Freedom Party will contest 58 of the 88 seats, the Labor DLP 32 and the Victorian Socialists 22. There will also be 120 independent candidates.

The Victorian Upper House has eight regions which each elect five members for a total of 40. There will be a record 454 candidates in this election, up from 380 in 2018, and a record 178 candidate groups, up from 146 in 2018. The number of groups means that all upper house ballots will have to be “double-decker”, with two rows of party names followed by a line and then lists of candidates.

The proliferation of upper house groups is explained by Victoria’s maintenance of the anti-democratic Group Voting (GVT) system, under which parties with a very small vote share can win seats if they have the good preference agreements. Many parties want a chance to win the upper house lottery.

Read more: How the Victorian Labor Party’s failure on upper house electoral reform is undermining democracy

In both polls cited above, Labour’s primary vote was down three to six points from the 2018 election result. If this swing were also applied to the upper house, Labor would likely lose more seats under GVT than they would have if GVT had been replaced by the system used in the Federal Senate.

US Democrats hold Senate in midterm elections

In my article on the November 8 midterm elections in the United States on Wednesday evening, the Democrats had 48 seats in the Senate, the Republicans 48 and four contests had yet to be called.

Read more: Democrats perform better than expected in US midterms, but Senate and House remain in doubt

Democrats overturned a Republican lead on the late mail count in Nevada, and now lead 48.8-48.1, while they lead Arizona 51.8-46.1; both states were called for Democrats. Republicans won Wisconsin by 50.4-49.4, and Georgia will advance to the second round on Dec. 6 after no candidate won at least 50 percent.

Democrats will now hold 50 Senate seats, including two independents who caucus with them, compared to 49 Republicans. Democrats will control the Senate regardless of the Georgia runoff result, as they will have the casting vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. Pennsylvania, a Democratic win, is the only state where party control has swung, pending Georgia.

CNN’s projections currently give Republicans 211 seats in the House of Representatives to 204 Democrats, 218 of which are needed for a majority. Republicans currently lead with 221 seats and Democrats with 214 seats, according to a spreadsheet by Daniel Nichanian.

To win the House, Democrats must knock down four Republican leads. Despite the narrow seat lead, Republicans currently lead the House’s overall popular vote by 4.9% according to the Cook Political Report.

California is the most populous state with 52 seats in the House and has ten of the 20 unnamed races. It will take until December for California to finalize its vote count.

See also my late US Midterms tally feed for The Poll Bludger, and my live blog of the results as they came out of Wednesday AEDT.

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