The final published polling ahead of today’s federal election in Australia has Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition slightly ahead, making the former lawyer and investment banker the favourite to win and lead the next national government.
Here he is casting his vote in his local electorate of Wentworth this morning:
— andrew meares (@mearesy) July 2, 2016
A giant poll with a survey sample of over 4000 people published in The Australian today puts the Coalition ahead of Bill Shorten’s Labor by 50.5 per cent to Labor’s 49.5 per cent. This is a swing of around 3% against the government compared to the 2013 election which delivered a thumping majority in the House of Representatives for the Coalition.
Today Australians are voting to elect all 150 members of the House of Representatives as well as all 76 members of the Senate in the country’s first double-dissolution election since 1987. While Turnbull is expected to retain power, his policy agenda will be beholden to the composition of the Senate, and with a surge in support for independents, the arithmetic and politics of the new upper house are highly uncertain.
With 76 seats in the lower house required for a working majority, Abbott leads the Liberal-National Coalition into the poll with a notional 89 seats. Coalition strategists anticipate a swing of at least 1% to 1.5% against the government, a typical cost of incumbency.
Veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes writes in the Herald Sun today:
The final tracking survey in marginal seats on Thursday night showed a swing of 4 per cent to the party since the 2013 election — close to the figure needed to topple the government.
The message from inside Bill Shorten’s camp was: “Don’t write us off.”
Mr Shorten campaigned like fury on Friday.
Mr Turnbull looked relaxed and comfortable.
The Coalition’s final tracking survey apparently suggested the loss of eight or nine seats at worst, leaving it with a reasonable majority.
So the Prime Minister clearly felt he could afford a less frenetic final day.
There have been some telling signs on the mood in the two camps from the final hours of the campaign. On Friday, Shorten campaigned in four marginal seats in western Sydney, while Turnbull only did one event with Craig Laundy, the sitting MP in the marginal seat of Reid.
The simple equation today is that Labor needs everything to go its way. With any marginal seat – such as Reid – that the Coalition holds, the task for Shorten increases mightily. One Labor source told Business Insider that Shorten might win around 10 seats “but lose one or two”.
But probably the best indicator is there has been talk about the future of the Labor leadership, and whether Shorten will be able to keep his job as opposition leader after the poll.
Turnbull has put the securing of Australia’s economic future at the heart of his campaign. Over two months the Coalition’s message has only strayed occasionally away from this theme, and then mainly when Labor managed to drag the national debate back towards its traditional strong points of public health provision and education.
Australia is about to notch up its 25th consecutive year of the economy growing without suffering a recession. This is an extraordinary achievement in the modern age. But the current state of the economic cycle with China, Australia’s largest trading partner, starting to ease off the insane growth levels of the past two decades means the parts of the country where the economy is driven by resources are starting to suffer. In Western Australia and South Australia in particular, unemployment has been ticking higher and house prices have been starting to fall.
South Australia will be fascinating to watch. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has built a stunning support base in the state where the unemployment rate at almost 7% is the highest in the country. He may secure one or even two seats in the House of Representatives.
Coalition strategists believe Jamie Briggs, the former minister who fell from grace after an allegation of inappropriate behaviour towards a public servant in a Hong Kong bar, may lose his seat to Nick Xenophon’s candidate, Rebekha Sharkie.
On the other hand, it is probably helpful to the Coalition that the parts of the country benefiting from the upswing in services provision as the economy transitions are more heavily populated, and therefore have more seats allocated in the parliament.
Business Insider will have LIVE coverage as the polls close and the count gets underway.
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