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Labor easily wins Victorian election; Greens on track to win four lower house seats

This article has been updated.

With 53% counted in the lower house for the Victorian election, the ABC is calling 51 of the 88 seats for Labor, a clear majority. The Coalition has 23, the Greens five and nine seats remain in doubt.

Despite the easy seat win for Labor, their statewide primary vote is currently down 6.0% from the 2018 election to 36.9%, with the Coalition down 0.2% to 35.0%. The Greens up 1.0% to 11.6% and all Others up 5.2% to 16.5%.

The ABC’s estimate is that Labor is currently winning the statewide two party vote by 54.2-45.8 over the Coalition, a 3.4% swing to the Coalition. If this result holds, it would be in very good agreement with the final pre-election Newspoll that gave Labor a 54.5-45.5 lead.

Despite the overall swing to the Coalition, the ABC is currently showing Labor gaining four seats from the Coalition (Bayswater, Glen Waverley, Hastings and Polwarth) against three losses to the Coalition (Morwell, Nepean and Pakenham). The Greens are gaining Richmond and Northcote from Labor, while the Coalition gains Mildura and Shepparton from independents.

The Greens gained the inner Melbourne seats of Richmond and Northcote from Labor, and have some chance of also winning Footscray, Pascoe Vale and Preston. However, although they currently lead the two candidate vote in Albert Park, they will finish third behind the Liberals, and Labor will easily retain that seat against the Liberals.

This was a dreadful performance by the Coalition against a Labor government that has been in power for eight years, especially given the federal change of government in May should have assisted the state Coalition.

The final Newspoll’s leaders’ ratings are telling. While Labor Premier Daniel Andrews’ net approval was down nine points to -2, he was still far more popular than Liberal leader Matthew Guy, whose net approval was also down five points to -25.

Read more: Final Victorian Newspoll gives Labor a large lead

By campaigning so much on antipathy to Andrews, the Coalition damaged its own brand. I believe it would have been better for the Coalition to campaign more on issues that hurt incumbent governments, like cost of living and inflation. In a Resolve poll for The Age, 27% said cost of living was the most important issue, with health and the environment tied on 12%.

This article will be updated tomorrow morning with more results, including the upper house.

Update Sunday morning: Likely no independents and at most five Greens

Late Saturday, postal and early vote counting swung some seats where the Greens were leading in earlier counts back to Labor. Labor has held Footscray, and is likely to win Pascoe Vale and Preston. Labor now has a 51.2-48.8 lead over the Greens in Northcote.

The Greens may be able to chase this down on election day and early absent votes, which are votes cast outside a voter’s home electorate; these votes usually skew left. They will not be counted until posted back to their home electorates next week.

With 67% counted, the ABC is calling 49 of the 88 seats for Labor, 24 for the Coalition, four Greens and 11 undecided. Labor has gained Bayswater and Glen Waverley from the Coalition, but lost Nepean and Morwell to the Coalition. The Coalition gained Mildura and Shepparton from independents, with Labor losing Richmond to the Greens.

In the undecided seats, Labor will win Albert Park and is likely to win Melton, Pakenham, Bass, Preston and Hastings. Although Labor’s lead is currently tenuous in Bass and Hastings, these counts already include some postals which are Labor’s worst category of vote type. Labor should do well on absent votes.

Independents struggle on out of electorate votes, and with the Liberals already ahead in Hawthorn and Mornington, those seats are likely to be won by the Liberals. The Liberals should win Croydon, leaving Northcote, where the Greens need to chase down a Labor lead on absents, as the only genuinely undecided seat.

If these likely outcomes hold, Labor would win 55 of the 88 seats, the Coalition 27, the Greens four, with one undecided (Northcote) and one postponed (Narracan, due to a candidate’s death). The Coalition should retain Narracan when the supplementary election is held.

After much hype about teal and other independents, such an outcome would mean zero lower house seats for independents.

If Labor wins 55 seats, it would be the same number they won at the 2018 election despite a 3.3% statewide two party swing to the Coalition. Many large swings to the Coalition were wasted on safe Labor seats, while some swings the other way overturned slim Coalition margins.

Upper house looks good for the left, but there’s a long way to go

While the lower house is at 67% counted, counts in most of the eight upper house regions are still below 30%. Each region elects five members. Additional votes to be added like early and postal votes will usually assist the Coalition.

On current counting using the ABC’s calculator gives Labor 15 of the 40 upper house seats, the Coalition 14, the Greens four, Legalise Cannabis two, and one each for Fiona Patten, Animal Justice, Labour DLP, the Shooters and One Nation.

I am not confident these results will hold up given group voting tickets (GVT) and the large outstanding vote. But if they do hold, parties aligned with the left would win 23 of the 40 upper house seats, to 17 for right-wing parties.

At this election there was a greater ideological split in GVTs, with the left-wing parties preferencing each other. As Labor easily won the election in the lower house, it’s reasonable to expect a left majority in the upper house.

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