For Western Australia to decide the election, Labor will have to have a shocker of a night and the Coalition will have to defy expectations.
Basically, there would need to be no net change of seats in other states, according to ABC chief elections analyst Antony Green.
“It would require very few seats to change interstate or changes to cancel each other out … if that happens WA could determine the result,” he said.
“But it does rely on nothing else happening in the east. It requires the Coalition to hold everything in Victoria and to hold everything in Queensland, and so in other words no particular change.”
Don’t hold your breath.
Green said it looked very difficult for the Coalition to avoid losing any seats in Victoria, with Corangamite and Dunkley now notionally Labor after a redistribution and the ALP also expecting to take Chisolm.
He said if Labor also picked up a seat or two in Queensland, it would be pretty clear which way the wind was blowing by the time results started coming through in WA.
“I think the key thing to say about Western Australia and Queensland is for Labor to have any significant majority, they need to gain seats in Queensland and Western Australia,” he said.
“For Labor’s purpose, Western Australia may not determine the result, but it may have a significant impact on the size of any Labor government’s majority.”
Election analysts say it is not out of the question that WA voters could determine the result. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
Leaders go west with seats in play
The latest Newspoll state-by-state results show how much ground Labor has made up in WA.
At the 2016 election, the Coalition won the state 54.7 per cent to 45.3 per cent. But Newspoll suggests the ALP has clawed back 2.7 per cent, albeit with the Coalition still ahead 52 to 48 per cent.
That could hand Labor the Liberals’ most marginal WA seat of Hasluck, held by Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt with a 2.1 per cent margin.
But the ALP also has its eyes on Steve Irons’ seat of Swan and Attorney-General Christian Porter’s seat of Pearce, both on margins of 3.6 per cent, as well as Stirling, where the incumbent Michael Keenan has stepped down having held a 6.1 per cent margin.
That explains why Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have been travelling west more often than their counterparts did during previous election campaigns.
Mr Shorten is in Perth again today for a business breakfast and more marginal seat campaigning, while Mr Morrison made a flying visit on Monday afternoon to launch the Liberals’ WA campaign.
Swings and roundabouts
If the election is tight, every state and every seat becomes even more critical.
Election analyst William Bowe said a close finish was still a clear possibility and it was not out of the question that WA could decide the result — the Coalition could cling to power by holding its marginal seats in Perth or Labor could tip over the line in the west.
Several key WA seats are up for grabs, with the state in play for the first time in a long time.
(AAP: Richard Wainwright)
His Poll Bludger aggregated opinion poll result has a 2 per cent national swing to Labor, giving it 51.7 per cent of the two-party preferred vote to the Coalition’s 48.3 per cent.
Mr Bowe said it would likely be a close result, because Labor was struggling more than expected in regional Queensland, and the Coalition had gone on the offensive against Labor seats in northern Tasmania and the seat of Solomon in the Northern Territory, among others.
If the Coalition did well in those seats and held on elsewhere, then WA could be critical.
Spectre of 1998 election looms
This scenario was the case in the 1998 GST election, when Labor won 50.98 per cent of the two-party preferred vote to the Coalition’s 49.02 per cent but did not secure enough seats to take power.
Then prime minister John Howard had to wait until the results came in from WA to confirm he had survived a huge, but uneven, swing against him.
“This could be the first election since 1998, and 2016 to an extent, where you could have been waiting on Western Australia to really turn up a surprise that might change the situation one way or another,” Mr Bowe said.
“I think there’s a good chance that it will be close enough that on the night everyone will be sweating on WA to see if those seats where the Liberals are under pressure are going to stay with them or not.”
“I think if WA’s not looking interesting on election night, it’s most likely to be because Labor has it wrapped up.”