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Ellis: Labor to hold on in South Australia

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(Image via abc.net.au)

Bob Ellis wrote the following piece while voting was happening in the South Australian election and many of his predictions are now looking remarkably prescient.

A nervous headline in the Australian, 'Libs at risk of falling short in quest for majority rule', over a Newspoll mooting a massive, massive swing of 0. 7% , with 5%'uncommitted' or 'refused' indicates, in my view, a loss of one or two seats and Labor comfortably staying on in South Australia.

Steven Marshall said 'vote Labor' this week, suggesting he is a goose. 37% prefer him and 43% Jay Weatherill. His dissatisfaction is up, since a month ago, from 29 to 35. 6 percent of Liberals think they might vote the other way. There's a margin of error of 2.5 percent. There's a Festival on.

I could be wrong. But it seems the momentum, however skimpy, is Labor's way. Well known female candidates, like Grace Portalesi in Hartley and Chloë Fox in Bright, damaged last time by Rann's 'affair', will in this cleanskin era hold on, I think, against number-tightening redistributions. The Carolyn Habib "racist, you said my name" outcry had helped, not hindered, Annabel Digance in Elder. Tony Piccolo in Light is the only candidate, in 2010, with a swing to him.

And there would have been a drift of Green preferences, in 2010, to the Libs of 12 or 15 percent. This so no longer. Abbott has declared war on the trees, the skies, the seas, the disabled, the poorer schoolkids, and the poorer nursing mothers, and failing to arrest the Manus murderer, and this would add...oh... 0.7 percent to Labor?

0.7 is the margin by which Newspoll said Labor is doing worse than it did last time.

Looking back, I see figures I do not trust. Labor on 46 last March means the Festival was on, and no mobiles rung. Labor on 46 this February means a lot of summer surfing, or bushfire fighting, or sailing, and no mobiles rung. 47.7 today...might be right, but it's more like, given Marshall's creepy stupidity and ugly mouth, and Green preferences, and Hockey scaring Holden away, and telling Qantas to go jump, 49.2 percent, which I here predict.

What needs to be looked at is how much Labor is doing better lately, better than predicted, when actual votes are counted. In Redcliffe it was thought they might get a swing of 12 per cent. It was 18 per cent. In NSW it was thought they might be gone for three terms. A Nielsen last month showed them winning – even with Robbo, even after Obeid and McDonald, even after the Rees 'affair' – government.

I know I bang on about this too much, but what is clear to me is that with forty per cent of Australians not owning landlines any more, and sixty per cent not being home most nights to answer them, all landline polls are useless. And the robocalling madness, calls by machines to nonagenarians prepared to talk to them, said Rudd, Swan, Burke, Bowen, Dreyfus and Clare would lose their seats in September.

And they didn't.

So, did Labor's vote vary in the last four years in South Australia? Well, yes, for a bit, when Olympic Dam was cancelled. But not when Holden pulled out, and then Toyota.

And it's coming back, with a Green wind at its back, in my view, tonight.

And we will see what we shall see.

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