The second Fairfax-Ipsos poll for the Victorian state election campaign is very much like the last, in that it has delivered a shocking headline result for the government (56-44 to Labor, just as before) which turns out on closer inspection to have more to do with minor party and independent flows than anything too radical on the primary vote. Labor has gained two points on the last poll to draw level on the primary vote with the Coalition, who are steady at 39%, with the Greens down a point off an implausibly high reading of 17% last time. If preference flows from the previous election are used, Labor’s lead turns out to be 53-47, just as it was last time. Encouragingly for Labor, Daniel Andrews has gained three points on approval to 40% and is down five on disapproval to 37%, while Denis Napthine is down one on each measure to 46% and 37%. Napthine’s lead as preferred premier has narrowed from 47-38 to 46-37. At some point tomorrow, I’ll do an update of the poll tracker on the sidebar to encompass this result and the Morgan SMS poll that was published earlier in the week.

However, there’s a bit of a fly in the ointment with the Ipsos poll: it was conducted a week ago, from Thursday to Sunday, and for whatever reason The Age sat on the result even as its relevance vanished into the ether. There have been reports over the past day or two of internal polling recording a shift back to the Coalition throughout the present week, and of the Liberal Party being buoyed by the response to the negative advertising blitz it unleashed on Sunday. Whether or not this is actually the case is the burning question of the moment, and to this the poll provides no answer.

In other news

The close of nominations is at noon tomorrow, to be followed by the ballot paper draw. Then at noon on Sunday comes the deadline for submission of group voting tickets for the Legislative Council, which should be published for our perusal later in the day. Antony Green has been keeping score and observers a two-thirds increase in Legislative Council candidacies with more yet to come, apparently maxing out at 20 columns on the Northern Metropolitan ballot paper (small beer though that may be compared with the 44 columns for the Victorian Senate last year).

Yesterday I published a lengthy post of updates which has very quickly been superseded by this one. Rather than let all that work go to waste, I’m repasting the bulk of it below, without taking the effort to turn any of the various references to “today” into “yesterday”.

The Australian today reports that “support for the Napthine government is starting to increase for the first time in many months”, to the extent that “senior Liberal figures believe the most likely outcome at the election will be either a small government majority or a small Labor majority”. This is said to be corroborated by the internal polling of both parties (although the federal Liberals don’t seem to have been CC’d on the memo, with Patricia Karvelas in The Australian reporting yesterday that most consider the government to be headed for defeat).

• Liberal optimism notwithstanding, The Australian’s report today suggests it is recognised that the government continues to face a tough battle in the crucial “sandbelt” seats of Bentleigh, Mordialloc, Carrum and Frankston. However, a more bullish picture of their prospects was provided by a report on Sunday from James Campbell of the Herald-Sun. Labor sources were cited claiming to be ahead in Bentleigh, “but not by so much as you would put down your glasses”. Mordialloc was deemed by both sides to be too close to call, and the Liberals were actively “confident” about Carrum. However, it appeared to be agreed that Labor was ahead in Frankston. For what little it’s likely to be worth to them, Annika Smethurst of the Herald-Sun reports that Geoff Shaw is likely to direct his preferences to the Liberals.

• The election’s secondary metropolitan flashpoint is the outer north-eastern duo of Yan Yean and Eltham, where Labor has respectively been weakened by redistribution and the retirement of a sitting member. According to today’s report in The Australian, the Liberals believe themselves to be competitive or better in both seats. However, James Campbell’s Herald-Sun report said Labor “swears it will hold Yan Yean”, about which the Liberals were “hopeful but not overly” (likewise the case for Cranbourne on Melbourne’s south-eastern fringe).

• The Coalition conducted its campaign launch in Ballarat on Sunday, signalling hopes of snaring not only the western regional seat of Ripon, where redistribution and the retirement of Labor member Joe Helper have placed them in the box seat, but also Wendouree and Buninyong (known pre-redistribution as Ballarat West and Ballarat East). However, a Liberal source cited by James Campbell’s report said “only Ripon is looking likely with the other two ‘looking hard’“.

• James Campbell also reported that “in Geelong both sides think the most likely outcome is no change”, which I take to suggest that Labor will hold Bellarine but fall short in South Barwon.

• In my previous instalment, I related media reports of polling for the Greens by Lonergan Research showing them leading in Melbourne and Richmond. Full results have been published on the party website: here for Melbourne, and here for Richmond.

• Here’s a taste of that negative Liberal advertising – this in relation to Labor’s CFMEU links (and here’s another concerning the Wonthaggi desalination plant, which enjoyed a helpful front page tie-in from the Herald-Sun on Monday). Also, for the sake of balance, a topical item for the Ballarat market from Labor.

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