Known unknowns – including the Nick Xenophon team’s election-day performance – make a precise prediction difficult, writes Paul Rodan in Inside Story (28.6.16):
‘As this extended election campaign nears its (possibly merciful) end, there is a commentariat consensus that Labor, while making some gains, will fall short of a win. The magnitude of the gains will, of course, play a critical role in the futures of both major-party leaders. Complicating the picture is the likely size of any crossbench, which could range anywhere from three members to ten, with the Xenophon factor in South Australia a key unknown.
‘The question mark over the crossbench also serves to highlight the limitations of the opinion pollsters’ concept of the two-party-preferred vote. This tool works best in a setting where Labor and the Coalition win all 150 seats between them; it is less useful when the waters are muddied by Greens and independents. A two-party-preferred vote of just over 50 per cent is less likely to deliver a lower house majority if there are ten or so crossbenchers in the chamber.
‘ … While 51–49 might be a close result in a sporting contest, it need not be so in an election for 150 single-member constituencies. Indeed, in a worst-case scenario, a two-party-preferred vote of around 49 per cent could limit Labor to a mere handful of gains and result in Bill Shorten’s main problem after 2 July being the question of whether to serve in his successor’s shadow cabinet.’