Two weeks after Labor launched its campaign, and ten days after writs were issued, the 2014 Victorian election campaign is about to get serious.
You may have thought you’d seen it all and heard it all – leaders kissing tourists, kicking footballs and campaigning with kith and kin. We’ve had attack ads, big spending initiatives, opinion polls and the odd campaign stumble.
All just a warm-up act for what lies ahead.
Early voting opens next Monday 17th November, and runs for two weeks until election day on the 29th.
At the 2010 state election, some 17% of votes were cast before election day, double the number cast at the 2006 election – and a trend that is likely to see a record high number of pre-poll and postal votes cast this year.
Opinion polls also show a substantial number of voters are yet to make up their minds, and most won’t do so until very late in the piece. These soft or swinging voters are numerous enough to determine the outcome.
The rise of uncommitted voters will accelerate the trend for campaigns to become increasingly negative in the final weeks. Expect to see a splurgemeter rolled out by the Government to illustrate how Labor can’t be trusted with money and a fierce tit for tat debate over election costings. This will be augmented with an upswing in negative imagery: jobs, TAFE cuts and ambulance waiting times from Labor and a sharper focus on desal, myki and the north south pipeline blowouts from the Government.
The election can be won and lost in the last week of a campaign. At the 2010 election, opinion polls suggest the Baillieu Coalition only caught and passed the Brumby Labor Government in the dying days of the campaign. Many on the Labor side felt their campaign ran out of puff in the last week, with few announcements, little momentum and the tired look of a long term government.
So in the next two weeks – right through to election day – expect to see more ads, receive more phone calls, hear more policy announcements and if you live in a marginal seat, there might be a little more pork coming your way.