Polling: Coalition Senate Collapse Possible, Crossbench to Remain Crucial

New analysis from The Australia Institute prepared by researcher Bill Browne shows the Coalition is in danger of missing out on a third Senator in each state, which has not happened since the Senate was expanded in 1987.

The analysis is based on new Australia Institute national polling of 1536 people which shows Labor and the Greens are unlikely to gain majority of Senators at the Federal election.

“This would represent an historic loss for the Coalition, having not happened in modern Senate election history. Nonetheless, the polling shows that Labor and the Greens would struggle to get a majority with key crossbenchers likely to maintain considerable sway after the election,” said Ben Oquist, executive director of the Australia Institute.

Key findings:

· On current polling, the Coalition would not win three seats in any state. If this eventuates at the election, it could change the distribution of senators between Liberals and Nationals, as there is the prospect of both Liberals being elected in lieu of the first National in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia or Tasmania.

o In previous Senate elections, the Coalition has always won three or more seats in at least three states, and twice won three or more seats in every state

· Labor and the Greens together may reach a “blocking” 38 seats in the Senate, but they are highly unlikely to get to a “passing” 39 seats, meaning they will depend on one or more non-Greens crossbenchers to pass legislation not supported by the Coalition.

· The next Senate crossbench will at least contain ongoing senators from Australian Conservatives, One Nation and Centre Alliance, and may also contain Jacqui Lambie or Craig Garland from Tasmania, additional One Nation and Centre Alliance senators, or even Derryn Hinch or a United Australia Party senator.

· The current political narrative underestimates One Nation. Despite a drop in their polling from its peak two years ago, an analysis of the new Senate voting system (never before used in a half-Senate election) suggests that One Nation is likely to still win seats in three states.

· Predictions include:

o One Nation will win new Senate seats (up to a total of 4 in the new Senate)

o Labor winning three seats in Victoria and the Greens one has gone from possible to probable

o Independent Senate candidate Craig Garland is a prospect in Tasmania

· The three states to watch for determining the composition of the next Senate are:

o Victoria, which could elect three Labor and one Greens senators

o Tasmania, which could elect three Labor and one Greens senator, or return an independent like Jacqui Lambie or Craig Garland

o South Australia, where the final two seats are in doubt: Centre Alliance, the Greens, One Nation and the Liberals are all possibilities

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