Steve Fielding's path to Senate salvation is shaping up to be much closer than the pundits are predicting. The devout CityLife church pointman, who first staked his claim to a parliamentary seat in 2004, again could get lucky in Victoria -- this time through a combination of below-the-line votes and yet-to-be-counted absentee ballots.

According to one senior scrutineer familiar with the situation, the chance of a Fielding triumph in the sixth and final Senate position is about 50%, with Liberal Senator Julian McGauran and the DLP's John Madigan splitting the difference. But others, including the ABC's Antony Green, have stumped for McGauran outright.