The Canberra Times today provides the first hard intelligence for the ACT election coming up on Saturday, with a poll that finds Labor in a commanding position and potentially headed for a parliamentary majority.

Conducted from October 11 to 14 by Patterson Research Group from a sample of 1203, the results in aggregate (rounded to the nearest half a per cent) are 44.5% for Labor (compared with 37.4% at the 2008 election); 35.5% for the Liberals (compared with 31.6%); and 14.5% for the Greens (compared with 15.5%). The Greens vote is probably higher than most would have anticipated.

The rise in the major party vote is reflected by a 5.5% rating for “others”, reversing a strong result of 15.4% last time.

Such figures suggests the Liberals will find themselves becalmed on six seats in the 17-member Legislative Assembly (Labor and the Greens currently hold government). The three ACT electorates look likely to instead produce contests between Labor and the Greens to determine the final seats. The worst case scenario for Labor would be a status quo result of seven seats, with the best being a majority of nine seats or even an unprecedented 10.

The Greens on the other hand would be in for a very exciting election night, at best maintaining their existing four seats but at worst collapsing to one. The results for each electorate together with swings off the 2008 results are shown below. The sample for each is around 400, with a margin of error approaching 5%.

Labor Liberal Greens Others
Brindabella 43 (+6.5) 43 (+7.7) 9 (-4.6) 5 (-9.6)
Ginninderra 45 (+4.8) 36 (+8.2) 13 (-0.9) 6 (-12.1)
Molonglo 45 (+8.9) 30 (-1.5) 20 (+1.8) 5 (-9.2)
TOTAL 44.5 (+7.1) 35.5 (+3.9) 15.5 (-1.1) 15 (-9.9)

Part of the disparity in Liberal swings can be explained by the “others” vote last time. In the electorate of Brindabella, Val Jeffery polled 6.3% as a candidate of the Community Alliance in 2008 and is now running for the Liberals, presumably bringing a large share of his vote over. There may have been a similar effect in Ginninderra resulting from radio announcer Mark Parton polling 6.3% as an independent in 2008 and vacating the field this time.

The result is probably also a little awry with respect to Molonglo, but it still provides a strong basis for believing the Liberals will do no more than maintain their existing two seats per electorate. The table below illustrates the point by converting the result into quotas. In each case the Liberals are well short of a third quota despite their gains on vote share. With no serious independent challenges on the radar, contests would emerge between Labor and the Greens to be the last candidate standing, to then override any remaining Liberal on the preferences of the other.

Labor Liberal Greens Others
Brindabella 2.6 2.6 0.5 0.3
Ginninderra 2.7 2.2 0.8 0.4
Molonglo 3.6 2.4 1.6 0.4

The Canberra Times also reported yesterday that the poll had found 54% favouring current Chief Minister and Labor MLA Katy Gallagher to head the ACT, compared to 26% for the Liberals’ Zed Seselja.