As the clock runs down on the campaign for Saturday's unprecedented Western Australian Senate re-election, the outcome gets no easier to predict.
The only candidates who can rest entirely easy over the next few days are the two who head the Liberal ticket -- David Johnston and Michaelia Cash -- and the top Labor candidate, Joe Bullock. Remaining in limbo are incumbents Scott Ludlam of the Greens and Labor's Louise Pratt, together with third Liberal candidate Linda Reynolds, who emerged the biggest loser out of the September fiasco after her clear victory in the original count had to be overturned.
No published polling for the Senate election has emerged to light the way, and even if it had there would be cause to treat it with caution.
It is agreed turnout will be low -- as low as 60% to 65%, if David Johnston's estimate is to be believed -- and while this intuitively sounds most dangerous to Labor and the micro-parties, the precise impact is hard to predict.
Some guide at least is offered by state-level breakdowns of federal voting intention from the published pollsters, which when run through the BludgerTrack poll trend model
show the Coalition on 45.5% (down 5.7% on the election), Labor on 31.2% (up 2.4%), the Greens on 11.9% (up 2.2%) and Palmer United on 5.9% (up 0.6%).
Even after accounting for the lower vote share typically recorded by major parties in the Senate, this suggests the established parties are strong enough to produce a traditional result of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens, with no repeat of last year's micro-party boilovers. However, the difficulty with these figures is that they are derived from a trend calculation and thus slow to respond to short-term developments.
An advertising juggernaut has steamrolled voters over the last fortnight courtesy of Clive Palmer, who looks to be repeating his feat of last September in spending his way into contention over the final weeks of the campaign. Some of the most recent results from WA show Palmer United breaking into double figures, and while the samples involved are uniformly small, the numbers are impressively consistent in having the party at or near 10%.
The Liberals particularly are devoting more energy than they would like to fighting off the Palmer insurgency, but it's far from clear that their efforts are doing him more harm as good.