Trying to predict the outcome of the Saturday week's South Australian election is a mug's game. After an early burst of polling optimism for Nick Xenophon's SA-BEST that had the party on 32% and Xenophon as preferred premier, more recent polling suggests a significant softening. The Australian claimed on the weekend that the party's vote was in "free fall", having fallen to 21% since December, but admitted this was partly methodological, given Xenophon wasn't running candidates in every seat. That 21% is actually 27% in the 36 seats the party is running in.

A number of seat-based polls suggest SA-BEST will struggle to get the kind of primary vote that will enable it to pick up seats, which it will have to do so off major party preferences. But 27% for a party that didn't exist several months ago is a remarkable achievement for Xenophon and testament to the deep level of disaffection toward the major parties in South Australia. For Labor, the disaffection is understandable -- it has clung to power now since the dawn of the century and is long past its use-by date. For Liberals, you can only wonder how many different ways a party can invent to not win elections.