LABOR is likely to win the seat of Bendigo with a reduced margin despite a big-spending local Liberal campaign, according to a La Trobe University political expert.
Ian Tulloch said while the Coalition would almost certainly form government, Bendigo Labor candidate Lisa Chesters would win the seat with a 3 or 4 per cent margin.
“It’s not a science,” he said. “But we’ve just got to use our long-term judgement to be able to weigh this up.
“If a seat like Bendigo swings by 9 per cent I’d be staggered.
“It would mean the Labor Party would be completely routed not just here but right across all the marginal seats in the state.”
Mr Tulloch said the retirement of long-sitting member Steve Gibbons, changing demographics in the seat and a national swing to the Coalition would affect the results.
“Even though the Liberal candidate has spent an enormous amount of money, I think the seat’s not volatile enough,” he said. “The seat’s not volatile enough for a candidate to spend such an enormous amount of money to effectively buy a seat for the Liberal Party.
“I think Lisa Chesters is a very capable Labor candidate, a very articulate, young dynamic candidate, and she’s had a fairly good campaign.
“Greg Bickley is capable. He’s probably not as articulate as Lisa and he’s sticking to a very strict script.”
Recent figures released by JWS research showed a swing of 7.7 per cent swing towards the Coalition in Bendigo, with both major party candidates evenly placed in favourability ratings.
Mr Tulloch said there would be a swing away from the ALP, but not enough to win.
A redistribution of the seat had probably favoured the ALP by including more “tree change” residents, according to Mr Tulloch.
But he said having 13 candidates running in the seat would fracture the conservative vote.
“The way I often judge it is, if the leaders of the Labor and Liberal parties visit the electorate, you know it’s going to be close,” Mr Tulloch said.
“There’s been no indication the leaders are going to visit.
“If it was going to be close, the Liberal Party would have cabinet ministers and Abbott here, and Rudd would have been here too.”