Updated Summary 24 August:
* While Julia Gillard was Prime Minister, an outcome of 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green for the Tasmanian Senate was overwhelmingly likely. This is still the most likely outcome, but at times since the return of Kevin Rudd, other outcomes have seemed reasonably plausible.
* Polling since the return of Kevin Rudd has suggested the Green vote is softening and a Green seat is no longer guaranteed (though in my view likely).
* A very good above-the-line preference allocation for Family First gives them a chance of taking the third Liberal seat should the Liberals fail to poll three quotas (42.8%) in their own right. Some other micro-parties are also in remote contention.
* With declining national polling the chance of Labor retaining three Senate seats in Tasmania appears to be very low.
New Update Text (August 24)
History Of Tasmanian Senate Contests
This text is taken from the original version of this article.
Until recently, the composition of the 12 Tasmanian Senate seats has been extremely stable. Norm Sanders won the Australian Democrats' first Tasmanian Senate seat in 1984 and the balance at that time was five Liberal, five Labor, Independent Brian Harradine, and one Democrat. This balance survived the 1987 double dissolution, and for the next five half-senate elections after that, one cycle would return 3 Liberals, 2 Labor, 1 Democrat (or from 1996 onwards, Green) and the alternate cycle would return 2 Liberal, 3 Labor and Harradine.
Twenty years of 5-5-1-1 ended in 2004 when Harradine retired. With Harradine no longer competing for the Liberal vote, Tasmania returned 3 Liberal, 2 Labor and 1 Green for the second election in a row, putting the numbers at 6-4-2.
Counting Harradine as loosely of the "right" and Labor as in some sense "left", this meant there had been a 6-6 left-right balance for a very long time, but in both 2007 and 2010 the ALP won three seats, the Liberals two and the Greens one. These two unusual 4-2 left-right splits have been very significant outcomes nationally. Had the state returned three Liberals in both 2007 and 2010, then (i) the Coalition could have blocked legislation alone during most of Kevin Rudd's Prime Ministership and (ii) Labor in its current term would have needed support from the Greens and one of Nick Xenephon or John Madigan to pass legislation.
This is what the half-Senate blocks for Tasmania since the last double dissolution look like as a graph:
This is what the patterns in primary vote quota total for Liberal, Labor, Green and Others look like for the last four elections:
In 2001 the Liberal Party polled only slightly higher than Labor and well short of a third quota, but they were put over three quotas by the preferences of One Nation and the Australian Democrats' practice of splitting preferences between the two major parties. In 2007 and 2010 the third Labor candidate was put over quota as a result of the Greens' surplus. The 2010 Liberal results in the state were generally very bad, with the party making relatively little campaign effort and being seen as neglecting the state on broadband policy.
The most interesting election was 2004 in which a strong flow of above the line preferences to Family First gave the Greens, who had just fallen short of a quota, a bit of a potential scare. The 2004 count has been the subject of a persistent myth that the result between the Greens and Family First was especially close; it was not, and Milne's margin of victory had all preferences been distributed would have been about 6000 votes. It just looked very close based on figures on the night before changes in the balance of the parties in post-counting made it less so.
Current Projection: August 24
The legacy text sections below followed the ups and downs of the national vote over the last few months and its impact on the Tasmanian Senate picture.
In this most recent update below I attempted to model the Tasmanian senate vote using comparisons to the last federal election and the ReachTEL polling then available for some seats.
I have plugged the current ReachTEL poll (see ReachTEL Says Tas Labor Still Losing Three) into a model similar to the one discussed below. The raw Senate projection of the model is Liberal 45.1 Labor 30.6 Green 15.3 Others 9. I think this more likely overstates the Liberal vote and understates Labor than the other way around. A neat thing about this model, however, is that it projects an increase in the Others senate vote (which was 5% last time) via the polled increase in the Others (excluding Wilkie) vote in the Lower House, as a result of the increased number of minor Lower House candidates. A possible flaw in the model is that it assumes the increase in the Andrew Wilkie vote between 2010 and the current poll is drawn equally from Labor, Liberal and Green. Perhaps it's actually coming slightly more from Labor in which case the figures above are harsh on the ALP and they would probably do better than that.
I've been using Antony Green's Senate calculator (note: still in development, works well for me in Firefox but may not work well in IE) to test some scenarios. An important limitation of the calculator is that it assumes 100% above-the-line preference flow but in practice, even with 54 candidates, flows will be weaker than that, and this will favour tickets that have lots of votes (after the distribution of surpluses) over those that have to snowball their way up from the bottom.
Thus, on election night you may well see Antony's calculator say that some silly party you have never heard of is winning: be aware that (i) that its projections are hugely dependent on the exact primary figures (which change after the night as postals are added) (ii) below-the-line votes will always disadvantage any party with a very small primary vote. Such projections might be correct but should be treated with very great caution.
If this model is anywhere near accurate then we are back to a straight 3-2-1 scenario (3 Liberal) and the tiddlers have nowhere to snowball from because the three main parties have their quotas locked down and are elected automatically. However it could be inaccurate in various ways:
1. ReachTEL polling in Tasmania could be skewed to the Coalition by a large amount. The model above is already adjusted for a possible ReachTEL house effect of one point. Suppose instead that I "morganise" ReachTELs data by shifting it to match the results of Roy Morgan Research, as adjusted for house effects. This is done by moving six points from the Liberals to Labor. If I do not increase the Others vote much, 3-2-1 is still the outcome. Preferences from the right micros go to the Liberal Party when the right micros run out of steam.
2. The Green vote could be too high. Knocking the Greens down below a quota doesn't seem to make a lot of difference. The Labor third candidate is eventually eliminated, putting them over the line. Even if Labor and the Greens combined are reduced to below three quotas (which involves taking over 3% from the model) they tend to be elected on PUP preferences. I have to take five points off the combined ALP/Green vote and assume Palmer United do quite badly before I can get the Greens to lose - as it turns out, to Family First. The Greens were projected by the calculator to lose to FF in 2004 but did not do so because of below the line leakage. This will be less of a factor this time but would probably still save them. So the prospects of a four right - two left scenario don't look at all strong.
3. The combined Others vote could be much larger than nine points, mainly at the expense of the Liberals, knocking them below 42.8%. This is where things get interesting. If the Liberals are reduced to around 41% with Others on about 12, in some scenarios a preference snowball "elects" Family First (even off only 1% of the vote) after Labor is eliminated, producing a 2-2-1-1 result, although this might not happen from the same vote range in practice. In most such scenarios I ran the Liberals narrowly beat Family First, most commonly with the preferences of the Australian Sex Party (the "anti Family First") the difference.
Amusingly, in only the second run of this assumption that I tried, the obscure Australian Independents group snowballed from an assumed 0.47% of the vote and "won" the Liberal seat; I was later able to refine that set of primaries to put AI as low as 0.31% and have them still "winning".
In practice such outcomes are artificial because of BTL voting and sensitivity to the exact votes of the tiddler parties, and most likely a Liberal ticket with 41%+ of the vote would hold off any preference snowball. Also the current model suggests the Liberals have a very good chance of making three quotas anyway. But it isn't cut and dried.
By combining multiple assumptions from the list above it is possible in theory to generate almost any outcome you like (though two Greens, an often requested scenario, is a number of bridges too far.)
I now think 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green is again the most likely outcome by far. I give it at least a 75% chance of occurring, with the Family First snowball for 2-2-1-1 perhaps the most realistic of the remaining unlikely outcomes. The Greens' seat is not completely secure but the threat to it noticed in my July model appears to have faded.
All that follows is legacy text from previous versions of this article that is no longer current and is left up just for any remaining interest it may have. And for the benefit of readers who were looking for the ferret, but haven't found it yet.
Legacy Update Text (mostly written 29 July)
Below the many August updates at the bottom of this section, you can find the legacy text of an article previewing the Tasmanian Senate race, written when Julia Gillard was Prime Minister. At that time, Labor's polling was very poor and 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green was the overwhelming favourite.
My current article ReachTEL - Tas Federal BaByLon Still Falling? (and yes that ? is staying in the title now) covered the new ReachTEL poll of Lyons, Braddon and Bass, and showed a swing back to Labor since the June ReachTEL that is about comparable to the national swing back (about six points).
Using that poll I have attempted to project the Tasmanian Senate race via the following method:
1. Find the difference between the Senate primaries in Bass, Braddon and Lyons and the ReachTEL electorate primaries this time, and apply that difference statewide to obtain notional state Senate primaries assuming a uniform swing.
2. We know the state swing isn't uniform, so adjust it for the difference between the state swings in the June ReachTEL and the Bass, Braddon and Lyons average swings in the July ReachTEL.
2a. Point 2 is complicated because of Andrew Wilkie taking votes from other parties in Denison, which is not an issue for this Senate projection. Therefore, those votes are considered as returned. We don't know who he's getting them from, and there's at least a case he's getting them more from the Greens (for their size) than other parties, so I've treated them as being returned to other parties equally. When I do this, the massive swing against the Greens in Franklin in the June sample doesn't show up in Denison.
3. Adjust Labor and Liberal totals for the apparent house effect of ReachTEL polling.
The net result of this very rough projection was a Senate estimate that comes in at Liberal 46 Labor 39.8 Green 11.2. If that was repeated at an election, the Liberal Party would get 3.23 quotas, Labor 2.78, the Greens 0.78 and others the rest. The last seat would then be determined between Labor and the Greens based on the preferences of the Liberals and others, and indeed on those figures Labor would win. Most likely there will be an increased showing from others at this election and therefore the Liberal excess would be lower, if indeed the Liberals get three quotas. The key point is that Labor's vote seems to have recovered to the point that if the Greens cannot get very close to a quota in their own right, they might not survive on preferences.
This does seem a rather extreme result for the Greens, and it's possible they'd do significantly better and put the result beyond doubt. The bad ReachTEL Franklin result for the Greens from June has a large impact on the projection. But what other state breakdowns are available (most of them Morgan, for what it's worth) suggest the party is struggling to hit double digits in Tasmania at House of Reps level, and would therefore not get a quota in its own right at Senate level even after adjustment for the Wilkie masking effect. The steady erosion of the Green vote nationally appears to be biting in Tasmania too and if there is going to be a refugee-issue bounce, we are so far not seeing that much by way of signs of it.
3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green can therefore no longer be considered the overwhelmingly likely outcome of the Tasmanian Senate race. 3-3 Liberal-Labor now seems to be a contender. (This bit originally said "an equally serious contender" but that was a bit of an overreaction on my part - it's an extrapolation based on one poll against a picture that had otherwise very solid support, so 3-2-1 is probably still the more likely result.)
The key point is that Scenario 2 from my original article is now in play because it does appear possible that the Greens vote could fall low enough.
Update 7 August: Lib Seat Isn't Locked Down Either?
The Examiner yesterday carried comments about internal polling for this race by the Greens ("their polling shows the party right on the quota") and Labor ("a "line-ball'' contest for the sixth seat between Senator Thorp and Liberal newcomer Sally Chandler.") Indeed, there is now more than one piece of recent internal polling out there that purports to show the gap between the major parties as relatively small. Furthermore, Labor's internal polling would probably be showing the Greens with a quota or nearly so and "safe" for the above comment to be made.
Senate polling is a curious practice with a rather poor accuracy record at past elections, and given the ease of over-polling the Green vote, even public polls showing them at or just above the quota wouldn't indicate certain safety. But given the likelihood of help from micro parties, a vote of around 12.5-13% would probably be enough.
In 2010, the Liberals gained 3.95 points on Labor through the count as a result of the preferences of micro right parties. Something like this is likely to happen again this time, so any poll showing the two parties level on primary votes is really showing the Liberals ahead, and as such the Labor claim would not be that convincing if it was published polling they were referring to (even less so for internal).
But ultimately, the Liberals do still need to find an extra 5.8 points from Labor and/or the Greens compared to 2010 to win. That's below the swing that is generally being recorded for them in polling (except by Morgan) but not so far below as to be certain that we'll stay there. Broadly, we've ticked the first two boxes for Scenario Five below- Rudd is back and the 2PP is 50-50ish (though there's no guarantee it will stay there). So if the 2PP does stay close, that just leaves us with the question of whether the Coalition's improvements on their 2010 shocker, plus the state factors draining the Labor vote, are worth six points on their own.
Time to put some rough probability estimates on the current situation. I reckon (UPDATED 21 Aug): 3-2-1 to Liberal 55%, 3-3-0 20%, 2-2-1-1 (a micro, probably Family First wins) 15%, 3-2-1 to Labor 5%. A lot less clear-cut than it used to be.
|Reversed ferret image (original source)|
Senate Preferences: Major Parties (17 August): Above-the-line preference allocations are taking shape with the Liberals' announcement that they will preference Labor above the Greens and Labor's announcement that it will preference the Greens second in all states except Queensland, where it has done a deal with Katter's Australian Party.
There has been a lot of speculation about what this deal means for Tasmania, but apart from the possibility of the Labor vote suffering from more "A Vote For Labor Is A Vote For The Greens" claims (which aren't likely to do well in fact-checking in the Tasmanian context), the answer is very little. It's not telling us anything that would not have been generally assumed anyway. Assuming Thorp (ALP) and Whish-Wilson (Grn) are not both successful, the likelihood is they will be competing with each other for the final seat and hence Labor preferences will not be distributed. Labor preferences will only be thrown if they have done so badly that a candidate from a fourth party is ahead of them and competing with the Greens and/or Liberals for the final place.
What will be more intriguing is whether Labor preferences some of the more significant right-wing micro parties above the Libs, and I have heard that they might. (Update: Correct. Labor has preferenced Shooters and Fishers after the Greens.) With the massive number of parties contesting the ballot (by Tasmanian standards) that would then put Scenario Four below in play. We will know more when the group voting tickets are released very shortly and this article will be updated again. But I'd say now that the chance of 2-2-1-1 is increased somewhat above my initial 5% estimate, and probably that 3-2-1 to Labor is becoming more unlikely as Labor's national vote slips.
Update 21 August: The Group tickets are quite friendly to Labor and unfriendly to the Greens, who have been preferenced only by PUP (oddly) and some (but not all) of the left-wing micros. Family First have done extremely well in the group ticket dealing for Tasmania and appear to be the most competitive micro assuming a decent (1%+) primary vote. They pool votes from five other micros that don't seem to have a serious chance, and if they are ahead of PUP and/or KAP at that stage they can pick up the preferences of those parties. They can also pick up the preferences of the DLP and Shooters+Fishers if they can outlast them. The most likely scenario for a FF snowball involves the Liberals with 2.8 quotas, Labor with, say, 2.5. the Greens with 1 and Others the remaining 0.7 or so. Because of the unexpected sheer number of Tasmanian micros at this year's election, this is quite a realistic possibility. Some other micros are competitive, including Shooters+Fishers if they can poll a high primary vote and snag Labor preferences. (This requires Labor to do very badly and the Greens well.) I am waiting for Antony Green's Senate calculator model to go live to model this in more detail.
Original article follows below the line.
Original Article: Advance Summary (Ancient! Dates from Gillard Era!)
This article models possible outcomes for the six Tasmanian Senate seats up for election this year and concludes that an outcome of three Liberal, two Labor and one Green is by far the most likely.
Antony Green has written a preview for the five Tasmanian House of Representatives seats at the
upcoming federal election that is so comprehensive that there is not a lot to add until there is more detailed polling publicly available on statewide trends or individual seats. Projections for these seats will be posted here much closer to the election.
However, I think it is already possible to say useful things about the Tasmanian Senate race. This is most likely at this stage to produce a result of 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green (a net change of one seat from Labor to the Liberals) but various other results are possible. In particular, state polling showing the Greens at below the Senate quota level has some asking whether the seat held by Peter Whish-Wilson is safe.
[History section moved to top of article.]
The Case For 3-2-1
Looking at the 2010 results (Liberal 33%, ALP 41.4, Greens 20.3) the case for a 3-2-1 Liberal-Labor-Green result is rather easily made.
Firstly, given general (if scanty) state evidence that the swing to the Coalition at House of Reps level is likely to be at least 10% on a two-party preferred basis, it is quite plausible the Liberals will gain a sufficient swing to reach the 42.8% bar for three quotas directly on primaries. Even if this does not quite happen, the Liberals frequently receive preferences from right-wing minor parties. In the 2010 count they gained around 4% during the count by this method. So the swing effectively required is about 6%.
The swing against the ALP's primary needed to even create a chance of them missing a second seat is 12.8%. That's very unlikely to happen (discussed at length in Scenario 6 below).
A swing of 6% against the Greens is needed to knock them below a quota on primaries. Even then the Greens are likely to receive some preferences from feeder micro-parties (in 2010 just over 1%) and should also benefit from any ALP surplus over a second seat.
If the Liberals reach 43%, the ALP 28% and the Greens 14% on primaries, then the election is simply over, and it doesn't matter whether soemone else has even, say, 10% of the vote.
Will The Greens Get Quota?
The Greens have a long history of usually not polling as well in Senate elections (and for that matter, House of Reps elections) as they do in state politics:
* In 2001 the party polled 13.8%; at the subsequent year's state poll the party polled 18.1%.
* In 2004 the party polled 13.3% midway between state elections in which it polled 18.1% and 16.6%.
* In 2007 the party polled 18.1%, a result which is just ahead of a line between the party's state results of 16.6% in 2006 and 21.6% in 2010.
* In 2010 the party polled 20.3%, slightly down on the state vote of 21.6%.
The 2001 result was affected significantly by competition from Democrats and in 2004 ex-Labor forestry dissident Independent Senator Shayne Murphy may have taken votes from them. Competition with micro-parties is always a factor, but based on 2007 and 2010 there doesn't seem much reason to believe the party's Senate vote now would be worse than its state result now.
That said, the party's state result now would be hideous. The last three EMRS state polls show the party with state votes of 15, 18 and 14%, for an average 6% swing since the 2010 result. That is from a pollster that habitually overstates the Green vote because of historically false assumptions about the voting behaviour of "undecided" voters; a current state vote around 12.5% for a 9% swing away seems a more realistic reading unless EMRS have fixed the problems they have had with polling the Green vote in the past. [Update: Since this paragraph was written the ReachTEL poll has pointed to a better state result for the Greens than the recent EMRS polls have suggested. There would still, however, be a substantial swing away from the party at state level.]
Another possible line of modelling is to look at evidence concerning the federal decline in the Green vote. The Pollbludger Bludgertrack aggregate presently projects an 8.5% vote for the Greens in the House of Representatives nationwide, a loss of 28% of the party's 2010 vote. The same decline applied proportionally to the state Senate vote cuts it to fractionally above a quota (14.6%).
It is possible Green voters will take a different view of the federal Greens to the state Greens, since the latter are seen as selling out on the forestry peace deal, while Christine Milne has strongly criticised it. Even so it's clearly possible at this stage that the Greens will not get 14% on primaries, and it's plausible that, as in 2004, they will be far enough short of a quota to have to work for their victory, rather than being tipped straight over by feeder groups.
Scenario 1: The Right Gets Four
Rather than just looking at individual party totals it is often worth splitting the parties into "left" and "right" on the assumption that, with rare exceptions, the right wing parties will feed to the Liberals and the left-wing to the Greens and then to Labor. In 2010 there was about a 37-63 right-left split in Tasmanian Senate voting. A 6% swing brings the right above three quotas and the left below four, and I've treated this as a done deal. However, for the Right to get four, there has to be either a 20-point swing, or a preference defection at some point. An example of preference defection was Labor preferencing Family First ahead of the Greens in Victoria in 2004, causing Steve Fielding to get elected. (Had Labor outlasted Fielding in the count it would have been a defection in the other direction, albeit a smaller one.)
The size of swing required is so large that even given what we know about possible double-figure swings in the state, I don't think this is realistic unless we see a further meltdown in Labor's federal vote.
It is worth looking at the dire Federal ReachTEL for the electorate of Bass for some insight into the difficulties of finding four Senate seats for the Liberals. That poll (of House of Reps voting intention) showed the Liberals on 54.7%, Labor on 26.7 and the Greens on 8.7 with "other" getting most of the rest. In that case the Liberals are much closer to their 57% than Labor and the Greens are to their 43%. However, in 2010 the Liberals outperformed their state Senate average by 2.7 points in Bass, and Labor and the Greens combined underperformed by 2.5 points. On that basis (assuming the Reps vote was a reasonable model for the Senate) the two sides would be about equally distant from their quota before we considered the impact of ReachTEL's "Others" (who are not all that conservative in my view). And that's even before we consider that the Bass ReachTEL showed a seat swing that is far higher than the (albeit large) swings believed to be occurring across the state (on the other hand, those may have increased a bit since January). That in turn is not surprising because at state level swings appear likely to be larger in the north than in the south, the north of the state always being more vulnerable to economic downturns.
We did get fairly close to a 4-2 right-left result in 2004 (as discussed above). However, that was only the case because the ALP, the Democrats and Shayne Murphy were all directing preferences to Family First ahead of the Greens. In other words, a lot of preference defection from parties that would have attracted centre-left votes, an unusual scenario and not too likely to be repeated.
Scenario 2: Three-All And The Greens Miss Out
In this scenario the Liberals poll in the mid 40s, Labor in the mid-30s, and the Greens a bit below 13, with an increased fourth-party vote. If the fourth-party vote consists mostly of right parties, and the left parties include some that preference Labor ahead of the Greens, it's just possible at a stretch that Labor's third candidate stays ahead of the Liberals' fourth. Then if the Liberals have decided to direct preferences to Labor ahead of the Greens, Labor wins a third seat.
I think this scenario is artificial and very unlikely - it relies on too many conditions that must all be met, and even then it only just works. Assuming that the Green vote really crashes badly (to, say, 11) makes it easier to make it fly but it's doubtful the Green vote would go that low
Scenario 3: 3-2-1 And The One is Not The Greens
In this scenario, the Liberals poll in the low to mid 40s, Labor in the low to the mid 30s and the Greens 13 or less. A fourth-party candidate with a moderate orientation (or two such candidates with each feeding the other) gets about 6% statewide and right feeder groups get most of the rest. In this scenario, the Liberals have their three quotas, the right preferences pool to the moderate and put them over Labor, and the Labor preferences pool to the moderate and put them over the Greens.
Even given the vote levels in question, this is not as easy as it might sound, because of Tasmania's high rate of below-the-line voting, which makes it hard for a candidate to catch another from well behind (as we saw in 2004). But the biggest obstacle is that at this stage there is no such candidate openly running. Capturing a hefty Senate vote statewide usually requires resources, organisation and hard work on profile building over a much longer period.
Scenario 4: The Right Gets 3, but the Libs Get Only 2
In this scenario, the Liberals get about 41, Labor 34, the Greens about 15, and minor mostly right parties ten points with substantial showings for new parties like KAP and PUP plus the usual stuff for Shooters and Fishers, FF and so on. The minor right preferences pool strongly enough to one of them to just get them over Labor, and then they beat the Liberals on Labor preferences.
I don't think this is that realistic for Tasmania - there is just not the evidence there that the minor right parties have that sort of vote-pulling power between them in this state. At the high-water mark of minor right party populism in Australia, 1998, the minor right parties polled only about 5% combined in Tasmania (and slightly less in 2001). Furthermore the ALP will frequently preference the more controversial right-wing parties below the Liberals anyway. So this scenario too seems very remote.
Scenario 5: The Status Quo
In this scenario, Julia Gillard resigns fifteen minutes after you read this, and Kevin Rudd is installed. There is a lasting swing back to Labor resulting in a close election and altering expected swings everywhere. The swing in Tasmania is still substantial but Labor and the Greens cut their losses to six points between them and Labor is pushed over a third quota on Greens preferences.
I think this is even less realistic than some of the above, because it depends on heroic assumptions about the party's federal performance from a situation that is obviously a deep crisis. Even assuming that the national picture did lift to the region of 50-50, Tasmanian state and economic factors could well keep the left-to-right swing too high for the status quo to be possible anyway.
Candidates? What Candidates?
I haven't talked about candidate factors in this election because there is just so much evidence that they simply do not matter. Most voters whack a 1 in the party box and may not even read the names underneath; many of the remainder follow the party ticket down the line but just want to allocate their own preferences between other parties.
So, unless something extraordinary happens, when the next Senate takes its position, then Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk will be there for Labor, as will Liberals Richard Colbeck and David Bushby. The at-risk incumbents are Lin Thorp for Labor and Peter Whish-Wilson for the Greens, and the most likely new Senator would be Sally Chandler for the Liberals.
Assuming that the final federal nationwide voting pattern is anywhere near what current polling is showing, I believe that three Liberal, two Labor and one Green is overwhelmingly the most likely Senate result in Tasmania. The ALP is highly likely to poll two quotas on primary votes alone, while the Liberals and Greens may either poll their targets on primaries or cross the line assisted by feeder groups.
It is easy to play up the chances of the Greens missing out by pointing to the real chance that they will poll below a quota. However, to argue that they are at serious risk of losing, it is not enough to just project their vote as landing below a quota. It is necessary to also construct a credible scenario in which that causes them to lose, in spite of the likelihood of Labor preferences.
I have tried, above, to come up with a credible way in which an outcome other than 3-2-1 might occur. I think these alternative scenarios are at best remote, and more likely very remote, possibilities.
This article will be updated closer to the election, especially as contesting parties and preference flows are known.
Update 15 June: ReachTEL
As reader intuitivereason has already pointed out in comments, as dire as the ReachTEL polling is for "the left" it still points to a 3-2-1 Senate result. Labor has its two quotas with the undecided redistributed and Labor + Green are much closer to 3 than the Libs are to 4. Indeed, the Greens House of Reps vote is strongly deflated by competition from Andrew Wilkie in Denison and it would be much closer to a quota, if not over, in the Senate. The good news for the Greens when it comes to competition from Wilkie is that there is so far only one of him and he cannot run against them everywhere at once. If Wilkie clones start hatching out all over the place, they'll have big problems.