LABOR has narrowed the Liberal Partyís lead ahead of todayís South Australian election, with the state facing the prospect of a minority government.
Todayís Newspoll, taken exclusively for The Weekend Australian during the final week of the campaign, shows the Liberal Party ahead of Labor by 52.3 per cent to 47.7 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis. This suggests a knife-edge result in marginal seats that will embolden Labor, which hopes to repeat the 2010 election result, when it lost statewide but successfully sandbagged critical marginals.
But Liberal strategists believe Labor will struggle to contain the swing against it in 11 marginal seats it holds on less than 5 per cent, and remain confident of winning the six seats required to form majority government.
If the 0.7 per cent swing identified in todayís Newspoll was applied uniformly, Premier Jay Weatherill would lose his majority in the 47-seat House of Assembly, with three Labor-held seats falling to the opposition.
The Liberals would also likely pick up the independent-held seat of Mt Gambier, but would fall short of winning six seats needed to govern in their own right.
This would result in both major parties being unable to form a majority and needing the support of independents Bob Such and Geoff Brock to govern.
Dr Such is a former Liberal minister, but has been under siege from the party in his southern-suburbs seat of Fisher, which he holds on a very safe 17.4 per cent margin.
Mr Brock, a former mayor of the industrial city of Port Pirie, represents a Liberal-leaning electorate, but is preferencing Labor.
Steven Marshallís opposition can take some comfort in Laborís stubbornly low primary vote, unchanged at 34 per cent ó 3.5 per cent less than at the last election and a low base from which to form government. The ALPís primary vote has been stuck at 34 per cent or less since March last year.
A dip in the Liberal vote from 44 per cent in last monthís Newspoll to 41 per cent in todayís survey is the main contributor to the narrowed two-party-preferred result, but voters have shifted their primary support to minor parties rather than back to Labor.
In metropolitan Adelaide, where 11 marginal seats are hotly contested, support for Labor is at 37 per cent. This is significantly lower than the 43.3 per cent recorded at the previous election.
The Liberalsí primary vote in metropolitan Adelaide remains relatively unchanged since 2010, at 38 per cent. In regional South Australia, the Liberalsí primary vote is at 50 per cent, compared with Laborís 24 per cent.
With the final week of the campaign dominated by negative tactics from both sides, Laborís attacks on Mr Marshall appear to have paid off, with an increase in voter dissatisfaction with his performance, up from 29 per cent last month to 35 per cent.
But the Opposition Leader remains in positive territory, with a net satisfaction rating of 7 per cent.
An equal number of voters are satisfied and dissatisfied with Mr Weatherillís performance, but the Premier has opened a small lead on the question of who would make the better premier.
Mr Weatherill is judged as preferred premier by 43 per cent of voters, compared with 37 per cent who prefer Mr Marshall. A further 20 per cent are uncommitted.
While the latest Newspoll suggests a minority government is a likely outcome, Liberal strategists are confident that swings in critical marginal seats will be larger, and sufficient for the party to form government in its own right.
Labor sources, however, believe the opposition has struggled in the final week of the campaign, and the government has secured critical momentum.
Primary support for the Greens is steady on 9 per cent, while support for independents and other minor parties is at 16 per cent.
Despite the poll suggesting the result could come down to the wire, voters overwhelmingly (59 per cent) believe the Liberals will win the election.