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Welcome to election coverage of the Western Australian State election, provided by yours truly at KortJackson.org!

So, How did we get here?
In 2017, the two term Liberal-National government (the two leading center-right parties in Western Australia, who also do not operate in a formal coalition arrangement as opposed to New South Wales, Victoria or the federal parliament) was defeated in a landslide election that saw the Australian Labor Party (ALP) under Mark McGowan win a commanding 41 seats out of the 59 state seats in the Legislative Assembly. McGowan's dominating win came four years after he led the party to a defeat against a then-popular Premier Colin Barnett, in which McGowan was able to prove he was not at fault for the loss, and allowed to stay on as the WA ALP leader and Leader of the Opposition despite a dismal showing in 2013. While Barnett and the Liberals (and with the Nationals agreeing to help form government) were riding high on a economic boom thanks to WA's mining industry into a strong win in 2013, the boom cycle went bust, and the voters dumped Barnett after two terms.

While McGowan's first term as Premier was not without difficulties,  his term saw a general economic recovery, a return to surplus budgets and polls were showing the ALP doing well enough to win a second term, perhaps with just a couple of seats lost.

Then, the Coronavirus pandemic happened. Australia as a whole has managed quite well versus other countries in holding off the virus, but McGowan wasted no time and immediately imposed a hard border control on who could get inside and outside the state. Initially attacked by other state Premiers and even the Prime Minister Scott Morrison himself, McGowan and the ALP held firm. While WA was not the only state or territory that went into hard controls prememptively (Queensland and the Northern Territory did the same, as did Tasmania to a similar degree), no one has been  as rigorous and piously faithful to protocol as Western Australia. Even as political party leader and mining magnate Clive Palmer clashed with WA's premier, Mark McGowan would later go on to call Clive Palmer a "enemy of the state", rhetorically speaking.

For a mining state, that sounds a lot like a mis-step to call a major magnate that, right? Au Contraire! McGowan's ratings just kept going up, as Western Australians have largely managed to retain some semblance of a pre COVID-19 lifestyle that only a handful of places (like New Zealand) are able to enjoy. Oh, and what about those other states and territories that went harder on border controls... what happened to their leaders? Michael Gunner, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory? Re-elected with a narrower majority (but starting from a 18 seats to 2 seats with 5 independents position is a mitigating factor in those seat losses). Anastacia Palasczuk, the Premier of Queensland? Re-elected, with an increased majority. So, how does this put Mark McGowan?

Polls have recently shown the ALP in a crushing two-party preferred result that if duplicated, could see the ALP caucus expand as even perennial blue-ribbon Liberal and dark-green ribbon Nationals seats fall. One poll even shows the ALP ahead of the Liberal/National partnership 68 percent to 32 percent. At those numbers, every Liberal seat is in danger, and no Nationals seat is safe, either. So dominant has Labor's lead been (even before the pandemic, they were still enjoying a 55%-45% lead or so), the Liberals have had THREE opposition leaders and leaders of their party. After Colin Barnett called time, the party turned to former Treasurer of the state Mike Nahan. Nahan would eventually yield and annouce his retirement; leading to Liza Hervey to be the party leader and Opposition Leader in WA. Hervey wasn't able to dent McGowan's numbers, so the party went with youth and picked Zak Kirkup as leader (side note, Kirkup currently sits in the second most marginal seat for the Liberals, and is in extreme danger of getting turfed out of his seat). In fact, while some party leaders have sometimes made a announcement a few days before the election tacitly announcing that the odds of winning for their party are not great, Zak Kirkup chose to gamble retaining as many seats as possible by announcing a form of electoral surrender two weeks before the election, admitting he could not defeat Mark McGowan and Labor.

In essence, as voters go to the polls on March 13, 2021, the question is not will the ALP win a second term; rather it's by how much. And while it's plausible Mark McGowan pulls a Frank McKenna (who in 1987 won every seat in New Brunswick in Canada) and wins it all, odds are a few Liberals and Nationals will survive.
common sense Copyright 2021 Kort Jackson for KortJackson.org, All rights to original content reserved.
Picture of Parliament House, Perth is by nachoman-au and is licensed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.