The National Party will likely retain the seat of Mallee, says politics lecturer Geoff Robinson.
But fellow expert Nick Economou, of Monash University, wasn't prepared to agree.
"There was a very strong National Party vote at the 2016 election - 56 per cent of the primary vote," Dr Robinson, of Deakin University, said.
"That would need to fall to the low 40s and preferences would need to flow fairly tightly between all the candidates opposing the National Party for any change to occur."
Dr Robinson said rusted on Nationals supporters, who were predominantly older voters, would need to change allegiance for this to happen.
He said this vote would decline over time, but the partys' choice of Anne Webster as candidate helped to show it could adapt to changing times.
Dr Robinson said Mallee was different to other Nationals-held electorates facing challenges from independents at this year's election.
"It is still very much an agricultural region, whereas places like Indi, which has Wodonga, and Cowper, which has Coffs Harbour, are pretty urban these days," he said. "That favors the Nationals in Mallee."
Dr Robinson said the fact 11 non-Coalition candidates were running in Mallee also helped the Nationals' cause.
"It means the protest vote ends up being dispersed among many small candidates," he said. "When the Liberals lost Wentworth at last year's by-election, the Labor and Greens votes collapsed as people flocked to one independent, Kerryn Phelps.
"When you have three independents, preferences are going to drift between them all. You would need the traditional National Party vote to coalesce around one candidate and a strong flow of preferences from the others."
The three independent candidates, Ray Kingston, Cecilia Moar and Jason Modica will preference each other first, second and third. Mr Kingston has preferenced the Nationals fifth, while Mr Modica has put them last and Labor fifth. Ms Moar has also put Labor fifth on her ballot, and the Nationals third last.
Labor's Carole Hart is preferencing Mr Modica, Ms Moar and Mr Kingston second, third and fourth.
Dr Economou said he couldn't be confident the Nationals would be returned to power.
He stood by his earlier assertions the 2019 election would be the first ever at which Mallee would be decided on preferences rather than the primary vote.
"It would be a bitter blow if the seat were to fall, but regardless, if the National vote falls dramatically in Mallee, the party will have to look at itself," he said.
"This like its relationship with the Liberals and whether it is a party to advance the economic interests of rural voters or a party of debate about social policy."
The National Party has held Mallee since the seat's creation 70 years ago, but former member Andrew Broad decided not to re-contest in December.
It followed revelations the married MP had dinner with a woman he met on a dating website while on a trip to Hong Kong.
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