Liberal candidate Nick Duigan is in the box seat to win the upper house seat of Windermere, but preference flows could see another candidate make a late comeback for a tight finish.
As of 10pm on Saturday, with postal votes still to count, Mr Duigan had amassed 38 per cent of first preference votes, followed by 26 per cent for Labor's Geoff Lyons and 22 per cent for independent Will Smith.
But candidates have pointed to the 2020 Rosevears election, when Liberal Jo Palmer recorded 42 per cent of first preference votes, only for independent Janie Finlay to draw within 260 votes after preferences.
Mr Duigan said it could take at least 10 days for a result to become clear.
"We hardly lost any booths, so to be a Liberal candidate and winning first preferences in some of these areas is great," he said.
"But it's way too early for me to be saying anything too meaningful except thanks to the people who voted for me, and those who helped me to get around and speak to as many people as we could.
"It could be the exact same as with Jo last time though. She had a big first preference lead and then almost got chased down."
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The Liberals won 15 of 18 booths - only losing Inveresk, Ravenswood and Rocherlea - in the division of Windermere which covers large working class areas. It was held by conservative independent Ivan Dean for 18 years, however.
Mr Dean urged Will Smith to run in an attempt to keep the seat independent.
Mr Smith said he had hoped to gain more first preference votes, but was still happy with his performance given his lack of a political background or the backing of a major party.
"If I don't get elected, my biggest disappointment would be the feeling that I let Ivan down. He was really passionate about keeping this seat independent, I feel I owed it to him to put in 100 per cent and I'm proud I did that," he said.
"I just hope that, somehow, the result can turn around in my favour."
He remained hopeful he could move ahead of Mr Lyons, and then use preferences from Labor to chase down Mr Duigan, given few Labor voters would preference the Liberals.
"I think I'll poll well with preferences based on what my scrutineers have told me," Mr Smith said.
"We've seen past elections turn on their head with preferences, so I'm definitely not calling it this early."
Mr Lyons appeared dejected about the result in Windermere while speaking with The Examiner at Labor's Bass election event in Inveresk on Saturday night.
He said Mr Duigan was comfortably ahead.
"I would have liked to have done better," Mr Lyons said.
"He (Nick Duigan) looks to have it.
"But we've got the preference count from Vivienne (Gale), Rob (Soward) and Will Smith. If I stay in front of Will in the count, it could still be a chance. I'm not conceding, but I'd rather be in Nick's position than mine at this stage."
If the Liberals win Windermere, they would have four seats in the upper house, with Labor on five - given Craig Farrell's win in Derwent on Saturday - and six independents.