News Ltd continues to rake in money from psephologists who are forced to buy the paper version of The Australian
to get Newspoll results that don’t appear on the internet version.
Yesterday it was Queensland, with only a brief report on breaking news and in the Courier-Mail.

This morning the figures were also posed on the Newspoll site.
The latest poll shows the Beattie government has recovered from the
nationwide Latham-led slump of December, returning to a 55-45 lead in
two-party-preferred votes. Peter Beattie also has a huge lead in the
“beauty contest” preferred-premier rankings, 63% to just 14% for the
Nationals leader Lawrence Springborg. But the brief internet reports
and the story in the paper, by Sean Parnell, both miss the most
interesting feature: that the Queensland Liberal Party continues to
outpoll the National Party by more than 2 to 1, 27% to 11%. That’s a
huge turnaround from last year’s election, when they were almost on a
par at 18.5% and 17% respectively.

The last time I pointed this
out, a National Party apologist wrote to say that the opinion polls are
always unreliable in this regard, having a history of understating the
Nationals’ share of the non-Labor vote. Usually of course one would
take real votes as a better guide to opinion than the poll results, but
this may just be an exception.

The simplest explanation for why
the Nationals do better in elections than the polls predict is that the
Liberals don’t run against them. If, as was the case last year, there
are no three-cornered contests, then voters’ preference as between
Liberals and Nationals won’t show up in the election results – except
when Liberal supporters take the drastic step of voting Labor rather
than National.

Rather than some systematic bias at Newspoll,
what the poll results suggest to me is that many Queenslanders would
like to support the Liberal Party, but the spinelessness of its leaders
has deprived them of the opportunity.

Peter Fray

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