Unless the Coalition parties can turn things around in the next two weeks, the Queensland political landscape doesn’t look like changing much at the coming election. This morning a new Newspoll suggests that Victoria will also embrace the status quo when its turn comes in November.
The poll shows a swing to the opposition of just under 3%, up by 1% in the last two months. The Liberal vote is up by a more impressive 4%, but that’s come at the expense of “others”; Labor and the Greens are also up, 1% each. The approval ratings and preferred-premier numbers don’t show any major shifts; as you’d expect, the “uncommitted” figure for Liberal leader Ted Baillieu has come down but is still high (42%).
On a uniform 3% swing, the opposition would win seven seats, leaving the government with a still very healthy 22-seat majority. In fact, Labor is likely to do better than that for two reasons: firstly because there’s usually some movement back to the government once the campaign gets under way, and secondly because the marginal seats are held by first-term Labor incumbents, who will probably perform better than the state average — what Americans (and Malcolm Mackerras) call the “sophomore surge”.
The modest improvement in Liberal fortunes is unlikely to quell the storm of controversy currently raging around Baillieu. Nor will he be helped by The Australian‘s headline, “Libs’ feud threatens to stall Baillieu gains”. The idea that voters three months hence will be influenced by internal party bickering is a bit far-fetched, but if it distracts the Liberals further from their task then it could, indirectly, be quite important.
For a host of reasons, the best thing Baillieu could do for now would be to dissociate himself clearly and publicly from former premier Jeff Kennett. Although neither side in the Victorian Liberal Party appears to have learned the elementary political skill of keeping one’s mouth shut, Kennett is by far the worst offender. With friends like that, Baillieu doesn’t really need enemies. But of course he’s got them anyway.