Seat-by-seat election prediction is a mug’s game I have been playing for just over five years — thus far without serious embarrassment, but there’s a first time for everything. This election poses a particularly difficult challenge for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there is clearly a big swing on, which always makes the terrain harder to read than at status quo elections. Secondly, there has been no localised opinion polling of any kind, which is most unfortunate in a state as regionalised as Queensland. Thirdly, internal party research seems to have been kept under wraps by the major parties, resulting in a limited amount of intelligence reaching us via the media.
Against this it must be conceded that the published polling has given a remarkably consistent view of the big picture. Of the three Galaxy and one Newspoll surveys conducted during the campaign, all but one has shown the Liberal National Party with a 51-49 two-party lead, and the exception had it at 50-50. The LNP’s primary vote has been at either 43 or 44%, with Labor’s ranging between 40 and 42.
In contrast to the Western Australian election, and in spite of occasional expressions of excitement about Ronan Lee’s chances in Indooroopilly, there has been no indication that the Greens will significantly improve on their 8.0% at the last election. The elusive “others” likewise remain in the 7 to 8% range, although many local surprises could lurk within that figure.
My broad methodology has involved determining the regions where especially big swings might be expected and balancing them out with smaller ones elsewhere. Brisbane and the Gold Coast, which collectively account for about 50 of the 89 seats (depending on where you draw the boundaries), are most ripe for correction if the 2006 results are compared with both the 2007 federal election and the state historical norm.
Conversely, the 2006 backlash against Labor on the Sunshine Coast over water issues suggests the correction there has already occurred. The state’s mostly highly conservative interior did not move to Labor as dramatically as the coastal areas in the first place, and was largely back on the Coalition bandwagon by 2004. The same is true to a lesser extent of the Central Queensland coast, where the Jayant Patel furore cost Labor Bundaberg for the first time in 2006.
It was a different story further north, where Labor consolidated its hold on the Cairns and Townsville seats with substantial swings.