As my distinguished colleague William Bowe noted this morning at Pineapple Party Time, Peter Van Onselen has reported in The Australian internal Labor tracking polling which shows the party in dire straits. Van Onselen states that swings of between 8 and 10% to the LNP are being picked up in South East Queensland electorates held by Labor on margins of 6 to 8%. He writes that LNP figures are “quietly confident” of an outright win on Saturday when Queensland goes to the polls.
This story, if accurate, confirms the strategic logic I suggested some time ago was evident in the selection of Labor seats for Greens preferences — that seats in the ALP’s Brisbane and Gold Coast redoubts regarded as safe were anything but, and actively in play. My analysis was met with some scepticism.
But that scepticism is the story of this election writ small. Expectations of a Labor win, despite the real possibility of an LNP victory being reported at Pineapple Party Time almost a fortnight ago, are so entrenched that the Borg has had something of a stealth ride to a position where he may be Premier on Monday.
However, some cautions regarding tracking polling are in order. Such polling is an aggregate of small samples taken across key seats. Its main purpose is determining how various themes are playing and the allocation of resources. While it can obviously pick up a trend, it’s not state-wide polling.
But in the current campaign, where any indication of measured public opinion in seats has been largely lacking, it tells a powerful story when set alongside the published polls.
While there is always a lot of chatter about internal polling, its actual distribution list is very tightly circumscribed. It’s a precious commodity, and never leaked without a reason. Often the reason relates to shaping expectations about the overall position of the parties. In this instance, if Van Onselen’s story is accurate, it’s Labor’s way of saying “we’re losing” in order to focus voters’ attention on the real possibility of Lawrence Springborg as Premier.
But those with long memories might recall Labor leaking polling from Cleveland just prior to the last state election showing a big swing to the Coalition. The swing was there — in that seat — but the inference ALP strategists wanted drawn about a general movement was a red herring.
Those points being made, the movements picked up in this poll do accord with what observers of the campaign have noticed. Saturday night is going to be very interesting indeed.