All eyes are on the marginals, as Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott madly dash around western Sydney, Queensland’s coast and Western Australia for last minute votes, and even agreeing to a last-minute people’s forum tonight in Brisbane.

Gillard zipped across the nation yesterday: “Prime Minister Julia Gillard hurtled thousands of kilometres across north Queensland yesterday, frantically hunting for last-minute votes as she jetted from staged event to staged event, marginal seat to marginal seat. By last night, she had crammed in a quick visit to Sydney and was on her way to Perth,” marvels Tony Wright in The Age.

But both leaders need votes, not frequent flyer points, judging by the plethora of polling goodness this morning from the marginals.

Once again the election spotlight focuses on the Sunshine state. The latest Galaxy poll in Queensland is not great news for Gillard. “Three days out from the election, the poll of four must-win marginal seats — Bonner, Forde, Herbert and Longman — reveals Tony Abbott is making up ground on the Prime Minister,” reports Stefanie Balogh in the Courier-Mail. Galaxy currently has the primary vote at 38 for Labor, down eight points from Kevin07’s win.

The state-by-state analysis of yesterday’s Newspoll shows that both the Coalition and Labor’s primary vote is dropping in NSW and Queensland, while support for the Greens’ has doubled since the ’07 election.

“With up to seven Labor seats at risk in Queensland and six seats under threat in NSW, both sides are concentrating the final week of the election campaign in western Sydney and coastal Queensland,” notes Dennis Shanahan in The Oz.

Phillip Coorey whips out another poll in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Labor is clinging to a four-seat majority just three days from the federal election, according to 28,000 voters sampled in the most comprehensive public opinion poll undertaken in Australian politics.

The JWS Research poll, which has been obtained exclusively by Fairfax Media, shows that if the election were held last weekend, Labor would have lost 15 seats and gained six, handing it a net loss of nine seats.”

Not to be outdone, the sandgropers are claiming it’s all coming down to them, as Julia Gillard made an eleventh-hour visit to the western state. “Fewer than 3000 West Australians could decide who will win Saturday’s Federal election. Secret ALP polling shows the results in three marginal seats may be the difference between Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott being prime minister,” reveals Andrew Probyn in The West Australian.

The state where shops aren’t open on Sunday is a “political anomaly”, and could go either way. “Throughout a period likely to be remembered as the Liberal Party’s lowest ebb in the rest of Australia, Perth has stood like an oasis on the edge of a barren nation for conservative politics. Not only is it home to a Liberal state government run by a popular premier, 11 of its 15 federal seats are Liberal,” explains Peter Ker in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Rather than supporting the Nationals or either of the major parties, the Weekly Times editorial suggests country voters take a look at the Greens:

“If the Nats’ presence doesn’t make the Coalition the obvious choice for rural people then they should reconsider the partnership.

Rural representation is now at the point the Greens have trumped the Nats on several rural issues.

The best thing for regional Australia may be a hung parliament, with the three rural independents — Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott — as kingmakers.”

Stop focusing on the marginals, or at least, stop the obsession with marginal polls, pleads Mumble’s Peter Brent at The Oz:

“It’s the inevitable refrain in every campaign: this election will be decided in the marginal seats. Statements don’t come much more bleedin’ obvious than this — or less useful, because we don’t know exactly which seats these will be and anyway can’t properly survey them all…

…In the end we’re left with choosing between two imperfect types of surveys: the marginal ones that extrapolate a few electorates out to the wider marginal seat population, or the blunt instrument of national polls.

I prefer the national polls, mainly because there are lots and lots of them, week in and out.”

Mean, while Liberals are going hard on the “illegitimate” message, notes Malcolm Farr in the Daily Telegraph. “The clear fear of the Liberals is that voters will look at the options, decide neither is much chop, and go Labor simply because of a belief in a fair go. That is, we all, even Prime Ministers, deserve a second chance. That reasoning could be very harmful to the Liberals in close contests.”

Abbott declaring yesterday “You don’t owe this government anything so don’t be taken in by the plea that you’ve got to give it a second chance”. It was enough to fear Gillard in agreeing to a last minute people’s forum, says Phillip Coorey in the SMH.

Others agreed. “Julia Gillard is beginning to show signs of desperation after caving in to Tony Abbott’s demands for a people’s forum in Brisbane tonight,” writes Dennis Shanahan in The Australian.

Details are still fuzzy about how the night will play out though. “In the likely event Mr Abbott refuses a debate tonight, Ms Gillard will accede to his challenge that they instead hold a town hall-style forum in which they are questioned for an hour each. The Prime Minister also agreed to appear separately, not together as she had wanted, but insisted that unlike last week’s event at the Rooty Hill RSL, Mr Abbott appear first,” reports Coorey.

The debate over the debate between the two parties — 30 mins or more? Debate or forum? Economy or general? — is the most ridiculous aspect of this campaign, notes Geoff Elliott at The Oz. “You’d think they would just pick up the phone. And all this only a few days out from the election. That the ALP has made plenty of noise about having another debate indicates how dumping a sitting prime minister has stripped the party of that incumbency status.”

Annabel Crabb summed it up perfectly on The Drum yesterday, calling it “the greatest oral challenge of our generation”:

“It’s quite clear to me that there should be no final debate.

To stage a debate either tonight (televised, half-hour, with Chris Uhlmann as the ham in the sandwich) or tomorrow night (old-school, town-hall, with giant Courier Mail posters) would have a disastrous effect on this campaign.

Disastrous, because the actual staging of a debate would completely eliminate one of the remaining issues that seems to motivate genuine passion between the parties; namely, whether we should have a debate.”

But we need more Rooty Hillesque forums, argues Janet Albretchsen in The Oz: “Come the next election, we should demand more community-led Q&A evenings, one in every state and territory. If our leaders really want to be PM, let them sweat it out a little more in the real world.”

The attack ads may end tonight, but expect the desperate personal and political attacks to continue at the Brisbane’s Bronco Leagues club peoples’ forum tonight.