A day after the LNP made Queensland’s head spin by resolving to have Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman campaign for Premier from outside of parliament while contesting the fairly solid Labor seat of Ashgrove, Newspoll throws in another grenade: a poll showing Labor leading 52-48 on two-party preferred, with Anna Bligh enjoying what is undoubtedly a record 49 point reversal on her net approval rating. Like most state Newspolls, this one was compiled from respondents in the state over the course of Newspoll’s last three months of polling, on this occasion covering a sample of 944 with a margin of error of 3.2 per cent. It was thus conducted during and after the floods crisis, whereas the previous poll was conducted entirely before. On the primary vote, Labor is up 12 points to 38 per cent, the Coalition is down eight points to 37 per cent and the Greens are down three points to 10 per cent, while the two-party figure compares with 59-41 to the Coalition in the previous poll. Even after a 25-point rise in approval and 24-point fall in disapproval, Anna Bligh’s ratings are still good rather than great: 49 per cent approval, 43 per cent disapproval. John-Paul Langbroek’s farewell result was a five-point fall in approval to 33 per cent and a two-point rise in disapproval to 40 per cent. On better Premier, a 41-31 lead to Langbroek turned into a 53-26 lead to Bligh. Full tables from GhostWhoVotes.
The result is very different from the other post-floods poll to emerge, from Galaxy on February 20. This showed a much worse result for Labor on voting intention – the LNP led 46 per cent to 35 per cent on the primary vote and 55-45 on two-party preferred, despite the fact that Anna Bligh’s approval rating was a much higher 60 per cent. It is also different from LNP polling we were hearing about as part of the campaign to undermine Langbroek, which supposedly asked separately who respondents would vote for out of Labor and the LNP, or Anna Bligh and John-Paul Langbroek – finding the LNP leading 56-44 on the first question but 52-48 on the second (as the Sunday Mail reported it, the latter result was “short of the 54 per cent needed to win”). With Campbell Newman however, “it would be 66-34”. Newman was also said to lead Langbroek 77-10 as preferred party leader.
UPDATE: Andrew Fraser of The Australian checks off the positives: “Newman is demonstrably a popular mayor in Brisbane, the LNP has secret polling that allegedly shows he’s popular across the state, and he has a ‘cut-through’ factor in the media, which the LNP desperately needs and which Langbroek lacked.” However, without having investigated a possible dearth of alternatives, it seems to me that the LNP has committed to an appallingly big risk by pitching Newman against a solid Labor seat held by an appealing young member. History suggests Labor will be able to make hay by putting it to voters that Newman will be back at city hall soon enough if he doesn’t win – so that a vote for Jones would be a vote not just for her and Bligh but for Newman as well, whereas a vote for Newman would leave only him standing. If polling were to emerge showing Newman indeed falling short, the conservatives would walk into yet another mid-campaign implosion.