Feb 20, 2012

Poll Bludger: Qld Labor staring down the barrel of 10% swing

It's been a long time since an Australian election offered so many diverting novelties as the one now officially under way in Queensland.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

It's been a long time since an Australian election offered so many diverting novelties as the one now officially under way in Queensland: an unofficial opposition leader attempting to seize the premiership from outside parliament, an effective eight-week campaign, and another minor party insurgency in the regions. However, two polls over the weekend help remind us of the ball we should not be taking our eye off -- the state’s urban south-east, where the LNP appears to be harnessing a swing of such order as to render all other considerations irrelevant. The polls come from Newspoll and Galaxy, using the same methodology (phone polling) from respective samples of 1227 and 800, and with results that fall comfortably within each other's margins of error: 58-42 on two-party preferred from Newspoll, and 60-40 from Galaxy. It can thus be said with a fair degree of confidence that Labor goes into the campaign staring down the barrel of a 10% swing. While both pollsters have disappointed in failing to provide urban/regional breakdowns, it is clear enough that metropolitan Brisbane will do more than its share to power the overall swing. With Labor continuing to hold 35 of the area’s 40 seats even after the correction of 2009, it is here that electoral gravity awaits to be felt with the greatest force. The LNP can also expect to reap dividends for presenting Brisbane voters with a credible Brisbane-based conservative candidate for premier for the first time in most voters' lives. Worst of all for Labor, it is here that there exists the greatest concentration of marginal seats -- no fewer than 20 of which would fall to the LNP on the back of a uniform swing of the kind indicated for the state at large by the weekend polls. Such an outcome would mean a comprehensive success for the LNP's "decapitation strategy" of eliminating much of Labor's top tier parliamentary talent: Andrew Fraser in Mount Coot-tha (5.3%), Cameron Dick in Greenslopes (6.9%) and Stirling Hinchliffe in Stafford (7.3%), along with Kate Jones in all-important Ashgrove (7.1%). It would also give an incoming LNP government an absolute majority of the size currently enjoyed by Anna Bligh even before accounting for the gains that clearly await them beyond Brisbane. Labor holds only 16 of the 50 seats in the remainder of Queensland, but on present indications will be doing well to retain half of them. Despite delivering the LNP two seats in 2009 and a fairly solid overall swing, the Gold Coast was another area where Labor continued to over-perform last time. They retained four of the region's 11 seats on margins of between 2% and 6.5%, despite all the corresponding federal divisions having double-digit LNP margins, and it would be a brave punter who backed them to retain any of them. A strong performance by Labor on the central and northern coast last time suggests this as another area with a lot of elastic waiting to snap back to the LNP. Whitsunday's margin of 3.2% does not look defendable for Labor, and nearby Keppel looks another a tall order despite an historically anomalous Labor margin of 7.6% (the seat was in conservative hands as recently as 2004). The Cairns and Townsville areas each provide Labor with three seats, all of which are on single-digit margins. The seat of Cairns (margin 4.7%) threatens to leave the Labor fold for the first time since 1904, despite the LNP’s heavily publicised candidate trouble. Going against Labor are the retirement of a long-serving sitting member and demographic change, which is seeing retirees move in to replace the sugar and mining workers of old. The vast remainder of Queensland contains three Labor seats: Toowoomba North (3.2%), where Kerry Shine faces an uphill struggle; Mount Isa (5.7%), where Labor’s Betty Kiernan has the challenge of Bob Katter's son, Robbie Katter, seeking to extend the family dynasty, and the opportunity of conservative vote-splitting; and the top end seat of Cook (2.2%), which combines conservative sugar-growing areas with Labor-voting indigenous communities and tends to move to its own rhythms.

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15 thoughts on “Poll Bludger: Qld Labor staring down the barrel of 10% swing

  1. botswana bob

    Question for Poll Bludger,
    Both polls are phone polling. Increasingly people–especially the youth demographic–don’t have landlines but only mobiles. Does not this introduce a bias into the polling methodology? Someone in Adelaide acquires a mobile number and shifts to Queensland. Are they excluded from the poll. More to the point is there a systematic way of building a mobile phone data base AND knowing where the phone number holders actually live??

  2. DanD

    @Botswana Bob

    I’ve been trying to find the answer to a similar question for months, in relation to federal polling, and I would assume the trend is as such that anyone under say 30 would probably not have a landline and thus be uncontactable by polling companies, and the problem is only going to grow. I think the much bandied about numbers in that contest would be rather different.

    (sorry to go slightly off-topic on a qld election story, but I feel the question is a good one)

  3. klewso

    There is a third alternative – considering the “rat-shot calibre of options available” :- what would happen if enough voters crossed out the candidates names on their ballot and “invited” the major parties to “RESUBMIT”, if they want your vote?
    This is for our governance after all – it’s not “a game” as they and their hierarchy seem to treat it, as “party spoils”, used to benefit their and their sponsors own interests.

  4. zut alors

    Botswana, you’ve beaten me to the punch. I suspect there may be more than a few in the younger demographic who would be inclined to vote Greens but, being uncontactable by polling companies, they go undetected and are ignored in the mix.

    Fortunately for the personnel at Newspoll and Galaxy, my landline is currently faulty so neither organisation will be subjected to an earful on why I despise their endless, irritating and meaningless polls.

  5. Rodney Topor

    It would be helpful and unusual if a journalist actually summarised and analysed the two main parties’ policies on a broad range of issues some time before the election and didn’t just endlessly repeat possibly meaningless survey results.

  6. John64

    I suspect the final result could actually be worse than predicted. Queensland has optional preferential voting – meaning he who gets the most primary votes, wins. It’ll be interesting to see how it falls out.

  7. LJG..............

    Another thing I was wondering about is what about those of us on the “Do Not Call” register – are we polled? We would would presumably be an interesting demographic in itself – you at least need an email address to go on the register (apart from those who have registered their elderly parents using a second email as I have done).

  8. Coaltopia

    We’re just replacing one bunch of fossil fools with another. And the environmental performance of Ted FailU and Barrel O’Fail doesn’t forecast well for Newman.

  9. Edward James

    The job of dismantling the dysfunctional Labor started in NSW during the last state election. The next step with some luck will play out in Queensland in March. With the damage done to all of us over many years by disrespectful politicians, it is time as the first step toward change to put as many Labor party members last on the ballot paper. When we make the effort to direct our own preferences and break up the dead wood political teams we may eventually get some respect from the elected representatives who replace them! Be willing to vote for change and change again. Edward James http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds

  10. Elworthy Brent

    Botswana Bob, Dand, Zut Alors and others: The pollsters usually allow for such things.
    One method is to correct their data for factors such as those you mention. It’s called data weighting.
    Basically they compare the demographics of their sample with the known demographics of the population, courtesy of the latest Census, and apply one or more weighting factors to correct for such things as too few younger age voters.
    However, there are limitations to how much weighting can be applied – if you have next to no young people in the same, you can multiply those you have by a huge factor and still expect it to accurate.
    Another method is quota control. If you’ve ever been polled you’ll know how this goes – “Sorry Sir, we already have enough people in your age group – good night.”

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