Saturday, January 10, 2015

Queensland: LNP Leads After Week One

Queensland Aggregate: LNP 41.4 ALP 37.9 Green 7 PUP 4.6 Other 9
2PP based on last-election preferences: 51.8% to LNP
Election held now would most likely result in LNP majority government (approx 47-37-5)

Polling in late 2014 showed the Liberal National Party government in Queensland in a precarious if probably still just winning position (Beautiful One Day, Lineball The Next).  Following the calling of a snap election for January 31, however, the three polls so far released in the first week are a little less disastrous and suggest that an election held right now would likely result in a narrow LNP majority.

The ReachTEL poll was discussed in the previous article and has been followed by:

* A Galaxy (sample size 800, 7-8 Jan) with a 2PP of 52-48 to the LNP off primaries of 41-38 with 8 for the Greens, a remarkably feeble 3 for Palmer United and 10 for Others including KAP. 

* A Newspoll (sample size 801, 6-8 Jan) with a 2PP of 53-47 to the LNP off primaries of 42-37 with 7 for the Greens, 1 for KAP and 13 for Others including PUP.

Note that these polls were taken entirely before the announcement that Labor deputy leader Tim Mulherin would retire.

Leadership results showed nothing too startling: Campbell Newman with a -10 netsat (41-51) in Newspoll and -11 (41-52) in Galaxy and Annastacia Palaczszuk with netsats of zero (38-38) and +1 (39-38) respectively.  Both polls though show very weak leads for Campbell Newman as preferred leader - four points (42-38) in Newspoll and five (45-40) in Galaxy.  Although Newman is somewhat unpopular, his party's 2PP lead and the advantage to incumbents in these sorts of questions suggest his leads should be greater. 

For aggregation purposes I've treated all polls bar these three as having expired, as I would with a federal aggregate.  I've also slightly downweighted Galaxy and Newspoll for small sample size.  With a minor adjustement for the tendency of pollsters to overestimate the Green vote, and with some assumptions about the size of PUP support in Newspoll, I get an aggregated result of 41.4% LNP, 37.9% ALP, 7% Green, 4.6% PUP, 9% Other.  This comes out at a 2PP of 51.8% to the incumbent government using my estimates of 2012 preferences (I'm now treating Others as including KAP with an assumed 50% exhaust and 60:40 split of the remainder to LNP).  That would be a swing of 11% (or 11.3% depending on your interpretation of Gladstone).

In my current seat result model (which looks only at the 73 LNP-held seats) this translates to an expected 26 seat gains for Labor.  (The model in fact has Labor favourite in 28 LNP seats, but gives the LNP about a 40-45% chance of retention in each of about six of those, suggesting some would probably be saved.)  Assuming that the LNP gains Gaven from the crossbench, Labor gains Yeerongpilly and Gladstone, and the LNP loses Maryborough back to Chris Foley, that gives a result of roughly 47-37-5.  There is a fair chance the LNP will take at least Condamine back from their defector to KAP, Ray Hopper, but there are also chances that the LNP could lose other seats to third-party challengers.

I should note that my assessment of 43-44 seats to the LNP in last week's model was probably generous based on polling at the time.  A glitch in the treatment of personal votes, now fixed, was giving them about one seat too many, and my aggregate at the time did not include a 507-voter Essential sample from the first half of December (51-49 to ALP off primaries of 38-37 for the major parties.)  It's all probably history now, but that history should show that at the end of 2014 the Newman government was in a very precarious polling position.

As for the perennial Ashgrove question, my model now has it "just" 4.2 points in the red.

Early seat betting

Sportsbet have now released full seat betting odds.  These presently show the LNP favourites in 42 seats, Labor in 41, and the crossbench in four.  Whitsunday is tied between the major parties and Condamine between the LNP and KAP.  However these seat odds have had little time to be influenced by the new polling.

In these seat odds the ALP is currently given everything up to Sunnybank (10.2%) and then three of the eight seats between 10.7% and 12.4% - Mirani (11.2%), Albert (11.9%) and Kallangur (12.4%).  There is good reason to expect Mirani to swing big as not only is it one of the few seats on a gettable range where the LNP do not have a sophomore effect from 2012, but also the LNP incumbent is retiring.  On current polling my model also has Labor as favourite there, but not in the other two.

Markets on vote share on average expect Labor to get about 36.5%, and the LNP to get about 39.5%.  The latter figure at least now looks rather low.  In Ashgrove, Labor are now only narrow favourites (1.70 vs 2.05 - an implied 60% chance).

Overall result betting has seen Labor drifting greatly over this week and they are now at $5.50 to win the election overall on one exchange and 6.50 on another.

The general outlook

I forgot to put a historic overview in my previous article so here it is.  It's been widely assumed that a win for Labor at this election is impossible just given the thumping they received at the previous one.  However, there are so few historic cases of state governments winning even nearly so heavily as in 2012, that there's no sound basis for saying that a loss on such a scale makes a win at the next election impossible (rather than merely unlikely and unprecedented).  What it does do is raise the likely barrier for victory beyond even the swing back needed, because of the number of seats where a personal vote for a new sitting member must be overcome.

Federally there is actually surprisingly little historic relationship between the 2PP vote at one election and the 2PP vote at the next, but there is some suggestion that first-term governments may withstand swings back better than others.  At state level there is a further complication of federal government drag.  At this election, federal drag will have about the maximum possible impact on the swing, because the Gillard Labor federal government was very unpopular when a Queensland Labor government went to the polls in 2012, and the Abbott federal government is quite unpopular now.

The result of the 2012 election was probably also inflated by the novelty of having a new Premier come from outside state politics without past perception as just another state politician.  That wore off pretty quickly.

So there's plenty of reason to expect a large swing back,  but Labor shouldn't be expected to win. Yes we've just seen a single-term government beaten in Victoria, but it went in with no margin to spare.  Of the eight state governments beaten in one term in the last sixty years, five went to the election they lost in minority while the others had majorities of one to a few seats.  No first-term government beaten in that time has held more than 55% of the seats in its parliament - the LNP goes into this election holding 82%.

It was surprising given that history that the polling late last year showed Labor in such a competitive position.  However, the first week of campaign polling sees things heading towards a more orthodox result: a large swing back to Labor based on federal drag factors, the gloss coming off the 2012 Newman factor and dissatisfaction with the LNP's harsh policies, but not enough to produce anything too extraordinary.

I'd be wary of calling it all over based on just the first week of what could be an unusually volatile and difficult to poll campaign, but I do take this week's polling as making a hung parliament or other micro-close result much less likely, with the most likely outcome being a small to moderate LNP majority.  


  1. One state I have no interest in.

  2. I have an interest in all state elections, including Qld. That's why I'm here. One wonders why else one would be here.

    Nice work Kevin. Do you think the time and effort Newman has to spend defending his own seat has any impact on the LNP campaign overall?

    1. I think there are two impacts:

      - firstly, not so much the time and effort he is spending defending the seat, but the fact that he has to defend it creates constant media speculation about the seat which stops the LNP campaign from getting "clear air" in the press. Yes there was the same issue last election, but last election voters just wanted Labor gone.

      - secondly, the seat has to be massively pork-barrelled which in turn reduces the LNP's resources to throw at seats on higher margins; ideally a seat on Ashgrove's margin would just be given up without much fight.

      I suspect there are a lot of jittery LNP local members who would think that having Newman busy in his own electorate and not campaigning so much in theirs is a good thing.


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