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Cruisey Can Do must do better in Queensland election.

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 19 December 2011


The LNP appears to be cruising to victory at next year's state election, but maybe they are a bit too cruisy – it's not as good as it looks.

On the surface they have every reason to be relaxed. Surveys of our online virtual focus groups say that only 10% of voters expect Labor to win the next election; that around 60% of them are going to vote directly or indirectly for the LNP; and that only 53% of those who voted Labor last time want Labor to win this time.

Prominent commentators are comparing the 2012 result to the 1974 result which saw Labor reduced to11 MLAs, losing their parliamentary leader and ultra-safe seats like Premier Anna Bligh's South Brisbane in the process. And the election hasn't even been called yet.

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But in elections, pride often goes before a fall, or as ancient Greek campaign managers are rumoured to have scrawled on the walls of their campaign offices - "It's Hubris Stupid".

Below the surface there is trouble brewing, and while I'm not predicting tragedy for the LNP in the last act, I think Labor is going to pull back a lot of the audience.

First there is the huge margin to the LNP. Voters don't generally generally vote that decisively, although there have been exceptions, such as 1974 in Queensland and 2011 in New South Wales.

Generally there is a swing back as the election nears. For example Kevin Rudd in 2007 was at one stage polling around 60% of the vote only to drop back to a relatively mediocre 52.7%.

To put that in perspective, the way that the boundaries are drawn in Queensland the LNP needs around 52% of the vote just to win.

There are two major reason voters generally swing back.

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One is insurance. To ensure that the victors don't abuse their power some voters will strategically vote for the predicted loser as a way of laying-off that risk. The larger the anticipated majority, the more who will pay the premium.

The other is sympathy. This is where local campaigns kick in. If voters see a government heading to a deserved loss, they may vote to preserve a popular local representative from that government in a case of both having and eating their cake.

The reason that neither of these things happened to any extent in New South Wales is that hate for Labor was so great, and the Coalition was a safe inoffensive option.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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