Queenslanders didn’t have a lot of choice last weekend and voted accordingly. They were confronted with two parties, neither of whom had a clear vision for the future, so they voted for certainty in the present.
This manifested itself in two ways – voting for incumbents, and voting for border closures.
Border closures worked for the premier, but not strongly. No doubt some voters were scared of catching COVID if the opposition became the government, but the contrast was more between a party with one certain line on the issue – “we’ll follow the health advice” – and the other with mixed messages – “we’ll follow the health advice…or maybe not”.
Ditherers are not a safe pair of hands, whether on health, or the economy.
In New Zealand Jacinda Ardern won definitively on the back of COVID, and received a 12.16% swing to her. Labor’s Queensland swing won’t even be half of that. While there is a first preference swing of 5.19% to Labor, looking at the seats changing hands is more meaningful.
In this case it is swings and roundabouts.
The LNP appears to have lost 3 to Labor and picked up one from an Independent, a net movement of 2, while Labor has lost 1 to the Greens and picked-up 3 from the LNP, a net gain of 2. At the time of writing the new parliament will most likely be Labor 49, LNP 36, Katter 3, Greens 2, One Nation 1, and Independent 1.
This is a handy, but not handsome, margin to Labor.
Some of this failure has been attributed to the decline in the One Nation vote, but this is plain wrong. Yes, One Nation has declined by about 6 percentage points, which is similar to the first preference swing to Labor, but this is coincidence, not correlation.
One Nation is a protest party. Its vote swells when voters are unhappy, and declines when they are not. Their decline is a sign of the move to certainty and incumbency, and their voters probably went back to where they originally came from.
What should be more concerning for the LNP is that some of their voters from last election would have gone to Labor.
The biggest surprise is that the LNP didn’t get even close to winning any seats from Labor in the regions and North and Far North Queensland. They ran hard on crime and infrastructure, and the traditional cultural antipathy between country Queensland and metropolitan elites should have helped.
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