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Making sense of the polls

First poll of the Queensland election shows a 50-50 tie

The Queensland election will be held on the 31 January. A ReachTEL poll, taken on the day the Queensland election was called (6 January), shows a 50-50 dead heat between Labor and the Liberal National Party (LNP) – a 1% gain for the LNP since the ReachTEL in late November. Primary votes are 40.3% for the LNP (up 1.1), 38.1% for Labor (up 0.8), 7.6% for the Greens (down 0.3) and 6.3% for Palmer United Party (PUP) (down 0.2). This is Labor’s highest Queensland ReachTEL primary vote since before the 2012 election. While some ReachTEL polls have given Labor a higher two-party preferred (2PP) than the primaries would indicate, the 2PP here looks fine. This poll sampled 1600 voters.

Premier Campbell Newman’s ratings have shown some improvement, with his total good and very good rating up 2% to 36%, and his total poor and very poor rating steady at 47% - this gives Newman a net rating of -11. Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has a net rating of -8.5, down from -6.5. ReachTEL’s ratings are worse than other pollsters for leaders who are not well-known because of the middle “satisfactory” option, which includes those who are genuinely uncommitted, but also weakly positive voters.

38% said the LNP had done enough to deserve re-election, and 49% thought otherwise. This 11 point gap is down from a 16.5 gap in November. Party breakdowns of this question have the Greens and PUP almost as disappointed with the LNP as Labor, indicating that Greens and Other preferences could favour Labor more than at the 2012 election.

Polling in the 2013 Federal election and 2014 Victorian election underestimated the Coalition’s primary vote performance, but the 2PP was correct because preference flows changed in Labor’s favour. A similar outcome in Queensland is possible. On the current polls, Kevin Bonham thinks that the LNP will win a plurality of the seats, but could fall short of a majority. A small shift to either party from the current situation would be of crucial importance.

The Labor government from 1998-2012 held office by winning a large share of the seats in south-east Queensland, particularly Brisbane. If Labor is to regain office in 2015, they will need to repeat the success of past Labor governments in south-east Queensland.

Will Campbell Newman lose his seat?

At the 2012 election, Newman won the seat of Ashgrove by 5.7% over Labor’s Kate Jones. The statewide 2PP at that election was about 63-37 to the LNP. With polls now at about a 50-50 tie, the swing to Labor is currently 13%, much more than Newman’s Ashgrove margin.

Sitting member effects should be limited in Ashgrove, since Newman was already very well-known before becoming Premier, while Labor’s former member Kate Jones will recontest. As a result, polling late last year from ReachTEL that had Newman trailing Jones by 55-45 is what would be expected. Unless the LNP can greatly improve their statewide 2PP, it is unlikely that Newman will hold Ashgrove.

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