Newman needs to raise ALP Ghosts

If Campbell Newman's campaign doesn't start focussing on the opposition and their previous record in government, then it may well hand Labor government on the back of antagonism from non-Greens minor party voters.

Desire Qld Election 2015Newman's campaign so far suits Labor, which is running a very small target protest vote campaign.

The last Newspoll has the LNP on 42% of the primary vote, Labor on 37%, the Greens on 7% and others, including Katter and Palmer on 14%. This means, that in a pure first past the post system, the LNP would be narrow favourites to win.

That's not what would happen with Queensland's unpredictable optional preferential system.

In an online qualitative survey of 609 Queenslanders we asked respondents whether they would allocate a preference this election, and which major party they would favour.

90% of Greens voters say they will preference Labor, and only 10% say they will exhaust, while of the other minor party voters, 30% will favour Labor, 29% the LNP and 41% will exhaust.

This would make the election almost exactly 50/50.

Greens voters have many reasons to be more antagonistic than usual to the LNP as a result of policies on "Wild Rivers", national parks, the Great Barrier Reef, coal seam gas, coal ports, native vegetation management, renewable energy and sand mining.

The LNP-preferencing Greens voter is almost as rare as a thylacine.

Which means that non-Greens minor party voters hold the key to this election.

Newman needs to shift their first preference votes, or get those not allocating a preference to send it his way.

The psychology of minor party voters is that they are less prone to compromise than average, and more prone to vote against, rather than for. That's why they stand outside the mainstream.

They are more likely to be involved in manual work, or lower grade clerical, and live in the outer suburbs or regional areas and have traditional Anglo values, and also to see themselves as victims, or at least put upon.

At the moment they are fixated on Campbell Newman's persona. Indeed, I suspect the main reason Newman has been so restrained this election is the fear that the smallest sign of ebullience or cockiness could push them right over the edge.

When they talk about Newman they use words like "arrogant" and "sneaky" and they have a long list of things they are irritated about, including the retrenchment of 14,000 public servants, the anti-bikie legislation, asset sales and relations with the judiciary.

When they talk about Annastacia Palaszczuk the most frequently used word is "leader" as in "not a leader". They're not angry with Palaszczuk so much as dismissive.

In some way this works in Labor's favour as there is a strong belief amongst minor party voters that the government will be returned.

54% believe the LNP will win versus 6% Labor, while 26% believe that it will be a hung parliament.

The LNP is campaigning under the slogan "Strong Team, Strong Plan, Stronger Queensland", a phrase which tries to frame the alternative as a weak Queensland with a weak Labor government propped up by independents.

But a hung parliament is what 43% of minor party voters actually want.

They have the tantalising prospect, with a finely calibrated action, of being able to kick the arrogant kid in the shins, be nice to the poor dowdy girl, but not actually change the government, or better still, give someone like themselves the balance of power.

What if they are not finely calibrated enough and tip Labor back in?

This is where Newman has an opportunity to get their attention and Palaszczuk runs a risk. We tested a number of potential Labor and LNP arguments with respondents, and the one that resonated the strongest was one of our own.

A total of 50% of voters, including 44% of minor party voters agreed that Labor needs at least a further term in opposition.

Another opportunity is to remind them of what the last Labor government was like. While minor party voters brand Newman a liar, it was a breach of trust by the Bligh government not once, but twice, which produced Labor's 2012 cataclysm.

One breach of trust was to electioneer on a platform of no asset sales, breached almost immediately the election was won. The other was a slanderous campaign against Newman last election eventually admitted as fiction.

If Newman tried, he could make the opposition the real issue in this election and invite voters to punish them, not him, because their biggest fault is not to have held him to account.

It's a tactic that's worked before, most notably when wielded by former Premier Peter Beattie.

If things continue as they are, and Labor continues to look like it can't win, but retains enough respectability to be worth voting for, expect savage swings in outer suburban Brisbane seats and regional centres putting the election result in the balance, and maybe fulfilling the dreams of minor party voters.

 This article was first published in The Australian.

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+1 #1 RE: Newman needs to raise ALP GhostsLorikeet 2015-01-30 20:22
I think the LNP could lose up to 32 seats. As a minor party supporter, I do not like the idea presented here that we are uneducated, or see ourselves as victims, or put upon. But it would be true to say that we don't support the crushing of small business people, Australian farmers and workers. That's why most of us do not like the major parties very much at all. I would like to see Labor form government with the minors, while Campbell Newman loses his own seat, as it is certainly something he very richly deserves. :lol:
0 #2 RE: Newman needs to raise ALP GhostsLorikeet 2015-01-30 20:27
Two weeks ago, I believed that the LNP would continue to govern with a greatly reduced majority. But now, after numerous attempts by Tony Abbott to kneecap his Queensland counterparts, I think the LNP would be lucky to win the election at all. Out and about, and also at a seniors' forum, there seemed to be a much greater interest in voting for the Greens, especially in seats with a 3 cornered contest. A lot of people are completely fed up with the major parties and no longer trust them.
0 #3 so much for Just Vote 1Philip Machanick 2015-02-01 18:00
Check out the stats for seats that would have been won if everyone had just voted 1:

Katter: 2 (actually won 2)
LNP: 52 (39 so far)
ALP: 34 (43 so far)
independent: 1 (won 1)

Optional preferential was introduced by ALP when Libs and Nats were at each others’ throats. Now they regret it.

It shows the folly of any form of gerrymandering. Or: what goes around comes around.

Preferential voting is a pretty good system – what a pity the major parties put such massive resources into confusing voters about how it works (e.g. suggesting that HTVs somehow play a role in the actual count – they don’t, all that counts is how you fill in the ballot).
0 #4 RE: Newman needs to raise ALP GhostsNicola 2015-02-02 18:54
I think it is actually time to introduce optional voting. I am tired of the state/nation being forced to bear the consequences of the voting choices of the willfully ignorant and those who only vote because they are forced. For once I think the Americans might have got something right.
0 #5 RE: Newman needs to raise ALP GhostsLorikeet 2015-02-02 21:15
Nicola, what you are suggesting will result in the poorest section of society not bothering to vote. Then the Coalition will be constantly in power, crushing them further. :cry:
0 #6 RE: Newman needs to raise ALP GhostsLorikeet 2015-02-02 21:19
Philip, many years ago when I was very young, a neighbour tried to tell me that if I didn't vote exactly according to the Labor HTV, my vote would be informal. However it would be true that most parties number the candidates in the order most likely to achieve electoral success.