March 26, 2004 | Graham

Someone to win, but on a losing vote

Now I am sure why my ALP source only told me Campbell Newman’s primary vote, but not Tim Quinn’s. The Courier Mail published its polling today. Both candidates are each receiving only 38% on primaries. That means that Newman has possibly picked up 4% since last week, and 9% since the campaign began. (Earlier CM research is here ). He appears to have taken this mostly from Quinn, who has fallen 7%. The Greens are also down by 3%.
So an impressive swing figure, but let’s look at it another way. John Howard’s had a tough time recently, and if an election were held last weekend he would have lost. And the coalition first preference vote according to Newspoll? 41%. Of course, things were different at the last Federal election. Then Labor lost. Their first preference vote? 37.8%. What that means is that whoever wins tomorrow’s BCC election is a couple of days away from the election still on a first preference vote that in an election would normally see them lose!
Of course it is the total preferential vote that determines who wins, but first preferences are a good proxy for enthusiasm. On this point I have a bit of trouble with the Courier story. They say the two-party preferred vote works out to 51% ALP, 49% Liberal, but they also say that the 9% of voters voting Green are preferencing 5 to 1 to Labor. If that’s right I make it closer to 55% ALP to 45% Lib.
Other interesting figures in the survey suggest that most people (56% to 22%) think that Brisbane is heading in the right direction. When it comes to issues, “Roads and Traffic Management” scores the highest concern at 29%, “Quality of Life” is next at 22% then “Public Transport” at 15%. Only 6% are concerned about that hardy perennial “Rates”. When asked about the attractiveness of the candidate’s promises 29% of voters think Quinn has the best transport policy, while 27% favour Newman’s. So, on the issue that most nominate, the candidates tie. The swing hasn’t been caused by any king hits on policy.
What has caused it? It’s probably not scandal either. The Courier Mail has been campaigning hard on the Council’s failure to release up-to-date flood maps, so they measured how many people have been influenced in their voting decision by this. 78% said they hadn’t been influenced.
It seems that the swing has probably been caused by a contest between energy and apathy. Campbell Newman really looks like he wants to win while Quinn looks like he expects to win.
The Courier also polled for voting intentions in the wards (Brisbane has a Lord Mayor elected at large from the city as a whole and 26 councillors elected on the traditional Westminster representative model). This part of the poll can’t be taken too seriously as it asks “Which party or candidate will receive your number one vote [in your ward]?” Experience, not to mention statistical method, says that any poll which does not use actual candidate names will be wrong. Which raises an interesting question. We know that incumbency counts for a lot in BCC elections – every Liberal loss in the last 13 years has occurred when an incumbent resigned. This time around Labor has a incumbents not recontesting in Morningside and Marchant, while the Councillor for Moorooka resigned 12 months ago. One would normally consider Morningside safe, and Moorooka should also be out of reach, but Marchant has been held by the Liberals previously.
Suddenly some interest in an election that has still to excite most voters.

Posted by Graham at 10:02 am | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. And of course, Tim Quinn resigned from Dutton Park which is now ablaze with anti-labor sentiment. That’s a ward to watch.

    Comment by g.shine — March 26, 2004 @ 2:24 pm

  2. You’re quite right of course. Although if Dutton Park were to go to anyone it would be the Greens I think. The Councillor – Helen Abrahams – is a re-tread, having been the Councillor for Paddington for three years between 1991 and 1994. I think she lost out to David Hinchliffe in a preselection when the ward was abolished and was noted for riding a bike around the place. Not that being a retread is any sort of sin – my good friend Carol Cashman is also a retread losing out to Graham Clay in a preselection when her ward was abolished. She has proven to be one of the council’s most effective councillors, and gets praise from both sides for being a smart and tough representative.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 26, 2004 @ 4:45 pm

  3. Graham,
    As a blue-ribbon Liberal that helped a Liberal candidate at a solid Labor booth in a solid BCC Labor ward, I’d offer these comments and observations about the day and result:
    * Tim Quinn is Labor’s first victim of “Just Vote One”. At my booth, 77% of Green votes exhausted. This was a booth that returned a 3:1 Labor majority at the recent state election, but thanks to Newman’s surge, and Greens exhausting, came back to a 55/45 margin in the mayoral two candidate preferred. A dash of Ralph Nader, perhaps?
    * I think a lot of non-Liberal voters felt more comfortable about Newman because they saw him a candidate that happened to be a Liberal, rather than as a Liberal running for Lord Mayor. There’s a difference – and that gap made it easier for some to vote for him. Gail Austen tried this in 2000, and failed. The ‘can do’ man succeeded.
    * We’re not far off from having an inner urban Brisbane seat with a two-candidate preferred count including a Green. Dutton Park is an obvious choice, but I’d also be interested in some booth results in Toowong and Central wards to see if it’s happening there a bit, at the micro level.
    * Newman’s going to wear the robes. Sound!

    Comment by Alexander Drake — March 28, 2004 @ 11:00 am

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