The last three statewide polls of the Queensland election campaign have spoken with marvellous unanimity, and they are joined by an Ashgrove poll from Galaxy that emphatically confirms the impression to emerge from ReachTEL on Tuesday that Campbell Newman is headed for defeat at the hands of Labor’s Kate Jones. First the state polls:

• The Newspoll survey for The Australian reached 1682 respondents between Tuesday and Thursday, offering a refrain with which you will shortly become familiar: a lead to the Liberal National Party of 52-48 on two-party preferred, with the LNP on 41% of the primary vote and Labor on 37%. For the minor parties, the Greens were on 6%, Katter’s Australian Party was on 2%, and Palmer United was as usual rolled into “others” – a bit unfortunately, given that PUP is fielding candidates in 50 seats and KAP is doing so in only 11. Campbell Newman’s approval rating of 35% was down six points on the survey Newspoll conducted at the start of the campaign, while his disapproval was up seven to 58%. Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ratings were little changed, with approval steady on 38% and disapproval up two to 40%. Newman’s modest 42-38 lead from the earlier poll as preferred premier was all but erased, the latest resulting putting it at 43-42.

• The Galaxy poll for the Courier-Mail was likewise conducted between Tuesday and Thursday, though with a much more modest sample of 800. Nonetheless, the result was exactly identical to Newspoll on two-party preferred and both major parties’ primary votes. The Greens were slightly higher at 8%, Katter’s Australian Party the same at 2%, and a result was offered for Palmer United, that being 4%. Preferred premier too was all but identical to Newspoll, except that the one-point lead was in favour of Palaszczuk, who had gone from a 45-40 deficit in the Galaxy poll at the start of the campaign to a lead of 45-44. She also had a slight 44-41 edge on the question of who had performed better during the campaign.

• Were ReachTEL in the business of rounding its results to whole numbers, it too might have come in the same as Newspoll and Galaxy for the major parties on both two-party and primary measures. The automated phone poll was conducted on Thursday night from a sample of 1560, and had the LNP on 41.5% of the primary vote, Labor on 37.2%, the Greens on 7.5% and Palmer United on 4.4%. On the question of who would win, there was a clean 60-40 split in favour of the LNP. There were also further questions on leader approval which you can read about in the link.

I have plugged all that into my poll tracker model, the output of which you can see in the sidebar. On every measure, the three polls have made next to no difference to the result that came out last week when the previous statewide ReachTEL poll was added to the model. The LNP is still credited with a modest absolute majority of 52 seats out of 89, and Labor with a total of 34 which, although being nearly five times what it was able to manage in 2012, still leaves it well out of contention for victory.

There are as always a few caveats that need to be added here. The modest allocation of three seats to “others” is based simply on an assumption that minor party and independent candidates elected in 2012 who are recontesting this time – namely Mount Isa MP Rob Katter and Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth of Katter’s Australian Party, and independent Peter Wellington in Nicklin – will win re-election, and that all other seats will divide between the LNP and Labor. While such results are extremely difficult to predict, it seems there are plausible prospects for independents in Maryborough, Burdekin and Gaven, which the model allocates to the LNP, and also in Mackay and Gladstone, which go to Labor. That said, it is by no means certain that the aforementioned three incumbents will win election. Nonetheless, if the evidently sour mood towards the LNP was to cause independents to poach traditionally conservative seats, the projected LNP majority would look that little more precarious.

Then there is the issue of preferences, which pollsters generally are assuming will behave as they did in 2012. This is problematic, since 11% of the vote in 2012 was for Katter’s Australian Party, which this time is contesting only 11 seats, most of them conservative rural strongholds. There is also a strong case to be made that Left hostility towards the Newman government, stimulated by a “put the LNP last” messages being waged by the union movement which appears to have gained a certain traction on social media, will substantially reverse a trend that saw the just-vote-one rate among Greens voters steadily ascend from 23.6% at the 1995 election to a peak of 50.1% in 2012. My poll tracker attempts to account for this by using a model to determine the preference distribution, but its assumptions are conservative and its result not dramatically different from those produced by the pollsters. The impact of all this should not be overestimated, but it’s certainly plausible that this brace of 52-48 results is really more like 51-49, which would chip away a little more at that LNP seat tally.

If these two factors are added together, and the swing is distributed in a sufficiently inopportune fashion, it certainly could be that the LNP is unable to make it to the magic number of 45 out of 89. However, there are quite a few stars that need to align in order for that to happen, and it would seem that far the most likely outcome is that the LNP makes it over the line – minus one Premier. For the other poll to report today is a survey of Ashgrove from Galaxy, which finds Campbell Newman with a devastating 55-45 deficit against Kate Jones (although I’m unable to locate a sample size). The primary votes are 48% for Jones, 42% for Newman and 8% for the Greens, all of which sits very comfortably with the poll conducted on Tuesday evening by ReachTEL, the result of which was 46.5% for Jones, 42.3% for Newman, 8.2% for the Greens and a two-party Labor lead of 54-46. Possum Comitatus posted the following insight into Newman’s fortunes in Ashgrove, derived from union polling over the past term:

Today’s papers offer the following:

• According to Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail, “insiders last night expected Labor to win Cairns, Cook, Townsville and Thuringowa but fall short in Barron River and Mundingburra”. Whitsunday and Mirani “remain tight races while Keppel was expected to swing to Labor”. The Gold Coast seats of Burleigh and Broadwater are “vulnerable”, apparently thanks to Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens. In Brisbane, “the LNP faces significant swings against it but may cling on in Sunnybank, Stretton, Ferny Grove and Murrumba but lose a swag of others, including Bulimba, Waterford, Lytton, Greenslopes, Sandgate and Nudgee”. As for Ashgrove, insiders from both camps reportedly expect it will be “tighter than the polls are predicting”.

• Elsewhere in the Courier-Mail, Paul Williams of Griffith University says “the early feedback was Mackay’s former mayor Julie Boyd was a threat, but I’ve heard she has fizzled”.

• In The Australian, Michael McKenna reports that “insiders from both major parties say their tracking shows that the swings are patchy, and some traditional Labor seats – which fell to the LNP for the first time in decades in 2012 – are inflating statewide polling”. A Labor source is quoting saying they expect to gain only 20 to 25 seats, but offers that “our support was falling last week but as come back in the past few days”.

To help guide you through an extremely complex election, I offer you the colour-coded map at the bottom of the post, which being embedded in Google Maps can be zoomed in and out of and navigated around at well, and the following region-by-region review. The colours of the boundary outlines shown in the map correspond with the ten regions detailed below. The filled colouring for each electorate works as follows. There are three shades of blue, of which the deepest indicates a safe seat for the LNP, the middle shade is a seat that could go either way, and the light shade means an anticipated Labor gain. I’ve played this by ear a little, but generally speaking a seat is rated a certain Labor gain if the margin is less than about 6%, and a certain LNP retain if upwards of 13%. Red indicates a seat Labor won in 2012; the tint is lighter in the case of Mackay, to signify that it might fall to an independent. If a seat is held by an independent or the KAP and seems to have any chance of staying that way, it’s in grey.

Taking all that together, and to give you an idea of how difficult this election is to read, I’ve got 33 seats which I’m confident will be won by the LNP, 21 ditto for Labor, 25 designated seats-to-watch, and 10 which are complicated by an independent or the KAP. Of that 10, there are three that might be won by Labor (Mackay, Gladstone and Mount Isa), or four if you want to be generous and throw in Gaven. Condamine, Dalrymple, Nicklin, Burdekin and Nanango will be won by the LNP if they’re not won by an independent or the KAP. Mount Isa, Maryborough or (just maybe) Gaven could be counted as three-cornered contests.

Inner Brisbane (LNP 9, Labor 1)

In what would ordinarily be perhaps Labor’s strongest area, its only win in 2012 was Anna Bligh’s seat of South Brisbane. Labor unconvincingly retained South Brisbane at a by-election when Bligh quit shortly afterwards, and emphatically gained Stafford at a by-election in July last year. Labor should have little trouble recovering Brisbane Central, Mount Coot-tha, Bulimba, Greenslopes and Yeerongpilly. Greenslopes was corroborated by a Galaxy poll a fortnight ago which had Labor with a lead of 59-41. Yeerongpilly is held by Carl Judge, who won the seat for the LNP in 2012 but later parted company with the party, and now seeks to retain it as an independent. Labor’s by-election win in Stafford should stand it in good stead there, but the 7.1% margin from the 2014 election means I’m not giving it away. Then there is Ashgrove, scene of the election’s million dollar question. There is now voluminous evidence that it will go Labor’s way, but under the circumstances I’m erring on the side of caution.

Northern Brisbane (LNP 12, Labor 0)

Brisbane’s suburbs are a mother lode of seats that could go either way. I’ve identified Nudgee, Sandgate and Morayfield as seats Labor should win easily, and their task in Redcliffe should be greatly assisted by the fact that it’s now held for them by Yvette D’Ath following her big win in the by-election of last February. Apart than that, apart from two safe LNP seats, everything is rated as up for grabs: Everton (13.2%), Ferny Grove (9.5%), Kallangur (12.4%), Pine Rivers (13.7%), Murrumba (9.5%), Redcliffe (10.1%) and Pumicestone (12.1%). I’m told Labor is expecting big swings in Kallangur and Pine Rivers, which despite their present formidable margins were in Labor hands before 2012, and the LNP’s behaviour tells us it is very worried about Murrumba. However, a Galaxy poll of Pumicestone a fortnight ago had the LNP leading 52-48.

Southern Brisbane (LNP 13, Labor 2)

I’ve identified Lytton, Capalaba, Waterford and Logan as certain Labor gains. I observe that Possum‘s localised polling map doesn’t look great for Labor in Capalaba, but he advises that this should not be taken too literally, and it seems hard to believe Labor would be unable to knock over a margin of 3.7%. In the balance are Algester (9.1%), Stretton (9.6%), Sunnybank (10.2%) and Mansfield (11.1%). The strength of the LNP margins in Stretton and Sunnybank is something of a puzzle to me, given how multicultural they are. Mansfield is one of the state’s most reliable bellwethers, as traditionally has been Springwood, but such is its 15.4% margin that I’m leaving it in the LNP column. Worth keeping an eye on though.

Ipswich (LNP 2, Labor 1)

Labor did very badly to lose the seat of Ipswich (margin 4.2%) in 2012, and only to a slightly lesser extent Ipswich West (7.2%), while retaining the seat of Bundamba. I’ve got Ipswich down as a done deal, but Ipswich West will be that little bit harder.

Gold Coast (LNP 10, Labor 0)

Despite Labor’s success here in the Beattie years, the Gold Coast traditionally votes conservative, its three federal seats all being safe for the LNP. I’ve identified Albert (11.9%), Broadwater (11.3%) and Burleigh (11.0%) as seats where Labor might be a show, but I wouldn’t have my money on them. Certainly a poll conducted by ReachTEL this week for the Gold Coast Bulletin (see at bottom of post) suggests swings will be in the high single figures, and not double as required. The other big point of interest here is Gaven, which LNP dissident Alex Douglas is seeking to defend as an independent. This may emerge as a seat where the LNP’s just-vote-one mantra doesn’t do them any favours, as conservative vote-splitting might create an opening for Labor. However, I’m hearing an LNP win is the most likely result.

Sunshine Coast (LNP 6, Independent 1, Labor 0)

Labor aren’t seriously competitive here, so the only point of interest is whether Peter Wellington gets re-elected as an independent in Nicklin.

Central Coast (LNP 9, Labor 2, Independent 1)

Perhaps demonstrating the advantage of long-term incumbency in regional seats, Labor managed to retain Rockhampton and Mackay here in 2012. They also got cleaned up in a number of seats which are traditionally marginal at state level, and good enough for Labor federally to win them the seat of Capricornia a lot more often than not. That leaves a three seats in the vicinity of Rockhampton and Mackay which are on the Labor watch list, namely Keppel (6.4%), Whitsunday (10.7%) and Mirani (11.2%). Mirani stayed conservative through the Beattie years, but Labor was strengthened when the 2009 redistribution merged the electorate with the abolished Labor-held seat of Fitzroy. Veteran LNP member Ted Malone is retiring, and long-serving former Fitzroy MP Jim Pearce is contesting the seat for Labor. Three seats in the area are identified as being vulnerable to independents. Two of these are held by the LNP, namely Maryborough and Burdekin, which are respectively facing highly rated challenges from Chris Foley, who held the seat from 2003 until his very narrow defeat in 2012, and BJ Davison. In Mackay, the retirement of Labor member Tim Mulherin is coinciding with a strong run from former local mayor Julie Boyd. NB: My graphic overlay for Gympie doesn’t seem to be working: if it was, it would be down as safe LNP.

Northern Coast (LNP 7, Labor 1)

Encompassing Cairns and Townsville, which are both more-or-less home to three electorates, along with rural Hinchinbrook and the Top End electorate of Cook, Labor has very high hopes here. Galaxy helped light the way here a fortnight ago by targeting all the Cairns and Townsville seats with automated phone polls, showing Labor ahead in all three Townsville seats – by 58-42 in Townsville (margin 4.8%), 52-48 in Thuringowa (no margin as Labor came third in 2012) and 51-49 in Mundingburra (10.2%) – and two of the three Cairns seats, by 53-47 in Cairns (8.9%) and 61-39 in Mulgrave, the one seat in the region it currently holds. In the other Cairns seat, Barron River (9.5%), the result was 50-50. Of those six, I’ve got Townsville and Mulgrave down for Labor and the others on the watch list, and it also seems generally presumed that Labor will win Cook.

Urban Hinterland (LNP 5, Labor 0)

Labor’s only show here is Toowoomba North, where former Attorney-General Kerry Shine was defeated in 2012 and is now seeking to win the seat back. Nanango is down on the watch list because Condamine MP Ray Hopper is running here in a bid to extend the empires of his own family and Katter’s Australian Party (see under Interior below), but it’s hard to believe he can knock off Deb Frecklington.

Interior (LNP 5, KAP 2, Labor 0)

Three seats here are held by Katter’s Australian Party, including two that were won at the 2012 election – Mount Isa by Rob Katter, and Dalrymple by Shane Knuth – plus Condamine, which was won for the LNP by Ray Hopper, who jumped ship for the KAP over the course of the term. Hopper, who entered parliament in 2001 as an independent but shortly joined the Nationals, is now seeking to poach Nanango from the LNP, leaving Condamine to be contested by his son, Ben Hopper (see under Urban Hinterland above). It seems unlikely that either Hopper gambit will pay off, and such is the KAP’s parlous state that even Katter and Knuth can’t take anything for granted, although both would probably be slightly favoured.

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