February 11, 2004

One Nation and the Liberals – going, going…?

Participants in our focus groups were almost uniformly dismissive of One Nation, so we predicted that they would not do well outside particular seats. They did better than we thought. Their average result for the seats that they ran in was 8.7%. This is a little deceptive as Bill Flynn with 20.76% and Rosa Lee Long with 47.58% raise the average considerably, so it’s worth looking at the median which is 7.68%.

To put it into perspective this average is actually slightly higher than the Greens average of 7.9% and higher than the Greens median of 7.19%. One Nation also won a seat, while the Greens didn’t even come close. Why is there a widespread perception that they did worse than the Greens? Presumably it is a measure of momentum as well as their lower profile without Pauline Hanson. Last election the Greens scored a statewide vote of 2.51%, so support is growing. One Nation scored 8.69% across the whole state, which implies a higher average vote per electorate than this time, so their support is shrinking.

Even with momentum running against them this is still a fairly impressive figure. However, Independents had an average of 10.1% in the seats where they ran, meaning that the average Independent candidate did better than a One Nation one, and of course five of these Independents actually won a seat. In fact the results of those who won distort the average position of independents. The top five Independents averaged 52.07% of the vote in the electorates where they won, and the bottom five only averaged 0.72%. The median Independent vote was 3.52%. So running as a One Nation candidate guaranteed most a better vote than they would have got running as an Independent.

One Nation’s vote was also found fairly eclectically around the state, once again demonstrating the fact that they are a phenomenon in both urban and rural, Labor and non-Labor areas. They peaked in Tablelands and Lockyer, with Callide and then Kallangur (on Brisbane’s outskirts) next. Their worst result was in Indooroopilly.

The Liberal Party scored an average of 34.15% in the seats where it ran. This went from a low of 13.2% in Inala to 52.93% in Moggill. This in itself tells a story. The ALP won 42 seats with an absolute majority, Independents 3, the National Party 9, but the Liberal Party could only manage 1. This is the quantitative measure of the contempt that showed in some of our qualitative research. Absolute majorities are a good proxy for how strongly you hold your heartland. While the Liberal Party had a similar average per seat to the National Party, their voters don’t appear to love them the way that National Voters love the National party.

Another interesting statistic is that out of the 21 seats where the Liberal Party received 40% or more of the two party preferred vote, only 4 of them are in Brisbane. Another 4 are on the Gold Coast, and 2 on the Sunshine Coast. It has been apparent for a while that it has ceased to be a Brisbane Party. Liberal Party State President Michael Caltabiano has been suggesting that if the Liberal Party had been allowed to run in all of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast seats that the Coalition would have won more of them. This is an ultimately untestable hypothesis, but there are a few straws in the wind.

The only two seats on the Gold Coast where there was a swing to the government were Burleigh and Broadwater. The National Party contested both these for the Coalition. In the seat of Southport, also contested by the National Party, the there was a 1.67% swing away from the Government. Currumbin has to be put to one side as a special case. In the other seats that the Liberal Party contested they received swings to them of 5.25% in Mudgeeraba, 4.2% in Robina (Leader Bob Quinn’s seat), and 1.88% in Gaven. This supports the hypothesis and suggests that Broadwater and Burleigh could have been Liberal wins as they had margins of 2.5% and 1.9% respectively.

That the Gold Coast is natural territory for the Liberal Party is one that I have argued for quite some time. It is a view that I share with the Gold Coast Bulletin. Twelve months ago this paper was writing editorials telling the National Party that it was not welcome on the Gold Coast anymore. This begs the question. Why did Caltabiano agree to them running there in the first place? Something to start with tomorrow as a prelude to looking at the Nationals’ vote.

To be continued…

Posted by Graham at February 11, 2004 04:17 PM

The answer to the final question is quite simple - without some concessions on the Gold Coast there would have been three cornered contests all over the State. After the election the Coalition agreement would have been torn up and then the Libs would have lost all the resources of being in opposition.

You think the wilderness is bad now, imagine how bad it would be after that scenario played out.

Posted by: R at February 12, 2004 06:19 PM
Graham Young
John Black
Mark Bahnisch
Michael Lee