Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Antony Green is on to something. Why we are voting more thoughtfully

Labor would be left with not a single seat in Queensland if the state voted federally the way it did Saturday night.

ABC election analyst Antony Green says the numbers point to a federal wipeout for Labor in Queensland, with no seats remaining - not even those of the deputy prime minister Wayne Swan, the trade minister Craig Emerson or the former leader Kevin Rudd.

But he says there’s no reason to believe Queenslanders will vote the same way.

“You only need to look at 2001 and 2004. In 2004 Labor got smashed in Queensland federally when Mark Latham was leader, absolutely smashed. Yet earlier that year Peter Beattie won the state election for Labor with a massive landslide.”

“The same people who were giving John Howard huge majorities federally were voting for Bob Carr in NSW and Peter Beattie in Queensland.”

Green believes Australians increasingly treat state and federal elections differently, with the federal voting intentions much more stable...

“People still vote on habit, but more and more that’s only evident at federal elections. At state polls you see massive swings.”

“I suspect that’s because state government is about managing things - making sure the trains run on time and roads are built. State governments are rewarded or punished for performance, whereas at the federal level it’s along more ideological lines.”

Macquarie University election specialist Murray Goot agrees but says the importance of the Queensland vote is that it shows Labor is not gaining any votes.

“If one or two Independents lose their seats at the next election Labor will need to gain seats n order to survive. It is now extraordinarily difficult to see that happening,” he says.

Antony Green says if the swing against Labor in Queensland was to be repeated at the federal election Labor would have much more to worry about that Queensland.

“In 2010 labor had a swing against it in NSW that didn’t cost it any seats, it had a swing to it in Victoria. If it did lose another 7 or 8 per cent in Queensland at the next federal election it would lose its remaining eight seats, but it would get slaughtered in NSW where many more are held by thin margins.”

“People keep saying the next election could be lost in Queensland. My view is that if it is lost in Queensland it is not going to be lost in Queensland alone. There’s no point in moving campaigning to Queensland.”

In today's Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald


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