Queensland Election Preview 2020

We have released the results of our first polling on the 2020 Queensland election. You can download it by clicking here.

Our general findings are that, as in the 2017 election, electors are unenthusiastic about the two major parties. While they rate Labor ahead of the LNP on key issues, they harbour an on-balance desire to see LNP elected. This makes both parties’ positions fragile. Labor’s performance is obviously, despite the numerical differences, not vastly different to the LNP’s in electors’ minds, and while the LNP has a small final preference advantage, this could easily evaporate.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has set the high bar for this election so low that it’s possible Deb Frecklington could get over it with an old-fashioned scissors kick. But there’s a reason no one uses scissors kicks anymore – they are a high risk, inefficient way of achieving the same thing as a Fosbury Flop – but can Deb do the Flop?

And how low has Annastacia set the bar? Afterall, her Newspoll approval ratings are extremely high, so how can she potentially be losing? Our polling suggests her approval is mostly based on her handling of COVID, and that electors are looking past that to the future when assessing the next election. They want to know who is best to handle the recovery which puts the emphasis on economic competence, and here Labor struggles. Not that the LNP are rated highly, but it is generally a core LNP attribute more than it is Labor’s.

The key points are:

  1. COVID impacts on the election, but it is more of an issue for rusted-on Labor and Greens voters than for LNP, Nationalists, or Others. This is because even Labor voters are looking past COVID to the economics and jobs recovery that must occur, and this is where the LNP have a reputational strength.
  2. Voter energy in supporting one side or the other, as measured by participation in the poll, is up significantly for the ALP, LNP and KAP, but down for One Nation and the Greens since the 2017 election. The increase in KAP versus decrease in ONP probably reflects the key cross-bench role that the KAP has played for 5 years, plus their superior stability to One Nation. The drop in the Greens is possibly due to COVID dampening down concern for Climate Change in favour of economic recovery.
  3. Enthusiasm overall is stagnant with voters unimpressed with either government or opposition, and narrowly inclined to take government from the ALP, but divided as to whether this should be for a minority LNP or ALP government. This is demonstrated by:
    1. Net approval of the Palaszczuk at -8% (Total Approval 40%/Total Disapproval 49%)
    2. Net approval of Frecklington at -21% (TA 25%/TD 46%)
    3. Yet Palaszczuk preferred as premier by only 45% to 44%
  4. Further complications in what this means are in these figures:
    1. Does the government deserve to be re-elected? Net -11% (Agree 40%/Disagree 51%)
    2. Does the opposition deserve to become the government? -34% (Agree 24%/Disagree 58%)
    3. Who do you expect to win the election? ALP 47%, Hung Parliament 18%, LNP 15%
    4. Who would you like to win the election? ALP 41%, Hung Parliament 11%, LNP 44%
  5. Despite being inferior to Labor on almost every measure electors would still rather have the LNP as the government, even if by only a tiny margin. This says that they have such a low opinion of both parties that they don’t see much real difference between them in terms of performance.
  6. It also meshes with the qual in that while COVID is colouring perceptions of Palaszczuk’s leadership, voters are looking through it to the future. (Some interesting parallels here with how Trump’s polling appears to be picking up in the USA as voters look through COVID to recovery and beyond).
  7. When it comes to what is really driving their vote, the bottom-line is economic and recovering from COVID. In our qual the traditional ALP concerns about health, education and services in general have declined in incidence markedly in favour of economic issues, including unemployment. The LNP brand carries more weight in these areas, so absent a strong attachment to either side, appears at the moment to be carrying the day.
  8. Greens are a major negative for conservative voters, but don’t see any mention of One Nation or Katter from the left.
  9. COVID is about the only thing that gives the ALP definition. After 5 years in government they don’t stand for anything. Greens see them as too capitalist, conservatives see them as too Green. Culture war issues. Other hesitations are unions, public service, coal. They are wedged in the middle.
  10. LNP seen as party of vested interests with lacklustre representatives, run by the backroom and disunited. Not interested in the regions and regional issues. Frecklington negative. Campbell Newman (but restricted mostly to rusted-on Labor). Same problem as Labor too – often seen as too right-, or left-wing.