Call of the board

At the close of last night’s count Labor were ahead in 64 seats, the Nationals in 14, Liberal in six, One Nation in one and independents in four. It is universally anticipated that postal votes and the remaining undeclared booth will see off Labor’s eight vote lead in Charters Towers. The National Party have also won Burdekin (4.7 per cent) and Burnett (2.9 per cent) from Labor and Lockyer (12.3 per cent) from One Nation. However, Keppel has been lost to the Labor Party (4.2 per cent).

The Liberal Party has won two seats on the Gold Coast, Currumbin (3.4 per cent) from Labor and Surfers Paradise (15.0 per cent) from an independent. Doubt still remains over Labor’s hold on the Brisbane seats of Clayfield and Indooroopilly, although their 549-vote (1.6 per cent) lead in the latter will presumably be enough. In Clayfield however just 233 votes (0.6 per cent) separate incumbent member and former Play School presenter Liddy Clark from Liberal challenger Sally Hannah. The Liberals may yet lose their Sunshine Coast seat of Caloundra, where they lead by 370 votes (0.9 per cent).

Labor then will emerge with between 62 and 64 seats, a respectable distance from the Poll Bludger’s final projection of 65. The Nationals have done one better than I expected in winning 15 seats while the Liberals have won between four and six (I tipped five). Independents Elisa Roberts (Gympie), Peter Wellington (Nicklin), Liz Cunningham (Gladstone) and Chris Foley (Maryborough) were re-elected but Lex Bell lost Surfers Paradise, while One Nation held Tablelands but lost Lockyer – all of which was as I had anticipated.

In terms of Labor’s majority I would appear not to have done quite as well as Peter Brent at Mumble or Charles Richardson at Crikey (not available online), who tipped Labor to win 63 and 64 seats respectively. The content of our judgement is another matter, as indicated by the fact that I got one seat closer to the mark by wrongly (so it would seem) deciding on Friday that Labor would not hold Clayfield after all. This was one of six seats I got wrong, the others being Burdekin, Burnett, Charters Towers, Currumbin and Toowoomba North. The latter was my worst call, with Labor 7.6 per cent ahead at the close of polls. My Burdekin judgement marked a grave under-estimation of the sugar industry effect (in this electorate at least), with the Nationals leading by 4.7 per cent. Of the remainder, Currumbin surprised everybody, while Clayfield and Charters Towers were close enough that I can forgive myself. Burnett could have been better judged, but the Nationals’ 2.9 per cent lead is almost within an acceptable margin for error for state election predictions (not federal though).

Peter Brent may be given latitude as he made his prediction early in the campaign and wasn’t taking it as seriously, offering no comment on the fate of One Nation or independents. He wrongly picked Noosa, Burleigh and Kawana as Coalition gains, missing Burdekin, Burnett and Currumbin, but correctly picked Charters Towers as a Nationals gain (unlike the Poll Bludger) and Labor’s win in Keppel.

Charles Richardson was cleverer than me in that he reached his conclusion by picking six seats as possible Labor losses and calculating they would lose half of them – Burdekin, Burnett, Charters Towers, Burleigh and Thuringowa to the Nationals, and Mount Coot-tha to the Greens. As far as it goes this was perfectly correct, but the seats Labor retained here were held by margins of 5.1, 8.3 and 11.2 per cent. He also tipped the Liberals to win the same three seats as last time, thereby missing Currumbin and their easy win in Surfers Paradise, and wrongly predicted a One Nation wipeout, which proved 16.9 per cent off the mark in Tablelands. This makes for three full errors and three half-errors, so while I might claim to be ahead on percentage, I have to concede it to Richardson on points.

To the Poll Bludger’s knowledge, Malcolm Mackerras made no effort to retract his prediction of January 14 that Labor would win by 15 seats, though he would surely have known many of his calls were untenable before yesterday.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.