Groom by-election minus two days

Two days out, a guide for Saturday’s federal election in the safe LNP seat of Groom in Queensland.

The campaign hasn’t exactly been a barbecue stopper, but we’re two days out from the significant event of a federal by-election. This is to be held in Groom, which is centred upon Toowoomba in Queensland’s Darling Downs region, and will result in the election of a replacement for John McVeigh, who has held the seat for the Liberal National Party since 2016. McVeigh’s winning margin in 2019 was 20.5%, which you would normally think would mean Labor would sit the by-election out, but they have in fact done the election-watching community a solid by fielding a candidate. That’s more than can be said for One Nation and the Greens, with the by-election having attracted a meagre field of four candidates, the other two being from the Liberal Democrats and Sustainable Australia.

While an LNP victory is surely a foregone conclusion, the size of the swing will serve as a real world measure of how well the Morrison government is travelling, a particularly notable fact in these days of skepticism about opinion polls. It is also convenient that it will do so in Queensland, which has so often been the crucible of federal elections over the course of the present century, and which recently delivered Labor a morale-boosting win at state level. For more detail, I now have a complete guide to the by-election in business, and will be doing my live results reporting thing as the numbers come in on Saturday evening.

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.

11 comments on “Groom by-election minus two days”

  1. The Toowoomba seats had a net swing to the LNP against the statewide trend at the State Election, right?

    So you’d probably expect the LNP margin to increase here too given the Federal Coalition are travelling better than the Qld LNP.

  2. Toowoomba follows the pattern of many regional inland towns and tends toward the christian conservative.Many years ago perhaps 20 I was at a Saturday morning market up there and a solemn looking fellow was walking around with a sign about Jesus and some sort of doomsday stuff.I thought what a weird place. The ALP has had some success up there at state level in the past with the charismatic Beattie, but the ALP seems to struggle anywhere that Christianity in its more American format flourishes. This is traditionally National/ Country party turf with the LNP shotgun wedding blurring the lines about what is fish or fowl. I don’t expect too many Pro-albo surprises come Sunday morning. ALP should really be honing in on moderate voters in seat rich Brisbane with a progressive government agenda and strong policies in climate change leave the pro coal stuff to Christensen, Canavan and Little proud and let them have the one or two seats on offer in Central Q. and Far.Q.

  3. I am surprised that the Queensland Greens did not nominate a candidate. The momentum of a successful State Election for them, should have motivated enthusiasm to build support in Groom. I am sure it’s a long way from a winnable seat. But it’s only by campaigning in unwinnabke seats 25 years ago that they have 2 state seats now.

  4. Will be interesting to see the results. I assume that Labors primary vote will go up due to a lack of greens candidate but that the 2PP will stay relatively the same.

    While this is a LNP stronghold their are rumblings of discontent (though not enough to push them to Labor). Could a local independent with no ties to Labor or the Greens be a viable candidate here?

  5. The Greens candidate in Groom last time also ran for them in Toowoomba South in 2017 and Toowoomba North in 2020. She’s probably due a break. As for Condamine, they just had a paper candidate from Brisbane. No momentum out here.

    The Greens got 8% in 2019, and One Nation / Palmer / Anning got 20% between them, so that’s all up for grabs. The Green vote should go to Labor or Sustainable Australia, and the 20% from assorted fruits and nuts should mostly end up with the LNP, with a bit for the LDP because of name confusion. Something like LNP 65%, ALP 25%, others 5% each, 2pp margin about 20%.

    The two minors may actually be trying – with such a small field, it’s their best opportunity ever to get their deposit back. They seem to both be locals, which isn’t always the case with microparties in regional seats.

  6. Jonathon: it’s possible. Di Thorley, the mayor of the old Toowoomba council (pre-merger), ran in the Toowoomba South by-election in 2016 when John McVeigh went federal, and got within about 5%. With the larger merged council it’d be easier for the local mayor to do well in Groom, but the current one is LNP so no luck there.

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