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Election tomorrow

March 20th, 2009

After a fairly somnolent campaign, the LNP is going into tomorrow’s Queensland state election with a narrow lead in the polls. I haven’t paid much attention, since the capacity of state governments to make a difference, always limited, has been reduced further by the financial crisis. If I could choose an outcome it would probably be a minority Labor government, relying on a Green independent or two for its majority. As regards a change of government, it’s always beneficial to have alternation of power in a democracy. I’m not at all impressed by the apparent quality of the alternative government, but it’s more convincing as a united party than as the chaotic rabble that went under the name “Coalition”. The Bligh government has some reasonably strong performers (Bligh herself and Paul Lucas for example), but there have been plenty of duds or worse. And the involvement of proven disasters like Mike Kaiser in the campaign was a big mistake.

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  1. Hal9000
    March 20th, 2009 at 11:06 | #1

    It’s tempting to think Kaiser has in his possession some highly compromising photos of the outgoing Cabinet – nothing else approaches a rational explanation of his continued presence in the upper echelons of Labor governments. Doubtless he’ll pop up in Canberra next, to the dismay of all wishing for a 2-term Rudd regime.

    The brilliant Kaiser campaign strategy has been to abandon all the advantages of incumbency and blow the substantial advertising budget on attempting to demonise the transparently nice Lawrence Springborg. Next to nothing has been said about government policies, perhaps for the very good reason they haven’t actually got any. And then, in the final week, in what was undoubtedly perceived by voters as a desperate ploy, they dragged up some decades-old peripheral involvement in a dodgy investment scheme by the Borg’s deputy Mark McCardle. I’m not sure of the correct technical term for the Bligh ’09 campaign – misconceived, wilfully stupid, woeful, or perhaps all three.

    A minor quibble with your analysis Prof Q – I can’t think of any strong performances on Paul Lucas’s part, either – his sole contribution as Transport and Main Roads minister was to cost the public purse some hundreds of millions of dollars through injudicious public remarks about the safety of a widely used asphalt pavement. In his thirty-odd months in the Infrastructure portfolio he’s delivered nothing of note. A pompous windbag with the bloated ego of a Gareth Evans (but lacking the talent to found such a belief) and the self-importance of a Kim Beazley (but none of Beazley’s proven ability to attract a majority of voters to the cause). A dud who owes his elevation to Deputy Premier solely to Bligh’s interest in weakening his AWU faction, which wanted Mickel. You get the picture.

  2. Tony G
    March 20th, 2009 at 11:32 | #2

    Only last July

    JQ Said ;

    hard to see Labor losing here for another couple of terms, by which time the merger will presumably have happened. .”

    “the merger has gone ahead but they still don’t look like a plausible alternative to Labor.”

    Times change quickly in politics.

    You would want to hope this statement is wrong also;

    “And what is true in Queensland is almost certainly true nationally”

    Krudd better pull his socks up.

  3. Jim Birch
    March 20th, 2009 at 12:04 | #3

    O dear, it seems we’ve been avidly reading the musings of a complete dill!

  4. O6
    March 20th, 2009 at 12:19 | #4

    Pr Q, your point about alternation of power is important. It’s funny how power spruces up even the most ramshackle opposition, and if it fails, it gets booted out.
    Here in SA the opposition is so incompetent that a tenth rate, demagogic, populist government is not under threat, so we have a steady assault on civil liberties (e.g. police DNA databank, lack of judicial review before a potentially parolable convict has his term extended to his natural life) and no parliamentary notice is taken.

  5. derrida derider
    March 20th, 2009 at 12:28 | #5

    Tony G’s is a fair cop John – lets all hope your skills at economic prognostication are a bit better than your political ones :-)

    But isn’t it terrible how in the blogosphere everyone can hold your past opinions against you so easily? I dunno about you, but for my part I dread people googling some of my past comments.

  6. March 20th, 2009 at 13:01 | #6

    JQ’s predicion was 8 months ago.
    This prediction would probably hold, except in the meantime economics have intruded.
    That is, the music has stopped, & the govt had nowhere to sit coz the chair they were relying on has been spirited away (the chair marked “incredible lottery win via economic boom”)

  7. PeterM
    March 20th, 2009 at 13:41 | #7

    I was all set to vote LNP because to the poor performance of the current generation of the labor members and more particular the senior advisor and public servants they have appointed. However something I became aware of last week reminded me that it won’t take much for Qld to revert the ‘good old days’ when spivs and corrupt officials ruled the roost.

    I noticed that there didn’t seem to be any Labor posters in the usual people’s front yards. I though Labor is really in trouble if even their loyal supporter are not flying the flag so to speak. It turns out was an organised campaign of sealing Labor posters and the cops were doing little or nothing about the situation. Anyway posters have now begun to appear again so I guess the culprits have gone to ground.

    So does a rational personal vote for, the LNP which cannot seem to keep the spivs that it seems to attract under control or Labor who are plainly incompetent?

  8. March 20th, 2009 at 13:43 | #8

    I don’t watch Queensland politics close enough to say who ought to win. However given Labors dominance across the country there is some merit in tossing Labor out. The promise of greater federal state co-operation with wall to wall Labor governments is looking like a myth anyway.

    The problem with state governments as political entities (as opposed to accounting entities) is that how you vote isn’t going to change how much tax you pay or how much they spend. The key question of “how much government” seems to be something we only get to answer at federal elections. Which is in fact the worst of the three tiers in which to decide.

    In a more ideal world the Australian federal government would have no direct tax powers and would be dependent on the states. Much like Brussels within what might be called the EU federation.

    In the existing world state elections are just about managerialism.

  9. jquiggin
    March 20th, 2009 at 13:50 | #9

    Thanks, Steve. Checking the link, I had in fact given myself an out, saying “Short of an econoic catastrophe, the next serious prospect for a Libational win is that provided by the lamentable NSW government, which is not due to face the voters until 2011, IIRC.”

    But, I don’t make great claims for my capacity as a political tipster, and I have been surprised by the poor electoral performance of state and territory Labor governments in the last year or so.

  10. March 20th, 2009 at 15:00 | #10

    Pr Q says:

    I haven’t paid much attention, since the capacity of state governments to make a difference, always limited, has been reduced further by the financial crisis.

    GFC or not, there is precious little policy and personality difference between state and federal major parties and politicians that political choice may as well be by toin coss. Welcome to the Age of major party Great Convergence (TM Strocchi via Machiavelli, Pareto, Mosca, Michels and Gramsci).

    There being no great internal policy differences bw parties it follows that partisan preference will come down external political factors: the fortunes of the economy and the favours of the polity.

    I produced the following cyclical analysis Larvatus Prodeo earlier this month, with no inside information or local knowledge whatsoever (pardon me for cross-posting):

    My general model for predicting elections in “normal” electorates is largely based on cyclical swings in partisan alignment. On which secular trends are overlaid.

    The most potent [psephological] cycles are economic and [electoral]. Economic cycles tend to follow the boom-bust sequence. [Electoral] cycles follow the incumbency-outcumbency sequence.

    The QLD electorate is now at the fag end of both forms of cycle. It has had a massive economic boom which has now well and truly bust.

    And it has had four terms of ALP govt with the incumbent looking tired and scandal-wracked.

    Current opinion polls suggest a close contest. Centrebet strongly favours the ALP to win at 1.35. With the LNP rank outsiders at 3.15.

    I am going to stick with my standard theory. The ALP [Natural Party of Government] theory is tempting. But partisan loyalties are much more fluid these days, despite Baby Boomer prejudice against the LNP.

    So I am going to predict a small margin LNP victory. Close, but not a nail biter. (51-49).

    If anything I think I understated the momentum of the psephological cycle. I revised my prediction to LNP 52 – ALP 48 a week or so ago.

    Pr Q March 20th, 2009 at 1:50 pm says:

    I don’t make great claims for my capacity as a political tipster, and I have been surprised by the poor electoral performance of state and territory Labor governments in the last year or so.

    Sorry but cant resist a skite over my psephological prediction record which, over the naughties, has been 8/8 = 100% so far. (I think QLD is in the bag.) The odds of these predictions being right through random choice are 1:256 (ie 2 power 8.)

    ON the subject of standing on the shoulder of giants, credit where credit is due: BOth Mumbles and George Megalonious have guided me in these matters.

    Any bragging rights I can claim are soley due to the fact that I stand on the shoulders of the giant “standard cyclical theory of partisan alignment”. I just dont know what is so difficult to understand about the following old saws:

    – economic cycle: “its the economy, stupid”

    – electoral pendulum: “what comes up must come down”

    Quite apart from the standard cyclical factors outlined above there is also the populace’s tendency to counter-valent partisan balance of power voting between tiers and branches of government (state v federal, HoR v Senate). I elaborate slightly here, in the process of needling Mark Bahnisch about his lame brand of electoral commentating commentary.

    ON a more abstract philosophical level it would be nice if Pr Q could give us the benefit of his wisdom on the perils and payoffs of social scientific prediction.

    Just the very act of predicting an election outcome drives Mark Bahnisch to distraction. He takes it as an article of faith that complex social events cannot be predicted because they are “dynamic”. True enough, but that is what makes the game difficult and interesting.

    No one ever got rich or famous predicting the sun would rise in the East.

  11. March 20th, 2009 at 15:34 | #11

    Also, re the Pr Q’s “Last Liberal” theory, count me as unconvinced. Lets not kid ourselves about the Liberal Party “ceased to exist” when they became Liberal National Party (LNP).

    The Libs have acquired the Nats and have gone through the formality of slightly re-branding themselves. In the language of “M & A” corporate takeovers, this new association should be more properly known as an “Acquisition” rather than a “Merger”. Very much a whale-minnow sort of affiliation.

    The Libs are by far the dominant party at both state and federal levels. The Nats are in secular decline whilst the Libs primary vote is on the increase. They have been moving in on Nats territory for ages.

    Rural & Regional voters that do not wish to vote Lib tend to vote for Independent with a long history of local representation.

  12. CJ
    March 20th, 2009 at 19:58 | #12

    In my view, neither the ALP nor the LNP present a convincing set of potential ministers, leaving voters with a choice between two groups of duds. Aside from Bligh, the ALP does not have any strong candidates – the current Treasurer has little background other than ‘Labor party organiser’ – and is advised by a bunch of corrupt party hacks (Kaiser). Equally, the LNP has no strong candidates, and although Springborg has been around for a while, he has not said or done anything that convinces me that he is capable. His team is a disaster, and if he wins, most of his party will be made up of first-term MPs. I’d be tempted to strike a line through my ballot, or vote Green (although God help us all if they actually win).

    Most other states offer a contest between two weak alternatives. NSW is a great example. Labor offers Rees and a bunch of amateurs, left in power when Carr and his cronies quit. The Liberals offer Barry O’Farrel and an alternative collection of incompetents.

    If voting was not compulsory, I suspect that the turnout for state elections would be very, very low.

  13. March 20th, 2009 at 21:44 | #13

    PeterM,

    Curious about your claim that there “was an organised campaign of sealing Labor posters and the cops were doing little or nothing about the situation?

    Do you have any further info or do you have your tin foil hat on backwards?

  14. March 20th, 2009 at 23:38 | #14

    Briefly, I have added more material to a candobetter.org/QldElections which may be of interest. This includes a survey, which not one Labor or LNP candidate has responded to.

  15. Ikonoclast
    March 21st, 2009 at 08:41 | #15

    Anna Bligh and Co. are mediocre at best. The Qld Labor machine is also somewhat corrupt and nepotistic.

    However, the LNP will be much worse. At the heart of their organisation, they are still just as corrupt and self-seeking as they were Jo’s day. Springborg, frankly, is a dill. To have a man of his limited intellect and learning attempting to run our state in a GFC situation will be a disaster.

    I was born and bred in Qld so I can say it. Lamentably, Queensland is a still a hick state.

  16. Monkey’s Uncle
    March 21st, 2009 at 14:08 | #16

    I suspect that from Federal Labor’s perspective the worst possible outcome would be a narrow Labor win in the face of a large swing against the government.

    Having a series of unpopular Labor governments narrowly clinging to power would make life more difficult for Labor at the next federal election.

  17. Zedar
    March 21st, 2009 at 18:29 | #17

    Anna Bligh herself seems reasonably competent, she is just stuck with a 10 year old Labor government which is going to be tough at the best of times. I also get the impression she doesn’t have enough factional support to toss out of a lot of the dead wood that is currently holding ministerial positions.

  18. Smiley
    March 21st, 2009 at 20:36 | #18

    Nice call John. It looks like you were much closer than most of the other pundits. I stay out of making such predictions because my bias would show.

    For some unknown reason the LNP put some snotty nose kid up as a candidate in my electorate just because his dad had enough money to plaster his picture on every billboard.

    The problem for the LNP is who are they going to replace teh Borg with. There is a rather large vacuum of leadership talent.

  19. Socrates
    March 22nd, 2009 at 00:08 | #19

    It just goes to prove you don’t have to be great to win in politics – you just have to be better than the alternative. Obviously Springborg’s plan to reduce spending (and jobs) from the debate last week was not well received. The drift down in the polls started from there.

    Smiley you are right about the lack of alternatives too – again, Springborg didn’t get the job because he is great.

  20. March 22nd, 2009 at 06:04 | #20

    Gee, maybe Labor’s campaign wasn’t so bad after all, since they just took a landslide. Onya Anna and Mike Kaiser, proven performers both.

  21. jquiggin
    March 22nd, 2009 at 20:45 | #21

    Tony G, I guess things change even quicker than you thought.

    Of course, election-tipping is a bit of a mugs game. The fact that Labor came out pretty well doesn’t change the fact that I was incorrect in thinking that the LNP merger would continue in the farcical manner of its beginning, nor the fact that I was correct in regarding Kaiser as a disaster.

  22. Tony G
    March 23rd, 2009 at 10:30 | #22

    JQ,

    Maybe, in this case we are both guilty of letting our ideology cloud our judgement, being too quick adopting something that seems feasible to suit our agenda.

    The funny thing with elections is the ‘mug’ punters get it right more often than not. The bookies had the ALP @ $1.70 to the LNP @ $2.10. The media and blogosphere pundits seem to ignore this reasonably accurate forecasting tool.

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