Why it’s still worth hitting campaign trail

Image of Queensland mapping sitting parties courtesy of https://regionalinnovationdatalab.shinyapps.io/qldvotes/

Highly regarded Political scientist Dr Paul Williams believes while COVID and other factors have changed campaigning substantially, there are still compelling reasons to press the flesh in the last week of the election.

“I think it is still worth campaigning because at least half the electorate, as of the end of last week, is yet to cast a ballot,” he explained.

“I think it is still worth campaigning because at least half the electorate, as of the end of last week, is yet to cast a ballot”

“Many of those, you might say a disproportionate number, have not yet made up their mind.

“As of last Friday, around 600,000 had voted and there’s about 3.3 million on the roll and I would expect about 90% of those to vote, so we are probably looking at about 20-22% who have already voted.

Dr Paul Williams

“We would expect probably another half a million to a million who would have put their postal ballots in the mail and another 20 percent or so will vote prepoll and postal vote this week.”

He attributes the early voting activity to something he calls front-ending.

“In the last five or so years we’ve seen front ending to capture this huge upsurge in pre poll votes.

“It’s a big difference to previous years. While voters aren’t using different cognitive processes to choose their candidates, we are seeing an abrupt change in the way parties are campaigning.

“We saw a difference for example in 2017, where Labor was using a traditional model, a slow burn, and they were really wrong footed by a very strong Tim Nicholls and strong LNP, that released major policy announcements in the first week.

“That caught Labor so off guard that at the end of the first week Palaszczuk and Labor knew they had to do something to steal back the agenda and dropped the Adani bomb, from which the LNP never recovered.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington Image: David Martinelli

“This time, even before the writs were issued, Labor and the LNP were making really big policy announcements on infrastructure and spending, to catch those who want to pre poll.

“That said, more than ever people are making their vote choice late in the final week.

“Decades ago, we had something called party identification where 80% of voters were rusted onto one of the major parties but today its only around 60%, which means there are more swinging voters about and more votes up for grabs.”

Queensland Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk Image: NCA NewsWire Dan Peled

Dr Williams believes the number of swinging voters makes a compelling argument for campaigning to the last gasp.

“More swinging voters tend to make their vote decision later and on perhaps more superficial reasons, right down to things like the way the leader dresses and so on.

“There’s anecdotal evidence about how they vote, whether it’s the last how to vote card as they’re walking up to the polling booth.

“We might see 30% to vote on Saturday, as the Electoral commission said, and when I initially heard it, I think the figure was a bit low , but it seems to be panning out correctly.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that we still have several hundred thousand Queenslanders who are yet to make up their mind, who might only settle on their choice as they are driving to the polling booth.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me that we still have several hundred thousand Queenslanders who are yet to make up their mind, who might only settle on their choice as they are driving to the polling booth.

“It’s a small number but absolutely, campaigning right up until the last minute, pollies will be literally pressing the flesh at the gates on the day because every vote counts.”

The lecturer in Politics & Journalism within Griffith’s School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences adds every vote counts more than you might think.

“I’m often asked – why does the LNP campaign in safe Labor seats and why does the Labor party campaign in safe LNP seats, and the idea is to get above six percentage points of the primary vote, because even if you’re certain to lose the seat, you will get money from the government as an electoral return for the public funding of your campaign,” he explained.

“It is always valuable to fly the flag to give voters a democratic option, but also to raise money for the coffers, so there’s lot of benefits to campaigning right to the last minute.”

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