What will happen in Queensland?
How will Queenslanders vote in the 2010 federal election? I don’t know. Election watchers love to over-analyse events and make detailed predictions based on their reading of the tea-leaves, but in my opinion the best indicator of what will happen comes from the betting markets. So I will spare you my own guesses, and instead outline what the markets are saying about how Queensland will vote.
Barnaby Joyce nominated a five seat gain for the LNP in Queensland — mentioning Longman (s/e Qld), Flynn (rural), Leichardt (rural), Dawson (coastal) and the new seat of Wright (s/e Qld). Centrebet agrees with four of these, with the exception being Longman (which is being contested by 20-year-old Wyatt Roy for the LNP).
The best bet seems to be Scott Buccholtz (LNP) picking up Wright, with an implied probability of 72%. The polls are saying there is about a 60% chance of an LNP victory in Leichardt, Flynn and Dawson, and about a 62% chance of an ALP victory in Longman, so these are still close contests.
On the other side of the ledger, the LNP are looking to defend two close margins — Ryan (Brisbane) and Dickson (s/e Qld). Both of these have an interesting back story. In Ryan, the sitting member (Michael Johnson) has been kicked out of the LNP and is running as an independent. In Dickson, the sitting member (Peter Dutton) tried to switch to a safer seat in the Gold Coast, but lost out. Centrebet is giving Ryan to the LNP with an implied probability of 58%, but has Dickson down as a 50-50 bet. If we look at some other betting markets, the ALP is a very slight favourite, with an implied probability of 52%.
There are a few other Brisbane seats that the LNP was hoping to pick up, but Centrebet is suggesting that Petrie, Bonner and Brisbane should stay with the ALP with an implied probability of 66%. Just outside of Brisbane, Centrebet gives the ALP a 58% chance of holding on to Forde. The ALP would have been hoping they could knock off the LNP’s most marginal seat in Bowman (Brisbane), but Centerbet suggests a 58% chance of an LNP win there.
The closest contest is over the Townsville based seat of Herbert. It is currently held by the LNP, but re-distribution makes it a marginal ALP seat. The odds both from Centrebet and more broadly indicate a 50-50 race.
In other odds, the Sunshine Coast seats of Fairfax and Fisher look safe for the LNP (70% and 73% respectively), as does the coastal seat of Hinkler (67%). In Griffith (Brisbane) Kevin Rudd has a 90% chance of keeping his seat.
There are a host of other safe seats which haven’t attracted betting. Kennedy (rural – Ind), Maranoa (rural – LNP), Moncrieff (Gold Coast – LNP), Capricornia (coastal – ALP), Rankin (Brisbane – ALP), Fadden (Gold Coast – LNP) and Oxley (Brisbane – ALP) all have margins of over 10%. Likewise, Lilley (Brisbane – ALP), Wide Bay (Coastal – LNP), McPherson (Gold Coast – LNP), Groom (s/e Qld – LNP) and Blair (s/e Qld – ALP) have margins over 7% and will probably not change hands.
Strangely, there is one seat in play that doesn’t have any betting odds. The Brisbane-based seat of Moreton is held by the ALP with a margin of 6.2%, but the Liberals have put up a high-quality candidate in Malcolm Cole and are running a strong campaign. The best bet would probably still be an ALP win, but I would be curious to see the odds.
So how does this play out in the end? It looks likely that the LNP will improve its position in Queensland, but perhaps not by enough to change the government. In 2007 the LNP won 13 out of 29 seats and they are currently on track to win 15 or 16 out of 30 seats.
Of course, there is a long time to go before the election and anything could happen. If the polls improve in Dickson, Longman and Forde and there is an upset victory in Moreton then the LNP could get up to 20 seats. But that uncertainty works two ways, and losses in Ryan, Herbert and Bowman would mean the LNP could stay on 13 seats. As tempting as it is for political watchers to back their own brilliance, the truth is that I have no better knowledge of the future than the mass of people who put their money where their mouth is…