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Tasmanian election

Peter Tucker, a researcher from the University of Tasmania's School of Government and a past advisor to the Tasmanian Liberals, reckons the following on Tasmania

February 22 2006

He begins with  a polling  outfit ...

The main thing that worries me about EMRS is that they always get a high undecided vote (25% this time), compared to nearly every other polling outfit in Australia. You never see it from the big companies. It just makes me wonder what EMRS do to get it that high.

The other concern is the reliance by the media of such small sample sizes (under 200) for the individual electorate breakdowns which gives a margin of error close to double figures. In three of the electorates the samples are 160, which provides basically meaningless predictions.

There hasn't been a poll out yet taken after the election date was announced. At the moment the EMRS poll still reflects levels of general annoyance in the community over whatever issue is about: hospital waiting lists, potholes in the road - the normal "cost of government" for the incumbent. But once the voters focus on the election, it will be interesting to see how many are influenced by the personal issues that surround the premier, and how many - like most Australians - by what they think is best for their hip-pocket. If it is the former, Labor are in trouble, if the latter then a majority Labor outcome is quite likely.

For the major party voter, which is 80% of the population, it will dawn on them soon that they only have one real option. That is not a political statement on my behalf, it is because the Libs haven't given the voters the option of voting for them. Their "majority or nothing" strategy was only going to fly if they were within striking distance by the start of the campaign - if the voters think a decent push would get them over the line. There is a significant number of voters in Tasmania (10-20%?) who hate the idea of minority that much that their vote is solely influenced by who can best form majority. It is that group that the Liberals were after, but they look lost to Labor. Because the Libs are so far behind, they have no chance of selling their message; now they just reinforce the idea that majority is important and shunt voters to Labor. (This is a prime example of issue ownership theory. Labor "own" majority government as an issue, so the continual mention of it benefits them.)

Labor have to win three seats in three out of the five electorates to win their majority. This is not going to be easy (although they hold that advantage in four electorates at the moment.) But if there is really 25% of the electorate still to make their minds up then the election is still to be won or lost, and those who are calling a hung result a certainty are just plain silly. I have made some assumptions around the probability of the parties winning the doubtful seats and using the same methodology I used here http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3812, calculate that a Labor majority is a 32% probability. (For those who like a bet, that means odds of about $3.05 or a fraction over 2/1.) That can, and will change, one way or the other as we get a better feel for how the campaign is going. I expect there to be some more polling done with about 10 days to go so will have another crack at a prediction then.