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Voting early and often, but it ain’t over until it’s over

Campaign Diary

The numbers confirm we’re having an election like no other with about 600,000 Queenslanders voting during the first six days that booths have been open and almost 900,000 postal vote applications received and processed.

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These are extraordinary totals reflecting the fear of crowds because of COVID-19 and the existing trend of early voting getting a steroid-like boost as a consequence.

While these numbers are eye-popping, no one should lose sight of the fact there will still be between 1 million and 1.4 million Queenslanders who go to the polls this coming Saturday – that’s more than enough ballots to turn trends on their heads and deliver victory or defeat in many of the 93 seats up for grabs.

So anyone who says this election is all over bar the counting because of the historic number of early and postal votes is missing the million or so on-the-day votes still to come.

Reports from MPs and candidates who have been hanging out at the early voting booths suggest a few trends: older people predominant among those getting things over and done with and these first movers appear to have their minds well and truly made up.

There are still plenty of votes on offer and leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deb Frecklington need to make sure their energy, policy efforts and tactical agility are honed and ready to unleash as the campaigns turn into the home straight.

Anyone who thinks they can coast through this last week is inviting defeat. At the end of the penultimate week, it appeared Frecklington and the LNP had some momentum, potentially more apparent in the regions.

They rolled out plenty of hot-button policies, targeting not just general audiences but cohorts of voters discrete to particular regions. The LNP leader has also looked hungrier for the top job.

However, when your leader lags significantly in the favourability and competence stakes, more exposure is not always a good thing – it can reinforce doubts and get voters thinking about the choice.

That said, Palaszczuk does need to move up a gear, refocus her campaign towards the old compare and contrast section of the election playbook and find policies that get voter attention when it matters.

As singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz says, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over”.

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