More than any other state or territory, Queensland has the highest number of tightly held electorates, including the most marginal seats of both major parties.
That means there’s a lot at stake and Labor and the Coalition know it.
Even before the official campaign began, the Sco-Mo express and the Bill Bus had covered hundreds of kilometres in Queensland, with the leaders selling their message in crucial hotspots.
Roads, hospitals, and jobs were the catch cries from both sides, but based purely on numbers, the Coalition has the most to lose.
Of the 21 seats the LNP holds in the Sunshine State, more than a third are teetering on margins of 4 per cent or less.
The seats ripe for Labor picking include;
- Capricornia (0.6 per cent)
- Forde (0.6 per cent)
- Flynn (1.0 per cent)
- Petrie (1.6 per cent)
- Dickson (1.7 per cent)
- Dawson (3.4 per cent)
- Bonner (3.4 per cent) and,
- Leichhardt (3.9 per cent)
And there’s some high profile scalps on the line including Peter Dutton, Michelle Landry and George Christensen.
Griffith University political analyst Dr Paul Williams predicted the LNP’s nervousness was rightly founded saying the party could face a volatile reception on election day.
“Voters are particularly disenchanted with the Coalition. I think there’ll be a reasonable swing against the LNP,” he said.
Jitters about the Coalition’s image in Queensland was a driving factor behind last year’s leadership spill, with several MPs concerned Malcolm Turnbull couldn’t connect with voters outside the south-east.
Party insiders believe Scott Morrison has reinvigorated support, but no-one is sure if it would be enough to counter a predicted Labor swing.
“Despite what perhaps looked like an early honeymoon and did put a brake on the Labor vote, it seems Scott Morrison and the current leadership is no longer cutting through in regional Queensland,” Dr Williams said.
The Coalition’s image woes haven’t been helped by recent tension between Queensland Nationals MPs and their Liberal colleagues — particularly after failed demands to build a coal-fired power station in the regions.
Any collapse of the LNPs traditional voting base in regional areas would be further exacerbated by pressure from minor parties, like One Nation and the Katter’s Australian Party.
In 2016, One Nation contested 12 Queensland seats and in most, recorded the third highest proportion of primary votes (behind Labor and the LNP).
But it wasn’t enough to secure the minor party a House of Representatives seat.
Dr Williams said he believed One Nation would again achieve up to 20 per cent primary vote in some selected electorates, eating into the Coalition’s base.
“I think we’re going to see the minor parties do well and preferences spray in all directions,” he said.
“But I don’t see Independents or any minor parties getting a seat, apart from (Bob) Katter.”
Shorten has his own headaches
But conquering Queensland won’t be a clear run for Labor either.
The party is watching its back in hotly-contested seats including Herbert (0.02 per cent), Longman (0.8 per cent), Griffith (1.4 per cent) and Moreton (4 per cent).
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has his own headaches to negotiate to secure votes, such as the lingering confusion about his support for the controversial Adani coal mine in central Queensland.
“It’s a very tough line that the Opposition Leader has to walk given that he wants to see mining and he wants to see blue-collar employment in regional Queensland,” Dr Williams said.
“But he doesn’t want to see any increase in Australia’s carbon emissions.”
Labor has clung to the results of last year’s by-election in Longman as a test-run for the federal poll.
Based off that outcome, the LNP vote would collapse, securing Mr Shorten the keys to the lodge.
But as we’ve seen over the past six months of unofficial campaigning, no-one will win in Queensland without a fight.
And voters will be caught in the middle of the tussle for the top.