How did we all get it so, so wrong?
Well, what do you know? Scomo won. Who saw that coming?
The answer to that seemingly rhetorical question is ‘literally no one’ and to me is the biggest story in this election. This changes everything.
Everyone is taking stock of this new political reality, and there’s a lot to it, but I reckon there are three key bombshells worth paying attention to.
Bombshell 1: We’re all flying blind
The incredible thing about this election is just how wrong the polls got it. People are acknowledging it, but I don’t think people get how profound this is.
Because it’s not just the Newspolls etc that got it wrong – like massively wrong – it was the parties’ own internal polling.
And literally just 6 weeks ago, both parties had internal polling that said it was going to be a Labor landslide.
Seriously. Word was a lot of Government MPs were lining up their post-political careers.
But all the polls were wrong.
Now the two parties are sophisticated marketing machines these days. They use all the (dark) arts of advertising – focus groups, message testing, product testing.
And all their methods failed them.
And now it’s like they find themselves flying a jumbo jet with the sudden realisation that all of the signals coming from their control panel are just garbage.
… and it’s dark. And one of the passengers has stab wounds for some reason. And now a Chinese destroyer in the gulf has just started filling the sky with flak.
Both sides right now are going “WHAT THE F- JUST HAPPENED!?!?!”
So their job just got tougher. But it also means that all the policies they currently have on offer – they no longer have any idea if they’re popular policies or not.
They thought they were the goods. The test-groups responded well.
But now suddenly everything is up for grabs.
That leads us to bombshell number two:
Bombshell 2 – where the F- is the political centre?!?
Now let’s be very clear. Labor ran an old school Labor campaign. For them it was a break – there was a new, unashamed embrace of a progressive platform built around ideals like equality, fairness, and standing up for the down-trodden.
And I reckon their polling was telling them they were on to a winner. Remember when Daniel Andrews won the Victorian state election? Remember when he said how proud he was to be elected leader of the most ‘progressive’ state in the nation, and how progressive was coming up everywhere in his messaging?
None of that was an accident. Market testing on ‘progressive’, as a brand quality, must have been performing well.
But it didn’t translate into votes. The most progressive platform in a generation generated just a 2% swing in Victoria… and a bloodbath in Queensland.
At the same time, the Coalition must be wondering if the sampling they were doing them which suggested people weren’t down with how ‘conservative’ they were becoming, was actually correct…
Maybe they could actually afford to be even more conservative?
Expect to see a strong push right in coming months.
Bombshell 3 – But people don’t really care
But I think the Conservatives who are emboldened by this victory need to be careful. When I look at the Queensland vote, I don’t see it as a vote for conservative values as much as it is a vote for a job.
I think people in rural Queensland were willing to vote for any party that could actually recognise their economic situation, and what the wholesale destruction of their key industries would actually mean for them personally.
This is the key to Queensland. Economics comes first. If you don’t feel secure in your financial situation, you’re going to find it very hard to get excited about moral political posturing of any sort.
The Liberals will well to keep this in mind. I’m not sure they will, but they should.