ANALYSIS: Two frontrunners emerge in Whitsunday
ANALYSIS: Two clear frontrunners have emerged in the battle for the ultra marginal seat of Whitsunday.
Exit polling at the Proserpine, Airlie Beach, Northern Beaches and Mackay Showgrounds early voting centres awards 34 per cent of the primary vote to LNP's Amanda Camm, with ALP challenger Angie Kelly claiming 28 per cent.
Of the remaining six candidates, incumbent Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan came in next closest with 13 per cent.
Political experts Chris Salisbury and Paul Williams agreed there was little hope of Mr Costigan retaining his seat.
Labor's Jan Jarratt was the Whitsunday MP from 2001 to 2012, and was succeeded by Mr Costigan.
The Whitsunday MP formed his own political party called NQ First after he was expelled from the LNP in February 2019.
Dr Salisbury said the seat became fair game for a mix of political parties after the LNP booted Mr Costigan.
"It was expected Mr Costigan, having lost his affiliation to a major party, was going to be pushed to the wayside," he said.
"Being such a marginal seat, it opened the door for major parties and minor challenges to throw their hats in the ring."
Dr Salisbury said he expected LNP to pick up the seat again, based on the exit polling results and earlier predictions.
Fellow political expert Paul Williams agreed with this, but said Mr Costigan's departure from the party had split the LNP's vote.
"He will take a small personal following with him … so that makes the LNP's task harder," Dr Williams said.
"Because those who voted for Costigan out of loyalty this time were previously LNP voters … they may well preference Labor ahead of the LNP as punishment.
"The LNP should be in a position to retain that seat."
But it is expected to be a close race between Ms Camm and Ms Kelly, with minor party preferences "critical" to the final result, Dr Williams said.
He was unable to analyse the flow of preferences or other factors such as postal and election day voting because of a variety of factors.
These included the influence of minor parties in Whitsunday, left-field preference agreements and voters' increasing disregard for how-to-vote cards.
"You would expect, given there are populist right candidates running in the Whitsunday and only one centre left party, that the LNP will be beneficiary of most of the preference flows," Dr Williams said.
The Daily Mercury and Whitsunday Times teams have been conducting anonymous exit polling since early voting opened last Monday.
This involved asking those coming out of the booths who they voted number one on their ballot paper and why.
Exit polls can only provide a snapshot of voting, with final results only available once votes are counted.
Whitsunday (sample size 343)
- ALP - ANGIE KELLY 28.57%
- GREENS - EMMA BARRETT 3.21%
- KAP - CIARON PATERSON 6.41%
- LCQ - PAUL HILDER 3.50%
- LNP- AMANDA CAMM 34.99%
- NQF - JASON COSTIGAN 13.70%
- ONP - DEB LAWSON 9.33%
- UAP - GREG ARMSTRONG 0.29%