HISTORY LESSON: Mayoral candidate Jack Paff, with wife Lyn, won the 1998 Ipswich West state election from the ALP due to Nationals preferences. Will a 'third force' emerge in the August 19 poll?
HISTORY LESSON: Mayoral candidate Jack Paff, with wife Lyn, won the 1998 Ipswich West state election from the ALP due to Nationals preferences. Will a 'third force' emerge in the August 19 poll? David Nielsen

MAYORAL RACE: Why preferences are unlikely to decide poll

IT is hard to imagine that preference allocation will play a decisive role in determining who wins the Ipswich mayoralty on August 19.

I have been asked what scenarios could result in preferences proving critical, and the best way I could describe one of those scenarios is that a 'third force' will need to come to the fore on election day.

By way of example, in 1998 in the Ipswich West state election Don Livingstone (ALP) won 41.9% of the primary vote, Jack Paff (One Nation) was second on 38.6% and Sue Wykes (Nationals) was third on 17.6%.

But after the Nationals preferences were allocated Mr Paff went to the front and won the seat with a 51.9% majority.

Acting Mayor Paul Tully and Cr Andrew Antoniolli would be favoured to finish in the top two on August 19 at this stage.

But, as of now, there does not appear to be any indication that any of the other nine candidates intend to favour Cr Tully or Cr Antoniolli with preferences.

In fact, none of them have indicated that their "how to vote" cards will have either councillor on them.

Six candidates have said they will be recommending a "vote 1'"for themselves so, even amongst the non-councillor combatants themselves, it is unlikely that one of them will benefit from a block of preference votes.

With 11 candidates in the race it is most likely that the preferences will splinter all over the place and not favour any candidate to any great degree.

There is no evidence, as of yet, that any of the non-councillor candidates can become a "third force'"and be a genuine player in this election.

It is a tough ask when nine candidates are vying for votes other than those which will go to two incumbent councillors.

A ReachTEL poll showed recently that 41% of those quizzed would vote for someone who is not a sitting councillor.

Divide that by nine and it soon becomes clear that it will be hard for any of the nine non-councillor participants to be a "third force".

The electors of Ipswich will ultimately decide who they preference, but unless there is a trend across the board from Ipswich voters favouring one of the leading candidates it is likely that whoever polls the most votes on election day, before the initial preference count, will prevail.

It will be hard, without manning all 44 booths, for any candidate to get their preference message to the electorate so I expect the trend of electors not following how-to-vote cards will continue.

It is possible, of course, for a third placed candidate on primary vote to be bumped ahead of the two candidates above them via preferences. Once again, though, this would take an extraordinary block of preferences to flow in their direction. Not impossible, but highly unlikely one would suggest.

In the Lockyer state election in 2015 a total of 30% of the third placed ALP candidate Steve Lease's preferences exhausted.

My tip is that a high number of preferences in this mayoral by-election will "exhaust", meaning they won't ultimately be allocated at all.



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