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Poll washout in Sunshine state

Nielsen's John Stirton decodes the latest poll figures from Queensland. Labor hoped to gain momentum up North, but the numbers are heading South.

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The most ominous finding for Labor in today's Age-Nielsen Poll of Queensland voters isn't that Kevin Rudd is well behind in his home state, with a primary vote that is less than was the case in the 2010 election.

It isn't that Queenslanders, who we assume have a higher regard for their man than other Australians, see him as less trustworthy than Tony Abbott.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrives in Brisbane on Monday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrives in Brisbane on Monday. Photo: Andrew Meares

And it isn't that 72 per cent of those surveyed expect a Coalition victory on Saturday.

No, it is that almost two-thirds of Queensland voters decided how they are going to vote before Rudd returned to the prime ministership in June.

If this is the case in Queensland, the place Kevin calls home, the likelihood is that it is even more pronounced in the other states.

It suggests that Rudd's hope of cutting Abbott's lead in the final week is misplaced and that his passionate call to the true believers at Sunday's launch may have come too late.

It also suggests that Julia Gillard's decision to give the electorate certainty by nominating September 14 as election day early this year was a catalyst for voters making up their minds and tuning out.

The one ray of light for Labor is that, on one best-case scenario that flows from the results (a two-party preferred vote favouring the Coalition of 53-47), Labor could still pick up between one and three seats in the Sunshine State.

That assumes the preferences of the minor parties that will have much more influence in Queensland flow to Labor and that Labor's marginal seat strategies are better than the Coalition's.

The truth, of course, is that Labor needs an even better result in Queensland to offset expected losses elsewhere, notably in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Little wonder then, that Abbott is once again casting the election as a referendum on the carbon tax, on the basis that Labor and the Greens should respect his mandate in the event of an emphatic victory.

Little wonder, too, that Rudd is campaigning as if there is no tomorrow.

The worry for Labor, underscored by this poll, is that those whose votes he needs are not paying attention.