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Why QLD Winning Origin Is Bad News For Turnbull's Election Chances

An investigation of footy and politics.
Malcolm Turnbull will hope he can break a historic politics-football hoodoo.
Malcolm Turnbull will hope he can break a historic politics-football hoodoo.

The second game of the State of Origin rugby league series will go down on Wednesday night, with Queensland enjoying a 1-0 lead and looking to wrap up their 10th series victory in 11 years.

But it won't just be the 7.5 million New South Welshmen who are sweating on the result, with the series potentially sealing the fate of the election and relegating Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals to a one-term government.

Let us explain.

Since State of Origin officially started in 1982, there have been 12 years which coincide with election polls. Of those, ten have included match-ups between leaders from NSW, Queensland or Victoria. For the purposes of this analysis, we're lumping Queenslanders and Victorians together as QLD, with four Maroons stars (Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, the injured Billy Slater and current South Sydney player Greg Inglis) originally hailing from the Melbourne Storm, and because the two states are united in their hatred for NSW.

Out of those ten years, the winning Origin team came from the state of the election-winning leader EIGHT times -- an 80 percent strike rate. The only exception? When NSW's Tony Abbott beat Queenslander Kevin Rudd in 2013, the year the Maroons won their eighth series in a row, their last before NSW finally broke the streak in 2014.

Dejected Blues player during QLD's game one win
Dejected Blues player during QLD's game one win

Let's go through it. Remember, we're lumping Queensland and Victoria together:

  • 1983: Victorian Labor leader Bob Hawke won the election, Maroons won the series 2-1. Tick.
  • 1984: Hawke won again, Maroons won 2-1 again. Tick.
  • 1987: Hawke again, beating NSW Liberal leader John Howard, as Maroons won 2-1. Tick.
  • 1990: Hawke AGAIN, but Blues won 2-1. Cross.
  • 1993: NSW Labor leader Paul Keating won the election, Blues won 2-1. Tick.
  • 1996: NSW Liberal leader John Howard won the election, Blues won the series 3-0. Tick.
  • (We discount the 1998 and 2001 election, with NSW's Howard versus Kim Beazley of non-rugby league state Western Australia both times)
  • 2004: Howard won again, as the Blues took the series 2-1. Tick.
  • 2007: Queenslander Kevin Rudd won the election, as the Maroons won 2-1. Tick.
  • 2010: Victorian Labor leader Julia Gillard beat NSW's Tony Abbott, as QLD won 3-0. Tick.
  • 2013: the only other exception to the rule, as Abbott won the election over QLDer Rudd, but the Maroons took the victory 2-1. Cross.

"Sport is a metaphor for life," Turnbull declared on a visit to the Penrith Panthers NRL facility in March, but he will be hoping a Maroons win isn't a metaphor for his political life.

Queensland are already up 1-0 in the best-of-three series, and will be looking to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in Brisbane on Wednesday. Turnbull's opponent, Bill Shorten, is a proud Victorian. While he has had some issues properly articulating his affection for Queensland -- before Game One, he said he was backing "the Storm" in the Blues vs Maroons game -- he is now a fan member of the Melbourne Storm and will no doubt be barracking on Smith, Cronk and the rest.

Turnbull has nailed his colours to the mast as well:

With QLD looking rampant and ready to clinch the series in Brisbane, Turnbull will be hoping the Blues put in a good fight -- history is against him, here.

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