The Queensland state election will be a turning point for One Nation.
But whether it shows Pauline Hanson’s party is in a death dive or its stocks are on the rise is yet to be seen.
The death dive theory has the edge.
Hanson was caught by surprise by Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to call a November 25 poll.
She was heading to India on a parliamentary delegation when she heard the news.
One Nation was forced to field fewer candidates and its campaign was not as organised as it could have been.
Hanson returned to the Sunshine State and took to the hustings – after a champagne launch – in the “Battler Bus”.
However, troubles with the vehicle put the campaign behind schedule.
Her party’s state leader Steve Dickson has been kept busy trying to sandbag his own Sunshine Coast seat.
The federal wheels fell off the campaign when Hanson had a falling out with new senator Fraser Anning, who quit the party shortly after being sworn in.
On his first day in Canberra, Anning – who replaced Malcolm Roberts after he lost his seat due to dual citizenship issues – and Hanson had a party room spat over staffing.
In politics, disunity is death.
A Galaxy poll for News Corp found two out of five Queenslanders were less likely to support One Nation after the split.
Voters will remember what happened after the 1998 state election at which One Nation took 11 seats.
Within 12 months the party had disintegrated.
One Nation needs to pick up state seats in Hanson’s home state if it is to survive nationally.
Polling in the final week of the campaign puts its statewide support around 17 per cent.
But there are pockets of stronger support in north Queensland seats such as Thuringowa, Whitsunday and Hinchinbrook, as well as the southern seats of Lockyer and Bundaberg.
A solid showing could give One Nation a foot in the door for the next federal election in seats such as Herbert, Dawson, Wright, Flynn, Hinkler and Blair, as well as the Senate.
Hanson, who witnessed a car-wreck of a campaign at the West Australian election but still picked up seats, says she’d be happy winning one seat in Queensland.
There are benefits in a weakened One Nation for Malcolm Turnbull, as he seeks to restore his own stocks.
It will give the coalition a better chance of bolstering its numbers in the Senate.
And it will raise hopes that LNP members in regional seats will be able to see off future challenges from the minor party.
However, undermining that is the LNP’s preferencing of One Nation in 49 seats and reluctance not to reject a possible minority government deal.
A poor result for Hanson will underline the belief that One Nation is a lightning rod for a minority of disgruntled voters – not a political party with which a stable government can or should ever be formed.