OPINION: Congratulations to all candidates contesting Sunshine Coast seats in today's state election.
It takes courage, time, energy and money to participate.
Whatever their politics, all candidates I've had the pleasure to speak with have been genuine in their views and realistic about their chances.
Without people willing to subject themselves to the demands and scrutiny of the election process we would not have the choice a robust, dynamic democracy requires.
Who's going to win it?
It will be a roller-coaster ride but I'm convinced, and have been since the campaign's start, that Labor will secure government in its own right.
The magic number for that is 47 but don't be surprised if Labor finish somewhere between 49 and 52 seats.
Expect Labor to improve its position significantly in the south east picking up potentially three seats on the Gold Coast including Bonney, Gaven and Currumbin and all those held by the LNP in Brisbane except for Clayfield and Moggill.
Boundary changes have hurt the LNP in Brisbane to a greater degree than Labor with key shadow ministers Ian Walker in Mansfield, Tim Mander in Everton and Scott Emerson in Maiwar all behind the eight ball since the election was called four weeks ago.
Labor is on track to retain all its marginal metropolitan seats and in recent days has gone from their defence to an all-out attack on those held by the LNP.
One Nation simply won't factor in any of those contests. The Premier's mantra that a vote for the LNP was a vote for One Nation in government has had devastating effect in city seats horrified by the prospect and where the Hanson vote has never been much above 4%.
While Labor will gain ground in the south east it will lose some in the regions which is why they have been the Premier's focus.
Expect One Nation preferences to play a role in a number of seats across Queensland, particularly given the decision to place sitting members ahead of only the Greens.
It's one that has the potential to elect Labor candidates over the LNP and is why there has been the pre-poll presence in Maroochydore, Caloundra and Glass House of orange shirted members of Rite ON - the lobbying arm of the ultra conservative Safer Communities - handing out How to Vote cards formatted to look like those being distributed by One Nation but with Labor last.
The tactic may save LNP members Andrew Powell and Mark McArdle.
Glass House appears Labor's best shot of winning its first Sunshine Coast seat since 2006.
But don't discount potential Labor wins in Caloundra to Jason Hunt who is widely-regarded as a hard working, nice guy and in Ninderry where Bill Gissane has a similar appeal.
Independent Sandy Bolton ran a close second for Noosa mayor in 2016 securing 11,000 votes and will prevail this time over sitting LNP member Glen Elmes who is suffering from voter fatigue after five terms and internal branch dissatisfaction.
Mark McArdle (LNP) may hang on in Caloundra but this one will be close.
Where Peter Wellington's vote goes as much as One Nation preferences will have a real impact on outcomes in Nicklin and Ninderry. He won strong support for his "number every box and put the LNP" last campaign in 2015 and has consistently seen off big-spending campaigns by that party.
The Wello Army votes have to go somewhere and that would appear more likely to be to Labor or One Nation than the LNP.
Marty Hunt (Nicklin) and Dan Purdie (Ninderry) are both strong and well-credentialed candidates but neither should be presumed certainties.
In Maroochydore, as previously stated, Fiona Simpson should be returned with a reduced majority in what is likely to be her last term after a long career.
Buderim being Buderim it will elect the LNP's Brent Mickelberg. One Nation leader Steve Dickson has a strong support base and has been tireless since defecting from the LNP but that won't overcome the backlash against his perceived disloyalty.
The prospects of the party he hoped to lead in minority government have cooled in the back half of the campaign and may leave it with as few as four seats in the new Parliament.
It's going to be a long night that should leave outcomes in key seats unknown before Sunday or even Monday next week.
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