Analyst: Nicholls, Emerson and Springborg could lead

REGIONAL MPs could play a vital role in choosing the next premier if the LNP wins and Campbell Newman loses his seat at the January 31 election.

An election analyst believes Tim Nicholls, Scott Emerson and Lawrence Springborg are all in the running to be premier if that happens. However, the post-election party make-up could be vastly different.

Griffith University politics lecturer Dr Paul Williams said many Brisbane LNP MPs, Mr Newman included, were unlikely to hold their seats - meaning a more traditionally National Party make-up of the LNP.

He said with the current mix, Mr Nicholls had the numbers to become premier if Mr Newman lost. But that could change if a number of Brisbane LNP seats fell.

"What you expect is more Brisbane seats to go to Labor," Dr Williams said.

"They're currently held by more traditional Liberal members of the LNP, so if they fell an LNP government would probably have a more National Party feel to it.

"So while Nicholls has the numbers at the moment, that could all change depending on the make-up of the party after the election."

Dr Williams said he expected Labor to gain around 25 seats but did not expect much change in rural Queensland.

"We wouldn't see many seats change hands west of the Great Dividing Range," he said.

He said Brisbane, Ipswich and north Queensland were shaping as the state's key battlegrounds.