United Australia – where might their vote come from?


Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is running a big campaign in this federal election, with a big-budget national advertising campaign. It’s hard to know how well they will perform, but it’d be silly to ignore a party with such a big campaign.

In one sense the party is new, but it’s actually a successor to Palmer’s United Australia Party, who ran in the 2013 federal election. That campaign was similar, with a big-budget campaign spread over the whole country.

One thing I have noticed about Palmer’s campaign, both in 2013 and 2019, is the seeming lack of targetting in the spending of money. While I don’t have any solid data, Palmer appears to be spending his large budget fairly indiscriminately. While that partly makes sense if they are prioritising a Senate vote, but it does mean we have to look elsewhere to have a sense of where they may do best.

So I decided to map out how PUP performed in 2013.

Of course there has been changes to the electoral map since 2013. The changes have been minor in Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory, but changes have been more dramatic in the other five jurisdictions.

The map shows the PUP Senate vote in 2013, although you can also see the House vote by toggling. The party did slightly better in the House.

Palmer’s party polled 4.9% in the Senate and 5.5% in the House nationally.

The vote was highest in Queensland, where he polled just under 10% in the Senate and 11% in the House.

The party also did relatively well in Tasmania, with over 6%, and just over 5% in Western Australia. In contrast the party polled under 4% in the other three states.

When you zoom in on the map you will see the party polled best in outer-suburban and regional electorates, and a lot worse in the more urban seats.

The only area where Palmer cracked 10% in the primary vote was in the south-eastern Queensland region. Apart from a block of nine seats in the Brisbane area, he polled over 10% in every seat from Hinkler to the Gold Coast.

It’s entirely possible that the pattern will be different in 2019 – presumably some of that Tasmanian vote will instead prefer Jacqui Lambie’s own party, and Palmer does appear to be sitting further to the right than he did in 2013 – but it does give a sense of where his campaign has the most potential to pay off.

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  1. What we have noticed about all Palmer’s tv adverts. is that he makes statements but does not say WHERE the money is coming from, or HOW his party will change things. To me, rather empty statements with no meaning.Perhaps it does tell us how his party thinks, which is positive, but we need more than that.

  2. Annie Mac – Just like the major parties. The major parties take corporate donation, including from tobacco companies, and the ALP also take trade union members funds irrespective of if the member vote ALP or not. A lot of tradies are small business owners and may be inclined to not vote ALP.

  3. I voted on 29 Apr 19 and put all the women candidates ahead of all the men candidates. Guess who was first in Macnamara? The UAP candidate but after preferences are distributed the Liberal will probably end up with my vote if the Green does not do as well as the Liberal. The ALP candidate, a man, was last.

  4. The completely indiscriminate spending is something I noticed too. Huge expensive billboards on High St, Thornbury and at Windsor Station? Really? What’s the point of splashing big dollars in areas like that – even for Senate votes?

  5. Trent – When I was in the Liberals (1994-2003) a major billboard business owner was a party member and may still be. However business is business so I assume all advertisers my use his business services.

  6. In 2013 PUP actually had some candidates with political experience, and iirc their candidates in some of the Gold Coast seats had high local profiles and were campaigning on hot button local issues which helped their performance there. This time I’m not hearing much about them having strong local campaigns/candidates anywhere.

    It’s interesting to look at how Palmer’s campaign has changed since 2013. Back then he was, albeit comically and not credibly, trying to present himself as appealing to the centre, and indeed into 2014 we may remember some elements of the progressive establishment describing Clive as representing the ‘sensible centre’ (and indeed I heard one of the people who said that continue to defend that recently, citing policy concessions achieved from the famous ‘urgent dinner’ with Al Gore). This year it’s unbridled nationalism and unashamed crude populism. In a manner of speaking in 2013 he was trying to be Berlusconi, and in 2019 he’s trying to be Trump. He isn’t either, and I don’t think the apparent change of tack means any difference in the sort of voters he’s attracting. I think his 2013 voters were nonetheless largely that same pool that he’s now competing with the resurgent One Nation and other right-wing parties for. This year he’s got more competition, but he’s also spending more, and if the polls are any guide that’s kind of balancing each other out.

  7. I’m not questioning why an advertising business would accept his business, I’m questioning why he’d waste so much money putting expensive billboards in hipster neighbourhoods like Thornbury and Windsor that are just so far from ever supporting his party even if he plastered every building in ads and offered free smashed avo!!

  8. Trent – like it or not we live in a democracy. In Middle Park near the shops there was a Palmer billboard ad for a month up until the writs were issued. Near the end of that month the ad was defaced with the word C**T sprayed on it.

    We don’t see much graffiti vandalism in Middle Park as most of it locally (Macnamara) is in the Hebrew part called Caulfield were Liberal and Labor posters are attacked regularly but what can we expect from a people why support apartheid Israel.

  9. I don’t understand the relevance of your comments. When did I say we don’t live in a democracy????

    I was agreeing with Ben’s article that Clive Palmer is spending money indiscriminately instead of targeting it cleverly to areas he may actually have support, and using Windsor and Thornbury as examples.

    Are you saying that inner-Melbourne Greens strongholds are a better place for right-wing QLD parties to spend their advertising budget than rural QLD and conservative suburban seats?

    Because if that’s not actually what you’re saying, then I really don’t understand what you’re trying to disagree with, and I have no idea what Caulfield, Israel or graffiti have to do with my comment about UAP’s spending choices.

  10. I don’t think there’s much point trying to comment on the actual content of posts or topic of polling when almost every time I do, for some reason I have a squad of people try to turn my comment I to an argument about something completely different.

  11. Yep. Some people here are quite obviously a lot more interested in propaganda than psephology. It would be nice to see the site crack down more on the freeform soapboxing.

  12. Trent has a point why would Palmer be spending in suburbs where his support would be near on zero, not to say he couldn’t pick up a few disenchanted Liberals but they tend to be more to the left of the party so are more likely to go for an independent or a green or ALP depending on who the candidate is.

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