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Where does One Nation get its votes in WA?

The Western Australian state election, to be held in March, will be the first electoral test of One Nation since they won four seats in the Senate in last year’s federal election.

Since the party hasn’t been a significant factor in recent state elections, we can’t use past results to judge where they are likely to win seats. The only data we have is the booth results from the Senate ballot from the last federal election.

I’ve taken those results and distributed them into the state electorates used in the upcoming election.

One Nation polled 4% in the Senate in Western Australia. In comparison, the most recent state Newspoll has One Nation on 13%, and other polls have put the party at over 10%.

This map shows the vote for each state electorate:

Unsurprisingly, One Nation does better in regional areas. The ten best seats are all outside of Perth, and every seat outside of the metropolitan region saw a One Nation vote of over 4%.

This gives One Nation a significant advantage in the Legislative Council race, since votes in regional areas are worth a lot more.

Approximately three quarters of the state’s population lives in the urban area, and this population is divided into three upper house regions, represented by 18 MLCs. The remaining quarter is also represented by 18 MLCs. If their vote holds at its current levels, One Nation’s concentrated regional vote could give them a swag of seats.

This table shows the One Nation vote in each upper house region at the 2016 election, and what that vote would be if it was scaled up from 4% to 13%.

Region 2016 vote (4%) 2016 vote adjusted 13%
Agricultural 6.87% 22.33%
East Metropolitan 3.86% 12.55%
Mining and Pastoral 8.31% 27.01%
North Metropolitan 1.99% 6.47%
South Metropolitan 2.94% 9.56%
South West 6.51% 21.16%

This is an imperfect way to project support – Senate votes have limited value – but if true this would suggest that One Nation would easily win three Legislative Council seats, with a good shot at winning a seat in East Metropolitan region too.

This reflects the results of the 2001 election, when One Nation won a seat in each of the three non-metropolitan upper house regions. In Perth, One Nation polled best in the east and worst in the north, and that pattern was still true in the 2016 Senate vote.

As for the lower house, One Nation never won any seats in Western Australia at its previous peak in 2001, but did come in the top two in multiple seats, most of which were regional seats held by the Nationals.

Here is the list of the ten seats with the highest One Nation vote at the 2016 federal election:

Region Margin 2016 vote (4%) 2016 vote adjusted 13%
Kalgoorlie NAT 4.1% vs ALP 9.75% 31.69%
Pilbara NAT 11.5% vs LIB 9.39% 30.52%
North West Central NAT 9.6% vs LIB 8.71% 28.31%
Murray-Wellington LIB 12.0% 8.57% 27.85%
Collie-Preston LIB 3.0% 7.97% 25.90%
Moore NAT 5.9% vs LIB 7.37% 23.95%
Geraldton LIB 10.9% vs NAT 7.21% 23.43%
Bunbury LIB 11.8% 7.01% 22.78%
Mandurah ALP 7.7% 6.87% 22.33%
Central Wheatbelt NAT 8.8% vs LIB 6.77% 22.00%

If the One Nation vote is as high as recent polling has suggested, the party could poll well over 20% in a few key seats and could be a contender, depending on how preferences flow.