That great agent of the chaos of Australian politics Clive Palmer could give this federal election one final twist.
As we wrote last weekthe billionaire mining tycoon whose United Australia Party is spending more than any of its rivals has yet to turn its advertising blowtorch on Labor as it did in 2019. But after months of urging voters to put both Major parties and argued that Australians can’t trust Labor or Liberals, the UAP is preferring the Coalition over its ballot papers in some key fringe constituencies.
UAP voting procedures recommend preferring Liberal candidates over Labor to Bass, Chisholm and Reid, three of the five most marginal seats in the government.
Meanwhile, Palmer claimed the party was preferring labor in 45% of the voters and the Coalition in 55%. Although Liberals Dave Sharma (Wentworth) and Jason Falinski (Mackellar) are ahead of their independent challengers, Trent Zimmerman was placed in last place in North Sydney.
In Queensland, UAP voting arrangements are pushing Labor to Dickson (detained by Defense Minister Peter Dutton), Griffith (briefly detained by Labor’s Terri Butler), and the safe posts of McPherson and Groom. In Western Australia, all incumbents are preferred last.
But in Longman and Flynn’s key Labor goals, Liberals are ahead of Labor. This is also the case with the Labor fringe the Coalition is trying to win, including Parramatta, Dobell, Macquarie, Hunter and Gilmore.
Strategists and pollsters predict that a group of disgruntled voters will turn to Palmer, particularly after years of harsh pandemic restrictions and growing indifference to mainstream parties, so those preferences could be a big boost for liberals (the UAP and the Party liberals denied making a deal).
But it all depends on the UAP voters who actually follow the ballots on how to vote. And that’s a big if.
In general, voters do not follow the ballots on how to vote nearly as much as assumed. Those who have been in constant fall and in 2019 fewer than 30% of voters said they followed the cards, according to the Australian Election Study. This is especially true of UAP voters.
“Obviously, in the last election, the UAP preferred the Coalition everywhere and 35% of its voters preferred Labor,” said pseudologist Kevin Bonham.
There is a widespread belief in Labor circles that Palmer contributed to the devastating loss of Bill Shorten in 2019. But while the negative publicity of the UAP likely helped depress the Labor primary vote, it was only in one seat, Bass , which his preferences have helped push the Coalition over the line.
In these elections, the UAP’s vote is likely to be varied and unpredictable, drawn to the party through complaints about blockades, pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates. In particular it could do well in the outer suburb of Melbourne Angered by the Andrews government’s handling of the pandemic.
All of this makes it a little more difficult to get an idea of how religiously those voters follow the ballots on how to vote. And just like the people who vote for his party, Palmer is unpredictable.
In recent months, the UAP has changed its messages. After a focus on vaccines, warrants and lockdowns, Palmer’s ad speaks of “freedom” in more vague terms, while focusing on the cost of living and access to housing.
But it is still the memory of the COVID restrictions that animates its main supporters.
“Wherever we are campaigning, in train stations and shopping malls, everyone talks about freedom. This is the main problem, “UAP candidate for Reid Jamal Daoud said.
When asked why the party preferred the liberals, Daoud said he was trying to win the seat, saying there was no difference between the main parties.
“They are different sides of the same coin. They both participated in the removal of our freedom, the violation of our medical rights and the closure of the country, ”she said.
This points to a reason why Palmer, despite giving weak support to the Liberals, largely sticks to the script of attacking both major parties.
The pandemic brought him a new suburban base, whose anger at COVID restrictions has merged into anger directed at both major parties. Many I’m not happy on any hint of support for Labor or Liberals.
If Palmer works too hard for the government, he could alienate his new fickle crowd of angry voters just in time for election day.