From September 12th Australians registered to vote will start to receive their ballot papers for the upcoming same–sex marriage postal plebiscite. This national vote is different to a referendum, which has the power to change the constitution on marriage equality. The plebiscite has been likened to a survey to establish whether the majority of Australians would support the motion.
Using Hitwise data we look at what people are searching for, and the audience interested in the plebiscite vote.
1) What is a plebiscite?
The term ‘plebiscite’ has received a lot of press attention over the past month, but despite this Hitwise data shows Australians are unclear what it means. ‘Plebiscite meaning’, ‘What is a plebiscite?’ and ‘define plebiscite’ all appeared in the top ten variations for ‘plebiscite’, making up 8% of searches. These variants clearly highlight confusion around what the vote will mean.
Top Search Variations for ‘Plebiscite’
2) Last minute surge to enrol
The deadline to register for the postal vote was August 24th and the Australian Electoral Commission described the influx of new voters as“extraordinary”– with 1 million people either enrolling or updating their details.
Hitwise data shows a clear increase in visits to the AEC website after the plebiscite announcement on August 10th, eclipsed by a last minute influx by voters wanting to make sure they were registered. In fact, there was a staggering 550,826 Total Visits to the site on deadline day.
Daily Total Visit to AEC site
Looking at the search terms driving traffic to the AEC site shows visitors also wanted to make sure their postal vote was sent to the correct address, with ‘AEC update address’ being the second most successful term, making up almost 5% of search clicks.
Top Search Terms to AEC site
3) Understanding the audience interested in the plebiscite
Looking at the audience visiting the AEC over the past month shows 53% were aged 34 and under. 18-24 year olds were the most over-indexed age group, they were 67% more likely to visit the site.
Additionally, the Mosaic Groups to over-index most were Independence & Careers and Books & Boots (young professionals and students), which correlates with the age groups.
Age Group breakdown of visitors to AEC site
Politicians often struggle to engage and mobilise young voters, as seen with the Brexit vote in the UK, but marriage equality is an issue where they want to be heard.
The AEC was able to reveal the surge in voters was driven by young people, but Hitwise data provides a clearer view of those wanting to cast their vote in the upcoming plebiscite by understanding what else they do online.
Most over-indexed sites visited
The audience visiting the AEC in the past month show a preference towards the ‘yes’ campaign. They are also more likely to be interested in creating social change, shown by the appearance of petition site change.org. Finally, satire and humour are high on their agenda as they are 5.8 times more likely to visit Betoota Advocate and 4.7 times more likely to visit Know Your Meme.
The postal vote will close on 7th November. Will the surge in interest and registrations from young voters be enough for the ‘yes’ vote to win and keep marriage equality high on the political agenda?
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