The Liberal National Party candidate in the knife-edge central Queensland seat of Capricornia says the popularity of mining magnate Clive Palmer may have hindered the coalition's chances.
Australian Electoral Commission figures show Michelle Landry trailing Labor's Peter Freeleagus by 140 votes in the Rockhampton-centred seat, with the Palmer United Party's Derek Ison on 7.9 per cent of the primary vote.
Ms Landry, who also ran in 2010, says Mr Palmer's high profile attracted voters.
"They were more voting for Clive than anything else. They certainly weren't voting for the candidate ," she told AAP on Sunday.
"They have had a huge amount of votes ... which is interesting considering we haven't even seen the candidate in Rockhampton."
Asked if the Palmer United Party's strong showing had hurt the coalition's chances of a clear victory in the seat, Ms Landry said: "That's probably true."
Ms Landry said Kevin Rudd's replacement of Julia Gillard as prime minister in June may have also stopped Labor from being routed in Capricornia.
"If Gillard had stayed in there, it would have been a total whitewash," she said.
"With Kevin, they did have a resurgence. That had turned around in the last couple of weeks."
Katter's Australian Party attracted a smaller 5.3 per cent of the vote, which Ms Landry blamed on a Labor preference deal.
"A lot of graziers and people like that were pretty upset with that little deal," she said.
"A lot of those votes did go to the Palmer party that would have gone to the Katter party."
Ms Landry has 35,345 votes and 49.9 per cent of the two-party preferred vote, compared with 35,485 for Mr Freeleagus.
Retiring Labor MP Kirsten Livermore had held Capricornia since 1998.