Danyl’s Chart of the Day a few days ago had this chart saying..
So here’s the list results for the last four elections, but instead of calculating the percentage of votes each party received, I calculated the percentage based on the total number of voters on the roll for that election. So, in 2011, about 2.2 million people voted, but there were over 3 million people on the roll, and National won 34.5% of that second number. This gives you an idea of the fluctuating number of non-voters. (The columns don’t add up to 100% because I was too lazy to factor in the very minor parties).
And there it is in all of its glory with Labour being the 3rd largest party in 2011 and National the 3rd largest in 2002. In two of the last 4 election the second largest party is “enrolled but didn’t vote”.
You’ll also notice that the “mandate” that the right wing nutjobs seem to want to claim from the last election for National was less than 35% of those eligible to vote, and well less than 40% if you look at all of the parties in the coalition.
Danyl points out the problem with what I call the “Pagani fallacy” that appeared to govern Labour’s strategy last election.
Labour are probably losing votes to the Greens. But that’s dwarfed by the number of voters they’re losing to the ‘Don’t vote’ cohort. There are probably about 250,000 people who voted for Labour in 2005 who didn’t vote for anyone in 2011. We hear a lot about how Labour needs to woo non-university educated middle-aged white men who own their own businesses – Waitakere Man, ‘White van Man’ – and I’ve never quite grasped why a center-left party needs to chase after the most consistently right-wing, conservative demographic in the nation.
Trying to shift people who do vote from one side to another is hard work. National, Act, NZ First, and a lot of the fringe parties of the centre like United Future and the Maori party are competing for exactly the same voters.
As a left political party, you do it. But if doing so causes you to drop the votes by driving people into the non-voters then it is a negative sum game. That is exactly what I think that Labour did last election. They chased people who’d always vote in both their policies and their turnout strategies*, competed directly for those voters with other parties, and lost a pile of potential voters who couldn’t bear to vote for Labour or anyone else.
Quite simply the problem for the left is mostly how to get people interested in voting. That is mostly where Labour is dropping votes because they aren’t paying attention to where they won their electoral success from in the past.
Of course Danyl hasn’t pointed out the full horror of the numbers. If you dig through the electoral data, you’ll find the theoretical number of people are eligible to be enrolled as at the census prior to the elections.
[Update: The following section was incorrect as Andrew Geddis pointed out here.
... the “Electoral Population” in those statistics is NOT the same as the “eligible to be registered to vote population”. Electorates in NZ are drawn up on a total population basis – in deciding where the boundaries are to fall, the Representation Commission must include ALL people who live within those boundaries and keep them within particular “quota” figures. So, the Electoral Population includes all people under 18 (as well as others who are not able to register to vote) in that area.
It is estimated that 93.67% of persons entitled to be registered to vote are actually registered (see here:http://www.elections.org.nz/ages/electorate_all.html).
You learn something every day. Now corrected]
Have a look at this table derived from the electoral stats for party vote in 2011 (E9 part 1 data). But I’ll summarize the combined total at the bottom.
only 76.21% of the 2006 93.67% of the estimated eligible population based on the 2006 census were on the roll. Only 74.21% of those cast an eligible vote. And that meant that only 56.56% 69.51% of the eligible population actually voted in the 2011 election.
The actual eligible population is somewhat larger than it was at the last census in 2006. The 2011 census was called off by the National led government because of the Christchurch earthquake and it now scheduled for 2013.
|Party Votes and Turnout by Electorate|
|Electoral District||Enrolled Votes||Informals|
|Bay of Plenty||77.33||0.62|
|East Coast Bays||71.64||0.47|
|General Electorate Totals||75.53||0.80|
|Te Tai Hauāuru||58.70||2.42|
|Te Tai Tokerau||61.60||2.34|
|Te Tai Tonga||57.04||1.50|
|Maori Electorate Totals||58.23||2.19|
The best thing you can say about NZ democratic participation is that it hasn’t descended to the US levels. But it is heading there fast. But it means that the largest block of voters are supporting the don’t vote party.
* I haven’t had much time to write about the 2011 campaign. But Labour mostly used the lamest on the ground campaigns I have seen for some time. They were electorate campaigns that would have been good in 1990. Worse than useless for a party campaign under MMP.
A red-dot system based on canvassing data may be easy to compute. But it is a bloody disaster when it comes to getting people out to vote. You wind up trying to turn out people who were going to vote anyway and probably going to vote for you. Nice if you want to look like there is activity, but it is a strategy indicating a zombie from the neck up for anyone following it. And that strategy is institutionalized all the way through their software….