The Epsom seat may be the difference between National winning or losing the next election. So the recent announcement that Christine Rankin will be standing there adds an extra degree of chaos which National may or may not appreciate.
She declared confidently this morning on Morning Report that she will win the seat but I regret that her confidence is misplaced. She referred to Conservative Party polling and said that the results gave her a chance of winning. She declined to release the numbers. She also claimed that ACT does not have a chance of winning.
I sensed a large amount of bravado in what Rankin said. The decision is a long shot, obviously the Conservatives think that they can beat a John Key message to the voters of Epsom to support ACT and somehow come through the centre. To be honest barring some sort of divine intervention there is not a chance that she will win. But she may affect the election in a way that I suspect is not intended.
There are three main groups of voters in the Epsom seat, National supporters who are willing to give their electorate vote to ACT, National voters who are not willing to give their electorate vote to ACT even if this means that they have to vote for Paul Goldsmith and Labour and Green voters, most of who would rather walk on broken glass than vote for anyone but their candidate. There are other groups such as people who actually support ACT but for current purposes I think that these can be ignored.
How much will Christine Rankin appeal to these groups? Briefly very little, some, and none whatsoever. National supporters willing to vote for the ACT candidate are obviously doing this at the request of John Key. Rankin and the Conservative party will have little if no appeal to them and I doubt she will be able to shift them. National supporters not willing to shift may be more likely to support Rankin, particularly those with a deeply conservative possibly religious view of the world. The number of Labour and Green supporters who would vote for Rankin you can probably count on the fingers of one hand. The best that can be hoped is that they will hold their nose, do a sign of the cross and vote for Goldsmith. A few people who have done this in the past have described
Will this save ACT? I doubt it. David Seymour is no Rodney Hide or John Banks in terms of his public persona and apart from his claim to fame in relation to his door knocking prowess has no discernible appeal. Michael Wood and Julie Anne Genter will show up his limited political skills big time.
So Rankin may increase Seymour’s chances. But at the end of the day I suspect that there will be a sufficient number of National supporters who refuse to go along with National’s dirty deal to prevent this deal from working.
This will be significant. Effectively marooning 3 to 4% of right wing vote may be the difference between National winning or losing. On election night I am sure that all eyes will be on Epsom.