There can be no clearer message about what type of campaigning pays dividends for Labour than the images from Keith Ng’s party vote page. [Upate: I misunderstood this graphic at first – it is of electorates where Labour’s Party vote exceeded National’s. r0b] The islands of red are:-
Obviously, I’ll have to wait until December 10 and the special vote values before I get into the numbers. But it is striking.
With the exception of the three M’s, the other elections are seats that should have moved demographically over the last decades, but don’t. Lets look at the four electorates that are not the 3M’s. They are the electorates that concentrate almost all of their efforts on local campaigning organisation. These days they target the party vote rather than the electorate vote.
Retention of the support of the people that vote for your party is probably the most effective campaign tool that the Labour party has. It allows you to survive the hard times in the political swings. These are also the 4 electorates that before this election had the most canvassing information about their constituents. I’d imagine that there are others now – I know of a couple.
Mt Roskill has had the emphasis that way ever since Phil wound up in the wilderness in early 90’s under a succession of volunteers. Mt Albert had that long before I started working there in the early 90’s. Rongatai’s organisation has been strong for Annette King with the redoubtable Lloyd Faulk making sure everything worked. Dunedin North has been working for Pete Hodgson with a strong electorate team playing the numbers.
I don’t think that there is much effort wasted in waving bits of Corflute at passing motorists in any of these electorates. They concentrate on running canvassing phone banks and door knocking all the time including in the non-election years. Canvassing data is carefully conserved, punched including the date, and don’t damn well lose lose the data when volunteers leave.
They have databases of canvass data for voters that goes back decades because they keep updating it and they make sure there is sufficient continuity in the local party organisation to use it. Of course it helps that there have been a strong continuity of MP as well. But that is the case with many electorates that have gone below the blue tide. They have canvassing data on a significant proportion of their electorates and they use it intelligently.
And before anyone asks, Mt Albert is not demographically a “natural Labour seat” and haven’t been for quite some time. Probably since I was a kid there. It has gentrified long ago, even before the infill housing filled it in the late 90’s. Mt Roskill isn’t particularly either. From what I know of the Dunedin North and Rongatai electorates they have been gradually changing away from “natural Labour” electorates for a while.
In my opinion, the current database is a flawed incomplete system that hasn’t really bothered to be designed with the best of Labour’s expertise. I was wincing on election day looking at exactly the same frigging mistakes I made seven years ago when building teh first web based systems for the party. The targeting systems absolutely suck, the pages of targets were designed by someone who was more interested in conserving trees than effective results, and the voting intentions information that can be collected was designed by someone who has no understanding of how to do micro segmentation marketing. But it does collect information and hold it outside of the vagaries of volunteers lives.
It should be the kernel* for collecting and retaining information and ensuring continuity in electorate information that the four electorates holding against the blue tide got to decades ago. It mightn’t be glamorous or fast or particularly soothing for the egocentric political types. But it is the technique that works for the party over the long term.
I’d have put this observation through the party organisation in their review. However over the years I have discovered that it really isn’t worth the effort of making observations about operations. It tends to fall into a large black hole of ignored experience. The party channels tend to be far too sclerotic to pass information to electorates. Hopefully that should be on Moira Coatsworth’s review of the party organisation this year as to why valuable experience doesn’t pass crossways through the party.
I know that some in the Labour party don’t want to hear it (because I have ineffectually been yelling it for more than a decade) – but I told you so.
* So long as I don’t have to use it – it is primitive.