There has been a rather patronising meme running in recent weeks that voters who previously voted National did so because they wanted to make sure Labour didn’t want the Greens to be in government. I was rather amused by this when reading the post-election coverage.
I’ve gotten less amused over the last weeks. The usual political idiotic ‘pundits’ have been emulating dung beetles pushing this crap uphill ever since. Since these are also the same kinds of political morons who seem to think that political parties own their supporters, or that they can make up political ‘conventions’ about who NZ First should have gone into government with last election, or any number of other self-promoting reasons why they’re not getting traction amongst voters.
Henry Cooke did a reasonable analysis of how much of a crock of shit it was. Since it expresses just about all of the crucial factors – I’ll do a abnormally large quote from it
This is the case with the theory currently being circulated by some Federated Farmers branch presidents and others that a large contingent of the rural vote backed Labour in order to keep the Green Party from being needed to govern.
At this point there is no evidence this happened at sufficient scale to seriously change the election result.
But the theory is very useful for people in the sector and on the political Right who need to explain why a Government supposedly at war with the regions got so much support from them – and to pressure Labour to not give the Green Party an inch of power.
Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there were people who did vote this way strategically and will be on their way to write an email to me right now. There could even be thousands of them.
But whether there are tens of thousands is another prospect completely – the kind of numbers needed to really swing an election. (It is also completely possible that a large number of the Green Party’s votes came from Labour voters voting strategically, of course.)
This could be the case. But at this point there is no real evidence for it.
University of Auckland political scientist Dr Lara Greaves said voting intention was often a lot less complicated than people would like to think.
“Most people probably voted for Labour because they wanted to vote for Labour,” Greaves said.
She is part of the team that runs the New Zealand Election Study, a giant post-election survey that explores voter intentions. (The survey is being conducted for the 2020 election currently and has been running for decades.)
Greaves says the idea many voters are switching from National to Labour is not at all that surprising, as most voters don’t rate themselves as particularly ideological.Stuff: Election 2020: There is no evidence National voters backed Labour to keep the Greens out
That pretty much sums up the actual political and voting position. I’d add that what actually counts in politics is three things. How many seats that each party actually has in Parliament after the final results get published in a week. Which of those parties want to work together to support Bills becoming Acts, and having an eye on how to win the next election so they can carry on moving their agendas forward.
For the voters, we elect parliaments to govern our laws and regulations. We usually get a pretty good idea about where the parties are at before elections with what they say their objectives and goals are, and based on their past performances. We tend to reward poor or shambolic performances with what we collectively gave the National and NZ First this time – reduced number or no parliamentary seats. We give seats to those political parties who give better performance for our varying requirements – in this election Labour, Greens, and even Act.
When you look through the past NZ Election Surveys and the other information like demographics and movements in particular polling places. This is the pattern you see. Most voters aren’t ideological. They vote for what they see as being the best for themselves, their friends, their families, and their society – not only in the current election but also going forward into the future.
I know that is how I vote. Mostly I vote Labour, but my vote is up for grabs every election. My first vote was for the Values party (a precursor of the Greens) back in 1978, and I party voted Green in several of the past elections simply because I feel the need to keep them in Parliament. But mostly I party vote Labour as I did earlier this month.
I didn’t think that the Greens needed survival support this time – and I was right. I suspect that in the next election I’ll be helping Helen White win the Auckland Central electorate seat because I think that Greens need a lesson in what it costs to hold an electorate seat, and I’d prefer my neighbours had a good long-term electorate MP.
None of my voting behaviour or any of my political work is based around what is good for me (getting involved in electorate campaigns certainly isn’t). I have a lot of choices about what I could do, and I’m not crippled like some people with an obsession for money and possessions. So I choose to vote and work for my society and where it needs to head in the long term.
I do this in my work life as well. I choose to work creatively in industries pushing technology exports as a software engineer. I chose that long ago after working in manufacturing, farming and the army. I saw decades ago that as providing the best use of my time both for me and for my society.
I’m always proud to see that the majority of adult voters in this country, mostly even the ones I disagree with, seem to vote and frequently operate in a similar way – for our collective futures.
I’m also pretty confident that both Labour and the Green party MPs and their supporters will support some level of cooperation in the coming government. We’ll find out sometime on Sunday when the Green membership will vote on whatever has been hammered out.
After all, we need to keep the pressure on those ideological extremists who keep winding up in Federated Farmers to stop pushing shit into the rivers and into our collective societal memes.