Written By: - Date published: 4:48 pm, July 15th, 2014 - 50 comments
Categories: act, colin craig, conservative party, election funding, mana-party, maori party, MMP, national, nz first, peter dunne, Politics, same old national, united future, winston peters - Tags: coalition blues, colin james, michael wood, virginia anderson, voting
It looks like I’ll be able to head to the New Zealand First conference at Alexandra Park racecourse on the weekend as media. In this election the position of NZ First party members is probably going to be crucial for any coalition that forms.
Colin James in “The crowded field of would-be kingmakers” has some fun looking at coalition options this time around. You just have to laugh at his first few paragraphs…
Journalists’ ideal result for New Zealand First on September 20 is 5.01 per cent in the party vote on the night, with the balance of power, and 4.98 per cent in the final count two weeks later. If New Zealand First then requested a judicial recount, election uncertainty would make news well into October.
The best New Zealand First result for National would be 4.8 per cent, too low for a recount and swelling the wasted vote to 6-6.5 per cent, cutting the vote share needed for a majority to about 45.5 per cent plus David Seymour and Peter Dunne.
The best result for Winston Peters would be upwards of 5.5 per cent and bargaining power between two sides if John Key’s charm falls short of 47-48 per cent. New Zealand First has averaged 4.6 per cent in polls this year (4.2 per cent recently), so another term is likely, especially if Labour can’t climb out of its pit.
Certainly, Peters will talk up the prospects this coming weekend at the pre-campaign conference at Alexandra Park Raceway where he launched the party 21 years ago come Friday.
The point about the closeness of NZ First to the magic 5% threshold is crucial. As Dimpost said a couple of weeks ago.
Big difference for New Zelaand First. What we don’t know is whether the polls just prior to the 2011 election underestimated the level of support for New Zealand First or whether the teapot tapes saga swung voters from National to New Zealand First after the sample periods ended. Also, what impact will voter turnout have on that party’s chances of getting back in? He could get the same number of voters, but if turnout is higher still drop below 5%.
His polling bias corrected graph shows this at present. I think I have the legend right, I wish Danyl would provide a key. The poll bias corrected has a level of uncertainty in it. However it is probably less the than the consistent uncertainties that show up at election time between the various polling companies and the actual results. A adequate rough cut.
But even the non-bias corrected chart must worry the hell out of people who want to see NZ First fail this election. According to most of the comments from the right around here and most other blogs, it sounds like they’d prefer to not be in government if it means cuddling up to National. There were a lot of people who got badly fooled by National’s smear campaign fronted by Act’s Rodney Hide in 2008, and who still haven’t forgiven NZ First for surviving.
Based on past elections National are highly unlikely to retain their 50% polling coming into the actual election. They are no-where as high as they consistently were before the 2011 election or as the right were before the 2008 election. Come close to the election and on election night their vote contracts as the undecided, wavering, and uncontactable people make their decision plain. At present I’d guess that they will get between 43% and 46% of the vote depending on what happens in the next 67 days.
The Steven Joyce tactic of hoovering up almost all of the right vote into their monolithic party has left them with few solid coalition partners.
Only NZ First looks like getting over the 5% and they have to do it because they aren’t likely to win any electorate seats. They will alos be an uneasy partner for National.
But lets look at the other options for coalition partners for National…
In Ōhariu electorate a recent Tally Room assessment showed a 0.29% margin for United Future against Labour after the boundary changes are in effect. This is based on booth analysis from the last election. Arguably the selection of Virginia Anderson for Labour has provided a candidate who is aligned with the voters of that electorate, just as Charles Chauvel was. Brett Hudson for National seems like a weaker candidate than Katrina Shanks as a sitting list MP was last time.
The Tally Room assessment is
Peter Dunne’s political career, and the political survival of United Future, rely entirely on the result in Ōhariu. United Future has been polling so poorly that it would not even qualify to win a single seat, so without a successful Ōhariu campaign the party will be out of Parliament, ending Dunne’s 30-year career.
Labour will be campaigning hard to win Ōhariu, but may be hampered by the loss of Chauvel, who has increased the Labour vote from 20.4% in 2002 (when Chauvel was not a candidate) to 34.8% in 2011 (35.9% on the new boundaries).
Dunne has been in alliance with National for the past six years. It is not yet clear whether National will fight to win the seat, or if they will see a benefit in running dead to allow Dunne to retain his seat. If United Future (as polling has suggested) polls so poorly that they qualify for zero seats, his election in Ōhariu would effectively create a ‘bonus’ seat for the centre-right government, whereas a National candidate winning the seat would see the number of National list MPs reduced by one.
The National Party won almost 50% of the party vote in Ōhariu in 2011 (48.8% on new boundaries). Labour and Greens will be hoping to knock down the centre-right vote in 2014 if they are to have a hope of forming a centre-left government.
My guess is that it just depends on how well National can convince their remaining stubborn National voters (about 19.65% in 2011 based on the new boundaries) to flip to United Future. But based on the performance of Peter Dunne in recent elections, he doesn’t look that viable. Hopefully Labour will put some on the ground effort into that electorate to help their relatively inexperienced candidate.
Despite National making a pretty valiant attempt to be invisible to voters in the Epsom electorate in 2011 – see “Goldsmith removing Goldsmith signs” as the National candidate then and now removed his own signs.
He appears to be doing the same thing this time. As Michael Wood, the Labour candidate in Epsom, explains ina guest post at The Daily Blog.
Campaigning in Epsom requires a keen sense of the absurd. Here in its tribal heartland, the party of government, who came a narrow second three years ago, are nowhere to be seen. The incumbent party pretend that nothing odd is happening, and of are of course established masters in the art of wilful blindness, affecting confusion and distress at any association between themselves and the man who was until one month ago, their sole parliamentary representative and political lifeline.
Of course the amusing farce masks a grimier reality. ACT is a political corpse, a party of no value or dignity who exist only as an electoral prop. With no sense of irony, the ACT Party who speak the language of ‘pull your socks up’, ‘do it yourself’, ‘no handouts’, law of the jungle free-market capitalism, is on its knees begging to be gifted a parliamentary seat.
There is nothing else like it. Spurious and tiresome comparisons are made by the thin troop of defensive men who uphold ACT’s public honour these days – Anderton in Sydneham or Hone in Te Ta Tokerau they say are examples of similar strategic vote scenarios that show that ACT is simply ‘playing the MMP game’. Utter nonsense. There has never been a case of a party so weak and unelectable in its own right being propped up in an electorate by the otherwise dominant party. Consider this – in 2011, the ACT Party vote in Epsom was 2.5%. New Zealand First was a more popular party than ACT in Epsom in 2011, and there are six times more Labour Party voters than ACT Party voters in the electorate. Like a rotten borough, Epsom in 2011 was gifted to a party that otherwise had no future.
And on the ground people know it. The overwhelming sense that our campaign picks up from Epsom voters as we canvass them on the doorstep and at local shops is that a line has been crossed since 2011. Loyal National voters we speak with simply roll their eyes now at the mention of ACT. They are embarrassed by the association and simply want a return to an honest local electoral competition in which they are able to choose their own local representative on the basis of competence and fitness for the job.
Yep. I live across the border from Epsom. I’d say that “the fuck you National factor” in Epsom is now very very high after seeing the sitting Act MP John Banks dropping out of Parliament after being judged guilty in a campaign donations scandal. They rather liked Rodney Hide in 2005 and he worked like hell with a larger than life personality. But the Act candidate this time is viewed as being a colourless what’s-his-name.
At the 2011 election, a majority of National voters switched to vote for ACT for the electorate vote. A majority of Green voters, and a large number of Labour voters, likewise switched to vote for the National candidate.
It is not yet clear how willing the National Party will be to assist the new ACT leadership in retaining Epsom, or whether centre-left voters will prove more willing to vote tactically to knock out ACT – in 2011, more than twice as many voters cast votes for the Labour and Green candidates than the ACT-National margin.
One thing to bear in mind is that the ACT party vote has collapsed, compared to previous elections. In 2008, ACT’s win in Epsom brought in another four list MPs, and there was some expectation that the same could have happened in 2011. After the party only qualified for a single seat in 2011, and considering current polls, there is a high risk that a win for ACT in Epsom could fail to bring in any more list MPs, and the National Party may consider it not worth the effort to drag in a single ACT MP.
And of course there are Conservatives with Colin Craig. They aren’t bankers and company directors in East Coast Bays. I don’t think that regardless what directions National tries to give them, they simply won’t vote in large numbers for him. As Colin James says
Some think Colin Craig might help Peters into retirement by purloining some of his populist support. But Craig is not a populist in Peters’ blokeish-centrist way. He pitches a conservative-Christian line on social and moral issues, in effect stretching a conservative strand within National so far beyond the boundaries of National’s broad church that large numbers in that party won’t have a bar of him.
And Craig has acquired a difficult-to-shake media caricature of him as caricaturing himself as an oddball. His task at his Conservative party conference this coming weekend is to put on show people to whom a wider public than 2-3 per cent can relate.
Craig has also to give Key some wiggle room. Large numbers in the National party figure there is no choice but to give him East Coast Bays as insurance against the likelihood that Key plus Seymour plus Dunne do not make 61 seats.
And Colin James on the Maori party.
Of course, there is always the Maori party. Actually, there was the Maori party. Its two icons are going, it came third in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election and has trailed Labour in polls of Maori electorate voters. If Te Ururoa Flavell has the call on who governs and he goes with National again (which he kept open in his keynote on Saturday at the party’s tenth anniversary), even if at barge-pole length with cast-iron concessions, the party risks suicide.
The party was born negatively in anger at Labour’s foreshore and seabed legislation. On the positive side, it also responded to a logical wish for the Maori electorates to be Maori, not a Labour subsidiary. And it got from John Key a policy gain of substance in whanau ora, which is now established and would endure across a change of government.
But the party is unlikely to have a twentieth birthday. Labour and the Mana bit of Dotcom’s cash venture have stronger pitches now. If Labour could learn that the seats should be Maori seats that happen to be Labour and not the other way round it might re-attach voters back for a time.
Personally I think that Annette Sykes from Mana is likely to defeat Flavell. She got bloody close last time with only 7 weeks of campaigning after selection because she is such a strong high profile local candidate. Māori electorates these days are absolute hotbeds of tactical voting. The message of voting for electorate and party separately has embedded itself into the Māori roll voters to an astonishing degree.
While I’m sure that if they could get three Māori MPs off the seat, then they’d try that. But since that isn’t feasible it becomes a question of who they think will represent them in parliament, and the Flavell lost a lot of ground in 2011.
I don’t rate the Māori parties chances in the other seats. From what I have been hearing their campaigners have been deserting them for Labour or Mana with the standing down of their existing MPs.
I’ll bet that somewhere in National there is a now a plan that says “who needs bloody coalition partners?”. If enough vote gets wasted by parties failing to get to the threshold and failing to get an electorate seat, then a high vote for National would probably get them over the line through redistribution.
What they would need to do is to cripple NZ First so they got 4.8% and hoover up the remaining Act, United Future, and as much of the Conservative vote as possible. Then hope that the redistribution favours them.
But it really is too risky. They have tried all this before with their sockpuppets like Rodney Hide and hysterical mouthpieces in the blogs and media. Back in 2008 and 2009, I tried to tell the raving lynch mobs that they weren’t going to kill NZ First politically because they had a constituency. It was one that refreshed itself as ornery and stubborn cusses became grandparents in each decade and looked up from their working lives at their kids kids. Now that particular tactic barely worked in 2008, and it sure ain’t going to work again.
What National desperately needs to do is to finesse NZ First into a confidence level coalition or cross bench arrangement. But really how likely is that?
So having a look at the NZ First party activists en-mass this weekend is going to be really interesting. My pick is that after the dust settles Winston Peters will be heading where his party members will allow him to go. I think I’d like to get to know them a bit better than the few dozens of their supporters I know now.
They’re cynical and ornery critters. What in the hell are they going to be like in a group?