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Polity: The ENV debate: Some more data

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 am, July 11th, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: David Farrar, election 2011, election 2014, elections, john key, national, same old national, Steven Joyce - Tags: ,

Reposted from Polity.polity_square_for_lynn

As fellow anoraks will know, there is a bit of debate around about the political leanings of the people who voted in 2008 but not in 2011.

Are they right-leaning sympathisers, kept at home in 2011 by complacency? Or are they ex-Labour supporters, driven home in 2011 by despondency instead? The right andwer, of course, is “some of each.” But how many? And, most importantly, which group is bigger?

This matters because it helps us understand which bloc has more to gain from voter mobilization efforts in 2014.

In this post I present the David Farrar / Steven Joyce / John Key argument that 2011 non voters are a National-leaning bunch. I then show that a better look at the data undermines their claim.

The argument

National’s case is based on work done by “an anonymous reader of Kiwiblog” (read: National’s boffins). It has since been repeated by Joyce and Key at National’s conference.

They looked at the drop in turnout across all electorates from 2008 to 2011, and compared it to voting percentages in those electorates. Their idea is that if the biggest turnout drops happen in National-friendly areas, then probably it was National-friendly people doing the not-turning-out.

After excluding Christchurch electorates1 and Maori seats2, they come to discover that eight of the top ten electorates, ranked by turnout decline, are safe National seats. The top ten seats they identify are:

  • Pakuranga
  • Invercargill
  • Botany
  • Whanganui
  • Northcote
  • East Coast
  • Rangitata
  • Rangitikei

The two Labour-leaning seats rounding out this “top 10” list are Dunedins North and South. I’ll ignore them from, here on, to avoid clouding things up.

The evidence

As I have pointed out before, this analysis is often subject to the ecological inference fallacy. So it is here.

Turnout Nat Lab Grn Left(net)
Pakuranga -2747 -628 -1804 +751 -1053
Invercargill -2697 -523 -3631 1231 -2400
Botany -2568 -1606 -847 +521 -326
Whanganui -2414 -718 -3437 +1046 -2391
Northcote -2332 -564 -2253 +1246 -1007
East Coast -2089 -356 -2974 +1129 -1845
Rangitata -2037 +841 -3543 +1297 -2246
Rangitikei -2037 -596 -2575 +1827 -1417
Average -2365 -519 -2633 +1047 -1586

The table above shows the average 2008-2011 change in turnout, National vote, Labour vote, and Green vote across the National-leaning seats inside National’s top 103. The pattern is pretty clear, with turnout down a lot, National’s vote moving a little, Labour’s vote down by even more than the turnout, and the Greens making moderate gains.

On average, the net left-leaning losses in these National-leaning seats is about three times the National loss. That is telling you something.

Looking at the electorate-level party vote totals suggests a very different finding than the National hierarchy’s. Intuitively, it seems that Labour’s vote in its non-traditional areas collapsed in 2011, leaving it more dependent than ever on its safe havens in liberal suburbs and working class cities.

In this group, there are only two seats that fit National’s theory of “a big drop in a seat that votes National implies a big drop in the National vote.” One is Rangitata. The other, interestingly, Botany, where turnout dropped by 2,600, with National losing 1600 of them. This is pretty understandable when we remember that during the 2008-2011 term the local National member, Pansy Wong, resigned from parliament in disgrace. That kind of thing always drives voters away.

Overall, these disaggregated figures again show – even using National’s own logic that the new non-voters in 2011 are more likely to be left-leaning voters than right-leaning voters. This means the left has a lot more to gain than the right from mobilization in 2014.


 

  1. Because of earthquakes, and because Christchurch does not fit their theory
  2. Because Maoris are inexpicable to National boffins, and because the Maori seats also do fit their theory.
  3. Including the two Dunedin seats makes the trend even more pronounced

 

Also look at puddleglum’s long post on the same subject “National’s problem – more ‘glass ceiling’ than ‘complacency’”

14 comments on “Polity: The ENV debate: Some more data”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    My fear is that in 2011 the public had an issue that defined both parties and was extremely divisive. That being asset sales.

    A huge majority of the public (according to opinion polls, that I concede most people don’t actually accept as being accurate) were opposed to National’s policy to sell our assets. That was the defining issue in the election. Everyone knew that they had to turn out and vote Greens/Labour to stop the assets being sold.

    And notwithstanding that issue, people stayed at home therefore allowing National to sell everything.

    If they stayed home in 2011 when our assets were on the line, what is going to get them out of bed on wet September morning in 2014?

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      And notwithstanding that issue, people stayed at home therefore allowing National to sell everything.

      If they stayed home in 2011 when our assets were on the line, what is going to get them out of bed on wet September morning in 2014?

      They stayed home because Labour didn’t present themselves as a credible government, and by-and-large the public were still in love with National.

      Also National won the 2011 election because of the right-ward swing in Christchurch as a result of the earthquakes. National would not have gotten 61 votes in favour of asset sales if that hadn’t happened (they still may have formed the government, eg with MP or NZFirst, but they oppose asset sales).

      So the key differences this time:
      1. CHCH is by and large fucked off with National.
      2. The public by and large are realising National are liars and only in it for their rich mates.
      3. Labour is more organised. Still not roaring on all cylinders or where I’d like them to be, but ahead of where they were in 2011.

      • Enough is Enough 1.1.1

        I agree with you on point 1 (albeit from sitting in the North Island),

        However re point 2 & 3 I can’t really see National being seen in any worse light than they were in 2011, and as for Labour being more organised I am far from convinced.

        In 2011 Labour had a central message that resonated with the public. In 2014 there has been nothing more than a series of underwhelming and often bungled policy releases from an unpopular leader who spends most of his time defending himself.

        Compare that with the Greens coherent consistent message.

        I am not saying its too late and praying it is not. But Labour is in desperate need of central plank to their election campaign that stay at home voters will connect with and motivate them to vote.

        • swordfish 1.1.1.1

          In 2011 Labour had a central message that resonated with the public

          If they stayed home in 2011 when our assets were on the line, what is going to get them out of bed on wet September morning in 2014

          I think it’s important to understand that, although a significant majority of New Zealanders opposed asset sales (including over 40% of National supporters), quite a large minority of those opposing were – according to polls – mildly, rather than strongly against.

          More than one poll measured the degree or strength of opposition, but (after a very brief search) I can only find one at the moment. The Herald-DigiPoll of July 2011 found 35% strongly against asset sales and another 22% moderately against. A mere 27% favoured asset sales (either strongly or moderately) and the remainder were either undecided or had no opinion. So, the thing is, although opposition massively outnumbered support, far less than half the population felt strongly about the issue. Certainly not strongly enough to change their vote. As much as I wish it were otherwise, it wasn’t quite the (potentially) decisive, game-changing issue you suggest.

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10741727

          • Enough is Enough 1.1.1.1.1

            The election result quite clearly demonstrates its was not the decisive issue. That is kind of my point.

            In 2011 New Zealand was in a slump with next to no growth. Unemployment was very high. National was proposing very unpopular policy. There were political scandals (pansy Wong) showing how corrupt the government was.

            This was the kind of backdrop that would ordinarily see a government booted out, or at the very least loose support. The exact opposite occurred.

            The background is more favourable for National now (even though it is due to events they can not take credit for Chch) and Labour is floundering more than they ever have.

  2. red blooded 2

    I have to admit that I agree.

    ChCh voters were desperate for stability in 2011, and there wasn’t any real contest of ideas about how to handle the ongoing earthquakes and recovery plans, anyway. Many who are frustrated and despondent now still believed then that EQC and CERA would come through for them, over time. The CCC elections showed a swing away from this state of mind. I’m not entirely convinced by the “board of locals” approach that I heard a brief announcement about this morning, but I do know that there’s been a lot of simmering discontent about others imposing their priorities while Cantabrians have been locked out of democratic representation (even prior to the earthquakes, the Nat government’s moves against the regional council were deeply unpopular).

    Having said that, I’m waiting for a coherent, defining message about what it means to vote Labour this time. Education, equity and family, perhaps? The messages need to be more connected and the spokespeople need to be better briefed and more articulate. (Side point – I was very impressed by the leader of Young Labour on Back Benchers last night – as I was last year. She’s a savvy, committed young woman and a good communicator.)

    And the general public’s view of Nat? Despite all the ministerial bungling and gaffes, they are still seen as competent and united behind Team Key. I haven’t really heard a message from them – just “Trust us, we know what we’re doing.” Even the inaccurate claims aren’t challenged – e.g. “out of the red and back into the black” implies Labour ran deficits. If they keep saying it often enough, it starts to become the accepted wisdom…

    I’m not a defeatist, but I’m not as relentless upbeat as some on this site. What’s the core message? How can it be communicated simply, and adapted to fit different circumstances and strands of discussion? Labour is releasing plenty of policy, but it needs to be meshed together better.

    • Enough is Enough 2.1

      I agree entirely. I hope I am wrong but the attitude I get from many commentators is “she’ll be right, Labour is in good shape, a million odd people who don’t vote, will vote for us this time and the left will win”.

      Although I admire the confidence and relaxed attitude of many around here, I personally am shitting myself that we are sleepwalking to another humiliating defeat.

    • Enough is Enough 2.2

      I agree entirely. I hope I am wrong but the attitude I get from many commentators is “she’ll be right, Labour is in good shape, a million odd people who don’t vote, will vote for us this time and the left will win”.

      Although I admire the confidence and relaxed attitude of many around here, I personally am shitting myself that we are sleepwalking to another humiliating defeat.

  3. swordfish 3

    Nice, succinct analysis by Rob.

    But also see Puddleglum’s more detailed and comprehensive demolition of the official National Party position on 2011 non-voters…http://www.thepoliticalscientist.org/nationals-problem-more-glass-ceiling-than-complacency/

  4. swordfish 4

    Nice, succinct analysis by Rob.

    But also see Puddleglum’s more detailed and comprehensive demolition of the official National Party position on 2011 non-voters…http://www.thepoliticalscientist.org/nationals-problem-more-glass-ceiling-than-complacency/

  5. swordfish 5

    Nice, succinct analysis by Rob.

    But also see Puddleglum’s more detailed and comprehensive demolition of the official National Party position on 2011 non-voters…http://www.thepoliticalscientist.org/nationals-problem-more-glass-ceiling-than-complacency/

  6. swordfish 6

    Nice, succinct analysis by Rob.

    But also see Puddleglum’s more detailed and comprehensive demolition of the official National Party position on 2011 non-voters…http://www.thepoliticalscientist.org/nationals-problem-more-glass-ceiling-than-complacency/

  7. swordfish 7

    I liked my comment so much that I repeated the fucker 4 times !!!

    I might do the same for this one, too.

    • Enough is Enough 7.1

      The Standard machine must have liked yours better than mine. My comment was only regurgitated twice…

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