- 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: polity, turnout
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.
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:
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.
As I have pointed out before, this analysis is often subject to the ecological inference fallacy. So it is here.
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.
Also look at puddleglum’s long post on the same subject “National’s problem – more ‘glass ceiling’ than ‘complacency’”