The art of political prediction

Written By: - Date published: 9:12 am, March 2nd, 2011 - 20 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:

To tell you the truth my interest in politics is at a pretty low ebb right now. But I can’t help but briefly noting these two fine examples of the art of political prediction.

Patrick Gower:

Quake means Key and National can win election outright

Could John Key and the National Government now get over 50% of the vote – the MMP “Holy Grail” that would allow them to govern alone? Previously the answer was “No”. But the Christchurch quake changes everything. A unique swirl of political events is emerging. The answer is now “yes”. …

Key was extraordinarily popular to start with. The quake is a national crisis that brings about the effects of “war-time”-style stable leadership – and the platform for Key to do it. Add to the mix that the Opposition leaders and parties are weak in comparison and will not be viewed by the public as having the strength and stability required. And if Key and National get it right the ultimate reward of unbridled power could be theirs. …

And, as the year wears on, if New Zealanders are looking for stability – at this stage only “National outright” can provide that. … So Key has all the cards on the stability front – he will continue to coiffure the optimistic image, against the politics of division of Peters/Harawira. …

Then Key and National have to pitch it right – asking for 50% can’t look arrogant. So the chase for 50% will be downplayed. But make no mistake about it. Key and National’s strategists want 50%, and believe they can get it come November 26.

Compare and contrast with Matt McCarten:

Harawira expulsion may be Key’s undoing

The political story of the week – which would have got far more attention if it hadn’t been for the tragedy in Christchurch – was the parting of ways between Hone Harawira and the Maori Party. …

A Labour Party strategist lamented to me that now Harawira was gone the Maori Party was in National’s pocket forever. This scenario was echoed by a senior National official, who gloated they had lanced the boil of Harawira and the Maori Party was now their long-term, docile and trouble-free coalition partner.

We should always be careful what we wish for. We just might get it. But it may not be what we thought it was. The expulsion of Harawira may well be John Key’s Achilles’ heel – one that takes him down in November.

Let me explain. Harawira now has a safe seat and will be returned in November. For the rest of the year he will run a campaign against the seabed and foreshore changes. But more threatening to the status quo is that he will run parallel campaigns against low wages, so-called welfare reform, mining, GST and privatisation. These issues will mobilise support among Maori and non-Maori working class. …

The Maori Party, on the other hand, needs to win back its four current electorate seats to be relevant. On current polling, Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makarau and Rahui Katene in Te Tai Tonga are goners and the party won’t get any party list seats. The likely outcome is them hanging on to just two seats.

I suspect Harawira’s new party will get one to three seats from his party list in addition to his own. As a consequence, even if the Maori Party leadership stuck with National after the election they would be neutralised by Harawira if he got other MPs in with him. Hell would freeze over before Harawira went with National.

But if that’s disastrous for National, it gets worse. That’s because for Sharples and Katene to keep their seats, they will need Harawira to ask his supporters to vote for them. What’s the price of that? The Maori Party endorsing Harawira’s party list? Meeting together after election day to agree on a joint negotiation with either National or Labour? …

Taking into account there will be more than 120 seats in the next parliament (in the event that the Maori Party wins more electorate seats than its party vote), the National Party, even with Peter Dunne and Act, will need 47 per cent of the party vote to win a majority. Last election they got 45.

Any takers for John Key sleepwalking to victory now?

Cuss and discuss…

All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.

20 comments on “The art of political prediction”

  1. Nick C 1

    “Even with Peter Dunne and Act, will need 47 per cent of the party vote to win a majority. Last election they got 45.”

    Well actually it was 49.5%, so there goes Matt’s theory..

  2. Craig Glen Eden 2

    Yes two sides to every coin both could be right but come election day one will be wrong at best.
    It seems hard to believe that National will get over 50%, while some maybe still smitten with Key people I talk with don’t like what National has done in many areas like for example the increase in GST, the Tax switch for the rich and National Standards in education all policy flops.

    Also Key and National now have history which is not looking so good.The next election will certainly be interesting thats foreshore. I suspect the Maori Party wont get the support they got last time which could leave National with no friends!

  3. higherstandard 3

    While these guys are just doing their job for the papers with opinion pieces, I’m like you and have about as much time for it as I do for Ken Ring.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    I read an exact opposite opinion on Harawira in The Listener (issue before he was expelled), saying that a New Left party will fracture the Left vote, pull voters away from Labour and Greens, and by carving off slivers of support that are wasted due to rounding, would result in National definitely winning (although they said in a coalition).

  5. gobsmacked 5

    I am a self-promoting pseudo-pundit with excellent sources, provided by the voices in my head. Other commentators bow down before me. I am the one who knows.

    Based on my unmatched expertise, I can confidently predict that Simon Power will be the next Prime Minister. To anybody who really understands politics, that much is obvious.

    Eh? What’s that?


    (facts, schmacts – don’t worry, you still get paid. More please – Ed).

    • Heh +1.

      Applies perfectly to most.

      There’s some expceptions though. With Kerre Woodham, for instance, I expect the voices are more elevator muzak. Micael Lhaws… I think it’s the sounds of dogs barking. Deborah Coddington, it’s bats… definitely bats.

  6. patriot_nz 6

    November is too far away to be able to accurately predict anything- for example which pundits foresaw the latest Christchurch earthquake and the effects that might have on the political landscape?

    But the New Zealand voting population are quite stupid enough/ nasty enough to vote in a majority National government so I wouldn’t rule it out. My hopes ride on Winston taking enough votes from the right to get across the 5% barrier and then stopping National selling and dismantling what remains of a once reasonably civilised country.

    Any left coalition involving the current Labour leadership would be lucky to last a term. People are so sick of people like Goff, King, Mallard et al. Those deadwood politicians in combination with a racist like Harawira would be a government hated by most. The best thing for Labour at the next election would be political annihilation and maybe a rebuild after that, but I am not holding my breath as it is a flaw of MMP that politicians who have had their day cannot be voted out by the public because of the party list.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      but I am not holding my breath as it is a flaw of MMP that politicians who have had their day cannot be voted out by the public because of the party list.

      That’s why you get masses of people to mobilise back into political parties. You don’t wait for a 3 yearly vote to make change at the top.

    • Craig Glen Eden 6.2

      “People are sick of Goff, King, Mallard et al” Really Patriot?People or Green Party members and who
      would the et al be, I cant wait to hear who they would be. Maybe National ministers like English, Smith, Ryall, Hone Carter or one of a new arrival like Power!

      Personally I have not even heard anyone talk about the likes of King, what about those nasty people in the Greens people sick of those dead beats to?

  7. deemac 7

    Hone “will run parallel campaigns against low wages, so-called welfare reform, mining, GST and privatisation.” Will he? My guess is he’ll do a bit of shouting but totally fail to build anything real. And yes I’d put money on it. (The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour).

  8. Jenny 8

    “Here are two fine examples of the art of political prediction which reach completely opposite conclusions. Take your pick…”


    R0B, To turn our favoured pick into a reality takes work.

    After all, God helps those who help themselves.

    Now that a peace deal has been brokered between the Maori Party and Hone Harawira

    The only thing keeping us all from ousting the Nat’s and getting a Labour led coalition is the political will to work together.

    Though, sectarian infighting has been the left’s Achilles heel, here at least is one example of the Greens, Labour and the Maori Party all harmoniously working together to oppose the National Party. (Admittedly this example of working together, was at the level of the grass roots activists. Though this action informs me, that if this example was adopted as a strategy by the leadership’s of these parties, it would be welcomed by these same grass roots activists and probably by the wider electorate as well.)

    Maybe just for a start, Labour, Greens and the Maori Party could agree on a project to work together toward some new, non-controversial, commonly agreed extra-parliamentary project of benefit to all three.

    Such a project could be a trial run for these parties successfully working together in a parliamentary coalition.

    Such a project could also help build trust between these potential coalition partners.

    I wonder what such a project could be?

    Here is my suggestion:

    As is well known, there is a large constituency that are removed from the political process, Maori and Polynesian are over represented in the figures.

    What if, The Maori Party the Labour Party the Greens and Hone Harawira put aside their other differences to agree to work together to empower this constituency, agreeing to work together around a massive and aggressive enrolment campaign especially aimed at reversing this statistic?

    How about a massive combined cross party enrolment campaign targeting this constituency, endorsed by Lab, Green, Maori Party (Possibly even NZF).

    As well as setting up the ground work for the possible working of these parties after the elections. A combined cross-party enrolment campaign by these parties could easily deliver the needed number of overhang seats that would make Matt McCarten’s scenario a certainty.

    If just the Maori Party and Hone’s Tai Tokerau and wider support group (only), were able to put aside their differences to work around this common project. They could well achieve, even on their own, the necessary numbers to tip the parliamentary majority away from National and ACT though their own efforts. This would increase the strength of their lobby when dealing with the bigger parties. (of course, if the Greens and Labour, also gave practical material support to this campaign, ie activists, funds, official public endorsement, publicity etc. then the Maori Party and Hone would be in return honour bound to give their support to a coalition of these parties).

  9. Salsy 9

    Its my view that the earthquake is the end of National. Key, i suspect knows this also, and despite his latest effort to generate a collective hatred momentarily away from our nations poorest to the rich (claiming WFF), he knows full well that a disaster of this magnitude has pushed him way too far outside the script. Key lacks the true compassion, an honest plan and the profound leadership needed to pull people back to CHCH. I suspect we will see a terrible diaspora, and the broken city fill with crime and dissolussionment long before election day.

    • Jenny 9.1

      Salsy said:

      ” I suspect we will see a terrible diaspora, and the broken city fill with crime and dissolussionment long before election day.”

      Sad but true Salsy, but it will be spun by the Nats and their lickspittle media that is all their own fault, they were degenerates to begin with, we must crack down on them.

      This has the benefit of painting the Right as the moral avengers and saviours of society.

      Lawn order will be the catch-cry of the right and National will romp home.

      Incarceration without bail for extended periods for previously minor criminal offending is already a reality a reality in Christchurch. Including incarceration without bail for a crime that didn’t even exist last week. ie. entering the cordon without permission.

  10. rainman 10

    Don’t see Key romping to victory that easily – most of my friends who went all Key-mad seem to have regained their senses and now aren’t so enthusiastic. Talk around the bbq is how he’s been a big disappointment – and I’m not referring to the die-hard Actoids who live on Planet Crazy and want him to complete the neolib destruction of NZ. Goff is seen as a decent, if somewhat insipid alternative… y’know, sorta maybe a bit centre-right if you look at him in the right light.

  11. Hone Harawira will be an effective when his mother stops clutching hold of John Keys arm.

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