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The biggest party are non-voters.

Written By: - Date published: 4:06 pm, February 24th, 2012 - 25 comments
Categories: election 2011, elections - Tags:

Danyl’s Chart of the Day a few days ago had this chart saying..

So here’s the list results for the last four elections, but instead of calculating the percentage of votes each party received, I calculated the percentage based on the total number of voters on the roll for that election. So, in 2011, about 2.2 million people voted, but there were over 3 million people on the roll, and National won 34.5% of that second number. This gives you an idea of the fluctuating number of non-voters. (The columns don’t add up to 100% because I was too lazy to factor in the very minor parties).

And there it is in all of its glory with Labour being the 3rd largest party in 2011 and National the 3rd largest in 2002. In two of the last 4 election the second largest party is “enrolled but didn’t vote”.

You’ll also notice that the “mandate” that the right wing nutjobs seem to want to claim from the last election for National was less than 35% of those eligible to vote, and well less than 40% if you look at all of the parties in the coalition.

Danyl points out the problem with what I call the “Pagani fallacy” that appeared to govern Labour’s strategy last election.

Labour are probably losing votes to the Greens. But that’s dwarfed by the number of voters they’re losing to the ‘Don’t vote’ cohort. There are probably about 250,000 people who voted for Labour in 2005 who didn’t vote for anyone in 2011. We hear a lot about how Labour needs to woo non-university educated middle-aged white men who own their own businesses – Waitakere Man, ‘White van Man’ – and I’ve never quite grasped why a center-left party needs to chase after the most consistently right-wing, conservative demographic in the nation.

Trying to shift people who do vote from one side to another is hard work. National, Act, NZ First, and a lot of the fringe parties of the centre like United Future and the Maori party are competing for exactly the same voters.

As  a left political party, you do it. But if doing so causes you to drop the votes by driving people into the non-voters then it is a negative sum game. That is exactly what I think that Labour did last election. They chased people who’d always vote in both their policies and their turnout strategies*, competed directly for those voters with other parties, and lost a pile of potential voters who couldn’t bear to vote for Labour or anyone else.

Quite simply the problem for the left is mostly how to get people interested in voting. That is mostly where Labour is dropping votes because they aren’t paying attention to where they won their electoral success from in the past.

Of course Danyl hasn’t pointed out the full horror of the numbers. If you dig through the electoral data, you’ll find the theoretical number of people are eligible to be enrolled as at the census prior to the elections.

 

[Update: The following section was incorrect as Andrew Geddis pointed out here.

… the “Electoral Population” in those statistics is NOT the same as the “eligible to be registered to vote population”. Electorates in NZ are drawn up on a total population basis – in deciding where the boundaries are to fall, the Representation Commission must include ALL people who live within those boundaries and keep them within particular “quota” figures. So, the Electoral Population includes all people under 18 (as well as others who are not able to register to vote) in that area.

It is estimated that 93.67% of persons entitled to be registered to vote are actually registered (see here:http://www.elections.org.nz/ages/electorate_all.html).

You learn something every day.  Now corrected]

Have a look at this table derived  from the electoral stats for party vote in 2011 (E9 part 1 data).  But I’ll summarize the combined total at the bottom.

In 2011, only 76.21% of the 2006  93.67% of the estimated eligible population based on the 2006 census were on the roll. Only 74.21% of those cast an eligible vote. And that meant that only 56.56% 69.51% of the eligible population actually voted in the 2011 election.

The actual eligible population is somewhat larger than it was at the last census in 2006. The 2011 census was called off by the National led government because of the Christchurch earthquake and it now scheduled for 2013.

 

Party Votes and Turnout by Electorate
Percentage of
Electoral District Enrolled Votes Informals
Auckland Central 76.15 0.48
Bay of Plenty 77.33 0.62
Botany 67.04 0.81
Christchurch Central 72.28 0.84
Christchurch East 73.44 0.79
Clutha-Southland 74.15 0.65
Coromandel 76.60 0.82
Dunedin North 75.06 0.63
Dunedin South 77.90 0.89
East Coast 73.86 0.78
East Coast Bays 71.64 0.47
Epsom 76.26 0.43
Hamilton East 74.47 0.94
Hamilton West 72.76 0.88
Helensville 75.75 0.55
Hunua 76.00 0.57
Hutt South 77.64 0.80
Ilam 76.34 0.57
Invercargill 72.89 0.99
Kaikōura 76.91 0.83
Mana 79.50 1.08
Māngere 67.10 2.03
Manukau East 67.82 1.91
Manurewa 67.05 1.60
Maungakiekie 74.40 0.83
Mt Albert 74.66 0.82
Mt Roskill 71.76 1.19
Napier 77.87 0.94
Nelson 76.25 0.70
New Lynn 74.44 0.87
New Plymouth 75.70 0.69
North Shore 76.68 0.47
Northcote 73.24 0.52
Northland 75.25 0.93
Ōhariu 81.58 0.36
Ōtaki 80.24 0.77
Pakuranga 71.87 0.62
Palmerston North 77.05 0.69
Papakura 73.14 0.78
Port Hills 77.40 0.60
Rangitata 75.80 0.97
Rangitīkei 78.15 1.13
Rimutaka 78.53 0.69
Rodney 78.93 0.66
Rongotai 81.46 0.81
Rotorua 74.84 0.96
Selwyn 79.19 0.52
Tāmaki 78.17 0.67
Taranaki-King Country 75.75 0.80
Taupō 74.68 0.70
Tauranga 77.18 0.77
Te Atatū 72.39 1.14
Tukituki 77.48 0.66
Waikato 75.97 0.94
Waimakariri 77.06 0.82
Wairarapa 76.41 0.83
Waitakere 73.84 0.95
Waitaki 78.66 0.87
Wellington Central 82.41 0.39
West Coast-Tasman 76.82 0.85
Whanganui 73.86 0.73
Whangarei 75.24 0.82
Wigram 72.28 0.94
General Electorate Totals 75.53 0.80
Hauraki-Waikato 56.91 2.38
Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 58.76 2.51
Tāmaki Makaurau 54.80 1.72
Te Tai Hauāuru 58.70 2.42
Te Tai Tokerau 61.60 2.34
Te Tai Tonga 57.04 1.50
Waiariki 59.93 2.41
Maori Electorate Totals 58.23 2.19
Combined Totals 74.21 0.88

 

The best thing you can say about NZ democratic participation is that it hasn’t descended to the US levels. But it is heading there fast. But it means that the largest block of voters are supporting the don’t vote party.

 

* I haven’t had much time to write about the 2011 campaign. But Labour mostly used the lamest on the ground campaigns I have seen for some time. They were electorate campaigns that would have been good in 1990. Worse than useless for a party campaign under MMP.

A red-dot system based on canvassing data may be easy to compute. But it is a bloody disaster when it comes to getting people out to vote. You wind up trying to turn out people who were going to vote anyway and probably going to vote for you. Nice if you want to look like there is activity, but it is a strategy indicating a zombie from the neck up for anyone following it. And that strategy is institutionalized all the way through their software….

25 comments on “The biggest party are non-voters. ”

  1. Jimmy 1

    We are also not including all those who are not yet eligible to vote. They after all will be some of the most effected from asset sales. I hope they like warm weather, because my bet is Australia will be their best option.

    • lprent 1.1

      Read the rest of the post. That was my point…

    • lprent 1.2

      Opps missed your point…

      But if you added the under-18’s in, then they are a mere blip compared to those who could vote but did not. Bearing in mind the track record of the younger voters 18-25, then dropping the voting age would most likely just increase the non-voters.

  2. Jimmy 2

    You’ll also notice that the “mandate” that the right wing nutjobs seem to want to claim from the last election for National was less than 35% of those eligible to vote, and well less than 40% if you look at all of the parties in the coalition.

    The problem with this argument is that there has seldom if ever been 50 % of eligible voters supporting a party/ government. Should we really consider the opinion of those who have none?
    I get the feeling that Labour lost some support to non voters not because of apathy, but because they were seen as non credible.

    trying to shift people who do vote from one side to another is hard work

    But at least you are actually winning a vote here. People are dieing every day for the right to vote, where did we go so wrong?

    • lprent 2.1

      Who cares about 50%? As you say that virtually never happens.

      But if you count the people not on the roll, then the government coalition is supported by well less than 30% just over 30% of the eligible voters. That doesn’t seem like much of a mandate to me.

      • Bafacu 2.1.1

        “Who cares about 50%? As you say that virtually never happens.”

        I thought your article was on having a mandate – that presupposes that you have to have over 50% or no mandate – in your opinion. Simple – if you don’t/won’t vote then tough luck – you have no choice but to take whatever comes your way. I’m sick of pandering to the apathetic and bone lazy.

        • felix 2.1.1.1

          Does the word “mandate” = “majority”?

          Serious question.

          • Jimmy 2.1.1.1.1

            Short answer; yes.

            Via wiki

            Elections, especially ones with a large margin of victory, are often said to give the newly elected government or elected official a mandate to implement certain policies

            Did National [read a National lead coalition] win? √

            Did National have a large margin of victory? Over any other one party? Yes. Overall? no. They can’t govern alone after all.

            The long and short of it is they won went campaigning that they intended to sell state assets. They will sell them no matter how much those who voted against them dislike it. That they have a clear mandate is debatable, but merely a moot point.

            The only way they might reconsider is if there was widespread protest/unrest. Given we couldn’t even get ~30 % of the populace to vote what chance is they will be bothered to show the government they abhor asset sales?

  3. vto 3

    Yes well the vote them out party will give them an option.

  4. Ron 4

    I don’t think it’s true to say that those who don’t vote have no opinion – some do.
    Two things :

    To my mind there is very little between the “Bloody Labour. Bloody Helen Clarke. I’d never vote Labour.” brigade and the “bloody politicians. I’d never vote for them it’s a waste of time” cadre. Really the decision making is about as effective and useful.

    Also – There are a significant proprtion (how do i know “significant” – I don’t) who don’t vote on one principle or another and make concious decisions about it – anarchists, those that believe that voting supports a corrupt system, those that don’t want to choose between a bunch of options – none of which they identify with.

    Now, I don’t agree with them (I’m always telling students that people the world over are dying for the right to vote) but they are making a decision – they care, they know what they want.

    Where did we go wrong? We’ve had it easy. It’s like AGMs. No-one turns up until there’s a crisis and then everyboidy is very passionate and has an opinion.

    Also there is a pretty concious effort on behalf of a lot of political parties to alienate a good portion of the population – why would they vote for anyone after being called bludgers, useless, lazy, stupid, thieving their while lives?

  5. “In 2011, only 76.21% of the 2006 eligible population were on the roll. Only 74.21% of those cast an eligible vote. And that meant that only 56.56% of the eligible population actually voted in the 2011 election.”

    No. Just no. Just really, really no.

    As was explained in the comments section of the Dimpost post you reference, the “Electoral Population” in those statistics is NOT the same as the “eligible to be registered to vote population”. Electorates in NZ are drawn up on a total population basis – in deciding where the boundaries are to fall, the Representation Commission must include ALL people who live within those boundaries and keep them within particular “quota” figures. So, the Electoral Population includes all people under 18 (as well as others who are not able to register to vote) in that area.

    It is estimated that 93.67% of persons entitled to be registered to vote are actually registered (see here: http://www.elections.org.nz/ages/electorate_all.html). You might like to redo your figures and repost. If you care about little things like accuracy, of course.

    • lprent 5.1

      Well, you learn something every day. Will do so when I get near a terminal.

      In the mean time I’ll note it on the post.

      Thanks…

      Done… shifts from 56% to 69% using the 2006 census figures – the census last year would have made it quite a lot worse now that the early 90’s baby bulge are feeding into adulthood on top of the nett migration. Still not good.

    • Thanks I feel a lot better.  I thought for a second we were heading towards American type involvement in politics.  It appears that we are above that by a reasonable amount.  But this is no reason to celebrate.  Why do so many kiwis not want to get engaged in our democracy?

      • lprent 5.2.1

        My feeling as well. I’ve been concentrating on ENV’s and leaving the non enrolled to the electoral commission. Then I looked at the electoral population figures in the electionresults.org.nz Looked around for the definition and didn’t see it, and started to think that I’d been concentrating on the wrong place.

        7% is sort of ok. Hard to get 100%. 25% would have been too much.

  6. TEA 6

    Also there was a large percentage of non voters who normally voted National, did not vote this time because of asset sales and would never ever vote for another party.

  7. Blue 7

    Not much of a mystery there. The most closely-fought elections were the ones most voted in, and the ones where one party was predicted to win by a landslide were the least voted in.

    It looks like there’s a hard core of about 20% who really don’t give a crap and wouldn’t vote no matter what.

  8. Galeandra 8

    How about the possibility that a lot of non-voters were people who figured ‘their guy’ or the ‘other guy’ were such a shoo-in that there was no need to vote anyway? Electorate politics trumping awareness of the value of a party vote? The campaign I door-knocked was heavily based around winning the seat and the party vote aspect was hardly mentioned.

  9. newsense 9

    Has there been any real analysis and research into why the formerly-Labour non-voters aren’t voting?

    Was it too much propping up Peters and his BS?
    Was it the increase in governments spending, when we had had 8 years of Labour = respectable financial prudence?
    Was it the poorly handled selling of electoral finance reform to the public?

    Was it the micro-chipping of dogs, light bulbs, truckies and so on? Micro-chipping of truckies being the worst.
    Was it the damage inflicted overtime to the brand of competent and capable turned controlling and interfering and the sexism of too much nanny-state?

    How does Labour and the left counter these narratives and produce their own?

    Danyl says here that we lost 250K voters who haven’t come back. Where are they? Who are they?

    Is it really better to have a party pitching to the reaction or position us for the future and get them to buy into it?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      As we dont have so called exit polls we dont know . And neither do you. Just repeating Nationals lines from before the 2008 poll wont tell us either.
      The reason we dont have the exit polls – paid for by the media- is that its too expensive and or cant be piggybacked onto questions about laundry detergent .There is also an electoral law problem about approaching voters leaving the polling booths.

  10. Uturn 10

    Perhaps the non voters are wearing their guns on the inside and keeping their powder dry, waiting till they can see the whites of their eyes. The sneaky bastards are running this country into the ground by letting free-market capitalism a free reign. Won’t someone save the children of the middle-classes? Help the Elite to unwittingly save themselves from themselves and vote for a delay!

    Like cockroaches, after the fall of society – that will have come that much faster by not restraining the avarice of the climbing classes – non voters (or noters, as they call themselves) will crawl out and have parties in the street, finally free from the real problem – voting.

  11. Indiana 11

    Of the block of non voters, has anyone surveyed them and asked if they have complaints of the incumbent government? Is there some logic to the common meme, that if you don’t vote, then you have no grounds to complain about current government decisions?

  12. alex 12

    I have some ideas as to how the non-vote could be lowered.
    http://afinetale.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/get-out-non-vote.html

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