- Date published:
2:30 pm, February 23rd, 2010 - 21 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, john banks, len brown, local body elections - Tags: auckland supercity, john banks, len brown, local government, polling
John ‘Mayor for Remuera’ Banks has released a poll showing him dead even with Len Brown in the race to be supermayor. Banks’ team are trying to spin it by putting out a press release saying he’s in front (which oddly doesn’t contain head-to-head figures) but given Banks has much higher name recognition at the moment – it’s unsurprising that he’d top an unprompted poll.
The interesting numbers come from the prompted head-to-head question (as the voting paper would have them). The poll is different to previous UMR polls giving Brown a lead (although this Buzz poll for Herald on Sunday collected responses until the start of Feb and it had Brown 33.6%, Banks 21.2%, neither 25.8%, not sure 19.4%).
Banks’ team are like sugar-hyped puppies with the news he’s not trailing behind. They hope it might put to bed persistent rumours of other potential rightwing candidates emerging. He’s had a huge amount of media coverage from jumping on any issue that comes along, is trying unsuccessfully to change his image (remember Banks said, “If I wear my policy on my sleeve, I won’t get elected”) and has had a popular issue to campaign on (even though, oddly, he championed the whole thing before losing his leadership mettle and has now flip-flopped completely). Nonetheless, even with his huge name recognition, he’s only level with Brown.
Interestingly, David Farrar’s poll has been weighted so that ‘responses reflect turnout for the 2007 local govt elections. In other words, the proportion of responses from one particular territorial local authority is approximately the same proportion of votes cast in that TLA, as a share of the entire region.’
This highlights the importance of turnout at this year’s election. Looking at the four main centres we saw mayoral turnout figures in ’07, ’04 and ’01 of (respectively) North Shore 35/35/38%, Auckland City 40/47/43%, Waitakere 38/36/38% and Manukau 39/40/37%.
So what might happen this year? Looking back prior to the last time central government forced local bodies to amalgamate in 1989 (causing the same kind of interest and controversy), voting turnout had dropped away to 46%. After the amalgamation, turnout jumped to 57% and then increased to 61% after the introduction of postal voting. The average has now dropped back to 44%.
Does this mean we will see the same kind of increase in turnout this year? History suggests yes, but it remains the big unknown. Meanwhile agitation about the forced supercity changes continues unabated. Phil Twyford blogs and the Herald reports about many of the sincere average Aucklanders speaking passionately and angrily to the select committee about what’s happening to their community. Twyford’s also talked about hundreds and hundreds of angry Aucklanders turning up to public meetings to express their frustration at being ignored by the government. Recently 6,000 people signed a petition in northern Rodney to stay out of the supercity.
Auckland City Council undertook polling that showed support for the supercity declines the further from the CBD you go from 46% positive in Auckland City vs 30% negative, through to 70% and 66% negative feelings in Franklin and Papakura respectively (Manukau saw 49% negative, Waitakere 45% negative, Rodney 44% negative). The Herald on Sunday’s polling showed 56.9% would choose to remain with the existing eight councils, while 43.1% would opt for change.
Banks is intimately associated with negativity to the supercity changes. He’s pushed, championed and crowed about the supercity. Concern in the region is based on a knowledge that if he gets in all the money and power will flow to the CBD. If Brown can positively capitalise on this strength of feeling, which is what his message seems to be targeting, then he could carry a lot of voters around the region.
Interestingly the Herald on Sunday also said 72% of those polled are planning to vote because of the reforms indicating people are going to act on their feelings. Brown is in a strong position to convince â€˜his’ supporters in Manukau to come out and vote for him and I suspect turn out will jump as they back â€˜their man’ verse Banks. Brown also seems to be capitalising on that â€˜us’ verse â€˜them’ support right around the region. He’ll need to keep building his profile, produce attractive policy and work on turning out his vote.