Posts Tagged ‘2008 NZ election’

Final election results: How did the prediction go?

November 22, 2008

The unofficial official results are out. (Hat-tip kiwiblog.) Votes, % of total votes and number of seats for the main parties are:

National Party 1,053,398 44.93 58
Labour Party 796,880 33.99 43
Green Party 157,613 6.72 9
ACT New Zealand 85,496 3.65 5
Mäori Party 55,980 2.39 5
Jim Anderton’s Progressive 21,241 0.91 1
United Future 20,497 0.87 1
New Zealand First Party 95,356 4.07 0

My 6 November prediction was:

“National 45%, Labour 36%, Greens 10%, ACT 2.5% (with Epsom), NZ First 2.5% (without Tauranga), Maori (3% with 7 seats), others 1% (with Ohariu and Wigram).”

So, I was 0.07% out for National, 2.01% out for Labour; a whopping 3.28% out for Greens; 1.15% out for ACT; 1.57% out for NZ First; and 0.61% but 2 seats out for the Maori Party. Also, picked Ohariu, Wigram and Tauranga correctly.

Not too bad, but not one of my best efforts. Should have picked that more Labour voters would stay home. But what went wrong with the Green vote?

Did more Labour voters stay home? We’ll see when the NZES analysis comes out. We know that 78.8% of registered voters went to the polls, a couple of per cent less than 2005. This sounds good but is not great for NZ. There has been declining participation for some time.


Day after analysis

November 9, 2008

The victor takes the stage and eloquently frames the  historic moment for the cheering masses. He understands the grave economic and other perils facing the nation, and the need to tackle the problems collaboratively, and extends a bipartisan hand to his beaten opponents.

The sad thing for NZ is that, bar the odd kiwiblogright fanatic who has strayed this way, no-one reading this would mistake it for NZ last night. Our new prime minister’s delusions notwithstanding, the difference between this week’s two victors is measured in light-years, and is captured in the contrast between the election night speeches.

NZ’s new leader has demonstrated little grasp of the economic situation confronting the country, or of what leadership entails. He sleepwalked his way to power, winning an election notable for the lack of excitement and charisma on display. The small parties provided the interest. Otherwise, it was a tawdry, uninspiring affair.

His party’s win was not a triumph of policy. National has spent the last couple of years frantically trying to convince people it would not undo much of what has been achieved over the past nine years. The party won, but its ideology lost. (Although not completely. Labour’s third-way social democracy has been a corporatist compromise with neo-liberalism rather than a repudiation of it.)

Nor was it that the “men couldn’t cope with the idea of being led by an intelligent, idealistic, free-spirited woman … voted [her] out of office” as Chris Trotter argues. Certainly Clark has benefitted from the devotion of a generation of women (and some of their daughters) who were socialised in the 1960s and 1970s. There may be an element of male chauvinism, but if it were simply about that, how to account for three election wins in a row (albeit against weak opponents)?

If anything, the electorate succumbed to Helen-fatigue, or was repulsed by the arrogance with which initiatives such as the anti-smacking and electoral finance bills were imposed rather than sold, and economic policy rolled out. Clark’s not the only culprit there, but her own superiority complex did not equip her to rein in such behaviour by others. NZ voters will put up with a lot if they perceive competence and decisiveness (rightly or, as in the case of Muldoon, not), but inevitably there is a corrosive effect.

For the meantime though, John Key has the helm, and he will need our goodwill and support if he — and we — are to manage the issues that beset the world. He has a great deal to learn. I sincerely hope that he is up to the challenge.

NZ election prediction

November 6, 2008

Back to our own little election, which looks a whole lot less dramatic and low stakes than yesterday’s. Monday’s debate summed it up. Scrappy, but with few real sparks. Both determined to get their key talking points across above all else. No clear winner, unless you count John Campbell.

I’m picking National 45%, Labour 36%, Greens 10%, ACT 2.5% (with Epsom), NZ First 2.5% (without Tauranga), Maori (3% with 7 seats), others 1% (with Ohariu and Wigram). In other words, the Maori Party gets to decide.

I’ve become a little more gung-ho about the Greens chances since they made their preparedness to work with Labour in some sort of arrangement clear. Talking to people I know I get the feeling there’s even more of a swell in Green’s support now that it’s clear that Labour can’t govern without them and that the Greens are willing. But this is at the expense of Labour’s vote, which otherwise would be close to where it was in 2005.

These predicted results look not dissimilar to the latest One News/Colmar Brunton poll, but are much what I’ve been predicting for weeks. It’s interesting that the most consistently National-leaning poll is coming into line.

Why are ACT so bloody boorish?

October 25, 2008

The Herald headline said it all: “Abuse hurled as Epsom candidates toe party line.” Thursday night’s Epsom candidates’ debate in a nutshell.

With three long-serving MPs and one staunch wannabe (Rodney Hide, Richard Worth, Keith Locke and Kate Sutton), the debate promised a great deal. Edifying, though, it was not.

For a start, it was televised. As well as “[giving] the candidates … a chance to tell viewers why they have the best policies for their constituents”, TVNZ 7’s Swing Seat shows also promise to “take viewers through the electorate, introduce the candidates and review their prospects.” What we got were silly little tours of the constiuency by the candidates, shallow questions and an emphasis on entertainment.

Second, it was hard to hear what the candidates were saying most of the time, especially if you were sitting next to the ACT mob. These people were determined to (1) drown out their opponents — great defenders of free speech that they are — and (2) display their ignorance. They mostly succeeded, especially the ACT candidate sitting behind me. Sorry, Athol, but you’re still ranked too high at #45 on the party list.

Just why are ACT activists so damned boorish? All they do is convince everyone that they’re thorough-going arseholes.

Anyway, from what I could hear, Hide and Locke made the best of it, with Sutton and even Worth holding up well. A couple of women who I spoke with — National and Green — both thought highly of Sutton. Hide had a slick, clever line for every situation — he may be a clown, but he’s a clever one — and Locke tackled every issue with well marshalled arguments and facts. You can watch (here for links to on-demand) and decide for yourself.

Best question went to the woman who asked (courtesy Herald): “… what policies your parties would have for single mothers like me paying crazy rents so the kids can go to school, the immigrant family squashed in the flat across the road and the elderly people who can barely pay their rates.”

When asked for comment after the answers she said, “I’d like to thank Aunty Helen for Working for Families.”

Not that any of this will make much difference to our votes in Epsom. Everybody I know here, including me, is voting for Worth (holding our noses). Sorry Kate and Keith. But we don’t expect to prevail over the Nats, who will all be voting for Hide, of course (and no doubt holding their noses).

Maori Party: Best cab on the rank

October 23, 2008

(Hat-tip: kiwiblog)
Colin Espiner has been talking to Peter Sharples. He sings Sharples’ praises, and rightly so. Then he provides some insights into what the Maori Party will do after the election:

“… when you push [Sharples], he admits that the chances of the Maori Party entering into any sort of coalition arrangement with National is extremely unlikely. I’ll go further. I’ll say this: the Maori Party will not go into a coalition government with National…

“Note that I’m not saying the Maori Party won’t offer confidence and supply to National (although I think this, too, is highly unlikely) or that it wouldn’t consider abstaining to allow National to govern. But I believe a coalition is out of the question.”

Anybody who ever thought that a coalition deal between the Maori Party and National was possible needs their head read. Urgently. Nothing new there.

But Espiner is wrong to say that confidence and supply is “highly unlikely”. Even more likely, should the numbers fall that way, is a tacit understanding that the Maori Party will abstain on confidence and supply, but retain the right to veto anything that it considers seriously unacceptable to Maori.

This scenario fits what Sharples is saying. Better still, it would work really well for both parties. Periodically, National would push something that excites its base but is cruel to, say, the low-paid (for whom both National’s big money backers and redneck supporters have it in). The Maori Party sink this, to the great delight of their supporters. National also get to play to its base, “Oh, if it weren’t for MMP just look at what we’d be doing.”

Note: On 1 June, I posted: “In the rough and tumble of post-election deal making, the Maori Party may be looking for some fairly iron-clad assurances about the treatment of the low paid and beneficiaries, in return for abstaining on confidence & supply, say.”

Two loveable rogues say “Game is on”!

October 10, 2008

Well that didn’t take long. Hot on the heels of the Morgan poll comes the TV3 poll (a.k.a. the accurate one) showing the gap between Labour and National halving, to six per cent (45% to 39%, with the Greens on 6.8%).

The key may be in the responses to the question, “who do you trust to best manage New Zealand for the next three years?”

“Labour and Michael Cullen just won that battle with 42.7 percent. National and Bill English were a close second, with 41.2 percent.”

When we last had an economic “meltdown” of this magnitude, the voters went initially with the conservatives, a cautious response to the economic turmoil. As in the US, the election looks to be turning on the question of who it is that voters feel safest with.

If so, after the bungled tax package, expect the next poll (done after today) to be worse for National, not better.

[Hat-tip to ak for “loveable rogues.]

Game on!? Nats ahead only 3% in poll shock

October 10, 2008

The latest Roy Morgan poll is a stunner! It puts National’s vote down 7% at 40.5% and Labour’s up 1 point to 37.5%, since the last Morgan poll two weeks ago. (Hat-tip Adam.)

The big winners appear to be the Greens, up to 2.5% to 9%, and ACT, up 2% to 3.5%. NZ First lose a point to 4%, but would still be competitive if this poll is accurate.

And that’s the problem. It’s just one poll. And one poll does not a summer of left-wing joy make. It may very well turn out to be a “rogue.” Then again…

Latest poll (N = 923) taken between September 22–October 5, 2008.

The subsurface campaign: US & NZ

September 29, 2008

Today’s LA Times carries a piece by Columbia University professor of journalism and sociology Todd Gitlin that provides a vivid and sharply drawn analysis of the symbolic import of the presidential election. Read it!

Gitlin starts from the premise that:

“The true campaign is the deep campaign, the subsurface campaign, which concerns not just what the candidates say but who they are and what they represent — what they symbolize.”

This idea will be familiar to regular readers of this blog. What makes this contest intriguing, says Gitlin, is that the current campaign pitches a candidate who fits a tried and true mythical stereotype — the grizzled, plain-spoken, straight-shooting John Wayne-type — against someone who mixes up the stereotypes twenty-first century style, and can’t be pinned down. Gitlin’s conclusion is spot on. This is the underlying contest:

“So that’s the clash. McCain, the known quantity, the maverick turned lawman, fiery when called on to fight, an icon of the old known American story of standing tall, holding firm, protecting God’s country against the stealthy foe. Obama is the new kid on the block, the immigrant’s child, the recruit, fervent but still preternaturally calm, embodying some complicated future that we haven’t yet mapped, let alone experienced. He is impure — the walking, talking melting pot in person. In his person, the next America is still taking shape.”

“The warrior turned lawman confronts the community organizer turned law professor. The sheriff (who married the heiress) wrestles with the outsider who rode into town and made a place for himself. No wonder this race is thrilling and tense. America is struggling to fasten a name on its soul.”

This seems a fair description. By contrast, while New Zealanders’ shared identity continues to evolve, the process is much less conflicted than stateside (Orewa 1 and the Maori Party notwithstanding). Instead, New Zealanders seem to be pondering whether to stick with the modest (and fair) achievements of the past nine years, or venture just a little more aggressively into the world.

Like Obama, Clark embodies an oddly contradictory amalgam; no nonsense, no-frills, presbyterian farmer’s daughter and Vietnam protester, policy nerd and steely tough political operator. In many ways this mix gelled with what the country was looking for in 1999, after 15 years of neo-liberal attacks on kiwi decency, fairness and social cohesion, not to mention the bumbling incompetence of Jenny Shipley’s ill-fated administration.

Key’s narrative is much more straight-forward and appealing, in a traditional way. State House kiwi boy makes good in tough, competitive New York. Like Clark, this narrative also embodies competence — hence Labour’s attempts to define the election as about trust, as in 2005 — but is more contemporary.

National have utilised this more future-oriented symbolism to an extent, but much less so than I anticipated. Perhaps that’s because they feel less need. Plant the seeds of anxiety — outward migration, wage gaps with Australia — and let the narratives do the work.

The tuning fork election

September 23, 2008

Well, jafapete took off for Waiheke and it seems he’s not coming back. AndrewE has suggested that he drowned himself in a pail of ale after realising that Helen has no principles. Not quite. More on that later. This post’s for Andrew.

Last night’s Robert Chapman Lecture “Polls versus Expectations – Howard’s End in Australia and are there lessons for New Zealand?” was interesting, mostly because it is always good to stand back and contemplate recent history for patterns you might have missed. In this we were assisted by Australian election commentator Antony Green.

The crux of his analysis is to be found in the tuning fork graph that he used (courtesy wikipedia) which shows polling results since the last election:

Green noted that in the 2004 and 2005 elections in Australia and NZ, the polls had been very volatile, and that when that is the case it is easier for an incumbent government with waning popularity to turn things around during the election campaign. He didn’t state the converse so explicitly, but I shall.

Like the PM and many others, I can count Bob Chapman amongst my mentors. Many have commented on Bob’s grasp of the finer detail, but it was his capacity to distill this vast knowledge into easily understood wisdom that I valued most. (“The best ideas are the big, simple ideas”, he said once.) Bob always maintained that if the opinion polls clearly had one party ahead of the other for a year or more before an election campaign, then the party that had enjoyed the lead would win. This has always proved to be the case.

So the message from the graph above is clear, even if it’s not in tune with my sentiments.

There were some valiant attempts to avoid the message last night. “What about all the people who didn’t have landline phones, worked evening shifts, etc?” Green patiently explained that pollsters weighted their data to compensate for these known biases as best they could. After all, they have a lot to lose if they get it wrong. “What about the extra 100,000 unenrolled voters ferried to the polls in South Auckland?” asked another, seemingly oblivious to the tuning fork graph in front of her, or maybe not able to convert the percentages into numbers.

However, as Green noted, in an MMP context National’s higher vote need not necessarily lead to their taking government. It is also quite possible, for example, that National holds office as a true minority government, with the Maori Party sitting on the cross-benches vetoing anti-Maori or anti-low paid legislation, but not bringing the government down.

As I look at the tuning fork, that second-best scenario is some consolation.

From last cab to first limo

September 7, 2008

After reviewing the last couple of weeks and the turnaround in Labour’s fortunes, Matt McCarten in the HoS writes:

“The polls in the past two weeks must give real hope to Labour strategists. The gap between these two parties is closing to single digits. … if Labour gets within 10 points of National, it has a chance of pulling off a record fourth term … Labour’s ally, the Green Party, is certain to be returned in greater numbers. Add that to Labour’s numbers and the gap closes to almost the margin of error.”

Matt notes that the downside of Key’s big gamble should Peters not get charged with something serious is Peters back in parliament with at least 6 MPs, “… and you wouldn’t want to put money on the possibility that Peters can’t pull off one last trick.” Except that Key has.

Should Peters reach 5% he says, the Maori Party become the kingmakers. (I can see this happening without NZ First in Parliament under present trends. Once again, he warns that:

“There was an assumption the Maori Party would lean toward Labour, but that ignores the situation where their candidates are in fierce combat in the Maori seats. That is causing a lot of friction.”

He concludes:

“It won’t be long before the chattering political classes realise the possibility that the election’s outcome could be determined by the newest kid on the block – the Maori Party. Won’t that drive them nuts.”

Of course, some of us chattering classes figured this out months ago.