Home > The Body Politic > Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

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The Green Party has done remarkably well this election, winning 10.62% of the Party Vote, and translating that result into 13 seats. After special votes are counted they may even win an extra seat in the House.

What is also clear is that Green Party voters  have failed to  use their two votes in a tactical manner. Casting their Electorate Vote for Green candidates was not only a  pointless exercise in futility – but assisted National to win electorates; lose Labour MPs; and in one instance, succeeded in returning one of National’s coalition allies (Peter Dunne).

Luckily,  ACT managed to gain only 1.07% of the Party Vote. Had ACT increased it’s Party Vote share over 1.2%, Banks would have dragged a second ACT MP back into Parliament “on his coat-tails”.  This is the brutal consequence of not voting tactically.

As the following figures demonstrate all too clearly,  failing to use Electorate Votes in a clever way, that maximises desired outcomes, is an indulgence that opponants to National simply cannot afford.

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Auckland Central

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ARDERN, Jacinda    (Lab)    11,823
KAYE, Nikki   (Nat)    12,358
ROCHE, Denise    (GP)    2,188

Majority to Nikki Kaye (Nat): 535
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from Denise Roche (GP) to Jacinda Ardern (Lab),

ARDERN, Jacinda    (Lab)    14,011
KAYE, Nikki    (Nat)    12,358

Revised  majority to Jacinda Ardern (Lab): 1,653
Win: Labour

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Christchurch Central

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BURNS, Brendon (Lab) 10,493
WAGNER, Nicky (Nat) 10,493
MOORHOUSE, David (GP) 1,805

Majority: dead-heat
Win: n/a

Transfer electorate votes from David Moorhouse (GP) to Brendon Burns (Lab),

BURNS, Brendon (Lab) 12,298
WAGNER, Nicky (Nat) 10,493

Revised  majority to Brendon Burns (Lab): 1,805
Win: Labour

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Ohariu

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DUNNE, Peter (UF) 13,228
CHAUVEL, Charles (Lab) 11,582
HUGHES, Gareth (GP) 1,775

Majority to Peter Dunne (UF): 1,646

Win: United Future

Transfer electorate votes from Gareth Hughes (GP) to Charles Chauvel (Lab),

CHAUVEL, Charles (Lab) 13,357
DUNNE, Peter (UF) 13,228

Revised  majority to Charles Chauvel (Lab): 129
Win: Labour

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Waimakariri

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WILKINSON, Kate (Nat) 15,409
COSGROVE, Clayton (Lab) 15,014
KELCHER, John (GP) 1,049

Majority to Kate Wilkinson (Nat): 395
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from John Kelcher (GP) to Charles Chauvel (Lab),

COSGROVE, Clayton (Lab) 16,063
WILKINSON, Kate (Nat) 15,409

Revised  majority to Clayton Cosgrove (Lab): 654
Win: Labour

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Waitakere

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BENNETT, Paula (Nat) 12,310
SEPULONI, Carmel (Lab) 11,961
TOLLESTRUP, Steve (GP) 1,582

Majority to Paula Bennet (Nat): 349
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from Steve Tollestrup (GP) to Carmel Sepuloni(Lab),

BENNETT, Paula (Nat) 12,310
SEPULONI, Carmel (Lab) 13,543

Revised  majority to Carmel Sepuloni (Lab): 1,233
Win: Labour

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The five seats above would have gone to Labour, had Green voters voted more judiciously with their Electorate Vote. Whilst it is true that, generally speaking it is the Party Vote that counts in MMP elections – it is also true that in closely-fought elections, Electorate results can also have a direct impact on who forms a government.

Had Green voters cast their Electorate Votes for the Labour candidate, the following would have resulted;

  • Paula Bennett (N) would have lost Waitakere
  • Carmel Sepuloni would be the new MP for Waitakere – Ms Sepuloni lost the race, and failed to get back in on the Labour List.
  • Peter Dunne would have lost Ohariu, and Charles Chauvel would be the new electorate MP

In the cases above, Ohariu is the most important. Dunne’s election gave National an extra coalition partner  and his win  therefore assumes a greater relevance than a “mere” electorate MP.

In effect, 1,775 Green voters sent John Key a second Coalition partner, after John Banks.

Regarding the  Epsom seat; Green and Labour voters in that electorate are very lucky that ACT’s party vote remaind under 1.2%. Had ACT won more than that, Banks would have dragged a second ACT MP (Don Brash) into Parliament, according to how MMP functions.

Had ACT “cracked” the 1.2% (unofficial) “threshold”, Epsom National voters would’ve sent two ACT MPs to Parliament, not one. These are the sorts of consequences that voters in crucial electorates must consider when casting their two votes. On rare occassions, an Electorate Vote can become more significant than the Party Vote.

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Epsom

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BANKS, John (ACT) 14,150
GOLDSMITH, Paul (Nat) 11,665
PARKER, David (Lab) 3,093
HAY, David  (GP) 1,670

Majority to John Banks (ACT): 2,485
Win: ACT

Transfer electorate votes from David Hay (GP) and David Parker  (Lab) to  Paul Goldsmith (Nat),

GOLDSMITH, Paul (Nat) 16,428
BANKS, John (ACT) 14,150

Revised  majority to Paul Goldsmith (Nat): 2,278
Win: National

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Lucily, the John Banks’ win simply displaces a National MP, and there is no net gain for the National-led government.

In future elections Green (and occassionally Labour) voters must consider the overall effect of their voting. Sometimes, aiming for a desired goal is not a straight-forward route of getting from “A” to “B”. Occassionally, a slight detour will be required to get to our end destination.

Hopefully, I’ve provided a useful roadmap.

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Sources

Electoral Commission: Election Results – Overall Status

TVNZ: Election Results and Electoral Information

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Categories: The Body Politic
  1. 27 November 2011 at 2:47 pm

    WOW Frank can you believe how close these are??? I suspected National would get back in, hoped they wouldn’t. But, for me and my circumstances, i guess the only upside is that we know what we are already dealing with. John Key better be ready!!

    • 27 November 2011 at 3:34 pm

      I know, Allyson – so very close! No wonder National was panicking and John Key was making noises that the election result was going to be closer than people thought. They knew all along!!

      >:-(

      The question is, though, can this government survive full term? The Maori Party can’t vote against asset sales without denying Supply to the government. That would force a by-election.

      Interesting times…

      • Gosman
        28 November 2011 at 9:16 am

        How would it force a by-election? I presume you mean snap election.

        Regardless currently the Government has enough support to govern and pass legislation, including the partial sell off of shares in the limited number of SOE’s they have specified. On top of that they also have a mandate to do so.

  2. Bren
    27 November 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Ohariu and Epsom aside. Very little will be different if Labour won more electorates. If Labour won Waitakere, Waimakariri, Christchurch Central and Auckland Central then the only difference would be Sepuloni and Burns would be in and Raymond Huo and Rajen Prasad would be out. Labour would get a little more money to use for their electoral activities but what’s the real advantage for Green voters there? Labour doesn’t get any more MP’s. National don’t lose any.

    Ohariu and Epsom are different stories. But you can’t expect every voter to vote tactically – some just like to vote for their preferred candidate. When the split voting analysis is released – that should make for interesting reading.

    Furthermore, to your comment. The way things stand now, even if National lose a seat once Specials are counted they will still have enough to pass legislation (yes, the bare minimum) without the Maori Party. No new elections needed. Regardless the Maori Party are already sending out strong signals they will support asset sales.

    • 27 November 2011 at 5:49 pm

      Bren, You may have a point on electorates other than Ohariu and Epsom, in terms of numbers.

      I guess I was looking at it from thepoint of view of symbolism. For example, Carmel Sepuloni turfing out Paula Bennett.

      The recession has harmed Pacifica peoples even worse than other groups, and having Bennett lose her electorate-base, and replaced by a Pacifica woman would seem to be fitting justice…

  3. Bren
    27 November 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I’ll give you that. I was cheering for Sepuloni when those results started coming in. It would have been nice but blaming Green voters when it didn’t happen just doesn’t seem helpful.

    • 27 November 2011 at 6:55 pm

      Unfortunately, Bren, the figures are fairly self-evident in that respect…

  4. Bren
    27 November 2011 at 7:17 pm

    That’s making the assumption that these Green voters who voted for the Green candidate actually care that the Labour candidate wins over the National candidate. It’s not the responsibility of Green voters to win seats for Labour.

  5. Deborah Kean
    27 November 2011 at 7:37 pm

    The thing is, and this is what worries me, that I cannot get an assurance from any Green official I know on Facebook, that they won’t sell out to the Nats for the baubles of office! Stuff has an article featuring Metiria Turei virtually promising that they will support National… Should we call them Gnat instead of NACT now?

  6. 27 November 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Bren :

    That’s making the assumption that these Green voters who voted for the Green candidate actually care that the Labour candidate wins over the National candidate. It’s not the responsibility of Green voters to win seats for Labour.

    Hmmm, perhaps I should have made one point clearer; I’m in no way blaming the Green Party for Labour’s poor showing. The Greens worked not just hard – but smart – in attracting a good voter response. In some ways, I think the Green Party may be the new, 21st century version of the older, traditional Labour Party.

    They earned their seats fair and square, and by running a “clean” (excuse the pun) campaign that was issues-based.

    My criticism is that a number of Green voters need to learn to vote more tactically, and with some thought put into how they cast their two votes. MMP is a simple system – but the way that voters can use it to their advantage is somewhat more complex.

    As I stated above, “In future elections Green (and occassionally Labour) voters must consider the overall effect of their voting. Sometimes, aiming for a desired goal is not a straight-forward route of getting from “A” to “B”. Occassionally, a slight detour will be required to get to our end destination.

    Otherwise the centre-left will not be able to maximise the “people power” effect that MMP can offer. We can do better. We must do better.

    • Gosman
      28 November 2011 at 9:19 am

      Perhaps they need better direction from their party leaders then. Maybe if the Co-leaders of the Greens and Labour made symbolic gestures or outright stated what they expected their supporters to do in certain electorates their supporters would be able to make the ‘right’ decision.

      • Tom Sawyer
        29 November 2011 at 8:15 am

        Yeah maybe they should have had a cup of tea as well? Why is is ok for you righties to rort the system but if Labour or Greens try it your ass gets all moral on us? hypocrites the lot of you.

      • Priss
        29 November 2011 at 10:26 am

        I voted Mana with my votes but I take Frank’s point and should have given the Labour candidate my electorate vote. I hope Carmel Sepuloni gets in anyway despite my stuff up.

  7. 27 November 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Deborah Kean :

    The thing is, and this is what worries me, that I cannot get an assurance from any Green official I know on Facebook, that they won’t sell out to the Nats for the baubles of office! Stuff has an article featuring Metiria Turei virtually promising that they will support National… Should we call them Gnat instead of NACT now?

    I think we can trust the Greens on this one, Debbie. Remember what happened to NZ First when they sold out to National in December 1996? They were demolished three three later, and if memory serves, Peters won Tauranga in that eelection by only 83 votes.

  8. Bren
    27 November 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I never thought you were blaming the Green Party. Just those Green voters who went Green/Green in those marginal electorates. I guess you worry that if an Epsom-like situation was to develop for the left then the full advantage might not be taken?

    It’ll be interesting to see the split votes for this election. Looking at Epsom last election, 26% of National voters refused to do the tactical vote and voted for Richard Worth. 17% of Green voters voted for Rodney Hide. So did 16% of Labour voters. To counter that love, 9% of ACT voters voted for Richard Worth. Honestly, who are these voters? They don’t seem to be playing this Team Left vs Team Right game.

  9. Bren
    27 November 2011 at 11:59 pm

    And to emphasise, electorates are a sideshow to the party vote. Considering only one (maybe two) Labour incumbent(s) lost their seat despite a fairly big swing between National and Labour suggests to me that too much emphasis was put on the electorate vote (I have other theories about that but I should probably stop). It seems a lot of resources were thrown into Auckland Central (particularly) and Waitakere to win the seat back but what’s the point if you’re not increasing your party vote at the same time? Electorates do not matter on the national scale unless there is party threshold or overhang issues involved. Labour would do well to remember that come 2014.

  10. 28 November 2011 at 10:03 am

    Gosman :

    How would it force a by-election? I presume you mean snap election.

    Regardless currently the Government has enough support to govern and pass legislation, including the partial sell off of shares in the limited number of SOE’s they have specified. On top of that they also have a mandate to do so.

    Indeed, I meant snap election.

  11. Frederico
    29 November 2011 at 11:38 am

    Frank Macskasy :

    Bren, You may have a point on electorates other than Ohariu and Epsom, in terms of numbers.

    I guess I was looking at it from thepoint of view of symbolism. For example, Carmel Sepuloni turfing out Paula Bennett.

    The recession has harmed Pacifica peoples even worse than other groups, and having Bennett lose her electorate-base, and replaced by a Pacifica woman would seem to be fitting justice…

    Sorry mate I know what you’re getting at but I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Goldsmith. The guy is so far up himself

  12. Red
    30 November 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Tom Sawyer :

    Yeah maybe they should have had a cup of tea as well? Why is is ok for you righties to rort the system but if Labour or Greens try it your ass gets all moral on us? hypocrites the lot of you.

    LOL!

  13. 2 December 2011 at 3:44 pm

    In Ohariu, people chose who they thought would represent them, and be accessible. Dunne knows how to give this image. Chauvell did not run a campaign suitable for his electorate.

    People who didn’t want either contender decided to vote for Gareth rather than not vote at all.

    • Tom Sawyer
      2 December 2011 at 11:16 pm

      So what was the point of that? Voting for Gareth was a wasted vote and let Dunne back in. You’ve basically given a de facto vote to Dunne and to a second term of National. You’ll have to excuse me but I don’t get that at all. You might as well have voted for dunne and cut out the middle man

    • 3 December 2011 at 8:01 am

      How did Chauvel “not run a campaign suitable for his electorate”? (I can’t tell as I don’t live there.)

      It seems to me that – whilst I can understand that you might have a preference for a candidate from a smaller Party – the indications were fairly clear it was a two-horse race between Labour and the National puppet. By voting for Gareth (who actually IS a really good candidate), you’ve de facto allowed National to govern.

      Could Green voters afford the luxury of not voting tactically?

      Especially when Epsom Voters understood the necessities of voting for someone like John Banks, even though their stomachs must’ve turned as they did so…

  14. 3 December 2011 at 7:55 am

    By the way; if people’s posts are being held up in the system, it’s because of some ‘glitch’ I’ve yet to work out…

  15. Tom Sawyer
    6 December 2011 at 12:13 am

    Frank Macskasy :

    By the way; if people’s posts are being held up in the system, it’s because of some ‘glitch’ I’ve yet to work out…

    yeah I was wondering. I thought I had committed a sin or something. no worries dude.

  16. 26 September 2014 at 9:34 am

    Just FYI, Waimakariri was won by some new Nat nonentity…sorry, I can’t recall his name even though it’s been blaring at me for weeks. Kate Wilkinson got a nasty fright and left the battlefield.

  1. 21 September 2014 at 2:58 am
  2. 26 September 2014 at 8:00 am
  3. 22 February 2017 at 8:02 am

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