Reassessing election prospects

Last week changed the political landscape significantly, with saturation coverage of one candidate, the political demise of one leader and the lame ducking of another.

Election prospects have changed, but at this stage it is difficult to predict by how much. I’l have a go at assessing how things look now.

National 38-48%

They were always going to struggle to maintain last elections 47% with John Key retiring last year and switching to a solid but uninspiring Bill English and a so far uninspiring campaign.

If Labour retains their resurgence the question shifts from where in the forties National will end up to whether they stay in the forties. They are still probably good for low to mid forties but if the stuff something up badly could easily slip.

Labour 29-40%

There is no doubt that Jacinda Ardern has made a big difference to Labour’s prospects. They looked like they were heading to 20 or less under Andrew Little, but now a return to the 30s looks likely.

Labour now look able to pull votes back from the Greens and NZ First, finally compete seriously with National for the floaters, and the effect of the lift in excitement on turning out younger voters shouldn’t be underestimated.

And don’t underestimate the Kelvin Davis effect – his elevation makes Labour more competitive against the Maori Party and NZ First.

I think the only question is how far into the thirties they can climb – as long as Ardern doesn’t trip up significantly. On the other hand, given the volatility of modern elections I wouldn’t rule out Labour sneaking into the forties.

Greens 8-12%

As dramatically as Labour’s fortunes have turned for the better, Green prospects have probably dived from record highs in the polls.

Metiria Turei’s beneficiary gamble looked like it was a winner but has turned to custard. James Shaw looks worn and weak. Turei and the Greens still have some staunch support, but the icing looks like it has disappeared of their cake.

Of course this could change if Turei bows to pressure and steps down as co-leader, but a lot would then depend on who replaced her. Marama Davidson would probably only appeal to the dedicated Greenies and lefties, but Julie Anne Genter would have wider appeal.

NZ First 6-16%

A week or two ago Winston Peters was confidently counting his electoral chickens. He disappeared last week, with the media preferring to pander to someone young enough to be his granddaughter.

Winston versus English and Little looked competitive, to media and to a growing number of voters.

Winston versus Ardern is a completely different look. The stuffing seems to be knocked out of the old codger. He’s a determined campaigner, but can he revitalise himself for another shot at glory?

Another factor is the Shane Jones card – he is now going to have to compete with Kelvin Davis for attention and may be exposed. The direct speaking Davis will give Jones some real competition up north.

Maori Party 1-3%

I think that Te Ururoa Flavell still has a good chance of retaining his electorate, Maori have been good tactical voters and returning Flavell and party voting Labour makes more sense than throwing the Maori Party out.

But winning more Maori seats, and getting enough party vote to retain Marama Fox, has probably got harder.

ACT Party 0.5-2%

David Seymour has been trying hard to attract attention and voters but doesn’t seem to be getting any traction. He should be good to retain his Epsom electorate, but ACT’s lack of known candidates other than Seymour doesn’t help their chances.

The media doesn’t usually care about new candidates, unless it’s plucking someone like Chlöe Swarbrick out of nowhere to try to inject some interest into a boring mayoral campaign. And the media seems to not fancy ACT unless it’s negative news. Seymour is likely to remain alone.

United Future 0.1-0.3%

It’s hard to see United Future attracting any more party votes. The media gave up on there being a party behind Peter Dunne terms ago, nothing there for headlines. The party has continued to wither.

Dunne already had a major challenge in trying to retain his Ohariu electorate. Labour have recruited a known candidate, Greg O’Connor. Greens are helping Labour by not standing a candidate.

National have made it clearer than ever that they want National voters to support Dunne.

But what looked like 50/50 prospects for Dunne may have turned against him with Labour’s resurgence. Ardern has not only revitalised Labour campaigners, she may encourage reluctant voters to turn out. This will work against Dunne.

Mana Party 0.1-0.5%

The Mana party is a one man band this election, without the money or distraction of Kim Dotcom. The party vote looks irrelevant.

Hone Harawira was always a chance of winning back Te Tai Tokerau, but with Davis’ elevation that probably got a lot harder.

There looks to be an outside chance only of Harawira getting back into Parliament, and even more of an outside chance that Harawira could make or break a Labour led coalition, but it shouldn’t be discounted entirely.

The Opportunities Party 1-4%

Gareth Morgan had a chance of picking up votes from those who wanted something different and not Winston, someone to ‘keep the big parties honest’. And picking up disheartened Labour voters. Until last week.

If Labour jumps back into contention then TOP will find it really difficult to attract enough media attention, and they will find it really difficult to get the polls up enough to encourage enough voters to get them over the 5% threshold.

The Rest

The nature of New Zealand politics and the reluctance of media to give any credibility to new parties and outsider candidates means that no other parties will have a chance of getting more than crumbs.


There could be another shock wave.

It’s hard to see any other positive leadership change, unless Genter adds some solidity to the Greens.

Who knows what Winston will try to have probably his last shot at the big prize?

Ardern may keep Labour’s resurgence going, or she could trip up. Kelvin Davis could stuff things up, his agttack on English and other National ministers on Q+A yesterday looked ugly and counter productive to Ardern’s clain of positivity.

National still have the benefit of incumbency plus very good economic conditions, relatively low unemployment, and a record of steady management – but may have trouble attracting media attention.

National also have the advantage of being by far the biggest party, and they will probably only need one other party, or a repeat of the current handful of insignificant parties, to get over the line.

But housing. Auckland is shaping up as a big influence on the election.

And National has to find an effective way of countering ‘the Jacinda effect’ and the current media obsession with her.

The elephant in Labour’s room

Ardern has eliminated Labour’s biggest millstone, Andrew Little. Labour look to be on the rise.

But they have a major challenge too – Labour + Greens + NZ First

I think that many voters have real concerns about how this triumverate could possible work in a coalition.

Unless Labour can rise enough in polls to look like they might only need one of NZ First or the Greens then this remains an issue.

There could even be a voter resistance to Labour + Greens – many like a Green influence but have strong reservations about Greens calling the shots too much.

In any case for Labour to get close to 40% it’s hard to see Greens also keeping their current share.

The NZ First factor

Whether Winston finds a way to dig up something that gives him a last burst of hope or not, voters have to consider and compare National + NZ First versus Labour + NZ First as likely alternatives.

Both National and Labour can’t ignore this – the one of them that does best at convincing voters they can work with Winston but resist baubling him may succeed.

Here it is advantage to National.

National 45% + NZ First 6% looks quite different to Labour 35% + NZ First 15%.

But of course this balance of probabilities could change over the next few weeks.

Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  7th August 2017

    One could make a case for Labours polling improving hugely but people getting in the polling station and not risking someone as young, inexperienced as Ardern given she has to do a deal with a dodgy inexperienced Green party. Sort of a shy Tory affect the polls get tripped up on.

  2. PDB

     /  7th August 2017

    Even Cunliffe got to high 30% at one stage – the question is with such a short time frame before voting day will Ardern have time to turn the public off?

    TOP are toast – the Greens falling to bits was their chance but Ardern is now more likely to pick up the pieces.

    The Maori party are making noises of going with Labour if the numbers work out for them. National will only be 2nd choice.

    NZL First’s chances of being high teens is also toast. The voter drift to them will stop and some ex-Labour supporters will drift back to Labour believing Ardern now has a good chance of forming the next govt.

    National around 44%, but with the best pollster around they will be fully aware of the effects of the past week. They have a far bigger ground crew than Labour and have kept their powder relatively dry at this stage so to rule them out already is premature. Could recent events see some old National voters coming back from Winston to ensure Labour doesn’t become govt?

    Labour with a change of leadership boost should be around 32-33% next poll, but can they hold it & more importantly break the solid 40-44% stuck on the National train? Davis let slip during the TV interview an arrogance that suggested all Labour need to do is ride behind the MSM Ardern love-fest to become govt. Labour/Norman Kirk made the same mistake in the 1969 election by believing they would simply sleepwalk to victory going up against a ‘tired’ National govt going for a fourth term but one with a well-performing economy – will history repeat?

  3. Gezza

     /  7th August 2017

    “Labour now look able to pull votes back from the Greens and NZ First, finally compete seriously with National for the floaters.”

    I reckon Metiria was aiming to pull them in. But they may yet find she’s pulled the chain.

  4. Gezza

     /  7th August 2017

    National have made it clearer than ever that they want National voters to support Dunne.

    Absolutely. I got a personally addressed envelope with a letter from Brett Hudson, National List MP explaining why they were encouraging everyone to Candidate Vote Peter Dunne, & Party Vote National – with a pamphlet explaining all the good things they’ve done in: “investing in public services for a growing economy, education, law and order, social investment “including $116 million in initiatives to address mental health issues”, investing in inftrastructure for a growing economy, a strong economic plan, reducing net debt (though as far as I know they haven’t even started on that yet), $2b Family incomes package, Tax threshold increases and Independent Earner Tax Credit to be discontinued, Workong for Families increases, Accommodation Supplement Increases, & increases in the couple rate by $13 a week from 1 April next year”. Pics of Joyce & Bridges with Bill appear in it too often for my liking, but it’s a slick job.

    • Gezza

       /  7th August 2017

      And there was a message on my ansaphone from a campaign worker for Greg O’Connor, telling me briefly about his virtues, wish to be advocate on behalf of Ohariu residents, & particular health, housing & security. He invited me to contact Greg if there were any issues I wanted to discuss, or to email, and directed me to his website. Said Greg is always happy to chat or answer questions.

      Reminds me – c, have you had any response to your email yet?

      • Conspiratoor

         /  7th August 2017

        Yes, my new friend Greg has clarified. More later…

        • Gezza

           /  7th August 2017

          I might’ve run into some problems with Possum over Greg. Need to clarify what she’s on about. I got some issues with one of her possible candidate votes. Last thing we want is a public argument. Discussing it in the background for now.

          • Conspiratoor

             /  7th August 2017

            Tell her to come into the foreground G …she is being very rude

            • Gezza

               /  7th August 2017

              Nonsense. Negotiations are still at a delicate stage. Too soon for any formal announcements yet.

              Who are you voting for c?

            • Conspiratoor

               /  7th August 2017

              The conservative with a social conscience and the balls to roll back decades of political correctness and the damage that has been done to our status as a sovereign nation

            • Gezza

               /  7th August 2017

              Christ! Not that fkn idiot Winston is it?

              You realise Lurch is voting for that skippery sod too, don’t you?

              Unless I can persuade him to listen to reason before 23 September. I haven’t given up yet.

            • Gezza

               /  7th August 2017

              I agree Immigration’s a big issue though. Major, imo.

          • pickled possum

             /  7th August 2017

            Jez Gez Evvvery one knows about the Police man Greg.

            Didn’t He want guns and lots of them hanging off the
            pirihimana bullet proof vest.

            Was the President of the New Zealand Police Association 20 years
            Looking after the well being of the boyz and girls in blue
            at any cost?

            Tho I have read he didn’t really want the police armed
            he was just pushing for what the majority of members wanted.

            He says he is open to medical cannabis …

            Butt 40 years a police man hmmmm

            I am skeptic of his kaupapa

            Can’t help it. :-8

            • Gezza

               /  7th August 2017

              Shit! i thort u were still up river. We need to talk. Not here. People are listening …

        • Conspiratoor

           /  7th August 2017

          “I do not personally agree with arming police, but pursued the remit on behalf of Police Association members”

          So there you go G …25 years spent blindly parroting a message. He’ll fit right in

          • Gezza

             /  7th August 2017

            What did you say Winston’s policy on how the fate of the Maori seats should be determined is?

            • Conspiratoor

               /  7th August 2017

              Leave the cryptology to me G. I’m not sure Winston has a policy on the fate of the Maori seats but NZ First appear to be keen to put this to popular vote…

              “At last Sunday’s New Zealand First convention, I set out the double referendum that New Zealand First wanted in mid-term 2017 – 2020.

              “They are:

              1. Retain or abolish the Maori seats
              2. Maintain or reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MP’s

              “Since this time a number of reporters have either written or been confused as to what that means.

              “The words speak for themselves.

              “There is going to be referenda in which every registered voter will be entitled to cast a vote or votes as they choose.

              “NZ First made this announcement after a decision in Caucus some time ago on these precise matters,” says Mr Peters.

            • Gezza

               /  7th August 2017

              NZF has no policy that cannot be changed overnight by Rt Hon WRP, PC, & any purported should not therefore be taken as read until he is pensioned off.

          • Gezza

             /  7th August 2017

            And were the Police Association members paying his salary? You do understand that a union is the members, & the union officials are supposed to represent them, yes?

            Don’t taxpayers pay his salary if he’s elected to Parliament? Not the Labour Party?

      • Pete Kane

         /  7th August 2017

        Did he sound like he was from the Force?

  5. patupaiarehe

     /  7th August 2017

    I really wonder if Jacinda will make much difference to Labour’s result. Despite the new leadership, behind the scenes I suspect it’s business as usual. I stand by my prediction that NZF will achieve over 20% of the party vote in September…

    • PDB

       /  7th August 2017

      You’re in la la land unfortunately Patu – at the very least Ardern has reversed the labour-to-NZl First procession and if you check out places like Whaleoil those flirting with NZL First are now looking at the safer option of sticking with National. 12% absolute tops.

    • PDB

       /  7th August 2017

      Was he drunk? Slurred his words quite a bit?


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