Who changes which party they vote for?

Quite a lot of people obviously change which party they vote for, otherwise we would have much the same results every election, with perhaps a gradual shift as some voters die and young people become eligible to vote.

Some people can’t comprehend why anyone would vote for different parties over time, and others can’t comprehend why anyone would always vote for the same party no matter how competent/incompetent or fresh/jaded they look, and no matter who led them.

There are the ideological voters, the policy ones, the fanboy/girl ones and the what’s in it for me ones.

Going by the ‘never change your allegiance/ideals’ proponents but allowing for the change in the way we vote to MMP in 1996, the  results from there:

  • National 33.87%
  • Labour 28.19%
  • NZ First 13.35%
  • Alliance 10.10%
  • ACT 6.10%
  • United NZ 0.88%

Quite different to the current spread of party support. Alliance and United NZ didn’t survive for long, and the Greens aren’t there at all.

By the next election in 1999:

  • Labour 38.74%
  • National 30.50%
  • Alliance 7.74%
  • ACT 7.04%
  • Greens 5.16%
  • NZ First 4.26%

NZ First were a bit of a disaster in coalition and deserved their drubbing, and National were also affected by a poor term in government.

Party support has ebbed and flowed since then, sometimes quite drastically – the following election National plummeted to 20.93% and NZ First bounced back to 10.93%, and in 2005 National bounced back to 39.10% and NZ First nearly halved their support, dropping to 5.72%.

In a democracy parties and politicians have to earn their support. If people voted for the same party each time then we would never have a change of government, and the governing party/parties would become increasingly complacent and arrogant.

There are some interesting responses on the Twitter thread. Here are some in favour of committed voters.

Yeah I don’t get it either. I knew where my values were as a teenager and it was easy.

Man you know what’s even weirder? Candidates changing parties! Seeing their TL’s is truly bizarre. Have to wonder about how firm their value system is.

Some are staunchly anti:

If people voted in their self interests there would never be a Tory govt but many believe the empty slogans and bs they are fed daily to encourage fear and hatred by the very people they should be fearful of.

As a life long socialist I was torn about a vote for the 2nd Lange government, I would not have voted for Blair following his stance over WMD had I remained in Britain, and have only recently rejoined Labour after their TTPA stance. But I’d cut both my hands off before I vote NZN.

I vote differently most elections, but always with the same goal – anyone but national. The 5% threshold decides who needs it.

Some switch and stay.

My ideals haven’t changed but my awareness has. As a naive youth I voted National twice but a single Polytech Employment Relations Law paper that I took after my BE was enough to break the spell. I’ve voted Green ever since.

My first election I voted in i was 19 and heavily involved in a church that was very anti-Labour (the anti-smacking bill had just passed at this stage i think) so I voted National without thinking too much about it. I left the church & have been Greens ever since.

And here are some in favour of changing voters:

I don’t find any party particularly appealing to be honest. I’ve always voted on the left, but for various parties/candidates over the years. I don’t really understand party allegiance and kind of find it strange.

You start to educate yourself in political doctrine… neoliberalism, socialism, marxism etc .. then you start to question. Who gains what? And how?

There’s a few times polling has indicated which major party will be in government, and people vote strategically, to provide a less-bad support option for the other, or push a useful ally over 5%.

Times change so do people. Parties change as well. Blind allegiance is dangerous.

I’m the same. My first vote ever went to National. My father voted National, so I voted National. That was the 90’s and the last time I ever voted National. Never again. I’ve voted between Labour and Greens depending on how they’re looking pre election.

I’m 57 years old . I was ought up in a Labour party home. When I became management I went right. Now I’m wiser I di what’s best IMO and vote Labour. Also, don’t forget Rogernomics came from the left too. Then ACT . Society changes too.

Policies dictate how I vote…coming from farming background everyone blindly voted blue..until SMPs disappeared! Personalities do matter of course ie could never vote for Winnie.

My first vote was for Matiu Rata-Mana Motuhake then Act-Donna Awatere swung me then Parekura Horomia not Labour- threw my party vote 2 legalise cannabis after the Helen Clarke disgrace it was all Māori Party and will be again I will never vote for National or Labour or the Greens.

Small parties rely on swing voters. Small parties – or rather, new parties – wouldn’t exist without them. And they certainly can’t grow without them. So your party of choice – and mine – had better have a good answer to your question.

And of course some parties are quite similar. Used to vote Labour, then Green for ages. Even joined & got quite active. Then quit Green (don’t like getting shouted at). Now feeling liberated, happy that I can vote for whoever. Entrenched voting = entrenched thinking.

Interesting anecdotes here. I suppose your life circumstances change the way you lean too e.g as you get older you may becomes less idealistic and sway towards a party that offers lower tax, more economic stability, more security in a time of crisis etc…

Some people think and and consider what is happening around the world and our once great country, others blindly follow what mummy and daddy told them! I’ve changed many times over the years and at 52 voting green for the first time! The bueaty of having the freedom to do so!!!

I used to vote lab/lab. In the last election I voted lab/green. I would have voted lab/green in the upcoming election but Ive moved and I dont like the lab candidate so Im gonna vote green/green.

I usually vote NZL but change to NZL & NZF. This is because I’ve lost 2 (1 Kiwi & 1 Oz with the AFP) mates to Peacekeeping both KIA. I nearly lose to cousins on a trip down Sth with RNZN when the OPV they were on almost capsized. Hence my Defence leaning to NZF, NZL socialism POV. But I’m struggling to vote for NZL or NZF this yr, but I would love to vote NZG this yr. As I agree with mostly what the NZG stands for, except for its Defence, Policing including firearms licensing, Foreign Affairs and I’m in favour for heavy rail to AIA not light rail to AIA.

  1. Lots who felt good voting Labour in 1987 weren’t so excited to in 1996, & vice versa.
  2. If people didn’t change votes, no new parties/movements would have a chance.
  3. Parties change. If we lived forever, people who voted Democrat in 1860 definitely would’ve have since 1968.

I’ve voted for a few different partiea, my ideals have for the most part remained the same but the party on the ballot best upholding those ideals hasn’t been the same each election

Never voted for the same party twice. First there votes were for the parties that most aligned with me in policy (Greens then Mana than Internet Mana). Then I joined and voted Labour for their industrial relations focus. Could well vote Māori Party in 2023 (if they drop JT).

Parties change. People change. Ronald Reagan, when asked why he was now a Republican despite being a Democrat during his tenure as Governor of California – said that he didn’t leave the party behind …. they left him.

There’s probably a lot of personality driven choices, like:

I know someone who was a big Winston fan who now loves Ardern. People are definitely swayed by popularity and personality.

Lots of reasons. Parties change, for one thing, as do people. Also, tactical reasons. In 2011 some progressives party-voted for NZ1, hoping they’d form a coalition with National and then pull the handbrake on asset sales.

And policy specific votes.

They vote on issues that effect them personally not for a ideology. Horrible guy I once new voted Natz bc they promised faster internet so he could steal and download videos faster. That was it.

And like Labour’s student loan policy in 2005 that may have swung the election their way.

I’m firmly in the swinging voter camp, and have changed my party vote frequently. Like:

Because people learn and grow (hopefully) the politicians within the party change & therefore details can be different each election. Policy promises change. I vote for the person & the policies that I think are closest to beneficial overall to the country.

I think I’m a pragmatic voter, so I can change the party I vote for. For example, I would vote for a party if it was around the borderline 5% mark, if I thought the party should be represented in parliament, even if they were not my ‘favourite’ party.

I don’t think any one party probably represents my ideals. I wouldn’t vote for a party that was completely at odds with my values but I might vote for my 2nd choice if I think my vote might help them get into parliament.

Each election I decide which of the major parties with their current leadership, lineup and policies I prefer. And if I’m not keen on either I look to the smaller parties to see which one i would prefer to hold a power balancing role. Or sometimes if I can’t decide which lot I want in government I just look to which party deserves to promote certain policies in the parliamentary mix, which is why I have voted Greens a couple of times (but not for a while).

Twelve weeks out from this year’s election I haven’t yet seriously considered who I might vote for.

There are significant things that that could affect my decision, in particular the Covid-19 pandemic (generally fairly well handled by the Government but with some concerning slip-ups but a lot could happen yet), the economy (too soon to tell what will happen with job losses and business closures personally and country-wide), and party strengths and weaknesses (for example Labour seem to tolerate poorly performing ministers, Nationals leader Todd Muller is yet to convince he is up to the task).

Then there is this:

In recent elections I’ve voted for the least worst of the alternatives on offer.

I’ve been in that camp before. And also in the related ‘can’t be bothered voting for any of them’ camp, but usually get out to vote to support democracy.

Once I collated responses it seems apparent that there are a lot of swing voters and people who change political ideals and party allegiances. Election results tend to support this.

Colmar Brunton polling for National this year:

  • February 46%
  • May 29%
  • June 38%

And Labour:

  • February 41%
  • May 59%
  • June 50%

There was the extraordinary situation with the Covid pandemic, but that has shown that a lot of people are potentially swinging voters.

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  1. John J Harrison

     /  27th June 2020

    Todd Muller was in the Bay for the past two days.
    Havelock North meeting of 400+with some standing at the door.
    Napier lunch Friday, expected 50 but over 100 attended.
    Todd spoke very well, no notes and well received.
    At the Q&A I told him he had my electorate vote but had lost my party vote.
    This is because, despite a caucus vote 5 months ago to not consider Peters as a coalition partner he had left the door open to such a possibility in a TV interview.
    Worse, he confirmed he would also consider the racist Maori Party as a partner even after they clearly stated that they would never consider joining with National.
    It is sad to see a once proud party sucking up to political charlatans when they know the only viable coalition partner is ACT.
    Sadly, I am left with the impression that National lacks both principles and testicular fortitude.

    • Jack

       /  27th June 2020

      Mr Harrison, you may be interested in these two books https://www.amazon.com/author/hakaonthepew
      Kitti – if you take a look, I’d appreciate your proof reading. I know there are two errors in “The RA Books”. Saw them, and didn’t fix straight away, then lost them!
      I used to be obliged to vote the way my father advised. Not any more.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  27th June 2020

      Is he Maori Party racist or is it a party the promotes the interest of Maori?

      Definition of racist
      “showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another”

      Does the Maori Party discriminate against or show prejudice against other races or are they just promoting the interests of Maori? Political parties tend to promote the interests of groups in society.
      Do the Maori Party believe they are superior to other races or are they just promoting the interests of Maori?

      • John J Harrison

         /  27th June 2020

        Patzcuaro, the Maori Party and their two leaders are most definitely racist.
        They look after their own personal interest before their constituents.
        Look at their history, despite $ billions sent their way by hard working tax payers the largesse never trickled down to those who needed it most.
        However the Maori aristocracy lived high on the hog.
        I do not see any non Maori in their top 10, why is that if they are not racist ?
        The fact is that they achieved some massive gains thanks to Key but the current leaders have publicly stated they would never go into coalition with National.
        Ridiculous when it was Labour who shafted them !
        Don’t forget it was Tamahere who stated that all non – Maori were racist.
        Disgraceful, coming from an individual who is himself is only 7/8 th non – Maori .

        • Patzcuaro

           /  27th June 2020

          Putting your personal interests ahead of your constituents doesn’t make you racist, just a politician. They are more a party of the traditional Maori but that isn’t a crime. And being a Maori Party I don’t expect to see non Maori at the fore of the party.

          • Gezza

             /  27th June 2020

            No, the Maori Party’s not racist per se for existing for the purpose of advancing the interests of Maori people or those who identify as Maori, but some of their members appear to be prejudiced against Pakeha & make generalised racist remarks about Pakeha from time to time. The way Corky makes generalised racist remarks about Maori.

  2. Gezza

     /  27th June 2020

    I grew up with Labour-voting parents & grandparents (on both parents’ sides of the family). Politics were passionately but partisanly argued. National were “The Tories”.

    Never forget my widowed paternal grandfather – a retired rural police sergeant – ordering one of my maternal uncles out of his house for saying he would be voting for Muldoon. (It was always a good idea to let Pop win at cards too, if you wanted biscuits with your cards evening cuppa.)

    I’ve voted Labour cadidate and /or Party in every election since eligible to vote, noy yet ever voted National, will never vote NZF while Winston is leader (or if Jones ever replaced him) but I’m definitely a swing voter now.

    I’ll only vote for a candidate if I think they’re effective & would make a good Minister – so Greg O’Connor’s off my list for 2020.

    My Party vote will go to whichever party I conclude will run the country best, for the benefit of biggest majority of citizens – Maori & Pakeha, My Party vote’s still undecided.

    • NOEL

       /  27th June 2020

      I usually make up my mind on the day. Polls are useful as they may give an insight into where my party vote would be wasted.

      • I can’t see myself changing at the moment, but am not so one-eyed that I would say that I never would.

        I also put my vote where it will do most good.

        Does anyone remember that American ‘bishop’ who prophecied that by 2013 Destiny would ‘rule and reign’ over NZ, with the wealth and finance in first place, and social order not far behind ? I think it was 2013, but it’s long gone 😀

        Memo to Bishop Brylcreem; don’t leave these videos online.

  3. David

     /  27th June 2020

    I once voted for Labour when Mike Moore was the boss, voted once for Act but was firmly National while Key was in charge. I really liked the way he invited the Maori party to come into government even though he didnt need their votes, I think it softened the harsher parts of the party and taught them to take into account a section of society too often ignored and patronised by Labour.
    Not sure this time round, Muller is improving rapidly which is good as I was toying with a NZ First vote to kybosh a petrifying Labour/Green government.

  4. artcroft

     /  27th June 2020

    I’ve voted Labour (once), mostly Nats but have party voted for some minor parties as well. never the Greens who are too sanctimonious for my taste. National and labour are quite well aligned with each other and chose very similar goals;
    Independence of R Bank – low interest rates
    Full employment
    Balance the books
    The least possible involvement in US wars
    Large treaty payments to iwi

    • artcroft

       /  27th June 2020

      Another problem with the Greens is that they only have one policy: Keep national out of power. After this is achieved they are happy. It means Winston can railroad any of their other policies and they accept it. Ironically the Greens being in govt is vital to the interests of the fishing industry.

      • Duker

         /  27th June 2020

        No . Its because all their other policies are incompatible with national…which is true. There would be more conflict than NZF
        You seem to forget that they are even further to left than labour is, only occasional policies that match arent enough. Parties have to be authentic and not opportunists like you think
        Its the same reason ACT doesnt consider coalition with labour

        • artcroft

           /  27th June 2020

          No. It’s actually about a little thing called integrity which Winston doesn’t have.

          • Duker

             /  27th June 2020

            Maybe . Nothing to do with Greens not interested in National.
            All parties are duplicitous, promise things they know wont happen.
            This is the waffle Nikki and Todd talked about in NZH this morning

            NK ” So we need clarity. It’s important to know that we have to Build Back Better.”
            TM “”We have to be clear in the choices we make.”
            TM'””But you cannot back away from the central idea, which is that you can’t have farming without environmental limits.””
            TM ‘”can’t keep on with the short-term subsidies leading nowhere” and “the recovery has to be business-led”.
            What does that mean so
            NK'”I would say it’s about the scale of our responsibility. If we don’t deal well with this, history will look at us very critically.”
            TM” “We have to invest in enabling infrastructure and we have systemic social challenges.”

            And when more specifics were asked
            NK “Was she suggesting there should be a new management or ownership structure for the CRL? No, she wasn’t. She talked some more about the potential for more ferries. What about a new harbour crossing? Kaye said, “We’ve already signalled we’ll have the largest-ever infrastructure plan in our nation’s history.”

            and Climate change
            TM “”This is our opportunity to push on with decarbonisation,” he said. “As the new technology options become more obvious, then the conversation turns to: how do you incentivise?”

            That was an interview with a big city journalist in Auckland . but would say diufferent things for a provincial town and different again for rural audience.

            Thats because they have no integrity, just politicians bluster

            • artcroft

               /  27th June 2020


            • Jay3

               /  27th June 2020

              That interview in the NZH this morning was with well-known leftwinger Simon Wilson. He is on record as being a supporter of Ardern and cheerleader for the Labour Party, so predictably, he tried to do a hatchet job on Muller and Kaye. Wilson’s position at the NZH is intriguing. Sometimes he masquerades as a journalist, but whenever he explicitly wants to push his own agenda, he labels his pieces as opinion, as he did in this case.

            • Duker

               /  27th June 2020

              It IS an opinion piece based on an interview, like all the other opinion pieces in the Herald
              They have a new opinionator …Stephen Joyce …as though they need a national party partisan ranter
              Next you will be saying hes a neutral observer…..

            • Jay3

               /  27th June 2020

              I think you rather miss the point. Simon Wilson wears two hats at the NZH. One of his jobs is to report the news, the other is to write opinion pieces. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference.

  5. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  27th June 2020

    I’ll always give my vote to the highest bidder…

    send dosh now to Maggles, Bag Lady, Kaiti Mall.

  6. Corky

     /  27th June 2020

    One of Pete’s best posts in a long time, for many reasons. Sometimes I feel a little guilty not voting. I think of my dead relatives killed in WW1/WW2, and buried across Europe. I still have residue brain washing about the importance of voting stuck in my subconscious mind. Few people realise the brainwashing they carry with them from an early age.

    Then I think about things logically. The supposed values our soldiers fought for have long disappeared. Democracy and freedom are now just words. They mean nothing. Idiots now roam the earth breeding in ever increasing numbers. So sometimes it’s good to be reminded that my attitude regarding voting is right for me.

    Hence Pete’s excellent post and this little gem:

    ”My ideals haven’t changed but my awareness has. As a naive youth I voted National twice but a single Polytech Employment Relations Law paper that I took after my BE was enough to break the spell. I’ve voted Green ever since.”

    Thanks dude, whoever you are. You have made my day.

    • NOEL

       /  27th June 2020

      Never thought there were so many of us.

      “Fence-Sitters have been
      given a wide variety of labels—from
      undecideds to floating voters—and these
      single labels have referred to a wide
      variety of groups (e.g., swing-voters,
      the politically-apathetic, etc.). Our
      analysis shows that Fence-Sitters reflect
      a voting bloc that rated all political
      parties neutrally and constitute roughly
      a third (32.8%) of the NZ population”

    • Corky

       /  27th June 2020

      Sometimes I wonder if fence sitters are the worst demographic of all? They either have shifting ideals and morality… or they want what’s best for their back pocket..or they are just ignorant.

      I caught the tail end of a news item that was asking people to rate the`governments performance over Covid. The government still had majority support, but there was a growing number of people who didn’t know, or WHO DIDN’T KNOW WHAT COVID WAS!

  7. Pink David

     /  27th June 2020

    Joe has found a religion, not a political party.

  8. Patzcuaro

     /  27th June 2020

    I grew up in National voting rural NZ which is now part of Auckland. I voted National twice until Muldoon broke the umbilical cord with the Springbok tour in 1981. I spoiled my ballot in 1981 when voting in a solid National seat under FPP and would have probably have voted for Bob Jones in 1984 but was out of the country. Since voting Labour in 1987, I’ve voted for National, Labour, United Future & the Greens.

    I tend to take a broad approach to deciding who to vote for, not relying to much on individual policy, voting for who I feel best represent my values at the time. I also take into account the length of time in government, as all governments get stale, so would have voted for both Clark and Key initially. I’m also reluctant to give one party unfettered power as a result of the Muldoon years under FPP, hence votes for United Future.

    I’ll probably vote Labour this time as I think it is better not to chop and change but I’m more likely to vote National under Muller than Bridges. Very few people have it to be PM, Bridges didn’t, Muller may have it, time will tell.

  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  27th June 2020

    I’ve never voted for Winston First but have variously voted for most of the main parties or their candidates at different times. I am resigned to the outcomes usually being disappointing successfully elected or not. I enjoy being as far away from government and having as little to do with its bureaucracies as humanly possible.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  27th June 2020

      How are things Wilkinsonstan?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  27th June 2020

        Better than Pakistan:
        Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that 30 cases of coronavirus in people who have travelled from Pakistan since June 4, which is understood to represent half of the incidents of imported infection.

        With up to two flights a day from Pakistan, there have been reports of some arrivals almost instantly going to hospital for intensive care, amid concerns that the influx has led to localised clusters.

        Officials are understood to be worried it could lead to a backlash against Britain, through it creating a backdoor for infections into Europe as the UK prepares to open air bridges.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  27th June 2020

          A lot of our imports are coming from the sub continent as well.


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