Big election night win for Labour

Labour did 2-3% better than polls suggested and got 49.1% of the advance and election day votes, equating to 64 of 120 seats. Special votes are still to be counted but they shouldn’t change the overall result much, although it may alter total seats won slightly and may change one or two electorate results.

This is a very good result for Labour, the party’s best result since 1946, and is the first time one party has won a majority of seats under 24 years of MMP (while they got just under half the total votes about 8% of votes will not count for small parties who got under the 5% threshold). This unprecedented result is largely thanks to Jacinda Ardern’s popularity, her and the Government’s handling of Covid, and also Grant Robertsons management of the economy to date.

National did 2-5% worse than polls suggested and had a disastrous outcome, having 26.8% of the vote before official counting and specials. The also got hammered in electorates, losing 15 of them, including Gerry Brownlee, Nick Smith and Chris Bishop (they all get in via the list but Brownlee and Smith and a few others must be seriously considering their political futures).

The other parties got results similar to recent polls. One possible explanation for the shift from National to Labour is that a number of normally National supporters voted Labour to increase the chances of Labour getting a sole majority to significantly reduce the leverage of the Green Party.

Notable election night outcomes – Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has also defied polls and currently leads Labour’s Helen White in Auckland Central by 492 votes. If this result stands after the final count it is a major achievement for Swarbrick and the Greens.

And Māori Party candidate Rawiri Waititi is ahead by 415 votes in Waiariki. If this result survives the final count it gets the Māori Party back into Parliament. Tamati Coffey is the only Labour MP to lose his seat (in a Labour landslide) but will keep his job in Parliament via the list.

As expected David Seymour retained Epsom and ACT got 8% of the votes, which means Seymour will be joined by nine other ACT MPS. That’s a big turnaround of ACT fortunes, in part due to Seymour’s sterling efforts and in part due to National’s poor term and leadership turnover.

A few months ago the Green Party looked like they may struggle to make the threshold, but they fought strongly and came out of election night with 7.6% of the vote and 10 MPs, plus the bonus of their first electorate in fifteen years. They will be celebrating, but may also be disappointed that Labour won’t need them to form a government. They are likely to still be included in some form of governing arrangement but won’t anything like the policy leverage holding the balance of power would have given them.

So for now it looks like a five party Parliament.

The polls were right and Winston Peters was wrong. There was no late surge, and NZ First ended up on 2.7%, with Shane Jones a distant third in Northland. Peters looked and often sounded like a last century politician and was dogged by the SFO investigation of donations. Is this the end of Peters as a politician? Is it the end of NZ First? We will have to wait and see.

No small parties came anywhere near the threshold, with only the Maori Party succeeding by winning one electorate (probably) but will get no other MPs.

Full interim results here: 2020 General Election and Referendums – Preliminary Count

David Farrar has put together an interim list of MPs here: The provisional Parliament.

Also of interest from him:

Interesting to see the difference in support between advance and election day results. This makes the polls for Labour and National look even less accurate.

I’m quite happy with this result. Labour have underperformed on things like housing, poverty, social welfare and tax reform and climate change, but did very well dealing with crises, especially the Covid pandemic, and Grant Robertson has managed the economy reasonably well (the full impact of Covid is yet to be seen).

National had a poor term, a bad year dumping two leaders, and a terrible campaign. They were always going to struggle against Ardern but they made a mess of things regardless. They have a lot of soul searching and rebuilding to do over the next three years.

I’m happy to see ACT in as a party rather than a sole MP, and I’m happy to see Greens surviving and in the mix as well, but without too much influence.

I’m very happy to see Chloe Swarbrick and Rawiri Waititi hopefully win electorates. This is good for smaller parties generally, and should serve as a warning to Labour that they didn’t get everything their own way (they showed some arrogance in the Auckland Central campaign).

And I have no problem with Winston Peters and NZ First dropping out of Parliament. While he has done some good things I have never been a fan of Peters, I just don’t like how he does politics.

Electoral Commission: 480,000 special votes to be counted (in 10 days’ time). Voter turnout est. to be 2.88m or 82.5% of those enrolled, cf 79.8% turnout in 2017.

Election night 2020

Voting is over and the counting has begun – actually they began counting advance votes from 9 am today, and with almost 2 million of them having been cast before today (3 October to 16 October) we should get results coming in quite quickly.

Electoral Commission: How are general election votes counted?

Counting votes cast before election day

From 9am on election day, we can count advance votes. We count them at secure electorate headquarters across New Zealand.

Counting votes cast on election day

After voting closes at 7pm, we count ordinary votes. The manager of each voting place opens the voting boxes and counts the party votes and electorate votes.

We publish the preliminary count results as they come in

After 7pm on election night, we enter the preliminary count results into our national election results system. We then publish the results on and give them to the media.

Our target on election night is to have:
– 50% of results available by 10pm
– 95% of results available by 11.30pm.

Official count gives the final election results

We start the official count the day after election day. The chief electoral officer declares the official results 20 days after election day.

We need to allow time for counting the special votes, which can come in up to 10 days after election day.

While it already looks obvious Labour will be in a position to form the next government, we may or may not get to find out tonight how much leverage the Greens have, and whether NZ First might also have a say or will miss the cut.

If we have to wait until special votes are counted it could take a couple of weeks, unless Labour and the greens just decide to go ahead and negotiate a governing arrangement anyway.

There will be some interest around some of the electorates, and there may be one or two left in limbo until special votes are counted, but that is very unlikely to change the overall result.

  • Estimated eligible population: 3,772,100
  • Total enrolled: 3,487,654
  • % enrolled: 92.46%
  • Advance votes: 1,976,996 (last election 1,240,740)
  • % advance votes: 56.69%

Enrolment statistics

Advance voting statistics

Little change in latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll

The latest Colmar Brunton polling was done this week (10-14 October) and with regular recent polling gives us the best idea of support levels and trends, but one of the most notable aspects is there is little change from their last poll.

It clearly confirmed that National+ACT are a long way from challenging, with their combined total 39% – on last night’s debate Judith Collins looked worn out and her body language conceded a demoralising defeat, while Jacinda Ardern looked happy and positive (most of the time).

  • Labour Party: 46% (down 1%)
  • National Party: 31% (down 1%)
  • ACT: 8% (no change)
  • Green Party: 8% (up 2%)
  • New Zealand First: 3% (up 1%)
  • New Conservative: 2% (up 1%)
  • The Opportunities Party: 1% (down 1%)
  • Advance New Zealand: 1% (no change)
  • Māori Party: 1% (up 1%)
  • Don’t know: 7% (down 1%)
  • Refused: 8% (up 3%)

The movements are insignificant, apart perhaps from the Green rise.

Labour is borderline for being able to rule with a majority. It depends on how many small party wasted votes there are – on these numbers about 8% will fail to reach the threshold so 46% is about half of the votes that will count.

It’s really annoying that 1 News only publish results rounded to the nearest whole number (about two days after 1 News publish Colmar Brunton posts more accurate results). This can distort movements of the smaller parties in their news coverage.

NZ First up 1% may look promising for them, but they apparently rose from 2.4% to 2.7%, which statistically is an insignificant change.

It’s worth looking at the last four Colmar Brunton results for the main parties. They have polled weekly 17-21 September, 23-27 September, 3-7 October and 10-14 October.

  • Labour 48, 47, 47, 46
  • National 31, 33, 32, 31
  • ACT 7, 8, 8, 8
  • Greens 6, 7, 6, 8
  • NZ First 2.4, 1.4, 2.4, 2.7

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 55% (up 5%)
  • Judith Collins 20% (down 3%
  • David Seymour 3% (up 1%)
  • Winston Peters 1%

That suggests the Ardern versus Collins aspect of the campaign has worked better for Ardern.

About 1.7 million votes have already been cast, which is half the total enrolled of 3,436,178

Roy Morgan September poll

For some reaason Roy Morgan have just released their poll done through September so in the context of an election campaign it is a bit out of date but may be of interest on the eve of election day (note that about 1.7 million people have already voted).

  • Labour 47.5% (August 48%)
  • National 28.5% (August 28.5%)
  • Greens 9.5% (August 11.5%)
  • ACT 7% (August 6%)
  • NZ First 2.5% (August 2.5%)
  • TOP 1.5% (August 1%)
  • Maori Party 0.5% (August 0.5%)
  • Other 3% (August 2%)

Those results aren’t a lot different to other recent polls, although they have National a bit lower and Greens a bit higher.

Trends seem quite steady (also like other polls):

Government confidence is also quite stable.

This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile – with a NZ-wide cross-section of 911 electors during September. Of all electors surveyed 6% (up 0.5%) didn’t name a party. Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?

Long campaign but still a fairly predictable outcome

The election campaign was extended due to Covid lockdown, and seems to be dragging out, but little seems to have changed in party support over the last few months.

Recent polls have been fairly stable, and with over 1.1 million advance votes already cast it looks very unlikely there will be any major swings in support in the last few days of the campaign.

Labour look like coasting to victory after a cautious campaign. They didn’t have to do much to maintain a big lead, and they haven’t done much. The only question seems to be whether they will get enough votes to be able to rule alone or not, and if they do whether they do whether they will take on a coalition partner (Greens).

Jacinda Ardern and by association Labour have received a lot of praise for their handling of the Covid pandemic, and Ardern has campaigned hard and adeptly on that record.

Greens are still fighting hard for every vote, which they may need to make the 5% threshold, but they aren’t offering anything compelling to voters. Labour have done their best to diffuse any leverage Greens may hope to have. Labour may or may not need the Greens to form a Government, but going by what Labour are saying that may make little difference to policies negotiated.

NZ First look rejected, polling between 1.4% and 2.5% over the last six months. Winston Peters is trying but looks far from confidence – he most often looks grumpy, and has offered little apart from promising to stop Labour doing things. It’s possible all the polls are wrong as Peters always claims, but even if NZ First sneak in over the threshold there is little incentive for Labour to form another coalition with them unless they really have to.

National have had a difficult year, changing leaders twice. They has also have a poor campaign, with Judith Collins failing to make much impression against Ardern, a series of sloppy policy announcements, and electorate MPs putting their own jobs head of the good of the party, sometimes poorly. National seem to have recovered a bit after plummetting to polling in the twenties, but now look stuck in the low thirties. There’s been nothing in their campaign to suggest they deserve moore than that,

ACT have had a good year and a good campaign. Last year they polled mostly less than 1% and just started to rise at the end of the year, rising to 1.6%. They have kept improving through this year, with their last two poll results being 8%. Even if they drop back a bit they will still have a very good result, jumping from 1 MP to 5-10 MPs.

National look to be in a hopeless situation. Even with ACT they are barely getting into the forties, a long way short of Labour. Some wishful thinkers have been saying ‘if Labour drop 5% and National jump 5% it’s all on’ but that looks very unlikely, especially with National lurching from mistake to embarrassment.

What if NZ First defy the polls and make the threshold? National have ruled out doing a deal with Peters, and while Peters has defied pre-election indications in the past it would be aa huge stretch even for him to now form a coalition with National, let alone National+ACT.

So most likely we will have a Labour+Green government next term, with Labour exerting dominance shown already though the campaign. Or possibly a Labour alone Government. It would be a major shock if the result is outside these possibilities.


There is an outside chance the Maori Party manage to pull off one or two surprise wins in Maori electorates. Polls suggest they are close in some – probably not close enough, but Maori voters have been generally much better at tactical voting than the rest.

Labour+Greens+Maori would likely help Labour dominate.

But Labour+Maori would make an interesting coalition. It may embolden the Labour Maori caucus.

1 News Colmar Brunton poll – little change

A 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll (with the previous two polls from 17-21 September and 23-27 September in brackets):

  • Labour 47% (48, 47)
  • National 32% (31, 33)
  • ACT 8% (7, 8)
  • Greens 6% (6, 7)
  • NZ First 2.4% (2.4, 1.4)
  • TOP 2% (1.1, 1.0)
  • New Conservatives 1% (1.6, 1.4)
  • Advance NZ 1% (0.8, 0.6)
  • Maori Party 0.2 (0.9, 0.8)

Polling period 3-7 October 2020.

Very little change there from two weeks ago. Party support seems to have set in with little moving it.

National+Act on 40% still well short of challenging Labour or Labour+Greens.

Greens look ok but will still be worried about the threshold, especially if they underperform polling as they have done in some elections. And Labour may stop them picking up as many overseas votes.

NZ First still look to have failed to fire this time. Today’s news of the NZ First foundation in court again won’t help.

New Conservatives claimed to be polling around 4 but no published poll comes anywhere near that.

Advance NZ aren’t \making much progress.

Don’t know or refused 13% (up 2) – but these tend to not change the numbers much.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 50% (54, 54)
  • Judith Collins 23% (20, 23)
  • David Seymour 2% (2, 2)
  • Winston Peters 1% (2, 1)

Don’t know or refused 17% (up 3).

Up to yesterday 478,860 people had already voted.

There is a small party debate on TV1 tonight from 7-8pm, not sure why it is shorter than the two leader debates with more leaders participating.

End of Life Choice and Cannabis referendums

Voting for the 2020 election opens in New Zealand today and continues for two weeks through to election day on Saturday 17 October.

As well as our two MMP votes for a party and for an electorate candidate, we also get to vote on two referendums.

End of Life Choice referendum

In this referendum, you can vote on whether the End of Life Choice Act 2019 should come into force. The Act would give people with a terminal illness the option of requesting assisted dying.

The referendum question is:

Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?

You can choose 1 of these 2 answers:

  • Yes, I support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force.
  • No, I do not support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force.

Learn more about the End of Life Choice referendum

Cannabis legalisation and control referendum

In this referendum, you can vote on whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal.

The referendum question is:

Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?

You can choose 1 of these 2 answers:

  • Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
  • No, I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

Learn more about the cannabis legalisation and control referendum

Voting in NZ starts today

While voting from overseas in this year’s general election (plus two referendums) began a few days ago, today marks the opening of voting in New Zealand. We can vote from 3 October through to ‘election day’ on Saturday 17 October.

Some links to help with deciding and voting:

Sites to help learn and decide:

On The Fence
Wondering who to vote for this election?
Discover which parties best match your values.

Vote Compass
– a tool developed by political scientists that calculates how your political views compare with party platforms.

Policy makes voting easy: all the policies, parties and candidates, all in one place. See where the parties stand on key issues, find out who’s running in your area, and pick the policies and candidates you like most to help you decide who to vote for.

Policy states “On 17 October, NZ will vote in the most important election of a generation” – this is inaccurate, voting starts today and runs for 15 days, and claiming it is “the most important election of a generation” is very subjective and debatable.

Under MMP we get two votes.

The vote for a party is the key one because that determines the number of seats each party will get, and therefore effectively determines which party or parties will form a Government.

As we saw for the first time last election the party with the most seats and votes doesn’t necessarily get to lead the Government. Getting a combined party majority is what matters.

The vote for an electorate candidate has no effect on the overall number of seats in Parliament, so you can vote for the candidate you think will best represent your electorate regardless of which party they belong to.

Small movements in another Colmar Brunton poll

We are finally getting a few polls leading into the election, with 1 News/Colmar Brunton releasing another poll, this one with polling done following last week’s leaders debate. This may have slightly lifted National support.

And Labour have slipped enough to raise doubts they may be able to govern alone, especially with a bit more of a Green rise.

  • Labour 47% (down 1)
  • National 33% (up 2)
  • ACT 8% (up 1)
  • Greens 7% (up 1)
  • NZ First 1% (down 1)
  • New Conservatives 1% (down 1)
  • TOP 1%
  • Maori Party 1%
  • Advance NZ 1%

Refuse to answer – 3%
Undecided – 8%

Polling was done from Wednesday 23 to Sunday 27 September.

These are well within margin of error shifts.

Greens are looking healthier but will need to keep fighting for every vote they can get. They sometimes do better in polls than elections.

Winston Peters won’t quite have to rename his party NZ Last, but this loos increasingly like his last stint in Parliament.

The other small parties look like they are getting little to no traction.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 54% (no change)
  • Judith Collins 23% (up 5)
  • David Seymour 2% (no change)
  • Winston Peters 1% (no change)

That’s a semi significant rise for Collins but she is still a long way off the pace.

1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll: Labour and Greens in driving seat, but ACT still strong

Ardern v Collins debate

The first leaders’ debate of the election is tonight on 1 News at 7.00 pm until 8:30 pm.

This puts Jacinda Ardern head to head against Judith Collins, Labour versus National.

We will have to wait and see what impact this will have on the election.