Early votes – the numbers

In the second part of my look into early votes I’ve taken a thorough dig through the election results. There was a fair bit of copy and pasting involved, so apologies if I’ve made any mistakes. All figures in this post refer to the party vote. If you’re so keen you’d like to see the dataset I’ve used, feel free to email me and I’ll send you a copy.

Firstly, I’ve taken a look at the number of early votes cast as a percentage of the total number of votes cast.

While there is a little variation at either end, the early vote in most electorates sits comfortably between 10-14% of the total votes cast.

It is noticeable that Christchurch electorates are very well represented (Christchurch East 2, Christchurch Central 5, Waimakariri 8, Port Hills 10 and Wigram at 11) at the top end of the scale. I’m not sure if this is because Cantabrians voted early due to uncertainty about polling booth locations, because of some extra effort on the part of campaigns or the Electoral Commission, or some other factor. I’d welcome suggestions as to what might have happened.

And then I’ve also taken a look at how Labour’s party vote in early votes compared to their share of the rest of the votes (votes cast on the day, and special votes).

Again, while there are some big outliers, particularly Te Tai Tokerau and Tamaki at the bottom end, there is not actually a great deal of variation in the numbers here.

Of the 25 electorates where Labour’s share of the early votes was higher than their share of the other votes (or exactly the same in the case of Ohariu), they won 12, with several others being very close.

With a total of 287,113 early votes cast (or 12.73% of the total vote), it is clear that this is going to be a very important part of the electorate. If more and more people are going to be casting early votes, it is going to be important that campaigns do not rely on only communicating with them in the last week. Early campaigning is likely to become even more important.

That said, you often hear people talking about the percentage of people who make their mind up in the polling booth. I’d be very interested to see research regarding how this number is moving.

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