The 2014 election was truly extraordinary, and aside from John Key and a handful of Labour candidates in marginal seats, there are far more losers than there are winners.
At only managing 10% of the party vote the Greens have done far worse than anyone expected. They have fallen far short of their target of 15% of the party vote, which many people thought was a fairly conservative goal. Not only that, but they are only marginally ahead of NZ First (party that has an MP so secret no one knows what he did before parliament) as the third largest party in parliament.
To top that off, their conservative party list process has resulted in them only getting one new MP – and they have not made any progress on gender equality or cultural diversity (they still have no Pasifika MPs on a night where Labour put two into safe seats). They had many many talented candidates who are not going to make it.
It will be really interesting to see if any of their longer-standing MPs (Kennedy Graham and Catherine Delahunty in particular) voluntarily retire so the Greens have some fresh blood.
Following the election, Russel Norman & Metiria Turei announced the following achievement of their campaign:
- Over 6000 of you volunteered your time and energy to the campaign.
- We door knocked and phoned 60,000 New Zealanders to talk about our visions.
- We put up 6,500 billboards, delivered 1.8 million leaflets and attended hundreds of community events.
- And 8,800 of you made a donation to help us run our largest campaign ever.
These metrics look pretty decent. If you take a stab in the dark and assume their average donor gave $20 (I suspect it’s actually considerably higher), they made $176,000 online, which certainly isn’t shabby.
I have no idea what these numbers look like for any of the other parties, but it would certainly be an interesting yard stick for Labour to use in the review of their campaign.
But if these numbers look healthy, why did the Greens do so poorly?
Was it because, as Green cheerleader Danyl McLauchlan has said “their billboards were really fucking weird”?
Did they put too much focus into getting money off people and not enough into getting votes?
Did their message just not resonate with the voting public?
Did Laila Harré’s last minute defection to the Internet Party cause massive damage?
Are the Greens even relevant when they try to sell themselves as a party of government while polling at 12%?
No doubt the Greens have considerable soul searching to do. Has the Norman/Turei experiment failed?
One thing is for sure, lots of tweets and celebrity endorsements doesn’t translate into party votes.