Labour, Greens and Māori edge up

The latest One News Colmar Brunton poll has been released, I’ve updated my model accordingly.

The updated predicted outcome is exactly the same, in that each party would still get the same number of seats as they did before this poll was released. However, some movement has been observed.

Labour is now up 0.5 per centage points, so they must be very close to getting a 35th seat. Also, both the Greens and Māori Party are also observing an increasing trend in support with both of them increasing 0.4 percentage points and also being close to pickup an additonal seat.

I think this result shows the value in a model like this – significant new movement will still be observed, but will only end up showing in the results if it eventually forms part of a trend. In essence, we’re doing what we can to nullify “rogue polls”.

2017 Election Forecast released

There are few things that annoy me more than how blogs and Twitter light up after the release of a single political poll.

Pundits will make the huge inferences from statistically insignificant changes, or attribute meaning to an event that occurred after polling finished.

Today I’m proud to release something I’ve been working on for a while, a forecast model for the 2017 New Zealand General Election. It is a mathematical model for analysing polling and determining what Parliament would look like if an election were held today.

Check it out here or via the permalink at the menu on the top of this page.

It takes all available public polling, adjusts for historical data (for instance, known bias’ that individual pollsters have), produces a weighted average based on recency and sample size.

It then produces an estimate of each party’s seat count in the Parliament.

No doubt people will have a ton of questions, hopefully the following will answer them. If you have any further questions, or ideas or suggestions, please either leave them on here, or email me directly on patrick.leyland@gmail.com

Lastly, my thanks to the many people on both sides of the Tasman (you know who you are) who have helped me with the coding, maths, and design. Hopefully you’ll find it useful!

Details

Continue reading “2017 Election Forecast released”

National MP Calculator

I have to admit I’ve been a bit surprised with the response to my Labour MP calculator – it seems to be a hit, even though at the moment it’s only working with a modified version of the current caucus rankings.

I’ve now plugged the National Party’s caucus rankings and selected candidates into the back end, and have the first version of my National MP calculator working…

Calculate potential National MPs

There a bug with the gender calculations for the Nats, so I’ve removed it for the time being. They don’t have a constitutional gender requirement so it will create far fewer headaches for them, but I’ll include it as soon as I can get it working as a point of comparison.

Also, the Nats haven’t finished many of their selections, and have been very sporadic about issuing releases when candidates are selected. If you know of any National candidates that have been endorsed but are missing from my list, please let me know.

Enjoy!

Labour MP calculator – NEW AND IMPROVED!

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the first version of the Labour MP calculator I released on the weekend – I’m glad that so many people found it interesting.

I’ve re-engineered it to use a different framework, and it is now capable of producing lists for both Labour and National and showing exactly who would be elected.

Take a look at version two here.

At the moment the List it is simulating is the current Labour caucus rankings – but as soon as the actual list is released I’ll get that up, and I’ll continue to add electorate candidates as they’re selected.

Likewise, I’m working on a version for National which will have their list as soon as it’s released.

One thing jumped out at me while putting this together – just how hard it will be for the Labour Party to meet it’s constitutionally mandated gender balance. At this stage, with so many safe electorates going to men, virtually all of the winnable list slots will have to go to women. There are still two “marginal” seats still to be selected, New Lynn and Auckland Central, which will almost certainly have to go to women if the party is to meet it’s new 50/50 rule.

As always, if you’ve got any feedback please pass it along either via a comment here or via email (patrick.leyland@gmail.com)

Labour MP calculator

Now that Labour has concluded most of it’s selections for winnable seats at the 2017 election (New Lynn, Auckland Central, and Ohariu are the outstanding ones), we can start looking at what the composition of caucus will be like following the election.

I’ve been brushing up on my coding skills and made a calculator that lets you determine the makeup of caucus based on various party vote percentages and electorate results.

View the calculator here

Having had a play around with the numbers, one thing really stands out to me. If you assume that the electorate seats and party vote share are reasonably static, Labour is well behind it’s rule of a 50/50 gender balance after the 2017 election. It’s going to make the list selection process very interesting.

Please let me know if you’ve got any ideas for changes, or notice something that needs correcting.

 

 

2017 candidates

Just like in 2014, NZ Labour is leading the way with early selections, they now have seven electorate candidates in place. There is no word on when National’s electorate selections will begin, though I’d be surprised if they started this year.

As I did for the last NZ election, I’ve created a page that lists candidates who have been officially endorsed by a major party to contest an electorate for the 2017 New Zealand election. You can view it here and there is a link permanently at the top of this blog.

Incumbents with a strike through their name indicate they have announced they are not standing for re-election in the seat.

Candidates with a public Facebook Page have that linked from their name.

I’ll also be creating public Facebook lists to keep track of the candidates, you can follow the lists so you can see what they’re up to on Facebook without having to like all their pages. Here’s the first one:

NZ Labour 2017 candidates

If you have any updates for these lists please contact me at patrick.leyland@gmail.com

How the capital was won

lester

Yesterday’s New Zealand local government elections were great for Labour right around the country.

As well as many council and local board successes, the mayors of Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Whanganui and Rotorua are now all Labour members. This means that 49% of the New Zealand population has a Labour mayor – which is very impressive.

In Wellington, Labour did particularly well. Not only did they retain the Lambton Ward council seat vacated by Mark Peck’s retirement, but they gained a seat in the Northern Ward with Peter Gilberd. And of course, Wellington has it’s first Labour mayor in 24 years in Justin Lester.

Lester’s campaign defied expectations and won with an impressive majority of almost 7,000 votes.

How did Labour get over the line? Highly targeted field work, and a lot of it. It’s not a new concept, but one that has just seen it’s best ever New Zealand execution. It’s a model that has seen extensive use in Australia in recent years (Victoria 2014, Federal 2016 and NT 2016 in particular) and has now proven it’s worth many times over. Sydney University’s Stephen Mills has written an excellent summary of the use of field campaigning in Australia in 2016 – check it out.

Firstly, Wellington Labour recruited an army of over 250 volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls. Around 40% of the volunteers weren’t party members – they were regular Wellingtonians that were mobalised into action instead of rusted on branch members who would prefer to spend their time debating policy remits. From what I’m told almost all of the campaign’s regular canvassers had never taken political action like this before.

This small army, plus Labour’s candidates themselves, had over 60,000 personal conversations with voters during the campaign (these are phone calls or door knocks, just meeting someone at a street stall at a market doesn’t count)

Justin Lester personally spoke to 14% of the people who voted (the campaigns are given lists of people who have and haven’t voted, very useful to try and encourage people to vote who haven’t yet done so). Think about that for a second. If you voted in the Wellington City Council election, there was a 14% chance that the Labour candidate spoke to you – either over the phone or on your door step – that’s impressive.

And while the campaign went on for months, 10,000 of Labour’s 60,000 voter contacts were made in the last two weeks – when undecided voters were making up their minds and people finally got around to voting.

No doubt more analysis will be done of the results (particularly once the special votes are counted and included), but from the result one thing is clear: people power made a huge difference in the Wellington City Council election.

Labour’s newly created Community Action Network has 250 trained recruits who know how to talk to voters and make persuasive conversations.

This is how you win.

A golden opportunity for Andrew Little

Firstly, congratulations and all the best to Phil Goff, who has officially announced he will stand for Mayor of Auckland. It’s a massive job, and a massive campaign will be needed to get him over the line. But Goff is a machine and will throw 150% into it.

The problem this now creates for NZ Labour is that it opens the door on a potentially difficult by-election.

Here are the results from Mt Roskill (Goff’s seat) at the 2014 general election:

Party Vote Candidate Vote
Labour 12,086 Phil Goff 18,637
National 14,275 Parmjeet Parmar 10,546

In 2014 at least, Phil Goff was a hell of a lot more popular than the Labour Party.

A victory for National in Mt Roskill would significantly help them regain the legislative advantage they lost when Winston Peters picked Northland at the by-election earlier this year, so they will no doubt be taking it seriously.

That said, recent history has shown that Labour can perform when on the back foot in a difficult by-election. In the 2013 Christchurch East by-eleciton, (ironically also caused by a Labour MP leaving to stand for mayor) Labour went in over 4,000 votes behind on paper (from the 2011 general election result, party vote Christchurch East Labour vs National) but newcomer Labour candidate Poto Williams managed to secure the seat with a majority of almost 5,000 votes.

On those numbers at least (and I’ll admit it’s a very basic analysis) Mt Roskill would seem a much easier prospect than Christchurch East.

So we get to the opportunity for Andrew Little. Standing in Mt Roskill would secure the list MP in an electorate seat, something he will almost certainly be after. Not only that, but it will give him huge, and Labour, momentum going forward. It will be a great way of getting the Little and the party excellent headlines and media coverage that it so desperately needs.

Of course, there will be other contenders for the Labour nomination. Expect both Michael Wood and Sunny Kaushal to put their hats into the ring.

With the prospect of a fascinating by-election and mayoral election, Labour’s conference this weekend just became a hell of a lot more interesting!

The decline of traditional TV

Netflix has launched with a roar in Australia and New Zealand, and research is starting to come in showing that the take-up has been huge.

Analysts predict that if Netflix were measured as a 24-hour station by Nielsen, it would have more viewers than ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox within the year.

This is yet another piece of evidence that very significant numbers of people are abandoning  the traditional “ Movie Box” media. Also (radio, newspapers and magazines).

While I have no doubt that a very good (and expensive) TV ad campaign might have previously been able to win elections, there are more and more reasons why this is no longer the case.

If you were to sink the vast bulk of your campaign budget into TV ads, you should really stop and think about how many people would actually see them (and that is assuming they have any effect at all, of which there is limited evidence).

Reviewing the review

The envelope on which NZ Labour’s campaign review was written on the back of has unsurprisingly been leaked. Expect a witch hunt to distract from just how sub-standard the review is.

The content of the review, and lack-thereof, offer a fascinating insight into a party in turmoil. The actual 2014 general election campaign is skimmed over – most of the focus of the review instead seems to be the party’s organisational structures.

I’m going to go through the review and offer some thoughts. Starting with part 1 – General Election 2014.

Part 1 – General Election 2014

1A Campaign organisation

The late start under a changed leadership team left too little time to allow Labour to prepare and implement an effective campaign. In general, Labour’s campaign preparation was inadequate.

The new leadership team should make an immediate start on developing and implementing a coordinated strategic plan for contesting the 2017 election. A small and properly constituted Campaign Committee should be established at least a year out from the election and should be charged with preparing and implementing a campaign strategy which achieves buy-in from everyone, from the leader down.

While I don’t really disagree with the sentiment here, I find it an odd thing to open the review with (defensively stating “we didn’t have enough time”). David Cunliffe had a year between taking over as leader and the general election – which oddly is the lead time the review recommends for the setup of a campaign committee. I actually thought that the campaign committee was a standing committee, and if it isn’t, it should be. With three year terms no political party can afford to take two years off from campaigning.

1B Candidate selection

Candidate selection on the whole worked well and produced some excellent candidates. Late candidate selection hampered some 2014 electorate campaigns.

There should be a strategy developed for early selections and electorates with limited potential to generate a significant candidate pool. Attention should be paid to the transparency and fairness of the process for drawing up the list and to the structure of the list.

Oh candidate selection worked well, did it? The late selection bit is rubbish too – it is one area where Labour actually did really well. Six months out from the election Labour had selected all but seven electorate candidates, well ahead of Nats, Greens and NZ First.

Yes there should be a strategy developed for early selections, but this was done following the 2012 Coatsworth/Shearer review. What this review needed to do was ask *why* didn’t it happen – or is it simply misinformed.

1D Fundraising

The campaign was undoubtedly hindered by a shortage of financial resources. The finance available was less than in earlier campaigns, though only a little less by comparison with 2011. Labour must do better in this respect in 2017. Labour must build greater confidence in its ability to win and to form a successful government, and – in addition to building its database of online donors – it must use high – level business and other contacts, supported by a strengthened group of professional fundraisers on the staff team, in approaching the corporate sector and other potential sources of funding for donations.

We need more money. This could pretty much be the title of the review. Let’s see if any action is actually taken.

1E Leadership

Perceptions of tension around the leadership and disunity within caucus seriously undermined Labour’s credibility with voters and frustrated any attempt to present a Party that was ready for government.

It is imperative that Labour acts – and is seen to act – as a disciplined and coherent team that is ready for government if it is to win the trust of voters in 2017. As a key element of this process, the senior leadership team within Caucus should be given greater prominence and responsibility throughout the three years.

Yes, leadership was a problem. However the review conveniently ignores the harsh reality that the party was facing an election with a deeply unpopular leader. I’d be interested to know if this review panel has actually seen the research the party did on leadership? Yes, caucus disunity was a problem for David Cunliffe, but only in so far as it had been for every single Labour leader before him. Though I don’t have any hard stats to back this up, I actually think the party and caucus seemed pretty united during the campaign, and I certainly don’t recall any leaks against the leader (as had happened previously).

Sadly, the recommendation the review provides (giving the senior leadership team in caucus more prominence and responsibility) doesn’t really seem to be a solution to any problem, real or imagined.

So, we’re at the end of the General Election 2014 section of the review, and we have the following recommendations:

1. Form a campaign committee a year out from the election.

2. There should be a strategy for early selections. The list selection process should be “transparent and fair”.

3. More resources are needed for training candidates, campaign managers and volunteers (this was 1C, which I haven’t covered because it’s totally uncontroversial)

4. We need more money, and to do that we need more professional fundraisers in head office.

5. Giving the senior leadership team in caucus more prominence and responsibility.

I challenge any member of the Labour Party to take a look at that list and tell me that it adequately addresses the problems Labour’s campaign in 2014 faced.

Part 2 – Policy and Positioning

This section has a list of policy and positioning recommendations which it tells us are not actually recommendations, because they first need to be passed to the Policy Council and then the Media and Communications Unit in the Leader’s Office. I’m going to ignore it, as the party almost certainly will (after Patrick Gower has finished mocking 2G).

Part 3 – Party Governance and Organisation

This truly is the strangest part of the review. It goes from making recommendations based on problems Labour faced in 2014, to just making stuff up. I’ll try and summarise, but forgive me if I end up rambling, due to the nature of the subject matter.

3A – Party legal status

This is an issue I’ve heard about before, and still to this day don’t really understand (the review doesn’t go into much detail). I don’t know why it was a problem, or what the review is recommending, so hopefully the new general secretary will be able to finally resolve this.

3B – National level organistational structure 

This section a series of recommendations. Sadly the review doesn’t mention what problem they are trying to address. Here is what they suggest:

1. A new sub-committee of NZ Council, the Executive, which would include the Leader, President, two senior Vice Presidents, General Secretary, and three Party members elected directly by the membership. Tasked with developing and implementing campaign strategy as well as selection criteria.

2. Maintaining and expanding the NZ Council to include an ethnic representative.

3. A Campaign Committee to be appointed by NZ Council.

4. Sector groups to be reviewed (yes, this review recommends more reviewing).

5. Te Kaunihera Māori, the Māori section of the Party , should also undertake a review (are we seeing a pattern here?).

As I said earlier, I don’t really know what the problem is the review is trying to address here. I would actually assume that the new Executive and Campaign Committees would conflict and potentially hinder each other’s work.

3C – Local organising

The recommendations in this section are a mess. They recommend cementing the LEC (electorate committee) as the main unit of power, not abolishing branches but removing any power they have. It also recommends finally abolishing regional councils, which should have happened when Hubs were implemented. However it still leaves in place the regional reps on NZ Council (which will never be allowed to get smaller) and regional conferences will never die. Sadly review doesn’t touch on how the “Hub” organisational model worked or didn’t in the general election.

3D – Affiliates 

Precis: the affiliation model is broken (also, we get no money from them).

The main recommendation that there should be a working group to “examine the most effective way for affiliates to be integrated into a campaign strategy.” And it also handily points out that the money gained from unions is small, but doesn’t have any recommendations on what to do about that.

3E – Candidates

I’m going to quote the first line of this section: “The real question appears to be how the Party identifies candidates and then prepares and supports its candidates before, during and after the election.”

I’m sorry, does it?

It also then goes on to say:

“One of the most criticised aspects of the last election was the process for selection of list candidates”

Really? Not the fact that you got 25% of the Party Vote?

It then goes on to make the following recommendations to change this ‘problem’:

1. Any member with 10 signatures should be able to nominate for the list (this is raising the current threshold, but it’s still so low it doesn’t matter).

2. All nominations should be vetted (and presumably vetoed) by a three-person “Vetting Committee”.

3. Moderating Committee should change to being composed of the NZ Council + 4 members of caucus (does that include the members that already sit on NZ Council).

These three recommendations are the most incredible thing in the review. They’re proposing to centralise power in a way that would make Muldoon blush. While they complain about a lack of democracy and transparency, their recommendations propose the opposite. Amazing.

3F – Fundraising

The main recommendation here is to put in place a capital fund to pay for campaigns. And to do that they want to “unlock the significant resources held by local entities of the Party”. Good luck with that.

 

At the end of the day this review is a mess. However the biggest problem will be if the party focusses on the guff in it (I can already imagine the fights that changes to LEC and regional council rules will cause) and continues to ignore the very real political problems it faces – which remain largely unaddressed.

Given this review is a waste of the envelope it was written on, it will be interesting to see how the new leader and president react (I can’t imagine the current General Secretary doing much to improve the situation).