After my previous post looking at Labour’s self-declared provincial targets, and potential seats that National might target in 2014, the next natural step is to look at the urban seats Labour might target. Here are some that spring out at me…
The boundary changes in Auckland Central will make this a harder seat for Labour to win, but certainly not impossible. Over the last two years Jacinda Ardern has continued to work incredibly hard in this electorate, and has a huge public profile.
She’ll likely want to revise some of the campagin tactics she used in 2011, but defeating Nikki Kaye certainly isn’t out of the question next year.
Prediction: Too close to call
The second new seat in Auckland, Kelston will be a Labour strong hold. Expect a massive scrap for the selection, with Carmel Sepuloni the likely favourite at this early stage.
Prediction: Labour gain
This seat used to be a Labour stronghold, until Carol Beaumont was selected to stand for Labour when Mark Gosche stood down in 2008. The revised boundaries make this an easier win for Labour, though I wouldn’t quite say that victory is certain.
It will be interesting to see if Labour continues to reward failure and re-selects Carol Beaumont, or uses Maungakiekie to bring some much needed fresh talent into Parliament.
Prediction: Labour gain
Hamilton West is also made more challenging with its new boundaries, however it is still a seat that Labour needs to take seriously, especially if they start to see a lift in the polls.
That said, five time loser Sue Moroney is never going to be able to take the seat for Labour. It’s time that Labour uses Hamilton West to address its talent shortage in the Waikato and get some decent fresh blood in there.
It will be a very hard fight – but it is one Labour needs to take very seriously.
Prediction: National hold
In 2011 National managed to win Christchurch Central for the first time in it’s history, with a wafer thin majority of 47 votes.
The new boundaries make this a much safer seat for Labour, and with a decent campaign and an upswing in the polls, the seat is almost certain to return to Labour in 2014.
Again, like Kelston, it’s likely to be a very tough fight for the selection in what is going to over time become a safe Labour seat. I’ve already heard of several challengers, it will be interesting to see who prevails.
Prediction: Labour gain
I started this blog post by quickly writing up a list of seats which I think National may target in the 2014 elections. It didn’t take me long. Over the last few elections Labour has lost so many of its electorate seats there are virtually no swing seats still in Labour hands.
Which means that a goal of winning electorate seats off Labour is unlikely for whoever is the National leader when the 2014 election comes around. They are almost certainly going to focus their effort and resources on maintaining their current level of support, and perhaps doing some sensible electoral deals to ensure they still have coalition options after the election.
Still, there is a small handful of seats which the Nats may have their eyes on…
The only seat in the north island which National is sure to pick up is the new seat of Upper Harbour, at the far reaches of the Waitamata Harbour. Paula Bennett has already put her hand up for the seat, and will almost certainly get it. Interestingly, like the last new seat created in Auckland, Botanty, it is seen as a safe National seat right from day one. I have a theory that this in large part due to how disconnected Labour is to the heavily-morgtaged, hard working and aspirational Kiwis settling in the sprawling subdivisions at the periphery of the large cities, but that’s a topic for another blog post…
Prediction: National gain
Ohariu has been a solid blue seat for many years, and the latest boundary changes will only cement that. The only way Labour has ever had a chance at winning the seat is in a very strange three way split with Peter Dunne – if we had preferential votes for electorate seats, they would never even get close.
While there is still a reasonable chance that Peter Dunne could retain the seat, the days of him ever being able to bring in any more MPs in with him off the list are well gone. 2014 may very well be the right time for National to pounce and take the seat that they should have held for many years in their own right.
Interestingly, the latest boundary changes bring in Wadestown from Wellington Central, and with it, Wellington City Councillor, Jo Coughlan. If National do decide to take Ohariu seriously, expect Coughlan to be one of the leading contenders for the selection.
Prediction: National gain, if they want it
The seat of Port Hills was never natural Labour territory, but thanks to the very hard work of Ruth Dyson and her team she’s managed to keep the seat red. The people of Port Hills like Ruth and the work she does for them, despite the party she comes from.
Unfortunately, the boundaries for Port Hills have changed dramatically, bringing in almost 20,000 people from Banks Peninsular and Halswell from the seat of Selwyn.
Dyson’s only chance of staying in Parliament is if she gets a good list spot, because despite her good local profile, this seat is now very blue.
Prediction: National gain
Like Port Hills, Mt Roskill has long been served by a very hard working local MP, Labour’s Phil Goff. Ever since he was first defeated in 1990 and then worked his way back in 1993 he has taken nothing for granted in Roskill. He is a true local icon, loved by the electorate.
Unfortunately, just like Port Hills, the electorate boundary has changed substantially, now taking affluent chunks of Epsom and Maungakiekie, and losing working class New Windsor and Blockhouse Bay to New Lynn.
Phil’s personal majority is large enough that he can probably survive the boundary changes, but when he does move on, so too will the seat of Mt Roskill.
Prediction: Labour hold, while Goff still stands
Next in the series will be a look at which seats the minor parties might be targeting…
I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, but yesterday’s announcement of the proposed boundary changes for the next two New Zealand general elections have finally given me all the material I need!
In New Zealand’s MMP system, the immediate electoral goal of any serious party is to gain enough of a share of the party votes so that they and their allies have enough of the seats in Parliament to form a government.
Because of this, it is easy to take a simplistic look at the voting system and totally write off the need to campaign for electorate seats – after all, if all you need to win government is enough party votes, why would you devote valuable resources to an electorate contest?
There are two very good reasons that campaigning for electorate seats should still be a priority under MMP (though of course, not as important as winning party votes).
The first is that by showing the electorate that you take their interests seriously, and are connected to them at a very local level (in my mind one of the keys to winning an electorate seat) you are more likely to improve your share of the party vote. Swing voters will take your party far more seriously if they have a local champion to relate to.
The second is far more tangible: resources. Electorate MPs get substantially more funding than list MPs (at least $60k – up to over $100k for large electorates, versus just $20k for list MPs). Not only that, but having an MP on the ground makes it far easier for parties to organise and run campaigns (generally – there are some notable exceptions to this on both sides of the equation).
Something that recently got my attention was an article in the Wairarapa Times Age where Labour leader David Cunliffe stated that he aims to win back five provincial seats at the 2014 election. They are: Wairarapa, Wanganui, Napier, New Plymouth and Te Tai Hauauru. My gut reaction was that this looks like a bit of a mixed bag of targets. Still, it’s good to see that Cunliffe is being bold enough to aim to win back seats outside of the major cities.
Now that the proposed boundaries have come out I’m going to take a look at Labour’s chance at winning in each of these seats. In further posts I’ll be looking at which urban seats Labour may target, and also potential targets for National and the minor parties.
So starting off, lets look at Cunliffe’s provincial targets for 2014…
Despite a spirited campaign, Labour’s Andrew Little failed to unseat National’s Jonathan Young at the 2011 election. Massive gentrification and boundary changes have seen this seat go from being Labour’s safest seat in 2002 to National heartland. Labour will really have to take stock of their chances here after the surprise landslide defeat of Harry Duynhoven – former MP for New Plymouth, cabinet minister and the mayor for the previous term. The proposed boundary changes for 2014 see the electorate take in a large solid rural area to the south, from the Whanganui electorate. This will only further cement Jonathan Young’s majority.
Prediction: National hold
Whanganui is an interesting seat for Labour. As with New Plymouth, it is a seat that it has held in the not too distant past. Labour still wins the polling booths in the city of Whanganui very comfortably, but gets devastated in the rural hinterland. Labour did a reasonable job here in 2011, with their candidate, district councillor Hamish McDouall reducing Chester Borrows’ majority by a thousand. Hamish has just been re-elected as the highest polling candidate to the Wanganui District Council, and appointed Deputy Mayor.
As mentioned earlier, the top part of this electorate has been sliced off for New Plymouth, in exchange it has gained the town of Stratford from Taranaki-King Country. Staford is a fairly solid Labour town.
The combination of a decent boundary change, McDouall’s increased profile and a poll shift towards Labour are all very good portents. Labour will have to work very hard to win this seat, but in 2014 it is certainly in play.
Prediction: Labour gain
After receiving a disappointing list position in 2011, list MP Stuart Nash fought tooth and nail against the popular, well known local MP and up and coming cabinet minister, Chris Tremain. Despite little outside support and a massive nation-wide swing against Labour, Nash managed to slash Tremain’s majority from over 9000 to less than 4000. Unfortunately he didn’t make it back into Parliament on the list – but despite no longer having access to Parliamentary resources he has been working very hard in the electorate and continued to build his profile.
2014 is going to be a different ball game. Incumbent Tremain has announced he is standing down from Parliament. National will not be able to find a better local candidate, and they will almost certainly go into the race with a lower profile than Nash. Adding to that is a minor boundary change which moves 1500 people in the rural north out of the East Coast electorate and into Napier – this will be a challenge for Nash as it’s not his local stomping ground and it’s unlikely Labour will do particularly well in the area.
Labour still has a hard road ahead of it in Napier, but if anyone is going to put in enough work to turn the seat red, it’s going to be Stuart Nash. It’s now or never to turn the tide in the Hawkes Bay.
Prediction: Labour gain
Of Cunliffe’s five provincial targets, Wairarapa is going to be the hardest to win. Despite running an excellent campaign in 2011, Labour failed to even dent the majority of National’s incumbent, John Hayes. Hayes is no star performer, regularly slammed by the local paper and in the twilight of his career. It’s likely that he will lose an upcoming selection battle and Labour will have to content with a much stronger opponent. The boundaries in 2014 are not changing, and it will remain a very challenging seat for Labour.
Prediction: National hold
Te Tai Hauauru
The only Maori seat in Cunliffe’s list of provincial targets. It’s a behemoth of a seat, stretching from Porirua in the south right up into the Waikato. Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has held the seat since before the dawn of time, and despite it being the Maori Party’s safest seat, her announced retirement has squarely put the seat in play.
While the boundaries – which are not going to change for 2014 – make this a very difficult seat to campaign in, this will be a factor both for Labour and the Maori Party. The recent Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election will provide Labour some comfort, the results there certainly make the Maori Party look like an electoral relic. However Labour will not be able to focus its resources on the seat as it did during the by-election.
Much of the result will therefore come down to who each party selects. I’ve heard a number of whispers about potential Labour candidates, some of which would be very good, and some disastrous. It’s really Labour’s seat to lose next year, but if they make an early misstep and pick a dud of a candidate that could very well happen.
Prediction: Labour gain
Interestingly, all of Cunliffe’s provincial targets are in the North Island (although Labour do already safely hold West Coast-Tasman and Te Tai Tonga in the South Island). And there is significant focus on the Wanganui-Taranaki region. There were are few other seats that I was surprised not to see on the list, Tukituki, Rotorua and Te Tai Tokerau spring to mind.
Stay tuned for my thoughts on Labour’s potential urban targets and those of the National and minor parties. Although these will take a lot more analysis given the proposed boundary changes.
This is a guest post from Christchurch based Labour activist, Keir Leslie. In the coming days I’ll hopefully do a few more posts about yesterday’s local government results from around the country, and their impact on Labour politics.
Roger Stratford, Labour candidate for the Hamilton City Council. I am particularly fond of his tie.
Note: This has just been sent in, I’m not sure how genuine it is, apologies if it isn’t!
The Atlantic picked up on an interesting piece of research from a demographer called Conor Sen from Atlanta:
The whole article is well worth a read. Something that sticks out however, is this claim:
But you may also be struck by the shape of that trend line (Sen is quick to note, by the way, that he’s not a statistician). It roughly suggests a political tipping point somewhere around a population density of about 800-1,000 people per square mile.
Justin Esarey, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rice University, has picked up on it and noticed something quite interesting.
Huh. Well, that did not look like a very good fit to me. So, I reconstructed the data set using the Wikipedia-sourced PVI data and the Census-sourced population density data that Conor talked about. I then ran an analysis of this data replicating Conor’s log-fitted model, plus a loess nonparametric fit line and a simple linear model. Here’s what these three models look like when plotted against one another:
What Justin is showing, is that by simply employing a different type of trend line you can paint a very different picture.
The interesting part (for me!) is how this would actually apply to political campaigns. For example, Dave Troy came to this conclusion using the original log fit line:
at about 800 people per square mile, people switch from voting primarily Republican to voting primarily Democratic
If you were to base a campaign on that principal, then depending on your voting system, it could be a fair assumption for a Democratic campaign to ignore districts with a population density of less than 800 people per square mile, and likewise, that very dense districts are only marginally more Democrat-leaning than moderately dense districts.
The two other trend lines tell a story. With them you get a far simpler, and in my view, far more logical story. Whereby there is no “tipping point” where a low population density district area becomes “worthless” to Democrats, and where a district continues to be stronger Democratic the higher the density.
All goes to show how important it is to get statistics right.
Please note: I am in now way claiming to be a professional statistician at all, so please excuse any errors on my part too!
Two Dunedinites, James Meager and Ashley Murchison have recently launched a new website, NZ Election Ads, which “aims to create a repository of NZ election advertising for the benefit of researchers and voters alike.”
If you ask me this is well over due. They’re currently uploading lots of material from the 2013 local government campaign (I’m thinking about doing a best and worst post – there are some real shockers!) and will hopefully cover next year’s general election.
I’d highly recommend you check it out, and please upload anything you find.
I haven’t been following the UK conference season at all, but did take note when the group Movement for Change posted this video on the Living Wage campaign they’ve been running with Labour Students. Pretty inspirational.
A few months ago I took a vacation in Japan – it was an excellent trip. Earlier in the year when I was planning the trip a friend joked that if I was really lucky, the Japanese government would collapse and there would be a snap election for me to observe – given how often this has happened in recent years it didn’t seem like that much of an outside possibility.
As it turns out, Shinzō Abe’s LDP government has been rock solid this year – their ultra-nationalistic foreign policy, and use of quantitate easing (their economics package has been nick-named “Abenomics”) has been very popular.
However, we did manage to time the trip to be just before an election for the House of Councillors (the upper house of bicameral parliament). These elections are normally a bit of a non-event, and with the LDP polling at around 70% there simply wasn’t a contest – still, we did get to see quite a bit of how the Japanese campaign.
Election campaigns in Japan are very different to what we’re used to in New Zealand.
Their election campaigns are very highly regulated – they operate under a system that would make the Electoral Finance Act look positively liberating. Their Public Offices Election Law basically bans all activity that might be deemed to be campaigning, unless it is expressly allowed – and there is not much allowed.
Traditional Japanese election campaigns have had two techniques at their disposal.
The first is the use of posters, which take the place of what we’d call hoardings or coreflutes in New Zealand. The actual billboards are erected by the officials (I couldn’t tell if it was organised by the local government, or elections department) with each party allocated an equally sized square to put their poster in. Very recently it seems this rule has been relaxed somewhat – as we saw other (non-square!) posters taped to walls and fences in some places.
The second traditional campaign technique used by the Japanese are the use of campaign vans with megaphones on the roof. The candidates and their helpers drive around the streets blasting campaign messages through the speak systems. It was quite a strange experience!
There are also TV commercials, but we didn’t spend a lot of time watching Japanese TV and didn’t see any. Until recently – that has been it! No fliers, no direct mail, no large billboards, no door knocking and no phone calls.
Very recently the law has been changed to allow the use of social media in campaigning – before the law was changed the candidates didn’t even have Facebook pages or Twitter accounts! The upper house election we witnessed was the first that used social media. The Japan Times has a very good article about the use of social media (in English).
Overall it was a strange experience. With the exception of their recent inclusion of social media their rules create a huge barrier between the voters and the candidates. It makes the population almost entirely reliant on the media for information about politicians and their policies, and their plummeting voter turnout levels (the last upper-house election had a 40% turnout rate) unsurprising.