The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

an out there idea - is this the new high tide mark for National?

Looking at the 2002 results, last election was definitely low tide for National, but was it really an exceptionally high tide for Labour, given these party vote stats?

Labour Party Vote percentages:
1996* - 28.2% (37 seats, first MMP election, big chunks of vote to the minors)
1999* - 38.74% (49 seats, Labour first into Govt)
2002 - 41.26 % (52 seats, went down to 51 when they lost Turia mid-term)
2005 - 40.74 % (50 seats, pre-specials)

Labour's vote has only changed within a 2.52% bracket over three elections, which is pretty damn solid.

In contrast, National went up hugely in this election, but as Labour didn't go down much, it's mostly come from other parties - lots from Act and United, a fair chunk from NZ First. The Greens and Progs have gone down a little too, probably votes that went to Labour, shoring their percentage up, or those people didn't vote this time.

National Party Vote percentages:
1996* - 33.8% (44 seats, first MMP election, big chunks of party vote to the minors)
1999* - 30.50% (39 seats, National first out of Govt)
2002 - 20.93% (27 seats, worst result ever)
2005 - 39.63% (49 seats, huge increase on previous election, but still slightly less than Labour)

I remember after 2002 many Labour people talking about the fact that National was so weak and they were so strong that they felt that the paradigm had shifted for the foreseeable future, i.e. that Labour was now entrenched as the biggest party for years to come. I'm not saying that this is a certainty, but it is a possibility that they were partly right - Labour has not slid much, and the centre-right vote has not grown.

It's hard to know though what would have happened in a less two-horse campaign. If the media had spent more time on the minor parties they may have taken more votes from the Big Two, in particular a few percent going from Labour to the Greens, and up to 10% more to Act, United and NZ First that went to National instead.

National had all the big guns out for this election (well one anyway, tax cuts) and was able to avoid a lot of policy scrutiny (I wonder what would have happened without the Brethren scandal - it did take a lot of attention off policy for about a week, as Anne Else points out on Scoop). They also had a very good advertising campaign (from the point of view of style not content) and clearly much better on the ground mechanics than in 2002. But what more could they do in 2008?

(Yes this is a highly optimistic post!)

Update: Just noticed a number of comments to this effect over on DPF's post about National's new MPs.

*1996 and 1999 results here.


Stephanie said...

I think that this election shows a reconsolidation of votes towards the major parties. Perhaps a baraometer that people are pissed with MMP?

maps said...

Thanks for that unflagging news service Julie. Quite an interesting debate between socialists about the election in the comments under my piece here:

Craig Ranapia said...

Watch this space, span... I guess you'd expect me to say this, but 2005 is no more the high water mark for National than 1996 was for Labour. We're back in the game - a highly credible campaign and election result, the party's membership and finances in the best state for years etc.

I'm not saying there aren't big challenges ahead, but I'd say this is the foundation for an even better result for National in 2008.

maps said...

Brash threw the kitchen sink at the campaign and the working class still didn't vote for him in more than desultory numbers. A quite encouraging result in some ways. The CWG's analysis of the election is now up at: