Archive for November, 2011

US 2012: Republican race gets close to voting

The race for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2012 presidential election has been underway for most of 2011, yet I’ve avoided the campaign on this blog.

No votes will be cast until 2012, and while candidates have risen and fallen over the last year of campaigning, not much has been achieved. I thought it best to wait until we were closer to some real voting before taking a look at the field.

We are now just over a month away from the Iowa caucuses, when we will begin to see real votes cast and the race begin to narrow into the key stretch which will determine who will be Barack Obama’s opposition in 2012.

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New Zealand 2011: results wrap

It’s much easier to summarise a New Zealand election than in a country like Australia, Canada or the UK where the election is dependent on particular seats and regions.

Overall the result was 60 National, 34 Labour, 13 Green, 8 New Zealand First, 3 Maori, and one each for Mana, ACT and United Future.

This has been spun as a landslide victory for National but I’m not so sure. National will definitely form the next government, but their position is possibly weaker.

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New Zealand: results

9:32 - National is now down to 61 seats, Labour on 33, Greens on 13, with others the same with NZF on 8, Maori Party on 3 and three other parties on 1 each.

9:23 – Look at the political arrangements at the current projection. The left (Labour + Greens + Mana) has 46 seats. National and its allies has 67 seats, with New Zealand First on 8. If National drops a few seats they may well rely on the Maori Party to maintain their position.

9:15 – Having said that Antony Green projects National falling to 48.5%, which would give them only 60 seats. There is no doubt they will form a government, but maybe not with a majority.

9:11 – I’m going to stop monitoring the key electorates as they are all clearly headed where they were looking like earlier. Currently National is on 62/121 seats. They could still form a majority if they drop to 63. Their coalition partners have fallen from 11 seats in 2008 to only five seats this time.

9:06 – National has now fallen below 50% but are still projected to win a slim majority.

8:40 – Some points worth noting: National tends to do better on the advance vote. This result would only produce an overhang of one seat. Three small parties would effectively be reduced to a single seat, making their electorate MP an effective independent. On current figures former Opposition Leader Don Brash wouldn’t get elected.

8:38 – If the current results nationally were translated into a result, with ACT, Mana and United Future winning one seat each and the Maori Party winning three, the result would be:

  • National – 63
  • Labour – 32
  • Green – 12
  • NZ First – 8
  • Maori – 3
  • ACT – 1
  • Mana – 1
  • United Future – 1

8:29 – There are five key seats I covered in yesterday’s post. In Epsom, ACT candidate John Banks is leading National 46-38. In Ohariu, Peter Dunne is leading Labour 52-46. In Te Tai Tokerau, the Mana Party’s Hone Harawira is leading Labour 50-34. In Te Tai Tonga, the Maori Party MP Katene is trailing the Labour candidate 32-40. In Hauraki-Waikato, the sitting Labour MP is well ahead of both the Mana and Maori candidates. This would result in the Mana, ACT and United Future each winning a single seat and the Maori Party dropping from four seats to three.

8:25 – Interpreting these results on face value, it would give National a majority or close to it, it would be the worst ever result for Labour and the best ever for the Greens. It would also see NZF returned to Parliament with approximately 8 seats. I’m doing some analysis of key electorates to produce a projection on current figures.

8:19 – Overall the Nationals are currently on 50% of the vote, Labour on 26.1%, the Greens on 10.1% and New Zealand First on 6.8%. Bear in mind that early results favour National and go against Labour. It’s not yet clear if NZF benefits in the advance vote.

8:17 – Welcome to my coverage of the New Zealand election. Polls closed over an hour ago and most of the results so far are advance votes (called prepoll votes in Australia). Will provide a roundup of results so far in a minute.

New Zealand: what to watch on election night

New Zealand’s Parliament includes 70 single-member electorates – a majority of seats in the Parliament. On the surface this would suggest that any analyst looking at election results on Saturday night should focus on the key marginal seats where National and Labour candidates will be fighting it out to determine how the Parliament will be shaped. However most of these races are irrelevant to the overall result. Neither major party will win more seats than the total number of seats they are entitled to. So if the Nationals gain an extra seat, it will simply be deducted from their list seats. If Labour loses a seat, they will gain an extra seat on the list to compensate.

There are, however, a handful of races where the result will have a material impact on the overall make-up of Parliament, and they are worth watching on Saturday night. There are five electorates which may have an impact on the performance of key minor parties, while the nationwide vote for New Zealand First and National will be ones to watch on the night.

The overall seat results largely reflect the proportion of the party vote, but this proportionality is distorted by the issue of “wasted votes” for parties who fail to meet the threshold, an ‘overhang’ where parties win more seats than they are entitled to, and issues with parties’ survival depending on them winning one particular seat. Antony Green dealt with some of these issues in his blog post yesterday.

I plan on liveblogging the results on Saturday night. If you want to get a better handle on New Zealand polling, both nationally and in key seats, I suggest you check out Curiablog, which has done a good job of compiling polls in a single place.

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New Zealand election preview

New Zealanders are going to the polls this Saturday to hold their general election. The conservative National Party government will be seeking a second term after defeating the Labour Party in 2008.

New Zealand elects its Parliament using the Mixed Member Proportional system. Under this system, 69 seats in the Parliament are filled representing specific districts, with the winner elected by First Past the Post. 62 of these seats are ‘general’ electorates. The other seven are Maori seats, with Maori voters given a choice of whether to be on the general roll or the Maori roll.

A further 51 are elected to ensure that the overall balance in the Parliament is proportional to the national party vote. This means that small parties tend to get a larger proportion of the list seats, as they tend to be unrepresented or underrepresented in the single-member electorates. To win list seats, a party needs to win at least one electorate seat or win 5% of the national party vote.

This system has existed since 1996, and in that time has ensured that no party was able to form a majority government on its own.

The Labour government after the 2005 election governed with the support of the centre-left Progressive Party, the centrist United Future party and right-wing populist New Zealand First. Also in Parliament was the right-wing small-government ACT, the Maori Party, the Green Party, and the National Party opposition.

In 2008, the Nationals, Maori Party, Green Party and ACT all gained ground. Labour lost seats, while United Future’s Peter Dunne failed to bring in any party colleagues. New Zealand First was eliminated from Parliament completely, as their vote fell below 5% and their party leader Winston Peters failed to regain his electorate seat that he had lost in 2005.

A new government was formed by National with support arrangements with ACT, the Maori Party and Peter Dunne, effectively an independent as the sole United Future MP.

The last three years have been a solid term for John Key’s National Party, despite severe earthquakes in Christchurch and economic troubles. The Nationals have been polling over 50% in most polls since early 2009, which would allow the party to form a majority government without any other parties if reflected at an election.

Labour has been suffering the typical problems expected of a new opposition learning to deal with the difficulties of being out of office. Labour leader Phil Goff has largely failed to capture the country’s imagination or dent the position of the new government.

The Green Party have cemented their place as the third party in New Zealand politics, and are consistently polling at levels now that would give them an increase in seats above their nine current seats, with some polls giving them around 12-13% of the vote.

ACT New Zealand have had a tumultuous year. In early 2011, ACT leader Rodney Hide was replaced in a party coup by former National Party leader Don Brash. Brash then proceeded to take over the party machine and find new candidates for key positions. All five sitting ACT MPs will retire at the election.

ACT hasn’t been polling close to the 5% threshold all term, so the party will need to retain Hide’s Auckland seat of Epsom to stay in Parliament. To contest the seat, Brash recruited former Auckland mayor and National minister John Banks. Last week Banks and Key were caught in a scandal when they were secretly recorded during a meeting in a cafe. ACT polled 3.7% in 2008, but haven’t polled above 2% in months. Assuming Banks can win Epsom, he will probably only bring in one or two more ACT MPs.

The Maori Party has also suffered division since 2008. The party first won four of the seven Maori seats in 2005, before gaining a fifth in 2008.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira resigned from the party earlier this year to form a new Mana Party, which is positioned to the left of the Maori Party, particularly critical of the party’s relationship with the conservative government. He resigned from Parliament and retained his seat at a by-election. Polls suggest he is likely to win again. The Maori Party will be competing in three-way races with the Mana Party and the Labour Party across the seven Maori seats, with the result hard to predict.

Overall the election looks set to produce a majority government in a system to prevent such an outcome. I wrote much more about the New Zealand election in a much closer race in 2008, and you can read about them in the archives.

I plan to blog more over the course of this week, including about the electoral system referendum that will also be held on Saturday.

Introducing the guide to the Queensland election

A state election is due in Queensland in the first half of 2012. As part of the Tally Room coverage of this election I am currently producing a guide for that election.

This follows on from guides I have produced on the 2010 federal election, 2010 Victorian state election and 2011 New South Wales state election. I will be producing a guide for each individual electorate, including history, lists of candidates, previous results, booth breakdowns and a series of maps. It is also possible for readers to comment on individual seat profiles with corrections or information about how the campaign is going in that seat.

So far I have written guides for eight seats – the eight most marginal Labor seats in Queensland. I’m planning to prioritise writing guides for Labor marginal seats before eventually writing guides for all 89 electorates. I’ll also do some general writing on the election campaign. I’m hoping to have the entire guide finished before the end of 2011.

At the moment it appears that Anna Bligh’s Labor Party is headed towards defeat after being in government for all but two years since 1989, and winning eight elections in a row. Bligh succeeded former Premier Peter Beattie in 2007, and then won another term in office for the ALP in 2009. She will be facing off against the Liberal National Party, created by a merger of the National Party and Liberal Party before the 2009 election. The LNP is now led by former Lord Mayor of Brisbane Campbell Newman. The LNP has bucked Australian political tradition by selecting a leader who is not already a member of Parliament. If Campbell Newman is to become Premier, his party doesn’t only need to win a majority of seats in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, but he will need to win the Labor seat of Ashgrove off former Environment Minister Kate Jones.

There are two points about these profiles that I would like to draw your attention to. Firstly, the list of candidates for each seat is unclear. The LNP and Bob Katter’s new political party have both posted lists of announced candidates on their website but I can’t find any definitive list of which ALP MPs are running for re-election. So if you have a reference confirming that someone is running as a candidate please post as a comment and I will update the profile. It’s also worth noting that the Electoral Commission of Queensland does not provide two-party-preferred data per booth. Because of this it is not possible to produce booth breakdowns or booth maps based on 2PP figures, so these are all based on primary vote figures.

You can start reading the profiles right now here at The Tally Room. I plan on tweeting from @thetallyroom Twitter account with links to each seat profile, with two new seat profiles being posted to Twitter every weekday.