The Tally Room Mon, 26 Oct 2020 10:25:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 6127899 ACT 2020 – Friday morning update Thu, 22 Oct 2020 23:00:34 +0000 Six days after the ACT election, we now have a fairly good sense of the shape of the Assembly. The Assembly will be led by an enlarged Labor-Greens majority, with Labor and Liberal both losing seats and the Greens gaining seats. There are two seats left in play.

I haven’t been closely following the count for this week – you can see how things have moved at Antony Green’s blog or Kevin Bonham’s blog.

Just to quickly summarise the state of the race: the Greens have gained seats from the Liberals in Kurrajong and from Labor in Yerrabi. The Greens have gained a seat from either Labor or Liberal in Ginninderra, while either the Greens or Labor have gained the third Liberal seat in Brindabella. This leaves the Assembly with 10 Labor, 8 Liberals and 5 Greens.

The two seats in play are in Brindabella, in the Tuggeranong area, and Ginninderra, in the Belconnen area.

Brindabella was the only electorate to elect three Liberals in 2016. The Liberals have definitely lost that seat, with the race between a third Labor candidate Taimus Werner-Gibbings and Greens candidate Johnathan Davis. At the key stage in the count, Davis is now 23 votes ahead of Werner-Gibbings. Whichever of them ends up on top will defeat the third Liberal, Andrew Wall. This remains too close to call.

Ginninderra elected three Labor candidates and two Liberals in 2016. The Greens have gained a seat, with the third Labor candidate and the second Liberal fighting to retain their party’s seats. The gap between Labor MP Gordon Ramsay and Liberal candidate Peter Cain is currently 98 votes in favour of Cain. Antony Green suggests the remaining votes to come should favour Cain, although Kevin Bonham points out that a batch of votes added to the primary count but not yet included in the preference count is very favourable to Ramsay and should improve his position.

I suggest paying attention to Bonham and Green if you want to follow the count closely. I’ll return with further analysis once the vote count has concluded. But for now I also wanted to zoom out and look at the overall trends in the five electorates.

The story on the night was of swings to Labor and Greens and away from the Liberals, but that’s not an entirely universal story.

The Labor vote across the territory is now down 0.3% after the addition of extra votes since election night. The Liberal vote has crashed further, down 3.3%, while the Greens are up 3.4%.

The picture is not consistent across the five electorates. The Greens vote did go up everywhere. It’s up by 5.8% in Brindabella, which has traditionally been their weakest electorate. It was up just 1.1% in Murrumbidgee, where sitting MLA Caroline Le Couteur retired. The other three electorates saw Greens swings between 3% and 4%.

The Liberal vote did drop in four electorates, but went up in the other. These swings can partly be explained by the location of the party leader. The Liberal swing varied between 2.5% and 6.3% in three of the electorates, but it was the worst at 8.8% in Murrumbidgee, where Jeremy Hanson was running as Liberal leader in 2016. Hanson still ran in 2020, but didn’t seem to carry the same cachet. This electorate had the highest Liberal vote in 2016, and was judged as the party’s best prospect of gaining a twelfth seat. Yet it’s now only the third-best electorate.

The Liberal vote looks entirely different in Yerrabi, where current Liberal leader Alistair Coe brought in a 4.6% swing towards the Liberals. The Liberal primary vote has cracked 40% and it’s the only electorate where the Liberals topped the vote.

Labor gained swings in two electorates, suffered small swings in two others, and suffered a huge swing in one electorate. The vote went up in Brindabella and Murrumbidgee. There was a tiny 0.6% swing against Labor in Ginninderra, and a slightly larger 1.3% swing in Kurrajong.

The Labor vote crashed in Yerrabi by 10.3%. This could be explained by numerous factors: a rising Liberal vote led by Coe, the light rail being less important as an issue than in 2016, and the strengthening Greens. But it does stand out like a sore thumb amongst the five electorates and it’ll be worth exploring why the Labor vote crashed so hard in this northern electorate.

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NZ 2020 – the seats and the swings Wed, 21 Oct 2020 22:30:54 +0000 The New Zealand electoral system tends to produce a flattening effect on the results. Most electorate results don’t really make a difference to the national outcome so the results analysis tends to just look at the national figures. But there is value in delving down and looking at the geography.

Overall the swings away from National and towards Labour were remarkably consistent. In this post I’ll include some maps and tables showing the swings in different parts of New Zealand, and look at how the swing on the candidate vote tended to be bigger in National seats.

I have compiled an estimate of the 2017 results based on the 2020 redistribution. I don’t believe anyone else has done this in New Zealand. This means it is possible to calculate swings from this data. You can view these 2017 estimates here. Elections NZ did not make it easy to grab all the booth data in one go – the data was in 142 separate CSVs in a messy format, there are no unique booth IDs and the macrons used for many electorate names and booth names were treated inconsistently by my software. But it’s finally finished and will be used in this post.

Firstly, let’s look at the electorate seats. I’m basing this analysis on data I downloaded on Tuesday evening.

Prior to the election, National held 42 seats (including one newly created notional seat), Labour held 29 and ACT held one.

Following this election National has been reduced to just 26 seats, with Labour on 43 seats, with ACT, Green and the Māori Party each holding one seat. Interestingly this means that every party in Parliament holds at least one electorate seat.

Labour gained fifteen seats off National, Green gained one seat off National, and the Māori Party regained Waiariki from Labour. Most of these changes were in regional seats. National lost four seats in Auckland and one each in Wellington and Christchurch, with the other ten in regional areas.

This map shows the winner of each general seat, with the seats that changed in brighter colours.

You can click through to see the candidate vote and swing for the four biggest parties, as well as the change in margin, for each electorate.

But the votes that really matter are for the party vote, which decides the share of seats for each party in parliament.

The next map shows Labour’s party vote swing per general electorate, and can be toggled to show the swing for National and Green. It’s zoomed in on Auckland but you can scroll around or zoom out.

Labour tended to get smaller swings in the core of the Auckland area, and did much better on the outskirts of Auckland and in regional areas. You can see a similar trend in the seats surrounding Christchurch.

Another way to look at this is to break the country up into regions. I broke up seats into Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and the remainders of the North and South islands, as well as the Maori seats. This table shows the swings to or from the six parties with representation in the new or old parliaments in each region.

Region ACT Green Labour Māori National NZF
Auckland 6.5 1.9 11.7 -0.2 -17.9 -3.2
Christchurch 6.6 2.7 12.7 -0.1 -19.6 -3.0
Maori 1.3 1.9 3.1 0.2 -3.7 -4.0
North Island 8.9 0.3 14.3 -0.1 -19.0 -6.4
South Island 9.5 0.5 13.3 -0.1 -19.7 -4.7
Wellington 5.1 4.0 11.5 -0.1 -17.9 -2.5
New Zealand 7.5 1.3 12.3 -0.2 -17.7 -4.5

The race in the Maori electorates is very different to the rest of the country, with a very high Labour vote and a very low National vote, so the swings were much less dramatic.

The boost in the Green vote mostly took place in the big cities, while Labour’s biggest gains took place in the regional seats.

Another way to break down the results is to look at how much the candidate vote swung in Labour and National electorates. The swing to Labour in seats they retained averaged 11.5%, while the swing to Labour in seats they gained averaged 23.8%. The swing against National in seats they retained averaged 21.5%. This suggests that the biggest movement, at least on the candidate vote, took place in National electorates.

Of course there is a difference between how people vote on the party vote and on the candidate vote. There was a slightly higher Labour vote on the party vote (49.1% as against 47.5%) while the National vote was much higher on the candidate vote (35.7% as against 26.8%).

There is a history of these sorts of gaps appearing in past elections, which often result in one party winning almost every seat on the party vote while their opposition performs more respectively on the candidate vote, but that’s a story for another day.

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Podcast #45: ACT and NZ election results Sun, 18 Oct 2020 20:32:01 +0000 Ben was joined by Jill Sheppard from the ANU to talk about the ACT election results, and to briefly touch on the New Zealand results.

This podcast is supported by the Tally Room’s supporters on Patreon. If you find this podcast worthwhile please consider giving your support.

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.

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ACT & NZ election night live Sat, 17 Oct 2020 06:00:39 +0000 10:22pm – I’m going to call it a night here. I’ll be busy tomorrow so may not have any updates then, but will definitely have some posts next week including a podcast. Until then, the summary of the results:

  • Labour has won big in New Zealand, winning the first single-party majority in New Zealand since the introduction of MMP.
  • Labor and the Greens have retained their majority in the ACT Legislative Assembly. It looks likely that Labor will lose seats and the Greens will gain seats, with the Liberals likely also going backwards. I can’t see Labor winning a majority in their own right.

10:04pm – It’s been pointed out to me that I made a mistake when looking at Brindabella. The gap between the Greens and the third Labor candidate is extremely slim, so it’s entirely possible the Greens could win. It’s also been pointed out that we don’t know strong Labor preferences will flow to the Greens if this happens, so it’s possible the third Liberal could win if the Greens get ahead of the third Labor.

9:36pm – So on my quick count I have Labor on 11, Liberals on 8, Greens on 4, with Labor narrowly beating the Liberals in Ginninderra and the Greens narrowly beating the Liberals in Kurrajong. This means Labor probably can’t win a majority, but the overall centre-left position has strengthened tremendously.

9:34pm – Just quickly looking at Yerrabi, at the final point in the count two Labor candidates, one Liberal (Coe) and Greens candidate Andrew Braddock have been elected, with the two remaining Liberals on 0.79 and 0.86 quotas respectively. It seems unlikely the Liberals will poach a third seat from the Greens.

9:33pm – In Murrumbidgee, the sample is worth 59.7% of enrolment, compared to 79.1% for the latest primary vote count. It overestimates Labor by 0.4 and Liberals by 0.5% and underestimates the Greens by 0.4%.

At the key point in the count both Liberals have been re-elected, as has one of the Labor candidates (Steel). The Greens’ Davidson is elected on the votes of ungrouped candidate Fiona Carrick, leaving the two remaining Labor candidates competing for the final seat on 0.74 quota for Bec Cody and 0.85 quota for Marisa Paterson. Paterson wins.

It’s not clear which Labor candidate wins but the party balance seems clear.

9:27pm – So, Kurrajong. 52% of the vote is included in the preference distribution. The sample underestimates the Greens by 0.7% and overestimates the Liberals by 0.9% compared to the latest primary vote count. It also overestimates Labor by 0.2%.

The Greens’ Shane Rattenbury and Labor’s Andrew Barr are elected earlier in the count, and at the key point the votes of Labor’s third candidate Maddy Northam push second Labor candidate Rachel Stephen-Smith over quota. Her surplus favours second Greens candidate Rebecca Vassarotti, putting her on 0.84 quota.

The two remaining Liberals both remain under quota. Elizabeth Lee is on 0.96 quota and her colleague Candice Burch is on 0.79 quota. Thus Vassarotti beats Burch. The gap is only 0.05 quota, or 0.7% of the total formal vote, so this is still in play, although it’s worth noting that the Greens vote has improved significantly since this sample.

9:08pm – Okay, after a short break putting my kid to bed, let’s look at Ginninderra. The current count has 75.9% of total enrolment counted. The preference count is at 58.7%. It overestimates the Liberals by 0.5% and Labor by 0.5% and underestimates the Greens by 0.3%.

At the key point in the count, Labor’s Berry and Cheyne have been re-elected and the third Labor candidate Ramsay is on 0.82 quota. Liberal Kikkert has been re-elected and her colleague Peter Cain is on 0.78 quota. The Greens’ Jo Clay is on 0.88 quota.

Cain is then eliminated and Ramsay and Clay both win. A turnaround of 0.7% would be enough for Cain to overtake Ramsay, so the third Labor seat is still in play. I wouldn’t confidently call the Greens seat but I think Clay is likely to win.

It’s also worth noting that at an earlier point in the count Clay is on 0.56 quotas when her colleague Katt Millner is elminated on 0.4 quotas. I don’t think that gap is likely to change.

8:45pm – Elections ACT appears to have published preference distributions based on a partial count. I’m going to go through these one by one, starting in Brindabella.

In Brindabella the distribution is based on 39,529 formal votes, compared to 50,116 on the latest count. The count slightly overestimates the Liberal vote (by 0.6%), underestimates the Greens by 0.4%, and overestimates Labor by 0.3%.

Greens candidate Johnathan Davis is knocked on about 0.7 quota, and his preferences elect the second Labor candidate and push the third close to the quota. The surplus from the second Labor candidate then elects the third Labor candidate. At this key stage the three Labor candidates have about 20,000 votes while the three Liberals (none of whom has been elected) are collectively on 17,000. Then the third Liberal sitting MP Andrew Wall (who is a long way behind his colleagues) is knocked out and elects his colleagues.

This seems pretty decisive for Labor to win three, but we’ll see as the count continues.

8:00pm – We now have about two thirds of the vote counted in Ginninderra. Labor is on 2.44 quotas, the Liberal Party on 1.56 and the Greens on 0.77. This would put the last two seats in play. The Greens are leading on a per-quota basis, but the Ginninderra effect suggests Labor in particular will be in a stronger position than that 0.44 surplus would suggest.

7:58pm – The Māori Party has gained a seventeen-vote lead in Waiariki. If they win this seat that’s one less seat that’s available for the other four parties in Parliament. It would also make them eligible to win list seats, but their current party vote would only entitle them to one seat anyway.

7:21pm – So at this point there are four districts in the ACT where the Liberal vote is down substantially, while they are up substantially in Yerrabi. By my count I have Labor on ten likely seats, the Liberals on eight, the Greens on three, with Labor and Greens competing for two other seats, with the Liberal scompeting with a centre-left party in the other two. That would translate into an increased number of centre-left seats. But it’s still early and a lot of seats are still in play.

7:19pm – The vote count is much less advanced in Ginninderra. Just 4.3% have been counted. There appears to have been a big swing against the Liberal Party, down to 1.39 quotas. The Labor vote is steady at 2.45 quotas, with the Greens vote up substantially to 0.97 quotas. Interestingly the Greens vote is split very evenly between two of their candidates, which is unusual for the Greens. On these numbers the Greens would have won an extra seat while Labor and Liberal are competing to retain their seats, but the count is quite early.

7:15pm – Yerrabi has bucked the trend in other electorates, possibly due to the presence of Liberal leader Alistair Coe, or a reversion after a light rail-driven swing in 2016. The Liberal vote is up 6% to 2.5 quotas, while Labor has suffered a 9.5% swing, falling to 2.11 quotas, while the Greens are on 0.55 quotas.

Labor looks likely to lose their third seat here, with the Liberal and Green competing for that final seat. If the Liberal Party vote is relatively even that will advantage them against the Greens, but a large part of the Liberal vote is concentrated in Coe.

7:10pm – Almost one third of the vote has been counted in the south-western electorate of Murrumbidgee. Labor’s vote is up 4.4% to 2.26 quotas, while the Liberal vote is down 10.8% to just 1.98 quotas. The Green vote is up to 0.74 quotas.

The redistribution helped the Liberals in Murrumbidgee by adding some strong Liberal booths on the southern slope of Capital Hill. Effectively the Greens seat in this electorate became a notional Liberal seat. But on these numbers the Liberals don’t have much chance of nabbing this seat.

7:07pm – Over a quarter of the vote has been counted in the inner-city electorate of Kurrajong. The Labor vote is steady at 2.39 quotas, while the Greens vote is up 7.6% to 1.63 quotas. The Liberal vote, which elected two members in 2016, is down to just 1.29 quotas. Greens candidate Rebecca Vassarotti is in fourth place on primary votes. It seems quite plausible the Greens could gain a seat here. If they don’t, it’s also quite plausible Labor could gain a third seat. The Liberal Party is a long way away from retaining their second seat.

7:03pm – The Liberal Party currently holds three seats in Brindabella. Their vote is currently sitting on 2.31 quotas, compared to 2.48 quotas for Labor and 0.65 for the Greens. It looks likely the Greens or Labor could gain that third Liberal seat.

7:00pm – At the territory-wide level, the Greens vote in the ACT is up 4.9%, while Labor is up 1.3% and the Liberal vote is down 4%. It is too early to say if this is a fair sample but that result suggests we will see Labor returned to government, possibly continuing in alliance with a strengthened Greens team. I’m going to run through the electorates one by one.

6:55pm – We’re starting to see a drop in the Labour vote in New Zealand as other votes start to come in. Let’s see if that trend continues.

6:47pm – Let’s pause and consider the historic nature of the New Zealand result. It’s been 24 years since the first MMP election in 1996. It’s the ninth election held under the new proportional system. No election in that time has produced a single-party majority, although National came quite close when they won three terms in government in 2008, 2011 and 2014, winning 58, 59 and 60 seats respectively.

There has been a long term decline in the number of seats for minor parties, from 39 in 1996 and 41 in 2002 all the way down to just eighteen in 2017. The current results point to 21 seats for Green and ACT. Single-party majorities become more viable when there are less minor parties, but Labour’s result is still outstanding considering that this election has also been a relatively good one for the Greens.

6:33pm – I can’t see a path to government for National in New Zealand. At the moment Labour is on track for a majority in their own right, but even if they fall short they will be able to govern with a strong Green Party.

6:23pm – About 14.5% of the total enrolment is counted now in the ACT, and it appears that there are small swings to Labor and the Greens while the Liberal vote is steady. Too early to say too much about that.

6:02pm – 20% of the vote is now counted in New Zealand and Labour’s party vote is still over 50%. While that might drift downwards slightly, they are clearly on track to form the next government, possibly with a majority.

The electorate seats tell the story of a landslide – Labour is currently leading in nineteen of National’s 42 seats, with the Green Party leading in one other.

5:20pm – 3.8% of the vote has already been counted in New Zealand, thanks to the advance vote count starting this morning. Labour is currently polling just over 50% of the party vote.

5:00pm – Polls have just closed in New Zealand, and polls close in one hour in the ACT.

I’ll be primarily covering the ACT results but I’m planning some top-level analysis of the results in New Zealand.

Both elections have seen record levels of early voting. More than half of all New Zealand voters had cast an advance vote by Thursday night, and it looked like about 60% of all ACT voters would have cast a pre-poll vote before today.

Pre-poll votes in both jurisdictions are primarily cast electronically, which promises a quick turnaround of results for those votes cast early, but we’ll see how that goes tonight.

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ACT election day – open thread Fri, 16 Oct 2020 21:00:24 +0000 Polls have just opened in the ACT election.

I’m not planning to do regular updates through the day. Please use this as an open thread.

I’ll see you at 5pm AEDT when I’ll kick off the liveblog.

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NZ election day with bonus 2017 booth map Fri, 16 Oct 2020 19:59:45 +0000 Polls have just opened in New Zealand.

I did not do a comprehensive guide to the New Zealand election but I have managed to pull together a bit of data at the last minute. This post contains a map of every election day booth used in 2017. All electorates using the same booth have been merged together (including Māori electorates) and I am just using the party vote, to give a sense of general trends across the country.

You can toggle the map to show which party topped the vote (there were three booths where National and Labour were tied, and one where the Green Party won), and to see the distribution of vote for National, Labour, NZ First and Green.

You can also use this as an open thread to discuss this election today. I will be back from 5pm AEDT (7pm in New Zealand) with results from both New Zealand and the ACT.

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NZ 2020 – new electoral boundaries Fri, 16 Oct 2020 04:22:33 +0000 Earlier this week I made a last-minute decision to do some analysis of the New Zealand election, including the new electoral boundaries.

I discovered that no-one appears to have actually calculated the vote shares for the new electoral boundaries drawn since the 2017 election. So I thought I would do that.

I have now finished my boundary file for the 2020 New Zealand election, and you can download it from my maps page, where you can also find the 2008-2011 and 2014-2017 boundaries.

I was hoping to also calculate the redistribution but the data is in such a format that I won’t get it done today, so I’m just publishing the maps. The following maps first show how the general electorates were redrawn, and the second map shows the changes to the Māori electorates.

The number of electorates has expanded from 71 to 72, which includes 16 South Island electorates, 49 North Island electorates and seven Māori seats.

About half the seats were unchanged, with 35 seats having no change to their boundary.

There were no changes at all to the general electorates covering Wellington and the southern half of the North Island, while a string of electorates stretching through Auckland did undergo some minor changes. There were also changes in most South Island seats.

If I manage to put together the calculations later today, I will be sure to put up a new blog post in the morning.

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QLD 2020 – nominations close Sun, 11 Oct 2020 22:42:26 +0000 Nominations closed yesterday for the Queensland state election. The number of candidates shot up to a record high, with more than six candidates running in the average seat.

There are a total of 597 candidates running across the 93 seats. This breaks the previous record of 453 who ran in 2017. While 2017 was the record number at the time, it only slightly exceeded the numbers in 1998, 2012 and 2015, and once you factor in the creation of four new electorates the average was about the same. 2020 is in a whole different league. Antony Green has more information about historical candidate numbers in his blog post.

I’ve updated my candidate spreadsheet with the final list. I’ll update each seat profile over the next few days.

Three parties are running full slates: Labor, the LNP and the Greens. One Nation is running in all but three seats. They have sat out the race in Callide, Hill and Traeger. The latter two are held by Katter’s Australian Party incumbents, but Callide does not feature a KAP candidate, or any other minor party apart from the Greens, and One Nation came second there in 2017, so it’s an interesting decision. There are two independents who I don’t know much about.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is running 55 candidates, the Informed Medical Options Party is running 31 candidates, while Legalise Cannabis QLD is running 23. Civil Liberties & Motorists has 16 candidates, Katter and Animal Justice each have 13. Jason Costigan’s North Queensland First is running five candidates and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are running three.

I have attempted to identify the gender of each candidate and you can check my work in the spreadsheet, although there were four I could not identify due to lack of any information about them beyond their name.

Amongst the bigger parties, the proportion of women varied from 28% for the LNP to 46% for the Greens:

  • LNP – 28.0%
  • ON – 33.3%
  • ALP – 41.9%
  • GRN – 46.2%

Amongst the other parties, the UAP had the fewest women, running just 8 women and 47 men, while the Informed Medical Options Party is running five men and 26 women.

The number of candidates per seat varies from ten in Mermaid Beach and Mudgeeraba down to just four in Algester, Jordan, Stretton and Woodridge.

That’s it for now. Give me a few days before complaining about the seat guides being out of date. I’ll do one last check for candidate URLs before I do the update so if you want me to include yours comment below and I’ll add it to the spreadsheet before I do the final update.

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NZ election – how thresholds could decide the majority Wed, 07 Oct 2020 21:10:26 +0000 Labour has been doing very well in the polls in New Zealand, if a bit less well than they were earlier this year. It seems very likely that Labour will stay in government. But there are some scenarios where a majority of the country could vote for the current government parties, but the operation of the threshold under New Zealand’s mixed member proportional (MMP) voting system could see the right-wing opposition parties win a majority in parliament.

To qualify for seats, you need to win one electorate seat, or poll 5% of the vote.

The 5% threshold seems simple enough, but it can create dilemmas for voters if their party is close to the threshold. If a party polls 4.9% and doesn’t otherwise qualify for list seats, all of that party’s votes are effectively discarded. If they poll 5.1%, they win seats (they’d probably win 5-7 seats off bare 5%, depending on how many votes qualified for list seats).

If a lot of votes are cast for parties that miss out on seats, it can significantly distort the seat count relative to the vote count.

For an example, let’s look at the 2013 German federal election. Germany uses a very similar system to New Zealand, although parties need to win three electorate seats to circumvent the 5% threshold.

Seven parties polled over 5% of the national party vote: the governing right-wing Christian Democratic Union and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union, and the left-wing Social Democrats, Greens and Die Linke.

The CDU/CSU polled 41.5% of the national party vote, while the three left or centre-left parties polled 42.7%. This translated into the CDU/CSU winning 311 seats to 320 seats for parties of the left, which was a very proportional translation of the seat count for just those five parties.

But there were two other parties, both of which could be broadly defined as sitting on the right wing of politics, which narrowly failed to reach the threshold: the Free Democrats and Alternative for Germany. These two parties between them polled 9.5% but neither won any seats.

While it is a simplification of the German party system to group these parties into “left” and “right”, it’s interesting to note that the right collectively won over 50% of the national vote, but won less seats than the left, thanks to narrowly missing out on thresholds.

There are some scenarios where such a result could happen in New Zealand in 2020.

There are five parties in parliament. Labour and the Greens are on the left, National and ACT are on the right, and New Zealand First defies definition. NZF could be described as a right-wing party, but they are currently in government with Labour and the Greens.

Labour has been doing very well in the polls, consistently polling over 50% in nine consecutive polls from April to July, although their support has now dropped into the high 40s.

The opposition National Party has usually been polling in the high 20s, although they have sometimes reached into the 30s. This compares to 44% at the 2017 election.

New Zealand First’s vote has crashed, not polling above 3% in any poll since the beginning of the pandemic. They are generally expected to miss out on seats in parliament.

ACT, who have polled very poorly at recent elections, have surged on the back of National weakness, polling 6% or more in the last five polls. ACT have survived in parliament since 2005 on the back of holding the seat of Epsom.

ACT have not crossed the 5% threshold since 2005, and since 2011 they have only polled enough party votes to win a single seat in parliament, so their electorate MP has not been able to bring in any colleagues on the list. Epsom is traditionally a safe National seat, but National has encouraged their supporters to vote ACT for their candidate vote to ensure that centre-right votes for ACT on the list don’t go to waste. While they may not need Epsom to win seats in 2020, it seems likely that this arrangement will continue, if only to ensure that the shift in centre-right votes still translates into list seats.

The Greens have been in the danger zone, their vote dropping to as low as 5% in a poll in late July. Unlike ACT, the Greens do not hold any electorate seats.

The absence of New Zealand First will likely create a very polarised parliament – the most polarised since the introduction of proportional representation paved the way for numerous minor parties to win seats. The Greens and ACT are closely aligned to Labour and National respectively, and it’s hard to see either minor party switching sides.

This means it’s possible that if Labour falls short of a majority, and a lot of votes are locked up with unsuccessful New Zealand First and Green lists, the current governing parties could win a majority of the vote but the right-wing opposition could win a majority of the seats.

Let’s take the most recent poll, a 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll conducted in the final week of September. Labour polled 47%, National 33%, ACT 8% and Green 7%. This translates into 59 Labour, 42 National, 10 ACT, and 9 Green. That is enough for a stable Labour/Green coalition.

But a swing of just 2% would see the Greens drop out of parliament entirely. If we take 2.1% away from the Green Party and take 2.5% away from Labour, you end up with a result of 44.5-37.5-8-4.9.

Those voting figures translate to a seat count of 59 Labour, 50 National and 11 ACT. The right-wing opposition parties have polled slightly more than Labour on their own, but since no Green votes will count, Labour is left standing alone, and unable to form a stable progressive government.

If we look back at that original poll, Labour was on 47% while National and ACT were collectively polling 41%. That means you only need a 3.5% swing from Labour to National to create a scenario where the right-wing opposition would win a majority in the absence of the Greens and NZF.

So this creates a dilemma if you are a Green voter, or particularly if you are a Labour-Green swing voter. A vote for the Greens could turn out to be wasted if they fall below the threshold. On the other hand, getting the Greens over the threshold could be crucial to a centre-left majority. Which way do you cast your tactical vote? A lot will depend on how each voter assesses the polls and other information. If you think the Greens are set to get over the threshold you might vote for them. But if you think other swing voters will choose to vote for the popular Ardern, it makes sense to do the same.

The only way out of this dilemma is if the Greens can nab an electorate seat. If the Greens look set to win such a seat, there is no need for Labour-Green swing voters to cast a tactical vote. They can vote for either party, and their seat count will reflect their respective vote totals. A lower Green vote will give them a smaller role in government relative to Labour (or maybe no role if Labour gets to a majority without them) but it won’t knock them out of parliament.

The best prospect for this to happen is in Auckland Central. This seat has been held by retiring National MP Nikki Kaye since 2008. Kaye barely held on in 2011 before winning more comfortably in 2014 and 2017, but the seat has always been marginal. Kaye defeated future prime minister Jacinda Ardern in 2011 and 2014, before Ardern found an electorate at the February 2017 by-election in neighbouring Mount Albert.

Labour is running Helen White, who ran here in 2017. She was also #40 on the Labour list in 2017, and was the highest-ranked candidate to not win a seat (numerous Labour electorate MPs were ranked above her, but did not need a list seat so were skipped over). She is ranked 48th this year, but it’s hard to say how winnable that seat is without knowing which electorates Labour will win.

The Greens are running Chlöe Swarbrick, a 26-year-old Green MP who first won a seat on the list in 2017. Swarbrick is third on the Green Party list, so is guaranteed a list seat, as long as the Greens crack 5%.

Labour would typically be expected to win the seat off the National Party in their current strong position, but Swarbrick is significantly outpolling the Green party vote. Two polls have been published in the seat. The first poll had White leading with 42%, followed by the National candidate Mellow on 26% and Swarbrick on 24%. The second poll showed a tighter race, with White on 35%, Mellow on 30% and Swarbrick on 25%.

Labour prime minister Jacinda Ardern has not sent the kind of signals that past National leaders have, giving their voters a nudge to switch to a minor party ally to improve their position in parliament. But she chose not to echo her local candidate’s call for Swarbrick to withdraw.

The polls suggest that Labour is currently the favourite to win this seat, but it would only take a small proportion of the Labour vote to switch to Swarbrick to flip the seat. On the other hand, National voters could choose to switch to White to ensure a Labour win. The National Party won’t gain any extra seats by winning Auckland Central – a win here would simply reduce their list seat count by one. But knocking the Green Party out of parliament would increase the list seat count for both the National Party and ACT, and give them a better chance of government.

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ACT 2020 – early voting halfway mark Tue, 06 Oct 2020 23:28:50 +0000 Today is the halfway point of nineteen straight days of pre-poll voting in the ACT, and early voting is surging in popularity, as predicted.

Antony Green has been receiving daily updates on voting numbers from Elections ACT which he has been publishing in this blog post. I won’t bother replicating his excellent charts, but I just wanted to briefly comment on the numbers.

As of Tuesday, 23.7% of the total enrolment had already cast a pre-poll vote. This compares to 4.7% at the same point in 2016 and a total pre-poll turnout of 29.5%.

The numbers did drop a bit over the long weekend, but there was absolutely no pre-poll over the same long weekend two weeks out from the election in 2016. Numbers on Tuesday did pick up to be one of the biggest days.

One of the interesting trends is how consistent the numbers have been. You would normally expect more of a gradual climb in vote, but every weekday except for Friday (as well as Saturday) has registered between 7826 and 8738. Friday recorded over 11,000 votes while Sunday and Monday saw lower numbers. This may reflect that the vote is being spread out more evenly, which is encouraging, although if we’re going to get close to 80% turnout before election day we’ll need to see some uptick in the vote count in the remaining days.

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