Thursday, September 22, 2005

Polarisation: The Stats tell the story

Labour Vote Trend: Labour Held v. Non Labour Held Posted by Picasa

Some extremely interesting trends emerge on analysis of the Election night results.

The primary trend is of increased political polarisation. Simply put, National areas moved to National in proportionately higher numbers than elsewhere, and Labour areas moved away from Labour in proportionately lower numbers than elsewhere.

The overall result saw Labour fall marginally from 41.26% in 2002, to 40.74% on Election night this year, a small swing away from Labour of 1.26%. The polarisation trend can be observed by looking at the Labour vote across Auckland electorates and seeing how this trend was distributed.

The graph above shows three things:
- The flat yellow line in the middle represents the 1.26% fall in the Labour vote across the country.
- The pink line represents Party vote results in Labour-held Auckland seats.
- The blue line represents Party vote results in non-Labour held Auckland seats.

The picture is simple, in all non Labour-held seats, where the Labour vote was weaker to begin with, the swing against Labour has been bigger than the nationwide average. The percentage decrease in the Labour vote in these seats varied between 5.8% (North Shore) and 15.15% (Rodney). Pakuranga was 6.84%.

However, in most Labour held seats, the picture is reversed. In all but two of these seats, the Labour vote held up better than the nationwide average. In four (Mangere, Auckland Central, Manurewa, and Mt Albert) the Labour Party vote actually increased.

The stark differences in Party vote increase/decrease between Labour-held and non Labour-held seats in Auckland confirms the theory of increased political polarisation that has been bandied around in reference to the rural/urban divide.

The trend is also evident within the Pakuranga results.

Our overall Party vote decrease was 6.84%. For administrative purposes the Returning Officer breaks down the booths in the electorate into the geographic sub-groups of Bucklands Beach (worst for Labour historically), Howick (middling), and Pakuranga (best for Labour historically). When the results are broken down into these groups we see:

- Labour vote in Howick down by 14.39%
- Labour vote in Bucklands Beach down by 8.41%
- Labour vote in Pakuranga down by just .79%

If the Pakuranga segment is broken down further to remove the Farm Cove and Sunnyhill booths which are very strong for National, we are left with what we call 'Pakuranga South', the area that has had far and away the strongest Labour vote historically. In this area our vote actually climbed by .91% compared to the nationwide dip of 1.26%. The strongest Labour booths such as Anchorage Park (+2.6%), Elm Park (+4.88%), Pakuranga Heights (+6.02%), and Riverhills (+11.56%) saw good Labour gains.

So internally, the pattern matches the picture across Auckland - National areas solidifying for National, Labour areas solidifying for Labour. Polarisation.

And here's an example of what won this tightest of tight elections for Labour:

Turnout Increase in Pakuranga:

Bucklands Beach (7143-7617) - 6.64%
Howick (7304-7645) - 4.67%
Pakuranga (12649-14110) - 11.55%

Hard graft and on the ground organisation to get out the Labour vote, that's what won it. Despite the Presidential style campaign, flash billboards, blogs, and multi-media gimmicks, it was on the ground campaigning in the end.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Campaign Highs and Lows

There's a pile of campaign analysis out there in the blogosphere, and I'll have some on the Pakuranga campaign tomorrow once I've finished the number crunching (some very interesting trends emerging already).

In the meantime, the good bits, and not so good bits from an extremely long, tough campaign in Pakuranga:


- The poll blues. Whatever anyone says, and whatever you know about long-term trends, margins of errror and the time frames involved, candidates still live and die from poll to poll. Given this, one's mental health took on something of a schitzophrenic quality over this camapign.
- Long days and nights away from home.
- Absolute exhaustion in the last couple of weeks. Literally falling asleep in the middle of phone calls is a good sign that you need a bit more rest.
- The odd socially disfunctional jerk who insists on turning any political discussion into a personal slanging match.
- War wounds. Campaign helpers torn to bits by dogs, strange and horrific blood blisters after hoarding expeditions gone wrong...


- The door-knocking campaign. Almost universally well-received, and worth the effort when we align the areas we intensively canvassed, with our results.
- Campaign Committee meetings. I had what every good campaign needs - a tight, focussed campaign committee that put together and implemented a sound plan. Thanks Angela, Jeff, Patrick, and John.
- This Blog. Proved to be a good campaign tool, and created more local interest than I had envisaged.
- The debates. The first was an out and out butting of heads with Judith Collins, and I was very happy with the outcome. The second was a lower key, quite fun affair that also went well.
- Assisting local residents. Campaigning brings you into contact with local residents who sometimes need a hand dealing with Council/Govt dept etc... I enjoyed the opportunity to help out in these kinds of cases.
- Campaign blitz days. Hitting targetted parts of the electorate with a group of activists. The best day was when we convereged on the Ennis Ave area in late June, and leafletted and doorknocked the place to within an inch of it's life. We got our best vote increase at the local booth.
- The final burst. That final two week burst of campaigning was exhilirating. We knew that the election could go either way, and that everything we did counted. Alot of coffee and Berocca kept me going.
- The people who spontaneously came out of the woodwork to help. Folk like Louise who helped scrutineer on the day, and Christine whose female presence while giving out education policy information outside schools, ensured that I didn't look like a paedophile.
- The night. What an absolute spectacle. I knew we were going to win when we pulled even, and then the next set of electorate graphics showed Labour strongholds Mangere, Manukau East, and Manurewa with 60-70% of votes still to count.

Tomorrow... the local numbers!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Every Vote Counts

This will be my last post before Election Day, and if if can communicate just one thing, I hope it is that every vote counts on Saturday.

It is absolutely clear that this is the tightest election race in a generation, and that the choices are very stark.

On Saturday New Zealanders can choose the short-term silver bullet of tax cuts, or we can choose to invest in our shared future.

Over the past six years we have worked hard to build a strong economy that serves all New Zealanders, not just the wealthy few. We have strong growth, low unemployment, decreasing child poverty, and we have implemented a range of positive measures such as the re-establishment of apprenticeships that put us in a good position to prosper in the future.

We have also developed into a proud, confident nation. I have never been so proud to be a Kiwi or a member of the NZ Labour Party as I was when the US & UK illegally and immorally invaded Iraq, and we stood firm on our principles and refused to participate.

This Labour government has not been perfect, but I genuinely believe that we have honoured the commitments we made in 1999 and 2002, and that we have a positive plan for the future. Policies such as interest-free student loans, more modern apprentices, smaller class sizes for 5 year olds, and the expanded rates rebate scheme represent a comprehensive programme to invest in our future, and to share the benefits of our national wealth.

On the local front I have enjoyed the Pakuranga campaign immensely. I can honestly say that I have never worked so hard in my life. We have done everything that we could have to connect with the voters of the electorate, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many local residents face to face.

For the assistance and support offered by my wonderful campaign team of Patrick, Angela, Jeff, and John, I am incredibely grateful. For my wife's forbearance, patience, and support over the past 9 months of campaigning I am also indebted.

On Saturday I simply ask that Pakuranga voters think carefully about the sort of country we want to build, and look closely at the policies on offer. Any local residents who may find it difficult to reach a polling booth on the day are welcome to contact me for assistance.

Best of luck everyone. See you on the other side!

Campaign Crescendo

From Dawn till dusk and beyond, this week is manic.

Early morning bus stop visits begin each day, followed by getting out the ever huge mountain of deliviries, doorknocking, the odd community group visit, leafleting of parents outside local schools, and 1001 little tasks to keep the campaign ticking over.

This week also saw Pakuranga's only two real campaign debates.

The first, on Monday night was organised by the combined local Catholic Parishes. This was the bigger of the two, with roughly 100 people in attendance. Each speaker had to address 4 topics, and the floor was then opened for questions. National was represented by Judith Collins, and from her very first response on abortion which she used to make a Party political point over the parental consent issue, it was clear that we were not going to have a happy night.

Over the next couple of hours, her behaviour deteriorated. While I actually quite enjoy a bit of good heckling, Mrs Collins behaved in an increasingly petulant manner, rudely nattering away while others spoke, mouthing 'Shutup' to someone in the audience who dared to disagree with her, questioning the right of the audience to ask the questions they wanted, and finally refusing to answer a direct question on the Iraq war. Being a helpful fellow I politely stepped into that paticuar breach.

I got on fine with other canidates from across the political spectrum, and simply sould not fathom Mrs Collins sourness.

The second debate, organised by Oxfam, Amnesty, and the UN Association was completely different. It was quite a bit smaller and better humoured. Maurice attended this one, and although we got stuck into each other a few times, it was all in good spirit - the way it should be.

We'll be continuing to campaign right until the final whistle. I think this is still an extremely tight election and think that this will be reflected in polls over the next couple of days. Turnout and leadership will be the decisive factors.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Polls go crazy

The polls are all over the place:

Colmar Bruton last Sunday: Nats 9 ahead
Midweek TV3: Labour 9 ahead
Herald Friday: Deadheat
SST today: Nats 7 ahead
Herald on Sunday (snap): Labour 3.5 ahead.

...with a Colmar Brunton poll coming tonight which the Herald on Sunday suggested would contrast with the SST result.

What to make of it? Two things I think. The first is that there is exceptional volatility, particularly in National's vote. Secondly, there is no doubt heading into the final week that it is very close.

In my view, a combination of the Leaders performances, and on the ground organisation to turn out the vote, will probably decide the election.

Knife edge stuff!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Best Day Yet

Great day of campaigning today.

Leafleting at Pakuranga Plaza bus stop kicked things of this morning. This went well again, with another very positive reaction from students to the interset-free policy.

Then a big leafletting drive through the day. The best thing about this was that about half a dozen people stopped me to chat along the way, and offered their support.

Lunch was good too. Labour was nicely ahead in the Pakuranga Muffin Break coffee bean poll!

The afternoon saw a bit of hoardings maintenance, including the replacement of one of our horror sites in Howick that seems to get hit every second night. I won't attempt to describe what was written and drawn on this one! Again, a number of passersby offered their support. We also put up a fantastic new sign in Half Moon Bay that was offered by a supporter who called us up and suggested the use of his property.

The day was rounded off by an extremely positive bout of campaigning along Casurina Rd in Pigeon Mountain. There was hardly a negative response.

A bit of a dream campaign day really, and I'm quite ready to be brought back to earth tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Gone by Lunchtime

This is very funny.

Mainly because it is true. All it does is quote back Brash's various contradictory positions on a range of issues.

Not everyone 'likes' Helen Clark or agrees with all of Labour's policies, but a number of right leaning voters have told me during the campaign that at least they know what they are getting with her. With Brash, who knows what the policy will be next week? His comment the other day that he could not comment on National's housing policy because he had not "read the press statement" was a new low.

I think that this leadership issue will be a critical one in these closing weeks of the campaign.

Wednesday in Howick

It has been a good days campaigning.

I began with some leafletting of people at the Highland Park bus stop this morning which went very well. Naturally, many of the people at the bus stop were students going into Auckland University and AUT, so the response to our interest-free policy was very good.

The middle of the day was taken up by a lot of leafletting around the central Howick area. We seem to be getting quite a good response to this. In 2002, I received very few phone calls or e-mails in response to our leafletting, but this time there is steady daily feedback, and most of it is good, or at the very least, genuinely undecided and enquiring.

Lunch was an extremely unhealthy visit to the Roast Dinner store on Aviemore Dr where I had my first after school job. I can heartily recommend this place - they were doing the roast dinner thing when there were only about 3 such stores in Auckland, and they still do a mean pork roll.

More leafletting in the afternoon, followed by a bit of doorknocking in central Howick, then home to work on various bits of campaign administration.

More of the same tomorrow...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Nats in Eastern Corridor Spin??

I caught the end of a One News item this evening which seemed to show Don Brash over-ruling Maurice Williamson on the Eastern Corridor issue.

Maurice once again extolled the virtues of the corridor at the debate I had with him over transport policy a couple of months ago, so I would be extremely interested to know if this was the case.

There doesn't yet seem to be anything online... did anyone see the full story?

Hard Slog Ahead

It has been an exceptionally busy week, hence the lack of recent blog entries.

The last few days in particular have been hectic. Our second major electorate-wide electorate has been parcelled out to our team of deliverers across the electorate, I've had a cluster of speaking engagements with local community groups, door knocking in the Pigeon Mountain area has commenced, the signage network has been expanded (and repaired where necessary), and I have commenced bus stop visits to meet local residents first thing in the morning.

I've had some particularly enjoyable meetings with the Shakti Seniors group, the Selwyn Seniors, and Half Moon Bay Rotary. People at the meetings were extremely interested in the election, and had plenty of searching questions. I appreciated the opportunity.

The recent polls suggest a hard slog ahead for Labour to win a third term, so the next two weeks promise to be even busier. I am on annual leave now, so campaigning is now a full-time activity.