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Feedback - Paulo Politico's Stats Add Up To Nill


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First published on Spectator.co.nz…

Feedback: Nigel Kearney of Wellington writes - Re: Paulo Politico's 'Labour Ahead in Boundary Allocations'...

I'm responding to Paulo Politico's reply point by point, so it will be useful to read the following in conjunction with that reply.

Paulo Politico quoted lots of statistics that illustrate nothing more than the fact that parties tend to get a high percentage of the party vote where they also get a high percentage of the electorate vote. This is hardly surprising, it just means that the party has a lot of supporters in that electorate. My point was related to voter turnout. An examination of the 1999 election results shows that, over the whole country, 15% of enrolled voters did not vote. In the 10 electorates with the most one-sided contests for the electorate vote, 21% of enrolled voters did not vote. More strong Labour electorates means more (mostly Labour) voters will not vote.

The next claim was "Once that candidate has built up a track record of service to a particular community, he or she becomes a powerful means of generating good will and popularity for the party". The original article was about boundary changes. If a safe Labour seat is created by boundary changes, by definition the candidate could not have built up a track record of service. Instead of earning votes through service and campaigning, they have been given a block of voters who were previously part of a different electorate with a different MP. How does this promote goodwill and popularity?

Having time to serve a political apprenticeship does not require a safe electorate seat. A high list place will do just as well. In fact, a electorate that has become a safe seat as result of boundary changes is only safe until the next round of boundary changes. In addition, there is always the possibility of losing the electorate to a highly popular local figure.

In the Dunedin example, Pete Hodgson is a Cabinet Minister and who has heard of David Benson-Pope outside Dunedin?. As far as increasing party popularity nationwide, there's no reason to think that Benson-Pope has done more for Labour than Katherine Rich has done for National.

The Ken Shirley example is flawed because the Electorate/List distinction is outweighed by the Large party/Small party distinction. A party with 9 MPs cannot afford to restrict itself to campaigning in 9 electorates. How would Ken Shirley be a "credible ambassador for ACT in central Auckland" if he was standing in Tauranga or Ohariu-Belmont?

Nigel Kearney
Wellington.

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