Friday, 24 June 2011

Poll Positioning

Principled Decision Or Dangerous Gamble? Hone Harawira's fate, and the future of his new Mana Party, will turn on the number of residual Maori Party voters in the Te Tai Tokerau seat who decide to vote strategically and cast their ballot for Labour's Kelvin Davis.

MAORI TELEVISION’S POLL must have landed like a turd on the carpet at Mana Party headquarters. Suddenly, the race for Te Tai Tokerau was too close to call.

The coronation that Hone Harawira and his Mana Party campaigners were expecting had unaccountably become a contest.

The initial reaction of the Mana camp to the MTV poll was denial.

It is now an article of faith among some sections of the Left that the methodology of New Zealand pollsters is irredeemably flawed. They argue that since more and more young, brown and/or poor Kiwis no longer use landlines, polling agencies which continue to rely on interviews with landline subscribers are bound to produce results significantly skewed towards the opinions of old, white and rich voters.

The Mana Party’s most vociferous media champion, Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury is so certain of this that he refers to the results of the leading polling agencies as “brain farts”.

According to Bomber, the findings of the MTV poll – showing Hone Harawira on 41 percent; Labour’s Kelvin Davis on 40 percent; and the Maori Party’s Solomon Tipene on 15 percent – may be safely disregarded.

A statistically significant percentage of Hone’s core vote, says Bomber, is made up of the young, the economically-marginalised and the angry – voters who communicate by cell-phone. Had Maori Television’s pollster contacted these people, the explosive Mr Bradbury declared, the results would have shown Hone heading for a landslide by-election victory.

IF HONE’S CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE had faith in Bomber’s gospel it certainly wasn’t reflected in their actions. No less than Team Kelvin, Team Hone was well-and-truly galvanised by the MTV poll.

Carloads of young Mana supporters, some from as far away as Rotorua, headed north to muscle-up their champion’s effort.

Labour, too, called every activist to the party’s colours. Morale soared – and not without reason. In a straightforward get-out-the-vote effort, Labour has few rivals.

Or, perhaps, for the sake of accuracy, that should be, in general seats Labour has few rivals. Quite what the disaffected Maori electors of Te Tai Tokerau made of Labour’s middle-class Pakeha activists is anyone’s guess.

ON THE GROUND, then, it appears to have been a pretty fair fight: Mana’s youthful energy versus Labour’s well-honed professionalism. Even so, the fact that he and his people have been fighting on their own turf probably hasn’t hurt Hone’s chances.

Add to this home-ground advantage the irrefutable argument that by electing Kelvin, the voters of Te Tai Tokerau will get Kelvin alone. But a vote for Hone will net them two MPs: Hone as Mana’s Electorate MP for Te Tai Tokerau; Kelvin as a Labour Party List MP.

Two Maori MPs with just one vote – you can’t say fairer than that!

THE VAGARIES of First-Past-The-Post electoral contests are not, however, even remotely fair.

Provided his opponents remain loyal to their respective party colours, an FPP candidate’s mission is relatively straight-forward: get more votes than your nearest rival. Where things get murky is when the candidate’s opponents’ are so utterly determined upon his political destruction that they temporarily set aside their differences and swing the entire opposition vote behind the party with the best chance of defeating him. When that happens a simple plurality of votes won’t do. Faced with a united opposition, a candidate has to win more than half of the votes cast.

Can Hone do that?

He did it in 2008: polling 58.7 percent of the Electorate Vote he was a daunting 6,308 votes ahead of his nearest rival.

The question upon which Hone’s future, and the Far Left’s hopes for a radical socialist alternative to Labour and the Greens, hinges, is a simple one.

“How large is the Maori Party’s “swing-able” vote in Te Tai Tokerau?”

If, as the MTV Poll suggests, it’s around 15 percent, then Mr Harawira is in trouble.

If it’s less than 8 percent, he’s in.

By nine o’clock tomorrow evening we should know if, once again, old-age and treachery have out-gunned youthful idealism.

Fingers crossed.

This essay was originally published in The Dominion Post, The Timaru Herald, The Taranaki Daily News, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 24 June 2011.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Mr Trotter, are you sure about that?

"Faced with a united opposition, a candidate has to win more than half of the votes cast."

If your ratbag friend wins 3,000 votes, Mr Davis wins 2,500 votes and the other feller, Mr Tipene, wins 1,000 votes; is not your ratbag friend the winner with less than 50%?

We haven't got around to distributing second preferences in NZ yet, have we?

Ayrdale said...

All over by 9.30 ? Not if Hone loses...I may well be very wrong, but I pick him for a spectacularly poor loser.

Anonymous said...

So its old-age and treachery versus youthful idealism is it.

Chris, time to change your old record.

man if all we can work with or crawl up the bum of is in that arena we will always be going round the mulberry bush.

Sad thing, the 'hard left' Hone people discredit Marxism whenever they get out of bed. The nice bright tool kit bequeathed us they use to sit upon and eat their vegan panini lunches.

I hope Hone wins. No big hope with that at all.

He has no cluse, but will drag some of our street agro into the man's house with him. Good.
Go Hone.
All of you marxists. don't expect any goodys for throwing away your heritage.

Anonymous said...

Another demonstration of why if Labour try and take on Key directly he will run circles around them. Why did Key say Labour guy had a good chance? Because it is in his interests that Labour win the seat.

If mana guy wins, then they chip away at the Green left/marxist - don't accept that radical communism type schemes have killed 100s of millions ( as applied Greenism may be starting to do in 3rd world) - type base which also enhances Labour carving up the pragmatic Green left support (which is majority of the Green social vote). This along with m.m.p flip of Green votes for National govt, carves most of their vote to Labour while lumping Green party with National to general electorate.

But unlike opposite Green party effect, a Mana party in parliament makes the Labour party stronger in providing an more authentic left, just as NZ First does in providing an effective non left traditional social democracy base for confused pop. segment exasperated by Labour & National.

And i don't see why it wouldn't good to cover Act part of spectrum where it is prudent to in trade offs, for if Act party throw away opportunities of policy that are in line with that general support base, then who's loss is it?

But alias, it seems the Labour thinking department, i'm assuming they have a thinking department, is dead keen to keep themselves perceived and their options limited to a small section of the market for themselves - being too insecure to trade any of it away - and thus have their party disintegrate in a land slide loss so it can be totally taken over.

- Mstr Humphery Pinkerwinkle the 15th -

Anonymous said...

Uncross those fingers Chris. Hone lives. They'll try to crucify him, natch: but time's short, Tari's a convert, and Matt's mortally motivated. Expect the unexpected: for Phil it's Damascus or bust.

jh said...

The problem Hone had with the Maori party was the "sell out". The "sell out" was really about political realities and especially not being able be specific about which beach where. Now Hone's canoe will sink lower in the water if he espouses his hard line and his leftist sychophants may get their pants wet.

ani nil carborundum said...

Old age and treachery versus "youthful idealism" is a very rosy eyed view of things.
The very middle aged Harawira is up against Davis who is a relative new comer to politics and some ten years more youthful, chronologically speaking.
The back up team of McCarten, Bradford can hardly be seen as youthful, or free from hard boiled political scheming.
And Hone might have adapted his politics of grievance and racial nationalism to accommodate a few fine bits of left rhetoric but any naivety belongs to the elderly Maori Party candidate and those columnists and commentators who would believe Hone's recent enthusiasm for the Left.

Anonymous said...

Hone is more left than Kelvin. And much of labour (Grey haired Goff) is a lot older than many of the te mana party support base.

A lot of Ngapuhi is young and urban, they will make up a section of Te Mana's base if it becomes a mass party.

Congrats on the win Hone and Te Mana.

ani nil carborundum said...

Hone is as far left as suits him this week. And of course Hone's believers are mostly young, those who have known him over the years are not so keen.