2008 Spending and Votes

April 8th, 2009 at 1:46 pm by David Farrar

2008spendvotes1

This spreadsheet above looks at what correlation there is between advertising spend on behalf of a party, and how many votes they got. The first column is the party’s declared advertising (it does not include candidate advertising) and the second column is how the costs of any broadcasting paid for by the Electoral Commission. So the third column is the total advertising spend on behalf of the party, and then divided by the number of votes they cost, what he spend per vote is.

The variation is huge – from 29c a vote to $55 a vote. Take the two extreme minor parties. The Bill and Ben Party got 13,016 votes with under $4,000 of spending. While Social Credit got one tenth as many votes despite spending 20 times as much money.

Most focus will be on the parties that do make it into Parliament, or have a serious chance of doing so. Of those National spent the least per vote – $3.04. So hardly buying your way to power.  ACT spent the most at $14.57 a vote, followed by Progressive at $12.80 a vote.

The Greens and NZ First both spent over $10 a vote, two to three times that of Labour and National.

Money is useful in politics. But it is far from a dominant factor. Policies, leadership, media reporting, volunteer effort, membership levels, smart use of IT, MPs behaviour all have (in my opinion) a greater influence on electoral outcomes than merely money spent.

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26 Responses to “2008 Spending and Votes”

  1. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    So… if Bill & Ben had a bit more money they’d be running the country!

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  2. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    The Bill and Ben Party got 13,016 votes with under $4,000 of spending. While Social Credit got one tenth as many votes despite spending 20 times as much money.

    Much has been said and written about the [Electoral Finance] Bill. In yesterday’s Dom Post a letter to the editor summed it up for many people: Democracy is not “one dollar, one vote”. Annette King, 18 Dec 2007

    Correct Annette… spending and votes are not correlated. Voters are smarter than you give them credit for.

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  3. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    The Libertarians- $24000 virtually pissed into the wind. Ther leadership should resign in shame.

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  4. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Labour- 800,000.

    Ain’t that about the total of the government payroll?

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  5. goodgod (1,348 comments) says:

    When you have a two party state mentality there is no other indicator of success than the failure of the other party.

    When NZ has have 3-4 major parties operating in FPP system then we can start wondering what money is doing. The majority of voters aren’t interested in applying any more intellectual energy than it takes to understand a slogan – and who can blame them, they’re out there paying for Labour’s mismanagement right now. (that’s slogan number one ;) )

    Vote Greens – slogans: save the planet, stop global warming, look after your grandkids, clean green etc

    Vote National – slogans: lower taxes, basic education, tough on crime, pro-choice

    Vote Labour – slogans: the workers party, looking after the poor, restorative justice, equality for all

    Vote Act – slogans: user pays, low taxes, economic reform, low industry regulation, business friendly

    Vote United Future – slogans: free haircuts for all, no measurable values…ahhhh nah just kidding.

    Anyway it’s when any of these emotionally charged slogans are contradicted that a change of government happens. National should bear that in mind before it spends too much next time. :lol:

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  6. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Interesting to see only about 1 in ten of NZ Maori voted for the Maori Party.

    Who the hell then do these racists and separatists represent?

    It clearly ain’t NZ Maori.

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  7. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    Intersting to see that for a single issue party ALCP got close to 10,000 votes.

    Kinda makes you wonder why other parties aren’t taking the issue seriously.

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  8. Bryce Edwards (248 comments) says:

    The Green Party expenditure of $10 per vote is particularly interesting. In this sense, ironically the Green Party provides a classic case study in how the correlation between increased expenditure and increased votes does not seem to exist. After all, the Greens’ expenditure has increased in every election the party has stood in. Here’s how much they say they have spent over time:

    * 1990: virtually nothing
    * 1999: $279,168
    * 2002: $765,035
    * 2005: $792,842
    * 2008: $1,706,633

    It seems that regardless of the amount the Green Party spends on its campaign – virtually nothing in 1990, or close to two million in 2008 – the party always gets around 6% of the vote.

    See more on this at:
    http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2009/03/greens-spent-17m-in-2008-election-campaign.html

    Bryce

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  9. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “the party always gets around 6% of the vote.”

    Can you check on how this co-relates with the known number of know nothng brain washed dipshits emerging from schools and universities?

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  10. PaulL (5,971 comments) says:

    There is also some systematic bias in here. Some parties get a lot of donations of time, presumably because their supporters have a lot of spare time, but not much spare money. Other parties get a lot of donations of money that they then use to buy things that otherwise would have been done by volunteers, perhaps because their supporters have a lot of money and not much time.

    We generally see donations of money to be perjorative – buying policies etc etc. But that donations of time are somehow positive – we don’t talk about people “buying policies” by putting their time into helping to develop them.

    So, arguably, a party like ACT might get a lot of monetary donations but little free time. A party like Labour might get less money donated, but a lot of time donations from unions and the like.

    I have no idea how we’d measure this, and what impact it would have on the public’s perception. But it is definitely a systematic bias.

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  11. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    I voted Act / National, I do hope my $17.61 is in the post.

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  12. Sam (501 comments) says:

    ssb – I believe you will have already received more than that in your tax-cuts (which I am convinced Labour would have reneged upon).

    Good post – must bookmark it for next election, or for when the EFB comes under examination again…

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  13. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    So even thou the Socialists spent the most they still couldnt buy the election

    And the Communists spent more than ACT. So much for ACT being big spenders dunded by the big end of town. looks like the rich pricks throw dough at the Commies instead

    And the Peters party managed to find a Mill to blow. Wonder what lost favours that bought.

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  14. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    side show bob “I voted Act / National, I do hope my $17.61 is in the post.”

    Check your paypacket, should be in there each fortnight.

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  15. Rex Widerstrom (5,349 comments) says:

    gd says:

    And the Peters party managed to find a Mill to blow. Wonder what lost favours that bought.

    It either says much about the current state of our politics or much about my current state of mind (or perhaps both) that I actually spent several seconds wondering “Who is this Mill person to whom gd refers?”.

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  16. gazzaj (99 comments) says:

    To be fair to the others, Bill and Ben were the only party with a popular weekly TV show.

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  17. pete (416 comments) says:

    Average cost per vote is meaningless; I’d rather know the marginal price for a vote (although it would probably require some heroic assumptions to extract that from this data).

    My concern with money has less to do with parties buying elections than with people buying parties – the “No Brash No Cash” scandal for example.

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  18. pete (416 comments) says:

    A plot of log(votes) against log(total) fits the data quite well: the only real outliers are BB and ALCP on one side and RAM and SC on the other.

    IOW, nothing to see here.

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  19. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    I see Act rate poorest of the parties in parliament in terms of votes per $ spent.

    Of course it would be immature and stupid of me to suggest that this exceptionally poor return on investment is in any way a reflection on the soundness of Act’s radical economic theories, so of course I won’t!

    :-P

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  20. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “so of course I won’t!”

    Well that is indeed uncharacteristically prudent of you, for if you had made such an idiotic suggestion I would have had to correct you, and point out that ACT’s traditionally poor showing is as always down to Labour’s sleazy cowardly rat bag media agents who have the gall to pose as objective journalists at the same time as they have waged a decades long campaign to demonise Roger Douglas, Rod Hide and Act.

    So of course I won’t.

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  21. freedom101 (496 comments) says:

    Did you count the public money spent on TV ads as part of the allocation to political parties? And what about the value of all the free air time given to Labour and National only – such as the Key/Clark exclusive TV debates? What about all the column inches in newspapers devoted to what Labour or National said about things when the smaller parties were also putting out press releases and not being reported?

    The $ per vote analysis is actually very misleading. It only counts the $ spend declared, not the value of the exposure given by the media, which arguably is more influential than any spend. I suspect that if National and Labour received exactly the same air time and column inches as other parties their $ per vote would be somewhat different!

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  22. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,746 comments) says:

    Looks like we can scrap spending limits then.

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  23. PaulL (5,971 comments) says:

    freedom101 – why would parties that get much lower vote share get exactly the same column inches? Should the bill and ben party have gotten the same column inches? Was there enough content to fill that many inches?

    I’m with OECD. Spending limits aren’t useful. We should keep requiring declaration of donations and declaration of spending, but remove the limits.

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  24. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    “The Greens and NZ First both spent over $10 a vote, two to three times that of Labour and National.”

    And ACT spent over $14 per vote. But it’s more fun to comment on the folly of leftie parties…

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  25. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Oops – retract that statement, I have read the article properly now!

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