Trotter calls it early

March 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

writes:

UNLESS SOMETHING HUGELY DRAMATIC HAPPENS between now and polling day, 20 September, the General Election of 2014 is all but over. The National-led government of Prime Minister, John Key, looks set to be returned for a third term by a margin that may surprise many of those currently insisting that the result will be very close. What may also surprise is the sheer scale and comprehensiveness of the Left’s (especially Labour’s) electoral humiliation.

That’s a bold prediction. I don’t believe in calling a result until around 10 pm on election night :-)

With most opinion pollsters recording three-fifths to two-thirds of voters saying the country is “heading in the right direction” it is clear that the run of generally positive news stories about the New Zealand economy are rebounding to National’s advantage. To those with secure paid employment and/or comfortable incomes, these reports offer no compelling reason for a change of government.

That is a strong factor. And worth comparing to other countries. In NZ 63% say the country is heading in the right direction, followed by 38% only in Australia, 35% in Canada, 33% in the UK and just 31% in the US.

In terms of political leadership, National is especially blessed. Most New Zealanders like John Key. In spite of his enormous wealth, he strikes a staggeringly large number of voters as an “ordinary bloke” who shares their values and understands their aspirations. His stand-up comedian’s ability to use humour as both sword and shield generally frees him from the onerous duties of detailed explanation and justification.

I’m not sure it frees him from that, but I agree most people like him, and it is amusing to come across people who not only dislike him themselves (which of course si expected) but they can’t work out how anyone anywhere can like him.

Labour’s leadership problems are the mirror-image of National’s. David Cunliffe is not yet understood or, sadly, much liked by the electorate. He simply doesn’t come across as an ordinary bloke – quite the reverse in fact – and the pollsters have yet to detect the sort of wholesale buy-in to the Opposition leader’s values and aspirations that presages a decisive shift in ideological allegiances. Neither is Cunliffe helped by his bizarre propensity to withhold politically relevant information from the public. Nothing arouses a journalist’s fury faster than a politician’s failure to supply the whole story.

Indeed, as others have also found.

Mr Key’s strategy of making haste slowly on these little things while seeking an electoral mandate for the big things (like partial privatisation) goes a long way to explaining his government’s enduring lead in the opinion polls.

It’s called taking the public with you, so change can be enduring.

All of which brings us down to the day itself.

 Month after month of favourable polls; a leader careful to build his footpaths where people walk; policies which voters either hardly notice or readily endorse; and a war-chest more than equal to the challenge of exploiting all these substantial advantages will not only have National’s supporters in a triumphant temper, but they will also have induced a profound demoralisation among their opponents.
 
Election Day 2014 – barring that big surprise – will, therefore, likely see National’s supporters marching proudly, as to a political coronation, while Labour and Green supporters, convinced they’ve already lost, deliver John Key an unparalleled National victory and the psephologists a record low turnout.
Again, I think this is premature but we’ll get some idea if Chris is right i the next few months.
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31 Responses to “Trotter calls it early”

  1. artemisia (242 comments) says:

    Had to look up psephologist. Someone who studies election trends from the Greek for pebbles. Nice.

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  2. kiwi in america (2,453 comments) says:

    Trotter was a big Cunliffe backer and saw him as the last great hope to take the Labour Party back to its Michael Savage roots by unlocking the hidden 800,000 closet socialist voters (the left’s great fantasy). You can almost hear his teeth gnashing as he writes this. Trotter’s burst of reality has freed some of his blog followers from their denial enabling them to publicly agree with their mentor. Trotter is hugely respected on the left and, having met him at a symposium where we discussed Labour party politics not long after I left the party, I found him to be one of the left’s most thoughtful and approachable proponents. This article will reverberate like a shock wave through the left further demoralizing those who will be their front line election workers. It will be interesting to see how he is treated at The Standard. That said, National must never let their guard down and plan a GOTV campaign that assumes this will be neck and neck to election day.

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  3. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    Does labour realise they’re a study in self-parody? Are they aware of their irrelevance to most of us?

    Cunliffe has yet to explain how he will stop the best job candidate – who misses out on a job or a promotion due to gender balancing in the workplace – from leaving and being employed by competitors! This applies to both men and women.

    Employers won’t stand for a policy where the best people leave them. Nor will any voter who takes their career, job market and interviews seriously.

    Do workers really want less skilled people above them? In order for Labour to make things ‘seem fair’ for women by advocating for female quotas, they make things unfair for men – and other women. That’s just plain fucken stupid.

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  4. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    If too many of these Chinese businessman scandals hit the National Party then there may be a softening in support for the Party and an increase in the vote for NZF. And things can change during the campaign while people are making up their minds.

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  5. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    If APN get their way this will become fact . . . they are on a real pro-Labour exercise this morning.

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  6. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    Calling the election this early in the piece is a bit silly, it just takes one major scandal/fuckup/bad policy to change enough swing voters in one direction or the other.

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  7. mjw (396 comments) says:

    tvb – I really think that one is a beat up. On the facts presented, I can’t see anything wrong with it. The guy is an entrepreneur doing big things for Auckland, and his donations are transparent. I hope he continues to feel welcome, and feel like a New Zealander.

    Although maybe Labour should contact these Nat donors and invite them to make matching donations to Labour to avoid perceptions of favouritism! :-)

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  8. Than (473 comments) says:

    When Trotter writes

    In spite of his enormous wealth, he strikes a staggeringly large number of voters as an “ordinary bloke” who shares their values and understands their aspirations.

    it explains why so many on the left are continually baffled by John Key’s popularity. They seem to genuinely think the wealthy are somehow different from everybody else, as if having a large number on your bank statements somehow instantly warps your mind and turns you evil.

    John Key comes across as an ordinary bloke because he is an ordinary bloke. Wealth is not the fundamental defining factor in a person’s identity that many on the left believe it to be.

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  9. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    Chinese businessman scandals taken on their own they do not amount to much and the latest one has made significant investments in this country and Labour did this kind of thing anyway. But the cumulative effect could be damaging and no doubt the dirt machines of the Herald and TVNZ will be working hard on it.

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  10. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    I saw John Campbell’s interview with Judith Collins. Completely different to his interview with Len Brown.

    What a biased little prick

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  11. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    It’s called taking the public with you, so change can be enduring.

    For that to be correct, there would actually have to be some change. But we’re five years in and all the large and medium sized problems left by the Clark government have hardly been touched. In contrast, the changes put through by Roger Douglas starting in 1984 were substantial and had no particular mandate from the public, but people could see that they were a big improvement. The election result three years later reinforced that and the changes have been enduring.

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  12. All_on_Red (1,583 comments) says:

    “I saw John Campbell’s interview with Judith Collins. Completely different to his interview with Len Brown.”

    She went on Campbell Live? Heck John Key is really punishing her! Why they bother with that little prick I’ll never know.
    As for the Election, I don’t think we can be complacent and National voters are ALL going to have to get out and vote.

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  13. Scott (1,800 comments) says:

    I agree with Nigel Kearney – “all the large and medium-sized problems left by the Clark government have hardly been touched”. We still have working for families which is middle-class welfare, we still have interest-free student loans which was a blatant election bribe from labour. There has been some nibbling around the edges to try and get the welfare rolls down but nothing substantial.

    Charter schools is probably the only right-wing initiative that we have from the national government.

    Our tax rates are still high and the lowering of the top tax rate was coupled with the increase of the GST rate to 15%, probably never to be lowered in our lifetime.

    Most egregiously, the progressive attack on the traditional morals which once underpinned our nation’s prosperity continue apace. The voter of traditional morals is not represented in New Zealand Parliament and has no friends in the media. National has abandoned the voter of traditional morals while chasing the soft left labour voter.

    I am hoping that the Conservatives will get a good voice in Parliament this election. Otherwise under John Key’s watch, likable follow that he may be, the progressive demolition of our civilisation will continue.

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  14. Richard Hurst (859 comments) says:

    A week is a long time in politics (let alone 10 months) . Surprised Trotter seems to have forgotten that. I’m sure John Key hasn’t.

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  15. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    Morning Report this morning said Judith Collins was ‘seemingly’ contrite. That passed without comment. Do they know whether her contrition is real or not? If they do they should tell us. I have never heard this kind of blatant editorialising before, certainly never for a Labour MP.

    Then Geoff Robinson actually put words in Grant Robertson’s mouth – as though he needs any help with his rants.

    Mind you, Robinson is the announcer who told a guy who had violently assaulted his partner that his actions were ‘understandable’.

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  16. Nostalgia-NZ (5,206 comments) says:

    Might be sceptical to ask – is Trotter reassuring the right, or inviting them to be complacent. There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet. DPF comments about the bickering between the Greens and Labour when it’s Labour identifying their independency in order to try and capture potential Nat votes of those wishing to vote for anybody but the Greens. It’s hard to confirm that it’s a strategy or not, but difficult to believe otherwise – Jones going to the heart of some Maori issues over land consultancy, the Greens in terms of mining etc and making clear definitions to voters. In terms of the big left swing because of Mc Carten – where is it? Too much willingness not to look below the surface. Collins has gifted Labour more traction than at any time in recent memory, possibly exactly when it wasn’t needed and JK had set a course with a favourable economic wind sailing into election 2014. Trotter, surprisingly, seems to have ‘forgotten’ the cut and thrust right up to polling day with his languid prediction.

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  17. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Whoa – I didn’t see that coming. (Some sense from Trotsky.)

    This former Labour voter doesn’t just like JK because he seems like a good bastard.

    In 2008 when everyone could see the GFC coming, I liked that he was a competent money guy too. I don’t know if the ship sinks or swims based on whether the captain knows how the engine works, but it certainly must help if he does…

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  18. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    “I saw John Campbell’s interview with Judith Collins. Completely different to his interview with Len Brown.

    What a biased little prick”

    Yep, but to be fair, at the same time Mike Hoskings on Seven Sharp is exactly the same, except with a clear right wing bias. He fawns over national politicos and goes hard for the left.

    There’s nothing wrong with what either of them do, it’s not a straight news show, it’s current affairs and we have a choice about what we watch. The days when everyone in the media must appear utterly “bbc” impartial are thankfully long gone.

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  19. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    Trotter is right. Labour’s problems are two-fold, Cunliffe and the Greens. Beyond commentators at the Standard, Cunliffe is regarded as an undeserving puffed up head prefect that no one could possibly like. And Labour is stuck with him by it’s own rules.

    The Greens are economic vandals and I couldn’t imagine those most venerable to an economic downturn would vote for Labour if it meant getting the Greens as well.

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  20. Skippytony (16 comments) says:

    David Cunliffe is not yet understood

    Ha ha, there you have it. Labour’s problem is not that people don’t understand David Cunliffe, no no no.

    Labour’s problem is that people ARE starting to understand David Cunliffe and that they don’t like what they see.

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  21. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    As a normal labour voter I like John Key.
    But putting Cunliffe against Key was dumb, Cunliffe pointing out how wealthy Key is while living in Herne bay like most labour voters do was completely dumb.
    Labour’s best chance is 2017 with Shane Jones as leader of the opposition, but, will NZs vote for a hori PM ?

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  22. OneTrack (3,104 comments) says:

    “..but, will NZs vote for a hori PM ?”

    I cannot see any reason why not.

    Jones? Not so sure. At the moment he is the leading light in Labour, but compared to the rest of them, that doesn’t mean that much.

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  23. Than (473 comments) says:

    but, will NZs vote for a hori PM ?

    Before we reach that point the question is, would Labour’s activist base and the unions select a moderate like Shane Jones as leader? I’m guessing not. Somebody else (Grant Robertson or whoever) would win them over with some good old solidarity rhetoric and promises to ban mining and tax the rich pricks.

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  24. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    OneTrack I’m not sure about Jones myself, a weapon of mass destruction sure, but who will the target be ?
    And he is a scruffy bugger, I would expect any politician who wants to do well to take a leaf from Winstone’s book when it comes to dress.
    Jones needs to lose weight as well.

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  25. ShawnLH (5,063 comments) says:

    “the voter of traditional morals”

    You can’t vote morality into existence. It has to come from the heart.

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  26. publicwatchdog (2,595 comments) says:

    This was my comment that I tried to post on Chris Trotter’s blog – but it hasn’t been published:

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Chris – in my considered opinion you have completely underestimated how vulnerable this National/ACT Government is on matters of corrupt corporate control, and corrupt conflicts of interest.

    I note that you had NO IDEA about who really runs the Auckland region (the unelected Committee for Auckland) until I brought it to your attention?

    You may recall that in the recent Auckland Mayoral election, with no ‘team’, censored by key MSM, blocked by political phonies like Martyn Bradbury – I still polled 4th, with nearly 12,000 votes, campaigning against corrupt corporate control of the Auckland region?

    Did YOU as a so-called ‘political commentator’ Chris Trotter, predict THAT?

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright

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  27. Nostradamus (3,326 comments) says:

    Don’t lie Penny – I’ve just checked and your comment has been published – you’ll find it under “12 March 2014 19:43″.

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  28. Rowan (2,373 comments) says:

    Labour and the greens ‘promises’ and ‘ideas’ like legalising pot etc show how feeble the opposition are and that we will have at least another term of the Nats in power, Key is pretty good, would much rather him than Cunliffe as PM.

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  29. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    I’m not so confident. The media seems to delight in making things difficult for the political favourite (I’ll be charitable and not say “difficult for the National party in particular”).
    Last time it was the teapot tapes. This year they may decide that looking at business relationships with the National party might be a good button to push repeatedly. I see some real risks there, especially if one or two more examples such as Collins’ cockup come to light .

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  30. kiwi in america (2,453 comments) says:

    Penny – pay your rates!

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  31. OneTrack (3,104 comments) says:

    publicwatchdog – “… still polled 4th, with nearly 12,000 votes, campaigning against corrupt corporate control of the Auckland region?”

    But you didn’t do well enough. Len and his fellow travellers got in anyway.

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