What if everyone voted

April 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew at Grumpollie does some calculations:

The discussion over at Dim-Post inspired me to have a play with the New Zealand Election Study (NES) data.

Each wave surveys a fairly large sample of voters and a small sample of non-voters. So I was having fun, and I started to wonder what would happen if all the non-voters with a party preference had got out and voted on Election Day.

There are a bunch of caveats to this analysis, including the small sample size and how representative the sample of non-voters was. BUT, if we assume for a moment that the data were broadly representative, then inspiring all non-voters to get out and vote wouldn’t have had a massive impact on the 2011 result.

Andrew calculates that if every non-voter with a preference had voted, then National would have gone up 0.1%, Labour up 1.7%, Greens down 1.0% and NZ First down 0.8%.

So my take on this is that just inspiring a larger turnout won’t necessarily help Labour. In 2008 it would have,but in 2011 it wouldn’t have.

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23 Responses to “What if everyone voted”

  1. Andrew (83 comments) says:

    Oh crap… I hope I didn’t make a mistake in those calculations, now they’re on a blog people actually read.

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  2. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    One of the 800,000 non-voters showed up at a Cunliffe stand-up yesterday?

    A media standup by Labour leader David Cunliffe had to be cut short this afternoon after a man in a car stopped and shouted a tirade of abuse at Mr Cunliffe and the assembled media about unemployment.

    The man pulled his car alongside the press pack on the side of the road outside Mr Cunliffe’s electorate office while beeping his horn. “F*** you, f*** Labour, f**** unemployment,” he shouted.

    As a member of the media asked another question, the man continued to shout, saying “f*** you man, there’s no future, New Zealand’s dreaming and you’re a dreamer.” He added that National was no better.

    “We may as well have a coalition of the f***wits. F*** you all.” He went on to say that the unions were dead “and you destroyed them. Unemployment is not working.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11230971

    Cunliffe seems to think it shouldn’t be hard to attract 250,000 of them to vote Labour.

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  3. redqueen (553 comments) says:

    Does this mean that NZ is, gradually, shifting back to the centre/right? (If 2008 would have been decided by non-voters, whereas 2011 wouldn’t have been).

    Also, if Silent T, along with apparently every other loony, is so grasping for ‘non-voters’, has he actually bothered to do any research into why people don’t vote, what they’re actually after, and what would encourage them to vote? I mean, it’s really easy to stand on a soapbox and rant about ‘silent majorities’ and ‘non-voters’ (or my favourite, the ‘disenfranchised’), but are they actually doing anything to see what these people want? Or is it just more hot…oh wait, it’s the left.

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  4. Andrew (83 comments) says:

    @redqueen – no it doesn’t mean that. The sample size was way too small and not enough is known about the sample of non- voters. What it suggests, to me, is that in 2011 those in the sample who didn’t vote, and who had a preference, did not differ massively (in terms of party support) from those who voted.

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  5. redqueen (553 comments) says:

    @Andrew

    Fair enough. Just looked at the numbers, and yes, those are very small sample sizes (particularly for 2008, but then, 2011 is rather small as well).

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  6. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    One of the 800,000?

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  7. ShawnLH (4,483 comments) says:

    “Unemployment is not working.”

    I think I know why this person is having trouble getting a job.

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  8. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    I’m pretty sure Labour is running a targeted program to drive turnout, rather than across the board. The focus should be on 10 seats, mostly Maori seats and general seats starting with the letter “M”

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  9. gravedodger (1,546 comments) says:

    PG @ 7 05 seems to nail down the fact that driver of the blue car is a lefty, he has finally figured out the unemployed are not working, hell I got that little gem of understanding over sixty years ago.

    The puzzling bit is, so many think they deserve regular rewards for that lack of personal responsibility.

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  10. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    Off topic but I was very disappointed with Key’s budget talk, yet another politico that shafts the workers on tax.

    I’ll vote for the first party that promises that tax thresholds will rise each year on 1st of April by the exact same percentage as pensions and welfare. I’m sick of these tax rises by stealth.

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  11. EAD (957 comments) says:

    Perhaps people don’t vote because by not voting they are refusing to give Politicians their consent.

    Perhaps they realise that no mater who you vote for from the red team or the blue team you will get more inflation (which politicians laughably call “growth”), more debt, more bubbles, more welfarism, more cronyism, more passing of nanny-state, freedom restricitng legislation, more nation changing mass immigration, more taxation (sorry ETS) of an invisible trace gas and more ignoring of the popular will as expressed in referendums.

    What if everyone voted? It wouldn’t make one blind bit of difference.

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  12. redqueen (553 comments) says:

    @EAD

    Have a coffee and chill, mate. It’s just politics and we’re just the mugs who’ll suffer…so relax :)

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  13. OneTrack (2,987 comments) says:

    EAD – if enough people vote left this time, I think they will see a difference.

    They won’t be happy but it will be different.

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  14. tvb (4,330 comments) says:

    Cunliffe thinks all those non voters are Labour voters and all he has to do is bully them and offer free KFC and they will all turn up and vote for him. I assume Matt McCarten is beavering away coming up with strategy after strategy to get them to vote. It does not occur to him that non voters may also be National leaning who do not like John Key’s centrist style.

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  15. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    I know many people that didn’t vote. The reason they didn’t vote was because basically there was no one on offer that they felt deserved their vote.

    This year I have the same problem. I’m pretty disgusted with most of them. There are three or four politicians I do respect, from various parties, but none are in my electorate.

    I was raised to believe that it was my civil duty to vote. The thought of not doing so is distasteful to me, however, there is no one that I support. My philosophy has moved from centre/right to the left as I have aged, but there is no party who I believe, or rather trust to fulfill the requirements of my philosophy.

    So, do I not vote, and then as I believe have no right to criticise what happens after that, or do I vote ‘against’ someone, that is a strategic vote, rather than a vote of confidence? I guess I’ll have to live with the latter, but generally I am appalled at the state of politics in this country. The last ten years have seen a decline that I am beginning to think there will be no coming back from.

    I do think the Internet Party will benefit from the ‘none of the above’ vote. People will vote for that party as a protest vote against the others. It’s not what I’d do, or would like to see, but just maybe it might be enough to make the other parties stand up and take a good long look at themselves.

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  16. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    but just maybe it might be enough to make the other parties stand up and take a good long look at themselves.

    There’s not much sign of that unfortunately. Labour seem to think that just getting people to vote will be a vote and a win for them. National chug along same old.

    There’s a few percent of potential vote sloshing around that’s up for grabs. The Internet Party may pick up enough of that (but 5% from nothing is a big ask). Dotcom himself is his IP’s biggest asset and biggest liability, so we’ll have to see if he manages top stir up the other parties or not.

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  17. ShawnLH (4,483 comments) says:

    The non voting category is interesting. Some people seem to assume it’s potentially up for grabs, but I have met people over the years who really just don’t care who is in power one way or another, and not for anti-democratic ideological reasons, they really just don’t care.

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  18. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    So my take on this is that just inspiring a larger turnout won’t necessarily help Labour. In 2008 it would have,but in 2011 it wouldn’t have.

    I’m still wondering if I should buy Restaurant brand shares like I’ve done before previous elections where Labour are fighting hard to increase voter turnout ?

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  19. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    Russell Brown asked Patrick Gower questions after suspect coverage of Sunday’s poll results. He’s posted an extensive response from Gower that explains quite a bit, but still leaves some questions unanswered – Gower Speaks

    Something that also came out of the poll coverage was the use of the term “below the margin of error” – this was reported on both One News’ Breakfast and 3 News’ Firstline. It’s impossible to be below the margin of error, the lower the poll percent the smaller the margin of error. The quoted margin only applies for 50%.

    “Below the margin of error” an inexcusable error

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  20. Than (451 comments) says:

    I do think the Internet Party will benefit from the ‘none of the above’ vote.

    Doubtful. Dotcom has already stated that the IP is committed to a change of government, so (assuming you take him at his word) a vote for them is effectively a vote for a Labour-led government. And if they made an arrangement with Mana a vote for the IP would effectively be a vote for Mana.

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  21. emmess (1,422 comments) says:

    I am not convinced increasing turn out shift the electorate to the left.
    Australia has compulsory voting and as their electorate is significantly to the right of ours.
    Also, last election National dipped a few percent compared to the last polls, perhaps those non-voters just assumed National was going to win anyway so didn’t bother.

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  22. Shunda barunda (2,977 comments) says:

    So Labours approach is to get people to vote who don’t give a rats arse about participating in democracy.

    How will they do this? well sir, the politics of envy, that’s how.

    Expect an extremely nasty, smear filled campaign from them this year (already abundant evidence of that) and much gutter raking.

    Unfortunately for them, they will rile up the apathetic who will still forget to vote anyway, and they will alienate the more intelligent swing voters who will vote for anyone but Labour.

    Good plan silent T.

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  23. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond “pulls him up on a few obvious and significiant flaws in his ‘analysis’. DPF didn’t allow for people lying – just like he does” (as written at The Standard) in The impact of Labour’s GOTV efforts.

    Here is why I think they are both wrong:

    1. 25.8% of people did not vote in the last election, but only 8.2% of the population admitted it in the survey Grumpollie was using. That’s a very big discrepancy.
    2. There is a long-standing tradition to lying to pollsters about whether you voted. It is based on “social desirability bias.” And the people most susceptible to it, people who often do vote and are embarrassed that they did not in 2011, are also in my view among the most likely to have voted for Labour in 2008.
    3. The analysis, and David Farrar’s conclusion, is based on the idea that Labour will go hunting for non voters randomly around the country, convincing non-voters in the bluest parts of Clutha-Southland to vote just as much as we do in Labour stronghold areas. We are a bit smarter than that.

    This year, I expect Labour will put considerable effort into turning out people who we think like Labour but we think may not have voted in 2011. And National will do the same for people suspected gf being lapsed National supporters. Two parties: one task. The difference, which gives Labour an advantage, is that we are better at this task than National.

    Grumpollie has responded to this, disputing some of Rob’s claims – Not about ‘The impact of Labour’s GOTV efforts’

    Andrew concludes:

    What these people could be saying instead is ‘We need to focus on the needs of the people in areas with higher deprivation, show them how we can make a difference in their lives and give them a better chance, and encourage them to get out and vote.’

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