Hehir on Election spending

July 28th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

writes in the Manawatu Standard:

Since then we’ve seen plenty of further evidence against the idea that the rich can spend their way to power.

Republican Meg Whitman provided a spectacular example of this in 2008. She spent more than $US144 million (NZ$165m) of her own money chasing the California governorship. She was trounced.

In our last general election, the Conservatives spent a whopping $1.8m, which was more than Labour spent. For that expenditure, they received just 2.65 per cent of the vote – which works out to $31.71 a head. Three years later and even more money down the drain, that party is not polling any better.

Don’t get me wrong, money is required to get your message out. What is pretty clear, however, is that diminishing returns set in fairly rapidly. There are lots of studies showing this. The University of Chicago’s Steve Levitt – who also co-authored the popular Freakonomics – has observed that: “When a candidate doubled their spending . . . they only got an extra 1 per cent of the popular vote. It’s the same if you cut your spending in half, you only lose 1 per cent of the popular vote.”

It has some impact, but not a huge amount. Dotcom’s millions might get Mana-Internet from 1.1% to say 3.0%. However the free publicity from the media reporting his every tweet is probably worth far more to them.

National came to power and quickly repealed the Electoral Finance Act. To its credit, a chastened Labour Party did not stand in its way. Unfortunately, however, many of the restrictions and bureaucratic hurdles on third party campaigns were retained.

Greenpeace learned this recently after the Electoral Commission ruled that a website the lobbyists had set up to attack Energy Minister Simon Bridges was subject to electoral law restraints.

The commission also ruled that another campaign Greenpeace is involved in around climate change would also constitute an election advertisement and so was subject to the law. That interpretation is now to be the subject of court proceedings.

I sincerely wish them the best of luck. Ultimately, however, we should look to repeal the offensive provisions through Parliament.

Yes, I’d repeal all the third party spending restrictions except the need to identify the publisher.

Tags: ,

7 Responses to “Hehir on Election spending”

  1. Ed Snack (1,873 comments) says:

    I’d support a permanent ban on Lying Greenpace propaganda at all times, not just election time. But maybe that’s just me…

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Redbaiter (8,932 comments) says:

    “Ye, I’d repeal all the third party spending restrictions except the need to identify the publisher.”

    It won’t ever happen.

    National are too much like Labour.

    If that wasn’t so, both parties would not have voted for and passed the bill in its present format.

    The bottom line is this bill is a detestable attack on freedom of political expression and should never ever have been passed in any form.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Pete George (23,575 comments) says:

    However the free publicity from the media reporting his every tweet is probably worth far more to them.

    Maybe, maybe not. The Internet Party is targeting social media savvy voters, so the more faux pas the Internet Party make on Twitter the more enlightened potential voters may become.

    This could just as easily be negative for party support. It’s possible to become more concerned about the Dotcom juggernaut the more you see it in action.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Paulus (2,628 comments) says:

    I see that Fish and Game have shown their true Green colours. Do they use Taxpayers money ?
    If so shut them down as a waste of money.
    What’s on for tomorrow MSM surely you have something new for each day to the election. ?

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Tautaioleua (307 comments) says:

    The article ignores the fact that Obama’s presidential campaign was a cash cow from the start, spending more than twice the amount that John McCain did.

    America claims to be the greatest democracy on earth but Obama and Romney each spent more than a billion dollars on advertising alone at the last election lol. Most of it donated by owners of dodgy casinos and oil giants.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    Paulus – Fish & Game are funded by licence fees. Seems to be polarisation among the licencees as to the scope of Fish and Game’s activities. The licence fees would be a pittance compared with fees levied by landowners in UK for similar activities.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    Paulus – have a look at section 26Q ‘Functions of Fish and Game Councils’ of the Conservation Act. You’ll find they are doing what they are meant to be doing. It’s the Minister of Conservation that isn’t doing his job.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote