Tukituki is a very marginal electorate and Lawrence could indeed suffer the humiliation of defeat.
Simon Lusk’s piece in Hawke’s Bay Today on Tuesday states that the seat looks “relatively comfortable for National”, but his analysis is badly off the mark.
For a start, he quotes polls which show National well ahead of Labour, however these are party vote polls not the candidate vote which Lawrence would need to get elected.
These two votes are very different. When Labour scored 25 per cent of the party vote in 2014 it won 33 per cent of the candidate vote electing MPs like Stuart Nash in Napier.
Equally when Bill English led National to 20 per cent of the party vote in 2002 his party’s candidate vote was in the mid-30s.
Regrettably for Simon Lusk’s argument, party vote polls are no guide to electorate outcomes and he’s wrong again when he says that overturning a 6490 majority would be “unprecedented”.
In Aoraki, Jim Sutton saw a 6453 majority in 2002 turn into a 6937 deficit in 2005.
That’s a turnaround of 13,390 votes in a seat very similar to Tukituki. Harry Duynhoven saw his 15,000-plus majority go up in smoke in New Plymouth in a similar fashion.
Lastly, Simon Lusk ignores the electoral elephant in the room.
Much of the 6490 majority Lawrence Yule would have to defend will be a personal vote built up by Craig Foss over five elections and some of it will be an endorsement of John Key as Leader.
Neither of these will be factors in the upcoming election. Foss has announced his intention to move on and National has swapped a leader who repeatedly scored 40 per cent plus of the party vote and a slew of electorates for Bill English who led National to its lowest ever vote in 2002.
I’m not sure comparing Labour in 2017 to National in 2005 is a good comparison. National increased its party vote in 2005 by around 18% to 39%. Labour currently appear to be stuck in the mid to high 20s.