Jim Anderton has had an op ed published in the NZ Herald, which demonstrates a total ignorance of MMP. It is unbelievable that an MP could get the most basic things so totally wrong. The key aspect is:
But the most critical factor, crucial to victory, is the National-held “marginal seats”, many of which have been traditionally Labour-held seats. Their importance in any election result has been largely ignored. We only need to look to recent state and federal elections in Australia to see how important these seats are in determining the outcome.
Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott spent what seemed like a disproportionate amount of their time in marginal seats. They knew only too well how important those seats were.
Marginal seats are oftetn pivotal to election victory and that’s where New Zealand’s election next year will be won or lost.
I might forgive a first year politics student for getting things so horribly wrong, but not an MP. Yes marginal seats are crucial in Australia – that is because they determine the election – whomever wins the most electorates wins.
But NZ has MMP. And apart from the occasional minor overhang, wining electorate seats does not gain you mroe overall seats in Parliament, as you get fewer list seats if you do. Your totla number of seats is determined by your share of the party vote.
Currently, the National-led coalition Government of four parties has 16 more seats in Parliament than the Labour-led opposition of three parties. How many more seats does Labour have to win to be in a position to form the next government by having more seats than National?
The answer is only nine seats – if the nine seats are won by Labour off National and Labour wins all its current seats.
In Labour’s favour, National has nine “marginal” seats which would be lost to Labour with a swing of less than 3 per cent.
Anderton is horribly wrong. so wrong, I don’t know whether it is stupidity or worse. If Labour won nine more electorate seats, then they would have nine fewer list seats.
What Labour need to win is to lift its party vote by 7%, not to win nine more electorate seats. Winning electorate seats is desirable, but Anderton fails POLS101 by making such moronic errors. And winning more party votes happens in all seats, not just nine marginal seats.
As far as the “party vote” is concerned, the clear evidence is that where a major party is picking up electorate seats from its opponent, it is also increasing its share of the party vote.
Actually it goes the other way around. If you increase your party vote in a seat, then the electorate vote tends to increase. But you need to increase your party vote in all seats.
If the party vote grew by 14% in the nine marginal seats, and stayed the same everywhere else, then the overall growth in the party vote would be around 2% only.
Anderton also makes some other errors, or over-states his case:
For example, Roy Morgan polls over the past six months show National and its support parties tracking downwards, with the latest (October 17) showing their support has dipped to 55 per cent from a high of 58.5 per cent in July. Meanwhile, Labour and its support parties have slowly but steadily tracked upwards – support now at 45 per cent compared to 41.61 per cent at the 2008 general election.
The 45% for the opposition includes NZ First who are not in Parliament and who have not made the threshold.
On that Roy Morgan poll Labour and the Greens would win only 51 seats out of 123 – which is fewer seats than they got in 2008.
More importantly, the confidence rating for the Government is down from a 72 per cent approval level late last year to the current 60.5 per cent. The disapproval rating over the same period has increased from 16.5 to 24 per cent.
Find me one other Government in the world with a confidence rating so high after two years in office. A net approval rating of +36% is staggeringly high.
Of course National can lose the next election. As they say a week can be a long time in politics. But Anderton’s op ed is literally garbage – it is a FPP analysis of an MMP election. If he was a student at university he’d get a F.